One year ago today I dropped my daughter off at the Y as usual. I then parked the car and went into the locker room to change into a brand-new gi. The look on my daughter’s face when I bowed in was priceless – this was a surprise for her. I huffed and puffed my way through the workout and was glad to have survived.
I look back on priceless adventures, many of which I’ve shared on this blog. I am twenty pounds lighter and am seriously thinking about buying a smaller gi. I’ve earned rank and medals. I’m a dojo representative on the Board of Directors for fundraising activities and special events. My body is much stronger. I’ve learned more about myself than I ever imagined I could – for instance a few days ago I learned I have what it takes to get back up on my feet and into fighting stance after being stunned by a blow to the jaw.
Earlier this morning I was given an unexpected anniversary gift. The gift of a smile. Click here to read about it. I do feel that reading this article directly benefited my performance during my time at a sister dojo.
I headed out to a sister dojo at the local community college. Karate is offered for two quarters, and some students have stayed on, taking the class not for credit but for the joy of studying Karate. I started auditing the class for extra workouts to prepare for tournament season and to make sure my foundational skills were solid. I had to stop for a couple of months due to substitute teaching water fitness at the Y, but in recent weeks I was able to join my young friends again. Today was the last day of class for them. Today was belt testing for those who had opted to do so.
Because I don’t belong to this dojo, I was not a candidate for testing. However, I was welcome to work out and therefore get some practice for the next belt test at my home dojo. Through moving basics I worked as hard as if I were promoting. This is where the smile thing comes in – I’m not so sure smiling is all that appropriate in Karate but I did as much as I could – at the very least in my eyes and actual smiling during the very brief moments of rest. I did all right with moving basics, and I know what I need to work on.
I watched the candidates do kata. It was great to see everyone’s hard work and determination. I especially appreciated it when I saw someone who looked very good for their level. I love kata and to see it performed well is a joy.
Because there were an odd number of candidates for 9th kyu and one was a young lady, Sensei called me to pad up for sparring. I absolutely had to be in control, and I have a past history of anxiety while sparring. Because a mouth guard distorts facial features anyway, I went ahead and smiled. I reminded myself of what she needed from me in this fight. I’m 8th kyu, so as the Sempai it was my job to challenge her but not paste her to the floor. Smiling helped. It was a great fight – she responded exactly as she ought to the things I was throwing at her and took advantage of the openings I tried not to give her 😉
After all the candidates had sparred and as we were putting away fist pads and mouth guards, Sensei called me up to the front, indicating he needed my help. I was not expecting what came next. I was deeply honored to be chosen to give the newly-promoted karateka their new belts. Ordinarily this is done by a black belt, and in the past there have been one or two Senseis who have been a part of the promotion, but no other black belt was able to come today. I was just busting with happiness for the young people as they came up one by one.
Now it’s time for me to get out to the garage. I have a promise to keep – I promised a Sensei I’d practice a footwork exercise that I’d mangled pretty badly in class, slowing everyone else down. I’ve used sidewalk chalk in the garage to help me learn it. The weather is nice, I don’t have to start dinner for awhile, and this post is done 🙂