Shiryodo karate lies south of Grovedale on the Torquay Road. I’d driven past it heaps of times. And yet, just seven years ago, I started attending classes here. It was a good move and I am reaping the benefits.
From the start I have been welcomed at the dojo. It is a second home for me. I feel comfortable here. There is an acceptance of students of all types, abilities and backgrounds. Older students such as myself (sixty-seven in Nov) are encouraged and never patronized.
I’ve have enjoyed the introduction to the Japanese culture via the language and the insights into the Bushido code etc. I have sampled sake and recently bought myself a shakuhachi (Japanese flute).
Physically, the training is rigorous and technical. It offers a challenge for all. I’m definitely sharper in my reflexes and overall strength. The warm-ups and stretch techniques improve my range of movement.
Mentally, I have had to learn new things on a regular basis. As in a school classroom, there is a range of abilities on the dojo floor. I am definitely not the sharpest in picking up new information. In fact, I struggle a lot in learning new katas (orchestrated movements to simulate multiple threats). But with the support of instructors and fellow students I manage to cope. The process of acquiring new skills is said to keep older people less prone to ageing diseases such as Alzheimers. In this regard alone I owe a lot to Shiryodo karate.
Perhaps the best outcome of training has been in the area of self esteem. I feel good knowing that I have been put to the test several times and came through ok. Each belt is a significant achievement. It tests your knowledge and physical and emotional resources. Several times I’ve thought that I’d peaked and should quit. But each time I found myself back at the dojo. I’m sure that it was the atmosphere there that enticed me back. It was as if something was missing whenever I have left for a few weeks.
Karate gives my life a bit of structure. I now consider most things (diet, sleep, other sports etc) in relation to how they will affect my training. And my treatment of others is inspired by Shiryodo’s philosophy of compassion. That is, I ask myself how I can help others? This represents a win/win situation: I get lots of benefits from Shiryodo Karate and I can hopefully help other students as well as those unconnected to martial arts.
Shiryodo Karate is ten kilometers from my home. So I have a fair bit of time in the car to think about the value of karate. It tests you; it makes you sweat; and it introduces a bit of uncertainty in a person’s life. Perhaps that is its appeal: the struggle then the best outcome. This is best summed up by the dojo motto:
Seven times fall down, eight times get up.
In the process I think I have become a better person, physically and emotionally. I think less about me and more about others.
By Chris Colley