I got engaged at a karate training weekend
I'm so excited!
Our first kiss was in the dojo parking lot. Not the most romantic spot ever, but fitting for us. We've been doing karate together for years now. One of our first dates was an extra training session to work on self-defense. My idea of a romantic guy is one who knows me well enough to get me a sword over flowers.
Jeremy and I met when we were in college, but he wasn't someone I was interested in romantically. But I've learned a lot about him since we first met. I've learned how he responds under pressure and in awkward circumstances. He's someone I know I can trust. When things changed, and we started dating, I knew pretty quickly where things were going. This is the engagement story.
It all started on October 15, 2022. Jeremy and I were competing at a karate tournament. Afterward, a Sensei and old friend of our dojo approached me. He is an excellent instructor in his own right, but he's also a contact and coordinator for international instructors. For example, he sets up seminars and picks up karate instructors at the airport when they visit the states.
He told me he was putting together a team of black belts to represent the U.S. in a tournament at Capital Conquest. Capital Conquest is a weekend of training seminars and events for martial artists from all over the world.
He needed one more woman for the team and asked me to fill the spot. I felt honored and nervous at the same time. After all, plenty of other black belts were more qualified to fill the spot. But I accepted the invitation and met with the rest of the team a little over a week before the event.
I felt confident knowing that my Sensei, her husband, and Jeremy would all be there to support me. Jeremy had even agreed to do the driving, which allowed me to stress out about the tournament rather than other components like travel directions.
October 22, 2022
After a particularly draining week, Jeremy and I decided to go hiking. While I had planned to enjoy the fall foliage, he had more serious goals in mind. We're both not great at surprises, so he asked me about marriage. He wanted to know if I was ready for him to ask. He's a patient man and didn't want me to feel rushed.
I felt like there were some questions I needed answered, but after talking with some trusted friends and my parents, I gave him an answer. I had a lot on my mind and needed to focus on getting ready for the tournament. Any time, Capital Conquest or after, would be fine.
So, did I know he was going to propose? Yes, but the exact time and circumstances were still open to his preferences. My focus until then was to prep for the tournament, preparing my mind and body as best I could for what was ahead. Then I could think about getting engaged.
November 4, 2022
Jeremy and I drove up to the location. It was enough of a drive that I started feeling restless, but we made it. After checking into our hotel rooms, we met up with the competing U.S. team. We explored the area, and Jeremy found us an excellent place to eat dinner.
Due to a change in circumstances, my Sensei and her husband could not meet up with us. They assured us they would see us the next day.
November 5, 2022
The tournament (morning)
I was tense the following day as I double-checked my karate bag. I had everything I would need for the tournament: my sparring gear, my bo staff for weapon's kata, and a neatly pressed all-white uniform. This was a traditional tournament, so everyone had to wear all white. My karate style typically does a mix of white and black. Most students wear black pants and a white gi top.
As a black belt, I'm allowed to wear other colored tops as well, so I often wear an all-black uniform for regular training.
Jeremy met me outside my room, and we decided to eat breakfast at the hotel restaurant before walking to the conference center. I still had to pay and register for the tournament, so we had to get over there early. I was glad I had visited the ATM last night for Canadian cash. I paid and filled out the paperwork.
The U.S. team met, and our leader went over what would happen and the scoring components. We also got some pictures of the whole team before the competition.
My Sensei and her husband arrived just before I was going to perform my kata. As I went up to demonstrate, I did the one thing I hadn't even been worried about: I messed up my kata! I started performing a different sequence than the one I was supposed to be doing.
In the second I had to think, I knew I had to get back to the one I had been doing, and if you didn't know the kata I was performing, you wouldn't have known that I messed it up. But the shakiness was still there as I stepped out of the ring. My Sensei was there to meet me. I embraced her, feeling myself relax as I held on a moment longer.
"Nice save," she whispered in my ear. "You're okay."
The rest of the tournament was significant in its own right, but I'll spare you most of the details. I sparred but didn't place and placed fourth in weapon's kata. I placed second in kata, and the U.S. came in third place.
Relief washed over me when it was over. Now I could relax and train. But perhaps for Jeremy, the nerves were only about to get worse. As I went off to change into my black uniform, Jeremy waited with my Sensei and her husband, where he confessed that he had a ring in his pocket. They agreed to help capture the moment, but once I came back, the conversation was already back to other things, like what breakout sessions we would do.
The breakout sessions (late morning until four pm)
The vibe I get from the martial arts community is that people aren't in it for the money. This training weekend was striking gold if you want to talk about getting your money's worth. Stick fighting, firearms self-defense, and karate? Working with instructors with decades of experience? Sign me up!
The only downside was that it was a large conference center, and there were no breaks once the sessions started at noon. So, you were likely to miss the first five minutes of your next breakout if you were on the other side of the building.
Jeremy mentioned that things weren't too bad for him during the sessions because they gave him something to focus on.
The question (evening)
We headed back to our hotel rooms for a brief breather. I was hungry but for the moment, I wanted a cup of coffee and a shower. I took a moment to enjoy the solitude and congratulate myself on my work at the tournament.
Jeremy and I were staying at a different hotel than my Sensei and her husband, but we had agreed to meet up and walk over to dinner around 5:30. Jeremy and I sat on a bench outside our hotel. I wondered for just a moment if there was a ring in his coat pocket.
Jeremy told me later that he had specifically sat on my right side so I wouldn't feel the ring in his pocket.
But my mind very quickly turned to food. I hadn't eaten more than half of a granola bar since breakfast. So when my Sensei and her husband arrived, I was like, "Yes, let's walk to food and do it fast."
I couldn't help but feel perfectly safe and content though, walking along with the love of my life, a fifth-degree black belt, and a sixth-degree black belt. They're the sort of people I want with me in a new area.
We were on a mostly quiet street, about to go over into an area with more traffic. The sun was starting to set when my Sensei said, "Oh, look! That's a really pretty spot over there. You two should go over there and pretend like you like each other. I'll get a picture."
Talk about setting up the moment for him; to be fair, it couldn't have been more perfect. I'll admit that I still managed to be caught off guard, but I'm going to go with the fact that I was really hungry.
"I love you," he said as we stood next to each other for the picture.
"I love you too," I said.
"No, I REALLY love you," he said, getting down on one knee.
Then he said a lot of things I don't quite remember, his hands shaking just a little. But I remember letting him at least finish the question before saying yes about eight times in a row.
The ring was beautiful. He knows me well and had selected a black diamond on a silver band. As much as I'm not a jewelry person, this is one piece I'll be wearing a lot.
Sensei and her husband got lots of pics and even a video. Then she asked if we still wanted to go to dinner with them. We all set off to dinner together and heard their story about how they met and their wedding. We talked about our plans, and it was a wonderful dinner, complete with apple pie for dessert.
November 6, 2022
The next day was more training, but it was earlier, and after a late lunch, we were on the road home. We talked about who we wanted to invite and made some plans. Somehow, it didn't feel real, though. We were getting married. It was all really happening. We stopped off at my parents' house to share the stories.
We decided to subtly announce it on social media with two Facebook posts, one from Jeremy that said, "I asked a question," and another post from me that said, "I answered it."
I said goodnight to everyone and drove back to my apartment for some much-needed rest. Talk about a packed weekend!
The next step
I'm excited about what comes next. Don't get me wrong, it's scary. There's so much to plan and so many decisions to make. I will be experiencing a major life change, saying, "I do," and choosing to spend the rest of my life with the man that I love.
He's someone I trust, a good guy doing the best he can each day. He's patient, gentle, and strong. Jeremy has seen the crazy and difficult side of me, and for some bizarre reason, it didn't send him running for the hills. But maybe he's just accepted that he lives in a musical now (among other things) and has come to terms with it.
I love that we do karate together, that he calls me fierce, and that he never uses the word sweet to describe me. Jeremy, thanks for sticking with me. Here's to our fantastic future together!
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