My husband and I are both black belt students of the Federation Honbu dojo. My husband is the chief instructor of his own dojo, which he started in 1995. That is the dojo where I teach. It is also where I live because the dojo and our house are connected. So, let us see, that makes me a student, an instructor and a karate spouse.
My first role in karate will always be student. I learn each time I step in the dojo. The ACL surgery and recovery had me examining my movement and technique with a fine-tooth comb. I finally feel “normal” again. We have been working on bunkai recently. Some people have natural ability when it comes to bunkai. Unfortunately, I am not one of those people. I have to work hard at bunkai. The good news is that it has gotten much easier over time.
I take the role of instructor seriously. I study traditional Okinawa Kenpo Karate & Kobudo. It is amazing to be part of a 300-year history. I enjoy seeing students develop a love for martial arts. I hear their enthusiasm when they talk about it or ask questions. Being an instructor is hard sometimes. With all things, students come and go for various reasons. The hardest thing for me to understand are the students that quit right before black belt testing. Many cannot or do not want to make the training commitment needed to prepare for testing. For an instructor, this is heartbreaking.
My husband and I do not train together. I know, it sounds ridiculous, but it is true. When I first started karate, he was a black belt. He was a class instructor at the Honbu. We arranged our schedules so that he would not be my class instructor. He wanted me to find my own path and I am grateful. Do not get me wrong, we talk about karate, work through bunkai problems and discuss techniques. When I was a green belt, we were preparing a self-defense demonstration for a local shopping mall. We practiced for several days. On the day of the demonstration, right before it was our turn; he wanted to change the routine. No way! That was the last time we did a self-defense demo together.
To the spouses and children of karate practitioners, I applaud you. Being a karate wife, mother, husband or child requires a lot of understanding. It is not an easy job. There have been many nights were we ate dinner after nine o’clock. Tournaments, training camps and extra workouts mean time away from home. I often wonder how my daughter views karate.