How Things Get To Be The Way They Are

The first day of after-school karate at the elementary school was, in the beginning, not quite chaos, but it was not the orderly, focused, respectful atmosphere of the dojo either.

The kids there for the first time lined up when I told them to, but they wiggled and talked and did what they do after a day of school. 

Three experienced kids were there, 8 or 9 years old, with a year of training at the dojo. They respected me, respected karate, and knew how to act in a class. They appreciated the focused practice, the skills and ranks they acquired over their months of practice. They valued it. They were proud of it. 

So, to them these crude beginners, their classmates, were vandalizing their karate. They did not know what to do about that. It was offensive and disturbing to them. 

It was not to me. I have started lots of new programs, with kids and adults. I had a pretty clear expectation of how it would go, and what I needed to do to make it work. 

Those experienced 8- and 9-year-olds did not. They had not seen the process before, except for the one time they were in it, when they started, and they have forgotten all that by now.

By the end of that first class, all the kids knew what to do and where to focus, and in between running and jumping and pushing and punching they learned, and wanted to learn some more. They all stood tall at the end of the class. 

By the next class they were happy to be back. They knew how to line up and be a part of a karate group. The experienced kids now took their places at the front of the group. I could see they were relieved. Order was restored. They were right at home. They could breathe deep and jump into training, like they always did. They were strong and had a good time. 

Pretty soon the class ended, and all the kids picked up their stuff and met their parents or got on their buses, and off they went, until next time.

Outside, with the kids dismissed, and the busses gone, and the parking lot empty, I heard seagulls overhead. I heard them as they flew, fading away. 

It is a funny thing about the sound of gulls. They remind us of vastness, of the mountains and the ocean and the sky. What that vastness means is not for the gulls to say. That is left to us.

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Post Copyright © 2022 Jeffrey Brooks, Mountain Karate Dojo, LLC., Yamabayashi Ryu honbu, located in Saluda, NC.

Photo by Tarleton Brooks, Copyright © 2022

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