What was your biggest mental obstacle this year? Where did it happen? Family, Friends, Work, Sport? My most difficult and challenging exam happened this year the 16th April 2019.
If you follow me a bit longer, you know, I started training karate back in 2004 as a young eleven-year-old. It was my passion, and I attended a lot of championships in fighting and kata.
As I grew older, I started my apprenticeship by the age of fifteen. I slowly realised karate isn’t the same passion anymore. I kept training for a few years before quitting altogether.
My grandfather is the owner and chief trainer of the karate school, so I never lost complete touch with the dojo, but it never allured me to go back. Until in summer 2016, when I had my grandfather over for dinner, and he said the doors will always remain open for me to start again. It took another year until I stepped back into the dojo.
When I left eight years ago, I had the first green belt. I was allowed to continue with the same belt, and the goal was to reach the second green belt by December 2017. If the plan would have executed as planned in my head, I would have been a black belt by the end of this year.
You know the saying “tell the universe your plans, and it will fall down a chair laughing hard”. That’s the summary of my journey for the past two years.
In the years after quitting karate, I gained 20 kilograms, started stress eating, changed my job twice and had very high expectations of myself. I couldn’t accept it that I wasn’t at the same fitness level as back in 2009. I pushed myself so hard, it led me to two panic attacks during training, hyperventilating and sobbing very hard. I was at the verge of a mental break down.
Still today, I see karate sometimes too competitive and want to be at the same level as my friends who are ten years younger than me. Thanks to my coaches, I realised that each journey is different and that I should be much more compassionate with myself.
9th April 2019 – Our trainer asks the class who will attend the exam the following week. I was like, f%&k that, I am doing it now. You should have seen the faces of my coaches asking me if I am serious. We are advanced ranks, so it requires much more training and a lot of stamina to go through the exam.
My friend, same rank but ten years younger, stated he would do it together with me. So fast forward one week later, I wanted to kick myself really hard.
Who am I to attend a physical exam that I haven’t trained for? Am I kidding myself? Me and Justin, my friend, gave everything. Pushups are my weakest links, so I knew I had to find a way to pass them. But what knocked me out were the ten fights.
Our exam is built the same every time. A fixed curriculum of techniques, stamina (pushups, situps, jumping squats) and then ten fights. Our classmates who weren’t doing the exam were our partners. We fight full contact, which means you can hit as hard as you want, you “just” have to do ten rounds of one-minute fights.
I would say the first three fights were okay and then I started having a panic attack again. My breath was shallow. I couldn’t think clearly anymore. The pain wasn’t that bad, but the whole situation was overwhelming. I needed to stop two times. One time I completely freaked out. I couldn’t catch my breath again. I so wanted to give up. But my coaches were there all the way of encouraging us to finish it.
The last round Justin and I had to fight the “end game”. We were both completely exhausted, but in the end, we did it. We hugged each other, and I realised it is over. I think that’s when I lost it completely. I realised what I have done. Tears streaming down my face, I couldn’t stop smiling but also crying at the same time.
I told myself, no matter if I am going to pass this exam or not, I overcame my inner devil.
New level, the old devil
If you think I have found my peace with this now, I am sorry to disappoint you. My next belt exam will take place on March 2020. I am already freaking out again. There will be new people I need to fight with. I need to get more healthy and am already punishing myself again.
It is an ongoing journey. Even though you have overcome, one devil doesn’t mean there won’t be any new. Take this story as an encouragement never to stop doing what you love. There will be setbacks. Read my article from last week about my lessons as a life coach.
It is an ongoing journey. Even though you have overcome one devil doesn’t mean there won’t be any new. Take this story as an encouragement to never stop doing what you love. There will be setbacks. Read my article from last week about my lessons as a life coach.
Share with me in the comments below, what are you currently working on?