Friday, 2 July 2010

1st Class

Nervous. Excited. Stomach-churning. Exhilarated. Trepidation. Anticipation.

All these things, and a million more, are what I am feeling before attending my first karate class. Kendo had already been going a week or two before me so kind of had a head start (at least he knew everyone's name!). Sensai Chrissy introduced everyone...Dave, Helen, Wayne, Cairan, Louise, Jon. I've pretty much forgotten everyone's name apart from Dave's already. Yikes!

I've got driving test bladder (I need to pee about 20 times before class starts. Note to self, don't have a cup of tea at the ILs before class, it only makes matters worse!). A call for class lines. Everyone lines up in a row. I'm between Kendo on my left and another student (Louise?) on my right. My heart is pounding. Shihan smiles at me. "Don't worry, just try to follow along". Okay, I can do that. Right?

Someone calls "Seiza". Everyone is kneeling down. I follow suit. "Isami Ryu - Rei". Everyone is bowing, I'm following. A few more "Rei's" (I'm getting this, Rei means bow). Everyone stands up. Warm up begins.

I'm running round in circles on a wooden hall floor. Strangely, it reminds me of summer playschemes. Push ups, sit ups, leg raises, more running. Stretches. I'm thanking the God's of fitness that I've been going to the gym lately. If I'd been there 18 months earlier I'd have been in an exhausted heap in the corner by now!.

The class proper begins with Kihon (karate basics). Left arm up, head level block. It's strange. These are completely alien movements to me. My arms aren't entirely sure they want to co-operate. I feel awkward. Klutsy. Is everyone staring at me? I bet I look like an idiot. I'm thinking of all the reasons I didn't want to be here. I hate fighting. Martial arts is never something I've been interested it. I didn't even want my kids to take part and now here I am doing just that. I hate boxing, I have no interest in karate, or Kung-Fu or Tae Kwon Do, or anything else similar. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was two hours of my life I'm never getting back. What was I thinking? Hooking block. Sweeping block. I'm trying to concentrate on what movements I should be making.

Shihan moves on. Head level punch, Stomach level point. Sumo stance and groin level punch. Sumo stance? My hamstrings pretty much hate me right about now.

We move on to Kata. OMG! Kata. I'm going to have to try to remember stuff. In a sequence! Now I have a total brain cramp! First Kata. Rokuku. Six steps. I can cope with remembering six things...can't I? Step forward, left arm head level punch. Step again, right arm stomach level punch, again left arm groin level punch. Now backwards. Head level block, hooking block, sweeping block. That's okay. I can handle this.

Next Kata. Taikyoku Shodan. Oh my. There are turns and a pattern. I'm screwed! I bumble along as best I can, breathing a sigh of relief when I get to the end and wondering how I'll ever remember it!

Now, pad work. The instructors grab out kick pads. Shihan demonstrates what he wants us to do. Front kicks to the pad. Yikes. I can't remember the last time I deliberately kicked anything. I mean, really, really kicked something. It's weird, plus it batters your feet. I completley forget to kick with the ball of my foot. Youchy! When I look at the clock more than an hour has passed. Wow. It feels like I just got here. Time flies when you're having fun. Clearly.

We move onto controls next. Shihan demonstrates how to get out of a wrist grab. WAIT! I know this! This is the ONLY thing I remember from the 3 Aikido classes I took with my big brother when I was about 14. Phew! Now he's showing how to go into a control and take down. Eek! I give it a try and mostly manage what I'm supposed to be doing. It's really odd trying these things out on your husband! Even more odd for them to be trying them out on you!

Time for cool down. Lots of stretching. At least I won't be hurting too badly tomorrow. Class lines. Someone calls "Seiza" again (I'm getting this too, Seiza is telling us to kneel) More Rei's. Everyone sits. Shihan tells us its been a great class. I've done okay. I haven't embarrassed myself completely. A final "Rei" to dismiss the class. A sigh of relief I made it through.

Of a few things I'm certain:

-Out of all the people here I know the least about Karate, but one day I'm going to know what they know.

-I'm DEFINITELY coming back.

-The quicker I can order myself a Gi the better.



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Maira Gall