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It's All Training

Those of you who have been training (in karate, jiu-jitsu, or anything really) know how frustrating the roller coaster can be. You have a good session, one of those magic times where every move seems preordained and perfect, followed immediately by the worst class ever, the one where you can't do anything right and you rue the day you ever put on a gi. And that is just when you are actually training. Then there are injuries, illness, and those annoying times when your boss or your kids or your spouse actually require moments of your time. (Not my spouse of course, who never needs to go out ever, and who agrees that all free time should be spent working on arm bars.) 

If you are like me, your training is a lifelong pursuit. So a few days (or weeks) off should be no big deal. right? Time to catch up on Dance Moms. (Or Game of Thrones if you prefer a different breed of horror show. ) But despite being a career martial artist, one who has been putting on a gi for so long it feels funny to wear normal clothes, I still get frustrated with the unexpected breaks. Over the past few months I have had a back injury, a shoulder injury, a stomach flu, an obnoxious bout of insomnia, and the omnipresent congestion and sinus pressure that apparently is my reward for liking to sit under trees in the summertime. Occasionally it turns into a full blown cold or travels into my ear and makes me feel dizzy and drunk. And not in the good, dancing on the bar, party like its 1999 kind of way. (Aging is a peach, can't wait to see what comes next!) 

But the rest of the time, I'm training.

Don't worry, this is not a post where I whine and complain. (Or at least, not any more than that paragraph up there.) Even at my most frustrated I manage to have perspective. Nothing is broken or torn. Nothing is too debilitating. Also I am incredibly fortunate in that I do not have one of those awful things we humans call a "day job." I teach karate for a living. I can do BJJ at noon. On weekdays. It is a far cry from filing papers. 

So I know I am living the dream. But even after years and years of karate, I still get frustrated when I want to be training hard and my body says no. I still get disappointed when I start rolling, only to realize halfway through the first round that the sore spot in my rib is not actually better. (How do I realize this you ask? By getting swept and slamming it into the mat of course!) I still get angry when I drag my tired stuffy face onto the floor and instead of getting more energy as class goes on, I just want to lie down. I have always struggled with this, with accepting that my best effort is not going to be the same every day. And rest? Breaks? Time to heal? All those mature things. Yeah I suck at those. 

I am working on acceptance. After all, I have my whole life to train, what is one bad day or two in an entire lifetime of work? And while I pop Advil like they are Skittles and filter salt water through my sinuses in a desperate attempt to make my peace with pollen, a few other points have popped into my brain. I am not saying I can do these things, not yet. But I am working on it.

Are you also feeling frustrated? Perhaps they will help you too. 

  1. Everything is training. I don't necessarily mean this is a zen master, the whole world is my jiu-jitsu mat, kind of way. I mean that resting an injury, or hopefully learning how to roll more carefully so as to be able to work around it, is training. Getting a sip of water when it is 95 degrees on the floor and 600% humidity so you can continue class is training. Taking a healing nap when you feel run down is training. So is stretching (which I do not do nearly enough of), watching BJJ videos (which I NEVER do, but should) and meditation. Sitting on your stoop, sipping a glass of Merlot and quietly watching the world go by? Training. (OK, maybe that isn't training. But it is relaxing. And relaxation is part of training.)
  2. One of our students recently posted this wise gem on Facebook: "Don't look back, you're not going that way." Easier said then done, but absolutely true. Who cares if you got tapped 60 times last night? Who cares if you had a cough and had to miss class? What's the point of whining about it it now, it's over! You can't go back there and change it, all you can do is move forward to the next class. 
  3. Every challenge, every obstacle, every setback....these are all chances to get stronger. They are all opportunities to work on something. A sore rib is an opportunity to learn how to keep your back off the mat. A really hot day is a chance to stretch more. Your kid throwing a screaming fit because you said no to ice cream is a lesson in patience. And we all need more of that!
So if you need to rest, rest. If you need to take a break, do it. If you need to go slower to work around your sore back, go slower. If you had a bad day where even that new white belt beat you up, so be it. Don't be so hard on yourself. Let it go. Your gi will still be there when you get back to normal.

Hey Jennifer! Yeah you! Are you listening???
Probably not. But maybe someone else is...

Have a relaxing Sunday. Or do a triathlon or something. Whatever floats your boat. 

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