…into the black
i’m beginning to have hope that i didn’t actually break three toes on my right foot. a few days have passed; a lot of swelling has had chance to recede. my foot is still swollen, bruised deeply, and not very mobile…but i can move enough now that i’m feeling positive that the worst of it may just be severe soft tissue trauma. which is very good news. because if i broke toes, that means i’ll be out of any real tkd activity for a long while.
but yeah, as you know (tho i didn’t go into details), in my fall, i stepped into the air (which is more fun to see on bugs bunny cartoons than it is to do in real life), bounced off the metal work of the chair back, and then crashed to the ground on my right foot. oof. yeah, it was actually just about as sudden and traumatic as it sounds! ridiculous as i am, i was wincing, moaning, and frantically trying to wipe up all the spilled paint only moments after i landed. before i even knew what i had done to my body; before lying down on the floor of the living room with an ice pack clenched gratefully between my legs because, well, that’s how i landed on the chair. i’d post a picture [OF MY TOES], but feet are bad enough to begin with, right? we all like our own, but we don’t want to spend too much time looking at strangers’ feet. and then when you add in swelling and dark bruising, the whole thing gets to be a bit more of an imposition than i feel comfortable making in my readers’ lives. but if you snapped a toe in half without breaking the skin, and dark violet fluid seeped out into the toe proper and discolored it accordingly…that’s pretty much what i’d venture to say i have THREE of on my right foot. and don’t bother thanking me for taking all that time describing something to you you very possibly may not have ever wanted to have in your mind…i sat through an arnold schwarzenegger movie about cloning today that unsettled my soul and i doubt very much you feel any urge to fight for justice in that instance, do you? right. so let’s just keep moving.
had a little party to celebrate making black belt, and to celebrate some friends making black belt. D and K and M, for a few. people i’ve sweated alongside for years, now. i was feeling the urge to get back in the dojang and ramp back up lately. been taking it easy since testing for black. but the toe thing has taken me out for a little bit. so i’ll be doing more coaching on the demo team than performing. and when i’m in class, i’ll probably be at about 30% power on most things. at least anything that requires weight or pivot on my right foot. don’t hold me to percentages. i’m a martial artist, jim. not a statistician.
on that note, i haven’t really written about my neck condition lately! and i should. because the condition is better than its ever been. and far better than i had thought i could expect only a few months ago. the chiropractor–dr. shirk here in eugene, oregon–did an amazing job with the traumatized and frozen condition of my neck vertebrae. it took a month or two (more?, not sure) to work our way back to mobility, but he gave me back a lot of motion in my neck, and removed a lot of pain from my life and i can’t tell you what a big deal that is. that’s also part of the reason i look forward to working out a little bit in taekwondo again…my neck is almost back to full capacity. that is a big deal when it comes to the spinning kicks and motions we do. and hard to believe, after the year of pain or so. it’s actually only been a little while (2 months-ish) since it was still bugging me a lot. so that’s a big change, too. and a weight off. i’ll have to leave it there, because while that change deserves pages, i would just be saying the same thing over and over again. which is to express my happiness, gratitude, and relief at being able to treat the condition after over a year of pain, numbness, bad sleep, cramping muscles, unmoving neck parts, and only sleeping on one side of my body. that was probably the biggest physical injury/disability type issue i’ve had to deal with in my life. not that it’s totally over. there is still a tiny bit of inflammation/numbness that can flare up in my neck and hand in certain positions. but the extent of the pain and the range of motion looks nothing like it did a few months ago. i’m still awed.
i suppose for the sake of keeping this record, i ought to write a little bit simply on my feelings and reality now that i’ve reached the rank of First Dan/Don (Jogyonim [Instructor]/1st Degree Black Belt). it’s not often in life–and when it occurs it is always a big deal in any area–where you set a goal years in the future and work hard at it, relentlessly and with passion and through pain, over the course of those years. and if you’ve been reading me over the years, then you have an inkling of what the process has been like for me. it’s required endurance, and courage, and a lot of energy. it has forced me to reach deep into myself for natural elements that were not yet mined, or if they were, were not at all cleaned, shaped, nor polished, yet. it has brought me injury, and pain of varying degrees. and yet, i have never let those pains or injuries take me out of the game, or used them as an excuse to abandon my path. training to black belt has taught me about ego, and courage, and how they are two very different things. the work has helped me teach myself how to sharpen my focus to a high degree, and has demonstrated for me the power of practice and repetition. it has helped me learn how to fine tune my will and spiritual essence with the blunt mechanics of my physical self and bring them into alignment and shared motion and purpose. the journey has made me stronger, faster, quicker to react physically when required to do so, and deepened my powers of strength, balancing, and targeting. taekwondo has given me gifts that nothing else in my life has done. it has done all this and more. and very importantly, too, training with weapons and self defense and physical combat alongside the philosophies of self-control, wed through discipline with peacefulness and positivity has calmed my furious energies a bit; has stilled the raging chaos that flickered and surged throughout my being, previously. i am no angel, nor perfect, and still sometimes too quick to jump, but i am yet on this path and will continue to grow. overall, i am a far more measured, calm, and confident person in my life today due to my conditioning and conscious choices through martial arts.
i think i will always be a martial artist. i can’t see just “not doing martial arts” in some way, shape, or form. it’s not like smoking cigarettes, or following a sports team…something you can just stop doing and forget about…to just live life and not do once it has come into your heart and changed you (regret the passive tone of this because without your dedication and work, nothing in you will “be changed,” that’s for sure.) i’m sure you can take martial arts into regions and into levels where it looks like walking, or just sitting and watching and breathing, so i don’t mean i’ll always be honing my Tornado Round Kick. there’s a continuum. but to me, martial arts is just a way to approach life, to see life, to respond, to engage. and once you’ve felt the beauty and power in that way…once you have used that path to reach new places in yourself and in life…you’re always going to be there, and need to be there on some level. that’s who you are, now.
in the immediate future, i’ll continue to train in taekwondo. i’ve put a lot of time and work and sweat and money and other forms of energy into the school and the community and the martial art, and now that i’m on a new level, i want to feel it out and enjoy its bounty, as well as to benefit from meeting new challenges on this level. i want to learn keumgang, and begin attending the black belt-only classes where great grandmaster lee takes it up a notch, and to continue to refine all the technique i now have. i want to continue teaching and passing on what i know so as to keep it all very fresh for me. i want to know what it’s like to run demo team and classes more and more. simply put: i want to continue to grow in this art.
i will also begin training in hapkido (another korean art, this one purely martial art and not sport; self defense, and not sport). but not right away. i had planned to right away after receiving my black belt in TKD, but i want to use this time to do a sustained push on my art for DS and welcome a more relaxed pace in other areas for now. once i get through the bulk of current art needs for our first game, i will begin training in hapkido. it won’t be too long.
as fewer and fewer new/big/dramatic things happen in taekwondo for the time being (the learning/changing arc at this point is less steep than while on the color belt climb), there may not be a lot to write about on it, but that’s fine. i haven’t been writing too much lately, again, because of that arc’s pitch shifting. it happens over time. your improvements and challenges build on prior work you’ve done, so the steps get less drastic in their distance from one another. as you get comfortable with the foundational elements, your refinements get smaller, tho still very important. but the love is still the same: unflagging and unchecked and abundant.
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- 05.08.12 / 10am