Overcoming the Mountain

Wow. It has been a long while since I've sat down to write a post. Time flies when you're having fun -- or are way to busy to take the time to do the things you want.

I just finished my second year of college, so now I actually have an idea what 'free time' means again.

In my martial arts world:

Tae Kwon Do classes has given me a boatload of things to think on lately. My instructors and I have identified a major weakness that I have, and I'm working hard to overcome it. I'm still struggling with being able to explain it, so bear with me.

My instructors have been working with me on self defense the past several classes. One of the requirements for my next rank is that I have to come up with eight self defense scenarios. I not only have to be able to demonstrate them, but I must also be able to teach them and defend my reasoning behind the techniques and if they work. A couple weeks ago, Mr. G asked me how many of the eight scenarios I had at my disposal. I told him 5 and so for the rest of the class, we worked on coming up with the final three. Well, I had no idea what kind of scenarios I wanted to use to begin with, and I certainly did not have any techniques in mind. I ended up choosing a straight punch, so he did the punch at my face. I did a pass block...and completely froze, not knowing what to do next.

We've had a couple discussions on this since that day, and I think I understand the nature of the beast that is this mental block. It all stems from me not having enough confidence in my self defense. I'm very methodical and self defense does not have a "step by step" method. It's more about reaction and using what you know.

At my rank, more and more is expected of me, and a lot of what is expected of me is that I really start developing as an individual. I have a fair understanding of the physical aspect of Tae Kwon Do. I know the forms, the kicks, the techniques, and I feel that I can teach the physical side pretty well.

What I need to really develop is the mental side of Tae Kwon Do -- the understanding of concepts and ideas, being able to react instead of following a method, experimenting with how things work, and "what happens if I do this?"

Instead of the little nudges I've felt before, this time I'm being pushed out of my comfort zone that was how I learned when I was a beginner. My instructors would show me something, say a form, and I copy what they do. It's not monkey see, monkey do anymore. I have to take a step back and grow in my understanding of Tae Kwon Do. I need to ask more questions, do more self correcting, and experiment more. Right now, I'm pretty uncomfortable, but I am determined to become a more rounded martial artist. I think it must first start with overcoming this mountain that is self doubt.


SueC said...

Ariel, It's funny that you should write this post right now because it sort of ties in with the post I've just written (Do you speak kata?). I think we are probably at the same stage of training in our respective arts and are coming to the same conclusions about our training at the same time!

I think we have both come to realise that our training needs to move to a new level, one that surpasses learning by copying to one that requires more thinking, self study and evaluation.

I think you said in an earlier post that you haven't really read any martial arts books yet (forgive me if I am mixing you up with someone else!). I find books an invaluable source of principles, knowledge and wisdom and they certainly help me with my understanding of karate. Perhaps you are reaching the stage when books will help you too?

Anyway good luck with your training - it sounds like you have some good instructors.

Ariel said...

Sue, I've had this post on my mind for weeks before I even read your post on kata. It's neat that we're both thinking about similar concepts of our training at the same time.

I couldn't have said it better myself! It seems that the longer I study martial arts, the larger the steps up to the next plateau get when moving from one level to the next.

You're right that I haven't really read any martial arts books yet. I've been trying to locate some good ones, but my local libraries and bookstores have very few to offer in the martial arts section.

Thanks, and good luck with your training also!