Today was our dojo’s annual Kagami Biraki. The term literally means “opening the mirror,” and it’s a traditional new year’s workout that is about reflection (hence the mirror metaphor) and setting the tone for the coming year.
When I first started training, it was only open to adults, but in recent times, Shuseki Shihan has also allowed teenagers, and any kid who is a brown belt or higher regardless of age.
Today we had 40 students attend, and what was especially nice was that we had a ton of kids as well as adults, plus every belt color was represented: four white belts, four blue belts, two yellow belts, four green belts, ten brown belts, two junior shodans, four shodans, one junior nidan, three nidans, two sandans (myself and Senpai Charles), and all four of our yondans and our one and only godan. It was a glorious, intense, fabulous workout. We did hundreds of punches and kicks and dozens of pushups and lots more. We were all sweating profusely and feeling great, if exhausted.
And then we ended with a final set of one hundred of the following: a squat, followed by two groin kicks. (Groin kicks are low, so less strain on the hamstring and knee.) Shuseki had us all get in a circle and hold onto each others’ shoulders so we could squat and kick as a unit. We all fed off each other, the energy building, the kiais getting louder and louder as we reached a hundred.
What was especially impressive was watching so many pre-teen kids and lower belts who are not as well conditioned as, say, the fifteen black belts totally keeping up with us and doing the thing. It was a wonderful joyous example of how we can all push ourselves to do more than we think we can. It’s one of the two things karate has given me that I will always treasure, the knowledge that I can do more than I think I can. (The other is teaching, which has been awesome.)
While 2018 had its ups and downs outside the dojo, it was a very good year in the dojo, and last year’s Kagami Biraki was also superb, a good omen. Let’s hope today’s fantastic workout is the same.