When I began finally working towards my black belt I was well into my ‘40’s. An overdue black belt, they called me. I had two teen age kids in crisis which led to me to take one home, the most vulnerable, the youngest, my innocent bystander son. The eldest had dropped out of school and was into drugs. I was trying to save the other one. Karate was one way of doing it. But does karate ever really save anyone? Yes and no. The one who was with me had no choice, it was the rules of my house and they included karate, along with tutoring, a strict schedule, and a heap of responsibility. The other one attempted karate and was in for awhile until the sensei kicked him out. Does karate really save anyone? Yes and no. The pride I felt in one son and the shame of the other were the crucible I bore in my quest for a black belt. Having met so many people whom I believed karate was a turning point in their lives it was only logical that I assume that it would work for me, for my sons, for that one. On the morning of the day I took my brown belt my eldest son was almost jailed, stripping all joy the event could have had. I had already lost my mother to cancer. My father, once a proud and joyous fortress, was reduced to a senile street bum lost forever to the bottle and the labyrinth of his tortured soul.
In all of this topsy turvy life I led, karate was the only constant. It reflected my life and reflected on my life. Interwoven in my karate were the raw sewage and the epiphanies of my existence. Beneath the sweat the tears. A cold beer resting on my sweaty belly at night’s end. A million kiais shouted in anger, calm, panic and desperation. Sheer bliss.