WEEK 25: Nidan’s Must

WEEK 25: Nidan’s Must


I’ve run out of Prisoner episodes as a reliable source for my weekly blog post titles. Only 17 episodes were made. So we’re channelling the spirit of Patrick McGoohan’s No.6 for our headers from now on, although I’m acutely aware that the link is highly tenuous and has been since Week 1. Nidan’s Must – Needs Must…? Nidan, y’know… the next kata… Please yourself. But cut me some slack for karate is now twice a week!

I’d just been able to walk upright without discomfort following the previous week’s exertions when a text dinged to my new iPhone – my first ever Apple travel blower by the way and I’m struggling with it – on Monday saying: “Come round to the gym tonight!” This was it: we were biweekly! It was here, in the gym, that I realised I’m not bad at the plank – maintaining a level body on elbows and toes alone – and press-ups felt easier to do. It was a rollicking hour-long, sweat-drenched workout. A year ago I couldn’t imagine I’d be doing this.

A few days later we were back in the rear hall of the Green Lanes church. I’ll be honest by saying I was a bit concerned about karate this week. I’ve been fretting whether I can cope with new, rigorous challenges, learning moves at pace and placing them in order without becoming Mr Confused and spluttering to a halt.

If I was a sheepdog and couldn’t learn the whistled commands of the shepherd quickly enough, I’d be sold in the small ads section of the Farmer’s Gazette as “a good pet but useless otherwise”. But then again, you wouldn’t bring a past-its-best pet from the hearth for livestock-management training.

Mrs Gale asked, “Do you often find you’re getting one-on-one training while the rest of the class pick up things fairly easily and just get on with it?” I lifted the glass of red wine to my lips and nodded. But I usually have to work harder than other people at whatever I’m doing to maintain parity. And so it seems that’s also true among 12-year-olds. Again it’s the age thing but as I keep saying to myself – the exercise can only be doing you good. And I suppose it keeps me off the streets.

There was a lot of kicking tonight – which is my ideal territory. Booting pads up and down the dojo is something I could do till the Japanese cows come home due to my football heritage. School team top scorer at Rossington St Michael’s 1981-82, you know. I don’t half struggle with a high kick though.

To test our high kick ability, we were told to place our feet around the neck of a fellow student and the student then had to gradually rise to see how much our legs could take. As you can see from the main image, Lucas drew the short straw tonight. If you said to an 1890s oak table, “Hey, 1890s oak table, we’re going to see how far we can lift your solid wooden legs for combat purposes”, that gives you a general idea of my state of mind when I went into this exercise. And yet I managed a larger arc than I thought possible – although the angle felt far wider in real life than this image conveys. We’ll move on…

Any perceived leg-lifting triumphs were soon overshadowed by our first real go at the new kataheian nidan – our next mountain to conquer. Perhaps I couldn’t see Sensei Harris properly from my position showing the moves… Tea cup on hand, then hand-stab… Huh? And yet everyone else, all these children I’m with, seemed unleashed!

Again, out came the pace car in the shape of Sensei Amrit to give me the one-on-one treatment. I’ve been through this before with the katakihon and heian shodan. Put in the extra work at home and practise, practise, practise. With me it’s the only way. Until next time, it’s good night from me, and it’s good night from him. Good night!