It is all about the journey….

Posts tagged ‘Martial arts’

Different and Strong

Our little family had a unique opportunity last night….one that required us to step waaaay out of our comfort zones.

When we first moved into our current home, we met a sweet Chinese man. He is very endearing and has a wonderful disposition. He took an interest in the fact that we are all involved in martial arts. Each time he has been in our home, he has encouraged us and brought such a sweet spirit with him.

Different and StrongA couple of weeks ago he called asking if we would be willing to perform at a Chinese Autumn festival. Performing is not something we do a lot of, because it involves stepping out of our comfort zones. We love to train and get better on our home turf, however stepping outside of this requires a lot of courage, or a sweet and persistent friend. We, reluctantly said we would.

To be completely honest, we actually tried to get out of it. However, everything we brought up (wrong country…we study a Japanese style martial art, not enough time to prepare, etc) he shot down (all martial arts came from China so what does it matter? and you are black belts so you are prepared, etc). We were committed and that was it.

It took a long time to come up with the music. Less time to come up with the demo performance.

Motivation was lacking, especially in the kids…which was a reflection of our initial emotions.

A decision had to be made.

It came down to who we truly are and how we wanted to represent ourselves, family and our karate family. Deciding to train strong and perform strong made a huge difference in our hearts. Team Smullin was going to represent!

So the evening of the performance came….

We walked into the venue and saw that we were totally different from everyone else in the room. Not only were we the only martial arts performance lined up, we were the only Americans who would be stepping on stage.

As the crowd filled in, we felt how different we were…American, English speaking, tall, dressed in gi’s and carrying weapons.

The Chinese culture is so kind. They are truly incredible people.

As the program went forward, we realized that they are not the type to yell and get all hyped up. It was a totally different environment than what we have performed in the past. After each performance they would clap and that was it. Hmmmm….I really hoped it would go well for us.

There came a point that we simply had to not care about what was going to happen, we just needed to be us…Team Smullin…and do what we do best.

Martial arts has trained us to do many things with our minds and bodies. One of the best things I have learned is confidence in what I know and the amount of time I have spent training. Walking on to the stage, we all went to that place and let our bodies do what they have been trained to do.

Did we mess up? Yep. Did I smack the overhead screen with my sword? Yep. Did I almost fall off of the stage? Yep. Was our ending a little skewed? Yep.

Did we startle the crowd with our blood-curdling yells? Yep (It was pretty fun to see some of the looks on their faces). Did the boys amaze them with their chuck skills? Yep (they are pretty filthy chuckers). Did the girls impress with their swords? Yep. Did the crowd clap throughout the performance? Why yes they did. Honestly, if there was a best in show award…we would have taken it…;)

The entire event was a reflection on who we are and where we have found strength in our family and lives.

Not one thing about us fit…Americans at a Chinese festival, Japanese martial arts at a Chinese festival, English speakers at a Chinese festival, and rocking music at a Chinese festival. However, we fit, because we were there together. We fit, because we understand that being different is nothing to shy away from, it is something that gives us strength. We fit, because we know who we are and what we can do.

It is a powerful lesson we have learned over the past few years. I am grateful that we were able to step out of our comfort zones, into a beautiful culture, to see.

 

Stronger Not Easier

For the past month our family has been doing our final training to earn our black belts. It has been challenging both physically and mentally. I would not have expected anything less or different, because to earn a black belt one must be able to rise above these types of challenges.Stronger Not Easier

The beauty of martial arts is the individual nature of the journey. My test will not be like anyone else’s, because I have my strengths and weaknesses. Recently I have seen each of them as if through a microscope.

It does not take a microscope to see that push-ups and pull-ups are two things that challenge me. As they are both required for our test, I have needed to place extra emphasis on my ability to do them.

I have been looking forward to the time when they would get easier. I have envisioned myself pounding out my reps with ease and actually loving it.

No matter how many times I have done them, daily, I have not found that blessed place of ease.

As I sat outside this morning thinking about all of this, I was given some realizations. There is a lot of clarity that comes when I have a quiet moment, outside, in the sun, listening to the beautiful song of nature.

These tasks are never going to become ‘easy’ for me, however as I have worked at them, I have become stronger. As I thought about this, my heart filled with gratitude for this principle in my life. For if these things became easy for me, I would not work so hard to develop the strength I need to perform them.

This is something I have been thinking about for a long time. We have been on a personal journey that has been one of the most difficult things I have ever done. There have been times when each day was a struggle to get through with enough faith to wake up the next morning. The daily fight has been grueling at times.

Yet, I would not trade it for anything.

We have become stronger. We have overcome. We have seen what we can do. We have seen prayers answered. We have seen the hand of God touch our lives daily. We have felt the power of our Savior pick us up. We have been given a gift of clarity.

Before all of this, our journey and the black belt experience, I feared things that made me stretch, grow and hurt. I would, at times, pray that life would get easier or that the challenges would be taken.

Now I see that this is all necessary for me to become stronger.

 

Keep Fighting

Every now and then I hear something that sticks in my mind, as if to say, “you will need this soon”. A few days ago I was in the middle of one of my favorite and most challenging workouts (Insanity) and Shaun T said, “Keep Fighting!!!” His words were meant to inspire me to get through that particular set…which they did. They also took hold, waiting for the moment they would be needed.

crashing wavesThere are times in our lives when waves of self-doubt, insecurity, weakness and overwhelmed crash in on our souls. Without warning they strike and they come with such fury and power that it is difficult to stand…literally. It was as though the wind had been sucked out of my lungs and any strength I had in my body was taken. As I stood, doubled over, I thought to myself, “I know there are angels to help me stand. I know they are there. I need to keep fighting.” It was all I could do to lift myself up, but I fought through.

I crumbled into my husband’s arms. With the amazing wisdom he has, he gave me the time to compose myself and share. I felt so ashamed, because for a brief moment I almost gave in to these feelings that were meant to crush my heart. All I wanted to do was curl up in a corner and let life move on. It truly scared me. He didn’t say much, but what he did gave my soul the peace and strength it needed to go on. He said, “You are such a fighter, quitting is not in your nature.” and “I don’t have much to say, but the feelings I am getting are for you to hold on, just keep holding on.”

Not much changed in the way of life, however my heart did. It found the fight that was almost swept away. There is something in my heart that loves a good fight. I love the training I have received through karate to defend and fight. I love the challenge of a good workout that forces me to fight through the next set, because I know I am getting stronger (even if I am acutely aware of the weaknesses I am working on strengthening). I love the challenge that comes with figuring out how the Savior would have me live and what I need to do. I love the fight.

I see in life that Heavenly Father has given me moments when the fight is particularly intense, when every day seems like an exercise in faith, when every decision forces me to dig deep and find the belief that all will turn out. Then there are the little respites that my heart and soul need to rest for a little bit. Each day brings an exercise of strength, be it in the thick of battle or in rest.

The key is to keep fighting. Keep your hands up. Keep throwing those punches. Keep moving, dodging. Keep training. Look for those who are in your corner holding you up when your strength seems to fail. Look to the One who knows how strong you really are…and will help you see it too.

Keep fighting….

Falling Down

I love karate! I think I have mentioned it a time or two on this blog, but because I love it so much I will mention it once again. beltpromojune 124

Karate has taught me so many life lessons. I have wished so many times that I started this journey when I was a lot younger, however I think I would not have appreciated the depth of learning that I have experienced if I had started this in my teens or even twenties.

This week in training brought a new lesson. It is one that I have had to learn, re-learn and learn all over again. I need to keep it with me from now on, because I don’t bounce like I used to. I tend to thud and climb back up. (more…)

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