Lessons come from lots of places. I just celebrated the 43rd anniversary of my 21st birthday and I’ve had the opportunity to learn lots of lessons.
Sometimes I learned and sometimes I didn’t. Sometimes it takes me awhile to figure out the lesson. This one took a while.
At the age of 24 I decided to take up Tae Kwon Do. I studied under Sung Jae Park in Indianapolis and I believe it or not he’s still teaching.
I started as all students do. A white belt and I knew nothing. Maybe less than nothing. I paid for 6 months of lessons up front. I was out of shape, smoking a pack a day and ready to make a change. Just coming out of a bad marriage and trying to figure out what to do next. This was just want I needed.
Master Park was a great teacher. He spent the time to help us get the details right. Details matter in martial arts. Form, position, conditioning and so much more. I was in the class room 5 nights a week at the start. I was allowed to come to the more advanced classes too after a little while. My class started about 6pm every night and the advanced class started at 7pm
I learned something about people while I was there.
The other white belts had something to prove and sometimes it ended up in bruises on my forearm as I protected myself from a badly executed round house kick. I learned how to block and protect myself first but then I learned how to disappear. That was better. Let me explain.
Sparring is part of the learning in Karate. It can be violent and painful but most lessons are if they are worth anything. As I developed skills I got more confident and I was willing to attend the higher belt classes. They were much more interested in teaching and helping. The black belts especially because they had nothing to prove. They could do it and we all knew they could. No one questioned their ability but they practiced to improve continually. It was about beating yourself instead of your opponent.
One of those black belts saw my bruises and asked me about them. He listened and then taught me how to avoid instead of block. To be someplace other than where the blow was coming. To disappear. You could still see me but it was harder to hit me.
Master Park taught the same thing later but with better results. He would demonstrate and I got to work with him one on one a couple of times. If you tried to hit him he just wasn’t there. If you tried to reach out to get him he would take you down in a lesson to show the value of balance. Humiliating at first but later it became a favorite part of my lessons. To learn from him.
Lessons learned? There are a few captured here.
Find someone with nothing to prove but really wants to help. They can be a mentor and will show you things you didn’t even know to ask.
Practice and be willing to take a few bruises on the way to getting better. Challenge yourself to be better than you were yesterday. This is not a contest, this is a chance to improve.
Be consistent and show up for class even if you’re over your head. You’ll learn more and stretch to be a better person.
That’s enough for this time but I am sure there are more lessons coming. Stay tuned.
Thanks for listening,
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- Half True
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