Blowing The Dust Off Of The Dog

Well, once again, I wind up having an inexcusable gap in my blog writing. I could rationalize some of it away but, at the end of it all, I simply wasn’t making time for my writing. As I begin to think about it, there a few things that fell to the wayside. Along with my writing, several aspects of my fitness journey got put on the back burner. Maybe I should address some of these things that I have placed on the proverbial shelf. To quote the poet, Eugene Field, what “little toy dog” have allowed to be “covered with dust”, ever available and waiting to be engaged?

Since my fitness journey covers more than one activity, I suppose I should speak to that first. Why did I allow a growing regiment of exercise, which included regular bicycle riding and a daily routine of formal karate exercise, come to a grinding halt? Was it due to recovering from a fractured ankle? That’s part of it, yes. The physical therapy and recovery was painful and exhausting. The overwhelming part was getting too caught up in the fact that the fitness routine became noticeably harder to accomplish at the same than prior to my injury. For many people, when things get hard (or harder than one is accustomed), it becomes a strong temptation to simply avoid it. When a fitness routine gets avoided, you become more fatigued, less energetic, less enthused. This leads to a vicious circle of excuses versus results. I became very tired which lead me to avoid the exercise (which would have progressively allowed me to do more exercise over time). What was once a daily routine of doing several levels of fundamental karate exercise lead to being unable to recall or complete a SINGLE kata (formal exercise). It happened because I LET IT HAPPEN! The same can be said for the bicycle riding. I avoided the indoor bicycle training during the winter months for all of the aforementioned reasons. The eventual result was that, when I did an outdoor ride for the first time, a 3 mile ride took a lot out of me. That’s rough considering that I have logged more than 15 miles in a single ride previously.

Still, inspiration can sometimes come from the observation of those around you. For example, this past week, my wife rode that same three mile route on her bicycle alone. For that one day, she did not allow her daily aches or pains stop her. She did three miles knowing that it can lead to 10, 20, 30, or more some day. The other source of inspiration came from my 5 year old grandson, Taelor-James (aka The Mighty Warrior). Taelor-James recently began taking karate lessons at a local dojo. His  lessons involve some basic movements (kihon), some calisthenics, and applied concepts of obedience and respect. The issues of obedience and respect are crucial. Taelor-James is being held accountable for his behavior outside of the dojo. He was even once even denied advancement due to a behavioral issue that was occurring at home and at school. The sensei (teacher) kept in touch with Taelor in between training days to monitor his behavior. This all leads back to this morning when Taelor-James was being evaluated for advancement along with his fellow karate-ka (students).

After testing Taelor-James on some of the previously mentioned basics, the sensei addressed each student individually (in front of the other students and observing families). Taelor-James was among the last of the students to be addressed. I had begin to wonder if this was due to another potential denial in advancement. The sensei looked my grandson in the eyes and asked him: “Did you have a good day yesterday?” Taelor-James shook his head and said: “Yes, sensei.” The sensei then said that she was happy to advance Taelor-James to receive his first orange stripe and first yellow stripe for his belt. Taelor-James posed for pictures with the other karate-ka while making sure to show his newly striped belt for the cameras.

The inspiration behind my grandson’s belt advancement is simple to explain. Taelor-James is being taught that his lessons in karate-do (“the way of the empty hand”) extend beyond his visits to the dojo. He works on the principles of obedience and respect DAILY. Some days, he fails. He doesn’t let that stop him from starting with it fresh the next day. He does the best as he know how to correct and strengthen his behavior and skill. Why? Because, he knows that each day he works at it gets him closer to a reward. As Master Gichin Funakoshi said: “Each to his own ability”. Taelor-James has worked each day to improve upon the previous day.

As the evaluation ended and we all left the dojo, I hugged my grandson and told him I loved him. I, then, got into my car and drove home. The house was quiet and the weather was rainy. I took advantage of the solitude and retreated to the garage. I stood at an attention stance, bowed, and then began working on a first level kata. After several attempts, I was only able to do 8 steps of a 20 step kata. That’s OK. Tomorrow will be better. Some day, I may even be as good as my 5 year old grandson. I just have to remember, the exercise is always there for me to engage. The “little toy dog” is always there for me as “sturdy and staunch” as ever. I just have to blow off the dust. I’m glad I did and I have a young Mighty Warrior to thank for it.