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.