I still remember pulling up to the dojo on that Friday for the first time. I sat in my car for a while, contemplating what I was about to do. Questioning myself. “Am I too old to be starting this”? I almost didn’t get it out. I was going to start up the car and go back home. Can you imagine if I did? How different things would be now! I can’t even begin to express how happy I am that I made the right choice and stepped inside Sensei Steve Fogarasi’s dojo.
In this short time I have learnt more about myself than if I was in therapy. I have made new friends, gained some confidence (with a way to go) and most of all, I have learned valuable lessons that have not only helped me in the dojo, but in life as well.
Last night’s class began and ended, as most times, with Mokuso in Zazen. Mokuso roughly translates to “silent or thoughtful mind”. Inhaling through the nose, exhaling through the mouth, focusing on breath, we effectively clear our mind. Sensei Fogarasi guides us to quiet our minds and to focus on the present. Don’t think about the stress of your day. Let go of the worries that enter your mind. Just be entirely present. After a few minutes of silence he concludes the meditation and training begins. The training demands focus. It demands your complete attention to detail. The physical training emphasizes the meditation. It forces you to be very present.
As the dojo is preparing for testing, classes and students are focused on their requirements, and “perfecting” technique. I wrap that in quotes, as I don’t believe there is perfection. Last night’s class drilled basic kicks and strikes, and we also worked on this amazing drill, which seemed to be like randori, which I’ve read about. It wasn’t kumite, as it was more like “mock-combat” in which both karateka move very fast, parrying and attempting strikes, yet only ever making light, or controlled, contact. Total control of the body and the space around you is required. It was very challenging and I learned a lot about positioning, balance, focus, etc.
When training ended we again kneel in meditation. “Now we prepare to leave the dojo and take the time to quiet our mind, slow our breath and relax,” Sensei says. He explains that this is something we can take with us in our daily lives. We all have different jobs and the stresses that go along with them. When we feel we are in moments of great work or life stress, its important to take a minute, centre yourself and breath, before continuing on.
Karate and Mokuso teaches us the ability to be able to regulate over selves and not let things overwhelm us, but instead regain control in the moment. Even while sitting in zazen. After a few minutes your legs become numb and uncomfortable. People begin to figit, except for Sensei and some of the higher ranks. They are still able to find the present, and forget about the discomfort. In the end your mind should be in a clear and clean state.
At the end when we bow, and I truly mean it when I say arigato. I am thankful every day for what Kyokushin and my instructor is teaching me, for the dojo and life.