Martial Arts

Getting jiggly with it

Only a Mr. Ninja would tell me to look at myself in the mirror as I do jumping jacks to see if I’m symmetrical.  I mean, I get it the theory.  Mr. Ninja wants both my legs the same strength and flexibility, and if that is true then my jumping jacks should be symmetrical.  And I am clearly not doing that–after about 150 jumping jacks, my legs stop moving so well despite what I tell them to do.

But…come on, a mirror? This goes against the general mirrors when aging guidelines, which include to always hold the phone up to look down on you for a selfie, and after a certain age to never look down into a mirror. And as he’s advising this, and I’m laughing at myself thinking “snowball’s chance in h-e-double hockey sticks will I ever do that” and then I realize that Mr. Ninja has a front-row seat to what I refuse to look at.  Every class.  Oh, the horror.  Okay, NOW I’m panicking a little.  Luckily, a uniform (the Korean for uniform is dobak) is this heavy cloth that for sure doesn’t cling like workout clothes, so if I’m lucky 50%-65% of the jiggles are disguised by stiff, loose white cloth.  That lets me breathe a little, but, the movement of my belt up and down can’t be hidden.  Jiggling is very un-Ninja-like. Hmmm. A girdle would inhibit movement too much, and it’s way too sweaty for Spanx.  Ugh.  Jiggles.

Jiggles were mentioned again in class the other night, this time in regards to Poomsae.  I’ll pause here a moment to talk about Poomsae. I think I love where I’m learning taekwondo because about half of graduating to another belt level, and a fair portion of class, is devoted to poomsae.

Wikipedia defines poomsae as a defined pattern of defense-and-attack motions.  Which it is, but to me it also feels a lot like Tai Chi.  While studying Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine, Tai Chi and Qi Gong were required courses, and many students loved it so much we would take extra classes outside of school.  I have a pretty good dvd collection as well for practicing at home.  Where Tai Chi glides and stays smooth, flowing like water, Poomsae is the ocean flowing like water until it hits and splashes up in a big wave.  I do want to move calmly, saving energy and getting in place, but then with an attack or quick defense, my movements should change to be sharp and quick.  I have to get out of “Tai Chi” mode when I do Poomsae.

Like Tai Chi, Poomsae is often (especially for beginners) done very slowly.  In some, each movement should take a second, so the pace is slow and steady.  And according to Mr. Ninja, you know you can move from one pose to the next when your body, and I quote, stops jiggling and moving.  The tall, strong, thin teenagers in the class nod knowingly.  Yes, this is true, they agree solemnly.

And my inner self cracks up.  I mean, there is a little bit of a “bowl full of jelly” a la Santa Claus going on, and if you want me to wait for total stillness in poomsae, mine is going to last twice as long as anyone else’s. Newton assures me that an object in motion will stay in motion.  And so it is, the laws of physics playing out right in taekwondo class.  On my thighs.

So until there are fewer jiggly areas–and with taekwondo, there are very slowly but surely smaller areas, I will just follow everyone else’s jiggle-less pace. I’m glad my jiggles have a good sense of humor about their existence. What would Master Shi


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