Monday, July 14, 2008

The Sunshine Post #29: Tae Kwon Do, Tae Kwon Don't

Hello dears!

So I’m taking another break in taekwondo. Tsk and sigh.

Is it just me, but as you go through your twenties, your body just isn’t the same anymore? I used to be high on adrenaline all the time; I got through the GREs on one hour of sleep (I was too excited. Yuck.), and for as long as I can remember, I have always been chasing deadlines. I never allowed insomnia, migraines, or PMS (yeah, I’m going there) affect me before, but now, they sweep me off my feet faster than a hero from a sappy romance novel. Oww.

Rahr. My black belt. So near. Yet. So. Flipping. Far. (I’ve three tests to go, yo.)

You know, there are times when I wonder why I even do this to begin with. I mean, I do not have the body of a martial artist by virtue of my hips alone. (They’re the only things that haven’t budged in my sudden and drastic weight loss. Carp.) Possessing these has made me incredibly grateful for celebrities like Jennifer Lopez who have equally, uhm, developed posteriors and have made them acceptable in modern society. (They run in the family. Maternal side. I am optimistic that childbirth will be a breeze.) The “taekwondo body,” as I have learned, is that of a tall and skinny person with no butt cheeks to speak of. In that case, I am so in the wrong sport.

But every time I ask this question, I always have the same answer: solitude. I’ve always seen martial arts as my way of zoning out the world. I think that we go through so many distractions every day that keeps us from realizing our potential in life, translating to a lot of bitterness and wasted time. It is also the one thing that has kept me grounded and allowed me to not take things way too seriously. I never liked team sports.

Even the choice of martial arts I’ve made is very telling. I like taekwondo because you use your legs to get attackers away from you, and my legs are quite long so I get great distance from humans. I love weapons, too, because they’re an extension of my body; yet more distance away from humans. I will never be caught dead doing jiu jitsu or judo or samba – arts that force you to be very near people, mixing with their sweat and bad breath and all. Eww.

I will always be grateful for the self-respect that I found while doing it. I think it makes you aware, every single day, of your dignity to the point that you will never let anyone take it away from you – they will have to take you down first and damn it, you are trained to be up to that challenge. It makes me impervious to pain and suffering.

I once read that doing things like yoga and martial arts releases creativity, which, considering the timeline of when I began them, completely makes me understand why my life has turned the way it has. I have no regrets, though. I LOVE being in the creative realm! I think I can finally look at my work from now on and know that I own it in its entirety, without feeling like a fraud because I keep having to check out what other people are doing.

These things serve a different purpose, too. For a writer, doing something physical is a metaphor for living. The board that I have to break in taekwondo is representative of the fear that prevents me from doing what I want. Twisting like a pretzel in yoga is analogous to my goal of pushing myself beyond what I thought I could do. I think it’s why I hate going to gyms despite my athletic lifestyle. Nothing like running like crazy on a treadmill and getting nowhere as a metaphor for life that might come true!

But I need to take it easy for a while, or at least find another time to do it and not at six in the morning. This isn’t an “adults-only” class with students who just want a release from work or school. People train here because they aim to compete, be it in a regional tournament or the Olympics. The vibe is completely different from the other martial arts classes I’ve had, where we all just go to let off steam. Here, you pretty much have to kill yourself. And I’m the ‘outsider’ in the class. Rahr. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago, when I was having my armor secured by the Skinny Jerk Who Keeps Calling Me ‘Heavy’ that I finally snapped and said to myself: That’s IT! I’m doing capoieraaaaa!!!!!

And so I cut one class. And then another. And finally, a whole month went by without me stepping on a mat. And then I had an idea.

(E-mail censored from here on out because this might bite me in the ass.)

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