Leaving karate

File:Falls of Kirifuri at Mt. Kurokami, Shimotsuke Province LACMA M.2011.135.2 (1 of 2).jpgInsensibly, I moved from “I won’t go to karate tonight” to “I don’t go to karate”. None of my reasons would have been enough by itself. Even now, the shin guards are in the bag, ready.

There we are, dancing, kicking and hitting without hitting anything. I had just found what a difference hikite makes to my snap. When I punch or block with my left hand, I pull my right hand back, palm upwards, fist at waist-height. This seems counter-productive. The non-striking hand is needed for defence. Yet it feels as if it adds force to the blow. I don’t feel great aptitude for sparring (kumite) and while I felt I could get to Presence, or singleness of mind, in kata, I did not feel it in kumite. “Don’t be so tense,” people said.

I felt no hostility because I was trans, yet I did not like practising without my wig. I kept an old one, the hair flat, almost matted, for sweating into. Sometimes, I had to take it off, as a Gi is warm. Once, last Summer, I came home and ran a cold bath to cool off. I used to go round the community centre turning the radiators off. I was perplexed and disconcerted when S, who is about 4′ tall- ten?- went round turning them all on again, after. This felt like a challenge. How to respond?

File:Hokusai portrait.jpgCertainly not as, when we were advancing across the hall, turning, advancing back, and always turning back foot muarte so as to move down the hall towards the door, to crowd her against the less experienced children. That felt like bullying. Then we practice second kata together, I concentrate on hikite to get my blocks full focus, and she did it faster than I.

There were other reasons as well. £6.50 per evening, when the tutors are all volunteers, seems steep. Mick’s class on Monday evenings, with its difficult balance of keeping discipline yet entertaining the many young children who turned up, was too much for the children for my taste. That is great- start them at seven, and by fifteen they will be naturals, skilled for life- yet it was not the class I wanted. I preferred Andy’s high-priestly seriousness, his humour there as an undercurrent, carefully fitting moves together. Mick by comparison did not always seem to get quite how to make a sequence of blocks and blows. Andy’s class was where S. was.

I rather resented learning kata by standing in a line doing them. I can’t see what is going on, and I can’t remember the moves from one week to the next. I spent hours in my huge living room with the videos, learning Saifa, Bassai-dai and Seiunchin. I need to do one count repeatedly, and learn what each limb does, rather than running through the whole, however slowly. (The DVDs are still by the telly, not away on a shelf somewhere.)

Lots of reasons. I can’t get to grading on Sundays as the bus does not run, and I have something else scheduled for each second Sunday of the month. Mostly that girl, though.

12 thoughts on “Leaving karate

  1. I’m sorry. It is perplexing and annoying when someone does something we don’t like. Can I suggest that, instead of commiting to the ‘always’ class, you go one more time, and then one more time….when you feel like it? Why let S get in your way? You turn off radiators, she turns them on, you turn them off… it could be a dance, almost, or an exercise in reducing footprints.

    Best not to spend our lives avoiding things, after all. It may only be that S sees things differently.

    Bless you, and thank you so much for your lovely blog. XXX :-))


    • You put it so beautifully, and you clarify for me things which are obvious in my writing- after you say them. Thank you. I know it is better not to spend my life avoiding things, and that is what I do. And the story I created for myself around this person- perhaps I could change it.


  2. the whole of anything is but a sum of a billion billion parts. from the tiniest particles, too small that machines have not even been built to witness them, to the largest visible thing you can imagine. including the stories you see as your life’s direction. in between all those bits is space and time so perhaps if you practice ‘seeing’ the smallest parts/time you can imagine and rest in the space between them you will have a point of view that shows you, that life is like a koleidescope. all you need to to is twist the lens just a tiny bit and the light and the reflection makes for an entire different story, even though the bits are all still there. ❤ 🙂


    • I thought I had, actually, and find I need to practise this: sit down, think- how am I perceiving, how might I perceive? When I simply perceive and respond, though, the kaleidoscope is in the old position. So: practise. ♥


  3. Of course, I’m the worst at advice … because I was going to write and say, “Yes, you’re right, bag it … who needs people like that girl.” I feel life and live in that kind of fashion … I’m random/scatter and not logical. It works very well for me, although it can occasionally drive friends and boyfriends nuts!


  4. I always admire my partner for his karate interest. He started as a young kid when he was bullied (short and polio leg). The classes were free and he learned loads. Went to do exhibitions at Crystal Palace, and as you said above, gave back by tutoring younger children later for free. It taught him a lot in mental attitude as well as physical.

    Be sure you want to leave it. Yes, time moves on, and other commitments enter life, but maybe there is another type of karate to take? I will ask A how he did his kata, didn’t think it was in a line though.


    • Much of the kata learning was just stand in a row and do it. Sometimes we broke it down into individual counts, but I needed to work on my own: I learned nothing from the class but a feeling of inadequacy from having no idea what was going on, which did spur me to practise by myself. In go kan ryu, the order of learning is taigyoku shodan for yellow belt, taigyoku nidan for orange, saifa for green, bassai dai for red and seiunchin for blue, afaik, but I did seiunchin though I only had an orange belt, simply so I could feel less like humiliated in class.

      Lots of reasons to leave; perhaps cannabebothertness as the time for the class arrives is the main one.


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