As I approach my black belt grading it’s a privilege to reflect on the ways this dojo community, the practice of karate and its guiding values have
impacted on me. Attending karate benefits me with regular connection with a range of people who encourage and inspire me. I really appreciate the way Shihan, his family, and the teachers have developed and modelled so many aspects of a positive community. The values that guide us all include mastering challenges and striving to do better; inclusiveness and care of all ages, abilities and diversity; the celebration of achievements and occasions; clear leadership; mutual respect and commitment to environmental principles.I appreciate the opportunity to participate in beach training with some of my most profound experiences being the combination of training and communing with nature.
I never thought I would be in the position of grading for my black belt. Perhaps I expected I’d just grow older and more achy-boned and never be able to get fit enough, let alone remember the moves and language. Somehow, with the combination of dedicated teaching and encouragement, regular training and the sign on the dojo wall that reminds us not to give up, I find myself in this unlikely but quietly dreamed of position.
The consistency of attending classes has been a steadying influence during years of shift work and the unstable rhythms that dictates. Although recently reducing nightshifts and resolving a long term health issue has helped my training enormously, focussing now on this next grading has fostered an overall redirection of my physical health.
I’m now eating better, sleeping better and have even started jogging. The opportunity to learn aspects of the Japanese language has also been challenging and rewarding.
I value being part of a community and dojo that lives its principles. All the students and teachers, young and older have absolutely and consistently been willing to share their knowledge and skills, and I find this amazing and a credit to the leaders. To me, the Shiryodo attitude to community has particularly shone during the pandemic.
Practising karate has changed the way I approach confrontation. The application of the attitudes and skills and improved confidence I now have mean I bring a clearer energy to physical situations, especially at work, and I have the means to deescalate situations with greater strength and maturity.
Karate has been a constant throughout much change in my life over the last decade. On countless occasions during the short mokso meditation at the end of class I have been fully mindful of my deep gratitude for its role in my life. I would like to thank Shihan, and all the Senseis and Sempais who have taken the time to teach and guide me over the years, as well as my peers of all ages who have always been so helpful.
I am proud of the training and study that has led to the opportunity to grade for my black belt and look forward to continued lifelong learning through karate.
By Libby Dempsey
Libby graded to black belt on 27 – Jun -2020.