Go Ju Kata

This morning, I did an amazing thing.

Our karate discipline is pretty small — we only have five dojos, and they’re in five different countries: our honbu, or headquarters, here in New York, plus dojos in South Africa, Italy, Chile, and Japan. This morning at 8am Eastern Time, representatives from all five dojos gathered — some in their training space, some in their homes, some in large outdoor spaces — and together we all did fifty katas in two hours.

Katas are my absolute favorite part of karate. A kata is a form, a series of movements and techniques in sequence. The vast majority of katas are twenty steps, though some are ten or fifteen, and once you hit black belt they get even longer. (As a third-degree black belt, I have two katas that are just over fifty moves.) I love the way you lose yourself in the movements, in the techniques.

Today’s event was just spectacular. We did twenty-one different katas, each of them at least twice, some of them three times. Besides just the joy of doing katas, there was the added wonderfulness of being able to do them in concert with our friends around the world. The folks at the other dojos are also dear friends in addition to being fellow martial artists. The Italy dojo welcomed me and Wrenn wholeheartedly when we visited in 2018, and the students and teachers from all four of the other dojos have all made visits to us at honbu and it’s been wonderful every time.

One of the great frustrations of the past year has been the inability to interact in person with people. Doing so over video conferencing is a practical substitute, but it’s not always an emotionally satisfying one. Today, though, it was, as video conferencing was the only way to make this work. After all, we’re not just five different dojos in five different cities and different countries, we’re all in different time zones and in different continents! And through the magic of technology, we were able to be together even as we’re separated by so much distance, united in our love of and skill with karate. Watching us all move together in unison on my laptop screen was just fantastic.

We’re hoping to make this an annual thing. I, for one, can’t wait to do it next year….

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