Spring has sprung, and all the colors of the rainbow are spewing joy and dancing on the landscape. Most people believe that Spring is a time of celebrating newness and life that comes with rain and sunny skies. Which means, Easter is right around the corner. Many mommies and daddies are already regaling their children with promises of candy and toys left by that wanton, and dangerous creature known as the Easter Bunny.
Oh, you DIDN’T know he’s dangerous?
That’s okay friend, because I’m here to save you from the terror of the Easter Bunny by teaching you his secrets.
In my short three years as a ninpoka (In Japanese, “ka” as a suffix means practitioner) , I’ve seen, and read a lot of thoughts on lineage and legitimacy. I’ll take a moment and explain these terms in relation to the martial arts. Lineage refers to the succession of teachers who taught any given art from its inception to you, the practitioner. Legitimacy refers whether, or not, a style is inherently able to teach a person actual self-defense skills. In other words, would this person walk away from a fight intact?
I remember sitting on my knees on the mats to the far left, Mark Sensei was beside me asking me what was stopping me from successfully executing ukemi (safely falling). I had been at it for weeks by that point. Fear stiffened my body, either preventing a decent roll, or stopping me altogether. I had to keep going no matter what, but man oh man, was it difficult to push myself into this art.
I’ve learned a lot about myself in the past 2 years as a martial artist, and as a woman I don’t think I could have learned in just any environment. Learning a martial art takes a lot of perseverance and grit, it’s not easy, and it shouldn’t be. I’ve been downright frightened at times and had to grit my teeth and force myself to keep going. Because of this, the greatest lessons I’ve learned through ninpo have to do with my internal life, how I think, how I behave, what I allow to bother me, or not, and what I think about myself and others. My sense of value changed through several intense experiences in class and private lessons. I went from only valuing my usefulness, to valuing my existence. Learning one’s true value is something I desire to transmit to other women.
People make a lot of assumptions about women. Sure, we are smaller than men, and we have less muscle mass, but does that translate to automatically losing a fight? The short answer is “no.” The long answer is “only if you’ve been trained and know what you’re doing.”
I’ve heard rumors that once a person reaches a black belt, they’ve only just begun to train. All of what happened before was preparing for the next level of training which is sort of like starting fresh at something. Not say that all of the previous belt levels are useless, but they are essentially basics. Many of the black belts I know seem to be on a different plane of learning. It seems they’ve achieved something, are more aware of themselves and their capabilities, they can think a little more out of the box. However, there is an understanding that the real work is just beginning. In a blog by the Budo Bum, when speaking of budo (武道 “way of war”) he often refers to how budo is a journey, in other words it’s not a means to an end, it’s a way of living. The ideas behind budo translates well into the notion that a black belt is just getting started.