Monday, July 17, 2006

Feeling inadequate... (Transfered from older blog)

( Written on Wednesday, 09 November 2005)

It's part of the walk on the path of learning the way of martial arts. It is those moments when you feel the embarassment of not understanding, of missing the moment, of getting slammed by your opponent, of making a serious mistake. 

Each person handles these moments in a different way. I've seen people get upset and angry.  I've seen people get sorrowful. I've seen people laugh it off, and not take it seriously. We each handle those moments in our own individual ways based on our personality, and perceptions.

What I do in those moments when I feel inadequate: I feel a surge of inner negative self-image messages, and I have to fight an inner battle to allow myself  the right to continue permitting myself the time to learn, cope, and succeed.  These messages have no words, but are centered in feelings of "who" I am as a martial artist..  I feel lesser than what I should be which brings me to feelings of not being worthy of attempting what I am trying to learn.  The battle within my mind starts anew, and I remind myself that I am farther today than I was 3 years ago on this path which gives me hope that one day I will succeed in that which I struggling with at this moment. I place the balm of the idea that I can only do my best effort.  I ask myself "Am I putting forth my fullest effort here?" (The answer is always "yes".)  "Then I can do no more than that right now.. One day I will understand the concept that is being taught, I only need to keep on trying."

It feels very frustrating though.. especially when I can feel that all it would take is to move my body the way that I see Sensei doing it.  I can feel that I have the capability within me, but that I don't know how to apply it yet.  I can recognize what is happening, but I can't put it into motion in myself.  This is so similar to when I started learning to read.  I could recognize letters on the buildings as we drove past the buildings downtown.  "OH!  That is a "k"! and an "a"!"  I would stare at the word on the building trying to read what it said in those few seconds that I had as we drove past, and away from it.  Now, as an adult, I barely have to glance at the word to know that it says "Bank", but then, when I was a child, I never understood fully what the word meant.

The frustration within me is even worse since I have the inner pressure of the responsibility of being an example to those who are leaning on me for direction. During my short experiences in the dojo there have been moments when I have felt the eyes of other students relying on me to provide them with a cue as to what we are supposed to do in response to Sensei's commands.  I knew that if I did the right response.. the whole dojo would click into proper position, but if I make a mistake.. that mistake would be echoed throughout the dojo as all the other students would imitate my error, and emphasize it even louder.  At these moments I remember fondly the time when I was a white belt, and I felt like I was doing quite well in my karate.  In fact, I remember feeling stronger, faster, and more knowledgeable that the higher belts because Sensei didn't correct me as much as them.  Sensei would correct only this little thing, or that little thing on me while the higher belts had a LIST of "to be worked on" items.  Little did I know then how much was missing in my performance.. and thank goodness that I didn't have a clue, or I would have dropped the art of karate, and went to go learn needlepoint. 

I am willing to allow myself to look, and feel inadequate.  I accept that I make major mistakes, and feel the embarrasment of not living up to my own standards.  I admit that I do not know my karate as well as I would like because this is fertile ground towards growing.  A farmer's field is not automatically ready for planting seeds.  First the farmer has to remove weeds, large stones, roots, sticks, etc. before the seed can be planted.  If I do not admit to my mistakes, and look at them honestly, then how can I be aware of them, and fix them so that I can improve?  I have to be honest enough, and humble enough with myself to accept that doing mistakes is part of the path of martial arts.  I have to have the fortitude to do what it takes to remove the things within me that are contributing to the mistakes no matter how insurmountable the problem seems. Lastly, I have to have the patience with myself to give me time to learn.  It took me a good 12 years of constant effort to be able to communicate in my own language effectively.  I have only been training in the arts for a few months of my life.. I've got to give myself a chance.

Add-on: Today, I can remember feeling this so strongly, but I have matured in my ability to handle mistakes, and inadequacies. I accept them as part of my learning. One cannot gain any skill without making mistakes at first. For example, coloring.. we all colored outside of the lines when we started learning how to color. Walking: We all had to build up on our skills, crawling, holding furniture, losing balance.. It's part of the fact that we are human.. and it's a beautiful aspect of learning, because we can rejoice in the little successes. Today I can do a downblock, 4 years ago, I couldn't.


[Mat] said...

I've been told - and maybe I'm repeating myself - that is all comes together around 4th dan.

What a long journey it'll be :)

Thankfully, you know that in the end, it's a good ending. :)


supergroup7 said...

Thanks for the virtual hug!

It's not only a good ending, but it's a great start, and middle too.


lizzie said...

I have never felt inadequate when I'm in the dojo. I always preform to the best of my ability. Everybody has their strengths and weaknesses.

Colin Wee said...

I have been a 4th dan for the last year. Let me tell you that there are many things that I am still working on . Inadequacies and objective criticism go hand in hand. Nobody is perfect. You need to keep the faith and make that decision to push on ahead. Colin

supergroup7 said...

I'm glad that you have such a good experience towards your training, lizzie. You must be quite an athletic person.

I came from 38 years of no physical activity, or sports of any kind to jump into Martial arts. I didn't know how to stand straight, let alone balance, move, and actually attempt to achieve something.

My whole childhood consisted of laying in bed sick with bronchitis for 80 percent of the time. So.. today I'm grateful to be able to move, and do kata.

supergroup7 said...

Colin, I can understand what you are saying. The more you understand, and know what it is that you wish to achieve, the more you can see what needs to be fixed.

It is so true that striving to better yourself will continue no matter how well you mastered your art.

It is rather uplifting to see that a 4th Dan feels similarly.. but then there you go smashing the vain hope that one day I'll be perfect, and above all problems.

lizzie said...

Why thank you supergroup. However, I can't do everything which Sensei asks us to do. I'm bad at any kind of push-ups, jack-knives, and kicking. I try my best to work as hard as the black belts.

Colin Wee said...

"but then there you go smashing the vain hope that one day I'll be perfect, "

If I remember correctly we already had the discussion on proper mindset. With that, vanity and inadequacies ... these are all minor things that we just ponder in our spare time.


supergroup7 said...

""but then there you go smashing the vain hope that one day I'll be perfect, "

If I remember correctly we already had the discussion on proper mindset""

Ha ha ha.. I remember our discussion. That's exactly why I added that little sentence at the end of my comment. It was said in a "tongue in cheek" silly way. I guess it came off more seriously than I intended. *blush*