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Meet Your Fellow Karateka - Robin Wilson

by Nancy Beckerman

An Interview with Veteran Robin Wilson

Robin, since you are one of the very few of us who practiced at the dojo as a child and then again as an adult, you are in a unique position. Maybe we can gain insights from your answers to these questions!

1. How old were you when you first came to the dojo, and what prompted you to study karate as a child?

I was 8 years old when I started taking class in the dojo with my Mom. My Mom put me in class for self-defense as there was a group of boys at my elementary school that was terrorizing the girls. I must admit that I wanted to take ballet, but I am so grateful that my Mom found Sensei instead!

2. What were your feelings about karate when you were a child, and what was it about our dojo that kept you coming back?

When I was a kid, it was really difficult to get up the energy - emotional energy, really - for class. Because of my Mom's schedule, I always took the late class and was typically the only kid. Class was really serious, very intense. I remember going up the stairs and feeling nauseous. I was always afraid that I would do a bad job in class. But once I was there and class started, I loved it. Why do I keep coming back? Sensei. Sensei is such an amazing teacher and person. I have always respected him more than I know how to say. He has created this dojo which is full of wonderful people and his love for karate is infectious.

3. What lessons did you take away from the dojo when you were a child? Did studying karate help you in school or elsewhere?

Until college, school came easily - but I actually had to push myself in Sensei's classes. Studying karate taught me that I was lazy and could always push a little harder. It taught me not to give up if things didn't come easy. That lesson is priceless.

4. When did you stop training, how long were you away from it, and did you expect to return to the dojo? Did you miss it?

I stopped training for about 10 years. I went to college in Cambridge, MA and got married right after and lived in Cambridge for a number of years before moving back down to NY. I always missed karate, but it took my husband, Erik, pushing me into going back.

5. When you did resume training, what was your motivation? (Feel free to mention bringing Erik to the dojo!)

After moving back to NY, Erik convinced me to overcome my nerves and rejoin the dojo. I missed it - my body missed it, too - but I was nervous. Erik also started to take class with me, so the dojo became a large part of our lives before kids.

6. What did you find are the main differences between practicing karate as a child and then again as an adult?

Nerves are one of the main differences. I am a lot less nervous now. I also appreciate karate more than I did as a kid. I know how valuable Sensei's dojo and training are. It is truly a unique and precious place.

7. How do you feel seeing your own kids becoming interested in studying karate (or NOT)?

I am ecstatic that Jeremy and Michael are taking class from Sensei. It means a lot because I can see now how important it was in shaping me as a person and it is so wonderful that he can share in that too. I hope that more of my little guys will be able to get the experience. Unfortunately, the others are either too shy or too young at the moment.

8. How has karate enriched your life?

Karate has helped me to realize that I can always do more than I think I can. "Don't give up!" Sensei calls. That is all it takes. Somehow I am able to do the last 10 or 20 leg lifts/sit ups/kicks. You just dig in, look at the Dojo Kun, the pictures of Sensei Funakoshi, Sensei Okano - and somehow you are able to keep going. That lesson has translated very well to school, work and life. Sometimes, when I am tired, I hear Sensei's voice in my head - "Don't give up!" - and it kicks me in the right direction.

9. Is there anything you'd like to add, or anything else you'd like us to know?

Nothing that you all aren't finding for yourselves - karate in this dojo is an infinitely rich resource. It is a place and an activity in which the body and the mind are acting together and everything else is, for almost an hour, taking a back seat. For a brief window all of your focus is on class and improving - on karate. In this increasingly distracted world, that is quite a feat.

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