I have been doing judo since 1991 and I've gotten as far as 5th dan. Someone said a while back, "The first five dans come from what you've gotten from the art. The second five dans come from what you've given back to the art." I thought I'd ennumerate a few of the things I think I've gotten from my continued participation.
- An education - our college club was so fun that it served as a huge motivator to stay in school for advanced degrees. Having spent several undergraduate years doing judo, I re-upped and got my Masters' degree - largely so that I could continue doing judo.
- Some exercise - As a young adult I was always wraith thin, although I always saw myself as overweight. An instructor told me some years back, "Just wait till you hit 30 and your metabolism plummets." Sure enough, it seems that my metabolism plummeted and my weight shot upward around age 26, and again around age 30. Fortunately, I have maintained a schedule of 3-5 martial arts days per week since finishing college. About 2002 I rampled up my effort level again and dropped 40 pounds over the course of about 6 months. I think judo has helped me keep that weight off. Only God know what I'd weigh if I didn't do judo!
- A pile of real friends - many of the people that I worked out with and struggled with and sweated on during college still keep in touch. I see some of these people at seminars 1-2 times a year and a few of them have even made it to our annual fall Gatherings at Mokuren Dojo. A friend that you have wrestled with is a different sort of thing from those you've had classes with or went to bars with or work acquaintances.
- Confidence - over the past 20 years, the fights I've been in and seen have re-enforced the value of judo as self-defense. In college ours was an exceptionally rough club. Several of us finally came to the conclusion that unless someone killed us, they couldn't do worse to us than what we did to ourselves at class every week. That confidence gave us the ability to not be physically intimidated by anyone, to disregard bullies as pitiful souls, to know that what we work to obtain we will be able to keep for ourselves. That has been a blessing.
- A fascinating puzzle - The way that this system is constructed is simply amazing. Everything is inter-related and inter-connected in overlapping, fail-soft relationships. Every lesson you learn opens up volumes of new ideas and concepts to work on. Every question you answer for yourself leads to a handful of new questions. I've done this thing 19 years and it looks like I've still got a lifetime or two of material to go!
I don't know how I can ever return that much value to the art...
How about you? How long have you been doing judo and what do you think you've gotten out of it?
Patrick Parker is a Christian, husband, father, martial arts teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 601.248.7282 木蓮