First Class Anxiety… And Earning My White Belt!
Okay, my reference to ‘first class anxiety’ is not the moment when you are sitting in economy and the fight attendant closes the curtain between you and first class. (Side note: Why do they do that? Do they think you the will not be able smell the food for the first class flyers OR that you will forget they are there? I mean, seriously?) Anyway, since I found this particular adventure quite similar to a turbulent flight, I shall cling to this metaphor to give you the full effect of my first karate experience.
Just like boarding a plane, I was greeted onto the mats with a smile and a welcoming gesture. As Ben and I walked onto the mats to find our spots to warm up, I think he sensed my anxiety and chose a spot close to me – just like a friend who knows they should sit next to their nervous travel companion. Thus begun our warm up – think ‘pre-flight ritual’ – however instead of hearing announcements about what to do in the case of emergency, ours consisted of mountain climbers, push-ups, jumps and squats.
It was during the jumps and squats portion of the warm-up that I realized this flight may not be as smooth as I had hoped. A “Jump Up, Then Squat!” combination resulted in a complete loss of balance and a resounding thud as I landed on the mat, butt first. It was like I tripped while walking to the bathroom at the front of the plane – front, center and in everyone’s line of sight. Awesome.
The final item on the pre-flight – er, I mean warm-up – checklist was running laps until the buzzer sounded. At approximately the fourth lap, I began praying an oxygen mask would magically drop from somewhere. Somehow, I had forgotten that (a) I was in Denver, (b) the air is thinner at 5280 miles above sea level, and (c) I had never done any sort of strenuous exercise at this altitude. My lungs were burning, I was red in the face, and was sweating profusely, but I kept going until I heard the precious buzzer go off.
It was time for the learning to begin – takeoff! We quickly ascended from individual punches into kicks and then combinations of the two. It was right around the introduction of the side kick that the turbulence began. I was still waiting for the oxygen mask to materialize when my fear that I had no balance what-so-ever, was confirmed. Like a plane hitting an air pocket, my stomach dropped 1,000 feet. With every new kick and combination, my stomach dropped further, but I kept trying and finally was able to complete a combination, albeit at a very slow pace.
Sometime during the step-behind-sidekick that I realized the lack of oxygen (where was that darned mask?) was making me light-headed. I heard the flight attendant in my head telling me to put my head between my knees or prepare for a very rough and unexpected landing. Rather than making an ungraceful nose dive onto the mat, I sat and started breathing deeply. My instructor told me it was okay to know my limits but I knew I could not quit. Luckily, I was able to recover and get back onto the mat to keep going.
Before I knew it, class was over and it was time for the awards and receiving my white belt! My instructor graciously informed Master Lewis that I had indeed earned my white belt, and then some. As Master Lewis was putting on my belt, I realized that I had successfully landed! Without a pre-mature jump from the plane or a fiery crash landing. And even though this vessel is a little worse for the wear (holy cow, are my muscles sore!), I will definitely take this trip over and over, again!
Of course, I have to use the black belt quality of perseverance for today’s post! I chose it because even though I was scared of falling and failing, and doing BOTH in one class, I got up and kept going! My reward for doing so? My son telling me he was proud of me. Twice.