When I was first learning karate, way back when I was a white belt, I was thrilled to do one big reverse punch. Huge punch with an even bigger draw hand. It was a big deal to master the skill. There were days I was sure that was all I’d ever be able to do.

I remember watching the more advanced students working on their combinations and thinking, “I’ll never be able to do that.” Feet going one direction, hands going another. Coordination is not my strength. I decided to be happy with what I could do, and leave it at that.

A funny thing happened, though. The longer I trained the simpler the combinations became. It’s a kick and then a punch. It’s two kicks and then a block. Taking the time to learn the basics is the key. Then, whatever combination an instructor wants to put them into you’ve already got a solid foundation. I try to explain that to my students now. There are times I see the same look in their eyes that I must have have in mine.

Have faith. One punch. One block. Do one thing at a time and do it well. That’s a lesson for both karate and for life. Now, I love roundhouse – same leg side thrust – step in punch. Not putting the foot down and following the two kicks (yeah, I can still kick high!) by a very solid punch makes me feel good. Heck, I’m even able to do five consecutive kicks of various kinds with the same leg – not putting my leg down. If anyone had ever told me I’d be doing that I’d have told them they were crazy. All I had to do was learn my kicks. Lots of repetitions until I could put them all together.

Never give up. Be persistent. Always believe you can. And take it one thing at a time.

New Beginnings

Ahhh…the holiday season has rolled to an end and with it the dojo reopens. Classes resume, with training picking up where it left off. I’m looking forward to seeing the kiddos as they come in tonight. It feels like forever since I curled my toes up on the mats. I wonder if the break feels long to them?

Probably not. They’ll jump right back in where they were eager to keep working on their katas and basics. Adults are different. They’ll want to slowly stretch out the muscles – testing the waters, so to speak. And they’re much more likely to have made some resolution to get back into shape whereas the kids just want to have fun and earn the next belt.

There’s something to be learned from the kids. Quit making it about anything more than having fun. There’s nothing like the feeling when you master a new technique. The snap of the hip as it vibrates when you do a back fist strike. The body vibration as you launch the hips executing a dynamic right-left-right punching combination. Enjoy it. Have fun.

I still feel like a child inside when I learn a new combination or master a new kata. Put the joy back into your training. Relax. Enjoy the ride. Let yourself have fun.