I’ve already lamented over the fact that not all blog posts can be winners.
The sad truth is that it’s not limited to blog posts. Not all classes can be winners. Not all meetings can be winners. Not all meals can be winners. Not all days can be winners.
No matter how good we are at what we do, how confident we act, that “clunker” is inevitable. We’re bound to stumble at some point. It’s one of those things that comes with being human.
Yes, I experienced a moment like that today.
I’ve been training my arse off for black belt. I felt I excelled in the pre-test two weeks ago, and have been working very hard to clean up the things I know I need to improve. (Jump kicks. Handling a bo staff like a competent martial artist. Sparring with equal parts smarts and skill.)
If there’s one aspect I feel I know very well, it’s my hyungs, or forms.While my techniques may still need to be cleaned up, I know the moves I need to execute from white belt to cho dan bo. I feel like it’s the area in which I perform the best.
So today, why did I totally blank on a yellow belt form that I had practiced hundreds (or thousands) of times?
I stumbled at the end of the form, the four chops. Now, when I was just learning this form as a newly-minted yellow belt, this part tripped me up immensely. It took quite some time for me to get it right, and after much perseverance, I got it. This was over two years ago.
It’s a form I’ve practiced many times, and have aced in class repeatedly. Yet despite all of that, I flubbed it today.
Maybe I haven’t practiced it enough? A lot of my attention lately has gone toward fine-tuning higher-belt forms, especially the 54-move special of Bassai and the Ship Soo form I’m expected to know as a blue belt.Those beginner forms? I know them all like the back of my hand. Right? Right??
Alternatively, maybe I let my mind kick in a little too much. I’m a notorious over-thinker. My overactive mind has led to mass confusion, misunderstandings, and anxiety stomachaches, and yet it’s difficult for me to reign it in.
I’ve become reliant on muscle memory due to the hours of practice I’ve put in. Thus, the amount of thought I need to put into things like forms is very minimal. That’s when I succeed.
However, when I’m learning something new and it’s not quite clicking, then the mind tends to step in and dominate the action. As a result, I develop an interpretation that’s flat-out ridiculous, and usually leads to me expending more energy than needed.
As for today, I don’t know what the excuse is. My muscle memory failed me, which caused my mind to jump in and try to make it better. (It didn’t work.)
After class, I did that form several times on my own, and tried to re-establish the muscle memory that’s served me so well in the past. I was successful in reclaiming it, which was great. But it couldn’t have been during class? That’s obnoxious.
It’s tough to come to terms with the fact that at this point, so close to black belt testing, I’m still prone to making these errors. While I think I made some headway in my training today, I also feel like I took a step backwards in not performing at a level I know I can achieve. This may be a harsher assessment than necessary, given that I set my personal standards very high.
Unlike in the past, when I’d let something like this eat away at my confidence, to the point of wanting to give up, I’m going to take this as a reminder that I need to keep practicing everything, no matter what. Sure, they’re the basic forms, but those basics are the foundation for the more complex forms I need to perform. They’re not useless or beneath me. They’re important. And today, they got the best of me.
I’m totally paraphrasing here, but: getting knocked down is one thing; how you get back up is what’s especially telling.
So today knocked me down. What’s the proper response? To keep going.
Tomorrow, I’ll get back to class and perform better than I did today. Beyond that, I’ll keep on keeping on, growing and learning every step of the way.
The Monday Question
Have you ever flubbed something that, to you, is as simple as knowing your name? How did you respond? (And have you ever flubbed knowing your name??) Share your stories in the comments below.
Until next Monday!