Kagami Biraki and Spaghetti Arms

I don’t normally experience playing the violin as an upper body workout, but yesterday was a high holiday.  Kagami Biraki is traditionally the end of the new year period in Japanese cultures, and many martial arts descended from Japanese cultures incorporate the celebration into their new year calendars too.  For my karate community, it’s a time to rededicate ourselves to our art and to our teachers.  Over the years, it has become the holiday to which I attach more personal significance and meaning than any other.

Yesterday’s celebration was wonderful – a huge group turned out and we had a vigorous, community building workout followed by a potluck breakfast and our annual report out to our members.  For me, it’s the end of an exceptionally busy period.  It marks the finish line of my end of year marathon – an opportunity for gratitude for the year that has passed and a chance to look forward to the coming year, and it’s also the day I can go home, take a moment, and breathe.

When I got home I took a bath – my favorite form of post-karate therapy – then turned to my violin.

It turns out that too many push-ups is not necessarily the best preparation for a good violin practice session –  my lactic acid soaked spaghetti arms could barely hold the thing up!  It was the first time I’ve experienced muscle fatigue impacting my ability to play.  I couldn’t keep in tune to save my life, and after 40 minutes I threw in the towel.

I admit to taking some ongoing pleasure in the many contradictions inherent in practicing a martial art while being, philosophically, something close to a pacifist.  Along those same lines yesterday, I truly got a big kick out of myself – a karate dude bested by holding up a violin.

Thanks for reading.


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