Posted by: draknor | September 27, 2011

Fear and Decisions

I had an amazing time doing martial arts training in Newport, Oregon for the last 4 days!

You see, back in college I started training in the Karatedo Doshinkan style as a freshman, and trained consistently through my senior year.  In fact, I continued my training on & off ever since graduating, achieving first-degree blackbelt (“shodan”) a year out of college.  But after being out of regular practice for years, I had come to forget what it meant to me — physically, mentally, even spiritually.  Out of sight, out of practice = out of mind.

So one day a couple of weeks ago, I went to a tai chi class and it reminded me of Doshinkan and how much that used to mean to me.  I checked the members-only portion of the website to discover the annual special beach training happening in Oregon from Sept 22-25. I’d heard great things about this training but I had never made it before — and lo & behold, my calendar was open this year!  I hesitated for only a minute, but then got online to register for the training (and to make my flight, hotel, and rental car reservations)!

That was something I did very right — recognizing the opportunity and seizing it.  I had my doubts and misgivings about going, such as:

  • I was out of regular practice – would I be able to keep up?
  • I had travel plans the weekend before & weekend after — being gone for 3 weeks would put a lot of stress on my relationship with my girlfriend
  • I have no income right now & this would be a decent chunk of change for all the last minute travel.

But you know what? None of those fears are really important.  Or at least, couldn’t be mitigated.  I’ve been working out regularly & running, so I figured I’m in at least as good of shape as when I trained in college.  With my girlfriend, we could talk on the phone or Skype, and I did have some flexibility in my travel plans such that I could come home after only 2 weeks (for a few days).  And for cost — I got the cheapest flights & hotel rooms I could find.  And I recognized this would be an investment in myself: in my physical health, my mental health, my spiritual health.  And more than that, it would let me reconnect with people that I haven’t seen in years, that have been inspirations and role models for me in the past.

Going was definitely the right decision. I knew it then, and now on the flip side, I’ve confirmed my intuitions.  The benefits of this past weekend so far outweighed the costs I would do it again in a heartbeat.  (Only maybe spend a little more on the hotel next time, $50/night doesn’t get you very much!)

There was one specific example this past weekend where I had a lot of fear. You see, in this style of karatedo you don’t just begin teaching someone randomly.  You have to ask for permission from the leader of the style (“Hanshi”).  I’d been pondering this for sometime — do I want to train people? Am I ready?  Can I really do this?  It was nerve-wracking – I had a lot of fear & doubts in my head.  But two things stood out clearly to me:

  1. I love training & what it does for me.
  2. I love teaching people.

That’s it — those two thoughts were the roots that helped me to override my fears about asking for permission to teach others.  I got some great feedback from my former teacher as well as a few others; they were impressed with my form & technique, and that extra positive feedback just sealed the deal.

Saturday afternoon I asked Hanshi if I may teach people in Madison, Wisconsin.  He thought about it for a moment, looked at me and said he grants me permission, and “Try hard.”

Sunday morning, he promoted me to second-degree black belt.

Monday morning on the drive to the airport, there were no fears left in my mind about whether I could do this or not.  They were pushed out by ideas on HOW to do it.  Once I made that decision that I WANTED to teach, and I got the permission to do it — the fears vanished and excitement & enthusiasm rushed in instead.

I’m already putting together a six week pilot class that I’ll offer to some close friends to start with, with a goal of learning how to teach this material and then offering a cycle of introductory classes on and on-going training.

I had a realization on the flight home: fear is like an overcast sky. When I’m on the ground it seems so dark and gloomy, but if I can just break through that I know I’ll find a bright, beautiful & endless sky up above.  Time to spread those wings!