I remember it. The sweat rolling down my face and burning my eyes. My muscles were on fire. I breathed so hard it felt like my rib cage was going to crack. There was no music spurring me on. Just my heart pounding in my ears, and me saying to myself, one minute is nothing. But each second passes by like a thousand years. And with each second you think you not going to make it. I was going to give up, and just before I did, I heard the most beautiful word in my life “relax”. It was done. I finally finished my Black Belt promotion.
I worked my ass off for seven years. Five days a week, and sometimes on weekends, I worked. I gave my sweat, blood and tears to something that I though was great. Do you know what it is like to feel like you were born to do something? When I started Karate, for the second time, I was 14. And I was a natural. It took me half the time to learn the stuff than the other people. I started teaching much earlier than any of the others. I was brilliant. When I was at a tournament everyone would watch me. When I put on that suite I became someone else. As a child I was completely shy, I would hide behind her skirt all the time. But Karate helped me handle being the centre of attention. When I walked into the class, people would say “there she” and if I was not there they would ask where am I. I was like a celebrity. I had Power. It was AMAZING. But nothing lasts forever.
In hindsight, I was cocky and arrogant. I loved being admired and liked and even feared. But at the core, I believed in what Karate represented, I still do. I see it as an Art. And very few people actually do. People often see it as a way of kicking someone ass, but I look at a fighting scene like an artist would study van Gogh.
The truth was, I was given too much power too soon. But power comes with a price. And as long as I was getting something out of it, I was okay. But it started becoming too much. I didn’t just do Karate, I became it. My teacher tried to control my life. What I wanted to study and where I wanted to go, he wanted to know everything. Everyone always said I was his star pupil. But really what I was was his pawn. If he said jump, he wanted me to say how high. And I did to an extent. Then I just started doing what I wanted to do. I didn’t listen to him, because I knew he needed me to teach because I was a natural at it. I didn’t abuse the power I had, all I did was the run class they way I saw fit. Instead of doing it because I loved it, I started doing it, because I had to. The pressure of living my life according to what was expected of me became so much, until one day I cracked. The very pedestal that people put me on, the one where I was having such a nice time on, became a burden.
I remember telling him, that I was resigning…I wrote out my letter and everything. I will never forget the look on his face. A few days before we had an argument and he threatened to take my belt away. I couldn’t believe it. Here I had sacrificed my personal life. When he asked me to cover for him, I did. After all the sacrifices I had to make, this fucker was telling me, he would take MY belt away??? It wasn’t that he wanted to take the belt away, it was that he threatened to do it, because I didn’t agree with him, that really pissed me off! I was so angry and insulted. I didn’t need karate, karate needed me. And for the longest time, I was doing something that made me unhappy because I thought it was the right thing to do. When I gave him the letter, he was begging me to stay. BEGGING…a grown ass man begging me to stay. I was disgusted. My father hated him. And I though it was because he treated me like a daughter, but at that moment it dawned on me. Does this guy see me as something else? I felt betrayed. I trusted him, and for him to see me as anything else than a student or even a daughter was for me a betrayal. I walked out and got into the car, and he was following me and still begging, my mother was driving and he was trying to tell her, to tell me to stay. WTF? I was thinking to myself. Did I let it get this sick? I blamed myself for a while, because I let him think that he had sway over me. But not anymore, because I know now, that I can’t control other people, all I can control is myself.
To leave was one of the hardest things I ever had to do in my life. It’s like I gave up a huge part of me. I felt empty for a long time. Then I realised that I was in love with being admired and liked and adored. I was listening to the story of one of the guys from Colour me bad and it was like I knew what he was feeling. He became an alcoholic, because he couldn’t handle being just normal. Not having so many people love you. My ego went from a giant to none existent in a matter of days. It was horrible. But it was the best thing that ever happened for me. I felt like a huge burden had been lifted off my shoulders. Before Karate, I felt like nothing and it gave me confidence to go out into the world, and I felt worthy. But I realised, that my worth is not dependent upon what I do, my worth is who I am. And if you make what you do, who you are, when it leaves you, you will be left with nothing.
When I meet people or read some blogs, I can tell who needs that type of validation and who doesn’t. And I just look at these people and I pity them. I can sense that yearn, that greed for greatness. But little do they know of the price that it comes with.
My black belt hangs on my cupboard handle. I think its been there, ever since I left. I never had the strength to put it away. To put that part of me away. Because I miss it. I miss my friends that I had, and the jokes we use to make, and the camaraderie that we felt. I miss that feeling of doing kata’s and doing it perfectly. There I was perfect, and strong, and brave. And here…I’m just me. But not matter what, I would not go back. I will not give up me…for anything!
I am still angry at him, because I feel like I had to give up so much and yet I'm still a failure. I think what must people think of me. But then I console myself with the fact, that he needed me, so that he could make himself look good. And now I do things because I want to, not because I'm forced to.
If you had to tell me 15 years ago, that I would have done karate and gotton my black belt as well as teach other people, I would have told you that your dreaming. And if you told me like 3 years ago that I would leave karate, I would have said your crazy. I never thought I would be one of those people who say “Oh ja, I use to do karate also” I always thought that I would do it until I’m old and wrinkly. But that is the beauty of life. Things happen that you cannot imagine in your wildest dreams. So with this blog, I pack away my belt. And I’m looking forward to the rest of my wild dreams.
To All the People We Grew Old With
6 hours ago