After all these years
Although Jaime Sensei introduced me and my sister as veteran karateca from the Ochoa days, I think what he meant to say was our white belts could be misleading as they saw us merrily traipse through our Kihon Tandoku. You never really go back to white belt as if nothing has happened in 20 years. You revisit a zone of your imagination where you once dwelt, making the necessary mental and physical adjustments. Yet these are many. Your body wants to go where it cannot anymore, your mind reluctantly lets go of another chunk of your past. My son René, however, was flailing about like a new-born chick. His was a world of discovery. Ours of rediscovery. But regardless of our journeys, all ended elatedly wasted at the end of the class, in the shared epiphany of bone-tiredness.
Humbleness is a bitter tea that we must all sip in reverence. Ego is a deceiving mirage that takes you nowhere.
To retread and relearn that which always escapes us the previous times around. To re-see is to renew commitments, or to discard them. Why one takes karate is a deep question, but only one that I can make after many years. My son cannot pose this question, he is still an empty vessel. And this is where I differ from Garry Lever's seriously thought-provoking essay Elitism in Karate. Garry is right from the standpoint of the seasoned practitioner and it is an issue that sooner or later every sensei must confront. But up front, every person should be afforded the opportunity to try karate and it is the sensei's duty to be true to his legacy and tradition. But, nonetheless, what Garry says is all too true. Even more so in my third time around I saw a lot of people with ranks above their true station. It is always a problem that strikes at the very core of the martial arts. Because, you see, karate marks even those who do not stay the course. And those who return even more so. The problem lies with the sensei, as Garry well states and I second. In Jaime Acosta we had a merciless teacher. He is there as the bar you must cross. My son René and my wife were now realizing all that I had said about karate, beyond the jumps, kicks, and howls.
Once again and for the third time in 20 years, I had to pose this question to myself. The answers were many and fluid. Why karate? Why now? Why ever?