Today’s post comes from Joanne Jensen
In April of 2007, I was looking for a quality, individual sport for my 10-yr old son with Autism to help with strength, discipline, focus and socialization. So that month, my two younger boys attended karate together at the Dojo Karate in Monticello.
After watching a few of their classes, I decided I wanted to try it because it looked like fun and good exercise. I still remember my first couple classes when 20 jumping jacks would get me huffing and puffing. Even more so, I clearly remember getting my white belt at my third class. It was just me and Mr. Z, the owner/head instructor – a short, handsome, dynamic Hispanic man. He had me punching a couple small shields like a boxer pounds a punching bag; right-left, left-right, right-left, left-right. I found a rhythm and intensely focused on getting faster and hitting harder. Soon, I was in that sacred place athletes aspire to – the Zone. It was just me, my hands, my body and the punching shields. I was vaguely aware of Mr. Z, his eyes seeming to go wide as he watched me.
After presenting me with my white belt, he asked me if I had ever done martial arts before. No, I answered – I was just a dancer in college and sports in high school. Now, I was just an overweight, gray-haired, middle-aged matron who just found an exciting past-time. I’ve called my karate obsession my mid-life crisis. Some folks may start affairs, buy sexy sport cars or have plastic surgery, but I jumped into a body-pounding, intense sport geared for young people.
Many evenings after class, I was so thrilled with learning weapon forms, full contact sparring and brutal defense techniques that I could barely sleep at night. I immediately started competing in tournaments and found I usually placed First in my division and age bracket (not much competition!). Although competing was nerve-wracking, I relished watching the black belts perform high level weapon forms, creative musical forms and lightning quick sparring matches at the tournaments I attended.
In October 2013, I achieved the rank of First Degree Black Belt. On Saturday, September 26, 2015 (at the age of 57), I received my Second Degree Black Belt. In three years, I hope to get my 3rd Degree Black Belt. It has not been easy on my body or my budget.
I’ve exercised myself to the point of exhaustion many times, have a couple injuries and some arthritis in my knees; but I keep going because I can’t disappoint my instructor or myself. I love the challenge, the variety, my classmates and my instructors.
Describe a challenge you found completely captivating.