Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Life is a Picnic...

Last fall, I missed what would have been my first karate school picnic. I don’t remember the reason I missed it, but I do recall that I had my potluck dish all prepared and was ready & excited to attend, but something came up at the very last minute – like an hour or so before. Why can’t I remember? Oh well…

This year, I was lucky to be able to attend with my son, my daughter, and her new boyfriend. Since my husband does not practice martial arts, he really doesn’t know anyone, so he opted out. But he did contribute his famous made-from-scratch potato salad, which always seems to be well-received.

Weatherwise, the day could not have been more beautiful. The second weekend of October, and it was in the low 80’s with barely a hint of humidity – in St. Louis! Our group had reserved a large, shaded pavilion with big shade trees surrounding it, which just enhanced the beauty of the day. The leaves are just starting to turn those wonderful autumnal colors and drift to the ground on light breezes. My favorite time of year!

When my son and I arrived, many were already there. We were welcomed by everyone and I placed Hubby’s famous potato salad in a larger bowl of ice next to the other fare of veggies, a hot potato casserole *YUM!*, a couple of varieties of pasta salads, along with the hot dogs and burgers (sauced or non-sauced) provided by Sensei.

I am normally not big on BBQ sauce, but when it came time to eat, Sensei asked if I wanted a burger with or without his BBQ sauce. Before I knew that it was his famous BBQ sauce, I said plain. Then when I heard that he made really good sauce and was proud of it to boot (He’s a guy – c’mon – what did you expect?) I said I wanted to try one with the sauce. He joked, thinking I was sucking up I guess, and said, “No BBQ Sauce for you!” (think Soup Nazi voice from Seinfeld!) Of course, everyone had a good laugh over it, but he did serve me up a burger with his oh-so-good BBQ sauce. And I’m glad I did try it because it really was very good. (And no, I’m NOT just saying that to suck up – I’m sure he doesn’t even read this blog, although I know he did see it once!)

After chowing down on all the great main dishes, we had an entire picnic table of desserts from which to choose. There was “Women’s Pie” which was basically chocolate with a pie crust used as a vehicle in which to get the chocolate to your mouth. I, not being the chocoholic like so many are, gravitated toward the apple pie, made by one of our senseis.

I learned a fun story about the apple pie too. Our sensei and his sensei, the one who just passed away last month, are and were respectively, both apple pie connoisseur. Every year, the older sensei would tease the sensei who baked the pie that she just didn’t quite have it right – it needed something more – that she’d have to keep making more and letting him taste test them. And as another who considers herself an apple pie enthusiast, I can tell you, if she does not have it right, she’s pretty darn close! It was delicious. In telling this story, Sensei said he was all about the apple pie…”Gimme an apple pie and big glass of water or milk…mmm”

I made the acquaintance of many family members whom I had not had the pleasure of meeting before. For example, Sensei’s wife, whom I had not met before. Very down-to-earth, wonderful lady. I enjoyed her company very much.

The married couple, he a black belt, she a brown getting ready to test next month for black belt, brought their two adorable sons, who, again, I’d never seen before. Cute kids and very well mannered.

I also learned some things I didn’t know about the people I see every week. For example, Mack, who I told you about in my first blog, I think - the late starter who encouraged me to start martial arts because, “If he could do it, anyone can do it.” Mark told us how he had a lot of people depending on him and how he takes it all in stride and offers help in any way he can. But if you knew Mack, this would not have surprised you. You can just tell he is that kind of person.

I met the owner of a sister dojo, a 4th degree black belt I was told, who brought along her pet sugar gliders. If you don’t know what a sugar glider is, they are adorable. They are basically a small flying squirrel. She educated us all on their origins (Australia) and how they eat, how they interact, fly and attack if they are truly threatened – which takes quite a lot from what I understand.) I had met her once, very briefly, at O-Sensei’s wake a few weeks ago, so it was nice to get to truly know her in more pleasant circumstances.

Everyone seemed to know my daughter’s new boyfriend. It was kind of funny because at least two or three people said to me, “What’s his name? He looks so familiar to me.” Turns out he went to high school with many of their kids.

Kids and adults had a blast participating in activities ranging from knife/hatchet throwing. (Yes – it was safe – a knowledgeable adult was supervising at all times.) to football and frisbee. The younger attendees spent some quality time on the nearby playground. My personal favorite activity was just sitting around talking, getting to know one another and our families better.

It is so fun to interact with these folks outside of the dojo. It’s also very interesting because in retrospect, in thinking about all the new things I learned about these people, none of it really surprises me. The way they act “in regular everyday life” is the same character traits that I see in the dojo. The things that make them great people both in and out of the dojo.

I can’t wait for next year…


Michele said...

It sounds like you have a wonderful dojo community!

Martial Arts Mom said...

We really do, Michele. And what I think I love about blogging so much (besides making new friends) is that these neat "aha" moments hit when I write. In this post, it was the fact that people seem to have the same basic personality and characteristics in life as they do in m.a.

minivannija said...

I love the potlucks and dinners we do outside the dojang. The other students are really becoming like family and it's a trip getting to see everyone out of uniform, hair down, makeup done and drinking beer.

And your comment is spot on. As my Grandmaster always tells us "How you do Tae Kwon Do is how you do everything".

m.a.l.s. (him) said...

I wish our school did more to cultivate a sense of community among the students and parents. I bet it would help in student retention.