The Only Way Out Is In

I have spent a lot of time on my bike recently, to and from my new BJJ school, uptown to the dojo, to Petco to buy more crickets for the geckos. Sometimes I bike to the ferry terminal in Long Island City and take the ferry over the water to 33rd before biking uptown. I consider that the easy route. Other days, like today, I bike over the Williamsburg Bridge and then all the way to the dojo. 

That's the hard one. It's not just that the bridge is uphill half of the way across, or that it is sometimes a wind tunnel up there. Those things are hard but mainly I don't like the bridge route because I am kind of uncomfortable up there. I am a little bit afraid of heights and a lot afraid of places that I cannot easily escape from. Like tunnels. Or stuck subway cars. Or a fenced in bike path high above the East River. Inevitably there is a moment every time I am biking up the hill when I contemplate just turning around and going back to Brooklyn. Then there is the point of no return, the point right before the center of the bridge where it switches to downhill, that moment where it is almost farther to go back then to just keep pushing forward . It is the highest part of the bridge, directly over the water, and the bike path is fenced in on either side for obvious reasons. (Cause the only thing scarier than biking over the water would be taking a nose dive directly into it.)

The only way out is in.

I love it up there. I mean I hate it. I am always out of breath and kind of anxious. But then it is over and I have conquered my fear and I am coasting downhill and man that part is totally awesome. 

Also the view is real pretty.

This week one of my best friends is testing for her black belt here at our dojo, along with another wonderful student who I have known and respected for years. I know they are both going to be amazing. 

As you know if you have read this blog for awhile, black belt promotion in Kenshikai Karate is long and all consuming. It takes three days spread out over half of a week. It begins on a Wednesday and the time between that night and the next (Friday) can feel like weeks. It is both mentally and physically challenging. But hopefully, the participants also have fun during it, and nothing is more fun than the end, when you have sparred for two hours and you finally get that much coveted shiny new black belt tied around your waist.

It is totally worth it. Every time.

Come to think of it, promotion is not unlike biking over the Williamsburg Bridge. It is difficult and maybe even a little bit scary. There may be a point halfway through when you want to just turn around and go back home. But no one ever has, just like I never biked back down the hill to Brooklyn. Quitting has never really been an option. The only way out, is in.

Good luck this week to Michel and Jennifer! I could not be more excited for you. You totally deserve this and I know you will be fantastic!

See you Wednesday!


  1. I have tears in my eyes knowing I have your tireless support and encouragement. I know you will be there sending Mike and I all of your loving thoughts as I try not to throw up on the dojo floor. I love you KJ!!!!!!

  2. I will try not to cry until the end. I mean unless you suck. Then I might cry from the shame. :-) Also, I love you too!

  3. Great piece, Kyoshi — I like the comparison between your challenging biking ritual and the ritual of BB promotion. I'm looking forward to seeing your students experience this rite of passage this week!


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