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Things I Hate About Tae Kwon Do

1) The Dobok

Could there be a worse outfit to wear for athletic endeavors? It’s stiff and hot and white and has long sleeves and pants. Did I mention that that top is slit up the sides? And then top it off by tying a belt around your waist. Can you imagine playing basketball in long pants? Think of boxing in a giant, long bell-sleeved denim shirt.  I still can’t figure out why gymnasts don’t perform their routines with a stiff cotton belt tied around their waists.

I want to wear a dri-fit shirt and shorts or leggings like I wear for running. How about baseball pants or at least something else conducive to movement? How about something sleeveless that shows off my guns? How about something my panties don’t show through?


2) The Togetherness

I don’t like any activity where the phrase “now get a partner” pops up. I have the very real urge to flee to the bathroom, or fake an incoming phone call, or just peel out of the parking lot all-together!

It’s bad enough when we do it at Sunday School. But at least there we just have to sit on our couches and discuss the scripture we’ve read with the person sitting next to us. At Tae Kwon Do, the BEST partnering up can mean is that you practice skills together, usually kicks. I feel really awkward when we do that because I’m so unskilled, I feel like I’m keeping my partner from practicing at full speed.

But the greatest horror of Tae Kwon Do is if they ask us to pair up during warm ups. It was bad enough when I had to lay on my side on the floor and let a woman sit on top of me and straddle my waist so I could do sideways crunches. It was even worse when we had to link ankles with our partner and do sit ups together. “Hi barely known acquaintance! Let’s throw our faces at each others sweaty crotches fifty times in a row.”

I really didn’t think it could get any creepier than that.

I should’ve known better.


Monday, as I drove to class I thought, “Please, God.  Just don’t let us partner up.” We began, lined up, ran a couple of laps around the mat and then, there it was. “Everybody get a partner!” I sighed and rolled my eyes. (This is why I’m a prize student.)

And then my life passed in front of my eyes as the instructor continued, “Now sit feet to feet with your partner.” Annnnnnnnnnd I was dead.

You realize we’re barefoot, right?

I do not particularly care for feet. Mine or others. That’s one of the reasons I have always taken issue with man sandals. Ain’t nobody got time to see long, hairy, naked man toes. (I’ve finally found a sense of resignation with my mandal problem, but not a sense of comfort.) It’s not even a hygiene thing. Feet are just – weird.

After years and years, I’ve gotten to the point where I can deal with my own bare feet. If my toenails are painted and there’s nothing too gross looking going on with my toes from running, my feet are almost cute. I’ve come a long way.

And I’ve even mostly handled the fact that Tae Kwon Do is practiced barefoot. But Lawd, my heart is racing right here sitting at the computer just thinking about having to sit foot to foot with that nice young man Monday night! (At least it wasn’t the creepy old man who left a scar on my finger when he kicked me with his thick, yellow. inch-long toenails one night when he missed the target I was holding.)

3) Lack of Punching

I kind of assumed that there would be more punching. Oh, we air punch in our poomsae. But most of our contact and target work is kicking. This skill doesn’t come as naturally as punching. I could’ve punched something really hard the day I walked in the door. And I was looking forward to it. I thought I was going to be able to deal with some aggression. I figured I would’ve gotten to put on some sparring gear by now and punch somebody in the head. But alas, there is nothing but lame, powerless flailing with my legs. I couldn’t kick anybody in the face unless they squatted down.



At least this guy gets to wear comfortable clothes to do his kicking!

But in spite of my eyerolling and sighing, I feel compelled to keep going to class because I paid for a year. I don’t hate it like I make it sound. I’m certainly engaging in some hyperbole for the sake of humor. But man, I’ll quit complaining about the dobok if I can just exchange that for never having to touch anyone’s feet again! *shiver!*


Two Kinds Of Humility

I’m going back to Tae Kwon Do tonight after two or three weeks in hiding. I was so embarrassed and frustrated last time I was there because I just couldn’t get my last poomsae right that I need for my first belt test. I don’t want to say I quit for a while (I did.), I was just ashamed to show my face there.

In the meantime, I did what I should’ve all along and just went on the internet and learned how to do the damned thing in about five minutes.

But now I’m a little embarrassed to swallow my pride and go back to class because I’ve been gone so long.

Here’s what confuses me about that. Over the summer, I went on a mission trip with my church. While we were there, I made a disparaging eye roll towards a man who was sharing about his day. Somebody called me on it, I realized I had been a jerk and I went to the man in the dining hall the next day apologized and asked him to come sit with us and talk for a while. It made both of us feel lighter, forgiven and reassured that we shared God’s grace.

I have no real problem admitting when I’m wrong and am, most times, humble enough to go to the person I’ve wronged to apologize, try to reach some understanding and ask for forgiveness.

So what is the difference in that kind of humility, and the humility that allows me to walk back into Tae Kwon Do this afternoon with my head up?



Here’s some of the mess swirling around my head.


The Boo saga continues. No matter what I’ve tried, I can’t shake my feelings for him. He and I have tried to be friends this summer, but when we’ve spent a lot of time together just hanging out and having lunch and stuff over the last month, I realized that it might not be possible for me to deal with only being his friend. It might be all or nothing. When he looks in my eyes, when he makes me laugh, when he’s a smart ass, when he shows me a little crack in his facade that reveals his vulnerability and hurt, I just can’t quit him. I can’t figure out why I’ve imprinted on him like a baby duck. I don’t know why there’s something in him that lights up my heart.

In the meantime, I had gone out with someone else a few times. I was hoping that seeing somebody else (not that I’ve been “seeing” Boo) would change my heart. He was very sweet and attentive. We had lots in common and never ran out of stuff to talk about. We had two really good dates. He was the kind of guy that any girl would be thrilled to have. (He even has a job!) But when I was driving to meet him for our second date, I felt horribly guilty because I just wanted to cry my eyes out all the way there because he wasn’t Boo. (I’m ruining my life.)

I decided to be honest with him, because it wasn’t right not to. It wasn’t right to keep moving forward with him if he was in the dark about my duplicitous feelings. So I explained all that to him yesterday and of course he doesn’t want to see me anymore. Who could blame him?

Frankly, it was kind of a relief because I was having such horrible feelings of guilt and I didn’t want to hurt him. And also, it’s just one less thing to worry about.

In addition, in an attempt to wipe Boo out of my brain, I told him on Friday that I thought it was the best for both of us if we didn’t communicate for the next month. I’m hoping that not seeing him and not talking to him will help me let go of my feelings for him. Every time I have any contact with him, it tweaks my heart and raises my hopes and triggers all my daydreams of what we could be and do together.

I’m hoping not sitting waiting for him to text me or ask me to lunch or take me to New Orleans will give me a chance to clear my head and think about other things. I’ve realized that he’s become a kind of security blanket for me – somebody who I can hang onto as a slim, but reassuring, hope for the future when I’m feeling there’s no hope for not being alone forever.
No matter how weird and twisted and complicated things have gotten with me and Boo, as many things I’ve said and done that should have driven him away from my sheer insanity, he’s never gone. I’ll think I’ve ruined things for good, and suddenly, there he is again. I don’t know if this is because I’m the same kind of hope of last resort he clings to like I do to him, or if his lack of ability to say “no” just keeps him from having the nerve to tell me to go away.

So here’s how I feel after three days out of touch. I miss him being there. I wish he would let me love him. I know I have no control over how he feels about me no matter how many ways I’ve tried to manipulate his feelings. I need to let go of the situation, but I can’t so far. I wish I could not care. I wish I didn’t love him. I wish I could make him love me.


I’m on week two of my new marathon training plan. I’ve signed up for the Rock n’ Roll Savannah Marathon on November 8th. This is my third marathon and I really want to break 5:00:00. Now that’s pretty slow in the world of marathoning, but I ain’t going to ever break 4:00:00, so this is what I’m aiming for. So I’ve undertaken a really challenging training program. The most I’ve ever run in a week is 40 miles. I ran 35 miles last week in the first week of a 12-week training plan. It eventually goes up to 55 miles a week. I might have bitten off more than I can chew.

I think one reason I’m in such a mental funk is that I’m probably exhausted. I got up at 4:15 Monday morning and ran 11 miles before I went to work. Then I spent 9 hours at work, came home, changed into my dobok and went to Tae Kwon Do. Afterwards, I went to the grocery store, came home, called my mom, ate two Pop Tarts for supper and passed out on the couch.
When you’re pushing your body so hard, it’s really important to eat and drink and sleep right. And I’m not doing any of that, which means the training is even harder. I’m coming up about 1000 calories short every day. I’m not drinking enough water. I’m not eating healthy. I don’t sleep in the bed anymore. About a year ago when I stopped seeing the person I had been “seeing” on and off, I couldn’t sleep in the bed anymore. It was too empty. I started sleeping on the couch in front of the TV. It was less lonely. I had the Zira-cat to snuggle with at night. And now she’s gone too.

But I push myself. I push myself. I don’t know why I have to see how far I can push myself with running. I have this compulsion to prove SOMETHING to myself. I’m not sure what.

Tae Kwon Do

On the flip side, there’s Tae Kwon Do. When I went to my friend Mandy’s black belt test back in the spring, I was struck by how much mental and physical control was involved. I thought, “This is something I need to do. This is something that will fix my head, something that can switch my focus from Boo to myself, something that will teach me to love and trust myself instead of needing someone else to show me approval or love or worth.”

I wanted to approach it as the opposite of my running. I just wanted it to be fun and carefree. And it was at first. I love the quiet and the stretching and the cardio and core work. I love rolling around on the padded floor. What’s ruining me is the actual stuff you’re supposed to learn. I can’t tie my belt right. I can’t kick right. I can’t learn my poomsae forms to save my life. It’s the poomsae that really the worst. (Poomsae is a programmed series of movements and punches and blocks.) It’s so embarrassing that I can’t get it. And it’s turned into a mental thing that feels just like math class. I get up in front of the Master and the other students to do it and my brain gets all big and stupid and I can’t remember it and then I’m embarrassed and can’t breathe and want to cry and just run out. And it’s totally not fun and carefree anymore.

I cheated my way through math. I can’t fake this. (I do seem to be able to cry through it.) The Master told me yesterday that if I didn’t take this seriously that I was never going to get better. I know that. But if I pretend I don’t care by not learning to tie my belt, then the reason I can’t get it is because I don’t give a shit. If I show that I actually care, then I get REALLY upset and embarrassed when I don’t get it, and the reason I can’t get it is because I suck. I remembered that this is totally why I never try new things, because it’s humiliating.

Oh, if only my head were the little teapot so I could just tip it over and pour it all out. If it were only that easy.