There is joy and peace in movement.
I was that kid who would stand in the driveway and throw a tennis ball against the wall over and over again, trying to hit the spot, tweaking the angle of my arm, adding some spin, monkeying with this and that, throwing the ball against the wall over and over again. I sometimes wonder if that makes me better at teaching kids or worse. Probably a little bit of both. I can still find pleasure in repeating the same movement and that can quickly get to be a drudgery for some people. But having a teacher who finds delight in what they're doing is a big plus, too. I'm betting that the delight wins out over the drudgery.
I hope that we all find joy in movement. It can take so many different forms--kicking a ball just right so that it knuckles wildly into the back of the net, swiftly switching leads and feeling your body balanced and ready for the next movement, a good spin, the steady tread of walking through the woods, feeling a basketball leave your fingers spinning with that perfect follow through, the weight of your body stepping in behind a hook punch, the in and out rhythm of breath as you sit in meditation, the light ease of running. Those are mainly pulled from my own experience, but I know that other people have different ways they love to move. And, hopefully, we all share a love of the movement that we find in karate.
That joy can always be there. Sometimes it's hard to find because we get stuck in our minds. Maybe we get stuck on the way things have changed, like suddenly being limited in the dojo and not being able to partner with another student. Maybe we get stuck because we're thinking about the last thing that crossed our mind before class started and we can't stop thinking about that project, a sick friend, finances, or any of the other things our brains get stuck on. Maybe we get stuck feeling tired and worn down and we can't get past it, we can't just remember that we can enjoy movement with whatever energy we have available at the moment. Or maybe we get stuck comparing our practice to someone else's, berating ourselves for not being perfect, figuring out what we need to change about ourselves or someone else. We often talk about strong spirit, Nidaime talks about being Seido Strong, and one of the aspects of that strength is being able to keep going, keep grinding past those distractions until you can find that moment of focus, joy, and peace in movement. Our goal as teachers is to always try to help you find those moments.
We're back in a place, at least for the next few weeks, where we need to make good decisions for our own health and for the health of people around us. Sometimes that might mean that we need to take a Zoom class rather than coming in person. Maybe that means if you do come to the dojo you ask if you can have a little more space and you take an extra moment once in a while to step to the side, breathe, and settle your system. Maybe that means practicing your kata on your own rather than attending a formal class.
I hope that whether you come into the dojo, you attend a class via Zoom, you work on your own, or maybe just go for a walk, that every day, even if it's just for a moment, you are able to sink down into your body, unstick your mind, and find joy and the peace in moving. This is a more important skill than any of the particular curriculum pieces, basics, kata, or any of the other physical skills you learn in karate.
Someone posted a video on Facebook a while back of an old karate practitioner in a nursing home or a hospital sitting in a wheelchair and you could just make out that he was doing our Sanchin kata as he sat there. He was locked in place, living a life much smaller than the one that he had known, yet he was still moving, still practicing karate. I want to be that guy and I want all of our students to be able to feel what it might be like to be that guy. And to know that you carry that with you at all times, the ability to ignore all the details for a moment and move.