Monday, 11 June 2012

The Journey Of A Thousand Miles....


There's a very famous old Chinese proverb that says that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Now, I haven't travelled a thousand miles (probably not even a metaphorical tenth of that) but I have come a long way in my karate journey in the last 3 years. With things as they've been the last few months I think it's time for a little self reflection on just where that journey has taken me, and just how far I've come.

It feels like a decade ago I first stood nervously in the dojo for Sunday evening senior class. Nervous, excited and terrified in equal measure, not knowing a single thing about karate and not even knowing if I cared enough to find out. Flash forward to now and things are very different. I look at the new people starting out in our classes and see (with a little amusement and a lot of trepidation!) that they look at me the same way I looked at the higher grade students when I started. With that "OMG, I could never do that what have I let myself in for?" expression. It's comforting to be able to say "hey, I've been where you are, just give it a shot, you can do more than you think".

So, what have I learned in this long and sometimes tumultuous journey? Well....

I've learnt some karate. Quite a lot of karate. Kata (13 in total - blimey, I think that's the first time I've actually counted them); kihon, kumite, taisabaki, pad drills, controls, escapes. Not to mention the less practical but no less important side - how to bow in/out, how to behave in class,  how to tie an obi, how to tie someone elses obi (imperative for anyone who teaches kids!).

I've leant to ride out the ups and down. I've had moments that have felt like shining brilliance (where I thought "wow, that's the best X, Y or Z I've ever done") and moments when I've considered giving it all up as a lost cause and investing in one of those signs that says "Bang head here". Both of those are important and it serves you well not to get too hung up on either the highs or the lows.

I've learnt that is okay to question. In fact, its good to question. I've learnt not to assume that just because something is the best thing for one person that means its the way forward for me. I've learnt to adapt my techniques to account for my weaknesses, and for my strengths.

I've learnt that I have more. That I have more power than I thought I had (and that it doesn't necessarily come from strength but from technique). That I have more stamina than I ever would have believed possible. That I can take a 3 hours pummelling (both physically and mentally) and still come out (almost) smiling at the end.

I've learnt that I can impart what I know to others and do a pretty reasonable job of it too.

I've learnt that I can control a room full of small, chattery, easily distracted small people, and have fun doing it.

I've learnt that sometimes what you're doing becomes NOT FUN. And that at those times its okay to step back. To take a break. To find the enjoyment again. That ultimately if you're not enjoying being there, then really, you shouldn't be. Life is too damn short to do things you don't love. That its okay to stop loving something for a little while and then come back and find the fun again.

I've learnt (and continuing to learn) that its a fine juggling act between embracing being where you are and looking forward to where you need or want to be. Sometimes you need to concentrate on the present, sometimes you need a push to move towards the future.

I've learnt that my motives for doing what I do are all my own. Unique to me. No one can tell me that my motives must be the same as their motives. That's never going to happen. We all come to this journey from different places and travel along separate paths to the destination.

I've learnt that you're truly never to old to take up something new.

I've learnt that fencing is about the most fun you have have with a pointy metal stick (more on that some other time).

I've learnt that sometimes it's as important for me to say be able to say "No" to doing something as it is to say "Yes". That I can't do everything and do myself and other people a disservice by trying to.

That's barely even touched the surface of the lessons and skill I've learnt from my karate journey, but my self reflection has been somewhat halted and cut short today by pesky work commitments. More on this rambling at a later date then, maybe. Certainly more about the aforementioned fun and pointy metal sticks to come anyway.

TTFN




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