Reflection on my first year of Karate.
by Nestor Komar.

Sometimes it is difficult to believe that I've completed a year of Karate study and that I've progressed so far. Here are some of my thoughts about the past year in Wado Kai.

I initially joined the dojo strictly as a form of exercise. I had been exercising most of my life in fitness clubs and at home in order to stay in shape. As of late it became more and more difficult to maintain a regular workout schedule at home and Sensei Neil was persistently suggesting that I try karate as an alternative form of workout.

Reluctantly, I showed up at the Niagara St. dojo with sweats on, thoroughly unprepared for what I was to face. My normal workouts were generally one hour in length, here we began with one hour of rather serious stretching before actually getting down to karate routines! The stretches were nothing similar to what I was used to doing, so they were painful at first. As I watched the veteran senseis stretching to their maximums I thought that I would never be able to come close to achieving that level of extension.

Intimidation is the word that comes to mind when I remember first putting on my sparring pads and facing off against one of the other students. My only consolation was that other new members must have certainly been feeling the same consternation and fear as me. I thought that my pace and reaction time was always too slow and that I was like the dance partner with two left feet you always dreaded dancing with.

Tournament participation is mandatory and I openly feared facing a series of judges who would, in my own paranoid mind, be ridiculing me for my lack of knowledge, experience and finesse. To my surprise, I came away from my first tournament with a couple of certificates and a small level of confidence.

Through the year, I learned to count in Japanese, and to understand many of the countless commands such as senkutsa dachi gedan barai and others, but more importantly I have come to learn more of the philosophy of karateka.

I believe that, above all, the cornerstone of this philosophy is humility and that it is displayed in everything that we do, from bowing in to the dojo, to posing questions respectfully to our senseis, to our senseis bowing in respect to their class. It truly goes full circle. They let us know that they are still learning as students and this gives encouragement to continue with our learning.

My proudest moment was the day I received my yellow belt because I realized that all the work that was done during that year was recognized and that I had indeed progressed, even if only incrementally.

Workouts are still strenuous, as karate is not for the faint of heart, and I regularly come home with pains and bruises. My wife often muses as to why her forty-one year-old kid continues to go week after week, work out like crazy and occasionally get hurt. Little does she know that each battle scar is worn proudly as a badge of honour.

What a year this has been!

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