I'm bruised. I mean REALLY bruised. My arms are blotched with big purple and blue marks circled by that sickly yellow ring that a really, really good bruise develops after a couple of days.
I blame Jennifer from my Isshinryu Karate class. She has some hard knuckles and I really should learn to block her right hand more effectively. Or just get out of her way.
My mother is concerned. She (like oh so many mothers) is worried what people will think. I might walk through the grocery store in a short-sleeved shirt, and the neighbors will jump to vague gossipy conclusions. Someone is beating me. But Mom, it's true! Someone IS beating me. It's just in a controlled environment, and I actually PAY a monthly fee for the privilege of being beaten. Or at least in an attempt to learn to avoid being beaten and effectively beat the other person in turn.
I have a few friends who think the whole karate thing is just plain violent. Here I am this yoga-posing, tree-hugging, peace-loving hippie type (okay, not entirely, but it makes for a good blog post) studying martial arts. Getting bruised. Enjoying throwing grown men on the floor. Okay, maybe it's a smidge violent. But it was the beauty and the grace that attracted me to the art (and yes, it is definitely an art). Even when someone is being tossed through the air to land with a loud smack on the mat, it's like some sort of freakin' dance. It's gorgeous, and I just can't get enough of it. I want to dance like that.
So I'm wearing my bruises like great big beautiful badges of honor. Not only do they prove I'm tough (or slow in blocking Jennifer's punches, but don't bust my bubble right now), they are just part of learning the balance, dignity, elegance, and artistry that is Isshinryu Karate. And every bruise brings me closer to becoming the dancer.