Saturday marked a real milestone in my life. It has been five years since I stopped smoking. It also marks 5 years since I graded for my first black belt.
I was never a very heavy smoker. A pack a day was a challenge. I averaged 7 or 8 a day and smoked ultra light menthols. I’d tried quitting before and it usually lasted about 6-8 weeks before I’d go back to it. I even had major surgery to remove my spleen and thought I could beat it. I tried acupuncture but because I could go for 6-8 weeks on my own, they said it wouldn’t do much good.
In our organization, all black belts must sign their name stating that they are smoke free. I’d been promising myself each belt level that I was going to quit. But as I went through them, I kept smoking.
Grading for your black belt is a great honour and I regarded it as such, including the oath I took. The day I graded for my black belt is the day I smoked my last cigarette. A month later when I was awarded my first black belt, I smoke half a cigar in celebration and haven’t smoked since.
Since then, I’ve been to Hong Kong for 5 months, where everyone smokes like chimneys. I could have cheated but something a friend of mine kept me in line. Whenever I thought “Maybe just one; no one will know.” His voice would answer: “But you will.”
I finished university, go the rest of my shodans, went onto my nidans and about to start my sandans in the fall.
Thank you Sensei. Ous.