I’ve often written that finding a martial style/school that suits one’s wants, needs and expectation sis a subjective thing and can be a difficult step in the journey towards learning the martial arts. In fact, it can be even worse if you’re experienced in martial arts and are trying to get back into it. this is something I learned the hard way, this week. Since you’re all here reading, allow me to elaborate…
I recently decided that as part of my commitment to better myself overall that I would seek out and join a local karate class. As most of you know, I had been training at a local school for quite some time until they shut down due to COVID-19, something that doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. In fact, we were doing classes over Zoom for a while, but lo and behold, I logged on one night to discover that it wasn’t happening and it wasn’t until I reached out that I found out that they cancelled them in lieu of starting in-person classes the following week.
I would have been nice to be told but regardless of what the situation may have been, I’ve opted for a closer dojo whose style more closely resembles my own. Located five minutes down the road from my home and boasting three classes a week instead of two, I was pretty excited to try them out and even observed a class the previous week, which proved to be a good idea as it confirmed it would be a positive experience.
I walked into the dojo on Monday night with excitement and great expectation. I changed into my gi, although I was taken aback by its’ “snugness” and walked out to the dojo floor. An advanced youth class was finishing up and I couldn’t help but observe and see the promise of the young students learning something that would stay with them for years to come. In a way, I was a bit jealous, remembering my own youth and how large a role karate had played in it.
I met the instructors and was welcomed with open arms. They included me among their ranks and class opened. We started with what I’ll describe as a “light” cardio workout because in my head, I can’t seem to picture it as anything but. However, my body responded as though I was putting it through military basic training. Everyone was required to wear masks and I thought it would be a fun gimmick to wear my yin yang mask. Big mistake! The cloth began to cling to my face and the harder I tried to breathe, the more the mask clung to my mouth and nose.
This compromised many of my techniques as I repeatedly tried to pull the mask away from my face as I trained. Besides the difficulty breathing, I had the opportunity to see myself in the dojo mirrors facing me and I have to say… I did NOT like what I saw. I’ve often spoken to friends and family members about the state of their health and gaining weight as one gets older. It’s been a significantly long time since I’ve had the opportunity to see myself in a full-length mirror and assess just how far down that rabbit hole I had fallen, myself.
I don’t consider myself out of shape, by any means. I work out consistently, although my diet often leaves something to be desired. But that first class had me feeling as though I was a tired old man. The class was only an hour in length but by the time it was done, I was coated in sweat, struggling to catch my breath and wishing I didn’t have to wear that DAMN mask. But i felt good. I went home that night with a feeling that I had taken a positive step in the right direction towards regaining some of what I lost.
I didn’t help myself by going running for an hour on Tuesday. I like to take advantage of the free access to a gym facility at my work, and since I already have some weights at home, cardio is usually my go-to in that regard. So on Wednesday night, my legs may have been a bit more tender than they COULD have been. As with all things that take effort, the more you push yourself, the more familiar and easy it potentially gets.
Although I won’t say last night was “easy” in the traditional sense, the familiarity made it possible for me to get through the workout with a bit more ease than on the Monday. So, here I am… I’ve been welcomed; in fact, they want me to demonstrate forms of my own and share techniques and learning. Sounds promising. It may have taken some time, work and effort but I may have found a place to hang my hat. Time will tell, I guess. There’s another class tonight, so wish me luck! I don’t know how much more my legs can take, this week… ☯️