Most of us have passions, or at the very least hobbies, that give great pleasure, provide distraction, and occupy time. It may be playing golf, supporting a football team or crocheting. Spending time playing darts in the pub or baking unnecessarily complicated cakes. And as likely as not our passion is completely inexplicable to our nearest and dearest.
For 10 years I practiced karate.
I trained once, twice, three times a week. Sometimes more. Early mornings and late nights. Indoors and out. On grass and on sand. I’ve travelled the length of the country to practice with others and travelled abroad to practice with foreign karateka from the same tradition. Practicing with Japanese Masters, in a gym a few miles from my home, was truly extraordinary.
In unbelievably humid rooms, alongside others, I’ve done more squats in an hour than most people do in a year. Or possibly a lifetime.
From all this there is a broad sense of community and camaraderie. It is forged from having been through the drills and the mill together, and discovering something about yourself when you emerge on the other side.
During this time I went from beginner to black belt. As an aside, this explains my Twitter handle, if it doesn’t mean anything to you, “shodan” is first degree black belt.
And then I stopped. [Read more…]