Martial Artists and Goal-Setting

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I’ve gotten soft.

I don’t mean physically, although after having two knee surgeries and gaining weight as I recovered from anorexia, that’s partially true (in a good way). I mean my determination, drive, and hunger seem muted.

I miss doggedly pursuing a goal. I miss the hunger of seeing something on the horizon and working until I reach it. I feel like my brain has been on pause for the last two years.

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Learning Taeguk Forms

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I’m still calling walking stance “broken knee stance.”

There sure are a lot of outside-to-inside blocks in Taeguk forms.

When I joined my new dojang at the end of 2018 I began learning Taeguk forms. I’d learned the Palgwe style in my other dojang, and since I can’t remember which forms I learned as a child (other than the universal kibon), I’ll claim Palgwe as my foundational set.

I started thinking about the new language I was learning. If Palgwes could be summed up in one or two moves I’d say they’re very heavy on using the front (or long) stance and double knife hand block (in a back stance of course).
Taeguk’s main theme seems to be the outside block…from the back hand…in walking stance.

Sigh…

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From Therapy Every Damn Day to Making It On My Own

Two weeks ago I saw my orthopedic surgeon for a six-month check up. We wanted to see my progress after I’d returned to taekwondo training, took up strength training (not the first time in my life, but the first time since my injury), and continued deep tissue massage treatment from a chiropractor. The possibility of a third surgery to remove additional scar tissue still hung in the balance.

He was so happy with my progress he shook my hand and all but released me from care unless I just wanted to visit the office again.

The following week the counselor I’d been seeing shared she was leaving the practice and wondered if I needed to continue sessions with another counselor. We’d gotten down from sessions once a week to once a month, and I admitted to feeling much better overall about my personal and professional woes. I still have lingering depression sometimes, but I am much better at recognizing and addressing it.

We decided to end my therapy knowing I could always come back if I needed help again.

Today I saw my chiropractor for more torment–I mean treatment, and he reduced our visit cadence from every two weeks to once a month.

Meanwhile, I’ve noticed some recent reader traction on last year’s post Therapy Every Damn Day. 

In that post I wondered if the “down for maintenance time” was necessary for rest and renewal. I spent so much money on healthcare last year that I was able to get a tax break. Was it worth it?

Short answer–yes.

Nearly a year after I wrote that post I have to appreciate how far I’ve come: I DON’T need another scar tissue surgery and am finally seeing more movement with knee extension and flexion–scar tissue build up has been the bane of my existence since ACL reconstruction in July 2020. I don’t hate my job or my life any more, and when I do feel down I have better ways of coping. I’m NOT starving myself any more and pretty much kicked the habits of a thirty-year-old eating disorder.

Life is good. I’m doing well and am able to fully enjoy being back in taekwondo. Third dan test, here I come.

 

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.
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My Guest Post: The Weirdness and Joy of Returning to Training After an Injury

I may have mentioned a time or two that I’ve had a devastating knee injury and two surgeries (and am still not counting out a third). 🙂

An injury like that changed not only my physical focus, but my mental one as well. I realized how much I had both lost and gained when I started taekwondo training again in January of this year. A dormant part of my brain re-awakened, and it was both strange and wonderful. Whether you’re a martial artist or not, the takeaway is that if you’re in a rut, you may benefit from going back to something you enjoyed earlier in your life or learning something new that stimulates and challenges you.

My story of the weirdness and joy of re-awakening my black belt brain is in this month’s Martial Journal. Click here to read.

My Guest Post: Being a Good Partner in Life and in Martial Arts

Being a martial artist can often feel like a solo endeavor, but for many of us, working with partners is crucial to our development. There are some parallels between being a good martial arts partner and being a good partner in life. In honor of Valentine’s Day (no matter your relationship status), let’s show some appreciation to the other martial arts students who make our learning productive and fun.

Check out my article at Martial Journal: Being a Good Partner in Life and in Martial Arts.

My Guest Post: How to Train Leaders Before They Become Black Belts

I’ve worked in leadership development for ten years, but I’ve learned just as much or even more about leadership “on the mat” in my martial arts training. In martial arts, we don’t wait until someone is in the job of a leader (i.e., a black belt) to help them build their leadership skills.

In this month’s Martial Journal article, “How to Train Leaders Before They Become Black Belts,” my former taekwondo master (Sabumnim) and I share tips on developing leaders before they even get close to testing for black belt.

This post is a nice story about one of my last training sessions with my Sabumnim.

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.

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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.

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