Sunday, February 28, 2010


Yup, another long pause between posts. Oddly, I feel like I have less and less to say about my training, lately. Not that I've lost focus or interest -- anything but, honestly -- but I find that recently breakthroughs, observations, and epiphanies are far more scarce. In other words, I'm plugging away, but my training hasn't surfaced anything I feel particularly compelled to share.

I will note a couple of moments of significance, though, if only for documentary purposes and for my own reference later. I will note that February 2010 marks the point where I've actually articulated to my instructor that I want to teach, and to move into a role that has more official responsibilities within our dojang in the future. The boundaries of this role are difficult to define at present, and the timeline on which they will occur more difficult still: could be weeks, months, or more.

But it's a goal. I have a lot of responsibilities to my family that I can't simply ignore, but stating this intention out loud to my instructor, mentor, and friend, and hearing him express encouragement and happiness with my decision, was a special moment for me. All journeys begin with a single step: this is simply the beginning of yet another journey. When the next steps will occur is difficult to say, but I'm on the path regardless.

Also of note is my recognition of just how much of an impact stress can have on my training. Without getting into too many details, I'll just note that I am under a fairly significant amount of stress at present. I am happy to say it has nothing to do with anything that is truly important. My family and friends are healthy and well, as am I. But the past couple of months have been difficult.

And through all of this, my dojang family and Tang Soo Do training have once again provided a refuge, a place of peace where I can channel and vent the stress of my life. All of which is, obviously, good. But it's not without its own frustrations. One thing I've noticed is that it's much harder right now for me to remember technique, to recall things I've learned in the past months. I typically pride myself on my ability to call up technical aspects of our art easily, and lately this has not been the case.

It's been a bit of a challenge to let myself off the hook for this. I'm a perfectionist by nature, and when I trip up on stuff like this I tend to beat myself up a whole lot. Under normal circumstances I can use this impulse as a way to motivate myself to train harder, to focus more, devote more time to technique and practice.

But I've had to acknowledge that right now, right here in this time and place, I need to be grateful for the benefits of release. I think I'm letting so much negativity out when I train that my mind is grateful for the chance to just be ... empty. And as a result it's not eager to allow new knowledge in. I spend a lot of time wondering why things that my peers are grasping quickly seem to ricochet off my mind. I laugh it off, but it's not a particularly positive feeling. After several weeks of struggling with it, though, I've realized that I need to listen to what my mind and my heart are telling me about what I need from Tang Soo Do right now.

Putting my pride in learning and performing on the shelf and simply accepting that at this time this is how I need to practice my art hasn't always been easy. But I also recognize that this is part of embracing our art as a part of my life, not just something I'm learning. As Sa Bom Nim Nunan said to me recently, when I once again passed on sparring due to my own nervousness about the ongoing recovery of my left knee, "It's OK. You're in this for the long haul."

And it's true. I am. And sometimes that means that I need to accept that my life, my immediate circumstances or concerns, might interfere with my ability to learn new technique.

And that's OK. I'm 42, and in 30 years I hope to still be doing Tang Soo Do, every day, to the best of my ability. Part of that means accepting that the benefits of Tang Soo Do aren't confined to learning new technique, new hyungs, new terminology. Sometimes, the greatest benefit of this art is simply -- or not so simply -- being able to end the day with a shrug, a roll of my eyes, a wry smile at the absurdity of my life, and a good night's sleep.

Mood: Fairly mellow
Now Playing: Angelo Badalamenti, "Mulholland Drive"