It looks like this will be a three-part blog.
As I write this, my knee is still in an Ace bandage, and I have not yet tested for my deputy black belt.
Right up until the Friday of the exam, I had planned to push myself and test, no matter what. The sharp pain in my knee was gone and I felt I could at least limp through the test and get my belt.
But driving home from work that day, I experienced some sharp pain in my knee that I knew was my body’s way of telling me I was crazy to even try. I stopped by the Do Jang and told Master Lee that I would not be able to test. She reassured me that I could test privately after my next class.
So I waited and I began to heal.
But as I slowly healed, I grew more impatient and restless. I wanted to get back to the Do Jang, I wanted to get my full workout in.
Finally I had a day where I could quickly ascend the stairs in my home without issue and I decided to go back to life as normal. Even though I still had a little tightness, I decided to ignore it.
Once again I twisted my knee, just a little, and the swelling returned.
Lesson one came through loud and clear. The body needs time to heal. You can aid it, but you cannot rush it. I had to fight a lot of discouragement at this time, but finally I began to try to exercise my mind some and at least do some reading.
My next lesson came in two parts.
I have been reading about Wu Wei. Wu Wei is the cultivation of a mental state in which our actions are quite effortlessly in alignment with the flow of life. I have always been baffled by something Bruce Lee said that he got from this system of thought.
He said, “I mean here is natural instinct and here is control. You are to combine the two in harmony. Not... if you have one to the extreme, you'll be very unscientific. If you have another to the extreme, you become, all of a sudden, a mechanical man... no longer a human being. So it is a successful combination of both, so therefore, it's not pure naturalness, or unnaturalness. The ideal is unnatural naturalness, or natural unnaturalness.” (Emphasis mine.)
I thought about this statement and I kept coming back to the same questions in my mind, “How? Do I do this in any other area of my life? And if I do, how did I get there?”
Then it dawned on me, this is exactly what I do when I play guitar. At first when I was learning, it was very mechanical. Strumming and changing chords take work, effort and a lot of concentration.
But then, after time and much practice it is effortless. Now I don’t think, I play. I have repeated the unnatural movements of playing until it somehow linked to my being in such a way as to transcend effort. It is unnatural naturalness. Playing guitar is pure instinct.
Explaining this to Rika, she said it sounded just like shifting gears on a motorcycle. We don’t think about it, we do it.
And that lead me into realizing that I need to approach Taekwondo with this concept firmly fixed in my mind. I must repeat the movements over and over again, with a concentrated effort, until I achieve what I have in both riding a motorcycle and playing guitar. Until the unnatural movements become a natural part of my being.
Another part of this was realizing I could have used this time with my knee being out to practice my blocks and punches. I could have even sat on a stool and simply repeated them over and over to get the movements down. While one part of the body was recovering, I could have paid special attention to another.
I acted as if my whole body was incapable of Taekwondo simply because my knee is on the mend. Instead of feeling like I was losing time, I could have kept my forward momentum.
I know from experience that this approach to Taekwondo will flood into the rest of my life. There will be a part three to this blog when I return to class and finally test for my deputy black belt.
“If you truly love life, don’t waste time because time is what life is made of.” – Bruce Lee