This article is a two-parter. I spent about three or four years training in karate when I was in junior high and high school. The two blogs are two stories from my past. I hope they contrast the differences between how I feel about the events years later. In one situation, I chose to fight. In the other, I chose not to fight immediately and ended up not having to fight at all. I think I made the right choices, and looking back, I’m amazed at how very young I was when I had to face those choices.
Part One – The Incident
One day as my daughter and I checked in to the fitness center for water exercise class, the man working the front desk asked if we’d ever had to use our karate. He was just being friendly, showing that he remembers what classes we take, and that’s fine. I was less than truthful with my answer, “Good Heavens – no.” As I gathered a clean towel from the counter, I wrongfully indulged in self-justification by telling myself the check-in line had to be kept moving so I didn’t have time to get into details. I wish I hadn’t been so reluctant to talk. It might have done the man good to hear, “No, my daughter has never had to use karate and I haven’t had to use karate since I resumed training almost three months ago. I did use karate once a long time ago when I was a kid. I don’ t like talking about it.” That wouldn’t have taken long to say.
About half an hour later I had to confront memories of “The Incident” again from a different angle as we were doing a gentle exercise in the pool. I was asked, “Why did you home school your kids?” An innocent question, yet it triggered memories. I simply gave the top two of my many reasons, but lurking in the back of my mind was “The Incident,” which is the number 3 reason I chose to home school.
The next day, I realized that if I was confronted with “The Incident” twice in the space of an hour, I can’t avoid it forever. The visceral emotional reactions had to be dealt with. I wrote out a narrative. I analyzed. I turned it around. I have five positives that I can tell myself and others. Five positives to help me take the deep breaths that will overcome the nausea and tightness in my throat when I think about “The Incident.”
1) I got myself out of ongoing physical abuse that nobody was willing to help me with. And I mean nobody – I asked.
2) Nobody laid a finger on me ever again.
3) I used only the force needed to make the point that I could take care of myself. No one was seriously hurt, and that was by my design.
4) Given my very young age at the time, I made the best choices I could have made before, during, and after the incident.
5) I’d really rather talk about the time when I made the choice not to fight and therefore avoided the possibility of an international incident between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. near the end of the Cold War. OK, maybe I’m exaggerating my own importance, but it does make a great teaser! It’s a fun story, although at the time I was literally running scared. Stay tuned for Part Two!
I guess I’m starting to get the picture that there’s a lot more to karate than all the cool stuff we do in class.