Saturday, January 09, 2010

The Women of Karate

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away.... okay, well in my small hometown in Southern Oregon, I embarked on an on-again, off-again love affair with the martial arts. I started off taking Judo when I was in high school, continued in Judo in college, and then stopped for several years. In 1991, I took up Goju-Ryu karate, but was sidelined by a skiing injury that pretty much halted my involvement for 15 years. Through several dojos, several senseis, and several styles of martial arts though, one thing remained a constant: very few women. There was one woman in my first Judo dojo, none in my college classes, and one in my karate class. For the most part, I trained in the company of men. I never had a female sensei, nor saw a female black belt in person.

So when another homeschooling mom recommended the dojo at ESK, I was so surprised to see it was... full of women! The owners are a husband-wife pair of senseis, many of the other senseis are women, and the dojo is full of females, from the littlest tykes to a host of teenagers, to other moms like me. 70% of the black belts are female! Let me repeat that statistic again. 70% of the black belts are female. Coming from never seeing a female black belt to that, well that's inspiring.

Originally, I started taking karate there because I really wanted to encourage my son in the sport. I had an inkling that this non-team-sports kid would really thrive in something individual and mentally focused like karate, but I knew I had to find exactly the right kind of place, one that blended discipline with grace and kindness, hard work with a patient guidance. At the time, I wasn't thinking that much about my daughter, as she tends to already be involved in a ton of activities, many of them very physical. But soon I came to see what our dojo offered to her in terms of not just the practice of karate but the role models she was surrounded with. I really count my blessings on so many levels that our family found this dojo.

So this week, our local newspaper profiled our karate dojo in their special women's supplement, and the article focuses on the girls, teenagers, and women of the dojo.

Crouching Girls, Hidden Warriors

Check it out! Both Asa and I are in the group photo, which believe it or not only represents about half of the 100+ girls in the dojo!


DB (D1, Mighty B, TG 40) said...

Love it - and think it is so cool that you've made martial arts a family hobby.

Michele said...