Saturday, September 17, 2011

My First Night in the Dojo

I was seventeen when I walked into Bob Sparks Goju-Ryu Karate Dojo.  My reason for going there: My boss told me to.  He said, "A buddy of mine just got back from Okinawa and he opened a karate school.  Why don't you go sign up? 

I was enrolled at a school-without-walls which enabled me to take any sport for college credit.  At the time I was swimming and I found it incredibly boring.  Back and forth, back and forth.  I felt lonely in the pool.  So I went to try a karate class.

When I got there I was told I had to sit and watch.  After 20 minutes I got up and left.  I literally could not sit there and watch.  I had to do it! 

The next night I officially enrolled.  My first teacher was Linda Sparks, Sensei's wife, who was then a brown belt.  She taught me Jodan Age Uke, the upper rising block, and explained that karate is only for self-defense; everything starts and ends with blocking.  I was enthralled.

Later that night I walked into my father's apartment and said, "I am going to do karate every day for the rest of my life."  He laughed.  I guess when a seventeen-year-old speaks of eternity it's hard to take seriously.  Other than two-three weeks off after the birth of each of my children, religious holidays, short illnesses and injuries - I have made good on my prediction.  Thirty-seven years later I'm still punching and kicking.

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