Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Karate Roles

My husband and I are both black belt students of the Federation Honbu dojo. My husband is the chief instructor of his own dojo, which he started in 1995. That is the dojo where I teach. It is also where I live because the dojo and our house are connected. So, let us see, that makes me a student, an instructor and a karate spouse.

My first role in karate will always be student. I learn each time I step in the dojo. The ACL surgery and recovery had me examining my movement and technique with a fine-tooth comb. I finally feel “normal” again. We have been working on bunkai recently. Some people have natural ability when it comes to bunkai. Unfortunately, I am not one of those people. I have to work hard at bunkai. The good news is that it has gotten much easier over time.

I take the role of instructor seriously. I study traditional Okinawa Kenpo Karate & Kobudo. It is amazing to be part of a 300-year history. I enjoy seeing students develop a love for martial arts. I hear their enthusiasm when they talk about it or ask questions. Being an instructor is hard sometimes. With all things, students come and go for various reasons. The hardest thing for me to understand are the students that quit right before black belt testing. Many cannot or do not want to make the training commitment needed to prepare for testing. For an instructor, this is heartbreaking.

My husband and I do not train together. I know, it sounds ridiculous, but it is true. When I first started karate, he was a black belt. He was a class instructor at the Honbu. We arranged our schedules so that he would not be my class instructor. He wanted me to find my own path and I am grateful. Do not get me wrong, we talk about karate, work through bunkai problems and discuss techniques. When I was a green belt, we were preparing a self-defense demonstration for a local shopping mall. We practiced for several days. On the day of the demonstration, right before it was our turn; he wanted to change the routine. No way! That was the last time we did a self-defense demo together.

To the spouses and children of karate practitioners, I applaud you. Being a karate wife, mother, husband or child requires a lot of understanding. It is not an easy job. There have been many nights were we ate dinner after nine o’clock. Tournaments, training camps and extra workouts mean time away from home. I often wonder how my daughter views karate.

Sometimes, it is hard for me to juggle.


Slop -n- Goulash: Dinner of Champions! said...

You are lucky - I wish my hubby would take karate with me but he is just not interested. It would be so cool to have someone to practice choke holds and strangle holds on...hey, what's stopping me, right? LOL Just kidding!

Michele said...

Martial Arts Mom: Exactly! It is nice to have someone close at hand when working on a new technique or kata. When I was a yellow belt, my husband tried to startle me as he came around the corner. He was testing my reactions. I yelped. Then I proceeded to punch him in the stomach. I felt terrible but he understood it was just a reaction. He never tried to scare me again.

Anonymous said...

My wife and I discuss kata and techniques all the time. We have no choice but to practice Arnis together because it takes two. But in class, sometimes it can get a little tense between us. It can be tough taking criticism from each other at times. It also doesn't help that I am almost twice her size and that can make practicing certain things hard for both of us.

Still, all things considered I think we're fortunate that we have each other to train with and that for the most part we can do it without getting angry at each other. We've just had to learn when to give it a rest.

Michele said...

MALS: My husband and I have found a good balance. It is great to have someone who shares the same enthusiam for martial arts. However, we are not the best training partners because our approach and the way we learn is different. I think the best way to describe it is that we train "parallel".

Potatoe Fist said...

I'm not sure how my wife views my hobby of five years, but she is very verbal in her disapproval of my participation in the kumite portion of competitions.

Michele said...

Potato Fist: Thank you for your comments. Even though my husband and I are both black belts, there have been times when I voice my disproval. He has had two shoulder surgeries, a knee, thumb and elbow. He stills spars even though he shouldn't. There are times when I have to speak as his wife and not as a fellow karateka.