Friday, June 23, 2017

Officially Belted

That is me.  That is my name.

I knew this was coming.  There is a beautiful disconnect when I think about moving forward in Martial Arts.  It's there, but not quite real until I got tapped on the shoulder and told... "Hey, did you check the Black Belt Board?"

For a second I panicked.  I've been training for so many years.  What if I wasn't as ready as I thought?  What if there is a mistake?  What if...?

Nope.  That's my name.

Despite the momentary feeling of bad-assery, it quickly fled and replaced with a deep sense of calm.  Which was weird, considering the circumstances.  

Being a black belt is not just a belt.  It's not being called on to demonstrate technique, it's not about being right, or first, or the best.  It's not about beating people up, hurting your training partner, or proving great physical strength.  It is not pomp, pride, or demanding respect.

Black belt is an accumulation of bruises.  I've amassed my fair share.  I have accidental ones where I've not remained in control.  I have bruises where I've hurt my training partner, I've been hit too hard, kicked wrong or positioned my body incorrectly.  Those are learning bruises...good bruises.

I have intentional bruises.  Those are the ones I am not proud of.  They happen when I train too hard, hit with emotion, and take my daily mental crap and load it into my training.  I always end up more angry and hurting too much.  Black belt is about control.  Mental and physical.

Lastly there are the determination bruises.  They're the big ones that don't fade for weeks, the ones I have to grit my teeth and suck it up to keep moving forward.  They are hard earned and deep.  Some of them are mental bruises.  I have to keep pushing myself to work harder, to conquer my fears, and to master anger, attitude, and self doubt.  These come after long hours of training off the mats at the dojang.  I run.  I do yoga.  I do physical therapy.  I go to the doctor...

And sometimes I wonder why I do it.

As I was sitting in the tub last night, soaking in a hot epsom salt bath and inspecting my new collection of bruises, I had to wonder why.  Why do I go to the trouble?  Why do I inflict so much pain on myself?  I've broken bones...same ones multiple times.  I've been through surgery and therapy and taken more than my fair share of ibprophen.  I have flat out cried in the middle of class, which was so gloriously embarrassing.


I didn't quit.

I didn't give up.

I conquered.

And I just might be a little bit crazy.  Just sayin...