Of Martial Arts

My martial arts journey this far.

Photo by Thao Le Hoang on Unsplash

I’ve been doing martial arts for a little over a decade now. I would love to tell you a story of a child prodigy, but that’s a lie. I was an awkward, overweight adult when I started.

I had just come to the decision that I needed to learn how to defend myself because my work was expanding hours when one of my customers invited me to try out his martial art. I went and brought along my best friend because I wanted someone on my side in case things weren’t on the up and up.

That first class was awesome. And painful. I remember borrowing a gi top because tank tops are not made for grappling. The class was a mix of basics and higher level techniques with a little bit of modern applications thrown in.

Needless to say, I was hooked. My best friend, not so much. I went back the next week. And the week after that.

We moved out into the park where I learned the important lesson of clearing the rolling area of sticks because they hurt. I learned the wrong way how to roll, but no one seemed to believe me that it hurt and I was getting bruises.

Until another instructor visited our class. He set me straight and made it so things didn’t hurt so much.

And just when things were going great, my instructor stopped teaching. The guy that invited me and I were now teacher-less.

We bounced from seminar to seminar, mostly ronin and training with each other even though neither one of us had reached instructor level. We lucked out and found another teacher to train us, but it meant an hour drive each way to see her.

I found out I was behind and my rolls really needed work (guess what, even after the one guy’s help, I still was doing them wrong). My training smoothed out and became consistent. I grew as a student and as a person.

I was a better, happier person when I trained.

My instructor decided I was ready and tested me for my black belt. Being her student (and friends with the guy who knows EVERYONE) meant that the turnout for my test was crazy. Talk about pressure.

I passed (not with flying colors, but well above minimal level). She smacked me on the head with a padded sword even though I had ducked under it, but I swear the sword has a mind of its own. And I realized something.

It was just a belt and that I had a lot more to learn. Like I had barely scratched the surface.

I trained harder and went to every seminar I could. I’d hate to tally up the amount of money I’ve dropped on weapons, training clothes, and seminars over the last decade and I’m fairly frugal compared to some of the other people who do this art.

And then, my instructor got hurt. She broke her ankle at a seminar. It lead to other issues that caused her to have to take a break from teaching.

Ronin again, but my training partner had permission to teach.

We managed to get some mat space at a local dojo and held class twice a week for the low price of teaching a kids’ class. My partner got his teaching certificate.

He decided he still didn’t know enough, so he found a new instructor and I was left without a teacher. I was too broke to afford the cost of class.

My training suffered. My mood suffered. My relationships suffered.

I found a way to afford class and the instructor agreed to train me. On my first class back, I realized how many gaps my training held and how much I had forgotten. People who had been behind me were now light years ahead of me. I really didn’t feel worthy of my rank.

I trained harder and gave it my all in class. I learned that I STILL wasn’t doing rolls correctly (a decade later). I am constantly confused in class, but that’s a good thing because it means I’m learning.

Last week, I did a dive roll over something that is as high as my knees. That’s major progress considering I chickened out of a tiny dive roll at a seminar a few years back.

Most of what I’ve gained from this journey is a weird group of friends that likes to beat each other up. But I’ve also learned that I am stronger and more resilient that I think I am. I still don’t feel worthy of my rank, but that makes me work harder to be worthy.

I can’t wait to see what the next decade holds.

Weekly Goals

Write 7K works: Success. All the writing folks.

Go to the gym twice: Success.

Go to class: Success with a dive roll (minimum hesitation).

Sew ten dice bags: Success. Amazing what having an order looming over you will do.

Read one book: Success. I read Besieged by Kevin Hearne. I’m a little sad that this series is over, but he’s starting another one set in the same universe.

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