I took my son to karate classes and found that I didn’t like being a passive spectator. Two weeks later, I found myself on the Dojo (in Japanese it means the place where you learn the martial art) learning various stances and kicks. For this I express my deepest gratitude to my sensei or karate teacher, who was concerned about the less number of women attending karate classes in the city. A dark sturdy man in his late thirties, sensei was a real inspiration. He expressed his interest to create a pool of women – of all ages – who can not only use self-defense when attacked but can also strike back at the enemy with sheer confidence in a given situation. Unfortunately, very few women even to this day are inspired to take up lessons on martial art, while violence incidents against women are on the rise!
But for those who think karate is just about bashing your enemies, let me explain a little more. More than the ‘fights’ – the striking punches and the dazzling kicks, karate is a way of life! It is about releasing the stress or anxiety which we come across in our daily lives. It is about working harmoniously with people who share a common interest. It’s about developing your sense of balance, power of concentration, infusing discipline and respect that leads to some kind of goal orientation.
Inspired by sensei, I managed to motivate two more mothers who bring their kids for classes. We were the first batch of enthusiastic mothers and women in our thirties, who were looking to channelize their energy in the right direction.
The initial days were tough. Our workouts consist of a good mixture of cardiovascular endurance, strength training and flexibility exercises that are designed to benefit the whole body. The idea was to increase concentration, have a point of focus – just like meditation!
After about six weeks, we were trained on our leg exercise. My kicks were not exactly great, but I was able to lift my legs better, execute better, and have more stamina. My stretches indicated that I have much more flexibility. Besides, I’ve noticed increased speed in my kicks, too. This has been very encouraging. They’re still dire compared to most, especially the youngsters, but they’re better for me, and that’s all that matters.
Next, we had to prepare for the exam, my first karate assessment that made me a bit jittery. I worked hard on my kata – a series of movements, much like a dance-form with the use of karate techniques. The first few days I thought I won’t be able to master the skill, but the choreographed moves of kata gradually bedazzled me and I was completely enthused. Nevertheless, it feels great to grab the yellow belt and see some great scores on the board to begin with. We moms really rocked the stage!
Karate is full of surprises and that’s something I enjoy! It has also helped me learn some smart Japanese words and phrases. In fact the Japanese ‘way of life’ has always inspired me right from my Reiki lessons, making tea, arranging flowers and watching Akira Kurosawa movies. What I have learnt from this exotic culture is that while delving deeply into their art, they discover the principles relating to life itself.
For me, in Karate, this is just the beginning. I have a long way to go and I would want to explore more of this magnificent art to simply make it a way of life!