It's been an intensive training weekend, and not all of it was good.
Good, yes, in the sense that it was useful and important stuff I needed to know and practice.
But at the same time, it was seriously frustrating. Discouraging, even.
I rolled out of bed, threw on half my gi and stumbled into Saturday morning class with just enough time to finish dressing and spend a few minutes stretching. This class is an extra long one, with emphasis on strength and fundamentals, so I've been dragging myself out of my warm bed on Saturday mornings to do it. This week was no different, and since only black belts and red stripes showed up, it was especially challenging. We were reminded many times of what might show up on our black belt tests, and we had plenty of practice running through our forms while mentally and physically exhausted.
I received many encouraging words from the Sabumnims after class. This after lots of equally positive feedback the previous night at sparring, where I also felt I had done really well against challenging partners.
So far, so good.
Feeling pumped, I came back in the afternoon for open practice. The guru showed up and worked on forms with me, then sparring (with an emphasis on protecting my face whilst being pummelled about the head by him). We spent a good amount of time working one-on-one and wrapped up with somewhat of a pep talk regarding thinking outside the box, and my frustration about wanting to improve, but not always knowing the best way to do so. He would show me something, and I would try to copy it, but I couldn't objectively tell if I was doing it like he was or not. It occurred to me that I needed to see myself on video to really understand the differences and he agreed that it might really help.
"You know, this whole conversation could be summed up in three sentences. Actually, one," he told me as he packed up to go.
"Just be better."
I laughed. "If it were that easy, I'd be doing it."
"Someday you'll understand what I mean. Just be better."
See why he's the guru?
I spent much of the evening trying to figure out what he was talking about, and today I took the video camera in with me and videotaped myself doing a form.
I was dismayed when I looked at it, and texted the guru:
I look much worse than I thought I did. I might cry. Or quit. :(
And he texted back:
Well, that would certainly be one way to handle it...
So I recorded the rest of my forms, and when he came in, I recorded him doing a bunch for comparison. My assignment: watch everything and figure out how to fix what needs fixing. It's clear from the video, just like he said back in November, it's not my knowledge of the forms, it's my execution of them. It's my body. I lack power and efficiency and speed and crispness. On the video, I look... wobbly, especially compared to him.
Warriors don't wobble.
After many hours and many viewings of the videos in question, I'm over my initial disgust with myself tonight and back to working the problem. I need a stronger back, a more solid core, and I need to pay more attention in general to how I hold myself and move about, both in and out of my martial arts practice.
More strength, more yoga (I started up again last week), more awareness, more fundamentals.
I'm taking comfort in the fact that it's fixable stuff, but remembering that this was what he had described a few months ago as the largest hurdle I will face since starting my training.
Tonight I saw why with my own eyes, and it was indeed humbling.