Sunday, November 30, 2008


I did karate for a little under six years in the elementary school timeframe. I hated it, but it was either that or sports, and I didn't really want to play a sport either, and at least in karate I got to occasionally punch and kick people, so that was a plus. I did play soccer instead of karate for one summer (or maybe it was right after karate?), but I hated that even more. They put me on defense because I couldn't sustain running speed long enough to be on offense more than occasionally. I was decent at that post, but it was really boring standing there, waiting for the ball to come to me. It wasn't until right before puberty that I turned into the broad-shouldered hulking behemoth that I am today, and I didn't have any prior soccer experience, so I never got to be goalie, which I always thought would have been more interesting.

Anyway, yes, karate. Things varied over time, but if I recall correctly, usually there were three or so instructors: the main guy (the guy we were supposed to call "sensei" but nobody did—his name was Rick I think), my dad, and one other person, usually a woman. Nobody wants to take a class with their parents teaching—you'd better believe that they're watching you to make sure you don't slack off or screw up. And, call me sexist, but I always felt kind of weird being told to try to kick a woman, even if she wasn't really the delicate-flower type. Each session was about half aerobic workout, and then half practicing techniques, which was itself usually an aerobic workout. Progressing to the next rank (belt) was basically all just memorization—we'd have to memorize one or a few katas, and then perform them properly. As long as we executed each punch or kick or maneuver correctly, which wasn't too difficult, it was all a matter of remembering what order to do them in, which I found exceedingly difficult, given my long-standing poor memory. But, I'd practice really hard (not that I had a choice), and I had one of the instructors living with me, so I'd basically know ahead of time once I'd learned things sufficiently well enough to take the test to advance, so at least I didn't have to keep retaking the tests.

After each class, we'd all be in desperate need of a shower, so we'd head down to the YMCA showers. Of course, the other kids didn't have parents as instructors, and they were just picked up. So, it was usually just me, my dad, and the "sensei." Those post-workout showers were a sort of male bonding experience, as weird as that is. After taking orders from those two in a fairly military fashion for ninety minutes or so just moments before, things changed, and now we were just guys cleaning off after a workout, challenging each other to turn the water temperature higher and higher until we could barely stand it. Later, we figured that we could remove the heads from the showers to make the water pressure particularly intense, and we started calling them powershowers. I could stand the high-pressure, super-hot powershowers just like the adults, even though I'd come out bright red like a lobster, and that was kind of a nice "I'm a big boy" feeling.

Currently listening: Snow Patrol—Set Down Your Glass

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