College and Karate!

Years ago, as a young college student, I took my share of PE classes—archery, tennis, dancing and more. Having played basketball all through school I enjoyed staying active. But what I really wanted to learn was karate. My boyfriend (future husband—Carl) had taken karate and ju-jitsu in Tulsa from his friend, Gary, who just happened to enroll at Northeastern State College where I attended. 

I begged Gary to teach me karate. He was reluctant—had never taught girls and no place to practice. But he finally agreed when the men’s basketball coach offered us a little space in the gym with a mat. The guys thought it was funny until they saw my friends and me slam our instructor to the floor. We felt empowered! 

A few of us met regularly, learning and practicing the skills of karate and ju-jitsu. We took some hard falls. We got our share of bruises. But I loved the sessions. Students on campus began to take notice and someone notified the Tulsa World about a group of girls learning self-defense at NSC in Tahlequah, a first for women on campus. The newspaper sent a reporter who took pictures and interviewed us. It was exciting! 

However, I intentionally hadn’t told my mother what I was doing. If I had bruises from my practice sessions, I just didn’t go home that weekend. I didn’t count on my grandmother seeing her granddaughter’s picture on the front page of the Tulsa World. 

Yep, there I was—front and center—putting a “karate chop” on my instructor. Grandmama called my mother and said, “Have you read the paper today?” Not the best way for my mom to find out about her daughter’s latest escapade. 

Recently, Grandmaster Gary Dill, who has been teaching martial arts for more than 50 years, sent me that old photo from the Tulsa World via Facebook with a note saying, “There you are, whipping my butt.” The years melted away as I looked at that young college coed with such stubborn tenacity. It definitely made me smile. Aren’t memories and old friends wonderful? Hope you have both! 

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