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.