Nothing But a Gi Thing…

Getting back into karate has proven to be a solid decision. The fitness benefits are obvious, but there’s something going on at a deeper level that I haven’t experienced in a long time. Get out yer hip waders — I’m about to get philosophical.

Engaging in any type of exercise brings me a form of mental release, helping me shift from my day job to more creative (and no less exhausting) endeavors. When I’m at the gym, I focus on the weights, let the primal side take the wheel, so to speak and sweat any stress away. It’s easier for me to Do Stuff once my cranial palate is cleansed. I get the same effect when I’m training in Uechi, but the focus is more on me, and I mean that in more than one way.

Mind you, this isn’t navel gazing or meditation. I step into the dojo and sweat, enough that I toss my gi right into the wash when I get home. However, that shift in focus starts in the locker room, when I change into the gi.

A little disclaimer here: not everyone in my school has a uniform. My Sensei, Dan, doesn’t always wear one because he’s training/teaching Ju-Jitsu in the room next door. I don’t think a gi is a strict requirement these days — Dan hasn’t ordered them for students ever since the State said he needed to charge his students sales tax. I would question why a student doesn’t have a gi once they reach, say, green belt, but that’s now my call to make. All I know is that a gi is important to me when I train.

Here’s what I wear. It’s acutally a Ju-Jitsu gi, but it serves well for karate (plus once I’m “caught up” I plan on training in that art as well). While it’s considered “light weight” it’s quite heavier than a karate gi because it’s meant to be grabbed and pulled. The heavier cloth and the rigid collar make it feel like armor when I put it on, but there’s another psychological factor at work.

By changing out of my day clothes and donning this outfit, I strip away what I was:

  • a technologist.
  • an analyst.
  • a diagnostician.
  • a geek.
  • tired.
  • worn out.
  • insecure.
  • lazy. (After a rough day at the office, I don’t want to do anything.)

As I get dressed I focus on who I am:

  • a student and practictioner of karate.

When step into the dojo I work at what I’m becoming.

  • stronger.
  • better conditioned.
  • focused.
  • learned.
  • patient.
  • perceptive.
  • compassionate. (Believe me, these last two can be hard for me).
  • revitalized.
  • unbreakable. (It all comes back to Sanchin.)

That simple act of changing clothes does a lot to change my mindset. The trick is, though, is to keep in mind what I’m becoming doesn’t go away once class is over. That there are no limits save for the ones I place upon myself. That, even with teh Big Four-Oh looming on the calendar, my future is not set in stone. That I can still do — and be — more with my life.

It’s a life lesson I’ve been missing for over a decade. Glad to be back in school

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