Friday, September 30, 2005

To start by looking back to the past

It's pretty backward to start a blog when you are already a 1st kyu brown belt, and looking down the barrel of the limited time before you test for Shodan. I've had such a rollercoaster ride as I trained from white belt, and up the kyu colors. My first introduction to karate was sitting at the back of the gym pretending to read a novel, but actually watching my little daughter take lessons from the Sensei. I studied him carefully, anxious that sooner or later he'd get all violent on the students because that is what martial arts is all about.. or at least I thought so at the time. However, week after week, I saw so much humility, so much control, so much authenticity in that Sensei. He won my trust with my children. I felt free to relax, and allow him to teach more than one of my 7 kids. During one class, my daughter was being introduced to the kata Heian Shodan. I was entranced by the whole aspect of mathematical movement being expressed in physical form. There was logic, angles, patterns within the movement. I couldn't take my eyes off of the sempai teaching my daughter how to do the kata each time he demonstrated. I went home that day with a deep desire to be able to do kata like that, and I sighed when I expressed that wish to a friend of mine. I said wistfully " But I can't do that.." My friend asked me "Why? What's stopping you?" I stopped, and thought about it, and I realized that it was me. I was stopping me. I felt so overweight, out of shape, uncoordinated, and unworthy of even wasting the Sensei's time to actually ask him if he'd teach me. I pulled up my courage, gave myself permission to at least TRY to learn karate, and decided to ask the Sensei at the next class. I approached him so timidly.. not even able to look him in the eyes, and I asked meekly "Is it possible to learn karate without learning how to fight?" I heard a little sound come from him, and I looked quickly to see his reaction. His eyes became rather large at that question, and then he became quite introspective. He smiled gently and said "Sure.. sure.. you do not have to do any free stye fighting until the higher levels like the brown belts.. why?" I explained my attraction to kata, and that I would be grateful if I could learn that aspect of karate.. if it's o.k. I will always remember his answer to me "White belts come and go.. by all means, go join the line up.. Just listen to your body, and feel free to stop if you need to." I needed that kind of freedom to succeed, or to be able to quit and walk away if need be. His answer was exactly the kind of response that opened the door of possibility to me. After thanking him, I walked into the dojo totally terrified. I have always been the sickly little child who was horrible at sports. I was the child that no one wanted on their team. I was the child that was picked on by every bully. I so hated any physical activity that I vowed to myself that once I was out of the mandatory school phys. ed. I wouldn't bother with any sports... and here I was facing a whole karate class in a room filled with people who knew what they were doing. I sat there hugging my knees, and almost ready to run out of the gym, but I knew that I had to respect the gift that the Sensei had given to me by at least surviving this first class. Then a young teenaged green belt came up to me with a wide smirk.. He said "Oh.. so YOU are going to join class today.. I'm sure you are going to Wow us with all of your experience.." He chuckled at me derisively. It was just like when I was a little girl again.. All the feelings surged over me of being embarrassed to be "me", and not to have any acceptance... BUT then I remembered all of my 40 years of life's experiences: Giving birth to 7 children, raising an autistic son, homeschooling the kids because of his needs.. and a solid core of courage came out of me. I said to this green belt "I may not be much to look at today, or tomorrow, but I will do my best, and I will improve, and I will WOW you." I did as I said, I went to the first class... and barely crawled out of Seiza. I didn't give up, I didn't run away, I did my best. By that evening everything hurt.. oh gosh.. I didn't know what shin splints were at the time, but I soon learned as I felt the pain. I saw the walls, and ceiling spin with the stars that twirled around my head. My damaged right hip sent shooting pains through me for each side kick, or stance. My severe skin condition ( Psoriasis which covered over 80 percent of my body) broke open and I bled little spots onto my clothing. My knees swelled up. I couldn't step up the 3 steps to enter my home. I asked myself over and over again if learning how to be able to perform kata was worth this.. and the answer was always "yes". Over time, I improved in conditioning. I could keep up with the class, and sometimes I could outlast them because I knew what pain is, and how to focus through it. I lost 22 pounds. I became more and more confident in my skills up to this moment that I am facing the step towards Black belt. Wow! Me? Phenomenal. If you would have asked me 5 years ago what my goal would be for the year 2005, I would have laughed at the suggestion that I would be looking forwards to testing for Shodan. So much has changed in my life! I treasure my first Sensei. He gave me such a strong foundation. He gave me such quality instruction. He respected me, and helped me to become a strong karate-ka who can face kumite with calmness. This is a far cry from the little mouse he first worked with who squeaked, and hide behind her hands when someone sent a Jodan punch in her direction. Thank you Sensei Walter. I always keep you in my prayers that you will be blessed in abundance for the gifts that you have given to me. You brought out the champion in me. I didn't see it, I didn't even know that it was there.. but you gave me the opportunity to show forth the best in me.

1 comment:

karateemptyhand said...

It is amazing how many people start karate with or shortly after their kids did it. That is how my brother-in-law started.

I recently started on my own and can't wait for my kids to join. They are 3 and 1 at the moment.

So only a few year to go and that can happen.