Karate at Shiryodo is very much a family affair. My youngest daughter Maya (6) is a member of the dragon’s class, Charely (10) participates in the Junior class and I line up in the senior squad.
Despite participating in the same dojo karate means different things to each of us. Maya is probably just following what dad and her big sister do but martial arts has a way of insinuating itself without you being aware. Maya enjoys the camaraderie, the kiai’s and games, yet will also go out of her way to help out a beginner. She also takes much pride in finishing a class sweaty as the ultimate vindication of effort. Charmingly in the past she would refer to Karate as ‘osu’ because she wasn’t able to pronounce the word karate properly. Charley has quite a laconic approach to her training and despite a pause and threats of quitting over the years she still fronts up every week. It was some-what amusing before her last grading how, all of a sudden, she had a great concern about competing well. Her anxiety was unfounded however because the knowledge had crept in, past her lackadaisical attitude and she graded really well. I’m totally envious of the height of her kicks. The round I got to spar her when she graded is one of the fondest moments I have at the dojo. Charley was spent, gasping for breath and covered in sweat; a forlorn look in her eyes as we tapped gloves and she beseechingly asked me ‘to go easy’ on her. Well wasn’t I surprised when she came out at a blistering pace throwing combination punches and putting me on the back foot. The cheering and hooting spectator’s applauded and clapped loudly as she landed a text roundhouse that slipped under my guard.
Hugging her after the bout, feeling her exhaustion and seeing the dignity with which she handled herself made me feel so proud. I’m sure the sense of pride she felt on receiving her brown belt made her feel really good about herself too.
All of us really enjoy the social events at the dojo. Tournaments, movie making, Halloween and Christmas parties, the girls really enjoy hanging out with the friends that they have made at the dojo. It’s quirky to see people in casual clothes and out of their gi’s for a change. The bubble of the dojo is one of positivity, acceptance and fun.
I really appreciate the structure of the club; it caters to all of peoples expectations. I enjoy my karate at full throttle and embrace the whole syllabus whereas others may enjoy the more holistic elements of the training and embrace kata or self-defence. The timetable structure is highly functional as there is always a class available despite school or work schedules. Looking forward, I assume to continue my training indefinitely, hopefully my girls will join me for the ride. I anticipate many more challenging training sessions, shared struggles and achievements and good dojo times.