I think I can, I think I can…

A little while ago I was sitting in a coffee shop chatting about writing and life. One of the things that came up in conversation had to do with that confidence you had as an 18-year-old ready to venture out into the world. You believed you could do anything, that you’d conquer the world and nothing was going to stop you. Somewhere along the way life or reality or some strange mix of those things started slowing you down. You questioned more. You wondered if you could. You didn’t blindly leap into a situation confident that things would work out. At eighteen you had less to lose, or so it seemed.

Driving home I kept thinking about our conversation, trying to put this confidence thing into some kind of perspective. As we age and experience life we realize some of our limitations. We know life isn’t the fairy tale we imagined it to be. We cannot do some of the things we thought we could because our jobs take over or we don’t make enough money or some other barrier that we place in the way gets in the way.

I couldn’t help but wonder why I thought I could do karate as an adult. I’d had four kids before I ever put on a gi. I wasn’t the same girl I’d been when I lettered in tennis in high school. Maybe I hadn’t gotten the memo that I couldn’t do it. I did it because I thought I could. So I did. And every single day I went in the dojo trained I believed I could do it. The funny thing is, I still think I can.

Last night the class was given a drill to do. Kick your partner in the head with a front leg round house kick. Physically I struggle to get my kick that high but I can still do it, just not for extended periods of time. Watching the class a plan popped into my head. I’ll set up a stretching device in our garage and work on my flexibility. In no time at all I’ll be doing as many kicks as the kids. I still believe I can do it. And because of that, I will. Yeah, I’m not as young as I used to be but I’m only as old as I let myself be.

“I think I can, I think I can…” Believe in yourself, whether you want to earn a black belt, write a best seller or climb Mt. Everest. Let’s face it, you’ll never do any of those things until you believe you can. Be confident. Make a plan and take it one step at a time. You can do anything you set your mind to. How do I know? Because I did. And I still am.

 

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It’s Been A Very Long While

Here I go again. Another May and another resurrection of my blog. I’m ashamed of myself for letting it languish without attention, yet, I’ve been so incredibly busy which is why I haven’t posted. That’s part of the story, anyway.

I let it slide after I made Shodan, because, well, I’d reached my goal. I think that’s like a lot of martial artists that I know. You get to where you were going and you’re done. Luckily for me, it was only the blog that stopped. I’ve still been training. More importantly, I’ve been learning a lot as well. And isn’t that what matters?

As I thought about what my first blog post would say I also contemplated changing the name. You see, I’m not a Shodan any more. I’ve climbed one more rung on the ladder and learned a little bit more so I’m a Nidan. Why do I make it sound like I haven’t learned too much? Simple. There’s so much still left to learn. Just like reaching Shodan is the real beginning, Nidan is a baby step in the scheme of things. I have a lot more to learn. About martial arts. About training. About teaching. About spirit. About body connection. And those are just the things that I can think of off the top of my head.

Being a martial artist is a lifelong journey. I’ve been training a very long while…and I’ll be learning for the rest of my life.

Teaching and Training

I’ve been teaching classes for a while now and I’m happy to see the progression of my teaching skills, although, I still have days when I shake my head and wonder if I’ll ever be a really good teacher. I had a huge class last Thursday and had to teach them a new technique, something I’ve done a million times -the technique, not the teaching part. It was so hard to take the skill I knew and translate it into words.

Harder yet was keeping every single one of the beginner students on track, moving in the right direction, same feet and hands going at the same time. It was a giant challenge for me and I left the floor with a smile on my face but sadness in my heart that I hadn’t given them the best teaching that I should have. I was really hard on myself about. It was very nice when another instructor took me aside and gave me a pep talk about the class. This instructor was there to critique my teaching skills, mentoring me along so their comments were not designed to cheer me up because I was kicking myself. It was just the right thing at the right moment. They admitted that it was an overwhelming task with the large number of students that I had but I’d handled it well.

I tried to take those words to heart but realized when I got home that evening that I was still being really hard on myself. I was striving for perfection. I am always striving for perfection on the mat. I recognized my weakness in teaching and knew what I would have done differently in hindsight. It ended up being a very good learning experience for not just my students but me as well.

Hopefully, I’ve gleaned something from the experience that will make me a better teacher the next time I step on the mat. I know that I’ve recognized something in myself as a student as well. Striving for perfection is good – its what makes me keep going and practicing my karate. I won’t be perfect when I’m a black belt, I’ll just be beginning to learn.