I went to my first Karate class today! What an awesome experience!
A new and wonderfully fun and amazing friend of mine owns a Dojo in Manhattan where she teaches Karate. Getting to know her inspired me to do something I never thought I'd do: Karate!
Growing up on gymnastics and dance, I love movement classes, in fact I have a minor in dance and taught both dance and gymnastics during college and naturopathic medical school. Many of my classmates remember me as a movement specialist!
Over the past decade, while growing my practice and my daughter, I have kept moving in yoga classes and at the gym (weight training, and, a recent favorite, Zumba). All of which have continued to be ways to nurture myself and connect with my body.
But Karate! Wow! It really knocked my socks off, in a good way! In all the various movement classes I've ever taken or taught, I've never experienced this sort of deep centeredness and at the same time ... connectedness.
First we "warmed up" with stretches and positions, not so different then those that were ingrained in my system from many-a-dance class. Then we practiced punches and kicks in varying directions and orders. All the while following the count of the teacher. The language of Karate class as a student consists of yelling (where else do we get to yell?) and the word "osu," which my friend explained means everything from yes to no, and ok too.
The best part was when we were paired up to "spare” with each other using the techniques just practiced. When standing across from a woman with a black belt who said to me "hit me," my reply was "really?" "Yes, please!" she said, and I did! She hit me too, and it was not at all what I expected. It was not so much a release of energy as it was an exchange of energy. As my friend explained, the hits and blocks in martial arts are about receptivity and the flow of energy.
What I can tell you is that the level of acceptance, playfulness and respect all at the same has me completed impressed and wanting to go back as soon as possible!
If you haven’t thought of a new fun way to get your body moving, consider joining me at the Society for Martial Arts Instruction at 4 W. 18th in Manhattan. sfmai.org.