Shifting Dreams

Like most karateka I have a long-term goal of earning Shodan (first degree black belt). I’d like to earn more degrees after that too. But there’s so much more to Karate than the belts. For quite some time I’ve known what I’d like to possibly be in the future – sensei, referee, coach, bunkai expert… But the main focus of my hopes and dreams is gone.  The good news is that big dream could shift and morph into something else.

For most of the last three years I’ve dreamed of being a junior instructor at two particular dojo. I was very heavily invested in those dojo, but due to circumstances beyond any karateka’s control those dojo don’t exist anymore. From what I know of the history of our organization in this state it’s not unusual for dojo to move or close down and for new ones to open. The shifts so far have been due to changes in the host facilities. There are worse reasons for dojo to shut down and we’ve been very fortunate to have never experienced anything truly dreadful. Still, it’s hard and I do mourn a little when I think about those two dojo.

I admit part of why I dreamed of teaching at those two particular dojo is because I felt the pull of being desperately needed. I had responsibilities beyond the rank I was because there was no one else. Maybe I naturally felt this was my destiny because that’s the way things were when I was a teenager. I trained for three years under the auspices of another organization. When a group left that organization, one of the two dojo sensei went with them. He left a big gap, especially because the dojo sensei was pregnant with her first child and needed the help. She saw potential in me – a scrawny little intermediate-ranked teenage girl. I began teaching “first lesson is free” people, getting new white belts ready to join the main class, and leading the opening ceremony and warm-ups. As an adult re-starting Karate, when I found myself as one of two senior students in one dojo and the senior student in the other it was natural for me to dream along the same path I had been and was going.

Most people would say the dream has died. I don’t think “died” is the right word. Maybe that dream is like a seed – it has the appearance of being dead, but someday I might come back to the spot where I laid it aside and I’ll find something new and beautiful growing there. But for right now I can’t base my dreams on a desperate need because there is no desperate need for me right now.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am very much valued at my new home dojo. I do still contribute significantly to the functioning of my dojo. I very much appreciate having many people who outrank me instead of just one or two. I’m thoroughly enjoying a good balance of giving and receiving. I’m sure I’ll find a new niche I can grow into. It’ll just take time. I still need to develop skills both in old areas and new and it’s nice to have the time and space to grow. I’m sure someday there will be some path that I can claim as my main road – a path that will benefit others as well. It’s just that right now my vision of the future is pretty hazy. And that’s all right for the time being.

One thing I have learned from 47 years of spinning around on this planet is that one has to adapt and change to circumstances. Dreams and visions of the future keep us going but it’s not the end of the world when they have to be changed. Sometimes it’s OK to be in a place where one is looking for a new vision. For now I’ll just keep going for the sake of the love I have for my art and for my fellow karateka. I’m sure the rest will fall into place at the right time. Looking back, I can see that it always has.


What’s really funny about this blog post is I wrote the draft before reading Andrea Harkins’ recent article, “Find Clarity in Your Life” and discovered that what I was writing dovetailed beautifully with what she had to say.  I’ve been reading her blog for three years now so it’s no wonder I ended my article on the same note as hers.  I must say, Andrea is an excellent teacher 🙂

Author: Joelle White

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

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