Further Thoughts and Deeper Meanings

I keep remembering things that Hanshi said during class that slipped my mind when I sat down to write about them. For instance, the fact that all the katas are forms that were invented by a Grandmaster and have been passed down over the years from teacher to student, teacher to student. Some of them are hundreds of years old and if you ever learn a kata from start to finish, you do not say “I know such-and-such kata,” you say, “I am working on such-and-such kata.” Unless you invented that kata or you have competed with it and performed it successfully multiple times, you never really know it. It is always a work in progress, a thing to practice, something to work with and learn from.

I also remember what Dori said as I was leaving class on Saturday. She said that at some academies, in order to get a new belt you turn in your notes to your instructor who will read them and discuss the work with you in addition to the physical task of earning the new belt. She says some days we will have a class where Hanshi will ask us to take notes and listen to speeches rather than learning new kihon or practicing with our bodies. She says the only person to read your notes when you turn them in for a new belt is Hanshi, and that it becomes a dialogue between you and the instructor.

Nothing makes me happier than hearing this. I had been writing things down because that is my way in the world, it is how I learn and come to understand things. It is a way that I can solidify the teachings and keep the “story of becoming karateka” present in my mind.

Mom says she is glad I’m doing this because of the self-defense aspect of it. This hadn’t occurred to me, as I never like to give into those notions of fear. I do, however, believe in the power of metaphor, and her comment made me realize that I may be coming to karate at a time when I need to defend myself from other hurts—the hurts of failed relationships or feeling misunderstood, for example.

While I’ve been searching and experimenting for months (years?) for meaningful love and companionship, if I take that back a step further what I have been searching for is a meaningful way to connect my body and my heart. My writing work connects my mind and my heart, as does my meditation practice. But the work of a new relationship—the physical intimacies and the activities involved in getting to know someone new, like going on hikes or trips or physically being in new spaces—was perhaps an attempt to strengthen the threads that connect my body and my heart.

Maybe karate is a way to connect my body and my heart (passion, dedication), while also subconsciously “protecting” myself. Huh.

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