Sensei Jamie

For years I sat on the sidelines watching my children participate in karate at Danforth
Karate Academy.  The art captivated me and secretly I yearned to give it a try myself.  Misgivings plagued me. What if I was too old? Too inflexible? Unable to remember the moves?  Finally, at the age of 51 my family convinced me that I should go out on the limb and join Danforth Karate Academy and begin my own journey in 2005.

As I progressed through the levels, each belt achieved gave me a renewed sense of pride in my accomplishments and fueled my desire to continue to learn.  I was not intimidated by the physical work.  Perseverance is in my nature.  Mastering a new skill is easily recognisable.  Less perceptible are the attributes that
develop without a conscious effort. These elements of growth are seamlessly woven into the instruction at Danforth Karate Academy.

I am a competitive person.  Initially, I competed with others in my class, comparing my progress to theirs and judging my own progress against the measuring stick of others.  What I have learned is that I no longer use my peers as a measure of my development.  My competition
is with myself alone.  I cannot pinpoint exactly when this change happened, but somewhere along this journey a shift occurred.  What I had noticed in the black belt members all along was their willingness to share their knowledge and support others. It has not always been evident that this was not necessarily due to their innate nature, but instead, it is a level of development that is key to continued personal growth.

One of the pivotal moments of my karate experience was during the first tournament I participated in.  Representing my dojo,
Danforth Karate Academy was an honour I took seriously.  Sparring made me nervous but armed with the support of my instructors and peers, I stepped out of my comfort zone.  On the mat, I was faced with the biggest man I had ever seen!  Seriously.  Expecting to be pummelled, I was sure I could not proceed, yet
I did.  The side kick to the chest was like being shot!  I dropped to the mat in agony, sure that I was down for the count.  The encouraging voices of my karate ‘family’ drew me back to my feet. I nodded to the judges and completed the match.  I lost the match, but I gained something more valuable than a medal. I came away with an overwhelming sense of pride in myself, and the training that I had received that enabled me to find the courage to continue in a moment of physical pain and certain defeat.

As a white belt, I assumed that arriving at a black belt would be the destination of my journey.  Smile with pride, dust off my hands and on to something else. Although I have heard many times that this is just a stop along the way of a lifelong path, it has finally resonated.  The chapter may be finished, but the book is not.  I need to continue to strive to quell the urge to fight my way through, to relax and trust myself and my instructors.  It is now 2024, I will now continue my next journey at Danforth Karate Academy.