Wax on, wax off

In two days, I will get on a series of planes and fly to Okinawa, where I will spend several days doing karate in an un-airconditioned budokan.

I’ve been practicing karate for more than five years now, but this is my first time attending this seminar, which is organized by the man who runs my dojo — Oshiro Toshihiro, who is a ninth degree black belt in our unarmed style, eighth degree in the associated weapons style. There will be attendees from all over the world, and let’s just say this is the sort of crowd where having a black belt doesn’t impress anybody. I mean, one of the guys at our dojo will be testing for third dan, and as far as he’s concerned, he’s still very much a junior practitioner of the style.

Which leaves me way at the back, since I’m only shodanho — “probationary black belt.” My belt is black, but it has a white stripe, marking me as not quiiiiiiiiiiiiite there. But I think it’s a good stage at which to attend: I know enough to get a lot out of this experience, while not quite having the pressure of being expected to test for anything. Doesn’t keep it from being intimidating as heck . . . but I’m looking forward to it.

Because for these few days, I will be spending my time focusing intensively on the smallest details of my body and movement. It’s both like and unlike writing: I’m honing a skill, perfecting my control of what I do, but this particular skill is visceral in a way that writing can never be. For somebody like me, who spends most of her time in her head, it’s great to get out once in a while and live in the flesh.

It would be nice if I could do that without sweating to death. But hey, the next time I write about somebody undergoing intense martial arts training, I’ll have even more personal experience to draw on!

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Marie Brennan

Marie Brennan is the author of more than forty short stories and seven novels, the most recent of which is the urban fantasy Lies and Prophecy. Visit site.

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