Kicking Your Mom

I woke up a walking bruise this morning after a taekwondo sparring session last night. Since I started taekwondo at age 42, I’m the only adult color (lower) belt at my dojang/school, so I train with the black belts. I’ve always regarded this as a blessing and a curse.  The blessing is that I am forced to get better faster or suffer, as I did last night, the very real consequences of having the shit kicked out of me. The curse being, of course, the actual shit kicking.

I’m not necessarily afraid of pain, since I know it’s part of getting physically better at anything. But these badges of honor, these bruises, muscle pulls and tiny fractures, take a lot longer to heal in my 40s than they would have done a decade or two ago. Our freezer holds more ice packs than actual food these days.

Sometimes I feel badly for my sparring opponents, most of whom are teenage boys. They’re younger, faster, and more experienced than I am. They occasionally have to be encouraged to kick, punch or sweep me harder. They look nervous. Once I’ve kicked them a couple times, they start to get over that, but I always laugh when I tell my husband afterwards “they must feel like they’re kicking their moms”. This might be my edge against their speed and agility. I’m thinking about asking them if they’ve done their homework right before we bow in.

19 thoughts on “Kicking Your Mom

  1. This made m think of my friend Eileen, who’s 42 and an elite runner. She was close to the finish of a 10 mile race and a teenage hotshot who was keeping up with her kept worrying that a woman was going to beat him. She promised him she could tell he had the juice to pass her… and that she has a daughter his age. He pulled ahead and won and probably felt a lot better!


  2. I’ve had this for the past year at Muay Thai – due to being so ridiculously short (5’0″) I’m always being paired with teenagers, or else I’m sparring with guys who are a up to a foot taller than me! It makes for some interesting incidences! They are always really scared to hit me (or in the odd case, not, which is a little scary when they are much stronger), but they always let me go to town on them (probably because they think it’s humorous to be whaled on by a tiny person)! That being said, the only really bad hit I’ve taken was an elbow to the nose by the one girl who occasionally comes to class that matches my height/weight


    1. I had a huge black eye a month or so ago after one of the guys attempted a head shot and I was too inexperienced with head shots to block it. So often, I think it’s my inexperience that causes my injuries, but I hope that I learn faster. Nobody has gotten a head shot in since! I think taekwondo is a great martial art for learning control, but getting there is rocky!


  3. In a week I am supposed to run a 5K race with my 80 year old father but my knees are as good as his are. Staying in shape is painful but at the same time the only thing that is without pain is death,.


    1. I hope it’s not an either-or proposition. I’d like to have a few pain-free days before I collapse from my treadmill heart attack or my bench press stroke! Good luck to both of you on the 5K!


    1. I think I started out that way, especially when we do self-defense work, since some of it is intuitive. Sparring means needing control so that you actually hit the target. That’s been a challenge for me!


  4. Thank you for sharing this! I recently started sparring as well. Last class, I was sparring a seventeen year old, and she is tall with long legs and a long reach. She is a stalker and I have a tendency to back off from that offense, however I was able to (finally) land a round kick. I then (foolishly) took a second to celebrate, which she decided to monopolize and land a front punch, reverse punch and side kick that put me down. Oh, the victories and defeats… 🙂


    1. I’m recovering from my latest injury, turf toe (pulling all the ligaments around a big toe), so I’ve had to take a couple of weeks off. Sparring is definitely one of those things you get better at by actually doing it. I’m in my head too much and my reaction time is slow, so learning to react faster, not pausing (even for victory) is what I’ve been focusing. Congrats at starting sparring! It’s a lot of fun, isn’t it?


      1. I cannot tell a lie… sparring has been incredibly difficult for me because I have no tolerance in allowing myself to get better at something. My first sparring experience was anything but successful, and I found that I too, am an over thinker and that my Type-A attitude keeps me too stiff up top. So, after some soul searching that led to just this | | much patience with my inability to have immediate ‘rock start’ status, I am finding the fun in it.


        1. I am the most uptight sparring opponent ever and what I found that helps me is focusing on an open target and allowing myself to react more instinctively. I’ve been doing TKD for a couple of years and it took me a long time to figure out that my perfectionism was getting in the way of my instincts. Shake out your shoulders, stay light on your feet, prepare to block and watch for an opening. You’ll get there! I am not a skilled athlete and I’m not going to the Olympics. I like a challenge and to have fun. If it helps, there isn’t a class that doesn’t go by where my instructor doesn’t say to me “Relax, Michelle, you just need to relax!”. It’s kind of a running joke.


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