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!

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See it. Believe it.

I’ve been doing karate training for quite a while now, obviously. Over time I guess I’ve developed a rather unorthodox training style. Sure, I get out on the mat just like anyone else and go through the basics, going hard and strong, focused on myself and my technique. I listen to what my instructor tells me and I try to improve. That’s not the unorthodox part.

What’s different in my training style, I guess, is the way I practice outside of the dojo. Without a large open space to practice at home I’ve had to take my kata and break it into parts, doing only certain portions at a time, refining them and working on them until there is improvement. “So what?” you’re probably thinking. A lot of people do that. You’re completely right. I am sure they do. If they’re not, I hope they start. That’s really not the ‘difference’ in the way I train.

I also train in my head. No, I’m not crazy. Well, I don’t think so anyway, but that’s probably a matter for another day. Let me explain what I mean when I refer to my mind training. If I’m having a struggle with a technique or just want to improve it, tighten it up and get stronger at it I visualize myself doing it over and over again correctly. I can almost feel my muscles doing it while I play the scene over and over again in my head.

I see it. I believe it. I believe that I CAN do it. And guess what? The next time that I jump onto the mat, usually I can. And I do. It’s almost always better than the last time I practiced it in the dojo. Now, before you get all excited and think that you can just daydream all of your training, that’s not going to work. You still have to physically do it. Karate is all about dripping sweat, aching muscles, and persevering through the pain to reach a new level, a new place to start all over again, training towards perfection. A great way to get stronger and build character along the way.

The power of the mind to help you visualize and believe in yourself doing it is a pretty awesome tool to use though as a supplement to your actual karate training. It’s also really handy when you can’t sit at a stoplight and do the move. Yeah, I’m that crazy lady doing inside blocks waiting for the light to turn green. Again…that’s a whole other story for another day.