35 Years and Still Training

Within my first couple of years of training in Karate I knew without a doubt I would do it for the rest of my life.  I just knew I would find a way.  It spoke to me; it fed my soul.  This is not to say I was coordinated or skilled athletically. I’m not a karate prodigy.  The drills and forms made sense to me, repetition and discipline made sense, and as I got better and better, it drew me in further.  I was tremendously blessed with a great instructor and without him I would not be the karate student or teacher that I am today.  Luckily to this day there is still so much more I want to learn.  As I have gotten older, I realize how much I have learned and how much more there is to learn, so much more. Strangely, it has taught me how little I know about karate.  It has taught me so much in addition to self-defense.  It has taught me about myself.  It may sound cliché, but Karatedo is much more than punching and kicking, it truly is a way of life and has taught me about mine.

The pandemic, ugh!  Talk about a test of perseverance.  As an instructor you are always concerned with the heath and welfare of your students but trying to figure out how to protect and provide for your students with confusing public information and the uncertainty of something new and unknown is challenging.  Then all the restrictions, lockdowns, and mandates placed on a small school running on a shoestring becomes a juggling act of a lifetime.  To me it is a miracle that my dojo still exists.  Through all this there was never a doubt that I would continue to do Karate.  Sadly, I did wonder if I would still have a dojo or students. Since the pandemic is not over, I still wonder if we will make it.  So many small businesses have not survived the pandemic, not to mention martial arts schools were already in a saturated market.

I have been doing Karate since I was a teenager which now means most of my life.  There have been a few little breaks along the way mainly due to injuries, non-karate related of course, but never a “stop, done, no more”.  It is funny, I have coworkers that tease me because I’m not good at pop-culture trivia for the 80s, 90s, and 2000s.  They jokingly ask me where were you?  I smile and tell them… In the early years I was in school and the dojo, and in the later years I was at work and the dojo.

Karate has got me through so many things.  It has been my motivator for recovery from injuries.  It has been my rock to keep me grounded in bumpy times.  It has been what calms me when life is swirling.  I don’t know who wrote the quote below, but I like it.

“When you’re afraid. Just Train!

When something doesn’t feel right just train!

When you don’t believe in yourself anymore. Just Train!

The only thing that won’t betray you is your training”

My students have only added to my motivation and drive.  Karate for me as a student will never end; karate for me the instructor/school owner is yet uncertain.  The pandemic and the change in culture/interest in martial arts see the future of martial arts schools as shrinking.  Maybe it is full circle, maybe we are dying off into a secret sect of teacher and student as it once was.  The only thing I know for certain is in one form or another I will do it till I die.