What does Hawaii Shotokan Karate mean to me? By Reyna Iwamoto



For me, the meaning and purpose of karate is evolving.  When I first stepped into the dojo (February 2013), I had little to no intention of participating in karate myself.  I envisioned being a mere spectator, to support my daughter as she explored another extra-curricular activity.  Thankfully, during the first beginners class, I was encouraged to participate and I was delighted and excited to be able to do something along side my daughter; hoping to simply get a bit of exercise as well. 


A few classes later, Sensei announced, Karate is going to be one of the hardest things youll ever do in your life!  My feelings of delight and excitement quickly turned into trepidation and fear.  Ive never done much of anything before, let alone anything difficult.  As a child, I didnt participate in anything physically, mentally or emotionally challenging.  So at the age of 40, being presented with an opportunity to do one of the hardest things Ill ever do in my life was down right daunting!!!


Thankfully, the nurturing and benevolent spirit that Hawaii Shotokan Karate (HSK) embodies helped quiet my fears.  Senseis compassion, patience and humor quickly embraced me.  I recall being warmly welcomed at each training.  Sensei knew all of our names after the first class, never having to refer to a roster of students, ever!  That sense of community, humanity and goodwill is exactly what most other sports or activities lack.  I knew this was going to be a great experience for not only my daughter, but for myself as well.     


In these past two years, karate has grown from just another extra-curricular activity for my daughter to a venue for personal and family growth. Karate has taught us about perseverance.  Ive never really started anything, thus Ive never really had to stick something out.  Although Ive always thought karate was an individual sport, at HSK, I think the synergy, teamwork and virtue plays a big part in our success and the longevity of the dojo.  Its that spirit and motivation from others that enables me to push myself harder than Ive ever pushed myself before.  I never imagined Id make it this far!  Karate has given me the opportunity to be a role model for my daughter; to have her witness me pushing the limitations (emotionally, mentally and physically) that I place upon myself.  A lesson that I cant imagine Id ever be able to emulate in any other circumstance.


Karate has also taught me resilience.  Im not athletic nor am I coordinated, thus most techniques take me longer to grasp than most people.  Im a creature of habit, thus a change in routine can often throw a curve in my learning process.  But learning karate from multiple teachers has taught me that not everything is always presented in the same manner and one must adapt accordingly.  I think that Ive also been able to incorporate that flexibility in my personal and professional life as well.  Im been doing essentially the same thing (career-wise) for close to 20 years at various institutions, and Id like to think that karate has helped me adapt to my current position; which requires more resilience than I think Ive ever needed before. 


I think karate is similar to the Japanese term kaizen, which is a philosophy of continuous improvement.  Whereby small changes on a daily basis accumulated over time can result in an overall significant change.  Although the overall goal may be reached, you should always reflect to continuously improve.  A technique that worked effectively in the past may need to be re-evaluated for efficiency as the years go by.  Just because something is not broken, doesnt mean it doesnt need to be fixed and just because you fix something doesnt mean its not broken anymore.  Someone once told me, in karate, theres always something new to learn and something old to perfect.  Ive come to realize, that karate is unlike any other sport or extra-curricular activity; you dont just do karate, you have to live it to get it and that is something that Im trying to study, comprehend and incorporate into my life and lifestyle.


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