Thursday, August 14, 2014

Self confidence

I found myself in class recently working with a younger man who was a brown belt.  And although I'm about 17 years his senior in age, a creeping feeling came into my mind:

Is he having a problem with the kick because he watched me?

Am I doing it wrong and he is following me?

Most of this came from my last black belt test for 2nd dan.  I was succinctly warned by one of the masters that I had to be extra careful, because people will pay attention to me as a senior belt.

What followed was something that plagued me since I was promoted to black belt.

I don't feel like I have arrived

Years ago, when I studied Tae Kwon Do, I would meet black belts and comment how much they must know, and how impressed I was.  I did this in a manner of humility and not "sucking up".  To be honest I don't remember the exact words but they would always come back with the statement:

 A black belt means you are just beginning to learn

I always thought to my self the following  "What kind of mystic Eastern crap is that!?"  years later I finally understood it, because I was now walking in their shoes!  I gave it about 3 years of thought and then decided to go to my Sensei (Kyoshi Wilcox).  I explained this concern with him. He looked at me and said, "You know what you call that!?"  He then leaned towards with wild eyes (quite the norm for him) and said "You call it NORMAL"

We all go through stages in life where, perhaps we feel less than adequate or wonder what others are thinking.  To a degree this is normal.  He later shared with me that to feel like you have arrived or, you are owed something is abnormal and bad.  Heres a few Biblical examples:

We read that Moses fled Egypt for killing a man and lived for 40 years in exile.  Keep in mind that he was trained as a Prince; the heir apparent of Pharaoh.  Moses was a statesman, General and scholar!  but he didn't have humility  "Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall"  The prophet Amos was a shepherd and tree trimmer, not well suited and trained by the standards of those days, but he spoke of what he knew and was effective enough to be called and recorded in scripture.  True, they had the call of God on them and obeyed, but notice what God did!  never discount your learning and abilities to be used some day!

 The martial arts is about growth and development, much like Christianity and life in general; it is a journey not a destination! It only stands to reason that we should be careful how we step because there are always people above and below you and some will undoubtedly look at how you step.

So, where does my title come in?

The best way to explain it is by telling you a story back from 1991 when I was in the Army.  I went to the U.S. Army Air Assault school where I learned about sling loading equipment from the bottom of a helicopter and how to rapel.  The instructors would tell us horror stories about not having the rapel seat tight and even a soldier who was severely injured when the rope was caught in between his leg and one of his . . .  uh never mind, but you get the point.  As a bunch of young men we were now scared silly about losing part of our manliness.  This is when I received a bit of sage wisdom I have not forgotten since.  the instructor said:

At some point, you have to have faith in your equipment

And so it is with our training.  if you attend a reputable school that has a good mix of tradition and common sense training, you may not get everything 100% correct all of the time, but you will understand the concepts to make things work and still be a good example to all. In martial arts, we wear belts as a sign of rank.  In the Army, schools are represented by badges worn, but in the church our hard fought tests are shown by our character and spirit and only sometimes by a position or calling in the church.

Incidentally, we were doing inside and outside crescent kicks, and the rhythm was a bit odd.

Overall, you .must have faith in your equipment (training). and let your good actions speak louder than words

Your Brother in Christ

And  Senpai in Karate 

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