WEEK 10: Strikerate

WEEK 10: Strikerate


I’ve been working at home all week. Haven’t been into the office since last Friday. Oh I wish it could be train strike every da-aa-aaaay! Well, it basically is at the moment. I don’t miss the hour-and-a-half commute to the office one iota, but apart from a busy Sunday doing kids stuff and a single game of tennis on Monday dinner, I’ve only left the house to peg up the washing in the garden. The rest of the day has been spent in front of a screen. Working and eating. Eating too much! Crisps… cheese… lollies. I work in the kitchen in the summer months and if I reeeaaaccchh, I can open the fridge door.

I say lollies because this week has been hot. Mid-20s for me is too much. Today it was 25°C, ‘feels like’ 27°C, more like 29°C. It was a bit of a will-it, won’t-it thunderstorm day – and it chose not to. The atmosphere was heavy… like you were in trouble, or something. I turned up at the Holy Trinity Church on Green Lanes early having posted an Ebay package at the deathly quiet train station’s new-fangled drop-off point. It was, of course, flying ant day. So that kept me occupied during my wait outside the church, while looking in the window of the local funeral shop across the road. Patting ants off my heavy joggers.

Having practised my kata kihon on numerous occasions in the living room today, it’s now clear that we will never be doing kata kihon again. It’s gone. Leave it Lee! That’s yesterday’s news, loser! We’re now doing kata nasson, or something like that. It differs in that instead of doing downward blocks throughout, there’s an element of upward blocks to it. I mean – if something’s not broken… I was near to having kihon licked!

When you’re 50 and the next youngest person in the class is 13, nobody wants to be your partner. That toe with a nail-bed infection does me no favours… But it’s improving! I’m on the third month of tablets already! Regardless, we were in even numbers tonight and I was paired with a quiet, cool dude. It’s hard not to start coaching the young, and especially difficult if they’re further up the pecking order than yourself. “You’re supposed to bring your punch back quickly remember – like this!” And they’re like, “Why am I with this grandad-beginner?”

The session on this hot June day was mostly about side-kicks and breaking your opponent’s elbow, and when you’re shown how easy it is to snap someone’s arm in two, it’s amazing how much that focuses the mind. “Don’t use this on the train to work, Lee!” I was warned. But it would be classed as practice, surely! Block, grab, twist – and, my friend, you’d better call 999 with your one functioning arm.

The good news for my enemies is that I’m not going to be side-kicking them to unconscious oblivion. I have no elevation on my side-kicks. And that’s because I’m old and have either sciatica or a hip that’ll need replaced a la Liam Gallagher. That isn’t due to my Northern monkey walk – I have a different stance to Liam – it’s just the sheer amount of walking I did for years to take my two kids to school most days at the opposite side of London. I’d usually covered 8,000 steps before reaching my desk at 9.30am. Don’t cry me a river – I wanted to do it. By the end, they didn’t… So I stopped.

What is great about karate is the sheer positivity of the two sensei – the teachers. Endlessly pushing, meticulously readjusting, fastidiously pressuring you. I need to win the Lottery tonight so I can do this every day for an hour. I noted that the lad who started two weeks before me was in a dazzling white proper outfit tonight. I was chasing shadows keeping up towards the end, getting my left and right wrong in Cannon & Ball regularity, and I know I’m not up to standard to have a gi just yet. Can I improve or is age telling me that I might win the odd skirmish, but from this point on – for you Tommy, ze Var iss ofer?

I walked home on air again – followed by flying ants and a few extra mosquitoes that were overly excited by my Northerner sweat.