I didn't work up the nerve to begin my journey in the martial arts until I was 24 years old. A part of my hesitance stemmed from my rather un-athletic childhood. One of my earliest memories is a day in kindergarten P.E. class near the beginning of the school year. The P.E. teacher, the middle school's basketball coach, told me "it's a good thing you are book-smart, because you'll never make it as an athlete." Funny how just one small thoughtless comment can have such a tremendous impact on the self-esteem of a child.
All throughought my education, I did only the bare minimum physical activity necessary to advance. I never really put forth any effort in games of elimination - I was always one of the first out in dodge-ball, capture the flag, and games of that sort. As long as I started the game, it didn't matter how long I stayed in; I had participated, and participation was all that was necessary to get the grade.
In high school, I only needed one physical actvity credit to graduate. I literally walked my way through that semester. I took P.E. with the girls' volleyball team. The coach used the time as extra practice, and anyone who was not on the team needed only to stay moving to get the grade.
In college, I again needed only one physical activity credit to meet my general education requirements for my degree. I started to take Beginning Tumbling, but I cracked an ankle that semester (completely unrelated to the tumbling class...my lack of physical activity during my childhood didn't exactly hone my coordination skills). I quickly dropped the class before I could be flunked for my absences and lack of participation. I ended up with a credit from another class that counted for my P.E. on a technicality.
Anyway, you get the picture, right? I have never been the athletic type.
And then my husband decided to get back into karate. He had taken some form of martial art since he was about 8 years old, but once he started college that part of his life kind of fell to the wayside. Four years into our marriage, he decided to revive that facet of his life. There happens to be a wonderful little dojo right here in town. So he signed up for classes, and I started watching. I would go with him most nights and sit in one of the blue chairs where parents of child karatekan waited with their books and cell phones, passing the time until it was time to drive their little karate kids home. And I watched. I listened. I got to know the people there. I was welcomed into the dojo family with such warmth. And everyone kept encouraging me to start classes for myself. It took them a year, but little by little they chipped away at the chains that held me back, and I became a "blue chair karateka"...an observer-turned-student.