My best bud Mel and I were talking this morning about her finally signing up for those Taekwondo classes that she loved and misses. And it got me thinkin.....
When I was in junior high, my best friend talked me into joining her karate class in Omaha. Her parents took Kendo classes Saturday mornings, and Rachel wanted someone to come along. (Not only did she want someone to take the class with her, she also wanted someone to hang out with while her parents went through their class.)
I loved it, instantly!!!!
Senei was a 60+ year old, short, intimidating man from Okinawa. There were no boys and girls in his classes...we were all merely students. If the boys could do it, Rachel and I (the only 2 gals) were expected to do it just as well, if not better. It's crazy how well I could do a push up when I got out of those classes....and it's sad how badly I can't do one now to save my soul!! :-)
One week was lessons of 100. Everything we did, we did 100 of them. I never knew how many ways there were to do push ups until that day. We did at least 5 or 6 different kinds....100 of each. All of our drills, 100 times. All the while, counting to 100 in Okinawan.
I studied dance for 18 years. This particular year, we were working on a huge kick-line finale for our spring show.
(look for me all you want, I found this pic online, and I'm not in it)
Anyway, at one point in the dance, every other person was to be facing the back (kicking), while the other half kicked to the front. Then we'd switch.
When we turned to kick to the back....I realized how close I was to the wall. BAM!!! Broke the 4 little toes on my right foot. So not cool! :-(
I went to karate class that weekend, and no one ever knew I had 4 broken toes. I didn't want to show my weakness to Sensei. (if I did that same thing now, I'd have come in on crutches and hopped up on pain pills - isn't youth cool?)
A few months later, just as we had all gotten changed and into the workout area, he asked his assistant to go into the two locker rooms, and turn out all the lights. Then he asked us to go in and change into our street clothes, without turning on the lights.
The locker rooms were in the middle of the building, no windows, no outside light whatsoever.
Rachel and I went in, changed, and came out. (all the while hurrying as much as we could, our mission was to beat the boys at everything they did)
There were no boys present when we returned to the main area of the dojo. In fact, it was quite some time before any of them started to appear. And they only appeared because Sensei sent his assistant in to rush them along.
What came out of that locker room door will be a mental image I will never forget!! Those boys were wearing each other's clothing.....some too big, some too small. They were missing a sock here, a shoe there. All to teach them a lesson.
It turns out, the boys locker room is trashed every week. Sensei had seen the mess, and it didn't go over well with him.
He is the man that was teaching us about manners, and keeping order in the world.
If it took us 15 minutes to fold our Gi, because he wanted it done an exact certain way...then there's no way he liked what he saw in that locker room. :-)
Rachel's parent's class participated in a foreign student hosting program through the Dojo. For two weeks, she had a sumo wrestler from Japan staying at her house. I can't remember his name, but he was the nicest guy!!!
(A nice guy, overwhelmed by the availability of fresh apples and Levis.)
One night, he gave me a piece of candy. I'll compare it in size,appearance, and packaging to a Jolly Rancher.
Size, appearance, and packaging are tricky things. Very.....very.......tricky.
I put it in my mouth, not knowing what to expect. It was purple or blackish in color. Because of that, my mind went to grape or licorice.
It was seaweed.
No, not seaweed flavored...it was actual seaweed. I had it in my mouth for a good 10 seconds and then it exploded. OK, maybe it wasn't an explosion, but it was horrible!!!!!
The thing grew in my mouth, and tendrils of seaweed unfolded. All of a sudden, I had a plant from my fish aquarium in my mouth. OMG!!!!!!!!
This gentlemen was also the first person to serve me Alligator for dinner. It actually wasn't too bad....but you can bet I asked I kinds of questions before eating it. I didn't trust him after the whole seaweed incident. :-)
Sensei left America about a couple years of me taking classes with him. His mother was very ill, and he went home to take care of her.
An ex-marine named Bob took over the studio. I left not long after...it just wasn't the same!!!