By Sara Aoyama
It's always interesting to hear from other older
beginners what it was that got them started in the
martial arts. Many of them, like me, started training
after watching their kids do karate or hanging around
the dojo with a family member. It can be a real family
I also first came to our dojo to enroll my son, and
started my own training after watching him train for
a few years. I feel that it was "nariyuki"
for me. Nariyuki is a Japanese word roughly translated
as "fate," but literally combines the verbs
for "to be or become" and "to go."
There's that path again! For me it has been that one
activity that draws together many aspects of my life,
and stimulates me to explore new paths that appear
naturally during my karate learning process.
Regardless of why I initially started training, I
find all kinds of reasons for training and all kinds
of benefits that I would have never thought of before
I did figure that it would be a good physical workout;
it is. I thought that it might also help me ward off
early senility. I'm not sure that's true, since I
still can't remember where my car is parked at the
supermarket. And on those days when I am too sore
to go home and take care of household tasks, I do
wonder if the physical part is getting to be too much.
I already know that the mental part is too much, and
am eternally thankful that we have only a left and
a right side of our body, because if I had to switch
to a third side I'd never learn to do anything!
One thing I did not think of was how martial arts
would influence us outside the dojo. It seems to play
a role in all aspects of life. I remember when my
son entered the third grade, his teacher was making
up a list of classroom rules. She asked the kids what
they thought would be important. My son raised his
hand and said that they should all have good "etiquette."
His teacher called me that night and said she'd never
had a student bring that up before; in fact she hadn't
been sure of the spelling when she wrote it on the
board! But I knew just where that idea had come from.
I was intrigued by the movements and the beauty of
martial arts when I started, but I didn't realize
that it would cause me to confront some of my fears
and reconsider my ideas about safety. This has not
always been a comfortable process. And most recently
karate has been making me think of the meaning of
peace and the meaning of power. So much for martial
arts being all about punching and kicking!
About the author:
Sara Aoyama is a 1974 graduate of the University
of Kansas, majoring in Japanese Language and Literature.
She spent over twelve years living in Japan where
she dabbled in a number of other Arts such as Ikebana
(flower arranging), Cooking, and Shamisen. While living
in Kyoto, she was able to see many hidden aspects
of Japanese society. Currently she lives in Brattleboro,
Vermont where she started training in Shorin-ryu Karate
at the Brattleboro School of Budo in May, 1998 after
watching her son train for three years. She works
asa free-lances as a Japanese-Englishtranslator. Most
recently, she is the translator of "The Art
of Lying" by Kazuo Sakai, MD.
Other "Beginner's Mind" columns:
To Your Body"
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