Black Belt Memory Triggers

On my way home the other day I heard The Drumming Song by Florence And The Machine, and it immediately brought me back to September 8, 2012.  On my way to the studio, I listened to this song and The Boxer remake  from Mumford and Sons so many times that my husband and son just sat in silence and as each song ended, I’d say – “play it again”.  These songs calmed me, they brought me to a different place, away from my crazy nerves, away from what was to come ahead.  There are three triggers that bring me back to that time – these two songs and a hill by my house,  I’ll walk miles and miles, but once i reach the bottom of that hill, I ALWAYS run to the top. I did it this morning… Sean and I were in a conversation, it ended abruptly as I bolted to the top… I made it and waited for him to catch up, why did I do this? Because….. I ran this hill time and time again as part of my black belt training program, it is a steep and quick incline, one that gets my heart pumping at full speed, now, I only do one run to the top, but when I was training, I would do it 5- 6 times in a row.. it was tough stuff.  Coming up on 3 years later, I’m still running it.  I’ll admit something though (between you and I), if I’m on a long walk 7+ miles, I’ll purposely do a loop so I won’t have to run to the top of that hill, shameful, yes.  For the most part though, this is the only route home (5 miles and under) Walking up that hill isn’t an option, unless I’m physically unable to run, I’ll RUN, and it triggers memories of hard work, dedication and perseverance.

So, while I was driving home that night a thought occurred to me; no way can I be the only one who has these memories of my black belt training.  I decided I’d ask a few people their thoughts, pick their brain and I was so excited to get an abundance of responses.

I’ll start with my husband.  Who else do I ask 1st?  Sean Scanlon.  Back to a hill story, there’s another dreaded hill,Sean's HILL it’s a 1/4 mile incline and right at the end of our street.  I did this with him so many times I can’t count, it was HELL (that’s why I chose a shorter, though steeper hill for my training).  We drive by the entrance daily on our way to the store, every time he sees it, he thinks of that time.

My second inquiry was my sister Alia Cass, I asked for a song and she answered with it’s “A Beautiful Day” by U2,  the theme song for her black belt video, this video has been watched and admired by over 9300 viewers on YouTube  it makes sense that THIS would be the song that reminds her of her black belt test.  Every time that song comes on, I think of her black belt test, you might too if she’s on your mind often.

My father, Bob White has one song that comes to mind, Maggie May, by Rod Stewart, back in 1971 – this was a good year as not only did he get his black belt.. but I was born.

Tana Amen’s Black belt preparation is fresh in her mind, and when I asked her, this was her response. “yes I have so many rituals that helped me prepare for the test. 2 songs I remember well… “Fighter” by Christina A. And “Brave” by Moriah Peters (it’s a Christian rock song), and Battle Cry by Skillet”

Jessica Stewart: “Roar by Katy Perry absolutely was my song I played that on repeat so many times while training and driving to my test I feel like there’s one more but I can’t think of it I’ll look in my phone. Also the word RECOVER, It always makes me think of my training and the day of It was my focus word.”

Andrea Pfefer remembers sitting in her car on the day of her black belt test listening to The Beastie Boys’ Sabotage  it’s been so long since I’ve heard that song, I decided to put it on while I write!  Now every time I hear it, I’ll think of Andrea.

When I asked Karen Schuster, she said that “whenever she sees the movie Hoosiers with Gene Hackman, it’s a pump you up kind of movie. It always brings me back

So it’s not only songs and hills, but other triggers too.  I asked Heather Flessing what brings her back to her training and black belt test, her answer, “Every time I drink Dragonfruit Vitamin Water I think of getting ready for my test. I really don’t like drinking water, so I drank a lot of Dragonfruit Vitamin Water instead.”

Bo Luellen of Project: Kenpo United; I loved his response:  “I walked 3 miles 7 days a week with a 40 lb pack to build the stamina I needed to offset my Crohn’s. It worked. Now when I see a hiker or backpacker it comes back to me.” 

Chad Gundlach:  he’d been thinking about it for a couple of weeks.  Earlier this week we discussed in person what his thoughts were on it.  He said that when he goes to the location where he tested it obviously brings back strong memories and that he also made a log that he still references occasionally that takes him back to the moments and emotions leading up to it… I like that.

Want to know the ultimate trigger?  It’s when we Black Belts attend new black belt test.  Every drop of sweat and emotion is heart felt and understood by those who are on that mat to support.  We understand the hard work that it takes to get there because we’ve been there ourselves.  There’s an energy around the room that is difficult to explain unless you yourself have been there.  It’s an amazing excitement and there’s so much support and at the same time you can see that each person is reliving their own test, every form, every technique, every kick, broken board, spar segment and each moment remind you to whisper into the pupil’s ear and say… B-R-E-A-T-H-E, that they are going to make it, they are going to succeed in this journey and to let them know that and this isn’t the end, it’s only the beginning.

I’d love to hear what triggers your black belt prep and training.  Please comment below.  Looking forward to reading your answers.

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3 Responses to “Black Belt Memory Triggers”

  1. Amy McGraw says:

    The sound of waves, I ran sprints between the lifeguard towers in HB as prep for my test…. it brings me right back.

  2. Anne Moskoviz says:

    Black belt memory triggers. A few things:

    1) working certain Brown ii techniques over and over and over because I didn’t ‘get’ them well enough; at least, to my way of thinking.
    2) when someone mentions the name of a person who helped me prepare by working techniques with me, sparring with me, and encouraging me when I thought I had nothing ‘left in the tank’.
    3) hearing my very favorite song – Won’t Get Fooled Again, by The Who. That was the song I heard right before starting my test. Not only does that song give me an energy boost every time I hear it, but the lyrics are appropriate:

    “… and the men who spurred us on sit in judgment of our wrongs.
    They decide, and the shotgun sings the song…”

    I’ve been a white belt three times. But I have only one black belt, a Kenpo black belt; the only one I wanted despite knowing I could easily have had the other two. The key word there is ‘easily’.

    It wouldn’t be worth having either of those belts because they would’ve been given, not earned.

  3. Andrea Pfefer says:

    What a fun article! So true that music triggers memories and what better memory than our black belt tests? Well done Andree!

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