Friday, September 29, 2017
To grade those of us testing for P4 and above, my head instructor flew in a former student now living in Austin, TX. Will is an Expert 1 known for being a serious grader. We heard he had failed 5 of the last 7 people he tested for Graduate rank. I had trained for a while with Will before he moved from northern VA to TX, so I knew he was tough but fair.
The first hour and a half went well and soon it was time for me to demonstrate "stop kicks." You have probably seen these in Bruce Lee's Jeet Kune Do -- using the lead or rear leg to intercept and block an opponent's low kick. I had just worked on these with our kids classes that morning, so I felt ready to go.
It was not meant to be! I couldn't stop a single kick my partner threw at me. Will even swapped out my original partner for another, in case I was worried about hurting my partner. No difference! Will walked away and I knew he gave me zero points for that section.
I was so angry! I do not have a temper, but you could not tell it last Saturday afternoon. I was near the half-wall separating the training floor and the waiting area, and I hammer-fisted the horizontal wall surface. I'm sure a few bystanders suspected something was wrong, because they had never likely seen me so angry.
I had 2/3 of the test left, but I was upset. What could I do about it? I remembered a situation at the Rickson Gracie Cup jiu-jitsu tournament a couple weeks prior. One of my team members from Prof Pedro Sauer's school was not happy with her competition performance. I remembered hearing Professor tell her that it was water under the bridge, that she could not do anything about it, and it was better to focus on the next challenge.
I decided that I was experiencing the same problem, and I would adopt the same solution. I made a sincere effort to let go of my frustration and concentrate on the next portion of the test.
We moved on to self-defense techniques. Will told my partner to execute a series of attacks until he said stop. I would have to deal with each in turn. My partner started throwing attack after attack, and in between each I took about one second to concentrate on shaking off the stress, relaxing my body, and preparing for the next challenge. During this portion of the test I probably felt the most "flow" of the whole 4 1/2 hour event. It was quite a change from my feelings only a few minutes earlier!
I successfully completed the test, and I realized it could have gone south pretty easily. I was thankful that I was able to turn it around.
Have you experienced a setback like this, and if so, how did you respond? Let me know here on on Twitter!
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