Sunday, October 17, 2010

First Posting

It has been a few years now since my kids have moved out on their own. Life became much quieter. I decided it was time for some changes. Some people call this a Mid Life Crisis. I would have to call it something like a New Life Beginning.
I initially wrote this in February 2009.

I love both my kids and I am very proud of them. They are both doing well and we have a close relationship. As a parent, it was my job to bring these guys into this world and get them started. Now, with this underway, it is time for me to do something for me.

One of the first things I decided to do was to get myself in shape. The following is that journey.

I started this blog with a bit of a different purpose. I have been working very hard at getting in better shape and losing weight. For a year I have worked very hard at this and met, then surpassed, my goals. I lost 80 pounds and felt tremendously better for it. Now what??

I still had more weight I wanted to lose but I felt I needed some kind of direction or sense of purpose in what I was doing. The thought of joining a gym did nothing for me. Over the course of the last year I had equipped a workout room in our house with some very good equipment. I didn’t need or want to join a fitness club. I needed something else. I really liked the idea of learning how to use ancient weapons such as Japanese Kendo but there was just nothing in my area. Next I looked at boxing but I just didn’t want to actually have to try to beat someone up, or worse, get beaten up. Next, I thought about martial arts. This seemed like it might be a possibility if it wasn’t like boxing. So the search was on.

In the small town area I live in, I wasn’t sure what I was going to be able to find and initially, I couldn’t find anything. Then one day on my way home from work I noticed an insignia in the upper floor window of a building I drove by every working day. There it was, Sakura Martial Arts Academy.

I got the phone number and called and talked to the head instructor, Laurie Winter, (not Sensei at this time) a couple of times. I think she could tell I was very reluctant to try this but she gently encouraged me to come in and just give a try a couple of times with no obligation to go any further. So I thought, why not.

When I showed up my first night I had no idea what I was doing. I managed to make it through the first class, barely. I felt so out of place. Here were all these people moving with such grace and speed, dressed in their white uniforms, and here I was. I felt like such an uncoordinated klutz dressed in my sweat pants and t-shirt.  When I left, I could hardly walk down the stairs. I thought as I was making my way to my car, “well, that sure made me feel stupid and weak."  And then much to my own amazement, I went back again two nights later. I was still quite sore from the first night but there was something that happened there that first night that I just couldn’t quite put my finger on so I had to go back.

Again, there I was, dressed in my sweats and t-shirt trying to follow along. I still felt felt like a bit of a fool but I began to notice something. Even though everyone else there had much more experience that I did (and were dressed better), I noticed that no one was bothered with my slow pace or inability to follow perfectly along with this Asian form of line dancing. If fact, I noticed that everyone there was very encouraging.  Everyone wanted to help. The instructor showed so much patience with me. She would work right with me, making sure I understood and could see all of these intricate moves. Then at the end of the class, a brown belt came up to me and asked if I had a couple of minutes so he could help me with this first dance I was trying to follow. He told me to take my time, move slowly and just work on the first three moves. That was all I had to do. So I spent about half an hour after class doing this. The head instructor also joined in after she had said a few words with every other student there.

I couldn’t believe what was happening. I was being welcomed into this group of people. They were all so welcoming. No one gave me a feeling that I was interfering with their training. This was not what I expected.

To date, I have been attending for about two months. I still feel like a bit of a spaz but I am not afraid of feeling that way. It is only saying to me now that I have lots to learn and these people want to help me learn.  Sensei Laurie is a true inspiration to all of her students.

I have watched her work with black belt students at speeds I didn’t think the human body could achieve and in the very next step work with a little 6 year old girl showing tremendous patience and care. I am so impressed with the talents and devotion of Sensei Laurie. It was just a couple of years ago she was involved in a very serious car accident. She suffered some injuries that would have stopped many people from continuing in such a sport. But she stuck to her beliefs, fought an unbelievable fight and her she is, my Sensei.

I feel very fortunate to have seen that window on my way home that day. Why I just happened to look up at that time to see it, who knows? I think I do. Now here I am, wearing my Gi and a belt representing purity and humility. I am about to go through my first grading. I was so pleased when Sensei told me I would be grading for my first stripe. I will not let her down. I have become a devoted student and I work very hard at increasing my knowledge and skills. Maybe one day I can help train some other newcomer like myself. I look forward to the opportunity.

As I sat in class one night, we were talking about some of the fundamentals of the Goju-Ryu Karate and I could easily see how it could inspire mind and body. With this in mind, I started this blog.

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