Winter is coming and it’s very tempting to dig out the slippers, a warm blanket on the sofa and a reassuring glass of red wine on an evening. Is that just me? No, I didn’t think so. But in my pursuit of sitting on the sofa less and doing more I have decided that I need to get out on an evening a couple of times a week in a way that doesn’t involved going to the pub! At least not at the outset…
So I have now rekindled my love with martial arts and have started doing Shotokan Karate again. I can’t really take credit for this initiative as a lovely friend of mine who also used to do karate recently found a great Sensei here in Gibraltar and decided that she was going to take the plunge, so I tagged along too. The problem is that it has been 16 years since I last did karate and let’s be honest, these days I’m not the 25 year old young woman I was then! Plus I only did it for about a year so I’m no Bear Grylls (2nd Dan Black Belt) to start off with.
I would describe trying to do karate in my 40 something novice state as like waking up the morning after the night before. You kind of know what you did, but you’re not quite sure in what order and how some of it happened. I’ve been to two classes now and I see moves and combos and patterns and I think ‘oh yes knife hand’ and ‘ ah ha, I remember toes back for front kick… sort of’. It’s all a bit blurred and somewhat vague.
Last week I got to punch grown men fairly hard in the stomach. Always fun. Sensei said I was pretty good at that and I have an impressive punch – watch out Bear Grylls! Less impressive was my attempt at my kata, a fixed combination of blocks, kicks and punches that get far more complicated as you progress through the belts. My first attempt at the very easy one was somewhere between fairly poor and shockingly bad. The hard part was that you have to do it in front of the class – on your own. A solo performance. Watched by black belts I really did feel like I had zero clue as to what what on earth I was doing. I was definitely out of my comfort zone and really nowhere near the action zone. But, after some explanation from Sensei I recognised where I had gone wrong and the second time round I at least got everything in the right order (I think) – an improvement! Hurray.
I was very impressed by the kata the black belts did and I thought that they were once like me, and now they are black belts. One day I will be a black belt too, with a lot of hard work and practice. I won’t be fighting competitively (I’m a lover not a fighter) but no doubt I’ll get a lot of bruises along the way (bruised arms and bruised ego), but I will get there. And I will get fitter and stronger and more disciplined, and learn some Japanese too. There are so many benefits to getting off the sofa and out of my comfort zone, it would be rude not to (and we did go to the pub afterwards too!).
Gibraltar karate photos credit to Gibraltar Shotokan Karate Club. Information about Gibraltar Shotokan Karate Club can be found here: http://gibshot.com/