My journey to martial arts came in a roundabout way. My son was interested in it and so I searched for a long time for a dojo that would be a good fit for him. He is not a competitive person and I knew that a dojo that was all about fighting and competition would not be the place for him. I wanted to find an art that would build his confidence, support his growth, evolve his consciousness as well as teach him solid self-defense, while still maintaining his individuality.
I brought my son to CCB Martial Arts in Concord, California. I signed him up after the first class. I knew the owner’s daughter through my neighbor so I felt an immediate kinship. The feel of the dojo, the energy of the instructors and the overall satisfaction that other parents had was appealing, but really, my son’s delight was the clincher. This dojo and the teachers encompassed everything I was looking for. I became a martial arts mom, taking my son to and from class, participating in community events the dojo had, etc. The lead instructor, Jon Rodriguez, would ask me often when I was going to get on the mat. I would laugh. I did not think martial arts was for me. But we would stay to watch adults classes after my son’s class. And it was impressive!
Two years into my son’s training, the dojo was offering a Mother’s Day special and invited the mom’s to train for the month of May. At the tender age of 45, I decided to step on the mat. And I really liked it! Kyoshi Jon and I discussed my continuing as well as becoming more involved. I made the decision to keep going. I knew that it would be good for me- I needed this. I felt it would be a unique way to connect with my son on so many levels. I began helping out in all the kids classes. I found an affinity working with the kids, especially the girls. I want to inspire young ladies to do what they want to do, not what they believe they have to do. I have always been unconventional and I want young girls that feel different from the norm to know it’s ok to be who they are. A thousand candles can be lit from one flame and that flame will not lose its brightness. We all have gifts. It is our duty to share them.
After less than a month of training, I went to the Tai Kai seminar at the home dojo and committed to having my first degree black belt a year later for the next Tai Kai. I worked my way through the Mudansha belts and got my Shodan, first degree black belt within the year! Right after that, I took the teacher certification course and began the path of becoming an instructor in Seibukan Jujutsu. It took me about 9 months to complete the process and in March of 2015, I became a certified instructor.
Seibukan Jujutsu focuses not only on self-defense, but also on self-development. There is so much to this art, more than I can write about in this piece, but for me one very important aspect of the art is the budo principles. I have done many other things in my life and nothing really has encompassed so completely the alignment of body, mind and spirit like Seibukan Jujutsu. It’s not often pretty, but its definitely beneficial. The art itself is effective, efficient and effortless and I love that as a smaller woman, I can train with bigger, much stronger guys and know that I can do things to them that leave them amazed! I have become so much more aware of how bodies move, specifically my own. I have taken the concepts the art teaches us and used them to help me through trying times, such as the loss of my mother. I am blessed to have an incredible instructor and mentor. He challenges me immensely and I am so very grateful for the experiences and opportunities he has provided me to step out of my comfort zone and push me beyond my self-imposed limits. He reminds me that it’s ok to make mistakes and that this is a process. I know that with two steps forward, there is sometimes a step back and I do slip into old patterns, but I am more aware and able to catch myself sooner, make the adjustments and allow myself the space to do so and to be kind to myself.
Last year I was working on my Sandan, 3rd degree black and I fell quite ill. It turned out my kidney had doubled in size and was completely blocked by scar tissue (and no, this was not due to martial arts training). I had to have pyeloplasty surgery and then a stent for 6 weeks after. It was during my recovery time that I came across Budo Brothers. They were selling hanbos, which just happened to be the weapon for my level. I ordered the Babinga wood hanbo for myself and when it arrived, I slept with it and envisioned the day I’d be back on the mat practicing with it. It got me through that very difficult time. The forced time off really solidified my passion for this art and way! I was longing to get back to my training.
As soon as I could, I was at the dojo watching classes, taking in everything I could from that perspective. My surgeon advised I take a minimum of six months off; I stepped back on the mat 2 weeks after the stent was removed, just under 2 months off! I know my body and I believe the mat is far more healing than sitting around waiting. I trust the universe takes care of me.
About 7 months after my surgery, I got my 3rd degree black belt in Seibukan Jujutsu and my 1st Degree black belt in Enshin Itto-Ryu Battojutsu. I continue my training. I am a mere fledgling and a continuous work in progress. I am getting ready to do my 4th degree black belt in Seibukan, my 2nd degree in Battojutsu and I have started training in Seibukan Jojutsu as well. I am on the leadership team that helps run the dojo. I am in charge of the Children’s program and all the events for the dojo. It is more rewarding than I could have imagined.
So if there is one thing to take away from my story, it’s this: Never say never! It’s never too late to try something new and bold. Just because you think you won’t like something or that it’s not for you, doesn’t mean it isn’t. You never know unless you give it a shot! Ok, I said ‘never’ twice after saying never say never, but you get the point!