I just finished the third week of the black belt test, and it’s only now dawning on me exactly how much of a commitment I’m in for. The conditioning log, checklist, and attendance log looked a lot smaller when they were empty; now that three weeks have been completed, those remaining blank spaces are starting to look awfully daunting.
Logically, I knew what I was in for, but there’s knowledge, and then there’s knowledge. I roughly “knew” what this weekend’s two-hour black belt conditioning workout consists of each year because I supported Jordan during his black belt test last year, but this time around, my body (and my booty — man, my glutes hurt!!) knows, which is a very different experience.
The last several years, I’ve tried to find balance in my training between pushing myself to become a better martial artist, and being kind to myself. Frankly, I know that I tend towards the lazy side of the spectrum, but on the other hand, I know that if I push too hard, I burn out and abandon activities I wanted to love.
For example, one reason I sporadically attended sparring prior to my candidate belt was because I didn’t want to bring a bad attitude to the mat. Not so much out of worry over unleashing my dark side…
…as much as fear of facing that utterly deflated feeling I sometimes get when I’m poorly coping with too many things at once. I forced myself to come to class once when I was in that state, hoping to knock myself out of it, and ended up flat on my ass during a routine kick combo, crying my eyes out. Hashtag #awesome! Also, hashtag #awwwwwkward.
Anyway, it’s not that I’m getting overwhelmed and wish I could bail. There’s a level of freedom in simply taking yourself as you are on any given day on the mat, without judgement or apprehension. (Maybe I should thank my new meditation practice for that.) One week, I go to sparring and I’m on fire. The next, every time someone throws a hook, I get popped in the noggin. I think I tripped over Steve last week, and I wasn’t even sparring him!
I’m slowly getting to that point where I’ll make the shift from “knowing” that this is going to be hard, to knowing that it’s hard. But, realizing that I’m in it for the long haul, and also seeing several manageable milestones ahead of me that I can use as benchmarks, has shifted my perspective a little, away from a frenetic burnout and towards a less intense, slow burn that I can maintain over the next few months. (I hope.)
So, yeah. It’s week four, and I’m pretty tired in ways I hadn’t anticipated, but I’m pretty sure I can handle it. Many thanks, as always, to all my teammates, coaches, friends and family. I might not show it, but your support (even the occasional, “nice one, E!”) totally keeps me going.