J is for Joong-Gun Tul

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During April, I’m writing 26 posts for the A to Z Blog Challenge. I’m combining my skills as a writer, a life coach, and a martial artist (2nd degree black belt in ITF Taekwondo) to create a series of posts about applying aspects of TKD to life outside of martial arts. Whenever possible, I’ll include a little Taekwondoodle to illustrate what I’m talking about.

Joong-Gun is a tricky pattern.

There, I said it.

blue ink drawing on white paper of a person with shoulder length hair in a martial arts uniform. The person is facing to the right and their right hand is extended at about waist height, palm upward. Their right leg is bent and is slightly ahead of their left. Their ball of their right foot is touching the ground but the heel is off the ground, their left foot is flat on the floor.

In case you are wondering, I messed up the face for this drawing but I was pleased with how the body came out so I drew a head. face and hair on a separate piece of paper and overlaid it.

When you start learning Joong-Gun in preparation for your red stripe test, you encounter a lot of new stances and movements.  You haven’t done rear foot stance before, nor palm upward block, nor the 12 other new movements that that are included in the 32 movement pattern.

It’s complex and even black belts (who can mostly breeze through the earlier patterns) have to pay VERY close attention to the moves in Joong-Gun.

This is not to say that it is impossible, and I am definitely not saying that it isn’t worthwhile, but it is tricky and requires a lot of effort.

I got discouraged when trying to learn Joong-Gun and so does almost every other student.

The thing that makes us all feel better about it, though, is being told that it is indeed complex.

I think, previous to being told that it is hard, we get in our own way, blaming ourselves for not ‘getting it.’ We think that we aren’t working hard enough.

And while I’m sure that some struggle because they haven’t committed, when it comes to Joong-Gun, most people struggle because it just takes a long time to learn. You have to just work your way through it, over and over, and eventually it will click.*

There’s nothing wrong with YOU if you don’t get it quickly. You just need time.

And that, my friends, is where we cross over into the rest of our lives.

It’s okay to say things are hard. It’s okay to acknowledge your struggle. Even if you can only admit it to yourself, it’s okay to say it aloud, “This is really hard.”

There is power in that admission.

You don’t have to pretend everything is fine or easy. The effort to pretend takes energy away from your actual work on the problem at hand.

I’m not suggesting that you stay in a complaining mode all the time, that might make things worse, but I am suggesting that you say to yourself – and anyone else who needs to hear it – that the thing you are doing is challenging.

That doesn’t mean you are going to stop. It doesn’t mean you are giving up. You are just acknowledging the effort required.

That’s almost like paying your respects to the task, isn’t it?

Saying ‘You are challenging me AND I will keep going.’

And I think that acknowledging someone else’s struggle is a kind of blessing, too. Recognizing that they are putting in a lot of effort on something that is difficult for them gives them strength for the effort ahead.

It’s okay to let them off the hook of feeling ‘not good enough’ in the face of a daunting task. You can let them know that it is, indeed, daunting, and that others found it daunting but they persevered. Then, remind the struggler of their previous victories over daunting tasks and give them the boost they need to keep going.

I have felt *almost* defeated by many tasks and many TKD patterns so far but with the right kind of encouragement (from myself and others), I have come out on the other side.

Acknowledge that things are hard, then give yourself the encouragement you need, and let yourself off the hook of ‘not good enough.’  I dare you.



*The same could likely be said of any pattern but Joong-Gun is a particularly vivid example.