White Belt Blues

What really got me down after a few months in the dojo was how “unkarate-like” I looked, and by this I mean how “unkung-fu” I moved – this being the only pre-dojo notion I had about how I should look, say in two classes – while all my pals in other styles looked so, well, fancy and impressive in their open-fisted, roundhouse kicking ways. Anyone familiar with the Shoreikan syllabus knows how tedious the training can seem, how repetitive and numbing all the basic punching, blocking and kicking could be. Without mentioning the warm up routine that could well go past the hour, non-stop. I had the White Belt Blues. Just when I though I learned one or two things, I seemed to unlearn four. Sometimes my only goal was to survive the class. I think I stuck to it because I was in fact learning something, something about myself. Things one sometimes forgets. Karate became a relearning experience, a very humbling one, about how little one knows about one’s body, one’s mind, and most important, one’s spirit. And how all those three are intertwined. Before karate, my body, mind, and spirit led quite an autonomous existence. On the floor of the dojo, they were all put to the test, at once, relentlessly. Slowly I perceived, in myself and watching others, that the only way to advance beyond the kindergarten level I felt perennially to be in was to somehow merge them, have them begin to work in tandem, but reverse the order , the hierarchy. So I started listening to my body and how it slowly was tempering my spirit, and watched silently how my spirit would lift my body above the hurdles and through the hoops of the mind. For I learned that my mind, and by this I mean my ego, was the source of my white belt blues. It still is in so many ways.

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