The Quantum Karateka

…step outside the dojo.

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What you been up to dude?

Oh man my body’s all sore.

Note to self: I don’t think it’s a good idea for me to exercise in the morning and then do my group practice in the afternoon. I feel like I’m stretching myself thin. Better to leave my Sundays open just for study group. And if no one can come that day (which is kinda often the case unfortunately), then just go jogging in the evening. It’s okay. Sacrifice not being able to do solo kata/bag work stuff in the morning so that I won’t feel so exhausted for group in the afternoon. I know, I know, it’s not like I’m working out for a long-ass time, and I schedule group practice for only an hour and a half (which isn’t very long really). But hey, I’m not one of those “Hoorah!-muscle-your-way-through-it-gung-ho-impulsive-king-warrior types” alright? I’m a highly sensitive person goddammit! I need rest! I need downtime! I need read-my-books-be-motherfucking-quiet-time!

Hahaha. Oh man, but yeah I’m exhausted. I feel like I’ve been so busy since the beginning of the year. I mean, this is the first time I’ve actually been able to just sit down and blahg for this month! That’s because blahging takes me a while too. Like two, sometimes three, sometimes way too many hours! (I know, you’re reading this and you’re like, “Really, this dude took how many hours to fart this shit out his head? Wtf?“). Yeah brah. Sometime it do. Anyway, so yeah, been…occupied. Had study group practice today. That was pretty fun actually. It’s been difficult for me (in my head) to keep going with that sometimes because there are moments when I feel so discouraged that no one is available to train with me. I take it really personally. I’ll start to think they don’t like what I want to practice, or that I’m a sucky-ass facilitator, or that I’m a fake/fraud who’s trying too hard to be a martial artist, or they just don’t find me like-able, whatever. That’s not to say they don’t actually think some of these things, I have no idea. But most times, what’s in my head is just that, in my head. People have lives, they’re busy, they work, their schedules change, their dad’s get hospitalized, they leave their wives. I know. It’s not easy to always get a group together to do the same thing. Or at least, not easy for me. But anyway, I had fun with my training partner Juan today. He’s a former classmate from the old dojo. He still trains with our Sensei, but he’s the type of karate student who’s been asking himself those important life-changing questions like, “What the hell is kata anyway? What do the movements mean?”. My group is really geared towards those types of people. People who have been questioning traditional training methodologies but who haven’t quite given up on the whole thing yet because they sense there’s something more there. They’re right obviously, but information and the right teachers can be really hard to come by, even in the era of Google and YouTube. There’s so much crap out there, how do you know where to look, or what or who is valid or not? It can be pretty overwhelming. I know. I was there. This blahg comes out of that mess. Every so often (when I’m in a positive mood), I’m astonished at how much I’ve matured in my journey outside the dojo. How much more I know, not just about karate, but about how to manage myself as an independent student. It’s not easy man! So many times I’ve wanted to give up and quit (scroll through some of my past blahg posts to read what I’m talkin’ about). It’s funny, you know that whole saying about the “traditional meaning” of a black belt? How a student doesn’t really start their journey until they’ve become one? I don’t know where that comes from exactly (maybe Japanese culture…?) or if it’s just a bunch of processed lunch meat, but I have to say, there’s been some truth to that for me. In the five years since I’ve moved on from my old school, although I’m not training hard-core or anything, it’s almost like, I didn’t really start training until I left. It’s ironic, I know. What I’m trying to say is that, when I first started out as a karate student I was mainly relying on my teacher for hands-on guidance and assistance in training. When I left, I had to figure out how to practice on my own. I started by just doing what had been taught to me. But because of the new information I had been gleaning, what had been taught to me wasn’t quite making sense anymore (an understatement really. Everything I thought I knew about karate was being thrown into question). I had to really ask myself what it was about this art that I was trying to understand. Maybe this is like the Japanese martial concept of mastery known as “shu-ha-ri” (守破離)…protect, detach, transcend? I don’t know. I ain’t tryin’ ta transcend nothin’ man. I ain’t no Bruce Lee. I’m just trying to follow my Bliss within karate. Practice the way that makes sense in light of the information. Or like my mom said to me, I want karate to be “growing, alive, meaningful and relevant” (GAMR) in my life.

Speaking of GAMR, in about 3 weeks I’ll be taking a short trip to the Peaceful Warrior Martial Arts & Healing Center in Scottsdale, AZ for the Ryukyu Martial Arts Friendship Gasshuku 2017. A study group partner had mentioned this last year and when I heard that Ryan Parker was behind it all, I was like “Daaaamn! I gotta go!”. Ryan Parker is someone that I found online during my time in Oakland I think. Much like with Jesse Enkamp, Patrick McCarthy, Kris Wilder and others, I had been inspired by his combative insights into kata. Actually, just reading this now, I think Noah Legel (yet another applied karate “celebrity” I’m excited to meet!) would be considered the main logistical organizer for this gathering. Apparently, it was Ryan Parker who had started a bunch of Facebook groups for like-minded karateka and then Noah Legel was the one who brought them all physically together. There’s gonna be a whole line-up of these people teaching (Chris Denwood…another “celebrity”! Albeit through Skype I think…he lives in England). So yeah, I am hella excited (a bit nervous though, as all social-type gatherings make me nervous, but excited and curious nonetheless). It’s funny cause my Aunt actually lives not too far from this place so I’ll be able to stay with her when I’m there. I am expecting to learn a lot…so much that my brain will pop. Cooool!!! Hoping for some awesome pictures and video and just getting to talk and train with these people…wow. I’m glad I’m only 5 – 6 hours away from Arizona.

Anyways…will definitely be posting something about that!

– QK