Posted in Personal, Rant, taekwondo, Uncategorized

Picking myself up and mending my wounds

Two weeks ago I went on a little adventure that turned out to be quite the rollercoaster. On Thursday I drove to my sister’s house in the evening and then we took the train together the next morning, headed to køge for the annual taekwondo summer camp. I was feeling really nervous and anxious which isn’t at all unusual for me however this time it was a bit worse as we were only 3 people – including me – from my club who had joined the camp this year and the 2 others were both there as instructors for the black belt team and the children’s team, which then leaves me ‘alone’ in my team. In fact, we saw each other so little that they were both surprised when they saw me at dinner on Saturday night and asked when I had arrived since they hadn’t seen me around.. Well.. I had been there since Friday morning, several hours before they themselves had arrived haha!

I had so much fun last year though, so I was determined to go this year as well even though I knew I would be on my own during all the lessons, as my sister doesn’t do taekwondo and was only there as a guest. Also, while taekwondo has triggered my anxiety many times before I know it’s only there before we actually start. The second we start lining up and gets ready to greet the giant 태극기 hanging on the wall and the 사범님 in charge, it completely vanishes in an instant.

And that was indeed what happened on Friday when we had our opening ceremony and our first lesson as one giant team. I had so much fun until the very last 10 minutes where we had to partner up, have a 10 second long(short?) fight and then the person to the left had to jump ahead to the next row and start over until we had had a fight with people from all belt colors and degrees. I was the person on the left which meant that I was the person to travel through the rows and it was fun and interesting until I got to the very last row. Everybody had been kind and smiling up until then and took it a bit more easy if they were fighting people from lower ranks. But the at the last row I was teamed up with a guy who is basically the 대사범님’s right hand. I don’t like him. And I say that coming from a personal point of view and not a professional. He is super talented and has been doing taekwondo for ages, but I don’t like him as a person – but I believe that’s a story for another day!

I generally don’t let my personal feelings and opinions take over so I greeted him with a big smile and in return, he looked at me like I was a piece of sh*t that he couldn’t even be bothered to deal with. The 10 second fight starts and I do my best even though I’m tired from already having done it around 15 times and he then dramatically rolls his eyes at me and starts yelling in my face “MORE MORE MORE” even though the 10 seconds is up and I have run down to the very back and start over with the white belts. He forced me into an uncomfortable situation where I had to either ignore him or ignore the 사범님 in charge who at the same time was yelling at me that the time had already ended.

That night I went to bed feeling really sad. I felt like I should have stayed home as I obviously wasn’t good enough. I didn’t deserve to be there. I tried reminding myself that it was totally okay to feel intimidated by him. He’s older than me, taller than me, broader than me and he has been doing taekwondo for more than 40 years compared to my 2 years. I tried so hard to stay optimistic but for some reason, that tiny little part of the lesson had erased all the joy I had felt about being there, even though the first 50 minutes of the lesson had been absolutely great.

Saturday morning I got up early with my sister, had breakfast and got ready for my first lesson of the day. The first lesson was about – you guessed it! Fighting! – and after the Friday lesson, I was dreading the entire thing even though this specific lesson was the one that I had been looking forward to the most.
The lesson was being taught by Nuno Damaso who is insanely talented and really good at teaching as well. Our team was from white to blue belts which meant that I, as a blue belt, were the second highest graded person on the team and therefore had to stand on the very first row, and I felt like such a fraud. I felt so strongly that I didn’t deserve standing all the way up there..

During this lesson we had a few uhm.. mishaps I guess. We were only wearing chest guards during his lesson because that was the main area we would be focusing on and he said we should be able to take a bit pain from blocking with our arms and legs (Head was off limits so headgear wasn’t relevant either) and we were all pretty much fine with it. However my partner had a few issues with his aim as he started to get tired and as a result, I was left with some pretty bad bruises everywhere and especially on both of my hips, as well as a bruised rib.

But it was fun. I had so much fun and forgot all about those depressing thoughts that had been haunting me since the previous night. My adrenalin was pumping and I felt so good after that lesson, that after our 15-minute break I jumped straight into the next lesson of the day and it wasn’t even until halfway through it that I realized how bad my injuries from the fight was. I obviously couldn’t see my bruises yet but due to my bruised rib, I was struggling a bit with breathing and moving in certain ways.

I still managed to power through and then I went to change my clothes for the lunch break. At this point, I knew that the 4th and final lesson of the day would be off the table as it was self-defense and involved at a lot of grabbing, punching and throwing, but I still thought I could power through the 3rd lesson after lunch as it was about stamina and explosivity and with no contact.
My sister was not agreeing though haha! She was immediately in mother mode and wanted me to stop for the day until we had a clearer idea of the injuries I had. I was determined to take one more lesson but when I grabbed my 도복 I noticed that the thread in my pants had broken and taking another lesson would 100% end up with my pants ripping and me flashing my behind to the entire team. I decided to take it as a sign from the universe, telling me that enough is enough. It could also be due to the fact that I have gained 9kgs since December but I would like to stick to the first explanation, hahahah!

In the end, I was out of the game for the last half of the weekend but I had a lot of fun watching all the classes from the side bench. On Sunday I met up with my Korean friend whom I had never met face to face before and when the camp officially ended my sister and I continued to Copenhagen where we stayed until Monday.  While sitting at a Starbucks with my sister, all the pictures from the camp got posted online and when I saw this picture of me it suddenly hit me why that first episode had been so rough on me. 

This picture was taken right as we were ending the fighting lesson on Saturday morning. A lesson that physically took a way bigger toll on me but take a look at my face. I was totally fine. And it hit me. On Friday I didn’t feel intimidated by his size, his strength nor his belt degree. I’m okay with the pain. I was feeling intimidated by him as a person. I felt he was attacking me and who I am, and not my body. I felt worthless and ridiculous.

And on Saturday it was the complete opposite. I got some somewhat bad injuries but my partner and I was smiling and laughing through the entire thing. We were cheering each other on and the instructor was as well.

I think everybody needs to remember this. You don’t have to act like a tough person or belittle people to stay ‘strong’. Smiling at people, cheering them on and telling them that they did a good job does not make you weak nor does it make your win any less of an accomplishment. You can be opponents and still be friends.

Posted in Personal, Rant, taekwondo, Uncategorized

Growing

3 weeks ago I went on a taekwondo summer camp with a bunch of amazing people. A lot of things happened that weekend! First of all, I had my third belt graduation and successfully earned myself a new belt! Hello Orange!

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The night I got my diploma!

And then the next day I did actual 겨루기 (kyorugi) which is the sparring/fighting part of taekwondo. Obviously we practice the techniques and such but we don’t do a lot of 겨루기 in our normal practice sessions (unless you are around a red belt or up – at that point 겨루기 becomes a part of your future promotions) so it was super new to me. We practiced a few techniques and then a few people got to try them out in an actual fight. I have always been absolutely terrified of the thought of fighting someone else, so imagine my surprise when my hand flew up in response to our coaches request for volunteers. Well.. ^^; I really have no idea what happened. Maybe I was feeling a bit more confident due to my new belt, or maybe something inside me just knew that I really needed to challenge myself. Who knows?
I was sparring with a girl who was used to sparring so I quickly had to change my tactic and focus on defending. I got 0 points and she got 2, but we were supposed to keep on till 3 points had been achieved. However I ended up defending myself well enough so that she couldn’t get the final point and the fight had to be stopped because the time ran out. That still makes her the winner, but I felt strong and completely invincible! Sort of funny since I had just lost my first fight, huh?

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Technique practice before fight!

 

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Halfway through belt test!

Those things has already turned into fond memories however, something way .. bigger? .. more interesting? happened. I don’t really know what to call it yet. Whatever it is, it certainly sparked a bunch of thoughts and emotions within me.
As some of you guys already know, our club  – and sister clubs – all have a Korean Grand Master, living in Germany. I had met him twice before summer camp. I met him briefly at the dan promotion back in September and again in March when we had our annual Easter trip to his Dojang in Hamburg. Back in March I had decided that I was going to challenge myself and actually talk to him. He doesn’t speak Danish nor English, and his German skills are not too great either. I don’t speak German at all so if we were to talk, it would only be in Korean, which – as you all know – is not at all new to me.
When we were having dinner back then, he sat down next to me and while I was trying to gather some courage, his family joined him and they started chatting away in Korean SO FREAKING FAST and with the thickest Busan dialect I have heard in a long time. In the end I just sat there with my, not at all charming, 멍 face. Nope. I was so not going to try and join that conversation! I did thank his wife for the food in Korean though, but then she got so shocked that I for a moment thought I had broken her, and I ended up just smiling awkwardly and then practically ran out of the room. Great. It was just great.

As you can probably imagine, I had absolutely no intentions of talking to him and making a fool out of myself this time either, however I forgot to take something quite important into consideration. You see, back then only a handful of my taekwondo friends knew about my language skills, and it has since then become known among them all..
Saturday evening was our last evening together, it was they day where we had the most lessons and also the day of our successful belt promotion so everybody was having fun and relaxing together. Master Shin and his wife had brought a karaoke machine and people were singing, dancing, yelling, laughing and getting more than just a little tipsy. I was sitting with my friends and coaches who were talking to Master Shin, when one of my coaches suddenly turned around and asked me if I wanted to speak in Korean with Master Shin, and before I had a chance to decline the ‘offer’ my other coach was telling Master Shin about my Korean abilities.
It happened so freaking fast and I quickly turned into Master Shins favorite person. I was quickly asked to switch places with my coach and he then called over his wife to talk to me as well. He was talking so fast and even though his dialect was way lighter when talking to me, I still had to focus 100% on understanding what he was telling me. He also talks A LOT. That’s kinda an inside joke among the clubs, but it only made it ‘worse’ when he was able to speak comfortably in Korean. I asked him when they had moved to Germany and he started telling me about where he grew up, what university he had graduated from and about a funny friend of his who has become very wealthy. He never answered my question though ^^’ He asked me to sing a Korean song which I politely but very strongly passed up on. Every time he and his wife had to do something or went to sing a song, they would instantly circle right back to me, and it quickly gained interest from the 150 other people who were present. They were all staring at us and talking about us with the biggest fascination I have seen in a very long time. I didn’t know most of them and I couldn’t really process the situation because I had to focus all of my energy into understanding the conversation.
A few hours into the conversation he suddenly got out his wallet and took out a business card. It was old and wrinkly so he started to smooth it out on the table until his wife found a prettier one. He then gave the pretty to me and asked me to write down my contact information on the other one. He explained that he would love for me to help him translate in the future, at these taekwondo events. He also told me about a bunch of Korean companies in Germany that he could connect me to if I wished to work with them in the future.

Shin´s Family Summer Camp 2018 DELING_00259
Here’s Master Shin on one of his super long explanations, while my coach is stuck in this great pose while trying to translate into Danish, haha!

Going to bed in my tiny little pink tent that night, I couldn’t sleep despite being completely drained. I was trying to process all of my thoughts and emotions but all I felt was panic. I was fine when I didn’t have time to think about the situation but now that I was all alone I instantly doubted myself and I felt like crying. I almost called my boyfriend despite it being way past midnight, because I suddenly felt like the most stupid person in the world and I needed someone to tell me that it wasn’t true.
The thing is, I have never been super confident about any of my skills, but I have been  working a lot on that and it has been a really long time since I have felt that insecure and it really caught me by surprise.
I was cursing at myself for having agreed to help, and for giving him my contact information. I mean, who the hell do I think I am?! I can’t interpret. I’m not good enough. I keep thinking about myself as a TOPIK level 4, but the truth is that I haven’t actually passed that grade yet. I could fail. And even if I don’t, a level 4 is still no where near a level 6 which would be way better for him. I’m going to mess everything up. He’ll meet me next time with big expectations and become disappointed because I haven’t improved since the last time. Or he’ll ask me me to translate something and I wont understand and I’ll just stand there in front of everyone like an idiot.
Also, I don’t network. I can’t. I’m a super awkward person and I suck at being social. I can’t network with companies! I mean god, I don’t even know what I want to do with my life yet. What the hell is wrong with me?

It suddenly turned into a depressing post, huh?
In the end I kept all these worries to myself. I joked to my friends and my coaches about going home and focusing my studies even more now, but I felt really worried. My boyfriend sensed that something was off but I insisted that I was just tired. For the next week I studied like crazy and got N.O.T.H.I.N.G out of it. I couldn’t focus at all and I didn’t absorb anything that I read. My study tracker looked great but I can’t remember a single thing from that entire week. Time spent on studying doesn’t equal progress.
As the week had passed and we gathered at my regular Dojang, we all got diplomas for passing the test and talked about our favorite parts of the weekend while sharing everything with those who weren’t able to join us on camp.
When it was my turn I got my diploma, talked a bit about my favorite moments and then went to sit back down, when my main coach stopped me and said “Something else also happened, right? Would you like to tell everybody or can I do it?”. I knew he was talking about my conversation with Master Shin, so I started explaining and my coach kept adding to the story.
This is basically where everything changed. My coach was eagerly telling my story from his point of view, everybody who was at the camp started talking to those who hadn’t been there “It was so cool, she just sat there and talked to him in Korean like it was the most normal thing in the entire world…”, “Frau Shin looked so happy when they talked about her homemade Kimchi”.
Everybody was so fascinated. It was such a new thing to them. I felt a bit lighter seeing everybody so happy and excited and then my coach added something that really touched my heart. He said that he had known Master Shin for more than 25 years and in all that time he had never ever seen him or his wife so relaxed and open. As I mentioned before, Master Shin talks a lot. However, he only talks if he has a purpose (which is usually explaining something about taekwondo, the human body or our minds). Probably because communication is tricky when he isn’t that good at German, and doesn’t have any other language in common with everybody else. My coach said that it was incredibly touching to see him relaxed like that. He then lastly added, that our little Dojang had gotten some serious bonus points from Master Shin, thanks to me.
It made me realize how incredibly lucky I am. I got to see a side of Master Shin that nobody else get to. I got to hear about his childhood, and I got to listen to him bickering with his wife about the wrinkly business card, while nobody else had any idea what was going on.
It also made me realize that I’m not going to disappoint anyone. I talked to him almost nonstop for 4 hours. He knows exactly what my skills are. Sure, he’ll probably expect me to improve till I see him again. And I will.
I also wont disappoint my coaches. To them, this has already been an incredible experience. Also, they all cheer me on! They ask how my exam preparations are coming along and they all listen even when I get carried away and talk about it for way too long.

I don’t know where all of this will take me. I might end up doing a lot of translation/interpretation work in the future, or I might never. I might end up networking my way into some company or I might not. I truly have no idea. All I know is that I didn’t come this far by freaking out and running away.
I might face some difficulties and I’ll need a different focus during my study sessions, but I’m going to do my absolute best and I wont let any self doubt drag me down that hole again.
This is all about growing.

So here we go. I’m going to rock this!

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I would do this all over again!^^

Posted in Personal, Rant, Selfstudy, taekwondo, Uncategorized

All the things

As most of you guys already know, I’ve had some pretty intense last months of 2017. It seemed like all important things had to be done at the same time which left me running around all confused for a while!

I had my very first taekwondo belt promotion in the end of November and it scared the poop out of me. My anxiety was all over the place and I felt like I was going to fail, despite knowing that I knew everything that I needed to know. It was a really rough morning, but the second our coach said 차렷! My brain completely shut down and my body switched to the same taekwondo mode I experience during our normal practices. When my name was called I got up, did my thing and sat back down. Being a white belt there wasn’t a lot of things for me to show compared to many of the other colors, so I spent the next few hours focused on what my team mates where doing. I felt super encouraged and motivated to continue when I was looking at them. In the end I passed and got a yellow stripe on my white belt. That means I’m halfway to a new belt – Yay!

I got home late that Sunday and I was completely exhausted, but I couldn’t relax.
You see, I was working on my important, final exam at the same time as I was preparing for the promotion. I had been working on that project since early May. First I had to create a project idea and make a plan, which I then had to present to my teacher and boss for approval. Once that was taken care of I wasn’t allowed to do anything related to the project until August (that’s a long story). In August I had to prepare for the project which then had to run for 2 weeks in September. I then had to spend the beginning of November on gathering results and then spend the end of November on writing a report on all of my goals, my methods of accomplishing those goals, the final results and so on. The report had to be submitted the morning after my belt promotion and believe it or not, it still wasn’t over.
After submitting my work I then had to start preparing and practicing for an oral presentation of everything written in my report. I had the final, oral part of the exam a week later, and after that I was finally done! I’m so happy to finally be done with the entire project!

These super stressful months took their toll on my body though. After the exam I started feeling really tired all the time and my general anxiety became a lot worse, but due to the Christmas season, there was just no way I could slow down. I was working overtime for several weeks and when I finally had my last day of work this year, I felt like crap. I immediately got sick with the flu which have now lasted for two weeks. I’m positive that this is my body’s way of telling me that enough is enough.
It’s so important to take good care of yourself!

I finally started to feel alive again yesterday and I felt even better today. I made sure to eat a ton of fruits and veggies! I spent a lot of time studying before and after getting sick as well.

As some of you might know, I have been taking a course on Kmooc. I wasn’t planning on doing it at all but I accidentally joined a course while looking for more information about it, because I’m an idiot that apparently can’t read, haha! The funny thing is that I had just talked to a friend about wanting to finish a lot of all my current books and projects before starting any of my new books (I’m only using one of the books I bought in Korea. I’m not allowed to even open the rest until I have completed a few of the ones I’m currently working with), so obviously I have been teased quite a lot about this.. Anyway I joined a course by 울산대학교 called 가족과 건강: 행복한 삶을 위한 정신의학. I actually really like the course and I feel like I have done a lot better than expected. I especially worried about the essays since writing is one of my weakest assets. But that’s why I’m glad I joined it. Throwing yourself into a new challenge, head first and with no safety net, is a great way of improving. I have finished all of the weeks and the accompanying homework, and now I’m just waiting for the final quiz to start next week. I’m also (im)patiently awaiting feedback on the biggest essay from a few weeks ago. My total score needs to be 60% or higher to pass, and I currently have 47%. With the final quiz + the essay, being the two parts that gives the most points, everything is depending on those results. I feel somewhat confident in the quiz, but I’m more interested in the essay results haha!
I think I’ll do a proper post about my experiences once my result is out. If my essay results aren’t too horrible then I might post it here as well!
The course have been pretty rough though. Obviously there’s a ton of new vocabulary and it takes ages to look up all those words all the time. I haven’t been studying with any other books during these 7 weeks because all my time was spent on going through new material or doing the homework. I’ve really missed ‘normal’ studying and I’m really happy to start working with my books again. It’s kind of exhausting to study a language through a course where your language ability aren’t even being evaluated.

I was planning on talking a bit about my goals for 2018 as well, but I think I have been blabbering for long enough now, so that will have to wait til tomorrow, haha.

Well, it has been some intense months, however I still have a full week til I return to work, and even then, all I have to do is work! No more work related studying, no more exams and hopefully a lot less stress. It’ll be great to have more study time!

Posted in Personal, taekwondo, Uncategorized

A day full of Taekwondo

Saturday was a very exciting day to me. My taekwondo club was hosting a Dan promotion (Black belt promotions) and there are many reasons as to why this was so special.
First of all, Dan promotions are usually hosted by our Grand Master Shin, in his Dojang in Hamburg. The second reason is that Dan promotions are held on separate days from the normal promotions, which means that those of us who aren’t actually being promoted are not able to watch the Dan promotion take place.

This time however, my tiny club hosted the big event with black belts from all over Denmark, and even I as a white belt was allowed to watch the entire day unfold.
This in itself makes the day special but another reason was that it was the first promotion without our Master Wandy, who sadly passed away just recently. We all knew that he wouldn’t be among us for much longer and this is also the reason why we hosted the event. That way he could take part in his last promotion without having to travel all the way to Germany. Sadly he didn’t make it to the promotion but we know that he would have been incredibly proud to see this big event unfold in the club that he dedicated his life to.
Our Korean Grand Master Shin and his lovely wife also took part in a short memorial service and prayed for him. It was all very beautiful and I hope he knew how much we all cared.

A few of my main coaches were being promoted on that day. They originally wanted to wait but ended up joining the event because they knew that Wandy would have wanted them to, and they all did incredibly well.

It was so amazing to see them do their things and the hours just flew by as I saw them performing and fighting. There was a few injuries but it was all handled quickly and without any drama. I guess it was pretty much expected. I mean it is martial arts after all!
I felt incredibly proud as I was watching them all and I felt so motivated afterwards. I’m being trained by these awesome people. I WILL become one of these awesome people.
I arrived just before they had their first break and they immediately came over, when they saw me, and started to fill me in on what had happened so far, as well as made sure I could get a good seat in the crowd. These people were under such an immense pressure and they still made sure to take care of the rest of us. If that isn’t amazing then I don’t know what is.
I feel like my club members always take pride in taking care of others, being polite and being well balanced.

When the promotion ended we all sat down to eat dinner together. 140 people gathered in a big room, eating yummy food and just talking about everything and nothing.
After a few relaxing hours it was brought to our attention that the wife of Grand Master Shin, had made a huge amount of Kimchi and I was lucky enough to get a whole bucket! 아싸!

Guess who’s making 김치전 this weekend!

I got home super late and I was exhausted, but I would do it again if I had the chance. With my own (and very first) promotion coming up, I’m really happy that I got to experience this promotion and also that I got to leave with such an amount of motivation and inspiration.

I wasn’t able to get a lot of photos but here’s a short video if you would like to see a bit of what they did.
I was really impressed by this because they are doing different things based on their levels, and they still manage to stay completely focused on doing their own thing. Well done guys!