Out there on the tatami
My six-year-old has wanted to study martial arts for at least the last six months.
I’ve wanted to support him, but time, energy, and emotional constraints have just been too abundant.
Last night, his dad and I finally took him for a free private “test” lesson at a nearby dojo. I arrived a few minutes after Li’l D and my husband. I was astonished to see my normally (initially) shy son already beaming and rolling all over the tatami (mats) with two boys about Li’l D’s age and their instructor mom.
I immediately felt at home.
I studied karate for a couple of years beginning my senior year of college. (Was it my first or second senior year, though? Good question!)
My enthusiasm for karate greatly exceeded my skill, probably because my enthusiasm was more about the sense of community than the art itself. I’d never experienced community beyond that I felt with my siblings, and I loved being welcomed at the dojo not for my monthly fee but for me. (Indeed, I met my now-sister Darth at karate.)
My dojo eventually introduced judo. I was much, much better at judo than karate, and enjoyed it a heckuva lot more.
That enjoyment seemed like another lifetime until I watched Li’l D grinning and grappling judo-style yesterday.
College-me felt alive watching yesterday’s test lesson.
I thought, “Maybe someday soon martial arts-me will be present-day me again!” I said as much to the instructor afterward, but explained my husband’s show biz hours mean I’d only be able to attend when he’s between shows.
I already felt confident I’d be enrolling Li’l D by the time we had this discussion at the dojo’s door. Then, then, the instructor asked my husband about his role in show biz. He answered, to which she replied, “We’ve got a few guys in show biz, but they’re more the production side of–oh, there’s one of them!”
My husband, Anthony, turned to see who’d pulled up. He burst into a grin and shouted a greeting along with the instructor. “I just worked with him on my last two shows!” he explained. That’s a surprising coincidence, period, but especially so given that we live thirty miles from “Hollywood.”
Anthony’s colleague couldn’t praise the dojo highly enough. I ushered the kids away as the two spoke, and my heart was full of appreciation for then and now.
This mama was a martial artist, for a bit, and now, now,
she’s elated to contemplate the possibility her older boy might find himself
half the joy, community, discipline, and connection she once did, out there on the tatami,
so deep and vast, the remembrance of it easily extends
across two decades.