Adapting to Change

We’ve all heard the saying, “The only constant is change”. I think that rings especially true for the martial artist. We’re trained to be observant, to watch what’s going on around us and to adapt to the situation. One minute we’re friendly and nice the the next we’re a raging bear protecting our cubs. Martial artists are ready to spring into action, to defend themselves and others, changing personalities and attitudes quicker than the David Banner turned into the Hulk.

Is this the only time a karate person can use this skill? Nope. Absolutely not. It doesn’t have to be a moment of danger for this to be a valuable skill set. Most martial artists I know also work a day job. Being able to read the situations going on around you and making adjustments to your reactions is invaluable. I’ve worked in the corporate world. Its fast. Its intense. And it is ever changing. Being able to think on your feet, to change a presentation and read the people in the room helped me to not only do a good job but to get ahead.

Think about that when you’re wondering why you should put your child in karate, or if you should train. The skills you learn in the dojo translate to the real world in a big way. Being a martial artist helps to instill and foster confidence and a unique mindset. You’re ready for whatever the world tosses your way.

Karate. It is more than a sport. Its a way of life.

Advertisements

Keeping it fresh

The best classes from a student standpoint are the ones that zoom by, working on new skills and different sets of drills. Keeping it fresh and exciting helps the student to stay engaged. The very same is true for the instructor as well. Going in and teaching the same old stuff over and over again begins to create apathy and monotony for the teacher as well.

There’s an interesting challenge for the martial artist as they impart knowledge to their students. Not only do they have to create energy and excitement in class but they also have to prep their students for upcoming exams, making sure they know all of the skill sets assigned to that particular belt level.

Sometimes its hard. You rack your brain, search the internet and look to other instructors for help. All good solutions. I’d like to suggest one other idea, you might keep in mind. What are the drills that you liked doing as you were coming up through the ranks? Is there a nugget of a new idea you can glean from those drills? Relax and think about it. I’m going to be honest, sometimes I take an idea designed for the younger students and modify it only slightly and I have what feels like a game for the more advanced students. Little do they know, the whole time they are doing it that they’re working on their muscle memory and perfecting their techniques.

They say, “Everything old becomes new again”. Well, take that to heart while you’re working on your class¬†curriculum and planning your lessons this week. Have some fun and your students will too.

Age is an Attitude – Not a Number

Do you ever have those moments where something just hits you? Perhaps you’ve ‘known’ it all along but you’ve never really thought about it. The kind of thing that just IS until you think about it and then it becomes this earth-shattering moment, where the universe opens up and a choir sings and sunshine streams down…or the light bulb goes on. It’s just enlightening. I guess that’s why we always associate it with light, something to consider in a different conversation I guess because right now this is about my moment of realization.

The aforementioned moment was triggered by a comment from my instructor. He was so nicely pointing out to me that I wasn’t 21 any more. (This moment was much nicer than when he warned me to pick my knee up while I was kicking so I didn’t look like I was kicking like an old lady, which I am NOT.) His point about my age was to make me think about my physical limitations, which we all have, and also because I train in classes with the kids and well, I am over 18…well, you get the gist of it. He also wanted me to train hard so that nobody looks at me and thinks about my age. I’m just an athlete, a black belt candidate who will deserve her belt when she passes her test. And I appreciated his input as well as the new way he presented it. I have to admit though I had some dazzling kicks after that old lady comment!

Oh, and in case you’re worried, my moment of enlightenment was not, “Gosh, you mean I’m not 21 any more?” The reality is that I still feel the same way that I did when I was 18, only smarter and more settled in my own skin, a feeling that I wouldn’t trade for anything, not even becoming 18 again. I really started to think about age in a whole new way. It started to matter less because I don’t feel my age. I feel pretty darn good about myself and love the challenges that martial arts present and especially the challenges that training along side the kids brings. I’ve got to love any day that I’m training and I can get my side thrust kick up higher than anyone else in the class and be comfortable as well. I’m not stretching it up there just to show off and then barely able to hobble off of the mat. I’m really having fun when I do it and love knowing that one day I’ll be some 80-year-old lady (nope, still not an ‘old lady’) out on the mat in the middle of the dojo rocking the side thrust kick, throwing the reverse punch and putting the round house kick right in on the target and having fun. How awesome will that be! Yeah, I’ll probably be smiling and saying, “Yeah, I’m 45”.

Age really is an attitude. My attitude is going to keep me 29 forever. I watch some of the moms in the dojo, sitting on the sidelines while their kids train and I just can’t understand why they don’t want to jump out on the mat and have some fun right along side me. I’m really amused when I see them with their six or seven year old kids and think to myself, “I have kids as old as you,” and I’m still out here. And there’s no place else I’d rather be.

My attitude is taking me on an amazing journey…I can’t wait to begin the next portion. It’s absolutely gonna rock!

Time to Start the Final Sprint

Many, many years ago when I was much younger I used to run. ¬†I haven’t run in a long time, ever since I realized I didn’t enjoy it and there were so many other things that I did like that I could do instead. So I’ve done them and generally just enjoyed myself a lot more. What I did take with me from those ancient running days, however, was the feeling that came when you were reaching the back stretch and almost there and the exhilaration of the final sprint as you kicked your running up a notch to cross the line, reaching a new personal best.

Sometimes it was hard to dig deep and find that extra something you needed when you were plodding along, feeling your feet like lead anchors weighing you down, when just putting one foot in front of another was agony. When each time you took one stride forward you promised yourself it would be the last…just one more you’d whisper to yourself, just one more until you’d conned yourself to finally reach the finish line.

I think that’s where I’m at right now with my training. Working hard and ready to kick start that last lap. Its time to dig even deeper and push myself even more. To feel the scraped knuckles and sore muscles, to whisper to myself when I roll out of bed and feel the ache deep within that somehow just becomes a regular part of being, “its a good pain, its a good hurt”. Just one more day of training. Just one more class. Just one more time, just one more…

The only difference is, I expect this time, that I won’t feel that urge to crash to the ground, muscles spasming as I cross the finish line. This time the victory at the end will feel like a sweet success and drive me forward to keep training even harder towards a new finish line.