I hate to admit it, especially after denying it to one of my teammates just last week, but I have hit a training low.
When I started my journey to black belt I had two others in my cycle. Every belt I earned, I earned with them. We were a trio of awesomeness.. Until one’s heart just wasn’t in it anymore and after a pretty serious injury he decided enough was enough. My other team mate and I continued on. We partnered up when necessary during belt testing and she’s been the yin to my yang every belt promotion.
She told me last week that she decided to quit. Seven months shy of getting her black belt…
My former Sensei said that usually only one in three who start out on the mats, actually reach the point of getting their black belt. I’ve seen people drop out within the first year or two, but I had some nostalgic belief that my trio would have survived. Especially after our first two years were behind us.
There was a difference between us that is probably worth noting to why I will be successful and they were not. For one: If those are the odds I’m dealt with, I was determined to make myself the one of three that came out on the black out end…
The first to drop was only there for the physical activty. He wanted to train and excercise. He wasn’t there to get a belt. He also didn’t invest himself to the people he trained with. Don’t get me wrong, he was pleasant and polite and probably made a friend or two.. but he didn’t take any time to help the lower belts in technique and inspire them to be better. He was there for himself.
I have this burning need sometimes to give what knowledge I learned back to the people around me. My Sensei’s have always been great, but the majority of what I learned came from the higher belts around me. It’s the subtle details that I’ve gained from them, and the unwavering support to never quit. They have always been my source of awe and desire to continue to be better than what I was the last time I stepped on the mats. As I’ve advanced in rank I can see myself being the same beacon of inspiration to others and I don’t take that responsibility lightly.
For the second, my partner in belt testing crime, she wasn’t invested off the mats. There is a curriculum, or forms, we have to master in order to show our proficiency in certainly moves. When we first started Muay Thai, these forms were a regular portion of our mat time. Eventually, as my former Sensei left, we saw less and less of it. A lot of people didn’t like that, and left because when belt testing came around and they couldn’t do the forms and they felt like fools.. I actually used to miss the form time too because it was a great way to wind down and since we have to be tested on them it helps to get the input from the instructors.
But let’s face it.. those forms don’t actually teach us Muay Thai at all.. And it’s better to have more pad time with an awesome partner than spend even 5 minutes learning a choreographed set of moves.
I am proficient in my forms. More than proficient. I’m fortunate enough to take morning classes. And after the class is over we have the opporunity to practice either our weapons or forms. That’s not the case in the evening when classes are back to back. Mostly I don’t stay, but right before a belt ceremony you bet you knickers I’m going to brush up on my forms. I don’t keep it to just on the mats. I practice at home as well. They give you a print out of what each form entails and I have that posted in our “family dojo” room. If I want to look proficient I know I have to keep practicing.
My second teammate, struggled to do the forms. She hadn’t even learned most of them. So when we were doing our black belt candicay class I think she saw just how far behind skill wise she was in comparison. In a way that makes me feel like I was responsible for her quitting, I know that’s not the case. She blames the dojo and it’s lack of taking the time on the mats to teach her these lessons.. I feel that it’s up to them to teach me skills, but I have the ability (and should) take it upon myself to learn these forms wherever and whenever I can.
And yet… not having either of the people who were with me all the way, losing a lot of Senseis in the past year has broken me down.. I dunno if I even CARE anymore about getting it. I am black belt potential, I know it. And although I haven’t tested it have proven it…but my heart isn’t in it…
When I test, I won’t be alone. I will be with one of my best friends at the dojo. She’s two months ahead of my in the cycle but we even out by testing time. It’s not the same though as my trio of awesome 😦