As we start these blogs generally with tales of injury woes, here’s another one for you. I was in a tennis club get-together last weekend. A lob was attempted by one of my opponents (it was doubles) and I thought, “I can get this with a full-stretch jump and aerial backhand volley.” I connected with the ball but I’ve no idea where it ended up.
I knew instantly that I’d done my back in. I then had to cross London to take my two kids to their local gym. I struggled to get through my usual set routine and by the time I was getting off the train at my local station hours later, I was walking like a chimpanzee.
Nurofen was my companion for much of the week. Mrs Gale mentioned that I now pick up an injury pretty much every time I take part in any form of exercise. As a result of the back, I missed the Monday karate fitness session as I hobbled around the garden serving drinks for our 10th wedding anniversary soiree, but by Thursday I was fit enough to throw shapes again (albeit with the metallic burn of sciatica down my left leg, brought on by the back twinge – oof!).
Having drilled heian yondan thoroughly last week in the dojo with not one, but two senseis to myself, I was flabbergasted in my pre-karate warm-up in my living room that I’d largely forgotten the sequence and had to piece together the moves using my karate print-outs. Within an hour I’d regained a working framework. I also quickly rifled through a few other katas to refresh my memory, just in case, and even with these, I had to refer to my flaps of paper diagrams.
There was full attendance in karate on Thursday, all lined up with feet together beneath the Union Jack buntings pinned up for the forthcoming King’s coronation. Our warm-up was fittingly royal. Ten squats at this end of the dojo, run to the other side of the room, and a press-up. Run back. Nine squats. Run. Two press-ups. Run. Eight squats. Run. Three press-ups, etc, etc. Forget the squats – that’s 56 press-ups in five minutes. Even my gi trousers were sodden in sweat after that.
Breathless, we went straight in to drills and this time they didn’t give me too much hassle and embarrassment. It was just a case of keeping up with the routine of punches and kicks. This was followed by a series of blocks for the face, chest and stomach up and down the dojo (“Don’t lean, don’t lean!” – Sensei Harris). I mistimed a mae-geri block and obviously hadn’t formed a fist with my hand in time. I heard the familiar crack of fingers when a foot whipped at pace towards my stomach. There was some finger-jiggling to alleviate the pain but this time I got away with it. Thankfully. Mrs Gale had warned me not to return with any more injuries.
There was also a circle of doom where we had to face each other and perform a different block for each chest punch – and we were shown the blocks to use. This was my brain freeze moment. I can’t retain three instructions in my head: I class this as multi-tasking. The result? Bus Not In Service – the bane of my karate training.
I was more settled with our detailed practice of heian yondan – and then it was once again the sublime feeling of walking on air back home after surviving another week of karate, safe in the knowledge that by that time I was on jury service the following the day, my arm and chest muscles would gradually stiffen and movement would be limited over the weekend due to those 56 press-ups.