Friday, 9 March 2012

No Mae-geri for some time, but there's more too!

Now this is the part about learning Martial Arts that really sucks.

So I was practicing on the pads with my partner, and I realised that I had injured my toeball and I wasn't able to exhibit the proper Mae-geri (front kick). How bad is that! And what's even worse is, it's not just one, but both the toeballs! Damn! When shall I be able to unleash the full wrath of my front kick with both the legs! :(

Anyway, my Mawashi-geri (roundhouse kick) is still immaculate. Shouldn't be an issue!

There's one great thing about learning Martial Arts. Your body gets conditioned unconsciously, and what normally would have made you cry in pain, does not affect you much when you are conditioned by degrees.

In my early teenage days, I was shit scared of conditioning. Our Sensei would tell everyone to line up for conditioning sessions, and that would scare the shit outta me (as if his face was not scary enough), but nevertheless, there was no escape. It was tough keeping a hard tummy for your opponent to kick on, so the only way out (at least, the best and most sensible of the ways) was to breathe out upon impact. I have been scared to attend classes because I was in mortal fear of being killed (I know, even I laugh now thinking of those days of struggle), but this proves one thing which we all remember the saying for: whatever doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger! Well, I'm glad that part was true.

Kyokushin fascinates me for its dedication towards building a stronger and fitter body that is ready for combat. I have seen videos showing Kyokushin karatekas engaging in brutal sessions of body conditioning: one such activity is practicing on the makiwara, which is a plank of wood with a padding of jute rope, upon which a practitioner lands punch after punch to condition his/her fists. The roughness of the knuckles after practice satiates his/her soul as water does a parched throat. The bruises are bad, but they are only on the skin, not skin-deep. What is skin-deep is the essence of learning and endurance which the karateka has absorbed over years of perseverance.

Breaking piles of tiles is what a lot of people (let's just say, most of them) associate with superhuman strength. Correction, people! It might look superhuman, but at the base of it, there are only two ingredients: Physics and Determination. I haven't tried this activity, which we call tameshiwari or board-breaking, in its full glory. But I have every ounce of belief to prove that it is possible to break a pile of 5 1/2-foot thick stone or cement blocks, one on top of the other, with a single fist. It does not take superhuman strength to do this, believe me! What it does take is dedication towards learning, perseverance and a calm mind. The real strength lies not in the body, but in the mind. The mind is what leads the body to do more than what it is capable of, and this is not a joke.

Karate is not only for the body, or mainly for the body. It is chiefly a means of training the mind. Remember Matrix? Before leaping off from one building to the next, Laurence Fishburne tells Keanu Reeves to let his mind go free, to believe. Though it was fiction, it did drive home a point. There is nothing on this earth that you cannot do if you just follow your heart and your mind. The body is merely a vessel; the mind drives it.

What dampens my spirits is the lack of awareness that people have about martial arts. They only recognize it as a way of inflicting pain and the reason for a lot of broken bones. I know of software firms where the higher authorities consider this sport to be injurious to an employee's health and physique, and hence they don't allow for it to be taught within the establishment's premises. Bollocks! Though it makes me laugh, it also enrages me (not to mention, it invokes my pity on these people, too) I say, people die more out of sitting in front of a dumb terminal, coding their life away and softening their spines, than by engaging in sports in which they burn more calories and earn life-points by burning away the cholesterol that comes as a benefit package with a sedentary lifestyle. Honestly, some people have a reputation for softening the human spirit insomuch that it is rendered incapable of fighting back. Regarding injuries, you can fall down the stairs and break more bones in your body than you might ever break while sparring.

What's even more depressing is that they believe that martial arts is only about brawling and unnecessary fighting. Maybe that's the way the world has become these days......we have lost the will to fight and gained complacency for life instead, unwilling to battle out for what we know is right and choosing to play safe. But there are still many who fight it out everyday, in one way or another, and they are the ones who keep the spirit of fighting alive, who still serve as a beacon of belief that no matter how brutally you might be hurt, there is still a reason to stand up for, and that you will never stand down, you won't ever back down, on that reason.


  1. Osu! Another kyokushinkai :)

    I have to say I totally agree with your assessment of karate v.s. the standard sedentary lifestyle we all lead. So what if you get bruised or battered when fighting, sitting all day every day is definitely worse. One of the hardest things for me was learning to fight and hit back. I love sparring but I had a real struggle overcoming the mental block against it.

    I look forward to reading more about your training.

  2. Hey Leslie, Osu! Yeah, learning to hit back is definitely the hardest thing. Sedentary life sucks, but we are taught to lead one because that is the trend these days......job, family, security, etc. We train for an hour and a quarter, 3 days a week. Though that is quite a lot, yet sitting for 9 hrs in a cubicle and doing nothing but stare at the screen siphons away whatever li'l life is left in you. So here is my secret to replenishment: lock yourself up in the WC in the restroom and do all stretching and conditioning exercises. This is my latest form of exercise, and it's only a matter of time before everyone comes to know about it. But it's worth it! :)

    Shall update more from my side. Glad to meet a fellow Kyokushin Karateka who takes interest in my developments. Osu again!