Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Shito Ryu Itosu Kai

A funny thing happened on the way to the dojo....

As a stereotypical sysadmin (middle aged and overweight) I always hated the thought of exercise for exercise's sake. I did enjoy playing some sports like baseball but I have almost zero athletic talent, so as I got older I was really slowing down - especially since none of it came naturally.

A friend called our family in the fall of 2010 asking if any of our sons would be interested in learning karate. The price was more than reasonable, and the dojo less than 10 minutes from our door. So my wife and I took the older two (6 and 8 at the time) out to watch a class. Not only did our older son think it looked like fun, I was hooked too. We decided we'd both try it together for moral support.

It's not a sport - there's no keeping score. It's not religious, and you might miss the philosophical nature of it entirely if you aren't paying attention, although you'll get it by osmosis if no other way. To me it's about self improvement - both physically and to my surprise mentally too.

I've been at it for about six months now. I haven't lost any weight to speak of, but my balance, flexibility and endurance are all way way way better. I always thought those people that complained about feeling lousy because they missed a workout were either full of it or showing off - now I'm starting to see what they mean. At the end of the night I'm usually physically exhausted, and happy, and the happy part carries through the next day, while the exhausted part doesn't (minus a few achy bits :-)

Completely ignore the movies about martial arts. OK, scratch that. Enjoy the martial arts movies if you're into that stuff - just remember they're as true to life as Middle Earth or WoW is to your neighbourhood. If there are two physical activities that should suit a sysadmin - karate and curling have got to be it. It's not just dumb muscle memory, or fast twitch reflexes. You have to use your head and control your muscles. Technique is king, and brute force a distant pawn at best.

Any karate class worth attending welcomes newbies, expects you to be terrible, and just wants you to respect tradition and try hard. Talent or physical fitness is not required. You owe it to yourself to find one and ask if you can watch one night.

This was a long winded way of introducing the next bunch of posts on kata, which probably still won't make any sense, but hey, it's my blog right? :-)

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