Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Taekwondo for Exercise...and More!

As a senior Taekwondo Master and instructor of many years, part of my responsibility is to attend regional and national tournaments and help out with the judging. This weekend, we took a group of kids and adults to a tournament about an hour away.

One of the benefits since becoming a Master last year, is that now I don’t have to judge all day. After judging the Black Belts first thing in the morning, I was free to walk around and watch our students. This was great, because I could see how they’re doing, and help them figure out a plan for their training afterward.

It also gave me time to reflect on several things. First of all, the fact that there were over 600 Taekwondo competitors is amazing. Sure, more than half were kids—there were 22 Orange Belt Tiny Tigers in my grandchildren’s ring alone, before they split them up.

That was amazing. Here they were, at the age of 3, 4 and 5, and they were out there doing something good for both their body and their mind.

Not only did they have to do their moves (physical), but they had to get up in front of the parents and all the other kids too (mental). I bet they’ll be pretty healthy and be pretty confident too, as they grow up.

There were hundreds of kids all brought together to compete in their art of Taekwondo, which means “kicking, punching way.” An oriental art, originally from Korea, Taekwondo has become extremely popular in the United States of the last several decades.

Known for its dynamic kicking techniques, and strong blocks and strikes, Taekwondo is also known for helping kids and adults improve their life skills, like courtesy and self-discipline.
It was pretty evident that it’s working, as all the kids and adults waited patiently for their chance to compete. Then, they handled themselves with courtesy and respect during their competition.

With my new freedom, I was able to observe our adults in competition in several different rings as well. It’s always fascinated me on how people deal with pressure. That’s one of the main reasons I’ve loved competing over the years.

They say the number one fear in adults is public speaking. Imagine getting up in front of a group and doing a physical demonstration all by yourself! Or point sparring with someone, with just two minutes to get more points than they do.

In all the adult rings, whether they were colored belts or black belts, I didn’t see anyone seriously overweight. Sure, some were in better shape than others, but usually, they were all pretty fit. Again, I think these people have a good chance to stay healthy.

For them, it was Taekwondo. There are plenty of other activities, though. What are you doing? Better get started with something!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Time Flies

I never cease to be amazed at how fast time flies. One moment you’re worried about teenagers; the next you’re holding grandchildren. It's been a half a year since I've posted to my own blog!

It’s stunning how quickly things can change. Blink twice and your whole life can be different. I mean, look back. Did you ever think things would turn out this way? Did you expect to be where you are right now?

When we’re going through the fire, it seems to take forever. With a little effort and a lot of faith, a year or two later, things can be completely different. So can you.

We need to start thinking about the big picture. That doesn’t mean we don’t do the little things we should do every day. It just means that we might take a wider view of things.

Start seeing things how they can be, instead of just looking in the mirror. The bible says “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen.”

Sure it’s important to see things as they are. Otherwise it’s called denial. But what you’re seeing or might be feeling doesn’t always tell you everything you need to know. It’s not that it isn’t real. It’s just that there might be something even more real.

Last year, I took up running with my son, and we’ve been training for another marathon this coming April 15th. We do speed work on Tuesdays, a 30 minute recovery run on Thursdays, and the dreaded distance run on Saturdays. This weekend it was 15 miles!

Even though I’ve done it before, there were a bunch of times Saturday, when I was thinking, how do you go from 15 miles to 26? I wanted to just slow down and quit running.

But that’s why you train. It’s what gets you to the next level. We did 7 miles one weekend, then 9 miles the next, Then 11 miles, 13, and last Saturday, 15 miles. Next weekend, it’s 17 miles, and so on.

Of course it’s really hard today, but if I just follow the program and don’t have any injuries, God willing, in a couple months I’ll be ready. My endurance will be greater, and I’ll be ready.

I probably won’t ever be a running machine like my son, but if I’m faithful and keep at it, I’ll be better than I am now. I’ve got to keep the big picture in mind.

Another strategy is to break things up into smaller chunks. If it’s too big to even think about, do what you can, and don’t worry about the rest. Just do the next important thing.

If you have a lot of weight to lose, and you’ve tried and failed, don’t think about losing 80 pounds. Think about your next workout. Get to the gym.

Think about making better food choices the next time you sit down to eat. Break it up into what you do tomorrow, or next week.

Around 10 ½ miles, I just couldn’t see doing 15, so I started focusing on finishing that mile. Then I started number 12, and just thought about getting through that one. It was tough, but it worked.

I had a nice surprise when I got to mile 13. After all that pain and trouble, it turns out my time was 2 ½ minutes faster than the last half marathon last November. I was actually doing better!

Well now. That helped. The last 2 miles were much easier. I guess I was so close to the goal now, that if I did 13, what’s another 2 miles? You get that close, you know you can go the distance.

I did another mile and got to number 14. Only one left. Ten more minutes. Sure it hurt, but it didn’t hurt any more. I remember thinking…you know, 17 won’t be that bad.What’s your big picture? What do you see in your head when you dare to dream a little bit?