Location: Palm Beach County, Florida, United States

Recently have been told I look like Mary Ann from Gilligan's Island. I hadn't heard that in years, but that is a good place to start as to what I look like, although she had a better bod. I have three boys and have been married for 13 years. Born of a Navy family, in Hawaii, one Mom, one Dad, one sister and one brother. The eldest of three children. BS in Applied Mathematics. Consider Pensacola my home town although I moved every 2-3 years of my life growing up. Currently work in the aerospace industry in an engineering position while being a Mom. Of Celtic heritage and very proud of it.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

My Life with Karate

I don’t blog about my Karate life much, other than I’m not Bendy Dammit!  Now I feel compelled to write about Karate again since I read something on a blog, something that might be insignificant, but I can’t let it go.  (I take Shotokan Karate, a traditional Japanese martial art.)

Karate is a big part of my life, however; I go in cycles as to how much it permeates my life.  I have been training for over 2 ½ years and I suck. I will never tell you otherwise. I have no intention of ever testing for blackbelt, although I do believe my Sensei is still open to it. I do not argue with him; it is disrespectful but in my mind, I will test no more. It is my journey and I’m cool with being a brown belt forever. I don’t think it keeps me from improving.  So you are asking, “Why are you not testing anymore?”  The answer is, to be a blackbelt takes enormous dedication, which I cannot devote with my three boys.  I will be more apt to with all three in school this coming fall, but it also takes great physical and mental endurance for testing, which I currently lack. 

You do not test in our dojo unless you are really ready.  We are not a ‘mill’. We are a small but intense dojo.  My Sensei, an American who served in the USAF, received his first three blackbelts in Japan.  He now holds the rank of Yondan, which is 4th degree blackbelt.  He is exemplary in every way, a true honest and loyal person.  He is young, all of 32 years of age, but he has an old soul. 

Late last spring I felt very motivated to test for blackbelt, I was 3 ranks less than I am now.  I was training nearly 10 hours a week, 4-6 hours of it in the dojo and the rest in strength training and cardio  Needless to say, I was lean muscle and almost to my goal weight.  I dropped nearly to a size 2, but that’s when the sports injuries started. I got a slight tear in my Achilles, my arches in my feet started to fall, I had some serious health issues and my body just could not take the intense training.  I loved the constant endorphin rush, but I’m not made for it and I cannot afford to be down and out like I was, not with three boys.  I had ramped up my training, I didn’t just thrust myself into it, but this old bod has too many miles on it and I’m looking at the short end of 40 in 13 months and I’m just not 25 anymore. 

So I have backed off, but I still view my life from a Karate standpoint.  I am still on the journey, just not on the same journey as those who will test.  Karate has given me a great inner peace I had not known, a way to alleviate great frustrations and anger in my life.  I am happy with where I am, I only train 3 hours a week in the dojo now and outside that... probably another 2 or 3, bringing me to a total of 6 hours a week max.  I’m sligtly heavier than I was, but I’m cool with that.  I’ll take it all off, if I cut down on the chocolate. (Grin) Karate also enables me to train with one of my dearest friends of 24 years, and still lives in my hometown,  who is a Sandan (3rd degree) and got me started on this wicked ride!

Why in the hell am I writing this?  Because on Monday we were going through a drill and I wanted to make sure I understood it and I wanted to ensure I understood the real life application and how it would work for a small person such as myself.  Instead of wasting valuable training class time, I decided to ask after class.  He gave me an answer, then looked at me and said, “I know you, you like to read.  It is time for you to read A Book of Five Rings. This will help you see what is troubling you and will help fine tune your thinking from a strategic standpoint.” 

Hmm.  Well I have read EVERY book he has ever asked me to read.  I have started a library on Karate books, but I have been putzing. I’m not in the same place I was last spring.  I am thinking to myself, “But I have to finish Beach Music and I want to read I, Robot, and there is no rush for me.” 

I log onto Frank J over at IMAO every day. I never comment.  It’s a big blog with lots of readers and I don’t know anyone and I wouldn’t know what to say, so I read him and keep it to myself. I love his stick drawings, but what I really really love… his Ronin thought of the Day.  I read them every day, just as I read Harv’s Love NotesAnd what do you think today’s Ronin was from?  A Book Of Five Rings.  He has quoted from it before, but at the time it didn’t have the impact; I did not know of it.  I am taking this as some weird karmic sign, a sign from my universe that I need to read this book.  So I am.  I’m ordering it tonight, on-line, along with The Art of War, which was also recommended.  And then of course I e-mailed Frank and told him this, so he probably thinks I’m some big freak of nature, flake of the world, but I don’t really care.  I felt it more important that he knew that he contributed in some small way on my journey.  And I am even going so far as to attempt to fill out one of those trackback forms Harvey had told us about, just so Frank knows. (I'm gonna botch up that form. I can feel it.)  And Frank, if you happen to stumble across this and muddle all the way down to the bottom, Thanks. 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL - another thing we have in common! I studied a martial art similar to tae kwon do for 7 years. I reached first degree black belt and then hurt my hip. It just wouldn't get better, so I ended up having to quit *sigh* I really LOVED hitting things, but my favorite was to get a head kick in on the instructor *grin*.

When it got to the point that it hurt my hip to press on the accelerator while driving, I knew I had to give it up. A couple of years later I found tai chi. NOT the "spa" tai chi that you see in videos or in most classes offered, but temple style where the old proper forms are used and fighting moves are taught through out the learning of the form. Rolling arms (a style of fighting is also encouraged) It's a terrific class and I love it! I've worked through many old injuries and the meditations are just outstanding. For the first time I have learned how my old tae kwon do instructor was able to move his energy in a fight... something that few instructors ever teach, and many don't even know.

Anyhow, enjoy your karate! And if it gets too hard on your body, check around and see if there is a good tai chi class - different style, lots to learn, much much better for older joints. LOL. I've got you beat by 6 years, so I should know!

-- Teresa

9:16 PM  
Blogger littlejoe said...

A while ago, you suggested to me to take up karate. I didn't respond then, although I meant to.

I studied Isshin Ryu from about eight years old, until sixteen when my instructor died. I still practice all the forms (from time to time anyway) so I won't forget them when I have children. It is an Okinawan martial art, and one of the "newer" forms of karate. It teaches you to incorporate anything you learn from any martial art into your style. I was a "black belt" per se, not being given the fancy colored belts that most people earn. I trained with a white belt, and the dirtier it got, the more advanced you were as a student. That is an old karate tradition which led to the standardized colored belt system.

One thing you have to realize is that you can't "suck" at karate. It isn't a competition against other people (unless you have to defend yourself) but against yourself. As long as you improve mentally, spiritually, and physically, you are doing fine.

Just remember the immortal words of Mr. Miyagi:
"Karate this side, ok...karate that side ok...karate in middle, Squish like grape."
And in the words of my former instructor:
"Karate can make you strong, it can make you tough, it can even make you seem unbeatable. That doesn't mean you have to show everyone how tough, strong, or unbeatable you are. To do that is to train for failure. And to waste my time."

2:38 AM  
Blogger Tammi said...

Just so you know Bou - that inner peace, that happines - shows thru your writing, your comments. It's a nice thing.

8:07 AM  
Blogger Harvey said...

Me, I just admire women who stay in shape with karate :-)

10:07 AM  
Blogger Boudicca said...

Teresa- Funny you should mention Tai Chi! I have been giving that some serious thought, if I can find a good place close, as you said, temple form. Many of their movements are similar to ours, just more peaceful and slow. My knees will give out before my hips, but it IS going to happen. I need to start looking now for a good place with Tai Chi... sometimes it takes a while.

LJ- I did not know you trained. I know of the white belt turning black method, instead of color belts. We talk about it often. However, it is easier to distinguish what to expect out of each student, not having to think where he is, through the use of color belts. I think it's just a good teaching tool. And honestly, it is a motivator for the kids. It means nothing to me. That said, I have no qualms wearing a white belt, I am who I am, and the color I wear means nothing.

I am laughing so hard because on Monday our Sensei looked at my son and quoted the squished grape quote! He sometimes quotes from that movie to get the kids to identify. That cracks me up.

And I feel like I suck because I am not really improving even by my own standard. I know it's not a competition against others, but in the competition against myself, I feel I am failing. But it is what it is and I will just keep training until I break past this plateau.

Tammi- Thank you! Inner peace and happiness is a daily struggle for me.

Harv- You are just a Bad Example! I'll tell you what though... Karate gives you some great powerful legs!!! :)

3:53 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Just be careful with your knees - but I think Karate is easier on them than Tae Kwon Do was on mine.
I was in the best shape in my life when I was practicing tae kwon do - didn't start until I was 39, and only did it for a couple of years, but I got down to a size 8/9 for the only time in my life - but then I ended up a divorced mom and I had to work a 10:00 am to 7:00 pm shift and still try to be a good mom, and on top of that I screwed up my knees, so the time was really no longer there.
But it was fun. Sparring. Beating people up. I loved it.

6:11 PM  
Blogger littlejoe said...

D. you have to stop talking about things like sexy strong legs, and mousy school marm looks. You're going to make me start thinking impure thoughts...doh...too late.

9:40 PM  
Blogger Harvey said...

What Little Joe said... ;-)

And Joe, don't forget the Mary Ann from Gilligan's Island look, with those cute little shorts and the shirt tied up to expose that adorable midriff and...

DOH! Too late again.

11:51 AM  
Blogger Boudicca said...

Well I don't have a cute midriff. I had kids. Kinda ruined that. I have a 2 pack. Bleh. BUT!!!, I do have damn nice legs. I will willingly admit that because I am proud of that. That's the only thing I was known for in high school, my strong athletic legs and fortunately I have been exceedingly blessed that they have remained so.

1:47 PM  
Blogger littlejoe said...

It's funny that you mention that. At "Guys Night In" tonight, someone pointed out that I have a peculiar weight distribution. Basically, the only part of me that is not fairly buff is my belly. Not even the whole thing really. The upper part under the solar plexus is thicker than most of my trunk yes, but it is rock hard, and it was built like that on purpose. My arms have shrunk from a respectable 19 1/2 to 20 unches, down to about 17 inches. ( not so respectable for a guy my size.) My calves however, are still 23 inches each, and my thighs are as thick as some guys wastes. My chest measures 53 inches around, and is still fairly solid...I hate not being able to work out anymore, I loved body-building. Wow...what a rant.

2:11 AM  
Blogger Boudicca said...

Boy, is this the sign of an optimist that you will actually see my reply?! Heh! We'll see.

It is funny, people's distributions. I have GREAT limbs. The rest... it sucks. I think my legs stay nice because they get so much activity, I walk, they hold my body up... etc, but I see people that have these nice waists, flat tummies, but really big arms and legs. I think I read I am more prone to heart attacks. Great.

9:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really liked your post. As another pretty much permanent brown belt mom, it's good to hear I'm not alone. I've been training, on and off, for 12 years and have hit quite a few plateaus. I think that they are a necessary part of training. Even though you don't feel like you're progressing, your body and mind are working on integrating the things you've learned. If you just keep going, eventually something clicks and you end up with a big jump in your abilities after the plateau. Okay, now you've made me want to go practice...and get the Book of Five Rings.

8:53 AM  
Blogger Boudicca said...

There are many translations of The Book of Five Rings. Upon reaearching it and talking to my Sensei, the one to get is with the translator Thomas Cleary. It's the Shambhala Library. Geez, I hope you get this comment!

10:57 AM  

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