Thank you

I haven’t written anything in ages… actually that’s not true. I’ve written loads, I’ve about 30 draft articles that were all started in good faith, just never finished. These past few months my life has drastically changed. Yes I know there are people going through all sorts of horrors that don’t compare to “just” being locked down but for some of us, the actual act of being confined is it’s own challenge.

This article isn’t about lamenting a past life or a shopping list of the things that I’m missing. Though I am really missing all my friends… it’s interesting tho, I sent a message last week saying “I miss you x”… it’s the experimental psychologist in me I guess… I wasn’t expecting much back but I’ve been blown away by the messages I’ve received… this girl feels so loved. I’ve amazing friends… and yes I really do miss you all and I will need hugs as soon as it’s allowed.

No this article is about relationships, belief and love. No, I’m not now writing for Claire or whatever people are reading these days, it’s about what I’ve seen in the people around me that constantly inspires me. We have a peer bonus recognition programme at work, it’s pretty simple, recognise someone for what they have done/achieved etc and last week, we had someone who went above and beyond for one of their team members. Sure, it’s not work, it’s more important than work, it’s human. In no other time has being human and caring for others been so important.

Gasshuku

This all come to a head for me a few week ago. I received an invitation to join a gasshuku, a Japanese word…(see picture) and the Senseis who were teaching had decided to teach to raise funds in the fight against COVID-19. It turns out that one of our association members works for the UN and is based in the Central African Republic and who could ensure that any funds raised went directly to those who most needed it, via the UN of course. What blew my mind was that these Senseis, who make their living by teaching, wanted to give time to help out. So of course I joined.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the emotional reach just being on line with friends that I would usually find at the end of a flight. It was amazing. Almost to a person the people who would generally travel to a gasshuku to train were now making the effort to join virtual classes. I saw multiple houses I’d visited in Germany, France, Italy, Canada, Okinawa, Denmark, England, Scotland, Chile.. the list goes on. All association members who were trying as best they could to keep training.

When lockdown started I had loads of plans… so much training to do and so much time. So of course, being me, I did it and quickly got injured.. then the injury led to a sense of despair. So… in true Ciara fashion I just trained more.

Slowly, bit by bit, the reality of “real life” seemed to drift a bit further away day by day, of course my training continued, I just didn’t have a link back to reality. The calendar events I had to work towards had all disappeared over the course of a week before lockdown, where I lost Okinawa, Germany, Denmark, Italy and Israel as potential gasshukus in one go.

I said this wasn’t going to be an article about despair or depression. Last week 2 things happened. We had an additional day off on Friday due to our company performance and I joined the virtual gasshuku in Israel the same day.

Now I’ve often said that Okinawa is my spiritual home, it’s the one place where I don’t worry about people. I can be myself, I write my blog in Starbucks and feel that I’m connected to Karateka all over the world. In Okinawa, I find peace, my brain slows down, I can see things a bit clearer than on a “normal” day and I’ve experienced things that I’ve never, ever seen in real life.

It’s also the place where I am most annoyed with myself, when I can’t use a chi-ishi that some others can lift. When onigiri-game training hurts so much my arms go into full on pumped up pain. Where I do something stupid the exact same moment that Higaonna Sensei (or any other Sensei) decides to look at me.

When there, I’ve learned to listen for the sound of flushing water from upstairs around 21:30-21:45 as I’ve found a direct correlation between that and Higaonna Sensei arriving to the dojo and the onset of the sort of fear/excitement that is somewhere between bed wetting and a near death experience. Of course I loved every moment.

On Friday, we started the Israeli Gasshuku in Okinawa. Higaonna Sensei joined our Zoom gasshuku (I have to wonder if he is the oldest Karate Sensei to instruct on Zoom to be honest) and what was supposed to be a 3 minute intro, became a history lesson.

In a few minutes I was blown away. Higaonna Sensei was so inspirational.

Anywhere can be a dojo, keep training. I go to the park to train. Most important is to keep training

Higaonna Sensei

So there it is. Don’t over think it, just do it. Or, in Higaonna Sensei’s words… “look, listen, sweat”. Forget all the emotions and the feelings and just go and train. 2 days later… it’s going well.

Hopefully 🤞

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