Zen Martial Arts Center

Sacramento Martial Arts and Karate

What a White Belt Means to me or It's Never too Late to Have a Happy Childhood

My first journal entry is an attempt to capture some perspective from the far end of the line while it is new to me- along with everything else at the dojo.

My only belt concern is learning to tie the knot correctly.  My hands are full simply learning to make a fist.  Actually, my whole body is challenged to acquire new, basic skills which is daunting but exhilarating.  Conditioning wise, I am most preoccupied with flexibility and core strength which have always been problematic.  I'm also currently trying to swim at least once a week because it forces me to be mindful of breathing.

As I watch martial artists practicing the kata (which is hypnotic) and honing their sparring skills, I recognize that even though I inarguably know the least, I am not the one with the most to learn.  Mentally, I have it easy- work on basic skills and listen to the gracious guidance that comes from every quarter.  I'm hoping that the movements I'm trying to marshal will be like an alphabet that will eventually allow me to form words, phrases, and sentences.  Maybe even a dialogue someday.  (I look forward to being permitted to spar more than anything else on the horizon).  For now it's trying to write Roma-ji, left-handed, in cursive with new syntax and vocabulary in the midst of people composing poetry in motion, in kanji.

I have boundless respect for the people at the dojo, all of whom have been so generous sharing their time and experience with all my family.  Physical ability aside, those are some of the values I can work on while my other skills lag.  There is always room to improve on empathy and kindness.  Whether or not I ultimately progress in other facets, the dojo is already helping me realize some of my human potential.

Thanks to you all!

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Comment by Matthew George on June 2, 2016 at 9:38pm
After several more months at the dojo, I am ever more grateful to the community. Thank you all for your guidance, instruction, and patience.

Since my last entry, my personal physical goals have shifted entirely; instead of working to expand the breadth of what I am able to do, my priority moving forward is control. My flexibility, for example, is still extremely limited but has improved more than I thought possible. Because I never expected to be able to kick much higher than my own waist, now that I can (sometimes) I need to better regulate force, aim, balance, and a host of considerations that are new to me. If I become more limber, so much the better, but it would be a lesser one of many desired consequences of training. I am hoping that working on kata will help with body control and much else besides.

I recently started sparring and my prior expectations have either been exceeded or proved irrelevant. I have even more respect for everyone in the community, a respect I hope to pay to my sparring partners with a few minutes of mindful, injury free time whenever the opportunity arises.

Three months of Friday classes on grappling finished recently- my deep thanks to Mr. Herfurth, Ms. Scott, and of course Sensei. Thank you for your instruction and encouraging me with the immediate challenge to maintaining blood flow to the brain and range of motion in hinge joints. It was a very direct path to living in the moment. I'll miss grappling but look forward to the next quarter of Friday classes.

No matter how many or how much particular goals have changed, my overall expectations remain the same- to enjoy a society of people who are dedicated to helping each other improve, push my own limits, learn new skills, refine others, and to live more fully in the moment inside and outside the dojo.
Comment by Mike Oliver on February 27, 2016 at 8:14pm

Thank you for sharing Mr. George. I think to continue this level of introspection throughout your training will serve to be a valuable tool for you. By black-belt you will have a small book of reflections that not only you can look back on, but so can other students a long the same path. And what a powerful thing to be able to share with your children on your shared road of the martial arts.

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