Letters from an Anonymous Friend are almost weekly emails my friend sends me that I get permission to post. Usually.
I love my Karate class. Even more, I love the people I learn with and the skills we learn. For example the Immortal Man. I mean, who can forget that one?! Then, not long ago, there were only 4 of us and our Instructor taught us how to throw down people. My partner and I must have been too kind about it at first because our Instructor barked, “Hey! This isn’t putting your kids down to bed. Don’t be so gentle. Throw-them-down!”
And so we did… and it rocked!
Oh sure, we were plenty bruised and sore the next few days, but it was more than worth it. It was actually empowering, in a way, to know that if I had to, I had the know how to take someone down… and kick ‘em while they were there. (Stomp on their face, by the way. Just get in there with a nice, good stomp!)
It sounds rather vicious when I explain it to people, but I’m not going to lie, it’s an adrenaline rush, and the next day at work I was on some kind of high. Nothing could get me down; if a student acted up or acted like a jerk, I stared them down with minimal words exchanged. (Nothing freaks them out more than a teacher’s steady glare, our silence, and the student’s overactive imagination. Psychological warfare- it’s a powerful tool.)
One of the many cool parts about taking up Karate is not only the physical exercise and its effects, but the mental effects as well. I find myself more motivated to get outside for a walk around the neighborhood and visit the Fitness Zone. At my school the Fitness Zone is a room dedicated to, well, fitness. It has treadmills, cycling, those stretchy band thingies to work your arms, big bouncy balls to work your core, and mats to stretch out on and kill yourself with Yoga or Pilates. Shoot, they even have the Wii fit!
The last couple of years, I’ve ignored this wondrous place of grit, iron and sweat, and focused on other things, but lately, I’m in there 2-3 afternoons a week for 25-40 minutes. After the kids disappear, I do a quick change in the bathroom and come out a different person… like Clark Kent or something. With a water bottle in one hand and my almost-boxing-gloves in the other, I
go down to the Fitness Zone and make use of the facilities… mostly the awesome punching bag that someone donated. (And, by the way, I’ve learned to never hit the punching bag with bare hands, no matter how lightly you think you’re punching; raw, let alone bleeding knuckles are hard to hide with 30 kids staring at you everyday.)
I’m far from ripped abs or even simply toned arm muscles, but I feel better about myself and I don’t groan so much when it comes to exercise. I’ve learned the importance of purpose, of imagining how I might actually use this if the situation called for it and by so doing, I become stronger, both mentally and physically. Not every day in Karate class is great (I loathe cardio sessions), but I value how it lifts me onto a higher plane of just being. I love the mental and physical discipline (most of the time), I love that I am aware of my movement and, subsequently, physical potential for defense, and I love the acquired sense of focus and meditation.
If you are interested in what the martial arts have to offer, check it out. Sure, it’ll take a long time before you become a Karate kid (either Ralph Macchio or Jaden Smith), but it’s not about the final destination, it’s about the journey you take to get there.
Oh, and about developing skills and reflexes through the wax-on-wax-off or pick-up/put-on/take-off your jacket crap… yeah, it’s all true.
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