Beyond the Mat Lesson #5: It’s Never a Waste

“If you learn from it, nothing is wasted.” I really liked this lesson’s focus on trying new things with the mindset that there will be some positive takeaway from the experience. I wish I had been in that mindset during my first degree test regarding the beach workout. Maybe Mercury was in retrograde or something, but I let my anxiety take over and didn’t enjoy it as much as I should have. This year I know better! If I feel a funk coming on I think I’ll find a good Headspace meditation series to do a few days ahead of…
Read more →

Beyond the Mat Lesson #4: Silver Linings

“It’s all about the process” Wow. This Beyond the Mat lesson is downright anxiety-inducing in my current state of mind, with its focus on “What if I fail?” I don’t want to fail. I finished my checklist (just in the nick of time), but there are so many milestones ahead between today and the end of the test. The conditioning benchmarks start in a few weeks; the running trials are in almost exactly a month. I’m not where I wanted to be and envisioned myself at this point in the test. Will I meet the baselines? …I’m giving that a…
Read more →

Zoiks! She’s a Master of Disguise

Sometimes I feel like a Scooby Doo villain. At some critical point during this black belt test, my talented fellow testers will unmask this personae of “CGN Elaine” to reveal the sinister, lazy, asthmatic two-timer trying to pass herself off as a black belt and martial artist. What is imposter syndrome? How do you cope with self loathing? And who has been terrorizing the town dressed as a space ghost all this time?

Why Martial Arts?

It’s strange to have the word “martial” in your favorite hobby when you’re a non-competitive person like me who actively avoids confrontation. It’s doubly strange when, instead of doing one of the “artsier” martial arts, you end up in a mixed program that borrows heavily from the UFC.


If I asked you to envision a fighter training for a big event, you’ll probably get “Eye of the Tiger” stuck in your head while you flash back to some of the greatest training montages of movie history. One man against his own biggest obstacle — himself — with nothing but grit and an unrelenting coach to guide him.

Maybe that’s the way it has to be for the Dark Knight, but in my experience, the best thing about martial arts, and the thing that constantly pushes me beyond my own limits, is the community. Let me tell you a little about my community, Freestyle’s Intention black belt testing team!

1 2 3 4