If you are familiar with martial arts film or at the very least watch the Karate Kid movies, you would be familiar with the episode in the martial student’s life where the martial arts teachers make their students complete a certain task, which are totally revolting to the students.
Just look at what Sensei Miyagi made Daniel, the original Karate Kid do in the 80s. Or the part Mr Han made Dre hang his coat for probably a thousand times in the beginning of their training session in Karate Kid 2010. Or even Kung Fu Panda… you get the idea.
I was not spared.
As I have mentioned before, I have a terrible focus problem, which makes me unable or difficult to do certain task, which needs me to be focused, e.g driving and such. And focus, is unfortunately everything in learning martial arts. One cannot afford being distracted while fighting, which I, in all of my seriousness in learning aikido, still cannot master this fundamental requirement. In the middle of the technique for example, I can get distracted with the passing car for instance, if we train outdoors, or the flap on another dojo mate’s hakama or whatever else. I have the attention span of a squirrel, if I may put it that way.
To combat this, my sensei here made me do something horrid. Well at least to me. He bought me a 300 piece jigsaw puzzle and I have to sit still for an hour daily, doing nothing but the puzzle. Well, for some of you who are puzzle experts or puzzle fans out there reading this, you are forgiven if you smirk and say “300 piece only?!?” Believe me, what may be a toddler’s game for you is a gargantuan task for me if it involves 1) sitting still for more than 10 minutes 2) doing something which requires me to focus for more than 5 minutes at the most.
I had no choice but to do it… So daily, I took the puzzle out. For the first week, I failed. I took it out, worked on it for ten minutes and called it quits. Each day I have to write a log record of my achievements and email it to my sensei. It was embarressingly ‘not happening’.
On the 2nd week, the husband, the jigsaw puzzle expert who is currently working his way through a 9000 piece puzzle of the ancient world map taught me the correct method on how to do it. He was not supposed to help me at all since it would defeat the purpose of the whole exercise, but he gave me a general SOP on how jigsaw puzzles are done.
1) Sort the pieces according to the colours as seen on the picture given. I.e begin with the end in mind.
2) Decide on which portion to start on first
3) Work on one portion at a time. If I cannot fit the pieces in or stuck, try to work on other parts and not fret over the parts I cannot do.
And so began my journey into my first jigsaw puzzle. It was a terrible experience in the beginning. Sometimes, I showed tantrum. I got so frustrated, I threw cushions at the unsuspecting husband sitting quietly reading at the sofa. Or sometimes I pinched my innocent cats, and was rewarded with their ‘what the heck are you doing’ looks. Sometimes I pinched the husband and told him I wanted to beat him up. Well, it was like a scene from the ‘Taming of the Shrew’.
But as the days progressed, my tolerance level increased little by little. I STILL detest the task, but day by day, it was not as bad as when I first started. And hence, one fine weekend, I finished it!
The first thing I did was to yell I DID IT!!! Then I hi-fived with the husband and thanked him for his patience throughout my jigsaw journey, kissed my cats to make up for all the animal abuse they went through when I was tearing my hairs out in frustrations, took this pic on the BB and MMS it to my sensei with the subject title I DID IT!!!
And then I begged him, no more please. No more. But I doubt he listens.
*There’s one missing piece which I suspect either of the cats played with it and kicked it somewhere I cannot see/find. I just hope none of them swallowed it accidently or out of spite.