How I survived my first two weeks of Karate for Adults.
Few weeks ago my kids, who are already pretty accomplished karatekas themselves, convinced me to sign up for Karate for Adults at Keiko Shin Karate Academy (KSKA).
Ms. Ibe gave me a good deal because on that particular month KSKA was running "special" - no registration fees, just pay monthly tuition. I even got the new gi for free (gi is the white uniform that all karatekas wear). Good deal if you ask me. The only disappointing thing was that I also got a white belt. I know I have to work for the color belt but for some reason I was hoping that I will get something other than white just due to the fact that I am older and in some distant past I did some Karate and Judo. Oh well - apparently it doesn't work like this. My kids keep telling me that white belt is not so bad and that I will soon have a belt test and get nice blue belt then.
So, my karate adventure begun on the following Monday at 7:00PM. I got there a little early - so I could change into my shiny new gi and stretch a little before the session begins. I met other adult karatekas there and noticed that I was not the only one with the white belt. There was one more beginner there besides me. My wife was seating proudly at the bench - with other mothers and wives of karatekas' - and observing my first Karate adventure. My kids where there on the sidelines - ready to give me advice and encouragement.
Kids told me to bow before I step on the mat and so I did. First step - passed. We lined up for usual greeting with Sensei - kids advised "Daddy - don't say "Oss" after first bow" - passed that one as well.
We did some running, and jumping, and hooping. Then the stretching started. It was fairly easy - I did the "kiwachi" thingy by flapping my arms around and switching my stand to sort of crouched down position. I also knew how to count to ten in Japanese - no trouble when it was my turn to count. So far - easy peesy. Then Sensei told us to do the split - all other karatekas dropped down - perfect split and all - I followed and ... I couldn't go lower than three feet of the floor. Turned back to look at my wife - she noticed the look in my eyes and started laughing. Jose's Mom had to go outside to catch some air - she was laughing so hard she thought she would suffocate.
The lesson started as soon as the stretching was over. Since I was watching my kids do the routines for the last two years I figured I already know all this stuff. Sensei started us off with the steps for the first kata " Taikyoku Shodan". Bring it on! - I thought. After all - I was correcting my kids when they practiced this kata for the competition. Besides - it is the easiest kata there is. Easy peesy. So I lined up, did the perfect "yoy" stand, made "Shotokan face", winked at my kids, and smiled to my wife in the mirror. Sensei yelled "Hajimatte !" - that means "begin" in Japanese - yeap - know that one too. OK World - watch me go now. I will rock this kata!
...missed first step, messed up block with punch, had to switch legs, went in the wrong direction, did not "kiay". It lasted like forever - when I was finally done - I couldn't dare to look at my kids faces. Daddy blew it. The easiest kata ever - it is pretty hard to mess it up. Just to make matters even worse - I decided to try and do the second kata - "Heian Shodan" - and... it did made matters worse. The practice lasted for one long hour. After saying all the "osses" and "arigatos" - I got off the mat. My daughter was very understanding: "It's OK Daddy, it is just a first time - you will get better at it". My son pretended like he doesn't know me. My wife was in tears from laughing hard for the whole hour. Jose's Mom was slightly blue-ish from the lack of oxygen.
Next practice should be better - no kata - just kumite techniques. Now - that has to be easy peesy. After all it is just kicks and punches and who doesn't know that already. Besides - I have been watching my kids do that for the last two years.
Wednesday - the next practice - went by fairly good. I didn't do anything ridiculously wrong. Wife was not there and kids were supportive. Jose's Mom was still laughing but not as much and mostly because the previous practice was still fresh in her memory. I could say - I survived that day fairly well.
Thursday - the next day however was a whole other story. Not that I had a practice or anything on that day. The pain started as soon as I woke up in the morning. Attempts to stand up were pretty much unsuccessful - so I crawled on all four to the bathroom. Walking down the stairs was more like sliding down the hill. Pain was everywhere - but the legs hurt the most. I stayed in the car for a little longer than usual after dropping kids off at school. My legs just didn't feel like they can get me home from the car right away. Some walking/crawling/running on the treadmill helped to alleviate a pain a little so I could semi-function for the rest of the day. The kicking drills from the previous day practice were taking their toll on my body. Later that day - at my kids' karate practice - Ms. Ibe was surprised when I told her about my aches: "that is weird"- she said - "the pain usually starts not on the next day but two days later". She was right. Friday was a nightmare.
Then came the Saturday and the AAU District Competition in Spring Hill. We went there to cheer for our competition team. I took the camera to take some pictures for KSKA website. While waiting for our team to start competing I got a chance to talk to Sensei about "improvements" to Adult Karate classes. Somehow, my big mouth said all the wrong things. I told Sensei that I would welcome more conditioning and perhaps a little less kata at least until I get in a little better shape from all of the extra conditioning I was proposing. Sensei was very understanding and promised me that he will think about my suggestions. Oh boy - what did I do?
Competition was awesome - KSKA took home most of the medals. Everybody had a lot of fun.
Adult Karate practice - Monday at 7:00PM. Sensei welcomed everyone and congratulated all competitors on their success at AAU District Competition. Then... he looked at me and smiled.
The class begun. It was a very little kata and a lot of conditioning. Sensei listened to my suggestions. It actually hurts when I think about it when trying to describe that practice - so I will just tell you that I have no idea how I survived. I was very glad that Connor was in that class, because his father, Shawn was there with him. Shawn is a respiratory therapist and he always has an oxygen tank in his car. My heart rate on that day was probably around 400-500 - if that's even possible. I was checking the dojo clock to see how much longer until 8:00PM . The arms on that clock just stopped moving. It was decidedly the longest hour of my life.
When practice finally ended - I walked off the mat purely with the sheer power of my will. There was not even a smidgen of power left in my muscles. I got in the car and drove home. Stayed in the car parked at the driveway in front of my house and listened to some music. Seriously considered spending the night in the car. Wife and kids helped me get inside the house. The bed located in the upstairs bedroom was out of the question. Night on the sofa in the living room was the only option.
The thought of upcoming Wednesday practice was hunting me in my dreams that night. Thankfully - the next morning - I got sick. It must have been some bug kids brought home from school. I could not go to the practice on Wednesday.
So - there you have it. Karate for Adults - it is intense, it hurts, it is challenging. Karate - by its own nature - is a discipline that goes against the human nature. The things you do while practicing karate are not natural. That is what makes Karate so awesome at instilling discipline and self control. When practicing karate - you are constantly competing against yourself and this is the toughest sort of competition there is.
For me - the added bonus of Adult Karate is the reaction it is having on my kids. Their confidence just got a major boost. While they are very proud of their Daddy - they realize that now they are the ones who can teach me something new. They watch me doing kata in our little "garage gym" and correct me when necessary. They thought me " Taikyoku Shodan". Now we are working on "Heian Shodan". Their happy faces are priceless when Daddy finally gets it and does everything correctly.
During the classes they are always on the side lines and giving me thumbs up. It feels good.
No matter how much it hurts - it is a "good hurting" - the muscles are growing - so they say.
The body is rejuvenating. The pain goes away. The pride stays.
My Karate adventure is going on for the second month now. I feel great. The challenges are very welcome. Pain is not as bad. My kids are in my corner and my wife is not crying anymore from the laughter.
Jose's Mom is breathing normal.
Thank You for your support.