Joining a Bujinkan Taijutsu Dojo easily ranks in the top five best life choices I have made. The month of June marks a year and a half since I started training; the mid-way point of earning a black belt. I have come so far. And yet, there is much more to learn before the real training begins. Why did I join a dojo at thirty-nine and a hundred pounds overweight? There are a few reasons.
First, I was fulfilling a childhood dream. As a young girl, I wanted nothing more than to train in martial arts. Secondly, I wanted to start a new lifestyle. One that focused on health and well-being. The third reason was the dojo itself. I was impressed with the dojo philosophy and the comradery seen amongst the students. Finally, for personal and spiritual advancement.
When I was six years old, every day my mother drove me to school. On our way, we would pass a karate dojo. Often, I would ask my mother if I could take lessons. To be honest, it was more like begging. In my young mind, learning martial arts would enable me to protect myself from danger; real or imagined. The reply was consistent, “I don’t want you to learn violence.” The disappointment was palpable. I never understood my mother’s logic. Being a victim was at the bottom of my to-do list, even then. As the years went by, I never fulfilled the dream of being a martial artist. In 2014 my husband and four-year-old son joined the Yakima Taijutsu Martial Arts. At the time, I was attending school in the evening; for me to train with them was not possible. A year later my son started Kindergarten and I switched to day classes. At thirty-nine I joined the dojo as a white belt. It was the change I needed.
Going through a metamorphosis is always hard. The single most important weapon a person can have is determination. Without it, a person is doomed to fail. Seven years ago, I gave birth to my son via C-section. Recovery was slow and any fitness routine I had stopped. Today, I still maintain the same weight I was at the time I gave birth. Something had to change. Joining the dojo was the first step down the path towards health and well-being. Now, is the time to tap into the determination that I know is deep inside of me. There is a memorable moment at the dojo that encourages me as I crawl along the path towards fitness. Imagine a house built of mats that stand about four and a half feet tall with a roof of foam. The Sensei is standing off to the side holding a hula hoop out in front of the opening to the house. Now, imagine dive-rolling through the hoop and into the mat house without touching anything or knocking the walls over. Yes, I did that. It is a moment that whispers to me, “You can achieve anything.”
The third reason for training specifically in Taijutsu is the art itself. The Bujinkan dojo I belong to emphasizes escaping and protecting rather than fighting and competition. We do things a little differently. First, we are taught to be protectors, protectors of ourselves and of others. We train to make the world a better place. It is about strategy; in movement and in our lives. The white and yellow belts spend at least eight months learning these essential skills. Our Sensei has sound reasoning for this structure. Many people do not make it beyond yellow belt for one reason or another. At the minimum, new students can walk away with a few tools for self-protection.
The Taijutsu Dojo I belong to is family oriented. They meet people where they are at on their journey through life. Yes, there is a standard. It is set high. I enjoy the journey to strive, to overcome, and to make the movements and strategies my own. Taijutsu is about adaptation. There is a saying drilled into our minds; Ten thousand changes, no surprises. This philosophy leads us into the final reason I joined Taijutsu.
Training in the Bujinkan is a way to gain control over my life. Some of you may say, “Now wait a minute. You can’t control everything.” You are right. I do not have control over of the world around me. However, I can learn to control my interaction with people and events. Gaining control of my physical and mental self is the goal.
I am a thinker, a philosopher. I may not be a religious person; however, I am a spiritual one. Existential and spiritual ponderings are never far from my mind. Here is a thought; control over the body leads to control over the mind which in turn leads to control over of the spiritual self. This is my personal goal, control over the three aspects of the Self. It is a long journey of discovery filled with many obstacles, mostly self-made. Yet, I believe it is a necessary journey to move beyond this physical world.
For me, Taijutsu is not a weight loss program. It is not the fulfillment of childish dreams. It encompasses much more. It is a catalyst into a way of life, one I believe places me on the path to obtaining my ultimate goal.
Thank you for reading.
J. R. Lowe