Friday, July 2, 2010

Life Without Martial Arts

Martial arts have been part of my life since 1993...training, learning, teaching. My husband opened his dojo in 1995. Currently we have classes three days a week. I attend monthly workouts at the Honbu and regularly attend Federation training events. I had two lapses in training...during pregnancy and after ACL surgery. When I was pregnant, I stopped teaching at 6 months because I was making the students nervous. They were concerned about losing weapons and accidentally hitting me. I was off the dojo floor for three months after ACL surgery. I returned with a long list of restrictions.


For the past three weeks, I feel like I have been on a karate vacation and have spent considerably less time on martial arts. My tai chi instructor is out of the country. My husband has taught all the karate classes due to black belt test preparation. I work full time and my evenings are spent helping a community theater group. My daughter is in a play and the practices are in the evenings from 6:00-9:00. Parent involvement is essential. Jobs range from costumes to scenery to raffle sales. It is almost 10:00 p.m. by the time we arrive home.

Now I must confess... I have practiced a little. I went to one seminar in Altoona, attended the monthly Honbu workout and worked on the Yang long form with some of the other tai chi students.

Have you ever thought about stopping completely? What would life be like without martial arts? What would fill up my time? Would it be easy to stop training? I think about the last few weeks and wonder...so this it what life is like without martial arts....

Rick Matz from Cook Ding's Kitchen commented on a previous post that martial arts training is like gravity. I agree...it has only been a few weeks and I can feel the tug back to the dojo. I am counting down the two weeks left of play rehearsals. I look foward to tai chi class next week when my instructor returns. I am planning to participate in the last few sessions of black belt testing at our dojo. Next weekend, I will be at a 3 day Federation seminar.

Thank goodness for gravity!

14 comments:

Frank said...

With the 4th of July coming, we have our usual free class on Saturday, and then we won't have another until the following Thursday. I'm only a yellow-belt, (soon to be testing for orange), but karate is something that's always been part of who I am, and without it, I'm sure other things would rush in to fill that void of time, but I would regret not seeing it through at least to black-belt.

My big life motto is, "No regrets." This means that I don't spend a lot of time in the past poring over what might have been, but it also means that I live so that I have nothing to regret, so there's no way that I could quit, even if I wanted to, so even when I don't feel like going to class, I do. Afterward, I'm always glad that I went. :-)

Sandman said...

Actually I did quit martial arts training once. I started training in Shito Ryu karate as a kid, and stuck with it until I was almost 18, and then I got burned out and quit. I stayed out for about 15 years. During that time I went to college, then got different jobs and moved around the country a bit, got married, and finally had kids. But I often thought about returning to karate training - I missed it. I finally got back into it a few years ago when I found a Yoshukai karate dojo, and now I just can't imagine life without my karate training. Even if circumstances prevented me from being in a dojo, I'd still have to find a way train on my own.

Rick said...

I stopped for a number of years (14 or 15) when my kids were small so I could focus on what was important - them. When my youngest got her drivers license, I began training in earnest again.

Michele said...

Thank you for commenting!

Frank: I know what you mean about "things would rush in to fill that void of time". My time spent on martial arts would fill up quickly with other activities.

Sandman: Gravity! :)

Rick: Your comments always make me think. :) As a parent, I struggle with this one. When my daughter was born, I planned to return to work full time. I could not do it. I quit my job and became a stay-at-home Mom. I worked part-time in the evenings and on weekends. When my daughter started 1st grade, I returned to work full time.

Managing/balancing my time is harder now than when she was young. It makes it easier having the dojo at home. If I am teaching, she is often in the dojo doing homework, reading or playing her games. Even though she does not take class...the dojo is part of her life due to proximity.

One of my good friends has 6 boys who are now out of high school. She always tells me they needed her more as teenagers than they did as toddlers. Time will tell..

I agree with you on what is important.

Nicola said...

Hi Michele, for me I can't imagine life without martial arts now - have only been doing a couple of years but it has been the best thing I have done. I have had a small injury and not been at tkd training for the last three weeks - I miss it in my veins and heart and brain and everywhere, I miss the people - I even went back last week just to be there even though I wasn't really up to holding pads.

I'm going to try that tomorrow though - can't wait :) My self discipline seems to have gone to pieces at the same time as some of my muscles did - now they're getting better, I need to persuade my undisciplined self to do the same :)

Love - thank goodness for gravity !

Felicia said...

Gravity - I like that! And so true, too. I'm sure I would find a way to fill that "spare" time if I stopped, but it's too tough to even think about that, LOL...

I hadn't started training in MA when I was pregnant, but I was still competing in track. I stopped training at 6 months or so as well and went back about two weeks after my son was born (I know, I know...). Since I started MA, though, I had only one big break - for about six weeks after a major surgery. The absolute L-O-N-G-E-S-T six weeks of my life! It was really tough - so much so that I couldn't even go to just be a part of the "groove" as I thought I'd be unable to control myself, jump into kihon and pop some stitches or something...

My son is now a teen (16 yrs old and a soon-to-be-senior) so I have to tell you that your friend is right about their need for you increasing as they get older. Brace yourself, darling!

Michele said...

Hi Nicola: Thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog! I am glad your injury is feeling better.

During my ACL recovery, I used to sit in the back of the dojo with my leg in a brace and crutches leaning against the wall. I missed the people...

Felicia: I started bracing. :) My daughter is already talking about dating...at 11 years old! It was the fastest "No!" I ever said.

Frank said...

Due to the long weekend, we didn't have our normal Monday class. My wife and I both kinda' sat around and said, "Dang... There's no karate, tonight." LOL

We went to the basement dojo and worked on kata and charts for a little while, but it just wasn't the same.

Journeyman said...

As much as I love the martial arts, from time to time it is a battle to go to class. There are always reasons not to go, and often valid ones. The thing that I know is that with the exception of once or twice, every time I've ever talked myself out of going, I've regretted it.

There are times you simply can't go and there are times when other things should and do take priority. The interesting thing is that the studying and the practice of the arts are as much a part of who we are as many of our other commitments indicate. With the arts and with life, it is a matter of balance.

Have I taken breaks, both forced and voluntary? Yes. Can I imagine life without martial arts? Absolutely not.

Journeyman

Michele said...

Journeyman: Thanks for commenting. I was at a training event this weekend. Kyoshi Bill Hayes was one of the guest instructors. He actually discussed how students can deal with those times when we don't feel like going to class. Kyoshi Hayes told us to approach our training with a "beginners mind". He told us to remember how we felt when we first started learning...to remember the excitement of going to class.

It was an excellent training weekend!

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Darrel said...

You are a lovely woman, I admire you for that. Even when you are pregnant you are on the go. I guess you really love the sport and with that, you are an inspiration. Thanks for sharing your story.

T. said...

I actually do take literal martial arts vacations: as a college student, I can't train in Karate because it meets only during the semester. As for TKD, that's only if I am at the college campus during the summer. Otherwise, I'm either working in an unfamiliar city (too short to just drop by in a school, in my opinion, though the ones that have let me have been very gracious.)

I always feel the "tug" of class, but mostly, the "tug" to train. Class helps you train, but it's not the only way. Training happens in a lot of ways: being patient when trying to master a tough skill (i.e. the LSAT) or being mindful of your health (i.e. diet). I always feel like I am doing martial arts in some sort of way, even if it is not the literal motions of working out or running through drills.

Anonymous said...

I have stopped completely from 2003-2009. I left martial arts due to history of wrong choices by my former teachers at Taekwondo school. I still consider 6-7 years of professional dance career as part of martial arts practice because it did in fact made me a better martial artist now. I am back, practicing full time at a local Aikido dojo and I have wonderful teachers here. However, leaving was the safest and the most sane choice I have made. I am a better person for it.
Ksenia