About this blog

This is a window into the weird world of Anglicanism, as experienced on a Cathedral Close. Has anything much happened since Trollope's Barchester Chronicles? You will still see the 'canon in residence' hurrying across to choral Evensong, robes flapping, as the late bell chimes. But look carefully and you will notice he is checking the football score on his iPhone as he runs. This is also a writer's blog. It charts the agony and ecstasy of the novelist's life. And it's a fighter's blog. It charts the agony and ecstasy of the judo mat. Well, the agony, anyway.

Thursday 27 January 2011

Week 4: Top Secret, Press Embargo

This is frustrating. I have done my new thing for the week, but it is so secret that I’m not allowed to tell you about it until after the official press releases. So instead I’ll tell you a bit more about that first new thing I did—karate.

There’s karate and karate, it turns out. According to the fount of all wisdom—and here I mean wikipedia, not my judo sensei, Keith—these are many styles: Budōkan, Chitō-ryū, Gensei-ryū, Gōjū-ryū, Gosoku-ryu, Isshin-ryū, Kobayashi Shōrin-ryū, Koei-Kan, Kuma-Ryu, Matsubayashi-ryū, Motobu-ryu, Mushindo Kempo, Ryū Te, Ryūei-ryū, Shitō-ryū, Shohei-ryu, Shōrin-ryū, Shōrei-ryū, Shorinjiryu Kenkokan, Shōrinji-ryū, Shōtōkai, Shotokan, Shūdōkan, Shūkōkai, Shuri-ryū, Tōon-ryū, Uechi-ryū, Wadō-ryū, Yoseikan-ryu, Yoshukai. (NB. Don’t rely on that list. ‘This article is being considered for deletion in accordance with Wikipedia's deletion policy.’ I bet you didn’t bother to read it, even, did you? Blah blah blah. Skim, skim. It was just martial arts white noise to you.)

The class I’m currently enrolled in is Wado ryu, which I believe is Japanese for ‘mad bastard’. Though scanning down the wiki descriptions, I see that in the hard/soft league table, Wado ryu includes techniques in both categories, but is ‘primarily soft’. I glimpsed some mats tonight, but it was a false dawn. They were for the Junior class before ours, and vanished before we started. Bye bye, mats. I love you. I have grumbled about you thousands of times as we put you away at the end of a judo session, but I miss you guys!

Because tonight we novices were learning break falls. Sensei said to me ‘You’ll know this, of course.’ Why yes. I know exactly how to fall on a hard floor. And exactly how much it will hurt WITHOUT MATS. Sigh.

I walked home afterwards. It’s about a mile from the Leisure Centre to The Close, and it takes you down Bird St, where all the restaurants are. Interestingly, this was the street we were warned against when we first moved here. Don’t go down Bird St at night! Very dangerous, Bird St. Binge drinking, fights, you name it. I’d have to say that after Walsall town centre on a Friday night, we found we were able to hold our nerve anywhere in Lichfield. I probably shouldn’t say that in this blog, as I know it’s read by Lichfeldians, and dissing the local crime rates puts people’s backs up. What do you mean, no crime? We have crime! It’s like when Americans sneer at our snow.

Anyhow, as I walked past the smells of garlic and curry, and heard a riff of saxophone from an upstairs window, I realised that I was feeling… alive. That’s what taking up something new can do for you. I recommend it. Hey, man up--it’s primarily soft, after all.

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