About The Following Blog

The following blog has been written purely for those wanting a first hand knowledge of what it is like to step into the dojo for the first time as a complete beginner as a Martial Artist. Through practising a Martial Art, you will gain many things such as self-confidence, self-respect and life-long and good friends. I hope this helps you to see into an amazing world of which you have never seen before and that I have had the privilege of belonging to and knowing.
Although I have not put my name or any name to this blog, it does deserve a dedication- a dedication to those who help people to train, who teach, reassure and most important of all- those who never give up, no matter how many times they hit the ground or a mental brick wall, with themselves or others. But above all- those who are ready to begin their own journey, it begins with one step….

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Chapter 65: A summary of the journey thus so far....

The inspiration for this post only came to me today, and I hope you enjoy it. I hope you're sitting nice and comfortably, and here goes..

This morning I was reviewing some of my older blog posts especially those I had written about three to four years ago. I have to say, I quite enjoyed the trip down memory lane- remembering all of those I have trained with in the past, everything I have learnt from them- some still living who I see occasionally and one person who sadly isn't. Therefore, this post is a tribute if you like to everyone I've trained with and learned from thus so far.

I was looking at the dates of some of these posts, and realised (with some surprise!) that my blog is about 5 years old. So, this post is in recognition of that, because I'm still not quite sure how I've managed to survive this long! I think I will subtitle this particular post as I go along since it probably will be a long one.

How did it all begin?

I guess my interest in martial arts started when I was about 5-6 years old at the height of the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtle craze. My dad had done Judo as a child, so I was always asking him about it- what he did, what he learned. Eventually he taught me to punch and strangely enough how to judo roll in our hallway at home (although that one didn't work out so well, sorry dad!) But I never learned martial arts as a child, I don't know why. Perhaps it was cost?

Anyway, fast-forward 13 years. I'm now working full-time, most of my friends are away at university and whilst we still meet up during holidays, its not the same as our days at college. So, yeah I guess I was bit lonely. I'm sure I've already mentioned this earlier, but attacks were becoming more common on women in our town, even taking place in reasonably well-lit areas during early evenings.Well, at this point I decided I wanted to do something, rather than just wait to be a 'victim' as it were. So, I started looking for self-defence courses of which of course, there were none.

Then one night, after dinner, I remember reading the local paper (I think I was procrastinating from writing a report for uni at the time). My dad then casually mentioned about Aikido, he'd heard it was a good martial art for women to do, and I should turn to the sports page at the back. And there on the second to last page was a picture of a local club, with a phone number and details for new members to join.

I could say at this point, that the rest is history, and it is- but what a history!

The first six months-the hardest to get though they say

I remember my first session very well.

The club was outside of town, about 15 minutes away. So I set off, feeling extremely sick, having hadn't convinced my friend to come with me even just to watch, wondering what to expect. I found my way eventually and did what many new people do on their first visit to a sports hall cum dojo, look through the door before deciding to run away very quickly before any dan grades spot them. Unfortunately, I wasn't quick enough and found myself being coaxed in.

About 10 minutes later, after being asked to remove socks and shoes I was instructed in the way to enter and leave the dojo and also how to go onto to and leave the mat. Wow, my brain still hurts now to think about that etiquette talk! Over the years, I've discovered different clubs have different rules regarding what is expected in terms of etiquette. At this one, you waited to be 'bowed on' and 'bowed off' by the Sensei onto the mat, and if he wasn't on the mat, the next highest grade after him. It could get quite complicated considering there was about 5 dan grades, and you had to remember where they came in the line-up to catch the right person's eye to 'bow on'. this point I have decided to share a story about minding your P's and Q's when training with experienced dan grades. I remember one night that Sensei wasn't on the mat already to bow us on. Instead, there were three experienced dan grades already on the mat, two with their backs to us, chatting. Well, the thing is is that one of these was known as Big G (an affectionate term honestly) who always wore a Hakama, (and I mean ALWAYS) and out of the three was technically the higher grade. He taught weapons, and was always happy to teach us poor saps (sorry, beginners). You would learn alot from him, but equally would not be able to move for three days afterwards. But he was brilliant, and so we three beginners had a healthy respect for him because of that.

Remember how I said it had to be the HIGHEST dan grade after Sensi who 'bowed' people on? The youngest dan out of the three saw we were waiting and bowed us on. At this point such was the etiquette instilled in us that we all at first refused (politely). It had to be Big G, no one else. He pointed out it would be him in bother not us so we bowed in return. I'm still to this day not exactly sure what happened next, but I swear there is no way Big G could have known we were about to step on-he had his back to us! We had literally put one toe, and I mean one toe on the mat when he turned around and demanded to know who had let us on. Talk about Zanshin! We all jumped backwards as if electrocuted and unfortunately ratted out the dan who had tried 'bowing' us on at this point. Big G bowed us on, and proceeded to 'have a word' with the other dan who had made the etiquette faux par. I think it safe to say we stayed out of his way that night. Not out of fear, but out of a very healthy deep respect for him, after all, we were technically in the wrong.

So yes, I had a healthy respect for the higher grades who trained there. Not instilled through fear but more through them being willing to teach and help us. One in particular would do their best to help me with ukemi, because goodness knows I needed all the help I could get.

Wow, this is a long post- I think I'll leave it there for the moment. I hope you've enjoyed it- I'll put the next instalment up soon.

No comments: