I read an article written by one Sensei analysing how she felt following a car accident where she injured her back quite badly and found her-self lying in hospital thinking ‘none of this is as bad as a training session with our Sensei’.
Under the firm conviction that ‘it’s a man’s world a girl’s got to be able to look after herself’ I put aside my reservations about Karate and joint care to have a go as an adult.
As a child I struggled to hit people with conviction. Not being the slightest bit athletic I was happier doing kata as it meant remembering patterns or dancing around as I saw it (all wannabe ballerina’s do!). I only learnt 3 kata because I didn’t stay long enough to learn any more.
As an adult, thankfully, like ‘Cat- woman’ in the latest Batman film ‘The Dark Night Rises’; I don’t feel quite so strongly about not hitting people. Preferring the approach of ‘varying degrees of massage’ I did feel strongly that it is important to be able to defend myself.
I went to see the film ‘Lawless’ last night (based on a true story) (1). The story of 3 brothers, the youngest of whom is Jack Bondurant (played by Shia Lebouf) who wouldn’t hurt a fly.
The film is interesting from the point of view that we see the events that change Jack.
How violence and injustice cause people to behave and the outcome at the end make for a gripping movie. What is more interesting is that the final straw is not violence inflicted on Jack, but against those he loves that is the emotional turning point.
The film is a study of fear and survival at a time of great hardship.
Physical and psychological attack is something that happens in life. No-one wants a big sign over their head saying ‘kick me’.
Sickness and disability in particular make people vulnerable to harassment, discrimination and abuse.
The way sick and disabled people are viewed in Britain currently is a whole new Dickensian novel. (2)
The Paralympics have just been hosted In Britain and while this has brought much discussion and debate in our country about ability in the context of disability; society has a long way to go before everyone is treated as equal. (3)
My own personal ‘fight back’ campaign began with Karate as a child and somehow stayed in my head as a ‘Nemesis’.
If I could draw a line pinpointing where it all started to go pear-shaped at 12 years old after falling down the stairs from having a seizure then Karate was the defining event.
Ultimately to beat epilepsy it felt like I had to do karate.
If I were a computer it would be like going in and re-writing the programming. Who doesnt need a copy of ‘Toumb Raider’ amongst the microsoft office software?
Is this going towards the ‘Dark side’ or facing up to my own demons?
Personally to me it felt like I was addressing something within myself.
I wake up every day and look at myself in the mirror. I see my best friend and my worst enemy. That is before I even have to deal with anybody else.
When I first started training I was very ill. I purchased a t-shirt with a superman ‘S’ on the front. It was like I needed to create my own personal alter ego to make me superhuman and to protect me.
Nearly 5 years down the line I can honestly say that karate training has helped me keep a job (despite discrimination), keep my home and given me the help I need without having to resort to violence.
I think that everybody can find their inner ‘grit’. For me I just needed to find the people who could show me the way.
There is no such thing as superheros who can protect us.
If we are lucky we have friends who care enought to look out for us.
It would be nice to think that there is someone out there that would fight for you when your screaming but no-one can hear you.