I am not always comfortable with sharing my inmost thoughts. Sure I can blather on about stuff, but when it comes to who I am deep down inside I’d rather hide. I was going to publish this post at my regularly scheduled time after a few other articles I have written and scheduled for the weeks ahead, but publishing later rather than now feels too much like hiding. I don’t like opening myself up. But I’ve “met” enough of you to know that if I do step out of my comfort zone a bit I will come out better for what I’ve learned from you. One of Sensei Andrea Harkins’ recent blog posts affirms that if I do draw some real, live, actual “hate,” it’s OK. I’ll survive, learn, and grow.
So… On with the story.
I was sparring with a man who was a match for me in size, strength, skill, and intensity. In a moment of carelessness, I threw what I thought was going to be a no-contact jab to the face. Thank God it missed. Without realizing it, I’d put way too much power into that jab. Believe me, I heard from a Sensei about it immediately after that match. No, I’m not going to dissect what was said or how it was said. Frankly, there is no “best way” to say what he had to say, so I’m not even going to “go there.”
In a nutshell, “You could have killed him.”
I took that warning very seriously. I don’t blame any of you readers one bit if you want to roast me over coals for that moment of carelessness. I know in my heart that I have changed, I will grow, and I have learned. Controlling the use of force will be pounded into my muscle memory more and more as time goes by if I train diligently. Nothing anyone can say will change the fact that I am turning things around, and that is something I can hold my head up about.
I know Karate isn’t about arranging flowers. I’ve always been aware that I’m learning how to hurt and kill people. So why am I making such a big deal out of this? It could be because of the circumstances. It would have been much nicer if, for instance, I’d been performing a kata and some Sensei had said, “You did that strike so well it would’ve felled an ox!” Or if I’d punched a bag and heard a thunderous THUD echoing through the dojo. Maybe, at only eight months into my training, I wasn’t expecting to hear that I am capable of killing someone. And maybe I just plain don’t want to hurt or kill.
[scratching record sound] WHAAAAAAAAAAAT?!?
You read that right. I’m training my body to become a weapon, but I don’t want to hurt or kill. I will if I have to – Mama Grizzly Bear will defend her cubs! It’s just that I remember the things my Grandfather (WWII veteran) said about taking a human life. And as someone who has given birth twice and nurtured those lives for almost eighteen years now, it’s hard to abruptly adjust to the fact that I can also take life. That idea had, until the day I was warned, been relegated to the fuzzy realm of “someday.”
I’m processing what being able to kill means to the person I’m becoming. I’ve figured out a thing or two – otherwise I wouldn’t have written the preceding paragraphs, right? I know I’m even more diligent than ever in learning how to control myself during drills and kumite, and this is a good step. But on an emotional level, I’m still processing the concepts. I have a feeling I’ll be revisiting this issue and working through everything that goes with it throughout my karate career. Am I correct?
It was tempting for me to just never let anyone know, but this blog is about the experiences of a beginner. Sometimes us beginners have to deal with hard things. I’ve bared my heart, so I’m vulnerable. I won’t ask for anything but honest responses. If you hurt me in love or if you hurt me because you enjoy inflicting pain, I will learn and grow. If even just one person can benefit from what I’ve written, it’ll be worth everything.