A Scenic Drive Through Martial Arts

It was an evening like so many others …

I was on my way to teach a class in Karate and, being in one of those moods in which I had no desire to hurry, decided to take a different route to the dojo.

As I drove by a park, I saw my tai chi friends out practising for all to see. Their gentle movements and deep concentration filled me with a sense of serenity and I breathed all the more deeply, thankful for their presence in our town.

A few blocks over, I saw the sign of the aikido dojo and knew that inside this building, people, young and old, were engaged in this beautiful, harmonious art form, each giving to the other what is necessary to learn and grow both as martial artists as well as people.

Minutes later, I drove by a school and could see students entering the gym with white judo outfits on – probably the first martial art to be taught in the Yukon and to be still going strong.

I know what training was happening inside as judo was the first martial art I ever practised and I still think of it as my beginning in a very long and rewarding journey.

I noticed a young man wearing a sweat suit jogging down the road throwing jabs, breathing ragged but dogged and trying to keep time between his feet and hand techniques. He may not be practising a traditional martial art, but it could be boxing or the new wave called mixed martial arts.

On a piece of grass outside an old building, two people were wielding Japanese sticks and practising the ancient art form of swordsmanship called laido. This Japanese fencing goes back over a 1,000 years, and much of the stories around the samurai can be attributed to the development and use of the swordplay of these legendary warriors.

Laido is different then kendo, but still very much related to the movements and deep spiritual philosophy of Japanese culture and history. Amazingly, way deep in the North of Canada, we see it being practised by Yukoners.

I knew what I was witnessing was just a small part of what is being practised in Whitehorse. I felt the wrestlers straining to pin their opponent, the fencers practising thrust and parry, the boxers working out on the speed bag or heavy bag to improve their hand techniques, the tae kwon do students working hard on their kicking techniques and kung fu people training in the art of self defence.

I put on my uniform, a white gi, and tied a 25-year-old black belt around my waist and thought about how much we have in this town when it comes to the martial arts and the quality of the instructors who teach us.

I thought of all of the teachers and students I was blessed to train with and share experiences with.

Humbly, I entered the dojo to practice my beginner’s mind all over again.

Todd Hardy has studied and taught a variety of martial arts for over 38 years and has trained with many people from around the world. Would you like to comment on what you read here? Contact him at [email protected]

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