WEEK 54: Belter-skelter

WEEK 54: Belter-skelter


I took delivery of my new belt in the Monday evening training session and since then I’ve had to pinch myself a few times… Wow, I’m a green belt!

I’ve tried to implement a no-drinking regime the night before karate but haven’t been overly successful with this; indeed on Sunday evening, having had to work all day due to jury service in the week, I couldn’t wait to crack open a bottle of red once I’d logged off at 7pm. For a long time I’ve dealt with stress with a good dose of Vitamin W – fine if you’re not involved with strenuous exercise but counterproductive for karate training.

Regardless of a hungover state, if you’ve pre-paid for a session, you’ve got to get of your backside and although Monday was a struggle at first (passing a tennis ball to each other while holding the plank position will focus the mind), you can sweat out poisons surprisingly swiftly. I know, I know, far better not to get in the position in the first place. Needless to say, the exercise was so robust that my stomach and chest muscles ached for two days.

By Thursday, I’d been given some new short-term medication. I’ll not bore you with the details but the instructions stated not to operate machinery for a few days. By the evening I was feeling strangely floaty and dry-mouthed, and flagged up the problem when I arrived at the dojo. “Yeah, your pupils are dilated,” said SenseiAmrit. “Take it easy if you need to.”

But as I’ve come to realise, karate is the great cure-all and when you’re concentrating on practising rapid fire blocks with a partner, whether you feel woozy or not, you’ve got to engage your brain. The bruising on my arms presented itself the following morning. What is also apparent is the difference in height that you are able to kick after your legs have warmed up. I was flicking my toes at shoulders as the evening progressed.

Training for now is involving a great deal of elbow attacks thus far. Upward strikes, roundhouse, back strike and there’s the Freddie Mercury – flat hand in the air and thrust down with your elbow into your opponent’s inviting back. Apparently footballer John Fashanu, known for going up for headers with his elbows out, was a black belt in karate. He knew how intimidating and effective an elbow could be.

Then all energy was directed towards heian yondan, described by Sensei Amrit as “a nice kata” – which will require a lot of practice on my part, but what with days at court and stressed evenings catching up with work, there isn’t much in the way of spare time right now.

Even so, I’m now in my second year of karate. Sensei Harris asked how I’d react to making it to black belt, in regard to how excited I was to get the green. Can you imagine that? Earning a black belt? Next for me is to clean up my act a little. Drink less, keep the big portions in check and maybe lose a stone in weight. Then I might be in with a chance.