Wow. It’s been a wicked long time since I’ve posted here. Sorry ’bout that. Been busy. Life got in the way, as it tends to do. Some of you know by now that I’ve been very preoccupied with a new writing project (which you can read about here), so my attention to this blog has been lacking at best.
Anyway, this is going to be a short one, but today I wanted to write about one of the last things I wrote about on this blog: martial arts. AND, you guys, this is so cool: I recently purchased a Wacom Bamboo tablet and though my artistic abilities are, um, nonexistent, this thing lets me create illustrations to go along with my posts. Illustrations! So accompanying today’s post will be the first of my experimental illustrations. Cool, right?
Ahem. So, martial arts. Readers of this blog know of my deep love for martial arts that dates back to my early childhood. (Click here if you have no idea what I’m talking about. Go ahead. I’ll wait.) I walked into my first dojo when I was 11. Over the years, I’ve gone to a variety of schools and studied a number of different styles. My latest foray into the Arts came in April 2011, when my husband, my son, and I all joined American Cadre Karate. Again, if you’re familiar with this blog you know that I have a history of finding my way into or back to the Arts after particularly traumatic or otherwise life-changing events in my life. It’s like the universe is somehow handing me something to hold onto during tough times, and it has always, always managed to ground me in a way that nothing else can.
Finding American Cadre was no different. We started in April 2011, just four months after the death of my best friend, Paul. (You can read more about that here.) Paul’s death left me broken in ways I can’t even describe. It was a brokenness, a sadness, I internalized because I didn’t know what else to do with it. When I joined American Cadre it gave me an outlet. Eventually, of course, I was able to take my sadness and grief and turn it into something positive and productive, but studying at Cadre filled a void for me that I desperately needed. It got me out of the house and doing something physical, but it also filled an emotional void. It once again ignited a passion for the Arts in me that I had been missing since I’d last studied more than a decade earlier.
Through the years I’ve had some decent karate teachers, but I’ve only ever had two great ones: Bob Beatrice, at South Shore Academy of Martial Arts, and Shihan Scott Fuoco, at American Cadre. And by extension, the other Cadre owners and teachers I’ve had the privilege of working with–Shihans Dana, Reesie, and Kevin, and Sensei Marco–have also played a pivotal role in my life as a Martial Artist now. These men and women have all taught me by example what it is to live the Martial Way, and for that I am more grateful than words can convey. Shihan Scott has an uncanny ability to know exactly what kind of workout I need, and he never fails to deliver. And like Bob Beatrice, he pushes me in a way that instills a confidence that I not only need, but one that I thrive on.
Over the next 2 years I studied at Cadre, I grew physically and emotionally and I was blessed to take the journey with my husband and my son. The people at our dojo became our friends, and eventually an extension of our family. And for me, the dojo itself became something of a safe haven. I had the keys to the dojo. That’s not a metaphor, like “I had the keys to the kingdom”; I actually had the keys to the building itself, so I could go work out when ever the spirit moved me. The dojo was a safe place for me to go if I needed to get out of my head. I’d blare the music and work the bags or do kata and just lose myself in it. As much as I loved my time in the dojo with my fellow Martial Artists, I also cherished those times when I could be alone in the dojo and just escape the outside world.
So you can imagine my distress when, in April of this year, because of reasons, the dojo closed its doors. We were told that it was just a closing of the physical space and that the school would in fact be relocating in early summer over at the RAC (the local gym). Oh boy. I’ve been here before. I’ve been part of a dojo that relocated from its own space to a gym or some other already established place and I knew full well that the dynamic was necessarily going to change. I’m not good with change on my best day, so this hit me hard. To me it felt like a loss, one in a long line of losses over the past couple of years, and it shook me to my core.
Two months of not working out left me physically sloth-like and emotionally drained. But happily, June 1 arrived, and the dojo did indeed reopen as promised at its new location. Things are different; it’s no longer American Cadre, but rather Raynham Martial Arts. That’s a little sad to me, because I had come to have great respect for the other owners whom I may now never get to work with again. But Shihan Scott and Sensei Jon have helped guide us fairly seamlessly into our new reality, and I am deliriously happy to be working out again.
Getting back into a routine was not easy, especially since I spent the 2 months of our dojo limbo in a state of near-constant inertia. Alas, once I got moving, I felt awesome. And now, for your viewing pleasure, I present an illustration of how working out makes me feel. Enjoy.
(click pic to embiggen)