If you see a whole thing - it seems that it's always beautiful. Planets, lives... But up close a world's all dirt and rocks. And day to day, life's a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern. - Ursula K. LeGuin

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Dojo

I went to the dojo tonight for the first time in almost 3 weeks. I have been doing workouts at home and in hotel gyms so I wasn't completely out-of-shape but there is something to martial arts that is unique and I was out of martial arts shape.

I've been studying martial arts for 28 years now. It is a part of me in a way that few things--other than motherhood and academia--are a part of me. Yet I still feel a bit of a love-hate relationship with it. My early martial arts years were attached to my ex-husband. I met him by attending his dojo and it became my world for a very long time. In that dojo you couldn't disappear for 3 weeks. Attendance was expected and if you didn't live up to expectations you paid the price in guilt. Of course for me, once we were living together and then eventually married, not going to class was never an option unless I was very sick. In those years I lived martial arts 24/7.

This changed a bit once we had Angel. My Ex stayed home with Angel during the day and took him to the dojo in the evening. I would meet them at the dojo after work and most of the time I was "sent home" because Angel was too disruptive for class. This felt very much like a betrayal to me. While I didn't want to subject my child to being someplace that wasn't well suited for his needs, I also didn't see how suddenly my training was disposable. My sister, Amy, who also studied with us often filled in the gaps. She would watch Angel for me so I could train for a bit. We'd often swap care of him in the middle of class. Of course as Angel grew it became easier for him to be in class with me but my training was never the same.

When I left my Ex I lost the dojo. For a while I continued to go to one class a week but even that became uncomfortable. I worked out on my own but after a few years--and my dissertation--this dwindled down to be almost non-existent. Upon moving to SouthLite I decided to see what the martial arts community held and I found our current dojo. I enjoy it most of the time. It is small and close-knit without a lot of ego or MMA-nonsense. But it is also frustrating to me. Part of that is inevitable because it is a different style and I didn't really want to change styles. But part of it is because it isn't as "serious" as my last dojo. I suppose this means it is ok for me to miss 3 weeks--and I think that's healthy--but it also means that classes don't get the same thought and preparation put into them that seems natural to me.

I have deliberately kept my teaching at this dojo to a minimum. I feel I spend most of my life teaching and mentoring students at work and, while I enjoy it, I don't want to feel that obligation in my "hobby." However without it I find myself in a quasi-status--I'm not a teacher but more than a student.

I'm not really sure where this post is going other than to express my many ambivalent feelings towards martial arts in general and what it is like to live life post-dojo. To me a dojo has always been a family--both literally and figuratively--and this feels like being adopted into a new family. You're part of it but not 100%.

1 comment:

Julie said...

That's very interesting. I don't know anything about dojo, but your post just prompted me to look it up. It sounds interesting (depending on the people). I wonder if there's a way to attain the happy medium ground for training.