rise of the dragon
starting to cook, on the game front. been working on Garden Day with the other DS cats for quite a while by now, from concept to artwork. not in any linear fashion. but wherever the flow takes us. with a guiding organizational approach, of course. a flexible one. the game has seen a lot of evolution because of this over the time we’ve been working on it (a year? less? more?). but it’s growing where it wants, and that’s the way we work. lately, the flow has been strong, and ideas are shaping, and stuff is starting to come together in a way that is very exciting.
i’m sort of caught between wanting to post images as i go, so you can see how the game grows (and that would be on our blog, i should specify), and wanting to avoid giving too much away, or, alternately, planting the seed of a visual that may (at this point i can say most likely will) later change, and frustrate those who were privy to the early iterations of the art. but as i type it out, i think that can think of a way to get the benefit and avoid the downfall of writing on the game development. so you may wanna keep an eye on the DS blog. as this thing heats up, we’ll certainly be adding more over there.
my rib is healing up pretty well. just a week or so of pain, i guess. a very localized pain, and not hard to deal with. i’ll be on the look out to see if the original injury is going to be acting up like this every time i take some whacks to the ribcage. which is not so bad. always the scariest part is not understanding why something is happening with your body. once it’s a known, it’s easy not to get stressed out when it comes around again.
so here we are now in the year of the dragon, and so many things feel to be coming together. it’s almost uncanny how sweetly this is happening on a few fronts, but life—being life—will surely deliver her usual load of obstacles along the way, so i feel no worry about that! meanwhile, most of these events i speak of are not happenstance, or random occurrences, but rather the natural culmination of work made. work on the inside, work on the outside. however we want to frame it, the year is beginning with many auspicious, encouraging, and exciting developments. i have a very good feeling about this year.
my black belt test will be on march 10 (only four days after my birthday), and i continue to prepare. reports are handed in, i train anywhere from 6 to 9 times a week. some of those days are demo team, some are assisting instruction kids classes, some are regular classes. they all serve an important purpose, they are all required.
which is, i suppose, a fair segue into the very exciting tho somewhat startling news that i’ve been asked to step up to assistant team captain for the demo team! whoa. this really took me by surprise. R is the team captain, but as a fourth dan with a massive number of hours per week (he is there anytime the dojang is open, has been for years, and is master lee’s right hand man) that’s understandable. my buddy J used to be assistant team captain, but in testing for second dan, he injured himself and has been out since october. i hardly know what i do or have done to deserve the assistant team captain position, but if the team coach and team captain feel i can do the job, i will do my best to prove their trust is well founded. i’ll admit that i’m slightly uneasy at taking a position where i’ll be critiquing and helping ranks higher than me with their technique, but i’ll be sure to preface my stint with a declaration that i’m seeing this role assignment as a way to provide an extra pair of eyes, and not as a statement that my technique is flawless or necessarily better than anyone i’m critiquing. or at least, i imagine i’ll say that. then again, what i say to the team will depend on how K or R introduce the new position. i’d be happy to not have to lookout for people’s egos all that much. i mean, these are all blackbelts and chodanbo. as a martial artist you are expected to be able to handle your ego. but i’m sympathetic to the fact that this could be a slightly touchy moment! anyway, it was a real honor to be asked. i didn’t see it coming at all. on the other hand, i think this, as well as having to spend a lot of time assisting and teaching the kids, actually addresses areas i need to address in my martial arts journey.
as you’ve noticed, i talk (well, write) a lot about my focus…about my attention to where i need to improve, about my journey in martial arts, about the physical injuries, about rising above, about keeping humble, about goals, about progress—but this is all internal stuff. i work very hard, but keep my focus inward. and for most of your color belt days, this is (i think) the way to do it. avoid too much focus on others, aside from when they can help you learn. avoid worrying about how their technique might need to improve. avoid getting distracted. focus on yourself. keep your head down to the grindstone.
but at a certain point, you are forced to come out of this cocoon. your transformation as a martial artist must include a growth out of yourself; a lifting the eyes off the grindstone, and a broader view, that includes others. this is where assisting instructing comes in, the teaching credits requirements for black belt, the black belt oath, the giving back to the community. these are not incidental, but very much part of the philosophy and practice of martial arts. i’ve touched on this idea at least once before, but i didn’t realize until diving into assisting instructing that i have hesitancy at all in correcting others’ technique or acting as an authority. this actually surprised me a lot! i know myself…i know i have lessons to impart; i’m an oldest brother; i’m a natural teacher; i’ve been a counselor; i’m a father. i’m also prone to being a know-it-all (tho i’ve lost much of this behavior or impulse over the years). through much effort and time, i’ve grown much in my ability to bring issues to a person and can do it assertively, kindly, and without being aggressive or weird. in other words, i should have no problem with the role of teaching/instructing others. and yet…i do not carry all or the entirety of my habits and personality into the dojang. in fact, i very much transform to the best of my ability. i think if martial arts is approached properly, in fact, you leave most of your self at the door. this, too, is the idea. you come into training humble, open, like a sponge, and ready to learn and listen. and it seems i’ve done such a good job at that that by now it feels weird to begin looking up out of myself, focusing on others, speaking to them about their technique, and in general, assuming any kind of authority. it’s not a moral authority, to be clear, or anything more than the natural hierarchy of taekwondo, very much based on the work you’ve put in (rank), and the techniques you’ve mastered. so there’s no reason it should be an ugly sort of authoritarian gig. but i guess that’s a ground i’m feeling out now. this position as assistant team captain nudges me further into this somewhat uncomfortable area. and that’s good.
…it really did surprise me, you know! in case i’ve not adequately conveyed my genuine feelings here. both getting the position as well as discovering my awkwardness at being any kind of authority in this realm. i’m surprised by my surprise! i think i’ve grown to really enjoy the fact that in at least one place in my life, i can let go of a lot of that type of stance. i don’t mind at all taking my time to climb the ladder of rank. i enjoy knowing, and stating time and time again, that i’m nowhere near mastery or perfection and that i understand this is a long road. i don’t mind at all taking a backseat. i don’t mind at all being quiet and just showing what i do instead of talking at all about it or pretending to be some kind of example.
but sure enough, martial arts will, unerringly, find any area you harbor fear, lack of confidence, uneasiness, immaturity, or a need to grow—and fast, force you to confront it. this dynamic is at once what makes martial arts both scary as well as one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do, if you stick with it and move through it.