Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Mixed Feelings

Two months ago, when I took the December promotional test, I wrote about how I often have mixed feelings after a test, even if I do well. Many of you readers wrote in to tell me the same thing happens to you.

I certainly had mixed feelings after my black belt test, even though I did well. I had a hard time sleeping that night--maybe because I was still processing all that had gone on that day.

Good things--focus
I was pleased at the way I was able to focus at the test. That was one of my goals in TKD--to be able to focus enough not to get jittery or mixed up. It just felt like everything else just fell away. I was aware of the others doing their forms, and of people taking pictures, but they were far away.

This is helpful in so many venues, not just TKD. I think my increasing ability to focus helped me at the ballet recital in June, and it helped when I gave a eulogy at my parents' memorial service.

My forms went well. Ms. Pryor had given me advice on my back stance, and I was determined to use that advice. I slowed down enough that I could "lead with my knee" and get lower in the stance, just like she told me.

High Kicks
That pesky hamstring wasn't bothering me, so my front kicks were high! Brian A. took some photos, which I'll post later. Maybe I was able to kick because of all the ibuprofen I took before the test :-)

Board breaking went well. I didn't break the first time, but the only person I've seen do that at a BB test was Brian! Everyone at the August test needed at least one extra try. I think even Ms. Pryor had to take a couple tries in her 4th degree test.

It only took me 2 tries for the 2-board palm strike. I wish I could have broken with the jump-reverse, which Master Hughes wants us to try, but it just wasn't working. Luckily, he let me break with a flying side kick, and that went better. Cracked the boards on the first attempt, and broke the back two (why didn't the front one break?) on the second.

Not so good
The past 2 months haven't been very good for sparring for me. My same-size partners, Mindy, Jamie, and Aimee, haven't been there. It's OK to spar with Brian or Kevin, or to spar with children, but it's just not good practice. So I know that I was not my best at sparring. I just hoped they'd remember this fall when I was at my best in sparring!

Also, we were asked to do 2-on-one sparring. I'd kind of forgotten about that (it's not on the "what you need to do for the test" sheet). The Wednesday before the test, Pam and Brian gave me a quick tutorial, but I was having trouble. So when time came to do that, I felt totally unprepared.

At one point in the test, Ms. Pryor gave me some feedback. She told me I didn't do well at sparring and didn't break 1st time because I was thinking too much. I wasn't relying on instincts.

As she talked to me about instinct, I began to have a sinking feeling. I don't really have much of a fighting instinct. Maybe none.

(I've never been in a physical fight with anyone--my brother and sister were teasing me about this when I was home. My instinct is paralysis, or disengagement when met with a physical threat.)

So I told her I'd need to practice and learn that instinct, or strengthen it. She said that you can't practice for it or learn it.

I had this sudden gut feeling: Oh no. I'm doomed. I can't be a really good martial artist.

I've since wondered about fighting instincts. I believe I can learn it, or at least strengthen what I have, but it'll take practice, just like someone with the opposite problem, the person who fights ALL the time has to learn to back off or negotiate. And they have to practice that.

I can learn and practice.

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