No, No, No!

I made it through both black belt class and jujitsu this morning with no broken bones and no blood escaping my body. Whew!

I taped my big toe to the next toe, and even though it was a bit uncomfortable, it didn’t get caught in the mat when I turned in kata or during takedowns in jujitsu.


  • No broken toes.
  • No blood on the mats.
  • No ride to the ER with Ambulance Driver Andy.
  • No text to my kids saying “Look what mama did! Come get me.”
  • No calls to a friend requesting he bring my gym bag to the hospital.
  • No toe surgery.
  • No bugging someone to bring my car home for me.

This is one of those times when a bunch of Nos add up to a huge Yes. I’m back!!

Held Together by Elastic

My dad used to joke he kept Johnson & Johnson and Ace Bandages in business. Dad raised three girls, none of whom were dainty. Three daughters, three athletes, seven sports. We hit softballs, tennis balls and badminton birdies; flipped and twisted in gymnastics and diving; hit the floor for volleyballs; and ran full-tilt towards hurdles. When we weren’t in season, we were still moving.

Sprains, muscle pulls, bumps, bruises and cuts were the norm in our household, much to my mother’s chagrin. She would have preferred ballerinas. Oh, we did that too, but only when we were young. When we got older, our competitive streaks took over.

Recently, as I wore an Ace bandage on my ankle and searched for my wrist brace, I thought of Dad and wondered what he would have said of me taking up karate at the age of 46. I can see him shaking his head, then slowly grinning and saying, “Why not? I’d expect no less from one of you girls.”

These days, instead of smashing my knee on hurdles I’m blocking punches, being dumped on my butt, and having my wrists twisted in ways they don’t want to twist. When I was 20, I was made of elastic and would have shaken it off and done it again. Now, at 50, I think fondly of those days but reality says they are far gone. Now, instead of being made of elastic, I’m being held together with elastic!

I should own stock in Aleve. I have a physiatrist who greets me with, “What’d you do to yourself now?” My Swamp Water and Biofreeze are close at hand. And I’m the proud owner of three ankle braces, a wrist brace, several Ace bandages, multiple ice packs, and a heating pad (with a very important auto-shut-off feature, since I often fall asleep on it).

I have strengthening exercises for my wrist, my ankle, my neck and my core, courtesy of the physical therapists. I use the penetrating heat of a tanning bed as balm for my sore muscles.

True, my limitations are gaining on me, but I’m too stubborn to give in. Some days I’ll win, some days the aches will. Either way, I’ll continue to train.

But for now, it seems I’ve come full circle. I’m once again keeping Ace Bandages in business, just like when Dad was around.  And weird as it may sound that makes me smile…just a little bit.

100% of Whatever I’ve Got

I just finished doing some penance on my elliptical. A bag of bridge mix and some Pringles for dinner are not really the things someone in training for a Shodan test should be eating.

I stopped at the grocery store for eggs and Kleenex. When I got home and unloaded my bags, I realized that someone looking at my items wouldn’t be able to tell if I was tired or pregnant!

My bags were filled with chocolate covered peanuts, chocolate bridge mix, Bear Claw ice cream (a chocolate concoction), Pringles, frozen dinners (low cal, of course!), eggs and salad mix.

The chocolate’s in the car. Out of sight, out of mind — I hope!

Obviously I shouldn’t shop when I’m tired. And I’m tired today. Really, really tired. Recent events have worn me out. I over-stressed myself to the point of adrenal exhaustion. Been there, done that, and it’s not fun. Recovery means cutting back on cardio for awhile. The timing is terrible.

My black belt test is less than 4 weeks away. I’m overweight and out of shape, and I know it. I don’t expect to lose my chubby before my test or to magically gain the cardio to make it through 2 hours without gasping for breath. But eating this stuff isn’t helping, is it? Oops.

But regardless of my chunky little self or my less-than-stellar cardio capabilities, there’s one thing I do know. At the end of my test, I will have left it all out on the mat. I won’t think I could have pushed myself more, and I won’t think I could have gone harder. How do I know? Experience!

I tested for yellow after surgery to repair my broken nose. For blue after returning from major surgery. For purple when I was so exhausted I needed a nap before the test. For 3rd brown after a nasty bout of the flu. After my 1st brown, I felt so protein-deprived that I ate about every two hours — for three days afterwards! I’ve only had one test where I was healthy and rested. OK, two, if my Black Belt Gauntlet counts.

Those tests were tough, but they were also very satisfying. I made it. Yes, I wish I had been healthier and better rested. I wonder how I would have done if I’d been 100%. But I gave 100%.

Renshi’s rule is to give him 100% of whatever we’ve got. If we’ve got 100%, he wants it all. If we’ve only got 30%, he wants 100% of that 30%. I know I’ll give 100% of everything I’ve got at my test, and when I walk off that mat, I’ll have the satisfaction of knowing I did my best that evening.

So tomorrow, while I’m even more tired than I am now and working at home, I’m going to make a conscious effort to make better food choices. The chocolate is in the car. Believe it or not, I usually don’t bother to go out there and get it! And tomorrow I will continue my training; hopefully no more penance will be required!

The Highest Skill

To win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the highest skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the highest skill.

~ Sun-Tsu