Saturday, January 19, 2008

Karate Memories

Starting a blog has made me reflect on my karate journey. There are a few moments that stand out as having a major impact on my path.


It was the mid 1990's and I just tested for 1st kyu brown belt. The test took most of the afternoon and a group of students and instructors went out to dinner after testing. As we were sitting eating, my instructor turned to me and said "I will see you test for Renshi one day" and then went back to eating his dinner. WHAT? I looked around the table to see if anyone else heard. A Renshi is a 4th degree black belt or higher that has received their teacher license from the Federation. At the time I was looking ahead towards my Shodan testing. Those few words had a great impact on me. My goal had always been Renshi and a Teacher License but knowing that my instructor saw that path for me when I was a brown belt was incredible.

The Best Karate Compliment
It was the mid 1990's and the Grandmaster of our style came to visit the United States from Okinawa. I was a shy green belt at the time. During his visit there were several training sessions and the school put on a demonstration. Before his departure the Grandmaster shook the hands of all the students. When it was my turn he shook my hand and said "Good, strong green belt".

I am sure you are wondering how moving can impact my karate journey. I think this may have had the biggest impact. My husband is about three years older in karate than I am. We have the same teachers but never really trained together for I was a green belt when he earned his black. He is a natural teacher and longed to start his own school. After he received the proper permissions he started looking for a location. What he found was an abandoned inn that would eventually be a house/dojo. Today I am involved with two dojos. The first one is the Federation Honbu which I will forever call home. This is the dojo where my instructors are and where I go to train. The second dojo is the one that my husband started and where I teach.

The Grandmaster
It was usually summertime when the Grandmaster would visit. The Federation would sponsor a training camp and people from all over the US would travel to train with the Grandmaster. After this particular training the participants decided to have a picnic. The picnic ended up being at my house. We had just bought an abandoned old inn and were converting it into a house and a dojo. The house needed work ... a lot of work... but we still had the picnic there anyway. The Grandmaster liked the house/dojo. It was a great honor to have him at the house.

These are some of the moments that jump out immediately. It is interesting that many of them were when I was a kyu rank. I am sure that I will have more to post on this topic.


BobSpar said...

I keep wanting to say "Wow" in response to your posts, Michele. Rehabbing an inn and turning it into a home and a dojo sounds fascinating--and impossible for me to do, lacking sufficient skills in either karate or home improvement!

Michele said...

The house is a challenge and there is always work to be done. The house is dated around 1790. The dojo portion on the building was added around 1950. At one time it was a bar/restaurant and the bar/back bar is still intact but not operating. The dojo office sits on the stage where the bands used to play. It has been 12 years and I do not think it will ever be completely finished!

Hack Shaft said...

I will always remember my last belt test as a teenager taking traditional Tae Kwon Do.

With emphasis on kicks, the tests included a board break with a specific kick. And that one, for Green Belt with a blue stripe, AXE kick!

When done right, it's a powerful kick that requires a lot of flexibility, control, balance, and explosive acceleration from its apex. Done properly, you practically hit yourself in the chest with your kicking leg while the foot is pointed at the ceiling.

I took perhaps 3 or 4 tries to get it, but managed to break a board held at about head-height.

To this day, it's still one of my favorite kicks to execute!

Michele said...

Hack Shaft,

Great story! I can see why an axe kick is one of your favorites.