Joelle White – 2015 Year in Review

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My daily life is more-or-less controlled chaos as I strive to balance work, life, and Karate.

I am up at 5:00 most mornings and by 7:45 AM I’ve already walked the dog for an hour.  During dark winter mornings this means going down one street for four blocks – 0.2 miles (0.32 kilometers) elevation loss of 120 feet (36.6 meters), up that same street, down the next street, up the next, etc. usually I can get in three and a half or four streets.  If I have more morning daylight and if circumstances are favorable, I take longer and more interesting walks involving creeks, forests, and beaches.  This means I go from 320 feet (97.5 meters) to sea level – and back up (sometimes winding my way up a steep bluff trail for the first three quarters of that elevation gain).  I would like to start doing pushups, situps, and stretches after coming home and feeding the dog.

I am active in three dojos and visit others occasionally (all within our Karate organization and all teaching the same style).  I go on as many adventures as I can – seminars, camp, tournaments, etc.  Usually I’m training five days per week, but really I sometimes don’t get all that much of a workout because I do have some teaching responsibilities even though I’m only 6th kyu. In a nutshell, desperate times call for desperate measures.  Fortunately, I’m doing well with this.  Really, sooner or later I’d have to get training however, wherever, and whenever I can, so it looks like this is good practice for when I’m a black belt.  Anyhow, I really ought to try to work in more practice time for myself on days when I have been teaching.

Two days per week I swim for fun (no laps) with one of my daughters, I do water fitness exercise (I used to substitute teach), and I stretch.  This is a great way to ease the aches and pains I accumulate 🙂


  • My goals were too low

Goal 1:  Go to at least one tournament.  I went to five.

I view tournaments as great practice for belt tests.  My advice – stay loose, have fun, look for the lessons you’re supposed to learn.

Goal 2: Calm down and “play” when sparring.  Huge strides this year.

I can’t say I won’t ever feel fear, anger, or anything negative ever again because I am only human and I have a feeling that at some point, perhaps many points, in the future I will be pushed really, really hard.  However, I can build on what I’ve learned about myself this year.  My advice:  Keep getting in the ring and spar with the highest ranked people whenever you can.

Goal 3: Deeper stances.  Yep, they’re deeper.

Now I gotta get them deeper still.  And consistent.  And good form.  And…  My advice – feel the burn.  Always.

Goal 4: Learn Pinan Nidan kata (form) and polish it for promotion.  I have to laugh at this one.

I’ve finished all five katas in the Pinan series and am currently working on Bassai Dai.  My advice – be patient with the process. Learn your learning preferences and communicate them clearly.

Goal 5:  Land a job at the YMCA as a shallow water aerobics instructor.  Done and actually over with.

The Y cut the two classes I substituted for most often.  Then I got a new job right next door to one of the dojos I’m active in.  There’s something really fun about stashing one’s gi in a locker on Monday mornings 🙂  My advice – a little self confidence goes a long way.


  • Injuries and Illnesses and Shennanigans

Goal 1 – Go to at least one tournament.  I went to five but I could’ve gone to seven.

However, I have good excuses for missing the two.  I don’t particularly care to share details of what I learned because it involves other people.  I really don’t think I’d do anything differently, so I really don’t have regrets.  So could this be called a setback?  Not in my book, but it’s the closest thing I have because all the tournaments were good learning experiences.

Goal 2 – Calm down and “play” when sparring.  I truly learned the battle is not with my opponent, but with myself.

This was a very slow process for me and involved facing my inner demons.  I’d started to get a handle on fear when anger reared its ugly head.  I learned these negative emotions are crippling.  I’m much better now at recognizing when I’m about to hamstring myself.  I think building my toolbox of techniques and strategies will continue to help.  I have to remind myself this is an elaborate game of tag.

Goal 3 – Deeper stances.  If I’m ill or injured I lose ground.  However, I can always rebuild.

Goal 4 – Learn Pinan Nidan kata (form) and polish it for promotion.  I don’t remember much about learning Pinan Nidan so I can’t write about my setbacks 🙂

Goal 5:  Land a job at the YMCA as a shallow water aerobics instructor.  I learned that I am employable even with a 20 year gap on my resume.

I also learned that persistence and patience are vital to getting a new job, as is the discipline to look for and apply for jobs.  Self confidence comes into play both for not getting discouraged during the search process and during interviews.  What I would do differently – honestly, nothing – it wasn’t my fault the Y needed more pool time for swim lessons (one of the few things that actually bring money into the Y) and really, I got a better job so all’s well that ends well.