my feelings about karate & HSK by Todd China
I was 11 years old when I started with HSK in the summer of 1990. The reason how I got started was my parents had won a "3 months free training" prize at the Noelani May Fair. At first, I thought, "hey I can do this." Usually I am terrible at sports but I thought I was actually good at karate. Then as time went on and I reached green belt, I started feeling like maybe I'm not so good at karate. I performed poorly at belt exams and tournaments.  Finally, I got up to temp 5th kyu and trained in the club for another year before quitting.
When I left, I was bitter. I thought I would rather be studying and playing the clarinet. I saw karate in the context of my sports failures. My Uncle Rodney stayed on and eventually made black belt. I couldn't understand why he liked karate so much - I made fun of him.  At my sister's graduation, I encountered Sempai Miles Nakamura, who remembered me. I laughed and said "yeah I was pretty terrible at karate." I was really surprised when he said "no we all thought you were pretty good."
Eventually Uncle Rodney convinced me to come back and train again with the club when I graduated from college. Some of the members who were purple and brown belts had become sempais, and they remembered me and treated me well. I re-discovered what made karate fun. It's the feeling of community. It's the challenge of becoming stronger in mind and spirit. Teaching karate is also fun. That's why I came back and continue to be part of HSK. Karate is really hard, and there is a lot to learn. I learned I'm still not so good at Karate, and that's okay. When I do kumite, my main goal is just to not get hit in the face, because it already happened two years in a row. I still feel upset when I get an offensively lousy score of 5.9 on kankudai at the tournament even though I didn't commit any errors, but I just joke with my wife that "the Man is keeping me down."  I still get scolded by sensei sometimes for stuff, but I can take it. Karate doesn't always give you a nice warm feeling, sometimes you get taken down a notch.  And that's how it should be I guess. You have to be strong in the mind to overcome.

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