For the past week, I have been thinking a lot about my childhood memories. I think it’s because I got very sick this week, therefore nostalgia has made its way into my brain. There were a lot of things in the past that I thought about. Some were funny, some were sad, some were embarrassing that I could die just by the thought of it but all of them were very precious to me.
I think I have mentioned about taking up Karate as an extracurricular activity in my previous post. And yes, karate was one of those fond memories that I have been thinking a lot this week. I started training when I was about 5-6 years of age. It was because both my Karate sensei (teacher) happened to be my parents’ close friends and most of my cousins were enrolled in it too. So automatically, I was expected to join the troop. Training sessions were held in the Forestry Department where both my parents and Karate senseis work at, so it was very handy I guess. The style of Karate that I was trained in was Shotokan-ryu. I won’t go deep into it because there’s so much that I can talk about.
I wasn’t really into Karate when I started. I would come up with ridiculous reasons just to be excused from training, but none of them worked anyways. As weeks, then months, then years passed, I fell in love with Karate. I had really friendly and helpful senpais (seniors) who would help me train after hours. I gained wonderful friends who laughed and cried with me through all the difficult training. I became a senpai myself and started training new kouhais (juniors). Each training session was a new learning experience. There’s an upgrading system in Karate whereby you have to take an exam in order to upgrade to a higher rank. And every single time this happened, I can tell you that I was so nervous to the point where I couldn’t eat breakfast. Right after belt grading, I’d be so hungry that I could eat a whole pizza!
Karate tournament is another thing that I miss a lot. Usually, there are 3 different categories that you can enter. Individual kata (forms), team kata and kumite (sparring). Both my sensei would put me in all 3, although I prefer kumite only. I remember entering my first Karate tournament when I was 7. I was registered to compete in the inter-school individual kata and kumite. The first time is always scary because compared to everyone else, you have zero experience. Then again, the thought of being judged by 4 other judges is quite petrifying I’d say.
I’d always have mixed feelings about Karate tournaments. It’s always thrilling in kumite sparring because you get to punch and kick you opponent (we don’t get hurt as we wear boxing gloves) but nerve racking in individual katas. Imagine 4 other judges judging every single move you make. Not very pleasant, I tell you. In team kata, it’s quite exciting because you get to do it with your friends, but some other time it’s stressful because to get the gold medal, you have to be in sync with your teammates. Each tournament is also a learning experience. You can see how much you have improved since day 1.
I really wish I could do it all again. Who would have ever thought that I would be so in love with Karate as I was not really into it when I started. There’s so much that I have gained from Shotokan Karate. Sleepless nights before a grading session. Training camps before a tournament. Proud faces when you receive your new belt. Happy parents when you win a match. Approving faces of your sensei and senpai when you finally learnt a new skill. Friendship, tears and laughter, self-defense, self-discipline, altogether the experience itself was all worth while. Started out as a clueless white belt and ended as a strong black belt. I really should thank my parents for ignoring all my attempts to run away from training.
This whole thing has thought me how to face life. If life throws you its ups and downs, you just need to face life head on =)
Take the risk or lose the chance