Working out with my friends made a world of difference for me. It kept me motivated in my training. Some of my favorite times while practicing karate is when over half of the class was either in high school with me or we were related. In my early years of practicing, there was a time when the class consisted of my sister and her husband (at the time), my best friend and his girlfriend, a girl I was sort of seeing, and a friend I’ve known since first grade.
The class had a family atmosphere, which was appropriate for being held in an elementary school. We held special events in and outside of class. A few times we rented space at a park for cookouts. The cookouts is where we got special announcements, recognition, and sometimes concussions (I’ll elaborate in a future blog). We did fun things in class too. We had a SUPERFRIENDS Night. We all worked out in Superman® shirts.
Out of the 5 years I practiced at this dojo, two people that stayed in the class as long as I did. My best friend and my sister’s husband. Shortly after I began practicing my best friend asked if I knew of place that taught karate. I told he him he could come to class with me. After the first night he was hooked. Within the year I had convinced my brother in law to come and check out the class. He had martial arts experience from his younger days practicing a Korean style. During his visit to the class, he was intrigued and awe struck by our techniques. It literally caught him off guard during a kumite match when a brown belt kicked and broke his ribs.
I am thankful for all of the people I have worked out with during my years of practicing karate. However, I point out these two guys out because they are the ones that pushed me the most. They knew my limitations. I don’t think I would have the range of mobility if it weren’t for them. Outside of class we trained together. I worked harder on katas and sparring. I helped them work on their weaknesses when sparring. I had a keen eye when it came to spotting mistakes in their katas. We spent a lot of time talking martial arts philosophy and theory.
My interaction between my best friend and brother in law during class demonstrated to the other students that I wouldn’t necessarily break if I took a hit. This allowed my fellow classmates to come up with real world scenarios for attacking me. We would work on dwarf tossing scenarios. Other type of attacks I worked to defend myself against included punting me, grabbing me, pushing me over, or picking me up and running away with me.
I never would have thought I would have to defend myself from my best friend who ran across the dojo and launched himself into a flying jump kick that landed in my solar plexus. I flew about 10 feet into the air. My Superman shirt would have been appropriate for this moment. I am so glad I learned how to do break falls. As I flew through the air I remembered our instructor asking, “What is the purpose of a break fall?” My best friend responded “Uh…to break the fall…”
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