Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Day 64: I Am an Athlete

I had a fresh new attendance card when I came in to the dojang today, which is typical after testing for a new rank.  Normally, you come in for class and move your card to a different box so that it can be stamped for that day.  If you take two classes, you write a little "x2" so they know to stamp it twice.

Today was a "x3" day for me. 

In the kickboxing class alone, we did over 100 burpees in the course of the hour, in addition to several hundred crunches, leg lifts, and of course, kicks and punches.

I did them all.

Damn, I feel strong.

At the end of kickboxing, we did some deep yogaesque stretching, which I did extra well.  Grabbing and holding my feet, not just my ankles.  Getting my knees to the floor in the butterfly position.  Stretching and breathing into each group of muscles, thanking them for their hard work today.

Loving my athletic body all over again.

Keep in mind, for much of my life, turning the pages of a book was about as athletic as I got.  Playing sports meant picking dandelions in right field.  Skiing was more about riding the chair lift with a good friend or a boy I liked.

In graduate school, I did work summer camps, including a High Adventure camp that required some strenuous hiking, paddling and climbing at times.  I was in good shape then, but I wouldn't have called myself an athlete.  A nature-lover, yes.  But not an athlete.

Being an athlete is something completely different.  It's a way of life, a way of looking at and treating myself.  Everything is training, whether it's burpees or side kicks or hiking or carrying a load of laundry.  Even non-physical activities are training.  Staying calm and centered in a moment of stress, controlling the breath, not letting someone get under my skin.  It's all training, and each challenge, each success (and even each failure) has a lesson and the potential to make me stronger if I use it to that end.

Damn, I feel strong.

This last week has been full of such challenges and lessons.  It's been a lot to process, and I am grateful to be surrounded by people who are supportive of my growth, as I am of theirs. 

People tend to approach martial arts training in the same way they approach life, and this seems to be amplified during a promotion month so that our similarities and differences are all the more apparent.  It's been a bit of a pressure cooker, but it's pressure that makes us stronger, sharper, more decisive.  We're watching each other, gauging responses, learning who each other is, learning what we're made of.

How I approach this discipline says something about who I am. 

I am conscientious.
I am daring.
I am humble.
I am helpful.
I am encouraging.
I am a good friend.
I am enthusiastic.
I am positive.
I am strong.
I am fearless.
I am perseverant.
I am eager.
I am tireless.

I am an athlete.

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