Saturday, November 19, 2011

Mid-Life Karate Crisis Solved

In 1996 I moved to Israel, first to an absorption center in Mevesseret Zion and six months later to Tekoa.  I contacted Sensei Pantanovitz and told him that I wanted to compete in the upcoming Maccabea Games – but this time for the Israeli team.  It was my dream to win a medal for Israel.
I tried out for the team and was on the way to being accepted when I realized that I was pregnant with my fourth child.  The next few years I was busy with her and with #5 who followed not long after.
I trained while I was pregnant and was teaching also but I never made it to Netanya to the IOGKF headquarters to train.  It was so far away; I didn’t have a car; I was breast-feeding and couldn’t leave my baby.  Etc. 
In July of 2003 I called Sensei Pantanovitz and told him I was having a crisis. I was too old to compete.  Perhaps I should become a judge?  Sensei Chinen lived in Spokane, Washington and I hadn’t seen him for in eight years.  Eight years without a karate lesson!  Maybe I was making all sorts of mistakes and didn’t know it?  I went on and on. 
I spoke for twenty minutes without taking a breath and Sensei Pantanovitz just listened.  When I was done talking he spoke.  “The answer is in the training,” he said.  That’s all he said.  He invited me to Netanya and I agreed to go, but due to summer plans on my part and his we agreed to meet in September. 
The first Wednesday in September I drove to Netanya.  I had never been there before and driving on the coastal highway in rush hour traffic was traumatic.  I arrived in time for the 7pm black belt class.
The people weren’t particularly friendly.  But the class was heaven.  I was astounded by Sensei’s teaching skills.  I realized I was in the presence of a master – and I do not use the word lightly.  By the end of the class I was energized and excited.  “I’ll come back,” I thought, “but I won’t change the way I do my kata.  I’ll keep doing it the way I was taught by Sensei Chinen.”

I decided I would train there once a month.  When I tried to pay for the class Sensei Pantanovitz wouldn’t hear of it.  “If it becomes a regular thing you can pay me,” he said.  I’ll show him, I thought!  I’ll make him take my money!
The following Wednesday I sat at home and wondered, “What are they learning now?”  It drove me crazy.  I decided I would go every other week, and the next week I went back. 
However, the following week I went nuts sitting at home and I decided to travel to Netanya every week.  By November the guys had started saying hello to me when I walked in and in the beginning of December Sensei said, “You can pay now if you want.”  I was in!  

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