Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Audacious Orange

Sapphire and I have been going to karate classes for about eighteen months now and have finally graduated to orange belt level. Love Chunks became more and more intrigued by our katas, blocking moves and - let's face it - how gorgeous we look in our white Gis - and joined up recently as well.

I'm sure the three of us make quite a comical entrance when we arrive, bow to the dojo (training hall), say 'G'day' to our Senseis (teachers) and then do our best to work up a sweat whilst also learning how bloody difficult it is to 'strike a pose' and use all of your body effectively to defend, counter-attack and hopefully scare the victim with a few very loud 'Kiaias' (yells) at the end of each punch.

I know that we certainly get more than our fair share of 'Hello there, looks like a family of religious fanatics off to harass travelers at the airport' when we're at the traffic lights in our white car, all three of us wearing white; let alone when we walk into Cibo's Gelateria after a hard lesson and stand amongst the beautiful people of Norwood, waiting for our Chocolate, Lemon Cheesecake and Roast Almond selections....

Back to the actual karate. We yellow (Love Chunks and about seven kids) and orange belted novices (Sapphire, a fifty-something couple, an 11 year old boy and myself) could clearly see the excitement in our Senseis and Sempeis when the lofty name, 'Rod Martin' was mentioned. Their voices dripped with awe as they described a man who had trained, taught and fought in Adelaide, Brisbane, Japan and London.

This pocket rocket had apparently had crammed more karate action into his mortal frame than Pamela Anderson had with silicone, plus found the time to study microbiology, acupuncture, travel, teach, raise a family. He sounded awesome, and kind of scary. Why were we lowly yellows and orange belt students also invited - did he need a before-class snack or some lowly wallahs to insert some practice needles in?

We entered the meat-locker of a gym on Saturday afternoon nervously and quietly. We sat and waited - no, not just because I'd misread the notice and turned up half an hour early - but watched and listened to his teachings. A very strange thing was happening. Not only could this bloke assume a Samurai stance lower and firmer than a midget's doorstep, but the Senseis were smiling, laughing even. Certainly enjoying themselves and eagerly copying his moves and his message.

Then it was our turn. We all stood there, doing our best heiko dachi (standing pose), wanting to show Rod that our Senseis were good teachers and we, good students. Or, at the very least, students who regularly attended and had the 'potential' to be good. He selected our Damien Sensei, aka The Duracell Bunny, for demonstrating the effectiveness of punching styles. Over and over again. We winced in shared pain and solidarity for him, knowing that whilst he wouldn't fall over, any one of the rest of us most certainly would. Bloodied, broken and crying.

Thankfully for us, Rod could see that we were more marshmallow than iron and he took a more scientific approach.
"Try to squeeze your sub-lateral tricep under quadrangular biological doo-flanger corpuscular semi-dorsal region in order to add real strength to your arm and shoulders...."

And He was off. It was a marvel to see - a world-class expert full of adrenalin, enthusiasm and knowledge of his sport and the philosophy of fitness and safety, taking us newbies along for the ride. Any muscles he couldn't name were probably not worth naming. Especially that punching bag whatsit that hangs at the back of your throat. .........

"Er, excuse me please Rod, but where's my sub-lateral tricep under quadrangular biological doo-flanger corpuscular semi-dorsal region you're talking about?"

"Under here," he pointed under his arm. "Tighten this and your arm will be stronger."
And it was. And there was a bonus to this new teaching - those pesky foodoobadahs - or flabby batwings under my upper arms - were also getting a workout. Maybe, just maybe, I'd be able lift my arm higher than my shoulder to wave goodbye, wear a tank top and do the Countdown cigarette-lighter wave at concerts again!

Rod's father was also there, quietly helping. "Pull your bum in," he whispered.
"I *am*" I whispered back. "Normally you'll find a couple of kids sheltering from the rain under there."

Somehow, that afternoon and the following morning, we learned a truckload of ways to make our punches stronger, moves firmer, shoulders looser whilst also being entertained and enthused by Rod's knowledge, communication skills, ability to perfectly imitate how NOT to do things and by the moves he showed us done perfectly.
Dare I ask him the most pressing question? Him, the man revered by karate students in three separate continents, winner of tournaments, teacher of thousands, the guy who could kick your arse just by standing next to you?

I dared. "Rod, tell me. How do you get away with not farting during class?"
Everyone stopped what they were doing, eyes on me, the annoying class clown, letting the side down, disabusing Rod that Adelaide was a progressive, intelligent and cultured place. I felt about as popular as dog poo in a dinghy.

He strode over to me. Crazy thoughts shot through my brain - was he going to use me for his kumite demo? Show me just why my pelvic floor needed work, my bum needed tightening, my gut strengthened, forearms broken in and my shoulders relaxed?
He looked deeply into my jittery, snot-green eyes. "That is why we Kiaia (yell) very loudly at the end of every exercise."

Oh. I learned many things that day. Most importantly: To try my hardest, look after my body and to have fun. Thanks Rod!

It is also the reason why I 'treat' myself to a fair bit of this stash when I get home afterwards.


gigglewick said...

I'm envious of that stash.

I fear it would last nary a moment in our household.

Naomi said...

great blog! I'm glad you put in its entirety here - it was too good not to!

Kath Lockett said...

Aw thanks mate - I needed to blog (I *needed* to, man) and thought that it would do OK here.

Anonymous said...

Do I spot Whittakers fine products in the stash?? (How sad is it to recognise the writing off chocolate packaging!) Bels

ashleigh said...

Have you tried the Whittakers?

I only discovered them a couple of weeks ago, I'm working my way through a block of Dark Ghana.


Kath Lockett said...

Ashleigh and Anon - *of course* I've tried - and loved - Whittakers!! I think their dark Ghana is the best, though their milk is rather fine too.. and so is their almond and I've got to sink my teeth into their coconut rough which also looks pretty good....

River said...

Nice stash. I like the Wittakers peanut slab, unfortunately my dentist has recommended I give up eating nuts.
I tried out for a karate lesson once. Only once.

Anonymous said...

Wow! 18 months, not bad huh! I tried to join a self defence class 2 years ago. On the first lesson, I was completely lost, didn't know how to pose, etc. And guess what? When the instructor asked us to kick the sand bag, one of my shoes flew out! So embarrassing! I struggled for 2 months, then finally decided it is not for me. :p

BTW, here to also vote for you in today's BOTB! Good luck!

K.C. said...

Just popping in after seeing you running after the Pursuit of Happiness.

Seems like you guys are pretty happy in karate class. This was such a fun read! Kayce

Baino said...

Haha . . I always wondered why there was all that haaa'ing at 10 decibels! and as for your bum sheltering children in the rain - hardly my dear! You're looking very trim taught and terrific although Chocolate, Lemon Cheesecake and Roast Almond selections...after yoga? You are indeed incorrigable!

Bugz said...

I'm eying up that stash of yours. No way, and I mean NO way would I attempt Karate. My leg would go up..my leg would stay permanently up, frozen in time. This body don't move like that anymore. But, I'm still eying up your stash!!

JahTeh said...

I've just checked that stash in case you've managed to get your hands on some Skelligs chocolate plums. It was a sad day when you left that url for me. Plums, if it had been anything but plums.

eastcoastlife said...

I like you in your white Gis!! Totally Cool!

Anonymous said...

Hi Kath...here to vote for you in your Wednesday morning Battle of the Blogs.

I've been trying to convince my daughters to add Tai Kwan Do to their ballet and gymnastics...maybe the key is doing it along with them. That is a really cute picture of the two of you!


Cinema Minima said...

It's a beautiful thang. The voicebox is more powerful than the coit.

I recently did Hapkido for a couple of years, but I had to quit because I felt like I had joined a cult after a while, with the "you must quit all your bad habits" and the "join us on the pilgramage to South Korea to bow low to Master Kim" and all that jazz. It's a beautiful thing and I'm sure it was all in my best interests, but all I wanted was some fun and fitness and to let a few old farts out. You know those yoga farts Kath. The ones that have been brewing in the obscure reaches of your digestive tract since 1986. My Kiaia would to intimidate the black belts.

johnny ray said...

My wife calls chocolate vitamins of happiness. She is from Russia where the grocery stores are one third chocolate. I see you are a writer, my site is located at www.sirjohn.org where I am show casing my first four novels