Friday, October 21, 2011

Karate Kid

My daughter is going on a camp this weekend. L and I don't think it sounds like a lot of fun - more like an army boot camp. She's looking forward to it, it's her first Karate Camp or Gasshuku, to be correct.
I must say that's one of the things I like most about the Martial Arts - the words. To me they are good ' beat them up and spit them out' words.
Which is quite fitting, really.
The location holds promise, being on the site of the Sedgefield lagoon, and there is the possibility of her achieving her first grading on the white sands of the beach in the back ground.
But its going to be hard work.
As it is her classes are two and a half hours long, twice a week. I hope she enjoys it and comes home with a spanking new yellow belt.

I have dabbled in the Mystic Eastern Martial Arts myself a little, at odd times in my life. I remember trying out some Yoga positions in the Family Room of my childhood home. I got a book out from the library. I was always interested in just about anything, and made little personal studies of all sorts of things. The contortions and extraordinary achievements of those elastic Yogi men are something astonishing to behold, and to read about.

Well, you need a little guidance when it comes to Yoga.
I tried to stand on my head during the course of my first lonely lesson, and dislodged some delicate fluid balance in my ears. I was deaf and dizzy for a while after that.
Balance, I now know, is a fragile but deeply essential thing.

People who do Yoga age incredibly well, in my experience. They have supple and lithe bodies right into their eighties. At a rather stiff nearly fifty, it seems to be a worthwhile goal to aspire to.
And yet, as with many other things in my life - I just don't get down to it.

In Cape Town years ago I did Tai Chi for a while. It was marvellous. I went with a friend.
A Great Master visited our very junior class once, and I tried to make sense of his, no doubt, very wise words. Probably a whole lot was lost in translation, but my thoughts did wander off a little, and  I'm sure I missed the important bits.
Nevertheless I didn't let that put me off, and I did persever for a while longer. I was also very inspired  by those wonderful images of Eastern people in business suits, on their way to work, doing Tai Chi in a park somewhere, with their brief cases placed patiently beside them.

Now that, it seems to me, is balance.
If you have to wear a suit, and catch a commuter train, and live in crowded Tokyo, in a high rise apartment, to pause under a tree to do some slow mo moves, must make it all somewhat more bearable.

My daughter hated me when I practiced 'The Form' at home. She was very little and she cried.
I think it was the detached and far away look in my eyes. I was outside, next to a bush in our Plumstead garden.
Images of hippies in 'Hair' were being played out in my head.
The theme tune was 'The Age of Aquarius' - there was a flower in my hair...
My daughter has always hated that 'hippie' thing.
She would do 'Tai Chi' quite happily in a business suit..

Maybe I should try Tai Chi again.
It strikes me as being a nice slow place to start.
At least my daughter should be more supportive now.
We call her our Lethal Weapon.


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