“I wouldn’t mind starting over as a white belt in another martial art.”
I’d half blurted, half muttered that comment to a friend I’d trained with at my old taekwondo school. We were talking about other martial arts that interested us. Having dabbled in hapkido self-defense training, I would like more formal training at that. Hapkido or judo–because throwing people on the floor is almost as fun as kicking them.
Unless I suddenly become independently wealthy or retire early, I only have time to be a crusty old taekwondo black belt, so for now other martial arts training is on hold. However, the appeal of learning something new, and more importantly, being able to come at it as an absolute beginner still stands.
What is this hunger we humans have for learning something new?
I am continuing to learn new things and hone my skills as a black belt, so one could argue that I could just co-opt the “white belt mentality” I’ve preached about before into my training…but I can never not think like a black belt at this point. Okay, so I can continue to be curious and open to feedback like a good black belt mechanic…but where can I be a TOTAL novice?
The answer might be in my own home. In my last post I said that instead of jumping into something new, as tempting as it is (judo, for instance), perhaps I should focus on the things I really seem to care about: pursing the interests I have now, taking care of my home, and spending time with my people. I don’t want my life to be defined by my profession, nor do I want it to take up the bulk of my mental time. I am living my life for ME (while still diligently going to the job that pays for everything).
My “white belt” project is going to be re-learning classical guitar. I took lessons for five years until the demands of graduate school and a full-time job pulled me away from regular practice and paid-for lessons. I even sent my classical guitar off to live at my parents’ house with my dad’s other guitars because I felt so guilty and despondent for having fallen out of practice. I couldn’t look my guitar in the sound hole anymore.
And sometimes things find us again. Recently, in an attempt to pare down for a move, my dad brought my beautiful, custom-made Loprinzi guitar back to me. I need to show that guitar some love, at least for the sake of maintaining the craftsmanship (and money) that went into it.
This is going to suck so much for a while. I don’t think I can even read music anymore. I don’t remember what the strings are tuned to (E and E, that’s all I remember). I’ll have to very carefully and very slowly watch YouTube videos to figure out how to re-string it. Guitar is not going to take priority over other obligations, so it’s going to be a very slow and very frustrating process. I will have to be realistic with myself about how much I can do in the little time I’m going to allocate to it (for now). Taekwondo is and will most likely always be my highest personal priority.
I seem to recall experiencing the slow, frustrating process of re-learning taekwondo basics when I joined my dojang in 2013, and eventually, it clicked. I got it. Things started to make sense and feel comfortable in my body.
I don’t expect full body/mind integration with guitar that I’ve experienced with taekwondo, but I said I wanted to be a white belt. I said I wanted to learn something brand-new. Guitar isn’t new, but it’s so buried in the back of my brain that I’m approaching it as a total beginner. That should quell the learning thirst in my brain.
Readers, if you have the itch to learn something new, perhaps first take a look at what’s been on the periphery of your life. There may be some hidden treasures.
So here I go…