Saturday, August 1, 2015

Karate Kicking & Karate Writing

These long, hot summer days ignite my goal-setting nature and simultaneously enhance my nostalgia.

With less than two months until Rabbit in Red, my first novel, joins the world (and hopefully your book shelf), I’m looking back today at past writing adventures and exploring new ideas. Whether it’s journalism, novels, poetry, or even blogging, there’s something rewarding about seeing your name in print. It’s a deliberate effort to contribute to the world around you—perhaps to inform, or to inspire, or simply to entertain.

My fav karate pic: My flying side kick!
My first paid writing job—nothing fancy, but I collected a check for a few hundred bucks every month for over a year (that sounds really good today as the internet kills the journalist)—was for Black Belt Magazine. I started training in various martial arts when I was about 12 years old. When I landed a job at Metamora High School—teaching English—I launched an after-school martial arts program. For ten years, I—and eventually an incredibly talented group of young adults—trained teenagers, children, and parents. We even earned a national award, the Best Children’s Program in ALL of the United States in 2008! How cool is that?

That program was Metamora Martial Arts, and although it’s no longer an after-school program, it still exists on the web as a great resource for news, events, and entertainment. The site is maintained by Adam Bockler, who not only took over the program for me when I left Metamora but also earned Karate Black Belt of The Year in 2014. Bockler runs a personal blog-- give his Facebook page a like.

Today, I run a similar program at the college where I now teach: The Cougar Karate Club. It’s a free martial arts program for the Illinois Central College community.

It’s funny how many of past events in our lives coalesce to shape who we are today. If I hadn’t taken martial arts lessons, I certainly never would have opened a program. Had I never opened a program, I never would have started writing these articles. And these articles led to an even deeper love of writing.

If you may be interested in any of my martial arts stories, I’ll be sharing some on this blog over the next few months. I have some great stories: the first time I got knocked out, the time I broke my hand, the time I accidently knocked out a student, training with the Blue Power Ranger and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, training multiple students who became world champions, competing in the world championships myself, winning grand championships at black belt level divisions, and just generally having an amazing time.

Although I don’t devote the hours to my martial arts training and teaching like I used to, it’s still a regular part of my life. I think if you’re good at something—and this isn’t me trying to be arrogant, but I think I have some talent for teaching—then you should give back your talents.

I hope people will feel the same way about my writing when Rabbit in Red comes out!

Please follow me on Facebook or Twitter for these stories and more, and it would be pretty cool if you subscribed to my blog, too (from a mobile device, you have to “view web version” or just come back to this article when you’re on your computer).

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