Monday, March 21, 2016

Finding My Place

My teacher, +Mark Lynn is a long-time member of an organization called AKATO.

I've had exposure to the group for years, of course - first through my daughter's participation in AKATO tournaments (the only ones she really liked), then attending seminars there (or helping my teacher teach one), and now, I'm taking their kobudo class once a month.  Heck my very first -and as of this writing, only - tournament competition was in an AKATO tournament!

I have had exposure to many martial arts organizations - especially in the Modern Arnis community - but AKATO is the one group of non-FMA folks I've had direct and consistent contact with (excepting, of course, all of the neat people I've met in the journey of writing this blog).

Up until about a year ago, most AKATO folks only saw me when I was taking Older Daughter to stuff (she is well known as the girl who smiles when she spars), or when Mark needed a victim... um, I mean, an uke.

My teacher and I teaching Arnis at an AKATO seminar in March 2015.

I helped Mark teach FMA weapons training concepts to the AKATO kobudo black belts in 2013, over a year and a half before I joined the program as a white belt last year.  Over time, at various times related to AKATO folks, I've often been able to help people get going in my art, and it's a real pleasure to be able to share my passion with these fellow martial artists.

My participation in AKATO has, over time, gained me new friends and training partners - including a teacher helping me in my resumption of studying Ryukyu Kempo, Sensei Don Oliver.  He is awesomesauce on so many levels, I'm very lucky to be able to train with him - he teaches in the kobudo program too and while he is not my direct kobudo instructor he is always helpful to this newb.

I'm finding that, through my participation in the kobudo class, and via my attendance at other AKATO events, I'm starting to become more than just Older Daughter's Mom or Mark's student.

I'm getting known for my own interests, my own strengths and weaknesses.

It's pretty exciting, because for the first time, I'm creating real-life connections in a larger organization that isn't only defined by my relationship to someone else.  I've always studied (for the most part) in small schools, far away from parent organizations in Modern Arnis or Ryukyu Kempo (or Presas Arnis or any of the close relative arts).  AKATO has given me a connection to larger, more diverse martial arts world.

A larger, more diverse martial arts family.

I often feel like a peacock among swans - the exotic, loud, strange thing in the middle of quiet, strong, graceful people.  But they seem to not mind squawky ol' me too much. I kid, I kid... actually, these swans have been very, very welcoming to this peacock.

Me in a few years, probably - a mutant swan-peacock thing! Image found here.

I'm finding my place in AKATO, and in the larger martial arts world.  There is so much good in it, so many smart and talented and amazing people.  AKATO exemplifies the ideal of what the martial arts community could and should be. These connections are helping me grow into a better martial artist, and I'm grateful for the connection.

Tell me about how you find your place in the larger martial arts world - is it in your school, an organization, or even online?  We'd love to know!