Monday, July 4, 2011

Smiling Samurai On Horseback

During my time training at the Jade Tiger Dojo (since restructured and renamed Kojokan) in Iowa, one of the coolest things I got to do was ride in the local Forth of July Parade.

I did many cool things with the martial arts school, including learning an incredible amount of kick ass stuff I haven't used since. Oh, and we went camping a couple of times while preforming at Renaissance Festivals across the midwest (Note to self: write blog post about dojoing ren fairs), which was also uniquely fun.

But my favorite was the annual Independence Day parade.

I was in it for a total of three times. The first year I had only been training for a few weeks, was wearing a borrowed gi as I had not yet gotten around to buying one of my own, and had candy passing duty with some of the kids. Sparing was absolutely terrifying, and I was in more than a little awe of the students assigned to sword fight along the parade route.

The second year, I happened to be hanging around for the right discussion about adding horses to the parade formation, and managed to volunteer myself onto horseback.

Although I had come a long ways in training during the last year and managed to prove that I could in fact not fall off a horse for a reasonable period of time, I was still delegated to flag duty.

(Some muttering about wanting people who had ridden horses more often than "I did horse camp some time in the last 15 years or so" along with also being trained and comfortable handling bladed weaponry.... minor details, really.)

But it was still awesome.

I also managed to volunteer myself for horse duty the following year as well, even thought I was 6 weeks from my due date with Kristina at the time.

And even more awesome, Peter's Aunt Leslie and Uncle Luther happened to be stopping through during their annual cross county/Canada road trip that weekend, and Aunt Leslie enthusiastically took some beautiful pictures of the group.

See me there on the right?? I think I could still totally take off into battle heavily pregnant and armed only with a pvc flag pole and old lazy horse.

It majorly helped that one of my OB midwives owned horses, and even granted me official permission to do so when I mentioned it. You know, AFTER I had already declared my ability to ride to the dojo, at which point someone had asked "you can do that while (way) pregnant?"

When I had first gotten in the baby way, I had been under the mindset that of course I could continue doing the dojo (with a few minor safety precautions, of course) 5 or 6 nights a week without a problem and that I would be the seriously cool 9 month preggers woman who could still manage a one handed cartwheel to retrieve a dropped sword.

The Sensei in charge of the school had mentioned that he had never lost a demo team member to that [pregnancy] before when I first told him about it, and I was hell bound determined to prove him wrong and stay up with classes and on the team.

And then I became more pregnant, discovered I lost all ability to move my core muscles, became chronically exhausted, and was just like every other pregnant woman on the planet who can't easily get up out of her chair, much less comfortably sword fight or do air rolls.

And then I had a baby and moved out of Iowa to follow Peter's military career around for a few years and a few states, and that just turned out great now didn't it.


But today is going to be a special day for me, for I will be in a parade again this year.

Granted, not on a horse or carrying pole arms, but a 4th of July parade nevertheless, as Kristina's preschool is riding bikes in the Nederland one and I get to go along to make sure Kristina doesn't panic should she need to tricycle down a slight incline while also pulling Adrianna in the festively decorated wagon.

And who knows, maybe in a few years I'll be teaching the girls how to spar (preferably on horseback) for being in a parade performance themselves.


  1. I was watching our town's parade and thinking the exact same thing. Of course, I wasn't 34 weeks pregnant (in fact, I was leading the sparring group) but MAN, the memories!
    I still say that my time with the Jade Tiger Dojo/Kojokan was the best time of my life.

  2. We loved being there and you were absolutely magnificent in the parade. I loved one of the profile shots where you looked like Joan of Arc holding the banner. In the costume you didn't even look pregnant. Leslie