Sometimes you have to tear down old bridges to find new ways.
The karate group began to die when the locomotives, which had always pulled everyone else behind, changed tracks in 2016. Either to study at university, to start life over elsewhere; or to be there for the young family.
That was sad, but somehow the show had to go on. As it turned out over the next years, I was no longer able to maintain an acceptable standard. The reasons were many and no one was to be blamed.
Our late training times were inappropriate for young school children and teenagers. Some kids could barely stand upright when they entered the dojo. They were tired and unable to focus or to pick up new information. Some students even arrived from music or other sports courses that had ended just before our class began. A typical disease of our times. Many children have calendars as full as fortune 500-company board members…
Several adult members, on the other hand, were too busy to show up regularly. Therefore it was impossible to make progress, let alone establish consistency. The audience on Tuesday nights differed from Thursdays.
Whenever new people knocked on the door, they found a tiny group with little enthusiasm. It was embarrassing. Often, I suggested to potential newcomers they might want to try another Martial Art. There was nothing I could offer them in my group. And that was a vicious circle indeed.
Following endless “never give up” talks to myself, many attempts to bring back life into class, I finally announced that the horse was dead and that I would dismount.
My time as a Karate instructor was over.
Following this radical step, something weird happened. All of a sudden, even the busiest people showed up again. Shocked and sad about the imminent closure of the Karate group, they made long faces and begged me and the club board to keep it running.
To make a long story short, we decided to give it one more try. Was the horse perhaps still alive?
What followed was nothing short of purely awesome. The mats were packed full, everyone was motivated and even my sensei who runs a very successful dojo in Hamburg joined to support us. This was when the idea for the title of this article came to my head.
The horse is dead
Until the summer holidays were over…
The summer school holidays were over and it was as if our group was cursed. Apart from two, sometimes three students, the mats stayed empty. One person who really loved Karate and who had passed his first belt test a few weeks before was never seen again!
In that year, at the end of November, and after exactly 10 years as a trainer in this club, I left for good.
Looking back with hindsight, I believe that my expectations were incompatible with what the majority of my remaining students sought. They wanted social exchange, fun, and someone to listen. Not Karate.
My biggest mistake was – perhaps – clinging too long to something that was unrealistic. Europe is not Asia and times change.
If you truly want something, you arrange your life to make it happen. As a university student, I had planned my time to study on any day – even at Christmas – but NEVER when Karate took place. Not even when there was a test the next day. I rode to class by bike, in rain or snow. Nothing could stop me.
I have never expected anyone to be as obsessed with Karate as me. But why do people join a club and spend their most precious gift – TIME?
Fortunately, my grief over the end of a decade full of wonderful memories did not last long. Perhaps it’s true: the moment one door closes, another opens! It just takes courage to let go.
What fate has opened up to me, alongside the newly gained freedom, would be enough to fill five more blog posts. But the best part is as private as the training that I (and someone) now enjoy together.
The way continues!
2020, Oliver Schömburg (Olliwaa)
P.s.: You may also be interested in: “When the Karate Nerd asked me to steal his belt.“