Sink or Swim

Martial Arts

Martial Arts (Photo credit: Tom Gill (lapstrake))

A week ago I wrote a post about discipline. I had just been to my first martial arts class, and I was fired up about the possibilities. I decided to commit myself to this course, to push myself and see how far I could go. After my second class, I am now even more excited.


Today I went on a few errands with Kate. One of them was to drop by the academy to pick up my uniform so I could try it on and wash it before class. The dress code: simple black martial arts pants with a black T-shirt with the Modern Academy of Martial Arts logo on the front and the words “strong and secure” on the back. I like those words, but I’ll come back to that.


When I walked into class today, I was excited, but a little nervous, similar to how I felt last week. I was a little more comfortable today than I was a week ago since I already knew all the other students and I knew more of what to expect. But there was still that twinge of self-consciousness there, under the surface, telling me “hey! Don’t do this; you’ll make a fool of yourself! You can’t possibly do something like this!” But that voice, although it is a part of me, and is really trying to help protect me, I chose not to listen to it. I chose to just hear it, acknowledge it, and let it go.


I made it through the warm-up exercises and although I was sweating hard (as usual) I wasn’t particularly tired. Then we did technique exercises while watching ourselves in the mirror. 25 punches with each hand, 25 of each of three different types of kick… and by the end of all that, I was starting to get tired. Next, the instructor brought out the giant, person-sized practice bags. We all paired up with a partner, and got on either side of the bag. We alternated practicing punches and kicks until we were all starting to get exhausted.


Then he had us punch the bag four times, then jump back, drop down and do a push-up, then jump up, move forward, and punch again, alternating with our partner on the other side of the bag. He told us that his goal was to push us until we were so tired we were about to vomit. I don’t know about the rest of the students, but with me, he certainly came close by the end. As we finished the second set of ten, I could barely raise myself off the floor after I went down to do each push-up. I could barely see, because sweat was streaming into my eyes. And we still weren’t done. After that, we had a couple more exercises before finishing up in a circle as we talked over the class briefly and each said something we had learned.


My answer was simple: “I learned that I like getting really, really, really sweaty and exhausted.”


I never thought I would say those words, and I really never thought I would say those words and truly mean them. And tonight, I truly did say it and meant it. I am truly exhausted and I could probably fall asleep where I sit, I had possibly the most difficult workout I have ever done in my life. And instead of just waiting for it to end, wishing I didn’t have to do it, and only putting in the bare minimum amount of effort….I loved every exhausting minute of it. It really felt good to push myself to the edge of my capabilities.


And in truth, it also felt good to be acknowledged for my effort. After class the instructor, Chris, took me aside and told me that he had intentionally thrown me “into the deep end of the pool” tonight. He also said that I had “held up pretty well and had pretty good technique considering it was only my second class.” That made me look forward to Thursday, when I get to go back and do it again.


I really never thought I would be capable of anything like this. So it still is a bit of a shock, not only finding myself capable, but seeing that, with practice, I may even be able to excel.


I am grateful to my aunt and uncle for transporting me and supporting with encouragement. I am also grateful to my parents for seeing the merit in this class and supporting me in my pursuit financially.


This is truly a new challenge I have added to my wellness quest. I look forward to exploring how far I can push both my body and my mind.


I think that tonight was the tipping point – where I found out that when thrown into the deep end of the pool, I will chose to swim, not sink.


I just want to say thank you to all of my family and friends who have continued to support me through the last five years. I know that I would never have been able to make the progress I am making. I know that I would not be where I am tonight if not for all of you. So thank you, so much, for lifting me up, and making it possible for me to explore this new reality of wellness.


Goodnight, and peace to you,





One response to “Sink or Swim

  1. Hi Nathan,
    Great job today! No sinking for you. I too know about working out so hard you feel like you could vomit. Actually I’ve never vomited during a work out, but I have felt nauseated. You feel a sense of accomplishment when you’ve worked very very hard and you have finished well. You have finished well! I look forward to hearing your progress in future blogs. I also love hearing your spirit of gratitude.

    Sleep well!

    Aunt Laura

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