Today was my last karate class before next Thursday's surgery.
I couldn't have asked for a better, more positive class to end on.
We focused on Sanchin, a kata or form that essentially embodies what the style of karate I study, Okinawan Goju-ryu, is all about.
Sanchin features deep, dynamic breathing (contrary to what the Wikipedia article claims, at least the way my instructor teaches it and his instructor taught him, and so on). To sum up, I believe doing the kata is like tapping into the power of the universe.
You feel this power rising up through the feet and into the legs, and from there extending into and filling the tanden, or center (a point just below the navel, from where movement and power originate). It's a very heady, very powerful feeling, intensified by the fact that it's a very slow kata.
For me, when I'm truly focused on Sanchin (and it doesn't happen often -- yet), time stops. I'm not even aware that it has stopped. It just ceases to be relevant. There's just the focus on deeply breathing in and out and keeping proper muscular tension when moving, blocking and punching. I feel like I lose myself and find myself at the same time.
Sanchin is an extremely tiring kata for me, and it's particularly stressful on my lower back, hips and knees. But the energy I feel blasting through the fatigue really helps set the tone for the rest of the day.
After class, a fellow student, a newly joined black belt from another dojo, said, "See you Friday."
I explained that this was to be my last class for a while, and when he inquired as to why I told him about my illness and upcoming surgery.
"You sure don't move like it," he said.
He may have just been being polite.
But this verbal pat on the back, coupled with the energizing effect of Sanchin, convinced me that everything will be OK.