This is in response to an article by Troy Seeling posted on Jackie Bradbury’s blog – Click here to read it!
When I was 13 my parents shoved a Parks & Recreation catalog at me and told me to find something to do. I tried Karate because I was curious – would I be breaking boards within a week? What did karate people do anyway? I was also having trouble with bullies at school. From the first few minutes I was hooked. I felt stronger every class, so that kept me at it. I wasn’t thrilled about doing Karate only twice a week and taking three-week breaks between quarters. My Dad looked into other dojo(s) and found one that met nearly every day. I spent 3 or 4 years training hard.
My Sensei honored me by asking me to help teach the little kids’ class. I enjoyed it, but I started getting sick. All the time. I even got chicken pox that year! My training went to pot and my grades at school were in jeopardy from all my absences. I got so discouraged I quit altogether. I wish I had simply bowed out of teaching little kids, then I would’ve been fine. But I was a dumb mixed-up emotional teenage girl and didn’t think of that. Years went by and I did next to nothing for exercise. Life happened, I went to college out of state, kids came along, yada yada.
When my kids were little I spent a good deal of time bed-ridden because of illnesses they dragged home. When my kids were a little older and not bringing in the germs as much, I tried teaching Sunday School at church. I would always be sick by Thursday. My doctor did some testing and found out I have IgG subclass 2 deficiency – a fancy way of saying that my body simply does not produce enough of one of the germ-fighting substances the body uses to fight off illness. So far this winter, I’ve been healthy, but all the kids in my current dojo are old enough to stay home when sick and they practice good hygiene. That wasn’t the case with the little kids I used to teach when I was a teenager.
I know now I need to be very clear about my future in karate – I have particular dojos in mind where I would love to eventually teach because the demographics are favorable to my condition 🙂
My daughter started training in September 2013 at the community college, took both quarters then continued at the local YMCA. Secretly I was eating my heart out every time I went to pick my daughter up from karate. I’d often come early just to watch her. Sometimes I’d meet her for the light lunch she’d eat before class, and I’d watch the entire class. I volunteered at tournaments and felt stabs of regret. I was proud but jealous at promotions.
I had my excuses. Some I shared, some I didn’t. My daughter and three Senseis persisted in their efforts to get me on the mats again. The straw that broke the camel’s back came after a tournament and pizza party in early June of this year. My daughter said, “You could help me with kata and I could help you with kumite!”
Two days later I was back on the mats. It was a birthday surprise for my daughter. I dropped her off at the door of the Y as usual, then parked the car, ran into the locker room, and changed clothes. The look on her face when I showed up in a gi was priceless.
I survived. I knew I’d get in shape eventually, so I persisted. I found that a few things I’d been concerned about shouldn’t have kept me from training again because they simply aren’t a problem. I’ve re-claimed my love for karate. I don’t feel middle-aged when I’m in class. I feel young, capable, and strong.
I keep on practicing because as an adult, I see there are depths and dimensions to the art that I wasn’t able to grasp as a teenager. There’s enough to keep me busy for as long as I am able to do Karate. This weekend, I was privileged to be able to watch brown belts earn their black belts. Among them was a 70 year old gentleman. If he can do it, I can too.