This is my grandparents’ Patience set, published in 1933. It has a book of patience games, and I learned several as a child. This, and four pictures from their front room, are the only relics I have of them. Unlike Aunty Bella’s Front Room, kept for Best so that it was never in fact used, only entered for dusting and polishing, when we visited we sat in the front room and made polite conversation.
Some patience games have no skill at all. The one I have kept up into this century is the Fan, shown in tableau below.The object is to build up on foundations upwards in suit. Only the top card of the depots may be moved. In this layout, ♠A may be moved immediately, then ♠2 placed on it.
♣A must be freed before I may build up on it. I need to move ♣8. I may move only the top card from a depot building downwards on depots in suit: so, here, I can move ♦2 onto ♦3, or ♣6 onto ♣7. However, if I move ♣7 onto ♣8, I have made it impossible to win the game: I cannot then free the ♣A. A top king may be moved into an empty depot.
In this game, there is luck in the deal, but thereafter I can see all the cards, so see all the options, think several moves ahead. There is more skill in it, even if I am still frittering time doing puzzles.
No kumite this morning, nor kata. We worked on the basic moves. I sight along my outstretched left arm, with my right hand, open, palm at my left ear. I bring my right hand, palm towards my face, along my left arm to the wrist, then I snap it out, palm down, as I bring my left arm back into chamber.
Of course one would never do this in kumite. The actual blow, side of hand to the temple, is the last part of the move. The elaborate preparation helps get the hand to the right place, but in use it is only that last flick that counts. That is why I should relax while making the move, only tensing with the last moment. I am still not sure why I should bring the non-active hand to my chest, in one open handed blow, before pulling it into chamber- hand by the side of the waist- but I love the striving for No-mind, relaxation as my arm whips out. I have not mastered it. I improve.
No, no kumite today, as we have three small boys here for the first time. If I do want to surrender myself to the fighting, seeking only to hurt, I will have to come back another day. Instead we are repeating moves over and over again, punching and kicking the air. Sometimes Sensei Andy comes round with the pad to punch or kick.
Forward kick, stomach level. To learn the move, each time we start with four stages. Balance on left foot and bring right knee up. Tighten thigh muscle, right foot snaps forward. Bring right foot back. Place right foot on the floor- not fall onto it, always keeping in control and balance- place it down. Now we move across the floor and back, kicking with each foot.
Full focus. In a block, the count is the blow coming in: the block must be instant. The count is the opportunity to kick, no time for thought, seeDO with no break between. Ich. Ni. San. Shi. Go. Rukh. Sich. Huch. Ku. Ju. On the tenth count, as we kick we shout HAI, a “kiai”.
Forward kick, stomach level. Sensei Andy comes round with the pad, for each of us in turn to kick, which another does the count. Some count one to ten, I attempt the Japanese. There are sixteen of us in the class, and each gets ten kicks at the pad. This is the end of the class, and having been kicking and punching over an hour, and kicking and moving, I am tired to start with. It is a fast count. It is hard to make a proper kick each time, I am just flailing my leg forward.
I decided to make each kick count. I had to change foot, I could not do it all with the right foot, but each kick I am sighting along my fist, kicking centrally, kicking out. When it is my turn with the pad, I put my force into the kick, to make a sharp report on the centre of the pad and push him back, if I can.
So I threw myself into the physical task. One purpose, in the body, in the moment.
What do you think of my header photographs, of the lily? I am really pleased with them, the way the light was on it from the window against the dark background.