No Kata For You
Updated: Jan 2
After years of dreaming, I finally signed up for karate. Growing up, it was too expensive to participate, so I carpe diem’d my way into a gi once I became… mostly financially independent.
I had a vision of what this experience would be like and it began and ended with everything I had seen in Karate Kid, 3 Ninjas, and Ninja Turtles. I expected a crotchety East-Asian man who invested in my hidden talents while using obscure parables to teach me life lessons. Even more naïve, I expected to be a protégé where my fellow classmates resented the investment my sensei had poured into me.
It was not that.
My teacher had red hair and confessed that martial arts wasn’t something he was passionate about. He looked like a guy who enjoyed Jello. Take that however you want. My class had 4 students total. One homeschooled teenager, one 75-year-old woman and a 62-year-old man. Then there was me, a misinformed upper twenties adult looking to live out a karate fantasy.
I was given an oversized, all-white gi to wear for each class. It was comedically large and about as close to feeling like a clan member as I had ever been. We stretched often. Pushups on your knuckle is harder than expected. We also punched balloons.
I kept having to remind my homeschool classmate that I was not 14. I didn’t know any tv show he referenced or video games for that matter. Meanwhile my 75-year-old classmate, who I call Doris in my head, was not the sparring partner I hoped for. I’m all for continuing learning but martial art predicated on kicks, chops, and hits doesn’t seem like a good fit.
For the life of me, I couldn’t remember how to tie my belt. Before each lesson, my 62-year-old classmate would walk me through it. By walk me through it, I mean he would take it upon himself to readjust my belt uninvited all while telling me how many heart attacks he had and how karate saved his marriage.
My final day of karate we focused on rolls and falls. I was taught how to reduce momentum when falling and how to tuck my head safely when rolling. More stretches, video game recommendations, uninvited belt help, and constant fear for Doris plagued my final day.
During one of my falls, I passed gas. Not uncommon during class given the median age of my fellow karate students. But as the lesson ended, I realized it was more serious. I had in fact, sharted in my gi.
It seemed like ceremonious end. A fitting conclusion for a quest born in my fantastical imagination. Perhaps daytime karate was never meant to be glamorous. I never returned to the dojo after that day. The window had closed.
Should have read the fine print though. I had to continuing paying for lessons for 3 additional months. A classic Planet Fitness subscription swindle… or forgetting to cancel Epix.
Yes, I still have the gi.
Interested in hearing why The Karate Kid is the perfect movie? Read our other post A Leg Sweeping Fantasy or if you're interested in hearing about that guy who always puts down karate, checkout Krav Maga Guy. Either way, checkout another post.