I am hot and sweaty from practicing kata’s for an hour and one step kumite. Sitting off to the side of the room my instructor sees me and picks me as his next sparring partner. At this time in my life had been out of karate for a few years working education, career, and family. I had only been practicing a few months, my technique wasn’t the best, and I was overweight. After this class I soon found I had a lung infection and I had developed adult onset asthma which prevented me from getting a full breath and fatiguing much quicker.
I bow to my opponent (Sensei) and I am ready to spar. I am amazed by the volley of kicks and punches that are launched at me. I block everything as best as I can. It feels like 20 minutes has gone by since the start of the match, my arms and legs are burning. I eventually get him to the ground for a kidney shot. We are finished with the match. I can barely see with the sweat pouring in my eyes. I can barely hear with the blood rushing past my ears. It is all I can do to inhale. I feel like I am going to fall over and pass out.
After class was over I asked my instructor about my performance. Sensei’s comments were very critical and like a hard punch. He looked at me and said “you better consider carrying a .22 pistol with you wherever you go.”
Let’s take a quick trip into the future by 4 years. I was a best man for a wedding and took the groom and groomsmen to a gun range. First time I ever had ever fired a gun. In fact it was a .22 pistol. It was the last time too. I stood there aiming the gun. Keep in mind my arms are short; the gun’s slide came back and just barely kissed me. I handed the gun to the best man. I stepped to the side quietly and sarcastically thanking Sensei for the advice of “…you should consider carrying a .22 pistol.” I can see the headlines “Dwarf Knocked Out By Own Gun While Shooting at Thugs Only To Be Robbed of Gun, Wallet, and Dignity.”
Well, that’s not the answer I’d expect to hear from my instructor. I admit that I had been out of karate class for a while and was a little rusty. Even to this day as I write this post, I am still learning from that night, that conversation, and the year and half I participated in the class.
That night sparing Sensei was not about testing whether or not I knew the basics. My brown belt that I wore told him I knew the basics. At this point in my training it was about how to use the basics and bring together in a technique and developing a strategy. It was to see how well I used the basics to my advantage and to my situation. This is a lesson that has taken almost 4 years to learn.
Karate is not a likely option if I were to face confrontation on the streets. I had to go and search for other tools that will benefit me. During my time in my ju-jitsu class I have learned to bring together techniques out of karate and use them together.
I am more confident now then I was that night. I am ready for a rematch with that Sensei…just let me grab my inhaler first.
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