Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Day 30: Jumping the Stick

So I'm learning this new longstick form for my test next month. 

And as I mentioned yesterday, the thing feels completely awkward to me.  I keep switching it back and forth, back and forth.  Low block, low block, upward strike, across.  Low block, low block, upward strike, across.  Sometimes my hands come out right, sometimes they don't.  And I'm only beginning to add the footwork. It usually takes several weeks of consistent practice for me to learn an open-hand form.  Put a weapon in my hands and the amount of time increases exponentially.

One thing I have to do for this form is to hold the stick out in front of me with both hands and jump over it.  I've heard lengthy conversations between the other women at the dojang regarding this daunting task, the insurmountable nature of it, the psychological obstacle it creates, etc.  Other advanced students have told me that they have had to pass it behind them instead of jumping it - for now, anyway. 

On the other hand, the kids, including my son, do it effortlessly.

When I asked about it yesterday, the Master told me to simply practice with a belt or a wrapping paper tube until I felt comfortable with a stick.  Looking dubiously at the stick in my hands, I was sure that would not happen any time soon.  He didn't seem concerned, though.

The female sabumnim with whom I had spoken about it assured me the obstacle was all in my head.  She said she had felt the same way at my rank and had started on her trampoline, using first her belt, a foam-covered PVC pipe, and then she had broken a couple of longsticks, but eventually she had jumped it and I would do it too. 

So today, feeling kind of crappy about the way the day was going, and looking for a way to snap out of the depression I felt creeping back in, I grabbed Middle and a set of escrimas and we worked on some basic longstick moves.  Low block, low block, upward strike, across.

And then, just for kicks, I decided I was going to jump it.  It wasn't going to break, and if I fell on my face or whacked my foot on it, it wouldn't really change the course of my day anyway.

I'm sure it wasn't pretty, but it was possible.  I hopped right over it.

Then I did it again.  And again.  And again.

Tonight, after class, I grabbed a stick to double-check the first part of the form with the Master, and he showed me the next part as well.  When he said, "Here's the part where you would jump it," I jumped it, much to his surprise. "That's awesome, ma'am!" he said.  It was the highlight of my day.

I'm realizing that there are plenty of things that I genuinely can't do yet.  But I don't have much fear of - or patience for - obstacles that are merely in my head.  And this was one of them.

There's a certain sense of freedom that comes from having been through enough garbage, enough pain and disappointment, that you can say, "What the hell?  How bad can it be?"  You no longer worry about what other people think, you no longer care about falling on your face, getting hurt or being cut loose. 

This is the point where you can truly stand apart, take risks, be genuine.  The worst thing that can happen is you can screw it up. 

Which, in the grand scheme of things, is really no great tragedy.

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