Slowly but surely building confidence.

Thursday night I had my test for my green stripe in Taekwondo (it’s a yellow belt with a green stripe on it and is the middle step between a yellow belt and a green belt) and passed! Several of the black belts (they observe and write our evaluations) said that as a group it was one of the stronger yellow belt tests they’d seen in a while across the board. Here’s my sheet…

One of the guys I’ve worked with one on one several times in class said he could really see improvement with my kicks since I first started. 🙂 The board break I tried first using my left foot – we were doing an axe kick – because while warming up in “the fish bowl”, I thought I’d practice my axe kick by kicking the top of the little kickers bags that are in there. Only I didn’t realize that there is a hard plastic rod in the middle of them. Yeah…OUCH! SLAMMED my right heel down right on top of it. One of the other guys who was testing for his green belt said “Uh, yeah… if I’d realized that’s what you were going to do I would have stopped you.” Lesson learned – feel something before kicking it, or at least before slamming your heel down on it! And I don’t know if I was afraid of kicking Skye who was holding the board for me even though she’s not supposed to hold boards (there wasn’t anyone else) or if my right leg has really gotten that much stronger, but two tries with my left foot yielded nothing, so I went with my right foot and WHAM! right on through the board.

Today was my first class since the test (we’ll get our belts in classes next week), and I noticed how much more confident I was with my kicks. Well, at least my single kicks. I need to work on my double kicks a lot. Ditto my jumping back kicks, but today was the first time I’ve tried jumping back kicks, so I’ll take even sloppy tries on those today.

Another confidence booster was during warm ups. Our Master had us turn our belts around, meaning that we would be trying to run while our partner held our belts and tried to hold us back. Well, I was paired up with a new girl who was a black belt at her former studio, but it’s been a little while and she got winded and I think something was hurting, so she was in the back. So Master grabbed my belt. I was going as hard as I could and was going nowhere fast. He said “Get your knees up! I’m not budging until those come up!” So I tried and made a little progress. Of course, my allergies have kicked in, and I had forgotten to take a preventative puff on the inhaler before class, and trying to run while being held back when I started winded from other activities was only making breathing harder and harder. I stopped at one point to try and get some semblance of breath, and everyone encouraged me to keep going with words and applause. I caught the eye of one of the black belts and mouthed inhaler while pantomiming the puff motion – luckily he figured it out and got it for me from next to my water bottle. I DID make it all the way to the end in spite of needing that inhaler badly. The black belt got some water and came back to check on me and said “Hey, you didn’t quit and you finished. That counts for a lot.” So that made me feel good and helped with the confidence as well.

I’m really, really enjoying Taekwondo, which I think is totally cool. It’s funny to look back at how I felt before my first class and how nervous I was about trying it, how I signed up for the intro month not knowing if I’d stick it out. And now I can’t wait for class. I like pushing my body to see what it can do. I can’t always do everything right, and sometimes things hurt like heck, but I’m trying. And more and more I’m finding I CAN do things I wasn’t sure I could do.

I’m not saying running didn’t teach me things, because it did.

But the feeling I get when I do a new kick, or when I break a board, or when I just manage to make it to the end of the mat when I feel like I’m sucking air through a coffee stir while pulling the Master behind me?

I think that’s what a lot of runners talk about when they cross the finish line of their first (insert distance here) race but I was always missing.

That’s the “life changing moment” people talk about. I know I can meet these challenges that I will admit sometimes scare the crap out of me (flying side kick anyone), and while I may not get it perfect, I get something resembling it. And I can use that to learn from and work on and little by little make it smoother, closer to perfect.

One little step, one little kick at a time.

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