Black Belts: Learn From Everyone

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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.

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Taekwondo Is Who I Am

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I’m writing this at my desk on a quiet, pretty Sunday afternoon while I sip ginger kombucha to ease my perpetually irritated stomach, try not to feel overwhelmed about some assignments my managerial editor has given me for my book, and hope I wake up in time to jump on an 8 AM conference call.

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Don’t Be Frustrated. Be Fascinated.

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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.

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When Being One Step Ahead Slows You Down

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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.

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How Kickboxing Upped My Poomsae (Forms) Game

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In the martial arts world we often tout the practice of forms (poomsae, kata, etc) as a means to hone techniques for self-defense and fighting. But have we ever thought about reversing the practice? How can we use our striking, kicking, and sparring practice to power up our poomsae game?

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A New Lease on Life — a Case for “Leasing” vs. “Owning”

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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.

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Interview With a Black Belt

You guys! My friend Phillip at My Wife Is a Black Belt interviewed me as part of his series about women in martial arts! If you want to learn more about how I got into taekwondo and my thoughts about it check out his page:

via Interview with a woman in martial arts – 2: Melanie (taekwondo)

 

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Do You Speak Korean in Your Dojang?

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“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.

Saying, “Hana, dool, set…” never felt so sweet.*

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Playing the Long Game in Pool, Taekwondo, and in Life

“I’m playing the long game.”

My billiards partner glanced up at me as he said this and then narrowed his eyes at the pool table as he adjusted his stance. I had suggested he take an easier and more straight shot, but he was focused on long-term strategy. He wanted to set himself up to get multiple shots in one play. This involved taking a more difficult shot first so the cue ball would end up where he wanted it. Continue reading “Playing the Long Game in Pool, Taekwondo, and in Life”