Delight and relief this evening at earning my next kick-boxing belt – 5th grade, red-white.
For years I walked past the dojo at the end of my street, filled with unexamined judgements about the obviously aggressive, uncontained people who’d take up such a thoughtless and damaging sport. But over time I began to see how my criticisms arose mostly from a shadow part of myself about which I was in denial – a part that wants to rage, and act forcefully, that wants to express anger rather than hold it back, that does not want to be contained. A part of which I was afraid – both for its destructive power and for its capacity to upset the careful balance of my life so far.
And the more I saw this, the more I saw that kick-boxing could be a practice that would support me in undoing myself or, at least, undoing the very particular calm, held-together, gentle presence I’d cultivated both for public view and for myself. The immediate reaction of most people who are close to me – surprise, shock, and “that’s not like you” – showed me I was on to something. Because in all development, in all that we do to allow life to flow though us with less interruption, there’s quite some undoing to do, quite some getting out of the way.
And so it’s joyful to find myself in the midst of a regular practice that supports me in having the body of someone who can act with vigour, and with speed, and with power. A privilege to be subject to such rigorous standards so that earning a new belt stretches me, confronts me what I’m still struggling with, shows me with some surprise what I can do, and calls me onward. And a wonderful surprise to discover that far from being filled with thoughtlessness, this is a discipline taught by people who embody both great wisdom, and great love.