Back on the Path

Once again, our guest blogger, Mel Martin Jo Kyo Nim:

Two weeks after surgery I finally returned to Kuk Sool classes. It was great to be back in the dojang and to see everyone, but at the same time it was very frustrating. For the next five months I am prohibited from running, jumping, bending, or twisting. So I took a deep breath and told myself that this is the perfect time to work on my weapons skills. When I got home I started doing the math and I figured out that I only have to worry about being benched for about 50-60 classes, and really that’s not that bad. I smiled and thought to myself, “Now that’s the right attitude to have.” And that phrase, right attitude, brought me up short. I thought about it for a moment and I realized that I am back on the path that initially led me to black belt. The first week of my recovery was about fitness. Not in the way we normally think of fitness, pushing our bodies to make them stronger, but rather resting and getting out of my body’s way so it could work and heal itself. Once I was off crutches it was on to concentration. I had to focus on relocating my sense of balance, relearning my limits, listening very carefully to my body when it told me what it could and could not do. And now here I am, once again, at right attitude.

Once we reach black belt we tend to forget about the path the colored belts follow. We are more than happy to shepherd others along their way, but we forget how the path continues to apply to us. But then, like in the childhood game of Chutes and Ladders, something unexpected can happen that will knock us back to an earlier place on the path. So we stand up, dust ourselves off, and start moving forward again, learning even more than we did the first time we walked the road. I don’t think any of us, black belts or not, ever truly reach the end of the path. There are always setbacks, physical or mental, that send us back to an earlier place. The key is to never stop when that happens. Don’t stop learning and don’t stop moving. Each journey along the path is different. It may take a few moments or a few months but if we follow the route we know the end result is the same, we end up better than we were when we started.

I find great comfort in knowing the road that is before me. In my case, it’s going to be a long one. And that’s ok. My jool bong needs work anyway.

Posted in Uncategorized and tagged .


  1. One could almost envision the humility black belts show as nothing more than an endless repetition of the cycle lower belts follow, as it requires humility to accept that you need to work on skills long supposedly mastered.

  2. Very well put. I’m recovering from knee surgery on my right I had in August to clean out arthritis and repair my PCL. I’m also (not) looking forward to starting the recovery cycle over again in December when I have the same thing done to my left knee.

    Your point on how quickly we forget about the hard row we had to sow to get our black belts is very powerful. Reflecting on how I’ve moved into more teacher than student I definitely realized that I’ve let myself lose the conditioning that took me to this level. A couple of weeks on crutches, and this multi-month recovery process does give one pause and wonder if you will be able to get back to that place you were at such a short time ago. Knowing that, at the end of my 3 month recovery, I’ll have another 3 month recovery cycle it’s made me question the feasibility of continuing in Kuk Sool Won. Thank you for your posting here, I’m glad I came across it. Not only is it possible, but it serves as the spart to relight the fire that got me to Jo Kyo Nym status to begin with.

    Stay strong, and I will, too. My weapons are definitely getting stronger, and though I’m sad that I’ll miss this year’s Houston tournament, I’m motivated to be ready for 2009’s!!

Comments are closed.