2016 has been a banner year for me. I have grown in so many ways because of the incredible adventures I’ve had. I’ve put together a potpourri of journal entries, blog posts, reflections, and pictures for my annual year-in-review. Enjoy!
Journal entry 1/6/16:
College Dojo has a big, tough brown belt guy helping out. He’ll assign pushups at the blink of an eye and his warmup routines are killer. He’s a good teacher, so it’s worth enduring the drill sergeant stuff. Only makes me tougher, right? So today… He showed up with a 7 week old puppy tucked inside his gi. That puppy rode around in there the entire class. Priceless. I so wish I had a camera! True to form, he snarled, “If anyone talks, giggles, or is distracted in any way, you will do push ups until you puke!” I was definitely holding my breath trying not to laugh at that.
Reflection on 1/11/16:
For about a month this winter I volunteered to teach the beginner white belts at my “home” dojo so that the senior student could concentrate on his training in preparation for his next belt test. It turns out I only had one student. He was a wonderful student, and I looked forward to each class. On 1/11/16 my protégé was integrated into the rest of the class. I watched him throughout the rest of the year, and was ever so proud of him when he passed his belt tests!
Journal entry 2/17/17:
Change can happen in a heartbeat. One minute you’re in your comfort zone. The next… WHAM.
College Dojo’s brown belt helper is moving away. He announced this was his last time assistant teaching in the dojo.
Every indication from every single black belt who knows me has been that I should move up to my next rank – the sooner, the better. But now I have even more reason to buckle down in the next few weeks. I’m senior student at College Dojo by only one belt. The college kids are hot on my heels. 5th kyu would give me more authority.
And I’m also a little scared. I never expected to have this much responsibility so soon.
Still – it’s a bit scary. BAM. Suddenly I’m the senior student. 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 warmups, and with the ring of authority in my voice.
Journal entry 3/5/16:
Got my butt kicked sparring today. Literally. Wicked crescent kick targeting my ribs, I turned to avoid it and maybe counter with a side kick. My opponent’s foot gave a glancing blow to a (ahem) bigger and lower target. We were sparring tournament-style, so the Sensei called a halt to confirm score or no score. He was on the “other cheek” side, so he didn’t see. Sensei asked me, “Where did that hit you?” and I just started laughing. I couldn’t help it – it was funny! That told him what he needed to know, he asked for confirmation from his mirror-judge, and no score was awarded 🙂
Reflection on 3/31/16:
I earned 5th kyu on this day. This new belt most definitely indicates I have moved beyond where I once was when I trained as a teenager.
I had to present my first advanced kata (form) for a test (the kata was Bassai Dai). Ever since I started competing in tournaments, where nobody counts out the movements for anybody’s kata, I’d been looking forward to performing a kata for a test without anyone counting out the movements. I found it to be a huge relief to perform kata freely – of course staying within the cadences that reflect the bunkai (interpretation) but tailoring it to my own body’s capabilities.
At the end I laid aside the purple belt with a tinge of sadness. That belt (7th kyu) had been presented to me by one of my Sensei (instructors) who had to move away. The stripe on the belt (6th kyu) had been earned on one of my adventures out of state. I’d had loads of fun wearing that belt, lots of great memories, lots of sweat. There was no time for tears – I had to tie on the new belt immediately. That said, the new green belt (5th kyu) felt great.
Reflection on April, 2016:
“Ohhh, look at how pretty this girl is,” my co-worker gushed, “She must be a dancer or something!”
I looked obligingly at the photocopy of the prospective student’s passport. Passport pictures are usually not at all flattering, and photocopies of passport pictures are almost always dreadful. The black-and-white picture was extraordinarily beautiful, and I quickly memorized the name. The nice picture would give me something to talk about with the prospective student.
Imagine my surprise when, a couple of weeks later, College Sensei announced we’d have a special guest from Japan studying with us. I felt a jolt of recognition when he announced her name. The next day I dug around in the filing cabinets and confirmed – it was the pretty passport picture girl. I was even more surprised when I was invited to a special training session and I got to meet her before anyone else at College Dojo!
Little did I know she and I would spend a lot of time training together. Since April she’s gone from a pretty photo to being a friend. Her kata is amazing, and I have learned much from watching her.
Reflection on 4/30/16:
I was sick with a sinus infection and almost withdrew from the tournament held that day. However, I’d promised my new friend I’d give her a ride. I figured I might as well compete. I was tired, grouchy, and just wanted to get it over with, go home, and crawl into bed. I was glad I didn’t. I won my only gold medal that tournament season. I give a lot of credit to my coach. You can read more here.
Reflection on 5/21/16:
On this day I was invited to do the full training for the USA Karate Nationals tournament even though I wasn’t going. I was thrilled, and even a little tiny bit scared. I’d done the training only on Saturdays last year. I knew that doing four days of intense training four days per week would be brutal. It was all that and more, but I learned a lot – not just about techniques, but about the very core of myself. You can read more here, here, here, and here…
Blog post on 6/18/16:
If someone had told me in 1987 (after I’d quit Karate) that at age 46 I’d be one belt rank higher and competing against people who significantly outrank me in a tournament held under the tail of the Spruce Goose, I’d have told that person, “You’re crazy.” Life is crazy. Read more here.
My first interview – June 2016
An online acquaintance honored me by interviewing me and writing a very nice blog post about me. You can read his article here.
Reflection on July 2016:
It was an honor training over the summer with a small cadre of dedicated students and the two ladies, including my new Japanese friend, who actually competed at the USA Karate Nationals. They both did quite well!
Blog post on 8/12-14:
Our annual Gasshuku (retreat) was quite fun. I borrowed my parents’ big tent so that my new friend from Japan could camp in style. This was her first camping trip. You can read more about what I learned at Gasshuku here.
Reflection on 9/29/16:
I didn’t go to Nationals, so all that hard work I put in over the summer was wasted, right? Wrong, wrong, wrong! I earned 4th kyu, so I put a stripe on my green belt. For this rank I had to perform two advanced kata: Nijushiho and Rohai Shodan. I had a pleasant surprise when my parents sent me pictures from my test and scanned copies of pictures taken when I had trained as a teenager. Here’s pictures of me and my former Sensei doing the signature movement from Rohai Shodan!
Blog Post on 10/8/16:
Godo Renshu – read more about the fun I had here.
Blog Post on November 2016:
In a nutshell, I’m thankful for all the ways I’ve grown in mind, body, and spirit and for those who have been with me on this journey. Read more here.
Reflection on December 2016:
Our annual holiday party was, as always, wonderful. This was my fourth – my first was when I wasn’t even a student but I accompanied my daughter who was taking the college Karate class at that time. I remember not knowing anyone but her Sensei. I knew most of the people in the room this year. The space we rented for the event was special to me too – I have a 43 year history with the building and that particular spot in the facility used to be the children’s section of the public library (which has since been moved).
I’m looking forward to the adventures I will have in 2017! My goals include testing for 3rd kyu (four tests to pass before I tie on a black belt) and actually competing in USA Karate Nationals. I know these are ambitious, but so far every time I’ve set goals for a new year, I’ve ended up exceeding my expectations. For 2017, I’m dreaming big.