WEEK 35: Unguent Attention Required

WEEK 35: Unguent Attention Required


I have to say the yellow belt looks quite fetching with a white gi and thankfully this 7th kyu fastening is a little shorter than my previous red one and less prone to combat dangling. Christmas is now upon us and I missed the regular church hall get-together due to the office party. I don’t like missing karate but I suppose you have to show some willing with the workplace.

The World Cup in Qatar is my constant background interest, but while Brazil were giving the South Koreans a lesson in first-half attacking football, the hardcore of the karate group were in the Monday gym session taking the kata heian nidan beyond yellow-belt-passing level. I have a fondness for doing a kata now. I knew a year ago that I needed to take up some serious exercise beyond the twice-weekly tennis to shed some weight (although it’s gone up, not down!). The idea that I would have been flinging my arms and legs around perfecting a kata probably wouldn’t have been top of my list, or even on my list – but then again, I don’t know what I had in mind. Five-a-side football, maybe? Nah – I’m too old; knees too creaky.

I mentioned to Sensei Amrit my latest list of karate weaknesses that I’d identified following grading. Turning under pressure; drilling the moves; stooping… The response was that with drilling I was letting my thinking block something that should be natural: basically my brain is getting in the way. Turning on the spot was sorted instantly. As for stooping – I’m from a family of stoopers, but my explanation about this didn’t wash and it has become an issue that will need a lot of work to rectify. Head back, chest out.

My ageing body struggles with high thrusting side-kicks. My thigh socket clicks and clumps – it’s uncomfortable. The solution? Kick lower, says the sensei. We ended with some simple combat techniques: tapping down a punch and giving a quick reflex bang in the face in return. Must remember to keep one hand near my face at all times to deflect a fist. Our focus in the New Year will be our fight fixture against our sister karate group in Heathrow, so this session seemed to be the start of that process. Apparently there is somebody “nearer my age” who’ll I’ll be trying to beat in this inter-club tussle… I’m imaging this means they’re in their twenties, not fifties.

Heading out into the December blackness from the dojo to catch the Brazil v South Korea second half, I told Sensei Amrit about my more positive outlook now that I’d been doing karate for eight months, how I feel much better in myself. There has been a change – a change for the good. I’ve transformed from a largely negative individual to one that can deal with problems more effectively. However…

The following morning I was in the doctors to get the troublesome knee assessed and to get the professionals to have a look at my increasingly painful thigh socket – although I’ve long thought this is sciatica rather than the need for a hip replacement. I’ve been referred to a physio and given a list of unguents to rub on the skin (see main image). The good news is, I’ve been told that I can keep up with karate despite the knee injury – but not to push it if it’s too much. The problem is, trying to book a physio through the self-referral form on my phone overrides karate’s positivity aura and makes me bloody furious! Agggghhhhhh!