No, I mean really fall, crash to the ground with a spectacular splat that happens so fast I can do nothing but laugh.
I’ve fallen in sparring class before. I’ve been kicked to the ground by people a lot bigger than me, I’ve gotten my leg so tangled up on someone’s shoulder or chest gear that the easiest thing to do was to just tip backwards, and sometimes I’ve just mis-gauged my distance and fallen down.
As I reflect on what has been a pretty awesome 2019, I’ve realized that literally NOTHING I worried about for the past year has actually happened.
Not my professional worries, not my personal worries, NONE of the small or more outlandish things my often-anxious mind devises to pass the time came to fruition. And I made myself miserable with all the worrying.
I’ve been wanting to spar with some of the senior team fighters over the past few weeks, but I’ve been too shy to ask. They’re half my age, a head taller than me, and very skilled in competition sparring. I felt like I’d slow them down if I asked them to practice with me. I do like the younger kids I usually practice with. Some of them are former students of mine, so I feel very comfortable with them (and now they’re all almost taller than me), but sometimes I really want to be pushed and challenged. I want to be forced to think and practice in a different way. I want to learn new things. Hopping around with tweens and teens isn’t always going to cut it.
I am a second degree black belt, but I am not an advanced fighter.
Sparring has never been my forte as a child or as an adult taekwondo practitioner. Sometimes I’ve hated it. Sometimes I’ve looked forward to it. Sometimes I both dread and enjoy it. It has always been a learning experience. I don’t live up to my impossibly high expectations, and of course that sets me up for frustration.
I decided to change my approach to sparring at the dojang I’ve been attending since December of last year.
As I’ve mentioned in a few blog posts, I’ve been working on the third Dan taekwondo form Pyongwon. It’s a short form, but it’s powerful and grabs your attention, plus it’s really fun to do.
Recently my Master told me I was rushing the snap kick/back kick combination a bit. I was moving so quickly that it looked more like a sparring combination than poomsae. This is the only kicking combination in the form and punctuates the beginning and end phrases, therefore it draws a lot of attention if done incorrectly.
I really, REALLY didn’t want to go to taekwondo on Tuesday.
I was two days into a busy week and just wanted to zone out at home, drink some wine, read a book, and not participate in life. That week I was both covering for a coworker at my day job who was on vacation and two taekwondo coaches who were also on vacation. I had taken two weeks off of work at the beginning of the month, so I was very willing to help out a coworker who’d had my back during that time, and the taekwondo coaches in question work very hard for the dojang and very much deserved a break…but damn if it isn’t tiring to be “on” for about 12 hours for an entire work week (including having to teach a workshop to 40 people on one of said days).
So forgive me if I wasn’t in the jolliest of moods when I showed up to the dojang Tuesday evening.
A few months ago my Body Combat teacher yelled at us to work like we were “owning” our lives rather than “borrowing” it. That can be a motivating sentiment. As a homeowner for the last eight years, I’m much more invested not only financially in keeping up and personalizing my home than I was as a renter, but emotionally as well. I love my home. There’s a deeper attachment than just fulfilling the physical need of shelter. Owning it means something special.
At the beginning of June my Master decreed blessedly, thankfully, that we could wear t-shirts with our dobok pants for training…as long as they were school-branded shirts of course. Her reason–it’s so damn hot in the Texas summer that we were absolutely roasting in our dobok tops.
A quick internet search of the phrase “fail fast” brings up a mixed bag of business articles, strategy tips, and tech blogs. In April 2018, Forbes magazine published an article titled “How to Fail Fast–and Why You Should,” only to publish “The Foolishness of Fail Fast, Fail Often” five months later. It’s a popular phrase among the lines of being “lean” (i.e., cutting funding) and “agile,” (i.e., pushing through change that might or might not be well-planned).
“Come on, guys, let’s count in Korean,” I said with mock exasperation. A few nights ago my instructor had given me and my fellow classmates (teenage black belts) a series of exercises to do for our warm-up: jumping jacks, squats, mountain climbers, and push-ups. We were instructed to count out loud so we could stay together. I gritted my teeth though counting the first set of jumping jacks in English–it made me feel like a white belt–and spoke up as soon as I had the chance.