To be quite frank, the first time I entered a dojo it was out of curiosity, not inspiration. I was thirteen and had always wondered about that dojo across the street from the ice skating rink. At first, I signed up for a six-week community center class (Tang Soo Do Karate) just to see if I liked it. I didn’t know what to expect – when would I be breaking boards? What did Karate people do, anyhow? In just half an hour, the art of Karate itself became my inspiration. In the first few minutes of the first lesson, I learned how to make a fist properly – I was tucking my thumb inside (YIKE!). Then I learned to punch. I went from being scared of bullies to being empowered against them. The dojo across the street from the ice rink offered more classes and no three-week gaps between sessions, so I signed up – switching styles wasn’t at all hard at that point (Hayashi-Ha Shito Ryu Karate). As I learned more, I grew stronger, more capable, and a lot more confident about walking the halls. I even used my skills appropriately to end ongoing physical abuse at school after I’d exhausted all other channels. I found I loved kata, and I reveled in the sense of freedom and command that performing kata well brought me.
If you want to read the story about why I stopped, you can read about it on my blog here.
I began training again six months and two days ago in Shindo Jinen Ryu Karate (my old dojo shut down years ago). That’s my second beginning. But what about the Five Inspirations of my second beginning? Three of them are black belts. My older daughter took both Karate classes offered at community college, then continued at the YMCA. I got involved with volunteer work for tournaments, and of course went to pizza parties afterwards, not to mention the usual chit chat parents sometimes have with kids’ instructors. So that’s one Sensei from college, two from the Y who started nudging and encouraging me to get back on the mats again. If you’ve guessed my older daughter is my fourth inspiration, you’ve guessed correctly. But what about the fifth inspiration?
My fifth inspiration is my younger daughter, who is autistic. I don’t know how long she will need to live with us. She is a tender soul who abhors violence and hates loud noise – I’m thinking if she ever takes up a Martial Art it might have to be something like Aikido. I’ve always been my girls’ bodyguard ever since I saw the little line appear on the pregnancy tests, but as one daughter is taking charge of her own safety, I need to make sure my younger daughter is taken care of. If that means I punish my body until I sweat and ache, so be it. It’s worth it.
Don’t get me wrong, the art of Karate itself still serves as an inspiration, and I have many, many martial artists who I look up to. But these are the main inspirations.