Where to Start?

Disappeared for a little while as I was in KGBV and didn’t have internet access.  Came back to Forbesgunge for a little shopping, ATMing, and blog updating.
I have settled into a routine for the most part at KGBV, or as much of a routine as is possible.  Everyday there are new adjustments, big and small.  A normal karate class, for example, would be able to handle the age range of 10 to 16, and varying skill levels between white belt and green belt.  Now, let’s teach class on dirt in a schoolyard where other kids are playing.  So adjust to doing calisthenics that only require standing, and face the girls in the opposite direction of the playground.  And so class is outside in the schoolyard where broken brick and rock stick up.  Make the adjustment to scan area before class and clear what can be cleared.  An occasional monsoon rain, which will cut short or cancel class?  Adjust, and teach class on an 8′ x 8′ concrete porch which is semi-covered – and 10 girls are standing there, getting wet and desperately wanting you to watch their mawashi-gaeri.  Add that the previous teacher was teaching some kind of combination of Hapkido and Shotokan, and maybe some Wushu, so that familiar Japanese karate terms are as mysterious to the ladies as my English is.  Adjust by using lots of sign language and being basic, basic, basic.  If some of the students are of the Muslim faith and are now fasting for 30 days for Ramadan, and have to pray at 2 o’clock in the morning, making most of those students tired and weak, concentrate on simple drills, like stand-in-place reaction games.  If only four girls show up for class, but 15 minutes later 10 more girls show up who are now intrigued with what is being taught, finish up quickly with the four, and think up something new to incorporate the new arrivals.  If the school has other events going on that sometimes conflict with karate class, and we’re asked to stop when we were just getting started, continue in small groups throughout the evening wherever possible:  mess hall, rooftop, hallways.  If these young ladies come from some seriously challenging family and community situations which give them some emotional baggage, and all my lovely plans for a great karate class evaporate like puddles under an Indian sun, adjust and show kindness and understanding while modelling discipline and respect.
This is only the tip of the iceberg in my experience here; so much happens and so fast.  But I am glad for the foundation that I’ve had at my karate school back home in preparing me for these challenges, and am appreciative of my new experience in forcing me to really reach and extend in my patience, my creativity, my understanding, my compassion.
And through it all, at the end of the day, I just have to marvel at the universal experience that is Karate.


  1. katie mckeever said,

    August 18, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    If you have seen that already then think of how much you are helping those girls just by supporting their karate. you are inspiring slef-confidence and hope in these girls, also changing their life. Keep it up
    stay safe, see ya

    Katie M.

  2. Belle said,

    August 22, 2010 at 5:20 am

    Hey, Katie, I hope very much that I have helped these girls, if even a little. They are so hard working, and so interested – it would be a shame if their potential were not realized. I hope I have shown them something that will help them rise above their environment and reach for something positive. Quite the challenge here. As always, thanks for your encouragement! Look forward to seeing you in a few weeks back at the dojo!

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