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The Frustration And Challenge And Appreciation Of Not Being Able To Train In Karate

There is no doubt about it that the enforced lockdown and mass closure of karate dojos all over the world has been a huge blow to those many folk across the globe who love nothing more than to get down the dojo, put on your gi, and sweat and train like there is no tomorrow. Indeed, to old people like me who have been training for almost 50 years, it has been a real eye opener, in that something that I have devoted myself to for all these years and decades (and dare I say millennia) has suddenly been taken away from me. Admittedly, in my case it has been exacerbated by the significant surgery that I undertook just over a month ago, but that is not the point.

Going to the dojo, putting on my gi and obi, and leaving all of the frustrations of modern life in the changing room, allowing me to focus purely on my karate, be that training or teaching, has made me realise just what a massive role that karate has been throughout my life and times.

It has been the one constant, that has always been there, no matter what, and now it is gone. It has however, really made me realise how important and vital it is to my well being, my sanity, and my health and fitness. It is also my pressure cooker, that allows me to expel whatever frustrations and challenges life happens to throw at me. It is in short my compass of life. Keeping me on track, and in-line, while at the same time letting me share this unique gift with like-minded kindred spirits. Who just like me need this fix, this wonderful gift, that is training, learning, and escaping the day-to-day reality of life, and allowing me to engage utterly with my ability to try and improve my kihon, kata, and kumite.

One of the ironies of not only being in lockdown, but also because of my cancer, and complete lack of any immune system, being part of the million people judged by the government as being most at risk, this has meant that I have been confined to barracks for some 5 weeks, with at least another 7 to go. I am only allowed out to my garden, which I am truly grateful that I actually have as a haven to escape the walls of my flat.

Interestingly, due to the rather savage nature of my surgery ( one of the two surgeons told me that I had in his words been gutted like a fish), has resulted in me not being able to make any stances, and my only training has been by using my hands and my imagination, as I hand-jive my way through all 26 katas usually in the small hours of the morning when I am unable to sleep.

This is a strange barrier as my natural instinct is to simply do karate, but 46 stitches and severe internal butchery to cut out the three cancers has forced me to be sensible, and patient. In truth, qualities that are not usually associated with my usual demeanour. However, I have had to listen to my body, and the cancer medical teams, and do the sensible thing. It is after all, like lockdown not going to last forever, and a controlled resumption in training will take place as soon as I am able.

What I have learned however, is just how vitally important my journey with karate has been for all the years past, and god willing for all the years left ahead. Sometimes, as they say, you have to lose something to truly appreciate just how important it is to you. And this experience has done just that, it has made me appreciative and grateful, not just for the sheer joy of training. But equally important it has made me appreciate the value of comradeship, and shared passion of my fellow karateka, not only my dear friends, but my karate family. Makes me realise what a lucky man that I have been for all these years.

Keep well and safe my dear friends, and keep that gi close, sooner or later you are going to need it.


Sensei Austin

Sensei Austin Gankaku in Clent

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