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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Guest Writer: Under the Weather, But Not Overwhelmed – Why You Should Still Train Even When You’re Not At Your Best

As we move into the winter months, it can be tempting to snuggle up on the couch with a book or Netflix instead of doing our martial arts training. It’s extra tempting to skip a training session when we’re not feeling well, whether it’s physical or emotional. In this guest post, Steve Grogan, of Wing Chun Geek Inc., shares some tips for staying motivated when you want to stay home. If you would like to write a martial arts-related article for Little Black Belt, please review the submission guidelines for guest posts.

[Note: At the time of publication the United States is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases, so please conduct your training with safety precautions in place, or in the privacy of your own home…and if you’re recovering from a major injury like me, check with your doctor or other healthcare providers before attempting your regular martial arts activities.]

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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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The Road to Hell Is Paved With Health Insurance Claims

In case you’re wondering, if you live in my metropolitan area and have an ACL repair surgery that turns into full reconstruction it will cost:
$55,563.26

Anesthesia will be billed separately, and be prepared to pay for six to eight months of physical therapy twice a week. You may also have to pay for one or two leg braces, not to mention that MRI that diagnosed your torn ACL in the first place. Some of your post-op visits with your doctor will be free, but only for a short grace period. You’ll go right back to specialist co-pays once the “post-op” period runs out.

Oh, and the giant bill was just for the “hospital encounter.” You may also have charges to the orthopedic clinic for your operating physician and an assistant for the same day as your surgery…same people, same patient, same procedure, but whatever, still separate charges.

If you went to an emergency center or hospital emergency room immediately after your injury, be prepared for a bill for that too.

The human body is a wonderful thing, but upkeep can be quite expensive.

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The Case for Working on Your Weaknesses

“Playing to my strengths,” as we say in the corporate world, may very well have cost me my ACL. Let me explain…

I work in healthcare leadership development, so we arbiters of euphemisms rarely use the word “weakness.” We dance around “opportunities for development” or “areas of growth.” I involuntarily shivered when a client said she wanted her team to use the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) so they could “learn about their strengths and weaknesses.” My goodness, I positively had the vapors. Technically, as I gently hold her, the MBTI looks at preferences rather than true strengths and weaknesses, but…something about the word “weakness” was just too real for me.

Turns out, working on your weaknesses can save you a lot of trouble in the long run.

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Guest Writer: Your Guide to Creating Martial Arts Studio at Home

Photo via Pexels.com

During the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, we’ve all had to adapt how we practice martial arts. Whether you are attending online classes or training on your own, you’ll benefit from a space that has what you need to practice, perform, and most of all, enjoy your chosen marital art. Setting up the right studio at home is something you can benefit from for years to come.

Guest writer Emma Grace Brown shares some great resources for setting up your optimal home martial arts studio. Emma writes about life, work, health, and beauty on her site emmagracebrown.com. Check out her site for tips to improve both your physical and emotional health.

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The Surprisingly Therapeutic Aspect of Watching the “Cobra Kai” Series

cobra kai

[Note: this post contains some vague-as-I-could-make-them spoilers]

Like many other martial arts enthusiasts and children of the 1980s, I was very excited to spend the final weekend of August bingeing both seasons of the breakout hit series “Cobra Kai” on Netflix. A friend, who is also a fellow taekwondo black belt, and I had watched the first season together when it debuted on YouTube Red in 2018. We loved it and marveled at how clever and heartfelt it was. 

Much has changed in two years, both on a national and global scale, and also for me personally. I knew I’d be entertained by watching the series, but I didn’t realize how deeply therapeutic it would be. 

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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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Celebrate Small Wins

small progress

I did something new in physical therapy this week: I rode a stationary bike.

I’m three weeks into ACL reconstruction surgery recovery. The sutures are out, leaving me with only a few small scars (thanks to arthroscopic surgery), and most of the time, I can walk around in my house with just my big leg brace, sometimes with one crutch if I’m tired. I still need a crutch to walk up and down my steep stairs, but I’m getting pretty good at that too. 

I was a little surprised when my physical therapist told me to start with the bike when I entered the clinic Monday morning. I figured he’d want me to do my regular warm-ups to ease the morning stiffness out of my leg. It’s still very difficult to bend my knee beyond ninety degrees. This was going to be interesting. 

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