Archive for the ‘Martial arts’ Category

Age.

The other day the fire alarm went off in work. So down the stairs we went. I sit on the top floor. Taking the elevator back up was pointless, too many people queueing. So up the 6 floors we went once they let us in again. A person next to me was complaining that she was too old for this. I was laughing and saying “Don’t be silly, how old are you anyway?” The answer I got was “34”. I was shocked! This person seriously believed she was “older” and that this was too much. I am 36 and while I am no fan off taking the stairs in work, I also do not think that I am “too old” for it. Just a tad lazy.

This is not the first time that I have heard something like that. I remember a former colleague once going on about “at our age we should not be doing this or that”. She was the same age as me.

Many would argue, maybe correctly so, that society today puts a disproportionate focus on being young (read: 20) and that being young and “beautiful” is all the success you need. I do however also suspect that many use this as an excuse the other way around. “Oh poor me, I am no longer 22 so I cannot do this or that, don’t you understand? At our age (read: 30isch) we have to be careful and keep in mind our bodies cannot take it any more”.

It is a load of bull in my opinion.

Yes, I cannot handle hang-overs as well as I once could. Yes, my back is stiffer now than it was 15 years ago if I just sit around. Yes, I do seem to “heal” a bit slower as well. On the other hand, I am hardly THAT old.

While I sit here on the sofa I do not ache. The minute I stand up I notice that my back is sore, my legs hurt, my neck feels heavy and my throat is scratchy and sore. This is pretty easy to explain. I trained at the club on Thursday and also today. As an added bonus I am getting a cold and therefore have a sore throat.

I also feel great.

I enjoy physical activity better now at 36 than I did 15 years ago. I do not feel that my age is an obstacle any more than I did then.

While age is an inevitable fact and time will take its toll on our bodies, I believe that the biggest danger is our own mental age. Not our physical age. Sometimes the age lurks more in the mind than in the body. How is the old saying  again…. “You are only as old as you feel”… Otherwise we would not have 60-year olds that are perceived as”youthful” or perhaps a 40-something that seems ready for the last rites. Figuratively speaking.

Today I feel like I am 36 years old. I feel great. If this is being old, then it can only get better.

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I finally made it down to the club this evening for a training session. It felt really good. As always, when I have been to the club, I am glad I went. I went there feeling determined and up for whatever would be there. I enjoyed every minute and the two hours flew by.

When I was driving home I noticed something – every time after a training session a different emotion will accompany me home.

 

Sometimes I leave feeling like I could take on the world. Nothing can faze or rattle me.

Sometimes I leave with a big smile and sing along happily to every tune on the radio.

Sometimes I leave feeling determined, with clear steps outlined in my mind, ready to conquer any obstacle.

Sometimes I leave feeling frustrated and try to run through why I didn’t get a technique or flow.

Sometimes I leave feeling thoughtful, thinking through an idea or a concept. Mulling it over, maybe creating a blog post in my mind.

Sometimes I leave feeling calm and centered. At peace.

Today I left feeling vulnerable. Not sad or upset, just a little closer to being emotional but without knowing why. Maybe I am more tired than I realized and the training took away the last layers for the day.

 

We all have layers. Some thicker than others. Peeling them back is never easy. Maybe this is one of the things this art can teach me; if I peel away the layers and look… what is there is me without all those barriers, if only for a moment.

Seeing that –  I can take on the world, I smile, I can be determined, I work through frustration, I mull things over, I can be at peace, I can feel vulnerable…

Sometimes moving through layers can make things look much simpler. Sometimes all it takes is being there.

 

As I was walking to my car this evening, after a training session down at the club, I noticed how quiet it was. It is cold and misty outside tonight and with the moon shining through the fog it is almost a bit surreal. Nice though. I really wish I had a camera good enough to capture the night sky.

I am glad that I went training tonight. My day today felt a bit “ugh” all day, for one or the other reason and I was really seriously contemplating staying at home and just crawl under my duvet. Just having an early night. Instead I made myself go training and it has really made a difference. I am still tired and now also a bit sore but I feel much calmer. It is hard to describe as I was not agitated before but I guess I was restless somehow and now… I feel fine. Maybe this is just due to the lack of oxygen from the chokes we practiced or maybe I banged my head during a throw. You never know.

Sometimes the training really clears my head and things just seem easier or more attainable. Sometimes it enables me to put aside thoughts that threatens to overtake and blow things out of proportions. Then sometimes it is just nice to do something totally different from my daily work.

Yes, there are times when I cannot seem to focus. When the simplest movement goes wrong. When I feel like I am losing the plot (ehhh OK, yes that happens outside of training as well at times…shhhhh!). As it is condensed down to a martial art it is easy to overlook that many of the aspects in training can be found parallel in life. Sometimes it flows well and other times it is a pain, both figuratively and literally! It is a realization that sneaks up on you. The first time I heard someone mentioning it I secretly scoffed a bit at the idea. Now however I can tentatively see how each training session affects me differently and how the lessons learned there can be applied in my daily life. I know this is not a very good explanation but I am still mulling this over so you just have to bear with me a while longer.

In either case, it is time for bed and as it is Friday the 13th tomorrow… let’s hope for a good day eh?

It all starts with one.

One thought. One look. With one moment.

When looking back at my life and the decisions I have made throughout I can most times pin point it to one single event at the time. I most likely did not realize it there and then. Well, most times anyway. Sometimes it was a small seed that sprouted a thought that led to it. These were the times when I let my “gut-feeling” make the decision. That illusive intuition that we never can put our finger on.

It is a bit ironic as I can be very skeptical and I like to have facts and I want to know the how, why and when before I make a decision. Once I have made up my mind, I do not change it easily unless you can convince me with a good argument (yes I can be pig-headed). I can admit I am wrong… you just have to be convincing. Either way, the irony in this (before I lose my train of thought) is that when it comes to all the bigger changes in my life – I went on my gut-instinct. There was no hard facts and detailed plans or long decision processes. I just took a decision based one thought that grew and that somehow felt right.

The funny thing is, I have not regretted those decisions. Some where easy to take, some where not but I know that they were the right ones.

Sometimes I tend to think too much. Over-analyze things. I am trying to learn to be more open to just following my intuition. It is not easy though as we have all more or less been taught all our lives that logic prevails and that you should use hard facts and consider carefully before you go ahead.

I am getting better at it though. I believe that my Bujinkan training as something to do with it. Lately I have noticed that the more I try to think about doing a technique correctly the harder it is for me to do the Kata. If I try to just relax and go with the flow it just seems to work better. There is an element of focus as well obviously but maybe the shift is from a focus of doing a technique to a focus on your opponent and then the technique comes more easily. I have not figures this out entirely yet. It is a pretty hard shift for me to pin point to be honest.

Some days  I just feel that I can follow a technique naturally and then when I try to add an element to it and improve it then I focus too much on the separate elements of it and I loose any flow that I once had. It can be very frustrating. Then there are those days when I am just knackered from work and feel exhausted and my conscious mind is barely functioning but somehow the techniques flow better.

I guess that is one of the aspects of this art that I really enjoy. It triggers new ideas and new thought processes. It has made me more open to new ideas. It has made me realize that I really know very little about how I function and what I can do but at the same time I know much more than I ever did before. I know now that there is so much more to figure out and that is exciting. I have just about started to touch upon the basics of this art and I look forward to see where the flow takes me.

Oh… and when I decided to start with practicing Bujinkan? It was a split-decision based on nothing but a good feeling. I knew nothing of this art. I had never done any martial arts even though I knew of other types of arts. I just saw the ad and for some reason decided to have a look. Looking back, I actually think I decided to start even before I entered that first class to have a look. I have never regretted it.

Illustration depicting thought.

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It is late. It is very late and I have to get up early tomorrow and be somewhat productive in work. Still… I am not ready for bed yet. I sit here listening to The Weepies and thinking about the training session at the dojo that I’m just back from.

Earlier today I was fine but I was tired and had a slight headache. The thought of working out was not very high on my “want-to-do-today” list. After a lot of back and forth of… I’ll leave it – Come on now, I have to go… I decided I will go after all as I did not go last week due to a nasty cold (because as we all know colds are a thing of evil).

So off I went – happy once the decision was made. It was the right decision. It was a really good training session. Great from a physical perspective were I could feel my body work out properly and get rid off all the hidden stress. I somehow didn’t want it to end. It was hot, sweaty, a bit painful (yes I will have new bruises again) but worth every push.

It was even greater from a mental perspective – somehow it answered some questions I had been mulling over. Questions and thoughts that before were jumbled now seemed to be clear. A sense of achievement and a belief in me re-established. I cannot explain how this happened and nor do I really care to try.

Sometimes it only hits you afterwards that THIS is what was needed. It was only two hours but I needed them. I was not aware of how much.

Right now… I am tired and I have a slight headache but I am going to bed happy.

I am just back from another great training session at the dojo. It was warm in there tonight. I am soaked and in dire need of a nice shower. Food first though and while I’ll rummaged through my fridge I realized that I’ve now been at the club for about 2 years.

It was in April 2009 that I started in the beginners class. I can’t believe it is two years already. It feels like it was yesterday that I turned up for my first class. I remember being nervous and excited at the same time. Nervous about what the others would be like and if I would make a complete fool out of myself. Excited because it seemed like fun and because I finally had the guts to try it out.

Today I still have those feelings when going to class. Maybe not as nervous as I was then but the nerves still play a part when we look at doing a technique that is somewhat new to me (which most ones still are). Mainly though I’m excited. I know I will leave feeling good. I know it will be exhausting, sometimes frustrating, bloody hard at times but always fun. There always a chance that some tiny little piece of the puzzle might click into place at that particular class. It can be a long time in between but when it does… it is the best feeling ever.

Two years. I still feel like a complete newbie and you know what… that is totally OK. I have a funny feeling I will feel this way for a long time, if not always. It just means there is more to learn, more to explore. More fun to be had.

Now to that shower…

So here I am sitting again, quite late at night, after a good training session at the dojo. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I was the only girl for quite some time training actively in the club. That meant that I always trained with the lads, expecting no special treatment and happily trying to give as good as I got.

We now have a few more girls that train, which is great. Not many but still more than before. This has also caused me to discover something. I find it harder to train with another woman than with one of the guys. Not because anyone is more skilled than the other but more because I become more careful and to be perfectly honest… more worried I might hurt my opponent.

It is ridiculous really but true. I become too cautions, which really doesn’t benefit anyone. It doesn’t benefit my opponent as she will not experience the resistance she should or the conditioning needed nor does it benefit me as I lose out on being too nice, not performing the technique to the correct extent and not connecting with a more “real” situation etc etc.

Now why do I feel like this you might wonder? It is hard to put my finger on it. I know that if I would encounter an aggressive girl out and about that would start a fight with me that I would not hold back just because she is a woman. It would not bother me at all. But… in the dojo I to a greater extent worry I might hurt my opponent, especially the girls. Most of the girls are tiny and probably weigh just about half my weight or similar. I am under no illusions here… I am no ballerina. Nor will I ever be. I also know, or so I have been told, that I am pretty strong for a woman. I am not blowing my own trumpet, I just always have been stronger than most of my female friends.

I also know that strength is NOT the deciding factor in martial arts but still, half the time I feel like I am going to hurt someone unintentionally. I need to work on that, as it is not fair on anyone. I know I am fooling myself but even knowing that… it is a challenge. I do not seem to have the same mental block when I train with the guys even though I do not want to hurt anyone badly, we are training after all, but it feels more OK to add some oooommmpphh when facing the lads.

So, something new to consider and overcome. Good thing there is always something to work on.