Saturday, December 3, 2011

Getting My Martial Arts Mojo Back

In 1995, at the end of my freshman year in college, I started studying karate.  From the moment I started taking karate I was borderline obsessed.  I was doing karate most days of the week for several hours at a time.  All of my friends and social life revolved around karate.  After a karate workout I felt like I was on top of the world.  No matter what stresses were going on in my life I always felt better after karate.  I've was lucky to find a karate school in my style in every place I lived for 10 years.  During this time there were brief periods when I didn't study karate but once I got settled in that was usually the first thing that I looked for. 

That all changed when I moved to Syracuse in 2005.  Not only are there no karate schools in my style here but most of the schools in this area are contract schools.  Contract schools guarantee you a black belt in a certain amount of time as long as you pay a certain amount of money.  These schools generally have multiple locations with a large focus on children and lots of TV commercials.  I have no desire to attend a contract school.  I have been lucky that all the schools that I have attended were traditional schools.  Not everyone progressed at the same rate.  No one was given a rank just for showing up.  You worked hard and earned your rank.

I tried three different martial arts schools during my first 4 years here.  The first was a contract school that didn't train very hard.  The second was a group of martial artists from different backgrounds who weren't following any set regiment and whose lack of organization and discipline drove me crazy. The last school was the most promising because it was in my style.  Unfortunately it was a 90 minute drive from my house and they focused on sparring much more than on karate.  It had been 4 years since I practiced with a formal group in my style by the time I tried the last school.  I was so out of practice that I felt like I had to relearn everything that I once taught other people.  If I was going to have to relearn things I might as well start fresh with a new style.

Then zumba came into my life and I wasn't so focused on karate.  I love teaching zumba and think I will branch out into teaching other fitness classes now that I have my group exercise certification.  But as much as I love zumba it has not filled the void left by martial arts.  I still miss martial arts and the high it gives me.  Sometimes I feel like a fraud when people that have known me for a long time want to talk about karate.  Because I'm the black belt, the karate chick, the asskicker.  At least that's who they know me as.  But I haven't been that girl in a long time.

So I walked into this place in the mall a couple weeks ago that I had passed a million times and written off as a contract school.  But after checking out their website and talking to the instructors it was clear that it wasn't a contract school at all.  I was hooked after the first workout.  I feel like I'm walking taller and feeling more like my authentic self after just a couple of weeks.  The way that I interact with people.  The way I look at things is different as a martial artist.  I don't know if I will be able to achieve the same level of success that I did with my other style but that's not the standard that I'm holding myself to.  Just having martial arts in my life makes me feel like my authentic self.  Like a better me and I like that. 

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