Jumping (Cautiously) Into 2021: Staying Focused on What Matters

On January 7, nearly six months to the day I tore my ACL, I practiced jumping. I still can’t fully extend my leg and still walk with a slight limp, but by God, I was jumping.

It. Was. Terrifying.
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Taking Life One Step at a Time

“One step at a time, one day at a time, it will all work out.”

This is something a mentor…er, friend….er…you know what, I’ll just be honest–This is something my therapist, whom I saw for seven years, used to say to me. You’ll meet my therapist “Ramona” in my upcoming memoir, Kicking and Screaming: a Memoir of Madness and Martial Arts. For now I’d like to reflect on her comforting words.
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Woodshedding: (Re)Perfecting Your Technique Like a Musician

Woodshed illustrations are either super cute or look like they’re from a horror movie.

I come from a family of creators who enjoy challenging hobbies. My dad is a painter who is especially skilled in oils and portraiture, and he was a competitive swimmer in high school and college. My mom likes doing difficult and complex knitting patterns. My brother is a professional musician.

I hit stuff.

Kidding aside, any martial artist knows they have to put in hours and years to hone their craft. It’s not a matter of mindlessly parroting or mimicking motions their Sensei or Sabumnim does. You have to develop both the mental and physical intelligence required to perform and improve upon your martial art. You have to understand why you do certain things.

You have to be a good mechanic.

The other day during a text exchange with my mom and brother, my brother said he was learning the classically-influenced 1970s pop song “MacArthur Park,” and was doing some “woodshedding.”

Woodshedding?

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Find Your Sense of Normalcy

Ten months and twenty-three days into what has been the most bizarre year of my and probably everyone else’s lifetime, I finally felt a deep, comfortable, settling sense of normalcy, if only for a few minutes.

My moment came when I was doing “bungee walks.”

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When Do You Feel Like an Athlete Again?

Five weeks post-op

A month and two days following my ACL reconstruction surgery, I had a follow-up appointment with my orthopedic surgeon. Two weeks earlier I’d seen one of his assistants to have my sutures and bandages removed and to get a play-by-play, complete with three pages of color photos, of the surgery.

I was hoping for some good news after a month of hard work at home and in physical therapy. I’d been cranky and depressed for the past week because a nasty case of topical dermatitis flared up around my incisions. The incisions themselves are fine, but the skin around it was red, itchy, and full of little bumps that give my skin the appearance and feel of a very tightly inflated (i.e., one Tom Brady might allegedly avoid) football.

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Gordon Ramsay Is My Spiritual Writing Guide

Book_knife
This writer takes “kill your darlings” seriously.

After Americans united for the collective experience of watching “Tiger King,” we all  retreated to our own private means of surviving everything 2020 kept (and keeps) throwing at us.

My coping mechanism has been binge-watching “Kitchen Nightmares” and more recently “Hell’s Kitchen” with world-renowned chef and restauranteur Gordon Ramsay

I love Gordon Ramsay, and I am also terrified of him. For some strange reason, watching him scream at people over scallops, risotto, and raw chicken is so comforting and enjoyable in these dystopian times. 
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What Can You Do In Just Ten Minutes?

clock face

Although my dojang has officially opened, they’re still offering thirty minute virtual classes throughout the week. Saturday morning I did a virtual black belt class in my home. After some warm-ups and a few forms (although I had much less space, Keumgang felt better in bare feet than in those damn taekwondo shoes), my instructor said we were going to work on kicking. Okay cool.

Jump kicks.

Great, fine, I like jump kicks. I’ve done plenty of them.

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Finding Balance and Looking Forward

balancing rocks

First of all…hi. It’s been a month since I published anything here so welcome back and thank you for reading. For the past two months I’ve mostly been focused on getting through each day, just like everyone else has in the COVID-19 crisis. I’ve had ups, downs, and am finally starting to feel more leveled out and balanced.

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Guest Writer: How to Get Better at Your Martial Art

Refining your martial arts skills takes dedication, determination, and commitment to long-term practice. Sometimes you need to shake up your training routine with something new and different. You can also learn a thing or two from a marital artist who trains in a different style or art than you. We’re all in this together.

Guest writer Nick Kovach from BJJmotivation.com shares some great tips for stepping up your game. Check out Nick’s site for more martial arts training tips and guides.

If you would like to be a guest contributor for Little Black Belt, please review the guest writer guidelines here.

Paris-Taekwondo-Poomsae

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