Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Karate Kid (and Mom)

I've survived this far and while doing so, I have managed to sing three Messiah concerts, resurrect my clogging shoes and clarinet, and get a book published. So why not get a black belt in karate?

When I was in college I took a karate class, and I loved it so much, I joined the instructor's dojo for a few months. I made it all the way to an orange belt (it's the third level from the beginning, so it's not very far) and then I got distracted with trying to graduate from school and plan my wedding. It's been almost twenty years, but I remember it fondly. And it's a great workout for mind, body, and spirit.

I also thought karate would be good for my son, who is very athletic and coordinated. It's a nice all-season activity to complement his other sports, and it also teaches confidence and discipline.

There is a dojo close to home that teaches Kempo karate, so I signed us both up for a few months' worth of lessons. I studied American Kenpo; this is Shaolin Kempo, so there are some similarities and some differences. Because it is a different style I start over as a white belt, but hopefully it'll be like riding a bike.

We had our first lesson today, reviewing some stances, punches, kicks, and blocks. My son did very well, and I felt like I was back on the bike (just older and fatter and thinking of everything as a cool neuro test). Sensei Craig urged us to memorize the five animal forms of Shaolin Kempo, and their characteristics, as they are good to emulate:

THE TIGER: It represents courage, tenacity, and power.

THE DRAGON: It represents flexibility and inner strength.

THE LEOPARD: It represents timing, speed, coordination, and footwork. It is also very strong for its size.

THE CRANE: It represents balance, grace, agility and LONGEVITY (!), as well as concentration and patience.

THE SNAKE: It represents inner strength and endurance.

Of course, I would add the beagle (tenacity and playfulness) and the gorilla (for its grin). And if I can find some animal known for its ability to rejuvenate brain cells and destroy its own cancer cells, I'll be sure to add that to the mix!

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