It is 5:51 AM and I’m up later than usual. Yesterday I had two karate sessions making four for the past two days and I’m battered and bruised. Surprisingly, it isn’t as bad as I had thought. When I first began I was afraid of getting punched, kicked and fighting in class. That fear has has decreased considerably as I’ve grown accustomed to it and my confidence has risen. I’ve also learned that a wrestling background really helps even if it was a lifetime ago. Seems like riding a bike to me as you never forget the basics. We cannot use throws or grabs – which I’ve done a couple of times when a partner gets too close to the surprise of a few black belts -but it helps maintain balance, my body moves naturally and it gives a lot of confidence.
It is just by a stroke of fortune that I even began wrestling. I had wanted to play basketball and tried out for the team in high school. At the same time our physical education coach was having us do a week of wrestling in gym class; the physical education teacher was also the wrestling coach. Well, it turned out that I was very good at wrestling winning all my matches except one. I even wrote about it here in this post from 1991. I really didn’t enjoy wrestling in gym class at all. It was very tiring and you sweat a lot. Well, gym was my first class of the day which meant I had to go through the rest of the day with dried sweat on me and feeling dirty.
A kid named Kalen was an upperclassman and helped Mickey our gym teacher/wrestling coach. I remember him coming to sit by me whilst we did our sit ups in gym encouraging me to join the wrestling team. I really didn’t want to and told him I was trying out for basketball. He asked if I would join wrestling if I didn’t make the basketball team and I told him I’d think about it just to make him go away. Well, I got cut and was pressured into wrestling. That freshman year wrestling was one of the toughest things I’ve ever been through mentally. I’ve never been a very intense, mentally tough person when it comes to physical exercise – I am much more so now but then mental toughness was non-existent.
I got through freshman wrestling with the best record and really didn’t enjoy a minute of it. So the next year I only did a week or so then quit. The coach and my Dad were very upset with me but I really just didn’t want to suffer another whole year. So I spent my sophomore year hanging out with kids that didn’t do sports and that meant smoking cigarettes, playing pool, driving to scary parts of Columbus such as old graveyards in the middle of woods and things like that. I went back to wrestling the following year as I knew it would be good for me and I realized that sports help tremendously with social standing. Usually stories like these one is disappointed in the ‘year wasted’ but actually it was nice to rebel for a little and experience something different than just sports all the time. My only regret was losing one year of wrestling means I ended up missing the state tournament my senior year by two points. If I hadn’t skipped sophomore year wrestling I would have been good enough to go pretty far in the state tournament my senior year. So yes, it would have been nice to say I made the state tournament in high school instead of losing missing it by two points but that’s life.
And so here I am, at forty years old doing something almost as strenuous as wrestling. I never stopped lifting weights since high school (I’ve never been very intense about it either) and this pays off tremendously in karate. It makes me feel confident, happy and young again like I did in high school. I also love that it is something I can do with my sons and that it fits so well with who they are; this karate training is and will be part of their actual identity as it is part of their heritage; a Japanese style, in Japanese for half Japanese kids. I love that it will give them the same confidence that I felt being being a wrestler in high school. Hell, it gives me confidence as an adult.
Adults are supposed to be confident, have their acts together and know everything. Well, I’m now almost 40 and I can tell you they most certainly do not! I wrote about this too in a post back in 2004. Many insecurities and characteristics one feels in high school just do not go away because they get older. I thought that once you hit a magical age you become a true *adult* that is as solid and stable as a rock. Well, there is no magical date.
For me personally the only thing that really gives me angst or wonder if I could have done better is with work. Should I have risen higher on the corporate ladder by now or not? Should I put more effort into that treadmill that is corporate America? By doing karate that is answered for me and that answer is definitely not! I get to bond with my kid, get in shape and do something I’ve always wanted to do! It puts me in a very positive mindset and I know that whatever work situation I find myself in things will be good so long as I keep that positive mindset.
One of the meanings of life is to have experiences and trading time constantly working for more money in the belief that great experiences can be bought later is the wrong way to go about it.