I've been reading chapters in "In the Dojo" by Dave Lowry as I get the chance. It's a wonderful book and I'm sure many of you have read it. I just finished the chapter on students and the last paragraph was a good one. If you ask any karateka why they started you will get many different answers that come easily. However, ask that same karateka why they stay and they may not be able to give an answer right away. It seems to get a little more complicated the longer you are "in it". At least that's the way it's been for me. Why do I stay? There are a few typical reasons: I love it, it makes me feel great, it's always a learning experience. If you ask me to look a little deeper I have to do a little more thinking about why I stay. At this point in my journey I have more frustration with my training, mostly due to being too hard on myself, asking to much. There is only so much I can do right now, and that's not an excuse. I train at least four days a week. I would train seven, but there are other factors in my life right now that also need my attention and I need to recognize that and respect that. There's work and there's my family. Training around my three year old is never a good idea. He gets upset, wants my attention, which he should have. There will be a time when he will be right at my side doing kata and kihones (at least I hope he will be there) and it will be easier to train with him. My husband also needs my attention. While he understands how important karate is in my life that understanding only goes so far. He is not a karateka and will never be one, and I also need to understand that.
Karate is always on my mind: how my positioning could be better, how my hara could be stronger, how do I get those two to co-exist? I stay because it makes me think about how I hold my body and how I hold my mind. There is also the ritual behind it all. I am a habitual person and karate is very habit-oriented. I stay because of the people I train with. Each person possesses a different way of training, and some people are more challenging than others. I try to train with each and every one of my kohai and sempai. It provides a more rounded experience and I learn so much from them. What it comes down to is the learning. I am always a beginner because there is always something new to learn about the same move you have been doing over and over for 9 years. It is important that I always remember that because it will keep me humble in my practice.