This has been a really good experience for me so far. I’ve really been working on digging in to improve who I am – not by changing myself – but by becoming more in tune with who I am and peeling off the layers of external “me” to get to the root of who I am, really.
Because isn’t that what we teach our students in martial arts? That it isn’t a bench sitting sport. That it is something that everyone can participate in, in their own way, and that everyone’s expression is going to be different. That the naturally athletic kid and the kid still learning his left from right can share the mat together, and enjoy time together. That they can learn tolerance, personal growth, and becoming who they really are. We are there as instructors to guide them, to give them a space to try things out, but not to tell them who they are.
But if I don’t know entirely, to the core, what I stand for and who I am? Then how could I possibly do this with my students?
What I’ve figured out so far.
I enjoy collaborating and creating. I enjoy laughter, joy, and seeing people break through barriers. I enjoy learning new things, and experiencing new people and perspectives. I like seeing the levels my body can go to. I like having conversations, sharing what I know, and following the rabbit hole of my passions.
Because I am getting more and more connected with who I am, I am saying no more to the activities that do not align with who I am becoming, and saying yes to those that I see as a direction in which I would like to grow and evolve. I feel unapologetic about it, and instead know that I must say no to things that pull me off my path. It’s that mat chat quote we all use while teaching; stand for something or fall for anything.
Regarding the tasks of the Ultimate Black Belt Test, I’m well on my way. As with my coaching through my knowledge gained within my Precision Nutrition certification, we are much much more likely to be successful when we try to change one small thing at a time. Just like we do not expect our white belt students to perform at black belt level, I am also being strategic about what I start with first, building those habits, and then adding in over time. I’ve been consistent with the physical requirements, and I am doing dedicated strength training at least 5 days a week, cardio at least 3 days, and at least 4 jiu jitsu sessions each week, including live sparring.
I’ve been working for a few weeks with my friend who teaches the boxing component at our school in order to strip back down to the basics, and then will take those 10 boxing classes taught by a pro this summer when I am out of work (I’ll be taking my friend with me to pay it forward to give him back the time he’s helping me).
I’ve been listening to the books on my list as well as a few others; I just finished Hurry Up and Meditate to strengthen my practice (highly recommended – not only explains the benefits of meditation but also goes into many ways it can be practiced) and began The Tao of Pooh which I am also enjoying. Hilarious, true, and making me see that perhaps I need to do more research about Daoism past my knowledge gained in a university eastern religions class. I’ve been practicing learning Spanish on Duolingo, which I’m on a 29 day streak and I feel really good about it. I’ve been trying to actually learn the language since Freshman year in college, and now since we are all about finishing things we started, what better time than now.
I’ve been working with repairing relationships, and really made some headway with my dad. I saw him tonight for dinner, and he even remarked how he feels that things are getting better with us. I won’t go into the details of things we’ve gone through here, but this is the most significant relationship (other than the one with my self) that I haven’t forgiven the way I needed to for myself, and it is very freeing to get to this place.
I’m continuing to work to build the local women’s jiu jitsu community in my area, to make sure we are strong and a support for each other. A group of us from at least 3 different academies roll together every Tuesday morning, and we have all drastically improved because of it. I manage our group page and make sure events get planned. We collect donations that go to our local domestic violence shelter. I want to do more with them than just collect money. This will have to be a summer plan, as I currently have 4 different jobs right now (don’t worry, non are truly full time) and need to clear other things off my plate before I embark on this side of the project. I want to make sure I can follow through when it comes to something where others are depending on me, and that means good timing. In my own dojo, I’m working to find all of the women that I can who are in other programs and help them to try out jiu jitsu. Just today we had 5 of us on the mat. It’s a rare class that only 2 of us, and we have never, in many months, not had at least one women in every class.
My kata hasn’t really been realized, and a video from a fellow UBBTer, Jeremy Smith, (his blog), reminded me that I have a lot of work to do (thanks Jeremy!). I originally was going to do a jiu jitsu kata, spent time putting it together, and got a decent amount of reps in with my partner to get it done. But with taking with my instructor, we talked about the transformative process mentally that is supposed to happen while learning and then practicing a kata. I didn’t feel that I was getting that experience, but rather was struggling more with scheduling time in to get it done, than relax into it and make it my own. So my instructor and I are actually working on building a kata based on my favorite kenpo (Ed Parker’s system) techniques and the overall principles of movement. We’ve both been very caught up in preparation for our IKI Krav Maga affiliation seminar this upcoming week, and our extra time has been dedicated to practicing everything that we have learned to prepare for grading. Once this is complete on the 20th, I want to really dig into it and not have it hanging over my head.
I’m currently prepping for a grappling tournament in our Hayastan style on April 7th. A good portion of our team is going, and myself as well as another of the instructors at my school are responsible for their prep and coaching the day of. It’s exhilarating, but also means we have been working to fit more in and really drill in the basics with an emphasis on escapes. Regardless of the outcome, training for a competition, I feel, always brings on a great growth period that isn’t there when it’s off season.
Till next week.
I’m one of many, see what my cohort is up to at https://tomcallos.com/ubbt-team-2018/