Here we go with another instalment of The Uechi Chronicles, where I provide interview answers I’ve gathered from some of my longer-standing karate colleagues. I’ve actually started accumulating a number of responses, so there’ll be a few of these coming out. It’s interesting to see the different perspectives, opinions and reasons behind why all these people chose to join the martial arts and in some cases, were forced into the martial arts.
In this post, I’ll be providing JL’s answers. JL is a friend of mine from back in New Brunswick, who ironically lives and works here in Regina. A few years younger than I, I first met JL while visiting his Sensei’s dojo. His Sensei happened to be a student of my Sensei, and she had opened a dojo of her own. Since we had recently dropped from three classes a week to two, I decided to supplement my training by working out in JL’s dojo on Fridays. Since the class was entirely comprised of new students, everyone was a white belt, save for the Sensei and myself.
This being the case, when the class formed up I took the front spot to the right, which is where the most-senior belt is to stand. Turns out that this was the spot JL was accustomed to standing, despite being ranked the same as everyone else. When he walked up to the front, he confronted me and asked, “What the hell are you doing, that’s my spot!” I remember thinking I couldn’t decide whether I should laugh or punch him, but the Sensei recognized the situation and eased it for all parties concerned.
Despite that rocky start, JL would go on to be one of my oldest friends. We would train in karate together, go on to pursue the same career and despite the massive size of our country, somehow managed to inadvertently end up in the same area. Life has progressed in such a way that we don’t get to see much of each other anymore, despite living so close to each other. But we still get the opportunity to grab the occasional coffee and catch up. And that’s more than a lot of people have. Despite his busy schedule, he managed to eke out some answer for me. Here they are:
- Why did you join karate?
“Tired of being the small, weak kid. Wanted to be able to defend myself, as I was picked on every now and then while growing up.”
- When did you join karate?
“I joined when I was in Grade 9, so 1996.”
- How many years have you been training?
“I trained for 4 years. I would have continued, but I made the choice to go to college to ensure I would be ready for the rest of my life. After college, I thought of getting back into it but I wanted to get muscular, so I started hitting the gym.”
- What have you gained/hope to gain from karate?
“A little more self-confidence, some skills to defend myself and somewhat prepared me for the idea of wanting to become a police officer.”
His answers were short, succinct and less detailed than Ricky’s. But this is a good opportunity to point out that it’s never too late. I’ve had students start karate from day 1 in their 50’s and have gone on to build skill and precision and become avid martial artists. I, myself, worked through two years of college WHILE training regularly in karate. As the old saying goes, where there’s a will, there’s a way. I anticipate that once the renovations are done in my basement, I’ll be setting up a home dojo. JL, if you’re reading this, here’s and open invitation to come train for free. Hell, since I have a punching bag and a garage, that invitation is effective immediately! ☯️