On Wednesday, Sensei said something that incapacitated me with laughter for a few minutes. We were working on 'shrimping' which is the technical term in Jiu-Jitsu for making space between you and your opponent when he has you in side control or in a full mount.
Here's how shrimping works: you stretch your body out as far as it can go with your hands pointed above your head and then, very quickly, you scrunch up like a shrimp with your knees to your chest and your arms tucked in and use the push-off afterward to propel yourself forward and out of your opponent's reach. You can even use their body to push off, along with your feet. It's hard to describe what it looks like in words, but there's a reason that it's call 'shrimping'. Shrimp are all curled into themselves. You have to curl into yourself as well and then quickly push yourself back into a straight position in order to get the momentum needed to free yourself from the mount. Sometimes you even have to do it a few times to get out!
Anyway, we were practicing shrimping across the room and suddenly, out of nowhere, Sensei yelled, "BACON! SHRIMP!" And I couldn't help it; I laughed so hard. I guess that when you're straightening yourself out, you look like a slab of bacon...versus when you tuck in and look like a shrimp. It was so funny, mostly because I wasn't expecting it.
The point of this entry is that martial arts can be a very serious thing, especially with the responsibility of knowing how to seriously injure people. But when people ask me why I do it, I tell them it's because I think it's fun. And that's 100% true. The self-defense and discipline and physical conditioning is great, but it's all just a bonus. The real reason I practice and study so hard is because it's so much fun. I probably laugh more during karate than I do during other activities that I'm involved in...not because I don't respect the discipline or the seriousness of what we're learning, but because I'm having a good time doing what I love to do.
It's important to do what we like. Other things are important too, but if we aren't laughing at least a few times a day, something isn't right. There are a lot of opportunities in martial arts training to be serious, and appropriately so...but there are at least as many opportunities to laugh. It's good for us to experience those as well.