I have the lowest rank in the entire dojo. I am lower even than the nine-year-olds, which means I have to sweep the floors before we begin. Two kids ran alongside me while I ran with the broad broom down the lengths of the room, making me feel a bit like the bunny at the dog races. There is another white-belt in the class, but it turns out he is no true white-belt, but a blue-belt at his former dojo--six or seven belts up in the hierarchy, but demoted to the beginning because of his arrival here--and he kicks hard.
The comforting thing about being at the bottom is that there is only room for improvement. Everyone is very helpful; they patiently correct my posture or tell me to bend my overextended arm or to turn my foot more as I snap into a kick. Last night shihan stopped me, "Sanna, two things."
"Firstly, what is this?" Shihan taps my strangely knotted belt, saddened by my terrible tying skills, undoes it, and reties it. "Secondly, bring your leg in and unfold at the last moment." He demonstrates, coming down hard on the sparring pad that fake-white-belt is holding. Fake-white-belt staggers under the force.
I nod solemnly. "Yes, shihan."
I have been trying to increase my physical activity to improve my stamina. Today mother asked me to help cook sausages for dinner. While waiting for them to fry I lay on the kitchen floor and did situps. Mother stepped over my limp form and made a salad; she has learned after all these years not to ask questions.