I’m sitting on the rooftop on a hot summer day, battling a bad cold and reading a new book by the Fab Five called “Queer Eye - Love Yourself”. Funnily enough, I've been seeing a lot of endorsement about loving ourselves which is a big sign for me since it’s also in many of BTS’s songs and videos. That’s saying something.
If you get a chance to peruse the book, grab it! It’s a worthwhile read with lots of fabulous advice and features an introspective look into the lives of the Fab Five.
I’ve been flipping through the pages and came across an important phrase by Antoni that stuck with me. He said that he discovered it’s literally impossible to make everyone happy. He’s absolutely right about that! I found this particular statement by him to be true, “You’re always going to be too good or not good enough in somebody’s eyes. You have to accept that and just focus on the next step.”
I love this remark by Antoni, “Just have faith in whatever you do.” That’s exactly what I’ve been trying to do lately. Then I stumbled across an intriguing comment by Karamo, “It reminds me that life gives you little signs, and if you are open to them, they might push you in the right direction.” That is something I’m working on everyday, where I wonder where my next step will take me.
Right now I’m very focused on the present, living each day instead of looking too far ahead. That’s partially due to my physical health because of the spinal pain which tends to be unpredictable and I never know when I’ll end up back in the hospital. I’m essentially rebuilding my life and starting over with a fresh perspective in the same city that I grew up in (ironically).
I’ve had a lot of people ask me, “How do you do it?” and believe me, I sometimes ask myself the same question. I think it’s mostly my stubbornness which is courtesy of my mother who was incredibly strong willed. She did the best she could every single day despite her extreme physical pain and limitations. I learned a lot by watching her push herself to the limits for the sake of her family and grandchildren. She loved them dearly and sacrificed a lot, especially her health, to be there for them. She wanted to live in the present moment since she didn’t know how her body would be by the next day or week. She tried as hard as she could and often would be crying as a result of that. That was a valuable lesson for me which was to take it one day at a time, especially now with my own health issues. It’s exceptionally difficult since I’m by myself and that is making me much more aware of what I can and cannot do. I’m learning that I have to rely on other people in my life, including my fabulous neighbours and friends.
A particular statement by Karamo rang true with me, “You always have to keep learning.” and he’s absolutely correct. That’s why I love martial arts, I’m always learning something new as an instructor and as a student. Due to my severe hearing loss, I’ve found that it’s easier to be an instructor than a student and that’s because I have so much trouble understanding my teachers. It’s super frustrating being a student, especially as a Black Belt since I’m acutely aware that everyone else in the dojo is watching me. I have a bit of a temper which can catch me off guard. I’ve figured out why I’m losing my temper more often and that’s due to the amount of pain I’m in on a daily basis, when you add frustration to that mix, it’s a huge trigger. When I start struggling with my ability to hear, I’ve since then learned that I have to walk away from it and take a break.
As a Black Belt, I’m always learning and absorbing useful techniques to protect myself. It’s that kind of knowledge that can save my life especially as a deaf person. And yes, I’ve had to use it to defend myself on several occasions. It taught me how to be aware of my surroundings and what situations to avoid. It also encourages me to look inward and determine what I need to improve so that I can teach it more effectively. Striving to become a better teacher elevates my confidence as a person, especially one with a disability.
Teaching is not a hobby, it’s a life long skill that started in high school. Karate transformed my life and continues to give me the strength to keep moving forward. I’ve had several people tell me to quit and I was beyond devastated by their words, it shattered my world. It made me realize that they don’t understand how much martial arts is a part of me and how much of an impact it had growing up.
The dojo where I train now is my family, we all support each other like brothers and sisters. We all strive to push ourselves to become a better version of us, not only physically but also mentally and spiritually. Martial arts encourages us to delve deeper into our souls and find our inner strength. We believe in inspiring not only ourselves but also others in the dojo. It’s about lifting each other to a higher level that allows us to truly shine. That’s fitting since Kazuko means “family” which is what I need right now.
Telling someone to quit is incredibly hurtful and disheartening and that’s not okay. Even if it comes from the heart or out of concern for my well being, that kind of comment can be very destructive. It can destroy my confidence since I need that tight inner circle of friendship, love and acceptance. Most people will never grasp that concept or understand what that’s like for us.
For me, it’s my home. When I first moved here, the city had changed so much. It was virtually unrecognizable since it had been at least twenty years since I was here. Even my father and brother said the same thing when they came for a visit, they had to use GPS to figure out where to go and that is saying a lot! Moving to Cambridge felt a lot like going back to college, it was both exciting and scary. I had to spend some time trying to familiarize myself with the streets, stores and people around me. I’m actually a very shy person which made this a bit more challenging.
I was very lucky to have found Kazuko Martial Arts, it gave me a chance to join a new family. Despite dealing with multiple spinal injuries, I was determined to try it out. By the way, just before my mother died, she made me promise to keep teaching to children since she knew that I enjoyed doing that and I wanted to keep her wish. When I joined Kazuko Martial Arts, I had no idea what to expect but there was one person who immediately saw my potential and that was Sensei James. He had asked me if I wanted to go for my Black Belt within 6 - 8 months of starting my training there and I was blown away by that. Even though I already had three Black Belts from other styles, that timeline is ridiculously fast. I love challenges and he gave me the incentive to learn very quickly and become immersed in the style of Goju Ryu. I don’t know how he knew I could do it but he gave me the faith that I needed to keep going despite all of my setbacks and being in the hospital so many times. He stood my side and encouraged me to go after my goals, he refused to let me give up which is what I needed to hear.
Featured Photo by David Murray of Snapd Cambridge. Link: https://cambridge.snapd.com/events/view/1265570
It’s so easy to sabotage ourselves and sometimes we need that one person to make us stop for a minute and really listen to them. I would not be where I am today, doing what I love without his support and that means the world to me. He was there for me when no one else was and still continues to be my cheerleader every single day. If it hadn’t been for Sensei James and Shihan Yabunaka (our chief instructor and founder of Seiwa Kai Canada), I would be completely lost today.
Back to Queer Eye and the Fab Five, on the back of their fabulous book there is this line, “It’s your life - design it well.” and that could not be more perfect.
In : August 2019
Tags: "queer eye" "fab five" hospital "spinal pain" karate "kazuko martial arts"