The Loss of Color
by, 11-03-2011 at 23:54 (789 Views)
Martial arts will always give more to me than I take away from it. I do not want to fight for violence, but for the refinement of my skills. I do not want to compete for trophies, but to broaden my experience. I do not want a belt or rank to boast, but as a marker of my responsibility to my art. I can’t help but train in martial arts, it is just who I am.
I recently attained my 3rd kyu, or brown belt. While I still have two more tests (2 more belts of the same color) to attain there is a thought that is constantly running through my head; "I have no more colors between me and black." I am fairly concerned with this as I am slowly realizing how much more work I need to put forth, and how little time 2 years is to be ready. The large techniques I was once worried about mastering have now broken into a hundred individual nuances that need to be endlessly refined, drilled, inspected, and drilled again. I know have to work on the finer points of my Kata, and the Bunkai to match. While the belt color makes no difference; it is the responsibility I assume when I accept it.
The attainment of the brown belt was an important achievement for me. Still I did not have a great increase in skill or knowledge from my green belt until my brown belt. My fitness has not changed much, in fact my knowledge of Kihon, Bunkai, and Kata are almost the same. I feel as though I have merely logged in more hours, and refined some of my Kihon. Now I realize that before I was coasting, now, from brown belt on it is to be an upward struggle to attain that black belt and finally begin my journey as a Karateka.
My goals for my Karate have altered. I no longer want to learn more Kata or techniques; I want to refine the ones I already have. The position of my foot in a kick, relaxing my strike until the moment of impact, and similar details are now my focus. These all seem like basics to me now, things that I should have been working on since the beginning of my training. Now I have all these ‘skills’, ‘Kata’, and a belt to boot, but they all feel like a burden. I feel like I lack the details of the skills which make my Kata pointless, and as an end result, my belt a sham display of effort.
The issues that now occur to me are two different, but very close opponents; my Dojo and my self.
As a student I wonder “Why was I not instructed with these finer points as part of the technique from the beginning? Why does my Sensei not focus on the true art of the Kihon?” I now look at my Dojo in a different light. It as if it has little to offer me at this point other than an anchor to my art and an occasional source of inspiration. The focus is on the children’s classes, and the participation in tournaments. The youth/adult population is dwindling, and most of which have little interest in practicing hard Karate, a Karate that is not violent, but is practiced with purpose. Bunkai strikes do not fall upon the air, if the participant does not block he is stuck. Kumite that is to refine techniques, test reflexes, harden the body, and toughen one’s mettle. At my Dojo Bunkai is a seemingly dull routine for most, the Karate is practiced with the mystical ideals that it is dangerous, but in reality the training does not match these ideals. The Kumite is similar to that of point sparring, and done with very little light contact. I feel that it is time for me to move on to another way of training, one that suits my strengths and tests my weaknesses. I am indebted to my Sensei, and I always shall be. I respect him a great deal, but his lessons are not geared towards my needs.
On the other hand there is the Self I need to hold responsible. While I do not get everything I need or want from my Dojo, why do I not train myself. I have a heavy bag, the equipment, a key to the Dojo, and a decent grasp of the Kata. I may have a limited access to training partners, but why do I not capitalize upon the opportunity I do have and try to train with them outside of normal class time? Maybe I was not instructed with the finer details in mind, but I know them now, and I should train even harder to correct my poor technique. As for the Kumite, there are tournaments that feature Knockdown Kumite (I am competing in one this Saturday). Maybe I should make my way to an MMA gym and try to test my techniques and reflexes. I should not blame the Dojo, my fellow students, or my Sensei, I should simply assume more responsibility for my training.
The fact of the matter is I have no access to a better Dojo, or a harder style (Kyokushin would be my preference). I am in this town for at least another year, so truly I have no option, but to stay with my Dojo. Even if I did have access (there is a Dojo I would prefer in a nearby town) I am a loyal student. He is my Sensei, and I owe him for introducing me to the art. Still I wonder is this loyalty, or blind adherence? Maybe it is a novel ideal that has no place in this day and age? Should I just train where I will grow the most? The fact is that I am young, I am inexperienced, and I have a lot to learn. Right now, I believe it is my place as an initiate in the martial arts to sit down, shut up, and absorb advice from the experienced individuals.