Open mat, firm floor, breathless chests.
A radii of pinpoint irises focus on the sensei’s stern commands as they issue from out his mouth.
The dojo’s stony silence subsides as all this fret and activity comes and goes.
Its concrete sides respirate between the cracks in the paint.
Compared to the rapidly-pumping cavities of the jiujitsu-kas,
the dojo’s deep breaths take an eon to unfold,
as the air gradually compresses during the day,
and dissipates in the evening, slowly,
like a lagoon that fills with rainwater only to breach its levees and trickle downstream all eventide.
Atmospheric changes can move a room. Rain may melt a mountain and calcium will form a coral reef, given enough time.
Some changes may even move a person from one identity to the next –
a shifting of worlds, as beliefs are unwound and unmade only to be forged anew,
like shards of iron softened into cooler, harder constructs.
You can wake up in a hospital bed unmasked, stripped of all lies and fabrication, and bared before a cynical family, beaten back by diagnoses of derelict diseases, and uncouth scar tissue.
Or, you may slowly realise a pattern of behaviour so entrenched in your way of being that you can no longer conceptualise how to realise yourself in a different way, and so suffer beneath the chains of doubt and uncertainty.
What is known is that as all things change, so does life itself, and so must our selves.
At the end of class, the ambitious few disrobe their gis and inspect their changing bodies, eager for any sign of growth or development, but what they discover is that the topography of their mind has been altered first, as their desire to master a martial art reaches out into the world, and makes itself known like a sea change at high tide.