Little Black Gi

In the closet hangs a little black dress. A dress meant for a Friday night out on to town with friends or the dress for special occasions. Some women realize they need to lose a pound or two so the dress will look perfect. Women will proceed with diet and or exercise to prepare for the night and the dress.

In the early spring of 2003, I received my brown belt. The rule in the class was that white belts and green belts could only where white gi’s (Japanese for karate uniform). Brown belts and higher could wear a black gi or a variation such as black top and white pants or vice versa.

That next weekend after I got my brown belt I made my way to the nearest shop to purchase my black gi top. It was a size two medium weight gi. I had always wanted to wear the black gi. This is due to the fact I have always wanted to be a ninja.

Once I purchased my gi top and took it to my cousin’s house. She is very talented with a sewing machine. She measured my arms and the sleeves on the gi. She sewed the patches on. The gi top was prepared for me to wear to my next class. I ended up wearing that gi top a handful of times to class.

In the fall of 2003, I began my junior year in college. I was working on my associate’s degree in information technology. Unfortunately, I had to take classes on the same evenings as karate. For two semesters I never made it to class. The black gi top hung in the closet waiting to be worn.

In the spring of 2004, I was running around with a friend of mine. We were at a friend’s house and where we both fell to the ground. She landed on top of me, her weight combined with my weight all on one leg. X-rays showed a small fracture but it could have been scar tissue. It would be several weeks before I would walk unassisted much less practice karate. In July of 2004, I moved away from home. I was living on my own, supporting myself by working and finishing up my degree. My black gi top would continue to hang in the closet.  It wouldn’t be until several years later I would get back into a karate class.

I didn’t stop practicing karate. It was a big part of my life. I would practice katas and do warm up exercises. I occasionally held private lessons. I kept up with current events pertaining to martial arts in my local area. It wasn’t until a few years after I was married my wife expressed interest taking a class. I gave some recommendations. I had considered going back to a class. Though I only wanted to do my style of karate – Shorin Ryu. However, the closest instructor I was aware of lived 45 minutes away. My wife discovered that the karate class she was attending had a Shorin Ryu class on the nights her class was not in session. I made my way and met the instructors. I told them who I was and my rank. They welcomed me to the class. In fact, a few of my previous classmates were already practicing at that dojo.

I thought to myself “WAHOO! IT IS TIME TO BREAK OUT THE BLACK GI!” I rushed home and realized, the gi was not in my closet. Oh, that’s right; it is still in my closet of my old bedroom. I made haste to my mother’s house and went to the closet. There it was hanging there by the white gi top.

I get home and into my bedroom. I put one arm through the sleeve. I put the other arm through the other sleeve. I took the left side of the gi over to the right side. Wait…why isn’t this closing the way it should? Why is there a 3-inch gap between the two sides?

I had gained weight. I could no longer fit in my size 2 gi top. It’s Ok just a minor setback. When I began karate years ago I lost all kinds of weight. The same thing will happen again and in a few months – the black gi top will fit again. I’ll just grab a white size 3 gi top and wear it. Maybe I thought; then again maybe not. I put on a size 3 and even that top wouldn’t fit. I had to wear a size 4 top. The gi top barely touched the floor. My best friend ripped the sleeves off so I wouldn’t have to roll them up. At least I could close it up. I even had to swap out brown belts. I practiced at this dojo for a year. My weight never budged.

I vowed I would lose the weight and wear my black gi top again. I had tried diets but they didn’t work too well. I did karate, so that was my exercise. I realize now when looking back I was eating a lot of junk food. I would eat several times a day. Plus on top of that, I was trying out the 40 grams of protein drinks – Monster Milk I bought at General Nutrition Centers (GNC). The chocolate flavor was pretty decent however those drinks had 400 calories. Plus I was at work going the snack bar to grab chips and candy bars after downing the protein drinks.

In early 2013 my friend came to me and said he was considering taking a ju-jitsu class. He was having some issues shedding a few pounds. He told me about a buddy of his who had been slightly overweight and began taking ju-jitsu class. That guy said he had initially lost 75lbs after a year of practicing. I heard this story and I decided I would try out ju-jitsu myself. I am glad I did. I had lots of fun. I will admit this class was intense compared to karate. It was cardio and strength training all in a 2-hour class one night a week. During the class, I wore a heavy weight gi top that was literally 10lbs. I thought to myself this is the class where I will slim back down.

I was wrong.

It wasn’t until the summer of 2014 my wife heard about this Tim Ferris guy. He had a book called the 4 Hour Work Week. He also had the book 4 Hour Body. We had read about this slow carb diet where you eat mostly all protein and after 30 days you lose 20lbs. This sounded like a win-win for me. He had tips on how to bring your sugar levels under control. To which we tried these techniques. I found myself not craving sweets such as candy bars and cakes. He wrote about this concept of cheat days where you binge one all sweet foods for an entire day then the rest of the week you eat clean. I also incorporated a few suggested exercises that burn the most calories such as doing air squats for 90 seconds.

My wife saw results immediately. Me, however, I lost 2lbs. Then I lost a few more pounds. One day I felt I had I lost enough. So I decided to reach into the closet and pull out the little black gi top. I put it on…it still wouldn’t close around me. Back in the closet, it went.

The year 2015 was the worst year for my health. I was sick and so was my family. I stayed sick. I was at my heaviest. I am 3 feet tall. I am supposed to be 70 to 80lbs. Instead, I was at 120lbs. I was wearing pants that had a size 38-inch waist. I was miserable. Dieting was helping and neither was exercising. On top of that, my wife had no problem losing the weight. Don’t get me wrong. I am extremely proud of her. She did great and looks real good. I mean real fine looking too!

It was in August of 2015 after many issues and a series of events I was taken to a sleep clinic for testing. I write more about this in my blog post-Fighting Sleep. Now that it is a year later since my sleep study. I feel better than ever. I have lost 22lbs. I started practicing karate – Shotokan. I was going to class all the way up until the flood that took out the entire town the dojo was in.

However a few weeks ago I was going out to see some friends and I decided to reach into my closet to get a shirt I had only worn a few times in the past. As I reached for it, I saw my black gi top. A thought occurred, maybe I have lost enough weight and it might fit. I shrugged the notion because every time I had tried it on and it wouldn’t fit, I was depressed for days.

Then on this Labor Day weekend – I had to reach into the closet for a shirt. There it was…hanging in the closet. I slammed the door shut and walked away. I was having a good day. I didn’t want to depress myself. However, curiosity got the best of me.  An hour went by. I stormed into the room and threw open the closet door and pulled out the black gi top. I put my arms through the sleeves. There was no gap. I had lost enough weight to fit back into my gi top! I showed my wife, she was happy. I looked at her and announced that we should go out and celebrate. We jumped in the car and made our way to go get $0.50 Frosty from Wendys.

It was my wife who said the black gi was my equivalent to a woman’s black dress.

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