Kumite on a Whole New Level

Sitting out has always been a psychological challenge for me. So when I had to pull myself off the mat during Thursday night’s karate class, I actually started to cry. I’ve since rested as much as possible, treated my knee with moxa, analgesic rubs, arnica, and even once – an Aleve. I felt well enough on Saturday to participate in class because we did jui jitsu and slow moving takedowns. But my knee is throbbing now and I have no idea why. I’ve never experienced knee problems in my life.

Hanshi says that, on occasion, sitting out is the best position to be in. Sitting on the floor, I can watch people’s feet, I can see their side-to-side movements, I can watch how they spar. I can observe the examples and instructions given and then see how the karateka respond.

In kids’ class on Saturday, Jeff (green) and Steven (blue) spared for the little yellow belts and then Sienna and Lis (both black belts) spared. As soon as the adults began in their movements, the energy in the dojo shifted. To see two fully grown, trained, martial artists in kumite is something else! Their movements were swift and committed, the sound of their heavy-duty gis snapping was charged and intimidating. I was almost out of breath just watching them, and I hardly moved a muscle. Jeff was light on his feet and quick on the withdrawal. Steven was alert and focused. Sienna had nice punching combos and Lis—good lord—had the meanest spinning round kicks and back of the fist punches. The women, especially, had impeccable timing and were able to deliver lots of multiple-blow moves. Watching them work together, I felt myself in awe of the years of training that came before just to bring them together for one match.

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