WEEK 24: Hall Out

WEEK 24: Hall Out


None of us lasts forever. Even giants die. As do twinkle stars. It’s a grim read of a Professor Brian Cox book when you reach the chapter about the end of the Universe and what will happen. Want to know? There is a purpose to this, so here goes. All the stars will stop shining, and everything will turn to dust. Then the dust will disappear and even Mr Sheen will have no further purpose. Time will stop too – as it did when I was emailed to say there’d be no karate this week.

There was to be a funeral at the church on Green Lanes. Someone had died and the back room – aka the dojo – was required by grieving persons. I sent an email reply to the sensei stating that if we promised we’d be quiet and not shout kiai!, then maybe an agreement could be reached with the friends of the deceased. A kata kihon at your send-off could be a spiritual thing. (As you will note from the main image this week, there is a funeral parlour, what my kids used to call a “dead body shop”, directly across the road from the church.)

Then came a message that, if we were willing, we could pile in to the home gym of our husband-and-wife senseis. We were back in business.

In our karate blog mailbag this week – bulging as always with your martial arts questions – many asked if I could clear up once and for all the name of one of the senseis. Was it Harry or Harris? I’ll be honest. I’ve skirted the issue for many weeks but I finally asked sensei Amrit, Harry/Harris’s wife, what was the name of her husband – because I was convinced I’d heard both. This proved to be correct. Harris is also called Harry from time to time. A Columbo mystery that had me stumped for months finally reached its satisfactory conclusion.

Another day spent in front of the computer screen left me – as it usually does these days – deflated, confused and with a strange mix of feeling both worn out while unable to settle. I was ready for bed rather than strenuous exercise.

Sensei Amrit and Harris’s house is just over the backs from where I live in north London. Within ten minutes I was in the gym – although it was getting dark on the walk. It’ll be snowing in three weeks. There were a fair few press-ups in the hour and a half and, when practising attacks and defences, we were given the instruction that if you’re punching, make sure to hit the target. It was up to the one receiving the punch to block and counter-attack. A licence to thump teenagers! Great!

Even though the temperature is a more British mid-teens now, you still get a sweat on – but no white outs. White outs are gone now till next summer. There was a lot of encouragement from the two leaders; hard-but-fair; tough love. You feel 10ft tall when you hear, “Yes, more like it Lee!”

The switch to twice a week is imminent: a motion was carried for Mondays and Thursdays. Doubling the exercise is just what I need – if I can keep up. I remain stubbornly 13st but if there’s more sweat, might I be able to hold off the effects of the “manopause” and even reverse it? Regardless, I realised that maybe, just maybe, I might improve my karate and these blocks and punches will become second nature.

Our karate summer break took its toll. This week, for the first time for a while, I felt fitter. The karate Ready Brek glow remained with me until the following afternoon when an editorial trio, with myself included, strolled to Hampstead for an end-of-issue bite to eat. The food was fine but it was washed down with a few too many beers and wines. And I probably talked too much about karate. I distinctly recall asking the art editor to throw a punch at my chest so I could block it. Oof, what a plonker! Our art editor lives near me. He’s still in his 40s and despite my pleading for him to join Middlesex Shotokan on pint three, it was met with a firm “No”. A work in progress.

Be seeing you!