Take It Outside Of The Class

Many years ago I started taking martial arts with my oldest daughter.  It was a great time in my life to do so.  I was open to learning.  And I was open to growing.   Physically and emotionally I gained strength and power.  It’s likely that 98% of the lessons learned were not physical in nature.

During the process of making martial arts part of my world I also met people who would become part of my world.  I developed a very close friendship with another mom who started taking lessons with her children.  We set ourselves on fire for martial arts.  We would yell the loudest with our Kiap (sp).   We would count the loudest during jumping jacks (after I got to the point where I didn’t feel like crying during them).  We threw ourselves in to being at class religiously.  Practicing at home.   Learning our Korean words said in English with our particular county’s accent.   We never sounded Korean.  But by golly we knew what the words meant when we butchered them.

Along about the end of our first or second year of training another woman had joined the class.   Class was four times a week for our first year or two.  We were very good about attending class.  The other woman?  Not so much.  She might go weeks without showing up.  Then she would show up for a week or three before a test.  A test that if you passed you ascended in rank.

It didn’t take us long to start a gradually growing  bitterness about this other woman putting in a small fraction of effort to attend class and participate.  Who would then show up the last week or three, test, and advance in rank.

We were slowly over the year working ourselves in to a full blown bitter binge.

One day we were standing outside of our dojang (training hall).   I remember the evening.  It was summer so it was still light outside after class.  I remember the light post.  Who knows, maybe that was symbolic.  No, it just happen to be there.  While we stood there talking we brought up our subject of disdain.  And while we stood there talking about our discipline and dedication and what we felt we earned, while another didn’t seem to do anything to earn it,  another lesson came to light for us.

Our achievements, or lack of, depended on us.  And what we did.

What someone else did, or did not do, had no bearing on our goals.  On our efforts.  On what we did.   Or didn’t do.

Our conversation changed that night.  Our attitude changed that night.

What we got out of our efforts was our payoff.  There was no reason to criticize someone else’s way of doing something.   We didn’t know her whole story.   And all we should expect of someone in that dojang was their best effort while there.  We owed that to one another as students in the same place at the same time.  But what we did with our class taught lessons was up to us outside of the dojang.

The greatest part about this lesson was that it was something we tripped over on our own.  We realized what we were doing and made our own corrections.  Which was often a lesson I taught my students years later.   Though I would refer to this regarding physical techniques the beauty of it is it transcends physical.  And is applicable to ever aspect of your life.   I can tell you what you’re not doing right, but one day you will notice what you aren’t doing right.  That’s the first step.  Noticing what needs changed, or corrected.  The next step is to make that correction.   When you are doing that on your own, you are taking control.  You are enabling yourself.   You are teacher- and student- in your life.  I always told my students that what they learned in the dojang only served them well if they took it outside of the classroom.

Almost every single lesson I ever learned in martial arts I could apply to my life outside of the dojang.  Discipline.  Respect.  Patience.  Courtesy.  Perseverance.  Dedication.  Loyalty.  Every single one of these serves me well to this day.   Add to that the confidence, assessing skills, preparedness skills, and kicking skills…..  I have noticed that the best skills in martial arts are the best skills for life.

39 thoughts on “Take It Outside Of The Class

  1. Strong. smart, and able to kick the pimple off an enemy’s chin before said Bluto could flinch. That’s my friend Colleen. Seriously, that is one hell of a discipline to carry through in life.


    • 😉 It was a good lesson to learn. I’m glad that my friend and I finally came to that realization on our own. Though I’m a bit embarrassed to have felt the way I did. I’m that perpetual and eternal work in progress Mark. 🙂


  2. Isn’t life teachings a part of the martial arts? It sure looks like if it did! But I am in disbelief to read that you were apparently stewing… So unlike the Chatter Master I’ve come to know! 😉


    • Oh Koji……..I’ve had to grow a LOT over my travels to here…

      I was not always this calm cool mess. 😉

      All martial arts lessons I have learned from are indeed life lessons.


  3. I’ve told many a juvenile that recognizing what they are doing wrong is the first step in changing their behavior. Just something I learned from you.


  4. We must grow and learn along the way, or we will stagnate. The disciplines of Marshall arts does carry through in people’s lives. I attended Tae Kwon Do for a few years, obtaining my red, giving in before I got the black. So true we don’t know everyone’s story in this world and how often we can judge a situation, only because we think it ‘ effects us.’ If that made sense..sorry tired. x


  5. I never took martial arts and am in awe of anyone who has. They have always appeared to be more peaceful and understanding. Now I know why. Thank you for sharing this, Colleen. Another truth revealed about you. You are indeed an amazing human being. 🙂


  6. Colleen, Life lessons come from all directions, at all maner ot times, you seem always ready to embrace the lessons that come your way. Take care, Bill


  7. I love these AHA moments. You are right on the money with this one. I so often try to teach my kids this lesson. Alas, it may have to wait until they’re own AHA moment. Great post!


  8. Discipline. Respect. Patience. Courtesy. Perseverance. Dedication. Loyalty. Every single one of these serves me well to this day. These could be applied to religion so I could make an argument with this, right….?

    Add to that the confidence, assessing skills, preparedness skills, and kicking skills….. same for any sport….
    You are right, you don’t know her story. Doesn’t matter. Kinda like life, somethings don’t seem fair from the outside looking in…
    love your light post symbol consideration!!!!!


  9. Now that is an excellent lesson. I think the lamp post counts as divine symbolism even though it may be coincidental it was also synchronistic, ergonit counts. Love that aha moment when teaching and learning…I agree, it really starts when it clicks for you and then boom, you can finally make the changes you want, or need, to make for yourself. Well said 🙂


  10. Those are very important lessons, and I’m glad you shared them. My granddaughter is mid-way to her first black belt and TKD is a marvelous discipline. I did chuckle at the idea of you learning the Korean. I listen to the children repeat and respond and I’m amazed at how seemingly easy they pick up on words that I sit there trying to even hear clearly! Children are so much more adaptable with accents. I’m just impressed that you were so dedicated. 🙂


    • Thank you Debra.

      The funny part about us learning Korean is that none of our instructors were Korean speakers either. So I don’t remember any of us ever coming close. 😉 Though it was neat the first time I saw the Koreans in the Olympics after I started learning and I saw and heard what I had been studying. 🙂


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