C is for Changing Direction

We’ve been doing footwork drills as our warm-up at Taekwon-Do for the past few weeks and, despite the intense bouncing,* I’m really enjoying it. I do pretty well with my slide steps, my C-C steps, and my push steps, but the quick switches in direction might just be the death of me. Changing directions quickly is not my strong point – not at Taekwon-Do and not in my work.

I struggle with the choreography of a lot of aspects of Taekwon-Do anyway. A lot of other people in my class seem to be able, on a instinctual level, to get their bodies to follow the patterns demonstrated by the instructors. My instructions have to be filtered through my brain so I have to create a ‘story’ of my patterns, or my kicks or whatever. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate story, it can just be an outline of where each body part is supposed to be at a given moment.** It takes a lot of concentration for me to do my moves, especially new ones (and learning new stuff on the spot is unlikely at best), so when I am going in one direction and then I suddenly have to switch focus and go the other way, there’s HUGE mental flip that has to take place. I’m working on it, and I’m getting better, but there is still a fair bit of work ahead.

I’m part of an online group run by the delightful Fabeku Fatumise and one of his oft-repeated phrases is ‘The way you do one thing is the way you do everything.’ I’ve found it to be an annoyingly accurate observation, and it holds true for this changing direction business.

I also hate changing direction in my work. This is likely related to my brain glitch*** and it means that I don’t naturally transition easily between tasks. So I need an external cue to let me know to switch or I will keep going on task one until it is done. That’s all well and good when it is the only task on my list, but if I am juggling a lot of things, and I often am, that habit doesn’t serve me well. If you were hanging out in my home office with me (which would be awkward because a) I don’t know you and b) my office is in my bedroom) you would hear a timer going off over and over all day. I still get annoyed when the timer goes off but I know WHY I am annoyed – the aforementioned dislike of changing directions – so I take a breath or two, maybe throw a few practice punches into the air, and then move to the next task.

I often take lessons from Taekwon-Do and apply them to my writing practices but in this case I’m wondering how to take work practices (i.e. the timer/reaction) and apply it to my Taekwon-Do. There’s going to be a difference, obviously, because one is a mental change of directions and one is a literal change of directions, but I bet there is still a way to translate the solution from one to the other. After all, in cases like this, the biggest issue is usually how I’m thinking about the problem and that can always be changed.

PS – I also hate changing direction when I’m walking, I like the sort of walk that lets me walk in a great big circle and come back to where I started. Retracing steps I have already taken so I can get back home is really irksome. I mostly ignore the irkedness, but it is still there. Brains are so weird, aren’t they?

*Which is a challenge for the chest and the bladder, by the way.

** Don’t go giving me the ‘No! You just have to FEEL it’ bit, please. I don’t feel it, my learning process doesn’t work like that. However, the more often I tell myself the ‘story’, the more I start to ‘feel’ it and the less I need to repeat the steps to myself. You can tell how well I know a pattern by how much of it I can repeat aloud without moving – my stronger patterns have been handed over to muscle memory and it is almost as if I have lost the words to describe them, my weaker patterns are still a list in my head. I’m practicing my weaker ones though, so I’m getting better all the time. 🙂

***My glitch is something executive function-related which is in the neighbourhood of ADD and is able to be adjusted with behaviour mods instead of medications. I’m very much pro-meds if taking them gives you the space to work on your glitches but my fairly minor situation turned out to be adjustable via better systems and some input from others.

6 thoughts on “C is for Changing Direction

  1. I am a third degree brown belt in TKD. I need to go back and get my black belt evebtually! But, I have the EXACT same problem with changing directions. It’s an executive functioning deficiency, you’re right! What a great read.

  2. mombie says:

    Thanks, Lauren! It’s good to have company. 🙂

    What kind of TKD do you have your brown belt in? Our school didn’t have brown belts, we went red, black stripe, black.

  3. Helen Holshouser says:

    This was very interesting. My grandson takes TKD and has ADD, I can hardly wait to talk to him about this, maybe show him your post! Maybe I am too laid back, but I used to be a psychotherapist, have been retired a long time, but I wonder why you feel the need to fight so hard to change. You are a writer, seems to me that long uninterrupted time to write would be appreciated. Unless of course, you are trying to stay healthy, not my forte, too late, and are setting alarms to remind you to stretch. I’m not a believer in modifying our behavior for no good reason. If it is harmful or dangerous or impeding, yes, make a change. Otherwise, I am all for developing our strenths, not working so hard on our weaknesses. Work some perhaps, but enjoy life is what I’d say, you don’t have to agree btw, everyone feels differently. follow your passion, do what cocmes naturally, walk around lakes or tracks for exercise so you get your circle. Life is short, play to your strenths, forget the others. “Be gentle with yourself, you are a child of the Universe.”–Desiderata, by Max Ehrmann’ Sorry about the soapbox. Helen

  4. mombie says:


    Absolutely no apologies needed!

    Thanks so much for your caring comment, I really appreciate it. I do tend to forget to play to my strengths and left to my own devices, I tend to concentrate on the gap between what I meant to do and what I actually do rather than celebrating my accomplishments, so your input is very valuable.

    I wasn’t clear in this case but what I am referring to is when I have several projects on the go at once (say, a fiction project, a writing contract, and some work for my arts organization) and I need to switch from one task to another so I can accomplish things I want to do. This isn’t an example of me being hard on myself, although I can be that way. Using the timers has actually helped me go easier on myself because I know I can switch between the various things I want to do without adding a lot of stress.

    Previous to using the timers, I would only consider something ‘done’ if it was completely finished. This was especially unhelpful if it was a big project that couldn’t be done all at once since I would have a constant feeling of ‘falling short’ until the project was complete. Using the timers helped me make a mental switch to a system that is based on effort rather than results and that has made a huge difference in my satisfaction with my work.

    I had a copy of the Desiderata hanging in my room for many, many years. Thanks for reminding me about

  5. What an interesting and educational post. I don’t know anything like enough about executive function and others on the ADD spectrum and you’ve clearly brought great introspective and observational skills in order to write about your situation.
    That statement “the way you do one thing is the way you do everything” really resonate. Thank you for the link. D

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