Karate’s Getting Out Of Hand, And It’s Awesome

(should that be ‘out of fist’? or should I simply have not bothered with this crap joke?)

I’m a member of around 639,369,190,842 societies here at UCL, because reasons, but a feature of all of them has been that they’ve been self-contained thus far, i.e. I’m a really committed handball player for two hours on a Tuesday night, but then never think about it the rest of the week. This has helped me focus on other things (like that ‘degree’ I’m supposed to give two shits and twenty-seven grand about), and prevents the problem of my life being defined by one or two societies, so I’m James who plays handball, instead of a handballer called James (although with the volume of dodgeball I do, that one is getting dangerously close to consuming my life).

And while I wanted to ramp up my involvement in these societies next year – I’m going for positions on two committees! Probably. – karate has become rather ramped-up in the immediate term. Basically, I’m going to have a grading exam this summer which, as is the case with all exams, involves revision; yes, I’m now having to take time out of my essay-writing schedule to do karate.

I’m mainly doing katas, a form of coordinated and prearranged movements that emphasise bodily control and endurance that I will now offensively metaphorise into a rather slow dance with a thousand steps, done to the backing track of five beginners sweating, grunting and crying in front of a series of judges way scarier than the ones on Strictly because these ones could literally kill you if they so desired.

So I now have notes, involving poorly-drawn stick figures going through crudely-described moves, that I study and work through, in scenes that closely resemble the heart-wrenching training efforts of Rock Lee, although I can’t rock a green jumpsuit and sexy eyebrows nearly as well; and I’m really enjoying it.

There are the obvious masochistic delights that anyone indulges in when they do a sport – I can’t feel my right calf, and can feel my diaphragm, but take these as simultaneous signs of progress that they’re overworked, but weakness that they’re hurt after only a day of work – but this also takes a sport I do for two hours a week, and imposes it onto the rest of my life in a way that’s not stupidly intrusive; I’m doing extra karate things, but I’ve not become a martial artist who does an English degree on the side. This is exactly the sort of fulfilment I imagine doing committee work for societies next year will bring, and they’ll have the added bonus of helping other people engage with those societies, rather than the more personal gain that’ll come from hopefully earning a differently-coloured belt in a few months. And those responsibilities won’t shred my calves to pieces either.

(At least I hope to God that they won’t.)


4 thoughts on “Karate’s Getting Out Of Hand, And It’s Awesome

  1. I was to go into great detail on how brilliant this actually sounds – you kind of remind me of Kim Possible but like, in man form (not Ron Stoppable though) – but one thing really, truly needs to be addressed:

    You think the Strictly judges are SCARY?

  2. No, I said karate judges are scarier because of their neck-breaking potential. I didn’t pass comment on the scariness of Strictly judges in their own right – and I probably won’t considering I’ve never seen the show.

    And it sounds brilliant, but then you wake up one day and struggle to piece together a single functioning limb from bits of your four limbs that don’t ache like a bitch, and you realise how shit the human body is.

    1. I do recommend the show (I’m a die hard fan; I’ve seen two shows by one of the professionals (Brendan Cole) and carry a bag with him dancing on it around school. Yup.)

      And okay, fair enough.

      Also, this is completely unrelated, but might I subtly hint at your appreication of tracksuit bottoms in a post? I thought I should ask first – it might be a touchy subject, I don’t know.

      1. It’s the least touchy subject in the world to me – most of the time it’s the other people that are left in tipsy disbelief and insist I know nothing about how the world works, while slowly poisoning themselves to death with wine for the oh-so-important goal of fitting in with like-minded ‘reasonable’ people. So go for it! (I do appreciate you taking the time to ask though)

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