Saturdays at the Dojo

Saturday mornings at the dojo was a special time. You took stock of the week, you made resolutions. You got there early, went through your katas, and practiced with people you didn’t normally see during the week: people from the other weekly group, the students from the University Dojo, and the dojos from the other towns. Also got to see katas from higher ranks since a lot of senior ranks came, black belts you’d never seen before that came to practice alone real early in the morning and when I got there they were pretty much into their stuff they didn’t mind you saw. Classes were from 10 to noon, if enough white belts showed, afterwards the kids until 1:00 P.M. and from there on down black and black-point brown belts and off you go. Mostly it was individual practice and if you were lucky there were just a few white belts and you got thrown in with the senpai and got a taste of that juice. Nothing like a line of trigger-happy browns to knock off any chips you might have dangling from your shoulder. I couldn’t much tell one classic kata from another but it sure didn’t look like anything I was doing and it was something to look forward to. And if you were super lucky, or feeling a yearning to be masochistic if you saw it from another angle, a black belt might set his eyes on you and disassemble your kata like an old jalopy and put it back together again and maybe you learned something in the process; nothing like a Sanchin check by two glassy-eyed senpai to make you feel that there must be a God somewhere, just that you hadn’t stumbled into him yet. Of course there was the possibility that some white belt more dumber than you came a month into the thing that you could drop a pear of wisdom or two on, some poor soul passed out in a pool of his own sweat that gave you momentary flashbacks to another time as you taught him how to wring the mop and the precise way to glide it across the wood floor. Those Saturdays at the dojo, where the sweat ran slow and sweet and that sure feeling you felt walking home afterwards alone with katas whirling in your head, feeling every ache and pain like a song.

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