Thursday, September 6, 2012

Face Your Fears

This is a note that I wrote and posted on Facebook following testing for my black-brown belt at Muay Thai last Thursday. I didn't realize how many life lessons I would learn through Muay Thai and this testing definitely brought one forward.


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Earlier this week, someone was telling me about a stressful situation and I could see their thoughts were spiraling downward so I asked, "What would you do if the worst thing you imagine in this situation happened?"

I've been thinking about that a lot lately as I've gone through the special "cycle" classes that prepare us to receive our black belts.  I've had some real fears about knowing the material but not being able to actually do it and those fears have been exacerbated by the fact that several of the people who should be testing for black belt with me have decided to defer.  Which means I may be one of two people testing in my dojo - or maybe even the only one.

Last week I had the pleasure of having the Shihan at my home for a visit and I flat out asked him, "If I'm the only one, will I have to perform the test requirements by myself or will you put me with another dojo?" He didn't even hesitate and simply said, "You'll have to do it alone."

As you can imagine, that statement made my fears rear up full force - to the point where if I even thought about it, I felt sick to my stomach.  Not especially great timing as this week was belt test week.

All day yesterday my foot, which has been dogging me since April,  was hurting.  Throbbing to the point where I almost couldn't think for the noise it was making in my head.  It hurt so much I considered calling the Kyoshi to say that I simply couldn't come to the test... but this was a test I didn't want to miss:  testing for my Black/Brown belt. So, off I went throbbing foot and all.  





During the test, we had to sprint and elevate and jump and do things that made it hurt more I think.  Not an ideal situation to say the least but I was simply trying to power through it.  Even that rubs my perfectionism the wrong way though - I really dislike have to modify anything.  I want to do it perfectly.  




We were put through the usual bag, combo and fitness work and then at the end of the test, I was put in spotlight in front of the entire group.  As I'm in cycles for black belt I've been practicing my combos and weapons like crazy - even to the point where I recite the moves as I drive to and from work every day.  I've had people 'testing' me and even though I know that material cold, something about standing in front of people needing to perform it correctly turns my stomach, my brain goes blank and I freeze.


So there I was in front of everyone and Sensei Sheryle called out a combo and I did it.  She called out a second combo and I did it.  Then she called out a third combo and it happened to be one of the first combos I learned.  I've known it well for a couple of years.  But then, THE WORST THING HAPPENED.  I froze.  My mind went blank and I couldn't remember the first moves.  I thought I was going to be sick in front of the whole testing class.  My vision even went a little dark.  As if I was in a tunnel I heard Mr. Helen and my teammates encourage me.  I felt my heart start racing and I knew if I didn't get this it would be the end of me for sure.  I shook my head, the fog sort of lifted and it came to me. I did the combo.  (According to my biased husband, I "ROCKED" all my material  and looked like a black belt candidate - I'll take that!)

When all was said and done, I had the honor of having my Kyoshi present me with my Black-Brown belt.  I'm thinking that this might be one of my favorite belts I've ever received.

At our dojo we say a Black Belt is a White Belt who didn't quit. It's a simple but true statement.  Now I add, that  a Black Belt is a White Belt who faced their fears head on and knocked them down.



16 comments:

  1. There is just something about this post that brought tears to my eyes. Congratulations Helen! Sounds like you rocked your test to me and you look pretty bad ass in some of those pics.

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  2. You showed the rest of us that you can survive when what you precieve to be the worst thing that can happen does happen. Look at you your still standing!! You go girl!

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  3. Beautiful, Helen, and congratulations. What an amazing story of toughness and tenacity...feeling the fear and moving forward anyway. You are amazing.

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  4. I'm glad you posted it here too...I am bookmarking this for future reference. Hugs and congrats!

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  5. Wow, congratulations Helen!! I am so glad we got to see some action shots of you getting your black belt!

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    1. Not quite black yet Debby, but if all goes well - December! That will require a monster post as it's 2 days of testing vs. one hour for this black-brown belt.

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  6. Congratulations! I loved this post ... there is nothing I love better than a humble bad ass!

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  7. That look on your face when you're kicking the bag? FIERCE.

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    1. Not fierce. Ridiculous! But I can't figure out how to make another face because usually I've got keeping good form and remembering to not hold my breath racing through my brain so my face just does what it does LOL!

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  8. You look like a woman on fire in those pics! I love it!

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  9. I read it on Facebook but somehow my comment gave an error. So I'm going to give it here, what I wrote last week:

    HELEN, YOU ROCK!

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  10. Love the photos, Helen! You are an inspiration to me, who currently lives in a "no exercise zone." When I look at you, you make me want to get up and move!

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  11. YOU ARE SUCH AN INSPIRATION HELEN! (and I really need to figure out how to follow you!). Even with some pain, you held your ground, got the job done and earned your belt - Woot!!

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  12. You are amazing! I meant to comment on this post WAY before now, but better late than never. Black belt is NO joke. I know as well as anyone how hard that is and what an accomplishment. You should be so proud! When I get mine I probably won't take it off for a week! Great job!!

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