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 Notes. And 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.