This is probably not the best day for me to write about karate as it was a really bad class for me.
But, Andree asked me to write about my experiences, good and bad, so here I am. I guess in
life we are forced to take the bad with the good, and karate is a part of my life; I guess sort of
like wedding vows, for better or worse. I suppose it’s also like a marriage in that it takes a huge commitment; one that perhaps you don’t want to stick to all the time. Especially the rough times when class calls for you to do something you don’t want to do or are not comfortable with or “good at”.
That’s where I am today. Class, with Mr. White no less, called for something I’m definitely not “good at,” not comfortable with, and something that in my eyes makes me feel like an idiot, and probably makes me look like an idiot—at least that’s what my head tells me (ego)—sparring. The leg of our art that Mr. White calls freestyle. I hate sparring (freestyle). I’m uncomfortable at best. I have not been able to control my emotions all day after class. He preached all class that he understood some people in the class weren’t comfortable fighting (me) as I’m pretty sure everyone else in class is totally fine with it, but we must fight through it. I failed miserably…just as I do every Saturday morning sparring class that I attend with my husband teaching. However, I did not die during this class nor after. I lived to cry and feel terrible. But I also lived to hear Mr. White say, “Good job” when I finally learned to go to the front side of the person roundhouse kicking me; step to the front and then go back in for a punch—thank you, Jen, for letting me in on that.
The ego is a funny thing, at least for me, because when you least expect it, it shows up. I never
ever thought my ego was a problem until karate. It always seemed to envelop me when I
thought I didn’t need it. It made me think I was always good at everything—grades,
acting—things that came easy to me…yet I seemed to always quit when things didn’t come
easy. And it came with an excuse. I can’t remember the exact words, but always something
along the lines of…”Who cares, you don’t need this anyway.” Or, just do something you’re better
equipped for—I’m a really good trainer, good at lifting weights, I can do aerobics with the best of
them, let’s not get started on correcting grammar. 😉 Yet, I’m not a natural athlete, as has been
on display for the past six years, and I don’t have beautiful long legs for kicking (thanks
But here is this, I’m not quitting. I don’t care how long it takes to get my black belt because that’s
not what really matters. (This has been on repeat in my brain all day.) What really matters, to
me anyway, is me not quitting. There are three parts to martial arts according to Mr. White:
forms, techniques, and freestyle. I can do the forms and techniques, freestyle (sparring), is
going to take a little time for me to get comfortable. Do I think I can take someone who does
harm to my cats…absofreakinglutely! In a heartbeat, it’s not even a question! Yet, when it
comes to sparring people in my gym, those not harming my cats…I’m a work in progress—as
are we all, I suppose.
The point of this diatribe, I presume, and I hope to heck it helps someone out there. We all have
our strengths and weaknesses. We all have our reasons for starting karate and staying in it—I
have wanted to quit so many times, probably before each belt. But, I haven’t. I’ve stayed the
course and if I, who didn’t think I had an ego but really do, can stay in it, so can you. Every time I think I’ve conquered a milestone a mountain shows up. I’m not quitting so I guess that means we have to stay the course.
Come with me, Kenpo Women, stay the course. We’ve got this!
3rd Degree Brown
Editors Note: Tamara is my student and has been since she was a white belt. I have had the pleasure of working with her for 6 years now and am extremely proud of her. She’s like me in so many ways, her husband is Kenpo Hall of Fame honoree Jim McClure and being related to someone who’s so well known in the Kenpo world puts an additional strain on an already stressful climb up the ladder. There’s a higher level of expectation that we put on ourselves, to prove that we are worthy, to prove that we can do it and to also not let down those we love and most importantly not let down ourselves. She’s a true fighter and a strong Kenpo Woman that I’m proud to be associated with and call my friend. Thank you for writing Tamara, can’t wait to see more! Andree