I started practicing martial arts at the age of 10. I studied Budokon. My parents enrolled me into a martial arts school because I was very weak physically. They hoped I’d grow some muscle around my skeleton. I did.
I didn’t mind the hard physical work. Well, I kind of did … once. The teaching methods of this school were old-school. Discipline and proper stances are very important in old-school martial arts schools. They actually kick you and punch you if your stance is not correct or if they find you goofing. Parents are way too over protective today and don’t allow that kind of thing anymore. Personally, I think it’s idiotic to over-protect but I don’t want to digress. Lucky for me, back then they allowed punishment.
After getting kicked and punished a few times, I decided to quit. I wasn’t going to let anyone boss me around until my mother stepped in. She warned me and I will never forget her words. She said, “If you do not go, I will beat you much harder than they ever will”. I’ve never missed a practice session since. Truth is, I fell in love with the sport and eventually became one of the top students at the school. We moved when I was 15 and had to quit the school.
Soon after, we moved to United States. I found a new martial arts school – Uechi-Ryu Karate Academy. I studied there for three years I tried commuting from college for the first year and a half but eventually it became too difficult to juggle both schooling and martial arts. Martial Arts had to be given up temporarily. I was 20 years old then. The intention was to rejoin after college.
Life happened and martial arts became an afterthought until about 3-months ago. I am enrolled into a martial arts school again. I’m 37 right now. The style taught here is Kenpo. The teacher (although he doesn’t kick or punch us) is a proponent of old-school methods. Which I think is a nice bonus (for me at least).
I’m not a big sports person. I’ve never really played any other sport all my life besides practicing Martial Arts. So, when I started practicing again, I immediately noticed some differences, some big differences.
- I had lost all my stamina. I could hardly run for 1-minute without huffing and puffing.
- I can only stretch about half way without hurting myself. I used to be able to do a full-stretch in about 2-seconds.
- I have lost some balancing ability.
- I had forgotten the effective way to kick.
- I cannot jump, turn around and kick while in the air anymore (not yet).
- My joints aren’t as flexible as when I was young.
- My legs are weaker than I’d prefer. This is very evident when doing jumping jacks.
- Surprisingly, my kicks and punches are stronger than I expected or remember.
- I haven’t lost my speed. This is also surprising. If anything, I’ve become faster.
- After my first class, I was drenched in sweat. I hadn’t sweat for 17 years. It was the best feeling ever.