I think it was 1970 when my new handsome husband and I began Gen Wa Kai Karate. There were only two women and a bunch of men. One of the women was me. This particular dojo had a lot of mystic attached to it, so that everyone thought it was the most difficult. There in lies the key to how a bird defeated a Gen Wa Kai Sho-Don.
The men of this dojo thought they were the toughest, roughest, prettiest, bad-boys around. They had the idea that everyone should suffer in order to gain excellence. It hurt their egos that I did not appear to suffer. Of course I was, but I was certainly NOT going to let anyone know. So the local sensei reprimanded me as being facile. I could see that they were all stronger and heavier than me, so I had to be fast and focused. That I could do. Until I was pregnant. Then, I had to sit out, or stay home, as I by this time, had gained legal custody of my little sister, a wild child. She needed LOTS of attention. An 11 year old who looked older than me. So my handsome young husband took advantage of this and advanced quickly with his buddies. They also had after karate tete-a tetes with various karate and music groupies. Yes they were musicians, too.
After our first child was born I thought that we could trade off child care and going to karate, I would go once per week and he could go twice. This did not work out well for me. He went three times per week and I went zero. He advanced through the various ranks. I practiced alone. When our second son was born my handsome husband wanted to move to an old pre-civil war house far away from town. So of course we did. This effectively trapped me there as we had one worn out car, no telephone, and a toddler and a baby. I had gotten my sister into the university sponsored high school through her status as being a ward and gifted, as well. My husband had agreed to give her a ride to school and home. Well he let her out at school, but she walked through the school and out the back door. There was nothing I could do. That was the only school that did not have residency requirements, only transportation and attendance. We HAD to move closer to school, or get another car or something… my sister NEEDED help.
My mother, whom I had taken to court to gain custody, moved in with us, off and on. She was an alcoholic. One day my husband threw her out. He told me to choose between him or my mother. I chose wrong. Not quite a year later she killed herself.
My sister was sixteen. She quit school entirely. We moved back to town, and she started at the technical school to get a GED and cosmetology license and tailoring.
I made sure she knew that no matter what she was a worthwhile beautiful, fun, kind, smart, talented, glorious young woman. Well the young part might change, but not the rest.
Karate and Music and My Sister
Mister Karate got his black belt. Lots of music was played at our house. I could make food out of nothing, so everybody came there. I always had a big pot of beans and home made bread of one sort or another. This I liked as the boys could go to sleep in their own beds, and everybody was there and I was too. The core dojo people were always there.
About 1979, with help from parents, and a store that I had created, ROCHELLE, a boutique, so my sister could have a job without the GED (she quit) and I could have my boys with me, and still have an income, and we could sell and/or make what we liked, both for fun and for dollars. This was working out well, when my husband was invited to go to Japan and study some advanced techniques. He wanted to sell everything and all of us go.
I was pregnant with our third child and he wanted that to hurry up so we could get his picture on the passport so we could go. My sister got married while I was still pregnant. I passed over ownership of our store to her. She was pregnant too. My husband sold everything, including the hand made quilts I had made for the boys, my books, most of my records, my pots and pans, and that is all I had … besides the three beautiful boys. He probably would have sold us, too, if he could have gotten a good price.
When our third son was three months old we flew to Japan. My sister sold the store. She had her first child without her own family.
She now is a successful business woman, a singer a cappella, and accompanied, solos, and with groups and choirs, she had a BA in Design, Masters in Library Science and has headed the Children and Young Adults Department in a large library for years. She is a visual artist, and can sew anything. She is an outstanding and attentive Mother and Grandmother. I love her.
Japan and Karate
While In Japan, Mister Karate Master had a problem. One that I had already made him aware of, and tried to show him some stretches and exercises to help. I explained, and attempted to help him use heat to relax the stiffness. He insisted that it was not possible to force his feet into correct technique to prevent injury to self when making contact with a kick. He insisted that he could not force his toes to bend. The REAL Gen Wa Kai Karate Masters told him the same things I did, and even at the retreats, with 24 hrs/day karate with all Sho Don or above, he still insisted he could not do this. Well he could, he just didn’t want to. It was something that would require REAL work, but only for a little while, till he got those tendons loosed up and his mind turned around.
The REAL masters told him he was WEAK MINDED. He had never heard this in his life. He was the valedictorian of his large (2,000 students) high school. He had an honors degree in physics, and now the Japanese Gen Wa Kai Master Sensei deigned to tell him HE wasn’t turning his toes at the correct angle because HE WAS WEAK MINDED. When he told me, I had to laugh because it was true. He didn’t think to be grateful that I did NOT say “I told you so”. Needless to say he did not gain a single rank during the entire year and a half we were there. Our oldest son gained 7 kue. He was only 8 years old. I became an elite and reclusive American English and etiquette sensei of very rich wives of businessmen. My poor husband struggled to fulfill the requirements of our cultural exchange visa. He had to keep studying karate, even if he did refuse to pull his toes back. And he had to teach an English class to the dojo members who wished to take the class.
For eighteen months he worked and struggled. He could do everything required of Ni Don, except pull his toes back to make an effective kick. He could not even do a good side kick, when only the big toe is at that angle. The other toes are tucked as far under as possible to give the side of the foot solidity. He began to see the folly of having his friends promote him without correct technique. He had convinced them it could not be done. Of course he did not turn his mind around and actually make progress in Japan, either. Instead he beat his head on a wall of his own stubbornness, wasting this opportunity with useless struggle.
Finally we went home. Only now we had nothing. No house, no money, no furniture, no possessions. We did have debt. And we did have three beautiful little boys. The older boy had missed a year and a half of school, but it seemed to make no difference. The second son started first grade, and had a little bit of trouble having not gone to American kindergarten, but the activities the boys and I had done to fill our days in Japan were enough to fill the gaps. All three boys are now men, and happily married.
So back to work. My little sister’s husband helped us find a cheap house, that was actually VERY nice, and my husband found a job doing carpentry … he was actually an excellent trim carpenter … but then he encountered back troubles. Someone told me about a cocktail lounge opening up, and off I went to apply. My sister went too. She would work one night, and I the other, trading off babysitting. My husband began working stage crew as the master sound technician. So he was unavailable to take a turn with the boys. Except once in a long while. My sister and I never did work at the same time, but we did have days when our little boys played, and we drank coffee.
My husband became the sensei of his dojo, as HE had studied karate in Japan. He refused to train our own boys, though he allowed other people’s children to train in “his” dojo.
By then, I had decided in my mind, that we needed to part ways. He was too poor of an example for our boys. But it took me another nine years to actually be able do that.
In the meantime he built a very nice house, and I had chickens and dogs and boys. Lots of boys. Other peoples boys seem to be at our house a lot. Sometimes, but rarely, now, there was music. My sister and her husband moved to another state.
Now then. I had about two dozen hens, and five roosters. Four were red roosters and one was the MEAN Barred Rock Rooster. Oh, he was good to his harem, finding little tid bits and calling over his favorites to share … then jumping on their backs when they bent over to pick up the treat. He thought he was so clever with that trick. The other roosters had to hide out together in a corner, because only as a group could they defend themselves from Mr. Mean.
The hens had raised other young roosters, but Mr. Meany killed them all, except those four. I think he let them live so that he could gloat.
We had two doors on the hen house. one into the pen, and one to the outside. There was also a gate to the pen. Mr. Meany kept the possums and coons and feral dogs and snakes and people, yes people, and other roosters, away. Only his precious hens could be in the pen, well, and some ducks. But the ducks had to hang out in the water all day to be safe from Mister Barred Rock Mean.
Mr. Mean and Mr. Karate Master
Usually the boys and I collected the eggs, with a door juggling act, so that we did not encounter Mr. Mean.
Well. One day Mr. Karate Master decided HE would collect the eggs, AND for some reason he decided to go into the chicken pen. Perhaps he realized it was a CHICKEN pen and felt compelled to enter? Perhaps I will never know for sure. But I do speculate.
Mr. Mean saw Mr. Karate Master. Mr. Mean dropped that wing down.
Mr. Karate Master assumed a fighting stance.
Mr. Mean fluffed up that neck ruff and sighted on Mr. Karate Master.
Mr. Karate Master gave his himself away. Mr. Mean had more experience in direct aggressive confrontations, he took Mr. Karate Master’s measure.
Mr. Mean could see that Mr. Karate Master could throw a good punch … up in the air. Mr. Mean was only knee high when fully stretched out. Mr. Mean had a vicious beak. Mr. Mean had spurs an inch and half long. Mr. Mean was MEAN. If Mr. Karate Master came down low enough to punch, Mr. Mean would already have his eyes.
What could Mr. Karate Master do? He could not escape as he had closed the gate. He could run in the hen house and close that door, but Mr. Mean was closer. Ego and Stubborness had trapped him with Mr. Mean.
Mr. Mean eyed Mr. Karate Master…. showdown in the chicken pen, where everybody is a chicken.
Mr. Mean turned. In an instant he faced 180 degrees the other way with the opposite wing dropped. He had seen Mr. Karate Master eye the hen house. No. Mr. Mean would not allow ANYONE, but hens, to enter the hen house from the chicken pen, unscathed.
Mr. Karate Master eyed the hen house door, glad that he had made a people-sized door. Mr. Karate Master had made a well designed hen house. Mr. Karate Master was pleased with himself.
Mr. Mean eyed Mr. Karate Master.
Mr. Mean had a plan. He pretended to relax. Mr. Karate Master thought Mr. Mean had lost interest and started to move towards the hen house.
Mr. Mean attacked!!
Mr. Karate Master kicked. “^&%#$@@%&^(*!!!!” could be heard for a half mile. He had kicked without his toes in proper position. In spite of years of training and warnings.
Mr. Mean saw this coming and provoked it. He KNEW Mr. Karate Master had this weakness of mind, and used it. THIS human Karate Master could kick all he wanted and he would hurt only himself. What fun for a rooster!!
Mr. Mean attacked again. Mr. Karate Master made it into the hen house and mostly shut the door.
Mr. Karate Master scraped Mr. Mean off of his bloody lacerated leg with the broken toe, using the door. Mr. Karate Master used the door to scrape that MEAN rooster off his leg, again, before finally shutting the door.
I am still pleased that a bird showed Mr. Karate Master that having a strong mind and training with correct technique are important. Sloppy thinking and sloppy training begat sloppy. Period.
Mr. Karate Master finally turned his mind around enough and learned to pull his toes back. I don’t know if he has ever actually kicked anything, since, besides his makawari.
The Barred Rock Rooster had focused intent. Mr. Karate Master had Ego and sloppy training. Mr. Karate Master was 14 times as heavy and five times taller. The Barred Rock Rooster had focused intent.
Mr. Karate Master never went back into the chicken pen again, until after Mr. Mean had died. Even MEAN roosters do not get to live as long as men, weak minded or not.
Perhaps you also have insight into why I, my sister, and a few others are quite please that the rooster broke the Karate Master’s toe.
Bear … 01.27.2015
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