Dojo Gaijin

Once you're an outsider there is very little you can do about it. It took me 30 years to finally realize, and accept, a truth that I should have realized long ago when, maybe (big maybe), something could have been done about it. A dojo is a place, especially if crowded, where someone can practicaly disappear. By this I mean: who you are. In a dojo you're a karateca. They take your first name, tag a "san" after it, and that is what you are, plus rank, of course. While there, you don't talk about movies, your likes and dislikes, where you're from, etc.; you do kata or bunkai, you do what they ask. Very liberating, really. You're judged and known by your karate. Really? Of course not. But you can get by on this alone. They can't throw you out if you do your kata. Only if you maim or rape someone. Really? Of course not. You can be ostracized or literally thrown out because they just don't jive with you. I've seen it done. Or you can be a regular Joe Blow Outsider, nice enough to tolerate, but not to party. That was and is me.
So when I left Ochoa, nobody came to convince me otherwise. I was never part of the "After Dojo scene." Now that is a pretty lonely place to be, karate wise. I never experienced a sensei to student ratio of less than 30 to 1. So although I talk of my teachers with fondness, closeness was not a factor in the relationship, it was from afar with binoculars. Thus, humility came easy, there was no place else to go. I was easy with it too. I was an army brat, changed neighborhoods like socks, grew up all over the place, met a lot of people, but just got to know a very precious few, and even then. But I was game and there was someone willing to vouch for at least my commitment and through that one friend, the same who got me into Goju, I met Jaime Acosta, my future sensei 20 years hence, who then practiced Isshin Ryu but had started with Kimo Wall in Goju.
Things didn't exactly work out with Jaime. There was a lot of free fighting in his dojo and a lot of "types" for which I was the Puerto Rican equivalent of a Gajin. But he did let me practice alone, or with my friend, and in time that contact would be crucial.
In time, karate took a second, or maybe third or fourth, place in my life as my work then demanded long hours. Long hours where I also drank and fucked around. But even then karate lurked somewhere inside me, letting itself be seen in street scraps and the realization that I had become somewhat stronger inside. It was all part of what I didn't know I knew. The Goju that remained in me notwithstanding all the abuse I subjected myself to proved vital. When that same friend, four years after I left Ochoa, told me that Kimo Wall was in Puerto Rico and had set up a dojo, with Jaime Acosta as senior sempai, I jumped at the chance.

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