Since I was involved in teaching and within the organization, I came to realise that the way we were doing things in Montreal wasn’t the same as the rest of the organization. When a student remains local, doesn’t attend international event, he only sees what his instructor wants him to see. But if that student travels, and meets other karatekas from around the world, that student will soon realise that there are differences. Some instructors are in it for the money and others for the art. That makes a big difference in how you treat your students.
When Monkey asked “what is the deal with so many people having black belts?” I couldn’t help to smile. Karate (or martial arts in general) has become a business. People are in it for the money, not really because they care but because it’s something they can do and make money at it. It is too easy to get a black belt. I don’t know how many people I’ve seen going for a test and not knowing the basics of what they should for their grade. When I was being tested for my nidan (second degree black belt), I “helped” some people who were being tested for their sandan (third degree black belt)! It grossed me out to see an “advanced” belt, higher then me, who knew less than I did, and yet she got her dan. When I was told to write a letter to Japan, explaining what that person had contributed to martial arts and it was all bogus, it broke something inside of me. The reality of it was too ugly for me. I was hurt in my values. I felt cheated. I did try to ignore it. But the more I tried, the worst it got for me. I knew I was lying to myself. This is when I stop being involved in helping our local office.
What kept me going was the satisfaction I got from seeing my students progressing, and because Hubby was training towards his black belt. I had a serious knee injury (playing badminton, go figure!) and had to have a few surgeries. That affected me. Also my body was starting to let me know that the abuse was taking its toll on me. So many things contributed to it all, but mostly, despite my best efforts one man stood in my way. There is a strong hierarchy in karate, and in Montreal we had to report to one man, if we wanted to be affiliated with Japan (which I did). That man I thought my friend for many years. He lived by a different honour code and did not represent, to me, what a real karate master should be. I had reached a point where I had to decide what I was going to do. My heart was telling me to continue for my students, even if it wasn’t in it like it used to. But my head was telling me to get away from it all. I slowly took steps back. Before I did though, I managed to bring two students from white belt to their black. One of those two student was Hubby.
I didn’t want to close that chapter of my life just yet, so I managed to get a meeting with our Japanese leader. I wanted him to know how I felt about it all. He listened. I felt like a woman in a man’s world. There were a few occasions where I had been “reminded” that I was playing with the boys, and I accepted that, but a part of me felt like I had invested too much in this, not to be anything but be true to myself. It turned into an ugly political feud, and with each step I was taking, I realised that it was time for me to really walk away. It wasn’t an easy decision. I don’t regret it. I was taken aback the day I realised that I didn’t really miss it. I missed the people, the training, but not the politics of it all.