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.