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It’s funny writing an article before I’m about to make a trip back east—as we will be doing in less than two weeks—knowing it’s going to publish after we’ve seen each other and ostensibly caught up on all the big stuff. Regardless, here are a few numerical milestones since my last dispatch:
3. The age Maya turned on August 23rd. She’s already taken a couple classes with yours truly at the helm and calls me “Senpai Daddy.” We’re demonstrating some serious flexibility and a formidable AAAAAIIIIII!!!,” though she isn’t terribly sold on the idea that she has to share me with others. “MY Daddy!” she warned one student (who, come to think of it, I haven’t seen since…), so I might have to enlist the help of six other samurai.
5. On August 9th, Jenny and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary. It took me six years to reach shodan but I’d say we’re ahead of schedule, at least in terms of mastering the basics—if only because I don’t take summers off to go to camp.
40. The age I will turn on September 23rd. Many of you, I anticipate, will have seen me at the dojo (SURPRISE!) two days before my actual birthday, which, incidentally, marks the 33rd anniversary of my first official karate class (my biographers will correctly note that I had a private lesson with Sensei the Thursday before, September 18). And I’d be lying if I wasn’t pondering the fact that Sensei was, let me do the math, 39 years, 2 days on that day. So…
…in gifting me this opportunity to contribute to the dojo newsletter, Nancy has, once again, provided me with the greater gift of an opportunity for reflection, and, in this case, to use this Hallmark birthday to consider the most important lesson I’ve learned from Sensei. After painstakingly considering the obvious—personal responsibility, loyalty, humility, friendship, how to wear a gi like a Hugo BOSS—I’m going with, love the process.
I’ve never heard Sensei use these words, per se, but watch him work. Getting from point A to point B appears a joy. I feel like my experience of Sensei’s karate is no more profound than when he articulates the first movement of ten-no-kata number one. How he sets himself, weight evenly distributed among the major points of each of his two feet—kakato (heel), sokuto (edge of the foot), koshi (ball); how he relaxes his hips and, maintaining the integrity of his back leg, lunges forward with his right, carefully plants his front foot, then, feet set, releases his trunk, and allows his upper body to spiral around climaxing in that neuromuscular contraction we call kime for [I’d bet] an eighth of a second before, just as deliberately, returning to his place of origin.
In that movement, a plain ol’ lunge punch is the essence of what I’ve learned about karate from Sensei. To slow it down, smooth it out, and love the process.