Change sometimes happens so slowly that it’s hard to notice day by day, but over time it becomes measurable. If you see a child daily for five years, you don’t notice them growing as much, but if you had not seen them during that time, they would seem much different five years later.
That is how it’s been for me with martial arts. In my everyday training, it’s hard for me to see myself improving, but the accumulated difference from when I started is remarkable. If I had not seen myself for the past several years, today I would be looking at a person who is noticeably different from the one I was. Even all the small things add up to make a big difference.
Since I’ve been sick this week and I can’t go to the dojo, I’ve been trying to keep my spirits up by reflecting on some of the small changes that martial arts has helped make in me. I want to recognize some of the things that I couldn’t do when I started, but I now can.
One of those small things is a headstand. The first time Conan had us do headstands in Jiu-Jitsu class, I could barely get my legs up, let alone keep them there. When I tried to do it, I just toppled right over. I had no real understanding of my own balance. Of course I wasn’t going to let a silly headstand beat me, so I started practicing them on my own, and now I can headstand all day long! Not literally, but I can stay up for a really long time, and I can even move my legs all around without falling over. I can now understand and control my balance.
The Doggfather recently mentioned that some BJJ schools will not give you a black belt if you can’t do a headstand from the full lotus position, so I decided to see if I could do it, and I can! A few years ago, it would have been impossible for me. Then Ray challenged me to do a handstand from there, and well…I guess that’s the next obstacle I have to work on. One small thing at a time.
One of Shihan’s favorite sayings is “reward yourself”, and since my normal tendency leans more towards “punish yourself”, I don’t often give myself credit for the things I accomplish. So, congratulations to me for conquering headstands! No change is too small to celebrate, they all add to the big picture.