The school hall was over warm, and the lingering lunchtime smells seeping from the kitchen behind me were cloying. Nonetheless, I am relieved my little boy is enjoying karate more than football and even seems to be quite good at it.
Three and a half short years later and Thomas is now an accomplished 1st Dan Black Belt – it wasn’t just a mother’s biased view that saw talent in him! Lee and I joined Thomas on the mats in 2015; unfortunately injuries have kept Lee away from training for a while, but he is working hard to return to the Dojo as more than a supporter.
Little did I expect then to be training for Black Belt now. My first Instructor, Mr Bonella, likened the path towards Black Belt to learning how to read and write: first we learn the alphabet, then we learn short words, and once we can put sentences together we are ready to become a Black Belt, writing our own story. Mr Bonella inspired all three of us; we wish him continued success in his new career, but we still miss him.
I prefer an alternative analogy given me: as we progress through coloured belts we are not being martial artists, but rather we are gathering and honing the skills we need for the journey that only begins at 1st Dan Black Belt.
Join me as I pack my bags, ready to set off on my travels…