Tag Archives: taekwondo

About Fear

This week has been about fear for me.

Monday, in Taekwondo training, my considerate instructor said it was time to test me for the yellow belt. The others had done the test before Christmas, when I was lying in bed with fever.

All my inner walls slammed up. I wanted to flat out refuse. I wanted to cry. I wanted to run away.

Instead I disconnected my brain and just waited for the test to start. I wish I could tell you that I aced it. Did not. I was pretty bad. But I did it. Tomorrow I get my belt.

What I learned during the lesson was that when I’m afraid, I tense my shoulders into a knot. I try to push myself into succeeding. It doesn’t work that way. Instead I prevent my body from doing what it knows how to do.

Hello Fear.

Hello Fear. Mixed media on canvas, 60x80cm, by Marie D. Tiger, 2015.
Hello Fear. Mixed media on canvas, 60x80cm, by Marie D. Tiger, 2015.

I went walking and running on ice yesterday. My intention was to explore how fear moves in my body. Just spend some time with it, experiment. I found a nice spot, a dirt road covered by bumpy, wet and slippery ice. Yellow sneakers, trembly knees, strong breaths out. Despite my mind’s screeching, fantasies of a broken nose and panic, my body knew what to do.

Relaxed, yet alert, my body, supported by my conscious breath, walked pretty normally. My feet kept slipping and sliding and correcting the balance with the appropriate movements. My shoulders kept trembling and numbing with the force of fear running like electricity through my muscles. But it was just sensation. An experience.

My taekwondo instructors keep telling me that the fear is normal, the bumbling around is something everyone does and the answers are inside.

I take their words to heart and bring them with me into the studio. Here I throw everything into the inner fire.

Work in progress.
Work in progress.

And paint for my life.

image
Tule syliin. Step Into My Arms. 140x100cm, mixed media on canvas by Marie D. Tiger.

What are you afraid of? What would help you stay relaxed and alert in the midst of feeling your fear?

 

 

Tender, Sweet Heart

The basic tenets of Taekwondo.
The basic tenets of Taekwondo.

Yesterday I was at Taekwondo practice with my firstborn.

When he asked me to join the group, after his first training, my heart dropped into my stomach. I thought of the legion of attentive parents, watching the lesson. Tentatively I said:

“Nobody else’s parents are joining in.”

“So what?” asked my son, guileless eyes wide.

So what? I thought about being systematically sought out, bullied for being ugly. Too ugly to live. I remembered moving my leaden body to the rhythm of shouts and taunts, drawing myself so far out of it in shame that I kept bumping it into things, this unwieldy mass of limbs. The pit of dread in my belly was wide and real. But looking into my son’s eyes, I could not tell him that the opinions of others was more important than my willingness to take the leap and try it out.

So I am a thirty-eight year old beginner in the Martial Arts.

I am learning about perseverance.

“Perseverance means having patience. One of the most important secrets of becoming a leader in Taekwon-Do is to overcome every difficulty by perseverance. Confucius said, ‘One who is impatient in trivial matters can seldom achieve success in matters of great importance.'”

Our instructors are great about teaching us the same. Their steady, intent and straightforward feedback builds a structure that makes forward movement filled with ease, although this is one of the most difficult things I have ever tried to learn. So I just continue.

(And I need not have worried. There is absolutely no time to think about anything while training.)

What in your life needs your perseverance right now? That you just continue practising, leaving thoughts to move at their own pace.