Punch, Ki’up, Click
Perhaps that should be the title, but when two passions of mine merge into one, it is a great feeling.
Gradings are normally stress filled affairs where you are worried if your skills will show up in your mind that day, or perhaps have taken the day off. Well at least they are for me. I went into the last grading with a completely different mindset than before. This was the first time I had taken part where my attention could be focused on something completely different and concentrate on another passion of mine, Photography.
Instead of the normal Ki’up that accompanies a skill, I opted for something I have been hearing for 15 years. A trusty click of a shutter and a photographer's instinct (with a bit of Hapkido knowledge).
When looking back over some of the many images, a few stand out to me for different reasons. They are not necessarily the best photos technically, but the ones that evoke the most thought and emotion inside of me. Each of these is worth an essay in itself, but lets try and keep it brief.
Fall fall and fall again.
It is one of the first things you learn when you put on a white belt, but falling is one of the most technically challenging and hardest things to do when your mind says no. It is also one of the things that you do most. Well it’s definitely what Mr Murray did most of in the last grading (in a good way of course).
Perhaps it is some secret fixation that only my inner self can confess, but every photo of someone falling seemed to have the familiar shape of Mr Murray. It must be the name. Nevertheless, there was not one complaint, grievance or protest to be heard. Infact, I told him my observation a few classes later and he didn’t even realise that he had been used as a rag doll. I admire his mindset but the great thing about this is that most people in the dojang have this attitude; that the body will give up before the mind.
How am I ever going to kick two people to the face at once? What to aspire to.
No matter what belt you are, the next one always seems so far away. Skills look harder, faster and more complex than before. As a yellow belt I could barely remember attacking form and used to wonder how on earth you could ever remember all 10 of them! For some this could come naturally, but for the rest of us earthlings the repetition of skills brings them to second nature that only falters when your mind strays from the ordinary.
Now I concentrate on perfecting all 10 of these forms while looking forward and thinking there is no way that I am ever going to kick that high.
One day I hope to just try this skills and heavily embarrass myself in the process rather than leaping like a gazelle doing the splits.
Never get bored at breaking
The one thing that you can't practice in class is breaking part of a dead tree. The thing you quickly learn is that it's not the speed of the punch or kick; it’s the technique behind the movement. That is the one thing you can practice. The one thing that you doing in every class. I’ve learnt to never underestimate the parts of the class that you take for granted as they are often the most important.
The hardest part is thinking that you can’t do it. The mind is a powerful weapon, and if you think this, the probability of failing climbs dramatically. Your moment could come at any time. A black belt told me when I first joined that Master Chang will only ask you to break a board when he knows that you are ready. Even before you think that you’re ready. Something only a lifetime of experience can bring. If he chooses you, you know inside you that can break it.
It’s the little things
In the past 5 years I have gone to every grading, whether participating or not and in all that time this was only point where I could remember Master Chang getting up and showing how a skill should be performed. This is not to take anything away from Dimitri. Grading for a black belt is tremendously hard and I would be more worried if Master Chang didn’t say anything while I was grading. Perfection on any skill is impossible. We are always learning, always trying to improve ourselves and every time we perform the basics of any skill we learn something new no matter how small. Whether that be about an opponent or how everyone's bodies react differently.
No matter what grade we are we are always prepared to learn and our Hapkido community is an amazing place to do this.