The karate instructor is in his mid-fifties and has been teaching for over thirty years. He and his wife run an acupuncture clinic and the martial arts center and have five children, ages 18-28. On the wall in the hallway, there are pictures of the family in joke sparring poses, at competitions, and in regular street clothes, all smiles and bright blonde hair and fit bodies framed just so along the corridor.
Tonight there are seven students: a mother and two elementary-aged kids, the instructor’s daughter, the daughter’s boyfriend, a local massage therapist, “the new guy,” and a visiting artist who is just in from BigCity, NC for the night. Three black belts, one yellow, and three whites. The instructor is a double black belt, from what I can tell, and there are two framed photos of his master teachers above the wall of mirrors along one wall of the practice room.
He teaches by showing and by delivering speeches, he makes analogies, uses a tough tone, and challenges his students to work harder than they are. He and the visiting artist spar and show examples in slow motion before the group does any of the movements, and then practicing of new techniques ensues.
But before all that, they begin with the warm up. Afterwards there are round kicks and high kicks and side kicks. Then punches and sparing. Then blocking and sparing. Then three-part movements done over and over again. There is a lot of bowing and “Yes sense” or “Yes, sir” and by the end, most people are red-faced and a little sweaty.
Also, by the end of it, I am completely and totally hooked. This is just what I need. A physical challenge, a coach, something to get better at that uses my body and demands a focused mind. A small, safe class, affordable rates ($60 per month = 12 classes!), and a friendly yet goal-oriented vibe.
Tonight? I’m washing my new white uniform, belt included, so that I can hem it up in time for my first class this weekend.