February 2016 – Attitude 2

High and low, up and down, yin and yang…  It’s all good.  I’m happy to say that I’ve learned from both the good times and the hard lessons, and those which were a mixed bag (like the first journal entry below).


graduation-hat-cap-md2/17/17 – College Dojo

Change can happen in a heartbeat.  One minute you’re in your comfort zone.  The next…  WHAM.

Sempai Drill Sergeant is moving away.  He announced this was his last time assistant teaching in the dojo.

For awhile now I’ve been planning on and working towards testing for the next belt at the end of March.  This tournament was way more about seeing what I need to work on than it was about getting a gold medal.  The next tournament – same thing.  So I’ve been serious about testing already, but this announcement has me wishing to buckle down even harder.

I’m senior student at College Dojo by only one belt.  The college kids are hot on my heels.  College Dojo needs a Sempai.  5th kyu would give me more authority.

I’m ready.

And I’m also a little scared.  I never expected to have this much responsibility so soon.

I think the new “invitation only” advanced class that Sensei is starting up this Sunday will be exactly what I need to keep on getting “fed,” if you know what I mean.

Still – it’s a bit scary.  BAM.  Suddenly I’m Sempai.  Out of the blue.

I need to get used to this idea before Monday.  I need to show up on Monday with a smile, with a plan for warm-ups, and with the ring of authority in my voice.


AffiliateYMCA2/20/16 – Affiliate YMCA Dojo

I recall Jackie Bradbury’s account of her tiny, innocent four year old in a moment of sheer joy saying something like, “This is so ****ing FUN!!!”

That was today for me.

After a grueling workout and drills, free sparring!  Three rounds.  Each person outranked me by at least one belt.  BOO yeah!!!  I got clobbered some and I did some clobbering right back – including catching someone’s kick (wasn’t able to get him to the ground, though).  He outranks me by three belts.  Neither of us was expecting that!

A year ago, whenever I sparred these same people, I was intimidated and scared of getting hurt, and most of all I was always dog tired.  But today I am in much better shape – I’m stronger and have more endurance.  My attitude is different too.  Today I was genuinely happy about sparring with people who can kick my butt.  Before each fight I was excited about what I was about to learn from each person.  I was elated after each fight.  Sure all this could be attributed to the lovely cocktail of hormones that course through my veins.  But I’d like to think there’ s more to it than that.

I think it might be a combination of:

1) “Empty cup” – being open to whatever lesson I need to learn

2) Welcoming both positive and negative feedback from my sempais and the dojo Sensei so I can grow in skill and character

3) Trusting my sparring partners – especially if they are senior in rank.  They are not out to deliberately hurt me.

4) Trust in my own skills (meager as they are).  I do have a few things going for me 🙂  I can, most of the time, keep myself from harm.

So I’m flying higher than a kite and I don’t feel worn down even after a grueling class because of

1) the mental stuff I just outlined above

2) I’m in good shape – better than I was last year for sure

3) Ever since Thursday’s class I’ve been remembering to relax my shoulders both on and off the mats.

4) I took yesterday off from all forms of exercise save walking the dog and holding plank.  I’m not sure but I think I went about 14 days straight with classes, heavy labor, seminars, and the tournament.


150115_CottageFeb 23, 2016 – Home Dojo

For awhile, I’ve felt like my sparring skills just haven’t been up to par.  My enthusiasm is there, which is good because I used to really be afraid of sparring.  It’s just – I’ve felt stagnant, and like I’ve been missing some part of the overall picture that would allow me to make progress.

Sensei called me over to talk with him after class.  It wasn’t related to today’s class, but to things he and his wife noticed Sunday about my sparring.

I need to be purposeful, not reactionary.  I need to quit throwing a flurry of bad things hoping something will land.  I’ve lost my fear but have sacrificed strategy and form.  Sensei said, “You don’t have to be afraid of the rattlesnake but you still have to respect it.”  Apparently this is a common thing for people at my “stage,” but still – I need to own it and fix it.  According to Sensei my bad habits are detrimental to my further development and frustrate my sparring partners (read: his wife, LOL).  Confirmation of what I suspected – I am stagnating, and now I know why.

So a bit of “tough love” from Sensei tonight, and I took my medicine like a man, er, well, you know.  And I think this is definitely the piece of the picture I felt like I was missing.  So – now I gotta roll up my sleeves and, if I have to, go back to square one and rebuild from there.  Sensei did soften the blow by telling me he appreciates the fact that he can give me something to work on and I’ll work on it without him nagging me.

Author: Joelle White

I began training in Karate in June of 2014 after a 27 year hiatus.

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