It has been about two years since I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and started learning karate. At the beginning I had really low expectations of being physically capable enough to be still learning it. I took my walking stick to the first class, and asked if it was alright for me to sit down if I couldn’t finish the class.
So it felt good to pause for a minute in December last year and bask in the glory of having passed the test for brown belt.
I was so thrilled you couldn’t wipe the grin off my face for the rest of 2020. I couldn’t believe that I’ve actually managed to still be here, still learning.
Making it to brown belt feels so surreal. When I began my karate adventure I would not have thought such a feat would be have been possible. I say “would not have” because I didn’t think about it. That would have felt like indulging in some kind of foolish fantasy.
There are lots of factors that have helped me get to brown belt. I belong to a great, supportive club (the awesome Kapiti Karate Academy). I don’t experience dyskinesia much, and the drugs still work most of the time (although I have to take them three hourly). My husband Elia is just as committed as I am to making sure I keep up the practice.
The success factor I would give the most credit though is just that I kept on trying. I tried my best to ignore the voice saying ‘You can’t do this’. Sometimes I missed training, sometimes I went to training and moved terribly. The art in the effort was to try not to beat myself up about it, and try again next time. To give myself another chance.
In the Star Warsian philosophy of Yoda there is no try – you can only do or not do. I think the word ‘try’ allows recognition of the benefit of forgiving yourself when you fail, and giving it another go. Ok, so yes, Yoda means the act of trying is doing. Whatever, you get what I’m saying.
I tried to focus on what I could do. Even if it seemed small.
The nice feeling about wearing the brown belt is that it feels like a reward, a prize for not giving up. I had not aimed at a particular belt colour as a goal, but boy it does feel good to wear the brown.
Well, it did. Now its like – okay, enough gloating! Get back to training!