Just over a year ago, when I was on the cusp of making an important decision, I wrote a poem called At the crossroads. It was a stressful time for me because I live in a small place, in which the karate world is smaller still, and I didn’t want to hurt anyone, or tread on any toes (figuratively speaking…..at the time I did it literally on a semi regular basis).
The decision to train Karate was virtually made for me. My husband found a local club for my son, I came, I saw, I joined in, I didn’t hate it, actually I rather liked it…..a lot. The decision to keep training was a conscious choice and a habit. The decision to keep training where I started was similar, but also a matter of comfort and convenience, and probably a measure of naivety.
Eighteen months or so ago that naivety started to change somewhat. I started to branch out and train with another instructor. I met all the network instructors by and by through network events and through my original instructor, and so I had met this instructor a few months before I first visited his dojo. I really had no conscious thought when I bowed in there for the first time that this would be anything other than extra training (particularly since my home dojo had long breaks for school holidays) and my intention had just been to go once a week or less. That idea went out the window pretty quickly and by about the end of January I was going at least twice a week, by May I had been such a regular fixture that I was invited to cross grade with them, and by June I was attending all three classes each week, giving up yoga (which had served me well for 7 or more years), in order to get to the other class. I just couldn’t get enough of it, and my instructor, so obviously passionate about karate and about teaching, was happy to quench my constant thirst for knowledge, patiently answering my stream of questions. This was a joy for me.
Meanwhile I was still going to my original dojo each week also and another one too (yes, self confessed karate addict!) I was still enjoying training in general, it was challenging (sometimes really challenging trying to keep up with style differences as a newcomer to karate), but fun.
The way the new dojo made me feel though, was different. Even as a guest, I was made to feel part of the dojo, and a very welcome part of it at that. It felt like having a second family, and in that atmosphere, it was so easy to learn and grow. Things still weren’t natural for me (and still aren’t a lot of the time) but it was ok to struggle with things, and I didn’t feel slow or stupid, and there was constructive help so that hopefully, over time the struggle would lessen. The formalities and style differences took some time to pick up but everyone was patient (can’t not be when it’s part of your rules!)
As the months passed, I got a little more street wise, and certain things became clearer. Eventually the time came to get serious about where this whole karate thing was heading and where I wanted to go with it. It was clear that it was more than just fun, more than just exercise and more than just self defence. It had become a passion, and it had become an integral part of me as a person. It had broadened my horizons and let me look at things in a whole new way. And from someone who used to only make decisions one dimensionally, based on logic, I found myself going with not only my head, but my gut, and my heart too, (and not chiding myself for it). This surprised even me! So when it came to crunch time, the decision was obvious and felt right.
A year ago today I made that choice. I decided to change instructors, change styles, and join a different Ryu ha (lineage). The transition has been easy in someways and difficult in others, but I have always felt well supported. Not only has consciously deciding on a path, and choosing to begin again, really helped me develop and move forward with karate, but it has facilitated great personal growth and assisted me to remain positive and motivated. My decision is definitely something I have never regretted.