I received my white belt last night in karate. YAY ME! I was describing what the class was like last night, what Sensei Marissa put us through, and she responded by saying she would have just curled up in a ball and cried. And that sort of made me stop and think about it. Karate has certainly taken me out of my comfort zone. While I don’t have any problem talking in front groups of people, I don’t have many phobias (those damn centipedes though do make me screech like a crazy person and yell JESUSMARYANDJOSEPH when they show up where they don’t belong, like inside a mixing bowl I just pulled out of the cupboard) and anyone who has seen me talk will attest to the volume and amount of hand flailing that is often involved. But I am not a physically aggressive person. I have to put up with a lot of wrestling and blocking of hurling bodies with my child these days, but in general I am pretty passive physically. Karate requires you to use your arms and legs and voice in a way that it totally foreign.
Last night we had to demonstrate we knew the basic punches, kicks, blocks and evasive moves we have been taught so far, plus move through the first 6 or so moves of the first form, the Fuji kata dai ichi, we have been taught. To demonstrate punches and kicks, we had to go through a short obstacle course, then punch or kick a punching bag. Demonstrating blocks and evasive moves was a little more interesting. She stood on the opposite side of the room, and told us to run at her, and she was either going to attempt to strike us with a small pad on a stick. It was like those boppers you can get for your kids to beat each other with. The first issue here is I DO NOT RUN. Really. At best you might get a jog out of me. But to run AT someone goes against all of my basic instincts to avoid running into other people, or even touching people. Plus she was going to swing something at me with the sole purpose of me then blocking said strike. This is as much a mental exercise as it is a physical exercise. More so actually. Because while I totally know how to put my arm up, or down, to block a strike, the act of running at someone and then do this action, is something I really had to tell myself OK NOW DO IT. The same was for evasive actions. We had to run at her, and she had these foam noodles she used to attempt to hit us, and we had to dodge or jump over.
So when my friend said she would have just curled up and cried, I realized that in fact, most of us probably wouldn’t feel comfortable doing these things. But in order to do this well, you have to get past that mental block, and do things, physical things. You have to embrace defending yourself, as well as be willing to strike another person. I very much did experience this moment of “How stupid will I look” or “I hope I don’t hurt myself, or Sensei for that matter” because she is tiny and I could crush her just by sitting on her. But I still went ahead and did it. I ran up to her, I blocked and dodged and did my kata. And got my belt. I am just happy no one video taped it like the parents of these twins.
Onward to an orange belt.