I can, however, get wedged halfway through, fall to the ground helplessly and hard, and injure my shoulder.
It makes me wonder – what is the point of all my karate training if it doesn’t serve me well in an everyday situation like this?
9 July 2008
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Actually I don’t, but it’s one of my favourite lines from The Matrix. I do know a bit of karate though. I passed my black belt grading tonight. I’ve been surprised by how the last few days I’ve felt less of a sense of accomplishment and more of a realisation of how much I don’t know. Nevertheless it feels good. Below is my essay for the written part of my grading.
Four years ago I needed to improve my fitness.
Then I saw a karate ad in the local paper.
Since I was a boy I dreamed of learning karate.
There was a convergence.
I consider myself fortunate that, knowing next to nothing about the martial arts, I chose to learn in a karate dojo that teaches Kimura’s Shukokai.
I love the way that this style flows,
the way it is designed for maximum efficiency,
the principle that every technique must be effective in combat.
Karate is perfect for me. I have a constant hunger to learn new things, and I have never been interested in exercise for its own sake.
Karate helps to satisfy my hunger, and
karate is a useful defensive art.
More than that, it is a useful WAY.
Since I began my training I have seen many parallels between lessons I learn in the dojo and the life I live outside it.
It is essential to have a good foundation from which to attack and defend.
One’s natural instincts almost always suggest ineffective responses. Instincts must be retrained so that what is effective becomes what is natural.
It is better to do what is most effective than to play by the expected rules. Master Lynn quotes Kimura Sensei this way: ONE PUNCH, ONE KILL. David would never have defeated Goliath if he had lined up for a sword fight like a proper soldier.
Everything is connected. Effective combat requires the full concentration of body, mind and spirit.
These lessons are simple, and most people know them in at least a superficial way. These lessons are also powerful when internalised and applied.
Learning them with my body in the dojo helps me tounderstand them more deeply and apply them to other areas of my life. I love that.
What I love even more is that I AM LEARNING KARATE. No longer is karate just a part of my boyhood imagination or a vicarious thrill at the cinema. I am actually beginning to know this way for myself. That is one of the great thrills of my life.
I have begun to understand my body better. The way I move has become more controlled. I can feel how my physical power comes from the alignment of my body and how it is transferred through my limbs as I move. The stances I use in training are starting to become natural to me. I am beginning to understand them through the way I move rather than just as theory.
My posture has improved significantly.
My wife says that she feels safer now that I am learning karate.
And I have, of course, improved my fitness.