It is 6:27 AM and I’m at the gate in Oakland Airport for my flight to Burbank. These past few weeks have been a daze and I haven’t had time to write. I’m so busy with the new job that time marches by in a blur and I have to catch myself and take a moment to be mindful and appreciate life and all the small moments that make up our experiences.
Aside from work karate has also been at the forefront so let’s start there.
We had our karate promotion test last Sunday and it had me stressed out for a couple of weeks. It was the first time my son and I would do the test with Saiko Shihan. He holds a yearly clinic and afterwards is the advanced belt promotion test. Shihan had also said that I would fight a knockdown champion, then Shihan himself as well as Senpai Takasan. I told him I was pretty nervous about that with the reason being I had expected it to be like Fighter’s Cup. I can do one all out fight against a good opponent but then my energy is completely spent. I had thought that I would have to go all out for five or six times which I wouldn’t be able to do!
So yes, I was extremely nervous, a bit scared and had tons of anxiety for over the two weeks leading up to last Sunday.
On Sunday I woke early and headed over to the dojo to help transport the mats to Pomeroy Center where the event was being held. The loading up of the mats was quick and we were at Pomeroy in no time. I walked into the gym and remembered very clearly how much I hate the smell of gymnasiums. They remind me of high school and the enormous shock when I experienced the difference between the level of training in high school sports vs grade school. Grade school training is relatively easy but then without warning it seems like you’re doing suicides for days and just want to die.
I think about all the late practices on the wrestling team where it is cold and dark outside with sweat dripping down the windows. Everyone else has gone home but you remain with the team becoming completely exhausted doing something that isn’t very fun, and you have to keep it up for five months.
So walking into the gym on Sunday and having those memories flood into my consciousness then coupled with my anxiety about what I was soon going to face was not pleasant.
The clinic started and as usual it was a great one and Saiko Shihan taught us many things that we usually do not hear during regular practice. I paid attention, tried very hard and before I knew it the clinic was over. I still had plenty of energy and was glad I’d gotten through the first part but now the test was going to begin and that is what I was scared of.
In short, it turned out to not be too bad at all! I had to only fight two black belts and it was not all out because there is an understanding. If you go hard the other will go hard and then there will probably be injuries. Everyone did try hard but it wasn’t full on fighters cup style except for one brown belt. Saiko Shihan saw this and his reward was to fight Shihan who beat the tar out of him. Shihan is such a nice guy but turns into a beast when it is time to fight.
It was over before I knew it and I was in shock that I only had to do two fights! I was so happy and during the after practice stretches wondered if it were only a break and then suddenly I’d be called to fight a whole gang of people. I was so nervous for so long that I’m still glowing three days later at the test being done.
The really cool thing about that test was Saiko Shihan himself stepped in while the kids were fighting the black belts and sparred with my son! That was the only time Saiko Shihan did that and we got it on video. He threw my son down a couple of times but Kai was a champ and kept going at Saiko Shihan. I told Kai how much he was going to appreciate being able to say he sparred with Saiko Shihan and that the video we took will be an absolute treasure to him later on. I also mustered the courage to ask for a photo which will go on the wall of our gym.
So why am I at the airport? Well, Saiko Shihan made a movie called Take a Chance which we saw along with the entire dojo a year or so ago.
Well, I got a notice from the dojo that there was going to be an exclusive screening and red carpet event in LA for the film and everyone was invited. I thought the idea of being on the red carpet would be a once in a lifetime event and as it happened my boss asked that I spend some time riding along with my colleagues to learn from them. I could kill two birds with one stone by heading down to LA to ride along with my colleague during the day and then go to the red carpet event at night. So here I am, and the boarding is about to begin.