WEEK 13: A Mange Of The Mind

WEEK 13: A Mange Of The Mind


The busiest, most stressful part of the month at work coupled with a heatwave meant that sleep was fitful at best over the last week – but at least my hearing is in good working order. I picked up my new karate outfit – my gi – from Sensei Amrit’s house a few days ago but it’s so roasting-hot at the moment that there was no way I could try on a long-sleeved, long-trousered suit until the day of the karate class itself.

The gi is a good fit, with a fairly lightweight material, which will be great in spring and autumn but at the height of summer is uncomfortable. I was sweating in no time and I’m intending to write to my local karate ombudsman about the pressing requirement for It Ain’t Half Hot Mum martial arts clobber.

When I should have been practising my kata shodan and hammer-blow block/thumps before karate, I instead spent an hour and a half learning how to tie my gi up properly. Even the belt has its own spiritually derived system, but to reach a point of competence I had to get Mrs Gale’s undivided attention to decode the fastening method with the assistance of YouTube. The belt is long: you loop it round yourself a few times then do an Eddie Waring-style it’s-an-up-and-under and tie another double knot. I think. The gi itself is very white. Where’s Danny Baker with his big box of trial washing powder when you need him?

The class followed its regular rollicking rate of learning. It’s like a keep-fit version of fast reaction game Bop It! or Hasbro’s Simon, both of which I was never much good at. I’ve no choice about practising at home this week. It’s GRADING next week and there’s still so much I’m not managing properly. Far too frequently I simply don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing and when your mind is in a bit of bind, rather than helping you out, it tends to stick its head in the sand like a frightened ostrich. If I pass, two red lines will be added to my white belt. To me, that will be like winning the Lottery. Imagine if I win the Lottery too this week!

I mastered the kata kihon at home, in my living room, following the instructions on a slip of paper. So… hmm… In fact, let me find some instructions online for kata shodan… There! Found some! OK, OK, OK – this is my guide for the coming week. With grading, I feel like the young American kid on the chopper in Apocalypse Now shouting, “I’m not ready! I’m not ready!” Judging by my performance in the last half hour of karate week 12, I’d say that statement is sadly fair comment. But as my nana always said, “We plod on.”

I suggested a twice-weekly class and to my utter surprise, the notion wasn’t sidekicked followed by a swift punch to the face. I said that I felt frustrated that I couldn’t quite keep up and that an extra lesson might make a world of difference. This is something that Sensei Amrit had already been considering. Can I afford the extra outlay, doubling my monthly cost? Possibly not, but I’ll do it anyway.

I was told I’m looking better and improving all the time – which is wonderful to hear but perhaps wide of the mark. I certainly feel slightly fitter and better in myself, despite the creaking stress of my job.

Things to do: 1 practise the bejesus out of kata shodan; 2 write up Japanese numbers 1-10 and pin them up on the wall; 3 write up the Japanese names for head, chest and stomach – the bits you wallop – and also get these up on the wall to LEARN. I want those two red lines on my white belt. Be seeing you!