Progress Reports

by Jinryu

Finding out that you’re making progress is a difficult thing.  There’s little nuanced bits to feeling accomplished– either you notice some little thing has changed that wasn’t a certain way before, or someone outright tells you something that you didn’t even notice.

[CM] is in Montreal doing an elective at a major metropolitain hospital, and she often tells me that she just feels bad: she doesn’t really know what she’s doing, she constantly feels like she doesn’t know enough.  I have much the same problem with all sorts of things at the moment.

Feelings of inadequacy and ignorance are akin to helplessness and powerlessness– they are soul crushing negative emotions that make you feel, well, bad.  She and I talk back and forth about things we’re not good at– getting it out of our systems sometimes helps, and it’s better than nothing.  Sometimes the outside perspective gives us the opportunity to cheer eachother up.  I’ll admit– life for us has been pretty hard lately.  I haven’t seen her since the end of December 2013, and I miss her terribly.  But she’ll be back in a couple of weeks, and my hope is that for all the hardships we’ve faced on our own ends will have us a stronger couple because of it.

Part of surviving a long distance relationship, and life in general, is about maintaining your own life.  It’s hard for me to be supportive of CM if, for example, I’m not even maintaining my own life.  If I can’t get my shit together, if I’m demoralised, she can smell it even though she is literally half a globe away.  My suffering becomes her suffering and it becomes a vicious circle if she’s also having a hard time.  At least one of us has to have something good going on, some “win” to report or bring up the troops’ morale so that one of us can support the other and tell the other that it’s all going to be all right.

I think part of it is just finding the small things to quantify as wins.

So what’s my win for today?

I’ve long been feeling that I’m getting nowhere with judo.  That, combined with injuries, makes me often wonder “what’s the point?”

Today, there were only about 5 guys total in judo.  This included one of the orange belts who started around the same time as I did, and a green belt who has probably a year extra experience on me.  Both of them are significantly bigger and stronger than I am.

Because the class was really small, [K-Sensei] decided that we were going to do some technical development.  Nothing but throwing while he watched and critiqued our technique.

When it came to ippon seoi nage, the one armed shoulder throw, everyone got critiqued the hell out of it.  He had them repeat things over and over.  When my turn came up? No comments.  A bit of a “not terrible.”  Which, in K-Sensei langauge, is about the closest I can get to a compliment.  One of the other guys told me that my seoi nage was super technical compared to theirs– it just seemed so much easier, especially considering that I was throwing people while being smaller than they were.  Yes, I’m patting myself on the back– but I think it’s important to do that every now and then.

Constantly complaining and putting myself down is another way things can get to my head, and I don’t want to read back on this blog some day and think that I was just living a totally miserable life without any satisfaction.  I do have my small wins, and to learn to recognise these is the first step in getting in the habit of a happier life overal.

Later in the night, we were doing o soto gari, the major outer reap throw.  Again, a lot of criticism for the others– but when it came to mine, he told the other students: “that is a killer’s throw.”

“Is that a good thing?” I asked.

“Judo is supposed is gentle, but in reality, it is kill or be killed.”

So I guess that’s a good thing.  I point this out because K-Sensei is a crazy badass.  He’s in his 60s, and recently won a gold at Kodokan– which is judo headquarters in Japan.  He’s a total beast, not just for his age, but in general.  Whenever he scrutinizes my training, I just feel like shit– because he has extremely high standards and his broken English just make him sound extra harsh all the time.  To me, I’m like someone training to be in a town militia, whereas he’s an ex-special forces commando who has the task of being my drill sergent.  [R-Sensei] is a lot more diplomatic– I feel that I learn a lot more theory with R-Sensei because he’s generally a very kind guy who takes the time to explain things clearly and with a hella lot of patience.

K-Sensei, on the other hand, not infrequently will just throw his hands up in exasperation: “FUCK what I tell you about grips!  What is this SHIT! I not teach you to throw with fucking grip!”

So to have him recognise me, even just a bit? It’s a big thing for me. Small things are important.

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