Keeping It Fresh…Or, How To Be An Engaging Public Speaker

public speaking

Last Friday I was helping a coworker set up for a class he was teaching. It was one we had both taught at least ten times in the past and would teach many more times in the future. Before the class started he was jokingly saying to me and my manager that he was nervous.

You have to understand my coworker–he is larger than life, an incredible presenter, a talented singer, and a Toastmasters competitor. Public speaking is not something new or foreign to him.

“Is it stage fright?” I asked.

“No,” he said. “It’s a good kind of nervous. I always get this way before a class because I don’t want it to be stale. I want it to feel like the first time I’m teaching it for this audience.”
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The Fine Line Between Being Useful and Being Used (Or, Why I’m Skittish About Teaching Taekwondo Again)

Vectored illustration. Silouette of men pulling in different direction.

Years ago I heard the expression, “If you give an inch, [insert name] will take a mile.” I wonder if that is something inherent in the world of work or in American culture in general. It’s great to be recognized, rewarded for, and given the opportunity to make your talents shine, and there’s also a very fine line between being useful and being used.

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Why I Left My Taekwondo School

walking out door

A few days ago I told my Grandmaster and fellow instructors that I would not be returning to the community center where we hold classes twice a week. I kept my explanation simple: my job is demanding, I have health issues to address, and frankly, I just don’t want to teach anymore.

That was the simple explanation. I’m not sure it was truly heard or accepted, but that’s no longer my problem. I’m done. I’m out. I’m free.

I wrote this post for all the black belts and instructors who made the heart-wrenching decision to leave their martial arts school in the face of potential backlash and harmed relationships. There are tons of articles and posts online about quitting martial arts or a particular school from the students’ perspective, but I could find very little solace in stories of my fellow instructors who finally said, “enough” and cut ties. (Although I did get some hits when I paired the search terms “martial arts” and “cult,” which is telling.) I know the stories are out there. This one is mine.
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When a Hiatus Leads to Victory (i.e., the Best Jump Back Kicks Ever)

split kick
Okay, I didn’t do THIS, but it felt like it.

Last night in taekwondo class I did the best jump back kicks I’ve ever done in my taekwondo career. Ever. (I’m a second degree black belt, it’s about time, right?) It’s not like I haven’t been doing jump back kicks lately, but it’s a whole different ball game when you’re hitting targets versus just kicking the air. Hitting targets, whether they’re pads, kicking pads, or people, is extremely important in taekwondo or any striking art. You can hit the air all you want and get fairly well conditioned, but it’s quite a different thing when there is weight and resistance at play, as well as the precision required with hitting a target, whether it’s moving or not. This is not only important for sparring and breaking, but it builds power and speed as well.
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When It’s the Right Time for You to Be In the Right Place

Peaceful place

I’ve spent some time away from taekwondo both physically and emotionally. I’m still recovering from what I now realize was a fairly traumatic change at the beginning of the year and accepting what is my new reality. I suppose it’s my own fault for letting myself get so emotionally attached to taekwondo, the affects it had on me/my thoughts/my actions, and the good thing I had going with it for years since you know…attachment leads to suffering…those platitudes that sound good, but our heart never listens.

There are certain aspects of my old taekwondo life that I can’t get back, but there are others that I could recover by leaving and joining another dojang. There are also some benefits to taking an extended break from it entirely to figure out what I want to do.
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