Angela’s Story – Karate Success

I never thought of myself as a martial artist. I am a daughter, a wife, a mother, a student. But now, I am happy to say that I can add martial artist to that list.

People say that your quality of life declines as you get older. Not in my case. I had my children in my 20’s and 30’s, then raised them in my 40’s. When I turned 50, I went back to college to complete my degree and tried karate for the first time. The idea of me, in a karate uniform, doing kicks and kata seemed absurd to me at first. I have watched both my son and husband train for years. I was a karate mom who brought my son to class and back home.

At the urging and support of Brenda and my family, I put on my gi and took my first class. I had so many fears about my physical ability, getting hurt and looking silly. One of the most important things that I have learned, and what helped me the most, is that everyone’s ability and reason for beginning the martial arts is different. We are all working on our own individual goals. So even though I cannot kick as high as someone else, I am doing the best I can for me.

I am constantly improving. In our school, there is no competition. We all try to help each other to reach our individual goals. I am healthier today than I have ever been. I have lost weight, my heart is strong, my lower back – plagued in the past by chronic pain – no longer bother me and I am more flexible . My doctor took me off my blood pressure medication. My bones are also stronger from the resistance training that I have been doing in the classroom.

Today I am a red belt and will be testing for my black belt within the year. I love to be able to train on the mat with both my husband and my son.  Now, just as I have watched them both become black belts, they now can watch and support my progress toward a black belt of my own. I am so I am so happy that I took that first lesson.

Angela Becker

One Mat, One Instructor, One School

By Professor Josh Skyer

“A serious student is much more concerned with training his mind and disciplining his spirit than with developing martial skills.”
― Eiji Yoshikawa, Musashi

It is said that true men remain loyal to those to whom they are indebted. This virtue is taken from a 400-year-old Martial arts scripture entitled, “The 8 Virtues of the Samurai”. As a student of the Martial Arts, I have always been taught to use the practice as a vehicle for personal development and self-improvement; consequently, loyalty has taken on great meaning for me.

As most experienced practitioners know, training in the martial arts requires a very high level of personal hygiene. Finger and toenails must remain short as to not accidentally scratch our training partners or ourselves. So as I sat with the nail clipper recently preparing myself for training, I took a good look at my own feet. It was in this otherwise mundane moment that I came to a stunning realization about my own experience as a student.

I realized that the bottoms of my feet have never touched a Jiu-Jitsu mat other then the one on which I took my first class. This is the same mat which my instructor, Professor Glick, put down with his own 2 hands. I will have trained from white belt to Black Belt at one school, on one mat, with one instructor.

This exercise in loyalty has been nothing short of amazing, and not very common in today’s Martial Arts climate. It’s as if the old cliché about how “the grass is always greener” has taken over the mind of the modern martial artist.

It is commonplace in Jiu-Jitsu schools to have an open mat, on which students from all over town can “pay to play”, training without feeling like they are violating the code of the Samurai spirit. In other words, they seem to never worry that they might be “cheating” on their own Professors and fellow training partners. This was something to which we never subscribed at Brooklyn Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and for which I thank God. What is has given me is an immense sense of loyalty and depth of feeling inside the dojo I train in.

In a lot of ways the popularity of mixed martial arts – and the too-relaxed, laissez-faire, anything goes, revolving-door dojo – has turned today’s martial artist into a consumer. Traditionally, as the quote above would have it, the martial artist’s role in the world was not as a consumer, but rather as a producer. But a brief glance around the world of martial arts today finds the consumer everywhere: consuming classes, and training partners, all over town, as opposed to producing self-change, a stronger and more vibrant community and an overall sense of loyalty both to the dojo and to all those they encounter.

Not us. Again – the bottom of my feet have never touched the mat of another dojo. And I am happy to say it. On the day I’m able to have Professor Glick place a black belt around my waist, I will know that that decision will have been, for me, the glue that binds me to the martial arts forever. OSS!