Chapter 25

23 Oct

Shotokan Karate Part One: Enter the Sensei

The “Kickboxing Karate” school was right down the street, nestled gently inbetween a pawn shop and a sports bar. Finding parking was difficult, but we finally did. We make it inside, and the instructor gives my brother and I uniforms to put on. He gives us a little wisdom about what our uniforms and belts mean. This was my first time meeting the man; he looked to be in his sixties, had the typical karate master gut, and was balding up top. He tells me that he is from Costa Rica originally, and that english is his third language (after Spanish, and then Japanese). Suffice to say, I can barely understand a single word this man is saying. After his brief introduction, we introduce ourselves. He has much difficulty pronouncing our names.

After the touchy feely fest, he decides to enlighten us on what the uniforms and belts really mean.

I’m pointing out right now that none of his speech contains typos. Any extra letters or mis spells are how he pronounced the word.

“Do yuh know why your uhneeform is respresenting?”


“It is respresenting how your are on the inside. Yuh uhneeform is white to respresent purrity wittin yuhr hurt.”

He shakes the belts he gaves and laughs.

“Tis, tis isn’t just to holt up yuhr pants! It symbolizes [how the hell he pronounced this word correctly I’ll never know] what yuh know as a perton.”

My brother and I nervously chuckle, acknowledging what he said to be true, whatever exactly that was.

We get dressed, and find that he started class without us. He tells us that this orange belt lady is going to be teaching us the basics. She’s actually factually japanese, I’d say as old as sensei, and rail thin. Her accent is more japanese than sensei’s unrecognizable gibberish, so we have an easier time picking things up.

She shows us punch, reverse punch, upper block, lower block, inside block, outside block, meanwhile I am wondering, where is the kickboxing portion?

Finally, sensei brings the class to a close with a long bowing ritual; You stand, heels together, feet pointing out. Then you bend your right knee to the outside, and put your left kene on the ground. Then you meet your left knee with your right knee, and sit on your heels. As he was teaching us this, where was the kickboxing portion? My dad arrives halfway through the ritual, and sensei leaves closing the class to the japanese lady. I think to myself, good lord, I can’t wait to get out of here. There is no physically demanding exercise, no cardio work, no kickboxing, no bag hitting, no mit hitting, no pad hitting, no punching-blocking drills, no application, nothing. The entire class was kata. I want to get out of there. Dad walks out laughing and shaking hands with sensei.

I get nervous.

After class, my dad informs me he signed us up. I sigh.

Oh, and he signed a year long contract.


Yes, to my dismay, I was signed up for a full year. I expressed my disinterest, but my dad says,

“Look, exercise is exercise. It’s japanese karate, right? And kickboxing is just full contact karate, right? I mean, he’s a nice enough guy. Just give it a chance.

Besides, how bad can it be?”


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