I have been studying Shorin-Ryu Karate with Sensei Baleshiski for almost 5 years. It's difficult to express in words the positive impact that this experience has had on me.
I have been thin and underweight my entire life, and although I have been exercising religiously since freshman year in college, I have always been what body builders call a "hard gainer". this means that it is very difficult for me to put on weight even with a strict exercise regimen. as a result, I have always weighed 20 pounds less than I should for my height, and I have historically felt vulnerable and defenseless when exposed to even the slightest sense of threat.
Having grown up in New York City, I am no stranger to threat and had been assaulted and robbed several times before graduating from high school. Prior to studying under Sensei Baleshiski, I still felt that sense of vulnerability when exposed to aggressive people in public places. I think we all know the type of person i'm referring to as we have all come across someone like this at least once in our travels.
After embarking on my path of study with Sensei Baleshiski, something started to happen to me gradually. It didn't happen overnight, but over time, little by little, each time I completed a training session, I began to notice a growing sense of confidence. Small at first, but even after only a few months it became obvious to me that I was feeling less vulnerable and more capeable. Now over time, I have reached a level of understanding such that I don't feel fear when exposed to aggressive people because I am confident in my ability to defend myself should it be required.
It's not like I have lost my understanding of danger, but it's just that through our practice, I have a greater understanding of appropriate reactions to various threats, and I know that my best response is perpetually getting better as I continue to learn.
The grandmaster of our style of Shorin-Ryu, Eizo Shimabukaru, who lives in Okinawa, once said something comparing the movement of a horse and the movement of a bull and how it relates to the study of martial arts. The basic idea is that martial arts are not mastered over night in great leaps, but are rather mastered over the course of time in small steps.
These words always stay with me, because they remind me that with a series of continual small steps, and the benefit of instruction from a quality teacher such as Sensei Baleshiski, anyone can get on the path of continual enlightenment and perpetually improving self-confidence.-Tony K, Rocky Hill, CT, age 43, student