html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: Bowing out.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Bowing out.

By my last year of tkd, I knew I didn’t enjoy it. I think the biggest clue was that about half the time, I would finish workout at 9:30, shower and then cry for the ten minute walk home. I’d be done crying by the time I got home, and not think of it again until the next time. I consciously knew some things were wrong. I was tired of hurting all the time; I always had some injury or bruise. I was tired of being hungry. I mostly disliked my teammates, and the last year we got a new master from Korea who hit us with a broomstick when we were too slow. (Across the back of the thighs. Man, she was mean. But, I have never been faster. She got two of the guys on our team into the Olympic Training Center.) Yet I never considered quitting.

I don’t think I knew how to quit. It just didn’t make sense. TKD was what I did, every weeknight since I was twelve. There were no decisions about it. I came home from workout and packed my bag for the next day. When the clock said 6:15, I left the house to go back. There was only routine, no choices to make. In retrospect, I realize that although I had boyfriends the entire time I was in college, it never once occurred to me to skip workout to spend an evening with him. It didn’t occur to me to stop breathing, either.

Habit and a lack of introspection kept me in tkd, but even at the end there were times when I loved it. It is utterly beautiful, in its lines and arcs and spins. I never got jaded about watching those fast, fast people throwing flickering kicks in our ugly gym. For a couple years, I saw those kicks in the mirror, too.

If I hadn’t left Berkeley, I don’t think I would have stopped tkd. But I couldn’t get the tkd I was used to after I left. The Berkeley team was the best in the country; our club had about three dozen active black belts. Of those, a good dozen or so were better than me. But in any small local studio, the instructor may be better than I am, but no one else is. Being the best in the room at your sport is no fun. Also, for the last years, I worked out enough that my tkd was consistently at its peak. But I didn’t want to work out like that anymore, and tkd felt bad when I did less. TKD had run out for me.

I was lost for two years after I stopped doing tkd. I put on forty pounds. I didn’t know who I was, or what to do with the extra day in my week. There was so much time in an evening. I loved not hurting. Not hurting was great. I didn’t know what my accomplishments should be, and how to work out when I wasn’t training for a tournament. I had to learn how to fall asleep when I wasn’t physically exhausted. I wondered a lot what my next sport would be, but nothing grabbed me. Whenever I could, I talked to other former collegiate athletes, but most of them just said they were lost too.

I gradually adjusted, but three years after quitting tkd, Ultimate snapped me back into dedicating myself to a sport. The monomania felt like coming home; playing or working out every evening is how I’ve lived for two intermittent decades of my life. Ultimate, too, shall pass. I know how leaving your sport works now; I don’t expect to be as lost. But I have the same energy and capacity for work in between obsessions; it just doesn’t have a direction. Better that I prepare the transition to a next phase.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good idea. It's gotta be hard to start a new relationship with your life already so full.

Of course it sucks giving up something you spent so much time getting good at.

From time to time I really wish I'd never stopped playing basketball so frequently, I miss being able to dunk so easily, and shoot so well. I have similar feelings about skiing, I can't just throw myself down any hill without thinking about it anymore.

But, at the same time, finding something new is fun too. I love watching the grades I can climb going up, I love all the new adventures, and new skills and abilities that come with a new activity.


1:41 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Fortunately, I've never been more than a medium local Ultimate player. I'm gonna keep playing for a couple more years, I expect, but I'll never have to miss the feeling of excelling at Ultimate.

3:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You must have at least picked up some skills, like crazy frisbee throwing skills, or something.


4:01 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Relative to laypeople, I have nice throws.

4:23 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

Do you read comments posted on yesterday's news? By the time I get a chance to catch up with your posts, I figure nobody would bother to look back and read my genius commentary. It's like watching tape delay Olympic events. So, I pat myself on the back for a brilliant response and return the porn harvester to it's primary duty.

I have nothing to say about this post, however.

6:16 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Hey Jason,

Yes. I constantly go back to see if the comment numbers have gotten bigger. So I would have seen your comment. How much longer will fire season run? Where are you?

6:26 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

In Missoula, MT tonight and have two days off (in a row!!!). We're on until a couple of days after Thanksgiving (25th?).

This fire season just won't lie down.

7:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Be safe, Jason. Enjoy. -K.

10:33 AM  
Blogger lil miss dubin said...

btw, how awesome are you? jesus christ, you're so awesome. what DON'T you do?

4:41 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

I don't do anything that wasn't on the list. TKD, ultimate, cook. That's about it. Anything I'm not good at, I'm very bad at. Like dressing myself.

9:39 AM  
Blogger Sweet Coalminer said...

Hello, Roller Derby!

4:05 PM  

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