Sometimes it feels more like a dream. Did I ever? … Its been some years since I have trained in a regular manner in a dojo. I used to train with Shotokan Ryu Israel (SRI). Temporary member cards 105, 910514, permanent member card number 736.
I began my training in 1990, following my six year old daughter. I would watch her, and later on my son as well, train. The teacher, Isidor Peled, had a magical approach to children. He was a pioneer in my home town, establishing his first dojo with four students, if I recall, in the 1970s. He still teaches today, held some key office in the Wingate Institue. That year I learned that there was a group for adult beginners. So I joined. And stayed; first time around for ten years.
Karate did for me all these wonderful things that I was to read about much later: It gave me a sense of enablement. It was something I did for myself, by myself and of myself. Karate, alongside President Lincoln had freed me. It was my personal time, spent with a group of people, each concentrated on his or her best karate. My best karate was falling far behind most practitioners in the group in the technical abilities, but I think it was quite advanced in the spiritual aspect. No, I did not become a Buddhist, nor have I ever practiced Zen. Neither can I claim to have upheld the principles of Bushido. But I can say this: I did my best to be the best me. I followed my path in all areas of my life. I endeavored. I Respect others to the best of my ability, albeit at times I have not so honorable thoughts. But never to insult anyone. And, as you might believe, I am not, and never was, a violent person; Just like the dojo-kun prescribes. Possibly, I was not assertive enough through most of my life, but I have been learning.
When I took the first break from my training the first time, it was due to health problems. It was a long, ten-year frustrating break. I know that some ‘true’ karateka will say that I am not one. But I made that decision when I realized that the training sessions were draining me completely throughout the week. The training was great. The ‘fall’ affected all other aspects of my life. It was the hardest decision I ever made: to withdraw. Some years later my health condition changed in two ways: I was able to train; but I was warned against receiving any blows to my liver, since I have a few large hemangiomas. I did try to return to the dojo for training in 2010, and I explained to my new teacher Oded Freidman (also of SRI) that I am not allowed to do kumite, and why not.
However, after a few months I came to the realization that it was still very draining, and also the proximity of other karateka even during performance of kihon is too great, and it is virtually impossible to be careful all the time not to be kicked. Reluctantly, but completely at peace with myself, I decided to end my formal training. And as it happens, it was just as well: last year I was diagnosed with severe osteoporosis. So I was also in danger of easily breaking bones… At present, I try to do kata at home on a regular basis, but I don’t always find the inner strength. So it is an ongoing struggle with myself.
I am somewhere in that picture. It was taken the very year I passed my examinations for dan1.
From time to time I get notification from facebook, about pictures posted, someone who got a new rank, or a judges license. Someone’s kid just made it through orange belt, and someone else posted a rare Funakoshi video.
I have to admit, I am jealous. Shouldn’t be, but I am.
believe it or not. Some pictures of me in training:
Don’t know when before 1996
In Philadelphia: 1997