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The end of karate

Thursday, November 03, 2011

I wrote this on my real life blog on Livejournal about a month ago and thought I would cross-post it here. Here is the original link: http://pegkerr.livejournal.com


Last night, I drove to the dojo to talk with Mr. Sidner [my beloved karate instructor]. "I've come to talk to you about the contracts."

He nodded. "I had a hunch you would be."

I haven't been back to class for a couple of months. The last time I attempted a class, I left after five minutes in tears.

I'm fifty-one years old. I don't like sparring; I've never liked it. After I got the black belt, I took a break of several weeks and when I got back I discovered my hard-won balance had deteriorated again [due to a permanent knee injury I've struggled with in my training]. Black belts are supposed to be able to balance during slow kicks. I have tremendous difficulty doing so, especially when I'm standing on the right leg. The knee continues to give me problems, and it's getting harder and harder to get up off the floor. I'm worried about continued injuries.

So I stayed away and thought about it. Fiona's off to college [my oldest daughter, who also has a black belt], and she feels she can't do karate at our dojo while she's doing college, even though she's in town (she does intend to investigate the martial arts club there on campus). It's not so much fun to go when I'm all by myself. Rob's tired of doing the cleaning [we've paid for our karate tuition by cleaning the dojo], and I'm tired of doing the belt test pictures [another way we help pay for the tuition].

I'm tired.

So, with tears in my voice, I told him, "I am ready for a break. Maybe I'll come back some day." Maybe. I don't know.

"You can always come back," he told me warmly. "But I could tell that you were finding this harder and harder physically. I will cancel the rest of the contracts. If Fiona wants to come back in the summer, I'll work something out with her, maybe exchanging teaching for lessons."

I realize I have put off saying anything here to you, friends list. Almost a weird sense that I would be letting you down if I walked away now. I had worked so hard to get to this point! How could I give up now? But I know deep down that's not true, of course. I know you were all so proud and happy for me when I got my black belt. And I'm pretty damn proud of myself. I achieved something positively terrific that no one can ever take away from me. I am a karate black belt. But I can't pretend that I want to continue, at least right now.

I had sensed it, when the girls and I were on our little retreat to Washington Island. It's not giving up, exactly; it's that I'm simply moving into a new life stage. I'm changing.

I don't know what the future holds.

Karate has been wonderful, but I believe it's now time to take the gifts it has given me and move on. I will always be incredibly grateful to Mr. Sidner, both for being a fantastic teacher to me and the girls and for helping us work out a way to continue when we didn't have any money. I do need to find a way to stay active, one that doesn't take a lot of money.

I gave Mr. Sidner a big hug. I came home. I hugged Rob and cried. (Many, many thanks are also due to Rob for all the hours spent dealing with cleaning mirrors and mops and Pine Sol. Love you, honey.)

And then I baked myself some gingerbread scones.

Because, you know, I'm a black belt. I damn well deserve them.

(Tell me you still love me, friends list. I could use some cheering up right now.)

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • 23KAIYA
    3471 days ago
  • no profile photo CD7056031
    I can totally understand the sadness, but also the need to look after your health and if that means moving on so be it. Sounds like your wonderful teacher understands that too.

    As others have said, there are other styles if you want to come back to a less strenuous exercise. Personally, I've never given up my tai chi routine because I know I'll be able to do that for a lot longer than I'll be able to do karate.

    Be good to yourself and take it one day at a time.

    3471 days ago
    Peg, you're not giving up...you said it yourself: You're changing. The new you might not have room in her life for what comes with being a practicing black belt, but you accomplished something very few women in my area alone have achieved. This is nothing small!!

    Both Annette and Irene said it all, so there's nothing more to add except to be proud of yourself for your accomplishment. I doubt there's one of us here that will think less of you for chosing the best path that causes the least pain and discomfort.

    I will ask you to remember one little thing, though. You are never alone.

    Yay YOU!!
    3472 days ago
    Hugs! I left my school after my black belt, for different reasons, but I can certainly empathize with the empty feeling. And if at some point you find you miss it but don't feel like your body can keep up with the demands of that style, remember - there are other styles. I ended up in kung fu because I decided if I was going to a new school anyway, I might as well try out a new style while I was at it. Hang in there.
    3474 days ago
  • no profile photo CD1538603
    Peg, I can completely understand your sadness. (I'm a couple years older than you, too, btw. AND I also have a daughter who's a black belt, who's away at university, and who had to step away from her training, too... :)) I have been at it for 11 years, and have thoroughly enjoyed the journey - can't imagine not having karate in my life. Yet, if it were a matter of choosing between my physical well-being and studying karate, there would be NO decision to make. I know full well that my health and well-being would come first, and I couldn't possibly risk further injury. No one in our dojo would question that decision, either. It sounds like you made some wonderful connections and learned a great deal that helped your years become a truly enriching experience. Great on you!
    3474 days ago
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