If Nothing Else, I’m Gaining Mental Toughness

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Sunni's picture

Well. I have had a challenging three months. And things will continue intensifying through the beginning of June. Read on only if you can stomach my self-absorption...

My annual health slump that begins in the fall and usually lets up in mid-spring was harder on me this year than it’s ever been. I’m pretty sure I wound up with both an extra-nasty sinus infection and a viral infection which wiped me out, energy-wise. I was barely able to keep up with work, cooking, and laundry—the snolfs were great and stepped up their responsibilities around the house. I am still working on increasing my endurance, which is mostly an issue in karate. After over a month away from training, it’s sometimes a challenge just to keep my form correct, let alone have any energy in my kick, block, or punch...

... And it’s important that I have that energy because I have been invited to test for seventh kyu. Unlike the last test, this time I will need to spar—free fight—with two other students (not simultaneously, of course). Both of the snolfs are testing as well: you can imagine the intensity in our house these days!

Because of my aforementioned absence, I was not expecting to be invited to test; and over the course of my illness and return to the dojo, I let my mental attitude become weak in some ways. I’ve been telling myself how hard it is to do the work (but it’s always hard to do the work); I’ve lamented my lack of stamina (I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting more); and I’ve been questioning whether I can keep at it (if a karateka doesn’t ask that question regularly during training, the student isn’t taking it very seriously or working hard enough).

Our sensei could have any number of reasons to invite me to test. Pity is not on that list. They know what I’ve been through and am still going through; and they believe in me. They think I have the mental toughness to succeed.

I am coming to believe that I have it, too. But overcoming the negative self-talk that helped me slide is an ongoing struggle. I imagine that it is for many of us.

There are five classes left until the day of our physical test (we will complete the written tests this week; and I am back to a place I thought I’d never again be—cramming information like mad). We need to be there for each class, or have a very good reason why we can’t. The pressure is slowly ratcheting up as we work toward that test.

Thing is, for me a harder test in a way was to step back on the dojo floor after all that time away, with both muscle strength and endurance significantly diminished, and my confidence waning. I demonstrated more mental toughness than I thought I had in doing that—and then in choosing to engage in more time in personal practice in order to aid my recovery.

Whether I pass or fail the dojo’s tests, I will have succeeded.

(If only that understanding would help allay the anxieties!)

Bless you

Wish I could be near to help. Keep tapping!


Sunni, thanks for the report. I'll be thinking of you and the snolfs during your tests. Keep workin' them angels! :-)

Do they allow cheerleaders at testing?

Thank you, everyone!

I passed my written test yesterday (the snolfs took and passed their tests on Wednesday). Now we just have to hang on until next Saturday, which is the real test.

Mr. Bill, in answer to your question, vocal cheerleading would be right out—but anyone who wishes to watch the test is able to do so. Fellow karate ka are expected to attend in support of those testing; family and friends are invited and encouraged to attend.

How Now?

I'm sure we're all on tenterhooks here. How did the physical test go???

All is well.

We all passed. Thanks for asking.