Wednesday, May 16, 2018

White Belt

(Thanks for the inspiration Guro Rose)

Starting something new is at the same time challenging and intimidating.  Especially martial arts class.  It's exciting to embark on the journey as a white belt, fresh and open to new ideas and new understanding.  At the same time, it's humbling to see the other students, some of whom started just a month or two before you did, looking like veterans after just a bit of repetition and guidance.  I've been in the Arts almost all of my life (all of it that matters, anyway).  I can remember every time I started a new style feeling like I had forgotten everything else I had ever done.

Kali Majapahit was the first Southeast Asian fighting art I studied.  I was familiar with wrestling from high school, fencing (especially saber) from college and boxing from my older brother. The others, ninjutsu, aikido, iaijutsu, karate, judo all had a lot in common.  Kali Majapahit, a Southeast Asian martial art encompassing Kali, Silat, Hakka and Muay Thai, as well as a host of weapons I had never used before, was a real struggle at the beginning.  For the first year everything felt wrong.  We fought right foot forward (Southpaw) versus the Orthodox boxing/kickboxing/MMA/Muay Thai left foot forward stance.  I couldn't "flow".  I was too stiff.  Nothing made any sense.  I kept berating myself, assuming I should be able to learn it all much faster.  I felt ashamed that I wasn't...better.

However, I was convinced that Kali Majapahit had Truth in it.  The senior students (Vince, Guillaume, Ben) were excellent.  The logic of body mechanics and physics was irrefutable.  The speed, power and gracefulness were enticing.  Guro Fred was very patient and kept encouraging me.  He knew my long background in other styles, as well as my frustration.   He assured me that I didn't need to give up decades or everything else I had done, telling me that it would all find its way into my Flow (it has).

The years teach much the days never know.

I have been running the KM group in Japan since 2011 - over 7 years.  With great support from KM HQ we have built a dojo of great people - a real FAMILY of like-minded people who love to train and share.  I couldn't be prouder of what we have achieved together.  Every year a few new faces make their way to us and join our little community.  Little by little we have grown.

This year many of my original students will test for Kadua Guro, 1st Dan black belt, a very important milestone in their journeys and a testament to their years of hard work and dedication.  Brining them from white belt to black belt gives me a tremendous feeling of accomplishment, especially seeing how they have also become great leaders, great partners and confident professionals.  Our future is bright indeed.

For our new joiners, you have some great role models around you that will help me lead you in the right direction.  You will learn Kali, but hopefully you will also learn about yourself and the people around you.  You will develop the confidence to succeed in every aspect of your life through your hard training and discipline.  You'll make new friends that will become closer than you expected.
Step by step you will change your life for the better, and this will influence the people around you.

So...if you're sitting on the couch...what will you do?
In 5 years your couch will still be there, but you could choose to be somewhere else - somewhere better.  Martial arts is an investment in yourself and your future.  Trust me, you deserve it.



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