They say that the journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step. Indeed, for many it does. But for some, that single step is too painful to take on their own – whether physically or spiritually. And for others, that step is no longer, or never was, physically possible.
Since I was young I have battled with ankle and fallen | no arch issues in my feet. Somedays, the orthotics work wonders, others I still feel like I’m walking on shards of broken glass and that my ankle will roll under at any moment. This past year, I have fought it more so than I have in the past. Part of that was becoming overactive after not being active – taking class 2-3 times in a week, working with my trainer, Lloyd, just doing more. It was a welcome distraction from the chaos that was my life. But in doing so, I injured it more than I have ever before, requiring a walking boot for many weeks, and physical therapy. It took a long time to heal. It may never be permanently strong and stable.
Being in a boot made me actually have to slow down and take care of me and put my health first. Even though, paradoxically, that meant not working out as much as I had started to. It meant admitting that there was a problem, that there was something needing strengthening, accepting help when offered.
As I look at my journey in taekwondo, it has been a journey moving forwards and backwards, starting and stopping, stepping to the side and jumping into the center of the ring. It has been long, involved a complete restart, and never run in a straight line. While I know that the standard weapon of choice within United TKD is the Bo staff, I am set to learn the cane once now that I am a blue belt. For a variety of reasons, starting with the realization that none of us gets younger with the passage of time, I feel that the cane would be an apt choice for me.
As we grow older, whether through age or injury, there is a likelihood that at some point in time, we will all need to use a cane. In my own instance, because of the weakness in both ankles, marked by the tendency to completely roll under one ankle, it’s more than just a likelihood. It is a probability. Yes, continued weight loss will aid in the repair and recovery, but it’s also quite possible that given the length of injury and repetitive nature of it, that it will never be fully healed. A cane, more traditionally, is a device for support in cases like this. As a mobility device, a cane cannot be legally taken from you, even on airplanes. Sure there are restrictions – you can’t carry on a cane sword, nor can it be made of metal in many instances. It is a weapon that hides in plain sight, and most do not view it as such.
Additionally – as I approach the rank I previously held, I find myself wanting more of a previous weapon back in my life. The pen. Then pen, being mightier than the sword, is tool that I am quite at home with. I know I’ve spoken at times about writing. It’s part of who I am and what I do. I’m gearing back up. I’m finally feeling that I will make it to a black belt (maybe not in the next 2 years…but will make it there.) One of the things I want to do is get writing and researching again. I’ve spent a long time building up my library of books on TKD, on martial arts in general, martial arts teaching, hapkido, etc. It’s getting to be quite sizable. I want to feed this side of me again as well. I know full well this is not the focus of training for everyone in the martial arts. But I think that having this focus will help keep me going as I get stuck in the quagmire of injury.
As I think of learning cane and cane defense, I think back to the Zumba classes I led for breast cancer survivors, people with mobility issues, and seniors etc. They were so joyous, gritty, and appreciative. I would one day love to do something again with a focus of both fun and safety when I make it to black belt. Not to run a school, not to train students. But to offer both the joy of movement and self-protection. As much as I gave them, they gave to me. The day the lady who relied on a cane for everything told me that she was going to climb Mount Philo and felt she could do it in part because of class – it gave my heart wings. I couldn’t then, and likely couldn’t now, climb Mount Philo. But she did it. I think that the gifts I’ve been granted in TKD both in training and the people who have become my chosen family deserve to be reflected back to others.
I’ve broken 4 boards, rappelled down a 9 story building, volunteered at summer camp for 5 years now, made it out of my house when feeling complete depression, panic and borderline suicidal – in large part because of what I have found at YBBA. Unconditional support, love, and respect. My heart, my soul, and a sense of self. And if that doesn’t help you to rise above, damn it, nothing will. #ybbastrong