Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Friday, June 12, 2015

Ineptitude in Martial Arts

Below is an excerpt from an article that appeared in the Huffington Post. The full article may be read here

Boy, can I relate...

The Horrible Awkwardness and Angst of Being a Beginner: In Aikido or at Anything


I'm sore all over. My Achilles heel is swollen up like a golf ball. My left knee aches. My shoulders have more knots in them than a sailor can tie -- all from training intensely for my Aikido test next Saturday.
It's for my first Kyu, the test before the Shodan or black best test.
When I tell people that I train in Aikido (Japanese martial arts), they typically get a look of admiration in their eyes, like I'm Xena, the warrior, even when I tell them it's nothing to be impressed about. If you saw me throw a 200-pound guy you wouldNOT, I repeat NOT, be impressed.
Because... I'm not flowing, graceful, relaxed, coordinated or elegant. To the contrary, I'm stiff, tense, foot-awkward and have poor timing. I still cry after many a class with frustration.
Sometimes, in the middle of class, I panic, and think I can't do it. My sensei always seems to catch me when that look crosses my face, and he says, "Susan, you can do it." Or "have courage." Or "be brave." Which then triggers tears that I hold back, because it's not considered Budo, or martial, to cry on the mat, and I'll be damned if I'm going to break that man-code.
The other day, I trained with a black belt after hours who hit my jo (long wooden staff) with so much force it smacked me on the side of my head so hard that I was stunned. Once I recovered my senses, I rushed to the girls' dressing room to get some ice from the freezer and felt the tears coming -- more shock than pain. But all my training helped me ground and center myself so I could just focus on the task and not the pain. After a few minutes of icing we continued to train.
Why do I keep doing it? It's a case of love/hate.
Yesterday my teacher, Hans Goto Sensei said we train to prepare ourselves for the unusual, to face things bravely and to see clearly.
Those are a few of the reasons I continue to train. And...
I strive to be elegant and skilled, to master not just my mind and body, but my emotions, fears and feelings. In so many ways I'm really far away from any kind of self-mastery right now.
Case in point: I just did a run through for "the test" on Sunday and the two black belts I was training with said I was timid. This pains me. I'm not a timid person. I've run my own business for over 23 years and have taught thousands of people, everyone from CEOs to celebrity chefs, rock stars to reality TV contestants, entrepreneurs, authors, speakers, coaches and consultants, to speak up and not to take guff from anyone and to prepare for media interviews for Oprah, 60 Minutes, The Today Show, Howard Stern, Bill O'Reilly, NPR etc. -- tough shows with little room for error or timidity.
My motto is "Speak your mind. Stand your ground. Sing your song."
I live by it. Or rather, I'm living into it. But for whatever reason, I haven't been able to translate those skills that I use in business onto the mat.
When I told my sweetie, Will, that I was called "timid" he said, "You're not a timid person. Timid is a character thing. You're just a little hesitant when it comes to Aikido. Hesitancy can be overcome with practice."
This gave me heart.
Because I have a second motto I live by: Keep training.


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