Desiring Depth

Now that I’ve reached a stage (4th kyu) where I can expect to take longer periods of time between belt tests I find myself eager to go deeper into my art.


My online acquaintance Kai Morgan recently wrote a brilliant article that sums up a lecture by deep freediver Sara Campbell .  Campbell lectured about seven principles of mental success in free diving, and Kai Morgan related those principles to martial arts.  This article really resonated with me.  There’s so much more that I have yet to discover about challenging myself and improving my performance.  I’m starting to understand the mental work that goes into this.  I’m looking forward to more growth in this area.


There are so many ways I need to improve.  I’m doing well for my age, but boy howdy I’ve got a long way to go before I’m satisfied.  I want to understand more about the best way to make those gains in strength, endurance, and flexibility while taking into consideration my middle-aged body.  I won’t be as fast or as strong as someone half my age at peak physical condition but by golly I wanna be one bad muddah.

I’m also eager to explore what I am capable of.  I’ve often been surprised.  I’m becoming more willing to try things that seem “impossible” for an “old lady” to do.  Every now and then I outperform or at least keep up with athletes young enough to be my sons and daughters.  That’s a great feeling and I’m thankful for the sensei (instructors) who have been guiding me.


I see so much that I want for myself when I watch more advanced practitioners.   I’m sharper, faster, and cleaner than the lower ranked students, so that’s a start.  My stances are deeper.  Most of the time I don’t wobble like a newborn fawn or flap around like a spastic duck.  But there’s so much more work I need to do.  There is still tension in my shoulders that needs to be banished.  I need to use my hips more.  When I’m doing the simplest of moving basics alongside the first-quarter students in the college class I concentrate on how I’m executing the techniques.  I think that effort is paying off.  This week I was given homework to help me with appropriate timing of kime (tension) and flowing through movements.  I’m looking forward to improvement!


I’m starting to learn about refereeing and judging.  I’d like to add coaching as well.  I don’t have sufficient rank yet to take a certification exam.  Quite frankly it’s going to take quite awhile for the information to really sink in, so getting an early start will benefit everyone once I actually get to work in a ring at a tournament.  Tonight, College Sensei emailed me a link to the information I want to know.

Etiquette and culture fascinate me, and I’ve bugged more than one Sensei with questions.  Even on the occasion when I was reprimanded then gently lectured for an inadvertent breach of etiquette the emotional sting was offset by my inner anthropologist gleefully scribbling notes and making comparisons.  I can’t help it – I’m a total nerd.  I will continue to make observations, think about, and ask questions about why we do what we do.   Poor Sensei.

For the future

I already have a fairly good start on how to teach, at least with the college program.  I’ve also had experience teaching child beginners in a dojo setting.  Currently I’m getting opportunities to help a wider variety of ages and ranks.  I want to improve on how I teach groups.

I must admit that I find teaching advanced kata (forms) very challenging, so I need to work on actually knowing the kata well enough to teach it.  I want bunkai  and lots of it!  I can’t ever get enough of bunkai.

Some months ago there was a period of time when I had a little taste of what I’ll most likely need to do once I reach Shodan (first degree black belt) and beyond.  I spent a good bit of time teaching and therefore I  needed to create or find learning opportunities.  I did a lot of work on my own time.  I’m now enjoying a more gradual road to that place.  Because of that period of time, I know I can do a little exploration on my own.  I also learned I will always need other practitioners who know more than I do to help me go deeper into my art.

I hope I’ll always enjoy diving deeper into the art of Karate!

Author: Joelle White

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

2 thoughts on “Desiring Depth”

  1. Hi Joelle, thank you for complimenting and linking to the original article 🙂 I think it’s really nice how you’ve taken Sara’s ideas and applied them to your own journey – very interesting to read . . . X

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