Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Brown Belt Promotion

Brown Belt Promotion

For those of you who don’t know a lot about me, one of my passions in life is the study of martial arts – particularly Chinese Kempo Karate.

I officially started training on January 5, 2010, although I had been watching intently as a mom on the sidelines since my son started training in January, 2009.

I love that Kempo can be in one moment smooth and flowing, and brutally efficient in the next.

Kempo is not a sport with tournaments – you can’t truly show all levels of what you know without hurting someone.  It is a self-defense art pure and simple, with three possibilities if you want to survive – escape the situation, control the situation, or destroy your attacker.

The school that I am affiliated with is located in Virginia.  My family and I moved to Florida in July, 2011 when I was just crossing into the advanced ranks as a Green belt.  My partner, Deb, is currently a 3rd degree black belt within the same system.  She is a fully qualified instructor.

When we announced we were moving, our Senior Head Instructor gave his blessing for Deb to continue my training in Florida.  He also suggested that Deb test me in Florida as well, but that was not okay with me.  Training was one thing, but I needed Mr. Petersen and everyone else who cared to see my progress and KNOW that I was not moving through the system by default.

And so it has gone since 2011.  I am currently a Level III Brown Belt and my next belt test will be in July, 2014 when I test for my black belt – a moment I have looked toward for almost 4 years now.

My training with Deb is rigorous and her expectations are incredibly high.  She sees it as her job to pry me out of my comfort zone on a regular basis,

Last week we had a GREAT class – we sparred (which I really hate) and I discovered that I don’t suck nearly as much as I feared I did.  Then we free grappled and I actually tapped Deb out in 2 out of 3 rounds, which was a HUGE thrill (and not one that I will likely repeat anytime soon).  I left the class flying high and feeling like, “OMG!! I can actually DO this!”

Then there was this morning’s class.  We went back to the very beginning – the material we teach brand new white belt students.  I remembered it all, but was a little bit rusty and in my attempt to recall the material, my intensity was somewhat lacking.  THEN, Deb put me in the front the room and had me lead several series of basics as an instructor, at a pace I am not accustomed to.  My mind went totally blank at several points (Knee sets?  What are those?) and I left the class feeling like a had just been totally schooled.  Black belt?  Who am I kidding!!

where-the-magic-happensBut that’s how it goes right?  If every class was like last week and I won every match and was “comfortable,” what’s the friggin’ point?  If I KNOW it all, why bother to take classes?

Deb is a brilliant instructor and she knows that she has to continually knock me off balance and make me uncomfortable so that I will grow.  It is only when forced outside my comfort zone that I get better.  And getting better is what it’s all about.

For the first time in my karate life, I understand why so many students get to brown belt or black/blue (for the younger students) and quit.  Without someone to explain to them why they keep feeling like a complete and abject failure in the instructors’ attempts to move them forward in their training, most people would just find it not worth the price.

I thank God for my awareness and that I am part of a system that explains that nothing magical ever happens inside your comfort zone!

Remember that the next time you feel uncomfortable and want to quit.