A taste of Texas
By Sensei Peter Leitch

I am alone, and I bow slowly and a little self-consciously. A thin sliver of moon shows up in the early evening sky. "Catching the rain... ", I say to myself. The first stars are coming out and I am struck by the beauty of the Texas winter sky.

Looking west towards San Antonio, I take in the lights of the traffic on the freeway fifteen floors below me. I see helicopter lights flashing as a pilot follows the swath of grid-locked commuters and I wonder if he'll land here. I look around quickly, checking the landing pad behind me, and turn back almost as quickly, giving my shoulders a wake-up shake.

Resisting the mesmerising gleam of a nearby diesel generator, caged and silent in its chain-link cell I bow again, this time with more resolve.

"Power Kata!!" I say out loud. Inside I hear another voice say "Hajime!!" And mechanically, I start the sequence of familiar moves.

But I stumble and stop at the shrill scream of an ambulance siren. I mumble something and before I know it, I'm marvelling at how many more stars are now showing in the sky. This time, I actually walk to the edge of the roof and lean against the chest-high parapet. A warm breeze blows my un-tucked shirt around and I wonder who else in the world works out alone on a roof in the middle of January.

I think back to Sensei Ron telling us to block out our surroundings as we worked out in the grass and the sunshine of that park in Welland. But alone on this roof with the moon and the stars and the sound of Houston behind me I begin to doubt my own sincerity. I move back into position, close my eyes, breathe slowly and deeply, and try again.

"Power Kata!!"... and then that voice "Hajime!!!", only this time I make it through the kata. I imagine the Thursday night kids class giving me some pointers, and taking them to heart I try again. And again and again and again.

Soon, I stop noticing my surreal surroundings and big night sky and the kata feels powerful to me. For the first time, I think I understand why it's called Power Kata.

I keep working at the kata, tasting this new feeling over and over again when a crazy thought occurs to me. The distractions are helping me with my kata. I stop, look around for confirmation, and imagine Sensei Neil and Sensei Walt nodding yes.

One more time and then I'll get some food in me. This time, the kata feels smooth and my mind is peaceful as I finish the last bow. I back myself away to the edge of my dojo and bow again. As I bow I notice one more time the moon, the stars and that infinite blue of the Texas winter sky, and then I am alone.

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