Saturday, December 31, 2005

Getting a head-start

To all my friends in the blogosphere,

I wish you a Happy New Year, and may 2006 be a year of peace, happiness and prosperity for you and yours.

I spent the day Friday (a rare weekday off from work) in Philadelphia with my former karate teacher. We drank, played cards and chess (I was beaten badly in both), and reflected on the past year, and on the more than 12 years of our friendship.

I vividly remember that day in May 1993 when I first walked into his dojo.
I knew absolutely nothing about karate, nor about the culture that gave birth to it and the successive cultures that shaped it and honed it into what it is today.
I walked into his dojo because it was around the corner from my house and I had recently gotten out of the hospital and was looking for an activity to get me in shape. It was a question of convenience born of ignorance. And happenstance.

With a chip on my shoulder (I get like that when I'm unsure of myself), I asked him what he would teach me.
"I'll teach you Shotokan karate," he said, looking me square in the eyes. "But I don't know what you're prepared to learn."
From this tenuous beginning, a lifetime friendship was formed.
And a way of life was formed. I became increasingly interested in India and China, the parents of the martial arts. Then my attention focused on Japan and I wound up moving there, immersing myself in its religions, history and culture.
And all this began through a chance meeting between a defensive and clueless prospective student and an extraordinarily perceptive and gifted teacher.
A chance meeting? Perhaps not.

7 comments:

Lone Wolf said...

Your experience is similar to mine Michael, the way that your Sensei and his teaching lead you to other passions such as japanese culture. I would have never been interested in Buddhadharma if it wasn't for my Kung Fu Teacher and his teachings.

Lone Wolf said...

By the way, Happy New Year!

Michael said...

Hi Lone Wolf,

As they say, everything is interconnected. Have a great New year!

anu said...

WOW how i wish i too find a teacher like that.

I have always dreamt of a teacher like that.

Wish you a Happy New Year Michael.

Lots of hugs n kisses to you

Michael said...

Hi Anu,

Best of luck to you in 2006! May it be a year of good health for us all.

g said...

A chance meeting. Isn't it amazing how life is a succession of these moments.

Michael said...

Hello g,

Yes, it is amazing, though I'm beginning to think they're not so "chance" after all.
Have a great 2006!