Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Normal Newbie...

To be honest, I barely remember my very first night of karate class. The part I do remember is the twisted nerves leading up to it. I really did not know what to expect. Since I had made the decision to join the adult class, I had planned on staying late one night to see what the adults did differently than the kids, but I never did. Probably because I was afraid of what I’d see and then chicken out altogether!

I knew the senseis from having asked questions about proper technique for my son, but I did not know them well. I had met a great guy named Mack (not his real name of course) who, when asked, gave me a lot of good reasons to join the adult class. While I was worried about being over 40, he told me he was 46 when he started a few years back. He, like me, is overweight, and has 2 bum knees as opposed to my one. And he gushed about the class and martial arts in general. I knew if he could do it, I could do it. So, you see, he was a big part of the reason that I had the courage to start my journey. Thank you, Mack!

My son, who I will call “Buddy” because I kind of affectionately call him that a lot (and also to protect the innocent – hey you never know what I’m going to say in my blogs to embarrass someone – myself included!) So, anyway, Buddy and I went to that nights’ kids’ class and my stomach was doing flip flops the entire time. There were two other moms of students with whom I became friends while sitting and watching our kids. I vented my fears/nervousness to them and they stroked my ego by telling me I’d do just fine. I appreciated that too.

My husband, let’s see what will I call him to protect his privacy? Hmmm, how about just plain Hubby? Not very original, but it beats the impersonal “my husband”. It was agreed upon that Hubby would pick up Buddy at 7:30 pm - the end of the kids’ class. I knew Buddy couldn’t stay while I did my class because he has a short attention span and would be gallivanting all over the community recreation center and I’d be too worried about him to concentrate on my own class. So, he picked him up and I looked around at the 20 or so gi-clad students who had arrived. I found a group of 3 women and strolled over while we waited for the kids to clear out and our class to begin. I learned their names, hoping I’d remember them next time. Two were in their 20’s and the other woman was within a year or two of my age. That made me feel better.

We bowed in and took our places. I knew from Buddy’s class to line up in rank order. Wasn’t hard to figure out where I was supposed to stand…all the way to the sensei’s left. There were three other beginners, a strange girl whose name I don’t remember, a strange guy who’s name I don’t remember, and another guy who wasn’t as strange as the other guy, but I don’t remember his name either. Okay, now I’m the only normal beginner there. (Go ahead, I’ll pause while you get all that hysterical laughing out of your system.) The girl wore a gi with a green belt far too small for her and insisted she knew all about karate and had taken lessons for years but her dojo just closed up all of a sudden and that was why she was here. The other guy was a mentally challenged man who didn’t talk much. The other guy was a tall, hulk of an African American teen. The only one who talked to me was the girl, telling me of her alleged karate prowess. At this point I had no valid reason to doubt her except for the ill-fitting green belt, but this alone was enough to set my BS sensors off.

After warming up for 45 minutes (which I now use as my basis for warming up/working out), the newbies were taken aside to assess what they already knew. When the two guys were asked, they said they were clean slates. I said I had watched/practiced what the kids class had learned and the girl, of course, insinuated that she was Beatrix Kiddo. Well, the senseis started us on the easy basics – power stance, horse stance, head block, leg block, etc. It was obvious that not only would the girl not be Killing Bill, she did not even know what a power stance was. After the same results with each basic, I saw the senseis exchange a discreet look of realization between them and one said, “Well, different arts do things differently”, so as not to embarrass the girl. We then just all started from scratch and learned all the basics. Beatrix seemed relieved.

The time just flew and before I knew it, it was time to line up again to bow to our senseis, thanking them for the lesson, and then to bow out of the dojo for the night. After doing so, the girl hinted at needing a ride, and it was pouring rain, so being the compassionate person I am, I offered her a ride since she lived just up the street. On the way, she asked if I wanted to meet her there early next week and we could practice. I said sure, already regretting my response. She said bye and I never saw her again.

Driving home, I felt exhilarated and so proud of myself. I had gotten through all this physical exertion, put finishing touches on what I had learned from Buddy’s classes. I had sweated all my makeup off and my hair was wringing wet with perspiration, and the amazing part – I DIDN’T CARE HOW I LOOKED! (You have to know me to know just how surprising that is. For example, when camping, I don’t come out of the tent until I have my makeup on and my hair fixed in some way.) I mean, to put the significance of this into perspective, I am sitting here on Sunday morning writing this blog with NO makeup on and my hair all askew...

4 comments:

Julie said...

MAM,
Wow, I'm so glad to find your blog! I am a 46 yr. old woman (also living in Missouri) who just earned her black belt in taekwondo. I have a passion about women in Martial Arts (we ROCK!) and think that it is the most wonderful thing we could ever do for ourselves. I've toyed with the idea of creating a blog that could be shared by the women at my school so I thought I'd research what sort of blogs about women and martial arts are out there. That's how I found you! I love the way you are documenting your journey with humor and unpretentiousness! Keep it up, along with your classes, and I look forward to the day I read that you've got that black belt on!!!

Julie

Martial Arts Mom said...

Thank, Julie! That is really exciting that you're on a similar path - just much further along than myself. What part of MO are you from? E-mail me privately at llewis823@yahoo.com. Thanks again for the compliment and the comment!

Brian said...

Haha, I like the parts about the sketchy girl who faked knowing stuff. It's been a while since I tried out karate, but how could you ever possibly forget the horse stance lol...

I remember the stances, some blocks (especially the groin block :) ), and I remember a few kicks, and punches. I never took it long enough to have to do katas.

Anyway you were asking for the link to my blog earlier

http://roadtobecomingtheultimatewarrior.blogspot.com/

Michele said...

Thank you for sharing your experiences. Walking into the dojo the first time can be overwhelming. Good luck on your karate journey!