Little Black Belt is Eight!

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You guys…for the first time in eight years I forgot to do my anniversary post!

My blog turned eight on April 15, 2022. Since I began my blog I have made new martial arts friends, shared both my triumphs and struggles, and have been able to promote my first book and many media appearances!

I also started writing for the online magazine Martial Journal–you can find links to all my featured articles here.

Thank you all for your support.

As is tradition, here are my ten favorite posts from the past year:

  1. First Post-Surgery Jump Kicks–scary AND exciting!
  2. What’s More Motivating: a Trigger or a Goal?–in the midst of a stressful year, I was beginning to figure out what drove me.
  3. How to Talk to Your Boss About Your Mental Health–this was a big step for me personally, professionally, and in my role as a mental health advocate.
  4. My Post-Pandemic Body is Different. And That’s Okay–it’s still okay.
  5. Letting Go of What No Longer Serves You: Marie Kondo, My Knee, and Me–some wise words from my sister-in-law help me make a choice to move forward.
  6. How to Feel Unstuck When There’s No End in Sight–burnout, depression, boredom were all the bane of my existence. In the midst of the frustration, I learned a lesson.
  7. My Top Ten Pieces of Advice for New Authors–boy, is there a lot to learn when you publish a book.
  8. The Way Forward is Through: a Meditation on Depression–did I mention that 2021 was a stressful year? I had a long-lasting mental health crisis, but unlike my earlier struggles, I had lessons and tools to get me through it. I got through it.
  9. Finding a Happy Medium After a Two-Year Emotional Roller Coaster–2020 was the ignition for collective and individual crises, challenges, and trauma. After two years of struggle (and a lot of therapy), I’m coming out on the other side feeling better.
  10. Developing Mental Agility as a Martial Artist–you can’t keep an old black belt down. I’m still learning, growing, and succeeding.

Developing Mental Agility as a Martial Artist

An orange sticky note has been sitting on my desk for the past few weeks. It reads: “Agility is best learned through challenging experiences.”

This quote was said in passing by a vendor with whom my day job team has been working on a leadership program for up-and-coming executives.

I wrote it down to share with the people I was coaching, but I also wrote it down for myself.
Continue reading “Developing Mental Agility as a Martial Artist”

Reducing Martial Arts-Related Stress

Stress in martial arts? No way! Relieving stress is why we started training!

…and yes, sometimes even the thing we love can bring some unexpected and unwanted stress. It happens to the best of us, and the best of the best of us, ha ha.

Check out my article in this month’s Martial Journal for ways to reduce martial arts-related stress: https://www.martialjournal.com/reducing-martial-arts-related-stress/

 

In Recovery, Focus on Gain Over Loss

My V is gone.

The lower ab muscle definition I’d longed for and gained nearly overnight in taekwondo (what with the kicks and all), has finally disappeared. While my ACL injury happened in an instant, it took about a year since my last taekwondo class for the muscle definition to fade away.

It’s hard to chamber my kicks because I still don’t have full flexion, and my second knee surgery slowed down my ability to snap a kick into (almost) extension.

My left leg kicks are limited. Pivoting and turning on my right leg is still a little precarious, at least at faster speeds. 

My right quadriceps muscle still doesn’t match the left.

It seems I’ve lost a lot over the past year and a half due to my ACL injury. Not only did I lose muscle tone and physical capability to execute taekwondo moves, I lost my built-in community (at least in person) and activity to look forward to each week.

But…of course there’s a but.

But…what I’ve gained in recovery for both my injury and my mental health has been invaluable. 

I learned that I am more than the martial art I practice. I learned how to respect and honor my body. I learned that I need to put my mental and physical health above my ego or aspirations. 

Now that I’m back at the dojang, at least part-time, I’m rebuilding my technique and getting back in touch with my community. I’m retaining the whole and more balanced sense of self: body, mind, and spirit. 

I’m thankful for what I have gained rather than dwelling on what I have lost. (Who needs an ab V when you have a healthy mental state?)

This is a short post, and that’s okay. That’s all I needed to say to my dear readers this time around: when you have gone through something difficult, focusing on what you’ve gained rather than ruminating on what you’ve lost helps you stay strong in your journey.

Bonus Book Chapter: I Am Enough

Dear Reader: For the remainder of 2021, to continue celebrating the release of my first book Kicking and Screaming: a Memoir of Madness and Martial Arts, I will be posting a monthly bonus chapter. While these stories didn’t make the final cut, they were still important moments in my life and in my black belt journey. Enjoy!

[Note: This event would have occurred between chapters 29 “Sucker Punched” and 30 “Aftermath,” late April 2015.]

Continue reading “Bonus Book Chapter: I Am Enough”

Bonus Book Chapter: Black Belt Training Begins

Dear Reader: For the remainder of 2021, to continue celebrating the release of my first book Kicking and Screaming: a Memoir of Madness and Martial Arts, I will be posting a monthly bonus chapter. While these stories didn’t make the final cut, they were still important moments in my life and in my black belt journey. Enjoy!

[Note: This would have occurred between chapters 28 “Black Belt Candidate” and 29 “Sucker Punched”]

“Up-downs,” Chief Instructor Alex said calmly, widening his blue eyes and smiling wickedly. It was the first Monday in April, the first class day after my bo dan test, and our Sabumnim must have decided he was going to whip us into shape, black belt style. We had two new bo dans (myself and a younger female student), a teenage bo dan who recently tested for black belt and would likely be awarded his new belt in a few days, and Eric, a teenage black belt who would be testing for second degree in the fall. You would think a class of only high-ranking students would be deadly-serious, mature, and determined. I had apparently forgotten what it’s like to be a teenager.

Continue reading “Bonus Book Chapter: Black Belt Training Begins”

Guest Writer: Diary of a White Belt

Hello, Little Black Belt readers! Some people start martial arts training as children, and others begin their journey as adults. As someone who started martial arts training, stopped, and re-started in my thirties, I’m always interested to hear from people who come to martial arts a little later in life. This story is from Jen Struzziero. Jen shares how she began training in martial arts and how amazing it has been in her life. Jen’s experience beautifully demonstrates the life-changing power of martial arts.

If you would like to submit a martial arts-related article for Little Black Belt, please review the guest writer guidelines and send me an email.

Enjoy Jen’s story!

Continue reading “Guest Writer: Diary of a White Belt”

First Post-Surgery Jump Kicks

Just over eight months into recovery from ACL reconstruction surgery, I did jumping front snap kicks.

You may be wondering how I ended up in this predicament in the first place. Take a look at this post (“POP! Goes My ACL”) for the detailed story of how I injured myself and what followed in the immediate aftermath.

The short version is I tore my ACL doing a jump kick, and not even a good one at that.

Continue reading “First Post-Surgery Jump Kicks”

Little Black Belt is SEVEN!

I’ve been so busy lately I almost forgot to do my yearly blog post. Today, April 15, my blog celebrates its SEVENTH birthday!

What started as a few rambling thoughts that had been haunting me since my color belt days has evolved into so much more. Thank you all for your readership and support.

As I always do on my yearly bloggiversary, I present my ten favorite posts of the past year:
Continue reading “Little Black Belt is SEVEN!”