After my black belt I continued to train regularly. Many people stop after they have achieved their goal. An instructor told me once that from white to black belt we were shown how to walk, and only once we were black belts that we started to be able to run and walk on our own. He was right. I truly began doing karate after my black belt.
I discovered what it meant to be a black belt. It came with certain responsibilities. I had to help others, be an "example" for them to follow. It wasn’t always obvious. I soon realised that my views of martial arts weren’t like most. I wasn’t in it for the fame or attention, so I wasn't always confortable. I wanted to learn and to teach. I’ve always been very technical. Too often we tend to focus on the martial aspect of it and neglect the art part. I enjoyed both equally. I wanted to know and understand what I was doing. So I started to attend different seminars. I’ve always been curious of how people did things, so when the opportunity came to train with other instructors I would go for it. I learned a lot that way.
I helped in class, demonstrating the moves, being used as a “guinea pig”. I enjoyed that. It’s also at that time that I realised that I could better myself. Many people only concentrate on one aspect of their training. They train to fight or to do katas. I trained to do both. I wanted to be a “complete” martial artist.
Through my helping in classes, I was asked a few times to sub for a class here and there. A friend asked me to take over a class he was giving at a community centre. It was a kids’ class, 4 to 6 years old. I did it, but not without a huge amount of patience and repeating the same thing over and over. With those kids, I realised how much I knew.
Another friend was going away for a few weeks and asked me to replace him. I did. This time it was with adults. It wasn’t much different than with the kids. Then I really saw how well I knew my stuff. I had to explain to engineers and computer geeks how to make a fist, how to kick… it wasn’t always obvious, but I managed. Plus, I was a young woman, in a very male oriented sport. I had to assert myself. Before my friend left for his holiday, we did some sparring. We went at it hard. He thought I had to show these men that even if I was a girl, I could kick some ass. And I did just that! I did earn their respect, and never had any problem with any of them. Once in a while a new comer would try a little something, but I would make sure that he knew his place.
I accepted an offer to have my own classes after my friend came back from his vacation. They were supplying everything. The only thing I had to do was to show up and give my classes. Plus, I would get paid for it! We had a nice little dojo. It was going well. There was a good chemistry between the students and teaching there was fun. I then went for my instructor certificate. I had been a black belt for eight years when I received my certification. It’s at that time that I’ve met Hubby. He was in my class. I was his second sensei (instructor).
Teaching and seeing the students’ progressing made me happy and proud. It felt good to see other people sharing my passion and interest. I was a demanding teacher. I expected them to know their stuff, and I never promoted someone because I felt bad for him or because I needed his money to pay the rent. I had seen that way too many times, which was a sad realisation to see that money (once again) ruled, even in martial arts...