Northwind Martial Art’s Nerd Posse trained on fresh ground this weekend at the gym in Calvary Lutheran Church in Bemidji. A full-sized basketball court available on a regular basis would give us shelter from the winter and plenty of room to start recruiting.
The space was great. We broke new ground in more than dojang location! We finally had space to really work forms together! The Nerds dug deep and gutted out some new drills! I got to share a moving technique-review drill that Mr. Wyatt Buckner of Twin Ports Haidong Gumdo
inflicted on us demonstrated while leading class in late winter, and then followed that up with more forms detail work I learned from Mr. Park many moons ago. The nerds encountered pre-arranged sparring line drills for the first time on a dojang floor of any size. Then we went through all of their material to rank to date!
Folks, if you think that sounds like a lot of work, you’re absolutely right. The Nerds figured out new training styles on the fly, pushed further and harder than they’ve had to since seminar, absorbed new material.
And. No one. Quit. No one stepped out. No one asked to be excused until I broke the class for water. Everyone showed great determination. I got a chance to see incredible mudo as people hit their limits and pushed on. The first time I tried Mr. Buckner’s drill I thought I was going to fall over sideways. (That isn’t a complaint, it was an excellent way to combine detail work with cardio, and I’m very grateful to have learned it!) I saw that thought cross minds, and then I saw clenched jaws, fixed expressions, stoic resolve, and sheer guts to keep spinning around the gym with the big move from SSGB 4.
Unless I miss my guess, the start of two days later, most of the nerds are probably at least a little sore still. I know that I still am. We have set ourselves some serious challenges:
- To build a Haidong Gumdo martial arts community in Bemidji
- Which is best accomplished by becoming the sort of martial artists who make an impression
- Which requires that we reach ChoDan so that we may begin to train in the art of Haidong Gumdo
- The path to which is strewn with hardship: sweat, soreness, pain, exhaustion, time, energy, and more.
We’re starting our own school. We no longer have the option to be the folks who stand in the middle ranks, comfortably anonymous. As in any performance-based job, we are basing our future and our success on how we perform.
So, to honor the guts, the dedication, and the hard work, I decided that the rest of this post goes to praise and encourage them, until the next Sunday when they get to think I’m trying to kill us all, all over again!
So here are a lot of thoughts about the journey so far and the long-term goal: ChoDan.
Here’s to Mr. Hartshorn, who had never formally trained in martial arts before. He hasn’t just stepped into a new style with Haidong Gumdo, he’s stepped into the path of an athlete and a martial artist for the first time in his life! All of the challenges are new for him! He has to face them without the experience the other nerds have, when previous training tells us that we can and learn the techniques and stances that tie our brain in knots and make our legs feel like they are ready to detach and declare a separate peace. He’s come further at this than most anything I’ve seen him do in life, and instead of quitting, he’s doubled down and worked even harder!
Mr. Malbraaten continues to work hard at the opposite challenge! With seven years and a black belt in Daehan Kumdo, Haidong Gumdo challenges him to overcome not just the struggle for physical conditioning but the muscle memory of a hard art almost every move he makes! I love to see Mr. Malbraaten train, the way that he locks it all down, focuses, and drives forward without complaint no matter what challenge he encounters. That’s the spirit that got him where he is today and I fully expect that spirit to carry him far beyond my own abilities as a martial artist in due time.
Mrs. Malbraaten isn’t just moving from a hard style to a soft one. Her original black belt is in sport-style Tae Kwon Do, so she’s also moving from unarmed to an armed art. It is an honor to see her continue onward with half the mass and physical strength of the other students. She’s got enough heart for any two of the others. No other student shows up as regularly, with as much determination to not just keep up but excel. Size and conditioning are her two big hurdles, and in some places they slow her progress just as in others they let her excell (Her sodosae is amazing!), but she never stops moving forward and she never gives herself the easy out of lowering her expectations. Our youngest student, I hope to be around long enough to see her reach her full potential, which is very great!
We all have tough days, challenges, defeats, and victories, but with this crew to train with, I count every challenge and each day on the journey as a privilege. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that each and every member of the Nerd Posse has what it takes to reach ChoDan and begin their training!
Now that I have given praise where it is due, I am very proud of the effort the Nerd Posse offered last weekend. But that was last weekend. The next challenge is to be a martial artist today!