Friday, August 28, 2009

Shohei Doin' Work

Almost six years ago, I walked into a small dance studio in Granada Hills to take karate lessons. At the time, I thought it'd be 'fun.' I was 22 years old and had never fought anyone in my life. At the beginning of my first class, I immediately had trouble keeping up with the punching and kicking drills; and I got tired very quickly. At the time, I thought that I was naturally more athletic than the Average Joe. And I thought I knew how to pace myself better than most people. But there, I was dying within the first 20 minutes. To make matters more embarrassing, the assistant instructors were shorter and several years younger than me. I did not look cool at all.

This moment of humility gave me a rude awakening to what true karate is. It's about pushing yourself to the limits. It's not a game or a comparison of who's better.

I learned and improved little by little. And for the next few years, I consistently trained twice a week for an hour and a half each session. Along the way, I took some nasty punches and kicks; and came home bruised and sore. I got knocked out a few times as well. But it was gratifying to know that I stopped being fragile and I could dish out some of my own techniques.

But it took hard work.

About two years ago, I stopped training. Adult life kicked in, and I couldn't practice objectively with sacrificing more important priorities. But a few of the same people are there. That young, smaller black belt who helped instruct during my first day of class? His name is Shohei. After all these years, he stuck with it and grew up. Last weekend, he took 3rd place in the middleweight division at the World Championships. Truly inspiring.

No comments:

Post a Comment