This is a miscellaneous entry.
I'm sure that every martial arts student who is privileged enough to train at a dojo that is well-suited for them probably feels the same way about their school as I do about mine: I wouldn't want to train anywhere else. I imagine the issue of changing dojos rarely comes up for people who are committed to training, but it very recently became a possible future event in my life.
Before I decided to change my plans for college (I was originally going to transfer to a university which is about an hour away from here) I felt really rushed in my training. I felt like I had only a very small amount of time to learn as much as I could before I had to switch to a new dojo that was located somewhere closer to where I was going to live. Thinking about that whole transition really made my head hurt...and my heart.
After you've trained somewhere for a while, you gain a certain kind of loyalty to that place and the people whom you train with. It's really hard to envision myself learning martial arts somewhere other than at the Refinery. And while I realize that I could train somewhere else if I really had to, I don't want to. I am absolutely content with my school; I wouldn't change a thing. I was prepared to drive an hour every other day to continue to train there, but being a job-less college student (and a music major, no less) was going to make that very difficult for me. It worried me a lot because I didn't want to stop training, but I didn't know where else I could train that would be...well...good enough.
I don't mean to come across like I don't think that there are good schools in San Marcos, Texas...but I'm pretty sure that my school is the best school for me, at the moment. Like I said...I don't want to train anywhere else. I love it there. I love the people I train with, I love my sensei, I love the small class-size, I love being versatile in my technique, I love teaching, I love the atmosphere...I love everything. My school has done so much for me. I can't even begin to explain how grateful I am toward the people there, even in this blog. I hope that for the time being, my loyalty is a good enough placeholder for that explanation...which I will give someday when I have words for it.
Anyway, I've changed my college plans. I decided to transfer to the local university: UTSA. Martial arts wasn't the main reason that I made the change, but I'd be silly not to admit that it WAS a reason. I'd also be silly not to admit that I'm extremely happy that I don't have to train somewhere else. Sometimes change is good, but I'm very glad that I get to avoid this one. I don't feel rushed anymore.
Maybe if every karate student felt this way about training at their school, there would be a larger number of skilled karateka in the world. Don't get me wrong: I definitely train for me. Karate is one of the only things in my life that I do simply because I love it...but I also train because I love my school and my sensei...and I know that the best way to give back to Sensei and my classmates is to give my all at everything that I learn from them.
Anyway, to sum it all up: I love my school. If given the choice to train anywhere in the world, with any teacher, in any country...I would stay right here and train and teach and learn from my sensei and the people who have helped me re-learn what it means to be a martial artist.