Friday, March 17, 2006

Him Cho Chung

Over the last six days, since hurting myself during training last Saturday, I've been trying to scale way back on any unnecessary exertion on my leg. No gym workouts in the morning, and only two training sessions (and light ones at that) at the dojang. But this lack of exercise and intense training has been making me a bit batty (well, battier than usual, I guess). As a result I've gotten all introspective. What does this injury mean? Why did this happen? What did I do wrong? Could I have avoided it? Will it affect my ability to train in the future? Will I be able to kick with my left leg again anytime soon? What is the lesson of this? Is this an indication that I may not be cut out for this art?

Self doubt, clearly, is my constant companion.

So, this morning, on the way to work, I was replaying the moment when I hurt myself last Saturday. Again. For about the hundredth time this week I suppose. As usual, I was beating myself up over it, over my vanity and over how silly the injury was, over how I threw this great high kick and hurt myself. So, I'm reliving the moment. Kicks, punches, mixing things up, getting to the end of the mat, deciding to do the jumping front kick...

And suddenly, I had a realization about the moment of the injury. And then I had something of a revelation, in you will, about the significance of this, of how I can place it in context.

Context is important to me these days. What can I say.

So first, the realization: For the past week I've been telling myself I threw this amazing kick, that it was a great kick except for the end of it. Well, this morning I realized a simple fact that should be self-evident, but which for some reason I was not admitting to myself: Any kick that hurts you can't, by definition, be a great kick. It might look cool, but it's not great. After all, let's assume I was attacking someone and I used that kick. Well, unless it knocked them out, my resulting injury would have left me extremely vulnerable to a counter attack. So, not a good kick. Fancy, not good.

So, once I admitted this little, but obvious in retrospect, fact to myself, I thought on it for a bit and then ... the light went on. Revelation. If it was a bad kick, and one that hurt me, what made it bad? I mean, a jumping front kick isn't really much use in real life or in sparring -- it looks great, but it's too easy to see coming, takes too much preparation to be effective against a real opponent. But still, it's not a dangerous kick, and I've done it bunches of times without incident. So why did this one hurt me? And what I realized this morning was that, at the moment I threw that kick, all I was thinking of was throwing this really high, hard kick.

I wasn't kicking at anything.

In my distracted state of mind at the moment I threw that kick, I wasn't executing a kick. I was doing nothing other than flinging my foot up, really high, to no purpose. I wasn't thinking of a target. It was, in short, a really good example of force without purpose or direction. Energetic futility. My injury came as a result of not focusing first on a target, real or imagined, and then preparing my body as necessary. A release of power without direction or control.

Which brings us to Him Cho Chung.

Him Cho Chung is, like Shin Chook, one of the 8 Key Concepts of Tang Soo Do. It means "Control of Power." Up until now I thought of Him Cho Chung in terms of how to control my own power against an opponent, or against a sparring partner. Conservation of power. But now I see that controlling my own power is just as important when it comes to focus, discipline, and self-exertion. In my haste to show off for my family I unleashed way more power in a kick than I needed, largely because I hadn't considered a purpose for the kick in the first place, or the destination of the kick at the end of the motion.

And as a result, I've had 6 solid days of reminders of the importance of Him Cho Chung. And I'll have at least a week or two more daily reminders before my left leg starts getting back to normal. It's just another aspect of the training, although a less direct and more painful one than I'd prefer.

And thus endeth the lesson.

Mood: Cranky
Now Playing: The Postal Service, "Give Up"

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