Okinawa is a little island near Japan, the bigger island, in a string of islands in the East China Sea. Okinawa has a long history, as does much of the area, and one aspect of that is its martial arts. Way back when, about 1477 give or take a few years, Okinawa was a kingdom called Ryukyu that had been made up of 3 smaller kingdoms when they unified about 50 years earlier. After 50 years of doing well a new king came into power and he decided to ban the practice of martial arts and weapons because he had a little bit of anxiety about people rising up and over throwing him.
Then some Japanese samurai landed in Okinawa and took over the island and kept the ban going because, well, they took it without asking! Samurai had mad skills with a sword and since the Okinawans had their weapons taken away, they got really creative and turned everyday things into ways to defend themselves. By combining their martial arts history, secretive trainings and creative introduction of simple weapons, what became known as Karate (open hand) is something that is now practiced all over the world.
What does this have to do with my 7 year old? It goes something like this…
Max has been taking karate since he was about 4 years old because he needed to work on being more assertive and self-confident. Well it worked and now he is a fearless little karate master who loves it and seems to pick it up so easily. Because he is so into it, I drive him to a dojo every Saturday where for the next 3 hours he practices his martial art. This past Saturday we did what we do every week but this time when I went to pick him up he was going about a million miles a second and it was all about Okinawa.
“In Okinawa…..” “Did you know that Okinawa karate….” “When I’m in Okinawa…”
“WHOA! When you are IN Okinawa?”
“Yea, I am going to Okinawa!”
“Oh really?” (Isn’t that just such a mom thing to say!) Over the drive home Max explained to me all about the special invitation that his dojo got from a grandmaster in Okinawa and how he was going to go to Okinawa and study karate everyday for a week. “And it only costs a few thousand dollars!!” “Wow! Great!” was all I could say.
It is now Friday and we have implemented a fundraising plan to see if, over the next year, we can actually set aside enough money to get at least two people to Okinawa so that Max can do Karate everyday for a week. Am I crazy? I don’t think so. Max understands how this works, we aim ourselves down the path to Okinawa and we move forward as if it WILL happen. At some point along this journey, there may be a sign that says we have to abandon our current path to follow another and Okinawa will move out of our sites. Till that time, we are on the road to Okinawa and the filing cabinet outside of my cubicle will be a mini snack shop (with very reasonable prices) till further notice. Max will probably continue to sell his toys to the neighbor children and practice his Japanese. “Arigotu Mom.” Whether we ever actually get to Okinawa, there are great lessons to be learned from working toward the possibility.
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