• Chanel Grenaway

I SUCK AT KARATE…and other tales from the dojo

Updated: Dec 21, 2018



After a year away from the dojo I am back. I’m taking it easy and have attended about 14 classes since November 1st. After yesterday’s class I came home and declared “I SUCK AT KARATE!” That’s what it feels like (and probably looks like). Let me give you some context, I started training in 2014 and was all- in and fully committed --getting to class 3 times a week, practicing at home, working out to keep up my stamina and build strength. I was a brown advanced belt when I injured my back. To be more specific, I seriously injured my back (not on the dojo floor by the way) and had to step away. I was this close – about a year away from testing for my black belt. And at the time, I had no idea that I would be stepping away for an entire year.

Over the years I’ve learned that obtaining your black belt is a personal and unique journey. There was a time when my daughter and I were tracking at the same pace and I could envision us testing for our black belt together. Well that dream ended abruptly and sitting out for a year was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. Managing the pain, not being able to do what I had always done, learning to ask for help, and accepting the extremely slow healing process was difficult. But it is also what makes my comeback so special and meaningful.

Despite looking sloppy, feeling uncoordinated and forgetting the basics, I am here.

Starting back at the dojo has been a lesson in vulnerability, courage, trust and determination. I suck at karate because I don’t remember my katas, my technique sucks, my co-ordination has disappeared, my balance is off and my flexibility, stamina and strength (the little that I did have) have all diminished. Recognizing that I am starting over (in some regards) and that I just can’t pick up where I left off a year ago, is a hard pill to swallow and on some days is very discouraging.

But then I think….I am here, I am now physically able to walk on the dojo floor, survive the extremely hard work outs and drills and continue on my journey. There is a framed quote in the dojo that says, “Mistakes are proof that you are trying.” I love this, and it motivates me every time I read it. With each class, I am pushing through the messiness, the discomfort and awkwardness, practicing, remembering, getting stronger and eventually I’ll begin to look better and feel better.

As I reflect on this journey and my current state of messiness, I can easily compare this journey to my entrepreneurial/consulting journey. Since launching my business about 18 months ago, it at times has been messy, uncomfortable, and paved with ups and downs, successes, mistakes and lots of learning. Like karate, I’m determined to push through, practice, learn, and to get that black belt/build my business.


This blog is a first in a series that speaks to my reflections and experiences as I journey towards Black Belt Excellence.

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