Karate and Confidence

Yes, this American Karate class is the right place for me the be. Sure, I felt like I nearly pulled a major muscle when I switched to kicks with my left side, and had to acknowledge that I am definitely older than before. However, even with that acknowledgement, I still felt perfect where I was.

I had actually been messaging with someone just before class tonight, discussing how odd the little things have all been regarding getting older. The awesome workout yesterday at the gym – 100 burpees, 50 cal assault bike, and 70 can ski, combined with EMOMs of box jumps and Russian kettle bell swings – left my knee really sore today, limiting what I could do in today’s workout. I have to rest more intentionally, and purposefully rub out certain muscles now, if I want not to fall apart. However, by doing those things intentionally, taking the necessary better care of my body, I have put myself in a position of being in better physical shape and function than I have ever been in life.

I’m not sure if that is ironic or not… avoid falling apart by taking better care, which results in better fitness than ever…

Whatever the case, in the karate class tonight, things were easy to do. They were easy in a way they had not been fifteen and twenty years ago, when last I was doing karate, doing these same movements. Sure, certain movements require additional stretching now, but I am better at them from the get-go. My efforts tonight for these kicks and leg strength practice were calm and easy for me. I knew I could use more stretching next time, so as to reach my true current abilities. And yet, even without that extra stretching, I was doing better than fifteen years ago, as a youth.

I am strong. Physically and mentally, I am very strong now, and in so many ways more than I was back then.

Even on the mental front, I used to be afraid of sparring. I still am now, but I can see it differently than I did back then. I was timid and afraid and ashamed when sparring as a child. I was not comfortable being assertive or aggressive in sparring. And so I almost always lost. And it was very jarring for me with every physical blow I received – they scared me, somehow, and it was more than just a physical blow each time. My cheeks would end up flaming hot with shame and embarrassment as they pulled the gear off my hands and head, and turned me from the square, so the next two kids could enter. I had known that I was better and could have won, but I had also known that my fear stopped me almost every time. And, for that, I was embarrassed.

Tonight, when the instructor mentioned that we would begin sparring next week, while I felt fear and nerves rise immediately within me, I also felt a challenge… a good challenge. Could I – who I am now – take this on with confidence? I understand that I am not aiming to hurt anyone now. No one is aiming to hurt me. It truly is a challenge, purely to see what I can make happen, what I can do when sparring. How much have I prepared myself for the unexpected moves and responses and style of the person facing me?

In dance, I will compete without a second thought in the category called “Jack and Jill”. It means that I will be given a random partner and song, and we will dance together, possibly for the first time ever, and usually in front of a whole ballroom full of people. When I did this in Korea a few years ago, I had only danced very briefly with the person I was assigned. I did not know the song that came on. We were the only couple dancing, with all the other couples seated in chairs behind us, the the ballroom packed with dancers in the front and on the sides, watching us and us alone. I merely looked into his eye, smiled, and had an amazing dance with him. I was scared of messing up, of disappointing everyone looking for a good dance and show, of looking stupid, of tripping, and of dozens of other things. But none of them held me back. My love for dancing guided me forward to put my best, confident, comfortable self forward. And the results were wonderful. We delivered. And we both had a blast doing it.

I am wondering now, if I can bring that same feeling forward into sparring. I am confident and comfortable in my self now. And also in my strength, both mentally and physically. I am in this class, because it fills me with joy and fulfillment, without my even having to ask anything of it. I like doing American karate. Period. I feels right right now. So, let’s bring forth those feelings to the sparring, and just see what I can do. Like the workout at the gym yesterday, I know I could have done more than I did, but I judged for safety and still gave it my best within those bounds. (My knees need care!) But I look forward to doing that same workout again in the future, so that my efforts between now and then can show me improvements that next time. Sparring can be exactly that for me: a benchmark workout. Go in with no idea how I’ll do. Develop baseline expectations after doing it a bit. Work outside of it to prepare for further bouts. Go into the next sparring opportunity with specific goals for improvement from the last time.

Yeah.

I can do this.

And I think I really will enjoy it, and very much.

Post-a-day 2021

A day of rest

My weighted vest arrived yesterday. I went to bed last night, considering that I actually might not be going to the workout this morning, but still leaning more towards going. When I awoke this morning, around two hours before my alarm, I was almost certain I would not be going to the workout. I felt terrible, utterly exhausted. When my alarm later sounded, it was confirmed: I was going back to bed, because I needed some serious rest. I slept an extra three and a half hours before waking for real. I didn’t actually get up until another half hour later, listening to an audiobook as I lay curled on my side under the comforter, eyes closed.

I eventually got up and made breakfast, though. After eating, I went and unpacked the vest with delight. I was super excited. As soon as I unpacked it, I put it on and wore it around the house for a while. It was certainly heavy, and would take some major adjusting, if ever I were intending to run two miles with this thing. I’m still not sure that I’ll ever do it, but I’m not giving up the idea so easily. Slow and steady, were my thoughts. We still have time.

By 10:00, I was barely staying awake, however, and so I lay down comfortably on the floor… and passed out… hard. I woke only once, and fell right back asleep, adding yet another additional three hours to my sleep tank for the day. I really was wiped, I thought. I had needed this day of rest, for more than just resting my muscles – so much of me was tired. Last week and the weekend and start of this week had been, well, a lot. And being behind on sleep with all of that only made things harder, both then and now.

And so I truly rested today, swapping between a new book on the kindle – got the notification this morning that it was now available from the library! – and the audiobook on my phone (also from the library, of course), and even spent close to an hour just stretching while reading, and half an hour swinging on the front porch, despite the heat and humidity (once the mosquitos arrived, however, I was done sitting out there).

Around 5:00pm, I was unsure as to what to do. I had rested much today, but didn’t want to rest too much. I also didn’t want to exert myself when I actually just needed rest. But I could feel it within myself that I needed to move. Not intensely or hard, but truly to move. So, I donned the weighted vest, though only with 10lbs now, instead fo 20, and went on a long walk. Two and a half miles in the heat, I walked at a mostly brisk pace, experiencing moving with the vest on me. It was simultaneously rough and easy.

Now, it is 9:00pm, and I can hardly stand up, I am so sleepy and tired. Therefore, I bid you all a wonderful night. 😉

P.S. Tomorrow is my anniversary of first beginning as a member at the gym. I had reached 55 workouts so far this calendar year yesterday, and so was comfortable not going today. Last year, at this point, I had done only 51 workouts. I still considered going at noon or in the afternoon today, just to round out the year’s total, but my body went into sleep mode for the noon class, and was too exhausted to fathom doing such work by late afternoon.

Post-a-day 2021

Lazy days of love

Today, I hopped out of bed only six hours after I gotten into it, and headed to my friend’s apartment (where I’m taking care of the cat and watching over the place) to meet a technician.

The technician, named Roland, was incredibly sweet, and even a bit fun for that brief half hour of having him in my life – I hope I was able to bring light to his day as he did to mine.

After that, well, I was already at my friend’s place, and the internet now worked, so I finished watching the currently available online one-hour Cirque du Soleil special, while snuggling with the cat.

I then made a brief trip to the grocer for eggs, and then returned to more time sitting on the sofa, cat pointedly on top of me, legs intertwined with my arms and hands…

I watched the film “Moonstruck” at last – she was 40 and he was 22! – and enjoyed the artistry of it, as well as the comedy and the use of Italian.

Otherwise, I spent the majority of the day and evening just sitting there with the cat, napping off and on together – I guess we were cat napping [Can you cat nap with a cat, can you do it in a hat?]… every hour or so, I’d take a bathroom break from our lazy times on the sofa, and I would stop on the way back to see if I could do a pull-up – I had done my first ever strict pull-up this morning, dead hang, arms locked out, feet off ground, no swinging, strict, chin over bar (without lifting my chin either)… a real pull-up(!!!), and the first in my life…

So, I guess I spent today either lounging and cat napping with a cat on top of me, or in practicing pull-ups…

And, somehow, I am going to bed extremely satisfied… the cat was just as bad as I am in terms of needing that physical touch love today, and it was wonderful and wonderfully fulfilling for my soul… and the pull-up was kind of amazing, too, and also very satisfying. 🙂

A good day… a very good day.

And it is truly a blessing after my struggles last night…, I am extremely grateful for the experiences I had today… I knew I would be okay, and I was today. 🙂

Post-a-day 2020

Tomorrow

I am driving to another city early tomorrow morning, so that I can view and examine and, possibly, test drive a scooter…

My hope is that the scooter be perfect for me, and that I, therefore, purchase it and bring it back to Houston with me.

I will have to take my motorcycle safety course, and purchase a cover and lock before I get to have it at my house, but that’s okay – it will sit in the garage of the family friend who is meeting me in a truck to go pick up the scooter in the first place, and he is extremely trustworthy with anything motorcycle related (and scooters are related, like cousins from Europe).

I am nervous to go to bed, because tomorrow will be here sooner, so far as my conscious kind is concerned, and the excitement of today will have ended…, but tomorrow will be perfect, for whatever reason, in whatever way it happens… of course, I am biased in the direction of this beautiful scooter becoming my friend and coming home to Houston with us… yep…

Anyway, I have my alarm to wake me at 5:35am, I think, so I really need to giddy up and go to sleep now, seeing as how it is almost midnight already.

And then, after we get back home, I have to do muscle testing at the gym, to see what maximum weight I can lift doing a certain motion, now that we’ve completed an eight-week cycle focused on building strength…, so I have to make sure I have proper energy and food for that tomorrow evening.

On that note, I bid you a wonderful night. 🙂

Post-a-day 2019

Ninja Stuff

I went to a ninja gym yesterday, and I felt very out-of-place.  I was not uncomfortable, but I felt how disconnected the people in this place – this place, even – and I were.  I also saw how I wanted us to be more connected, to be connected.  There were plenty of things, obstacles, that did not interest me, of course, but there were significantly more that truly struck my interest.  However, given that I am currently so out of shape as I am, – no, not fat, just not very fit right now – I really wasn’t able to do much with a lot of the obstacles.  I envied the fun my brother had just in attempting so many of the obstacles.  I want to have that kind of fun.

And so, my goal is to do some sort of upper body exercise every day (not too hard, but just enough to make habit of it), get a pair of gloves (because I am SO uninterested in having torn up or rough palms), and go back again when I feel I would have even the slightest chance of succeeding at some more of those obstacles at that ninja gym.  Also, I am considering a go at some CrossFit gyms, to test it out.  I might only be willing during the cooler season, but that’s better than never for something that strongly interests me (I live in Houston, recall.).

That’s what my plan is at the moment!

Post-a-day 2017

Just keep swimming…

I swam today!  And I don’t mean just playing around in a pool.  I swam laps.  Half a mile did I swim, and, though this is nothing to what I once could accomplish in the same amount of time (a mile or more), I am incredibly proud of this half mile, because I have not swum a lap in at least four years.  Not bad for starting out, I say!

In college, I discovered a love for swimming.  Laps, that is.  I spent about ten years on swim team as a kid, and I kind of hated most of it.  I absolutely loved the social aspect and the fun of the meets on Monday nights, and even getting ribbons for my race efforts.  But practice was something else entirely.  

You see, I was never very good at swimming.  I certainly was not bad by any means.  However, put me against the kids on the team who were considered “good”, and I paled in comparison.  I was better than the couple tubby kids, and I had decent speed, but my endurance just wasn’t there.  Because of that, I was never at the front of the line in practice, and near the back was not where I wanted to be.  I was also utterly exhausted before practice was ever even over.  So, I didn’t much like swim practice, and even disliked it a bit…, which meant that I went less and less often as Ingrew older.  This also meant that I get worse and worse, when compared to all the kids who actually attended every practice (and most kids had been on the team as long as I had).

All of that being said, I was truly surprised when I fell in love with swimming in college.  I always respected and almost revered swimmers as glorious doers of beautiful sport.  I always rather envied them (minus the really broad shoulders).  But I also always disliked practice.  It’s almost surprising that I did swim team longer than any other sport, but for the fact that my mom required us to do swim team.  To this day, I do not know how I got out of swimming in Open (ages 15-18), but I was beyond delighted that my swim team days were finished before I had to be slower than everyone in my age group.  13/14’s were tough enough for my morale.

I wasn’t on the team in college or anything, but I did attend the meets that happened on campus, and I loved them.  It wasn’t until my third (and final) year that I started swimming myself, though.  I joined a water sports class and tennis class in order to fulfill my sport credits for school, and somehow also ended up going swimming in the pool during the nighttime opening hours.  Perhaps my inspiring friend Genevieve got me to go with her one night to start, and then I kept going on my own after that.

In the water sports class, there were mostly non-athletic people in it, and so we often just had inner tube water polo on the schedule.  I disagreed with the inner tubes on principal for the game, but the level of competitiveness actually got me quite irritated in class.  This is not mean to be harsh, merely matter-of-fact: If you aren’t good at something, you aren’t allowed to be fiercely competitive in it.  Some of these people were yelling and going crazy over this game that Inhad already passed as casual and fun, since almost no one was any good at it.  

So, I eventually asked the coach if I could swim laps instead for class.  He might have denied me at first, but then realized how desperately I wanted to do it instead of water polo, and so allowed me for any time we played that particular game (which was often).  The first time he agreed to it, he told me that it was ‘okay, but only if you swim a mile.’  I honestly told him that I likely was incapable, but he chuckled and I realized that he was joking.

I trained at nights on the days we didn’t have class, and worked hard in my swimming.  I still remember the excitement I had on the day I climbed out of the water near the end of class and told him, “Okay, done.”  I had swum a mile during class, which was only a 45-minute class.  I had barely done it in time, but I had done it.  The coach was nearly baffled.  He expressed that he had been merely joking about the mile.  I told him how I knew that, but figured I’d go for it, anyway.  He was impressed.  He didn’t think he was capable of swimming a mile in any length of time.  I had earned the recognition I had hoped in my silly endeavor, which only added to my joy of accomplishing the task itself.  I was not a swimmer, but here I was, quickly swimming a mile, and able to rush off to tennis class immediately afterward.

One thing to add about that time swimming: My body was incredibly happy, and it looked great, too.  Ever since then, I have been convinced that swimming is one of (if not the) the best full-body workouts around, with amazing results.

Here I am, years later, finally in a pool again.  I have more to my body than I would like for there to be in certain areas, and not enough to satisfy my muscle goals for my body, so I truly hope I find a way to get this swimming to be a regular and often thing again, and that I do it.  Because I really do love swimming.

Post-a-day 2017
P.S. A fellow ALT (assistant language teacher) recently mentioned how she had a student who was attempting to express that he was a swimmer, and so he wrote, “I am a breast stroker.”  Gotta love things getting lost in translation.  😛