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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You’re Exactly Where You Need To Be (For Now Anyway)

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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.

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It’s Not Failure. It’s PRACTICE!

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I belong to a fitness Facebook group. The other day someone wrote about his mindset regarding failure. He decided to regard failure not as a loss or as something negative, but as practice and a learning experience. Didn’t quite hit the mark on a deadlift? Practice–maybe there’s something off with your technique. Gave into temptation and had the donuts in the office break room? Practice–now you know to bring a healthy snack to fight the mid-morning munchies.
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When You Love What You Do, You Do It Well (Whether You Think So Or Not)

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“Your form looks REALLY good,” said B, a sweet, friendly and very tenacious blue belt/red stripe during a break in her taekwondo class. She added an emphatic nod and I smiled and bowed in her direction.

I had shown up early to the dojang to warm up and practice forms while I waited for the later class to begin. I usually try to get there about 40-45 minutes early partially to warm up my otherwise fairly sedentary body (thank you, office job that pays for my taekwondo classes) and to practice the 29 forms I had committed to memory. Practicing forms is a great way to shift my mental and physical focus from the outside world and the rest of my life into the pure taekwondo black belt zone. It was nice to know that my efforts had not gone unnoticed.
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Teaching Means You’re Learning for Two

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You’re never too young to learn a good palm heel strike to the face.

A few weeks ago my Grandmaster presented me with a small patch for my uniform. In bold yellow letters it read, “INSTRUCTOR.” Technically as a first dan black belt I’m an “assistant instructor,” but Grandmaster and the other instructors decided to give me a little promotion since I always helped out in my own classes and classes for lower ranking students. Or maybe they just figured they’d better give me something to do since I hang out at the dojang so much. Either way I was pleased and very humbled.
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The Six Month Long (and Counting) Black Belt Test

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Next week two of my classmates will be testing for first and second degree black belt, and several other students will be testing for various color belt levels. In addition to our normal training, much of our practice time has been devoted to preparing these students to test.

It’s nice not to have the heat on me as far as being a testing student, although if time flies as quickly as it has been, it’ll be my turn to test for second dan before I know it. These last few weeks have been a test in a different sense though: do I continue living up to my black belt duties?
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Thinking Too Much Makes You Stupid

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When your brain is all:  “Crapcrapcrapcrapcrapcrap!!!”

I have two master’s degrees and a well-established career. I also have a first degree black belt in taekwondo. I manage my finances and pay my bills like an independent woman in a Beyonce song. That and a quarter won’t even buy you a cup of coffee anymore. Despite all these credentials, I found myself struggling to follow instructions that were intended to be simple enough for children during taekwondo class Monday night.
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Did I Meet My Taekwondo Goals? A Year-End Review

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This past Tuesday was my final taekwondo class before a nearly two week break for the holidays. It was a wonderful way to end the year—a bunch of black belts beating the crap out of each other…in a loving way, of course.

Now it’s time to do an annual review of my taekwondo practice.

At the beginning of this year I set some New Year’s resolutions even though resolutions are normally not my thing. Let’s call them “goals” instead. As much as I resist it, I’m a long-time corporate person, and we love the G word.
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What the Hell Happened to September??

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Seriously, what happened to September? Baby Vito Corleone wants answers.

I swear it was just yesterday that I wrote about August coming to a close. How is it that I now have only (counting today) 23 days until I test for my black belt?

Maybe it doesn’t feel like it’s that late in the year because it’s still 90 degrees most days here in Texas, and I’m still wearing flip flops everywhere I can. Maybe it’s because my work schedule suddenly became much busier, so I haven’t had time to notice that the weeks have flown by in a blur. But isn’t that how we always approach the passage of time? In a flash, the time is gone, and yet we’re constantly surprised by it.
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Crowdsourcing

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Yesterday I didn’t feel too jazzed about “cardio night.” My allergies have been acting up since Friday, so I was headachy, grumpy, and phlegmy, plus my right…um…“high hamstring” still had shooting pain whenever I did a front or roundhouse kick on that leg. However I knew I needed to get out of the house and get some exercise, and I know I always feel better once I get some sweat and endorphins flowing. When I arrived a white belt class was still going on, and a few advanced students had trickled in to quietly warm up. As I squinted and creaked and stretched by the barre I was approached by a little blonde red belt who sells Girl Scout cookies and has developed quite the hook kick. She began peppering me with questions about red-to-black belt training.
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