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Starting Training

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 activity.

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 started.

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.


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