Yup, an entire month has passed since my last entry. Annoying.
So, as I mentioned a solid 5 weeks back, no big breakthroughs, no big insights or epiphanies these days. Still trianing a solid 3-4 nights a week minimum, but real life concerns continue to dominate my thoughts and training continues to be part of my day that makes nearly-intolerable situations more tolerable. Happily, the "release" aspect of training hasn't come at the cost of progress: my technique is improving, I think. My new forms are getting more and more solid: Jin Do , Naihanchee Ee Dan and Dando Hyung Cho Dan are all doing just fine, and I finally feel I have enough of a grasp of Chil Sung Sah Rho (the best of these four new forms -- by far, IMHO) to move from "remembering" to "polishing." It's a beautiful form, and I find its rhythms and pace fascinating. I look forward to exploring it more over the next year.
Lately I've been thinking about my training from a perspective of gratitude. Obviously I've been under some pressure lately and I'm grateful for the positive release Tang Soo Do offers, but that's actually a very small part of the debt I feel to this art, and to my instructors and friends. Lately I've been taking a look at my life and how it's changed in the past four, nearly five years, how I've changed and how much farther I have to go to become the person I wish and hope I can become. And time and again I come back to my training, my instructors, my friends in TSD and realize with profound gratitude what this art has given to me.
This past week this point was driven home in an unexpected, but incredibly welcome, way. Kyo Sa Nim Jimmy Vasquez came home for a couple of weeks of weeks from his current homebase with the Air Force )in California) to visit his family, and he trained with us quite often s a result. While I often mention the influence my friend and instructor Sa Bom Nim Hoke Nunnan has on me in this blog, I've rarely mentioned Jimmy, and honestly this is a failing on my part. Jimmy is, in many ways, directly responsible for my choosing to stick with the art past the first couple of ranks, and for helping me to see Tang Soo Do as a family activity that could help me to connect with and spend time with my wife and kids in new ways.
When I first started training, I was overwhelmed by the art, and by Sa Bom Nim. He seemed too ... *much* to me. Initially I 'd thought he was arrogant, but later I realized he was simply confident and I was insecure. But even then his skill and ability seemed to be too big to approach, and I felt ridiculous even trying. I saw other students who were so far beyond my physical abilities and skills that is was almost like they were another species entirely. It took me a solid 2 years to begin to believe in myself, to believe I could get to blue belt. And a lot of the credit for my being able to believe could do it, I could get there, belongs entirely to Jimmy.
Jimmy demystified many aspects of the art for me and made me feel more able and less ridiculous. His skill, while always formidable, never seemed the result superhuman ability or the result of natural gifts, but rather of single-minded dedication and hard work. He helped me to realize that with hard work I could achieve the results that seemed so effortless in others.
I've of course since learned that those others worked hard too, but it took a few years to gain that perspective. And Jimmy's good humor, dedication, encouragement, and steadfast example helped guide me to the place where I could see these truths.
I won't even get into the ways in which he helped my family grow together in his Saturday family classes, beyond simply saying that now that now that I teach Saturday classes now and again my first goal each and every time is to try to teach a class that Jimmy would approve of. Jimmy's Saturday classes were something very special, and I hope that someday I can build the sort of goodwill and camaraderie he did among this unusual subset of students.
So, for that, I am incredibly grateful. Thank you, Kyo Sa Nim.
Now Playing: The Blue Nile, "Hats"