Don't tell anyone..... I'm a ninja.
I'm in ninja school. It could be said I take karate classes. Allow me to explain.
My good friend Laura started working at a place called a "dojo" about two years ago. She started having really strange bruises and saying words like cardio kickboxing, punches, sparring, black belts, and senseis. I thought dojo was a special language school. Whatever this dojo and 'carrotie' activity was, it was clear that she loved it and had found a new passion.
The problem with passion is that it spreads. And soon my good friend Laura had signed me up for an orientation class. I have no idea what special skill or mind trick she used on me aside from a text message saying, "Hey, what are you doing tomorrow evening around 7pm? It's bring a friend night at work. You can wear yoga pants." I had driven past the dojo--it's an actual place!-- hundreds of times as it's centrally located on a busy highway but never did the bright red KARATE sign actually register in my head.
I showed up in yoga pants and a race shirt and felt immediately out of place. There were kids everywhere and everyone was wearing black pants and yelling. Lots of yelling. Laura introduced me a guy named Sensei Dan. If you're wondering, Dan is his first name. Sensei is a title. It was kinda odd at first that so many guys in that place were named Sensei.
I was taken to an office where Sensei Dan described and demonstrated two punches, a 'jab' and a 'cross.' It was fun watching an old guy punch the air. Then, it was my turn. Huh? I have to jab and cross? But...I'm a girl. I'm a runner! I work in an office. I am nice and smile at people. I cannot punch things! Again, I am unsure of the mind tricks and skills used, but I somehow found myself on the mat with a group of adults, who also seemed to work in offices, and more than half were female, who all smiled at me, and proceeded to punch and kick like there was no tomorrow.
Before I knew it, Laura, or Miss Laura in dojo-speak, signed me up for a six-week introduction to the program. I was a 'white belt' and really never planned to go any further. I was so out of my element and out of my comfort zone that I would sometimes cry on the ride home. I was convinced that I had a physical development problem that made me use my right hand instead of my left. All I heard for the first few months was, "No, your other left."
I told Laura that I hated it and wanted to quit. She told me to hang on for the six weeks. Miss Laura said that no one just stops at a white belt. That would be lame. I should at least stay for the yellow belt. She said it would help with conditioning and strength. She also said we could go out for drinks on Friday nights after class. And we did.
|Stress? What stress?|
What was once terrifying and awkward has become one of my favorite parts of the week. I don't worry about not being lady like or polite when I'm on the mat. I'm not an employee, a girlfriend, a neighbor, a friend or anyone besides a sweaty, wannabe ninja. I'm fighting whatever demons, stresses, voices, and emotions are weighing me down. I win most of those fights.
This is why I call it ninja. Karate is an activity that wimpy middle school kids take if they're being bullied at school. Mixed martial arts is what that muscleheaded douchebag at the gym calls kickboxing. Self-defense classes imply that I need protection and am afraid of the world.
It also had nothing to do with paying too much for cable. Thanks, Direct Tv.
Ninja, however, is a mindset. Ninja is never giving up no matter how sore, how discouraged, how uncomfortable, and how afraid you are. Ninja is pushing through injuries but also respecting your body enough to heal. It's coming to class in a snowstorm. It's letting your kids have frozen yogurt for dinner because they were quiet during class. It's listening to a 17 year old dispense life advice without laughing in his face. It's finding a second home, a community, friends, and a lifestyle that fills a hole you didn't know was there.
At the end of each class, we recite the values of the kenpo teachings, Modesty, Integrity, Self Control, Perseverance, Indomitable Spirit. I chant a little louder on the Indomitable Spirit one. That's where my ninja is.
|Just come for one session, she said. It'll be fun, she said. Nothing bad will happen, she said.|