I have received more than my fair share of e mails regarding my last blog post titled “Is Your Karate up for Fighting”. Most are expressing sentiments that studying Karate has got nothing to do with fighting. One person even wrote this, Thugs look for fights so if that is the reason that you practise karate are you any different? Look let’s get to the point here! I don’t practise Karate with thoughts of confrontation or intentions of fighting anyone, of course I don’t, fighting is for fools. I am just like so many other decent people out there who have got far better things to do and be concentrating on than brawls, as in being happy and living life to the full, I see Karate as an art to enhance ones life.
Like I said in my previous blog posting Karate as an art has so much more to offer. The island of Okinawa and its people are some of the most peaceful welcoming and vibrant people in the world, which all kind of exemplifies what practising true Karate really is all about, especially so when you consider that most Okinawans would have little chance of ever needing to use their skills. Self-protection or preservation though was and still is an integral element of true Karate training, be you like this or not, so to totally dismiss this aspect doesn’t really make sense and would most certainly be regretful at a time of need.
Consider this; you can call it preparing for hostility, fighting, confrontation or even a battle, but regardless, all of this was the basis on which Karate was born, ie to learn to fight or protect oneself!! The other thing is most people who take up a Martial Art do so with thoughts of self defence in mind, of course they do, if not why don’t they just join a gym or a running club or take up yoga!? Also, every Karate Dojo or club around the world teaches strikes kicks punches and defences, so if that’s not fight training then what is!? (Be it effective though was the point of my previous post) Because you certainly don’t need to do these practises for health or fitness benefits, or in everyday life for that matter.
Over the years I have seen the art lose a few excellent and seasoned Karate Ka who became disillusioned with the art after their Karate let them down, so effectiveness is a subject that is close to my heart. Anyway, I am going to leave you with the commencing words from a chapter of one of the books that I am working on, not to boast, on the contrary, but to illustrate how unwanted and unexpectedly confrontations do occur together with how dangerous they really are….
Confrontations are never nice, so they are not sought by the decent man or lady in the street, in most cases situations arise very quickly and unexpectedly so to prepare for them mentally and become accustomed to them can be difficult at best and in reality not easy to accomplish. Regardless, the outcome is always going to be crucial as things can go from being satisfactory to deeply distressing, even life changing in an instant. In the wise words of Onaga Yoshimitsu Sensei of the Shinjinbukan Dojo in Okinawa, “There is no prize for second place or a silver medal in confrontation, losing can quite simply mean death”. What is surprising though is how few people realise this.
I closed the front door of my Mother and Fathers home behind me, I’d just said my goodbyes and given my Mom a kiss as I always did. I had stepped outside to a lovely evening sky that was clear and dry, the dark of the night was settling in and the street lighting gave out a glowing light below. Here I was walking down the front path quietly in thought as I made my way to my car to head home and settle down to relax for the remainder of the evening, happy and oblivious to everything with the key in my hand as I unlocked my car door… Suddenly a seriousness caught my eye and stole my attention, I slowly opened the car door but I was still stood there fixated for what seemed like forever in the moon lit sky, but in reality it was only a minute or more as I focused in and analysed the situation that was playing out in front of me.
A few months earlier a man and his wife together with their two sons had moved in to the house on the opposite corner of the road to my parents, so of course I didn’t really know them. But what I did know and could clearly see was that this Mr average family guy was now in serious trouble, or if he wasn’t now, he was moments away from being so, and the only person around who could possibly save him was muggings here, yes bloody me! At the time I didn’t have any knowledge on how or why the situation had arisen, but I could tell by the verbal goings on that this was a dad who was protecting his son like any father would, and he was about to pay a heavy price for it.
The son I found out later was a bit of a mouthy character, not malicious or nasty, just a mouthy sod in his late teens who probably deserved a bit of a slap anyway. In due course he had done something to upset someone he shouldn’t have. Whoever this was I had no idea and in truth I didn’t really care either, but his brave friends had now come around to teach him a lesson and give him a good hiding. None of this was really my business or concern at all, or was it now? In truth I had no wish or desire to become involved at all. However, could I just walk away or stand by and watch some respectable family man who is only trying to protect his family be kicked around the floor by a group of low life scum? Who if didn’t kill him would most certainly hospitalise him for a long stay. Well, I had little choice really so I had to be doing something. I remember these words spoken to me once by my father on the way back from training during one of our many discussions “Son, if you’re not prepared to use your skills when needed or to defend good, then you may as well pack it all in”! Was I in the wrong place at the wrong time? Or was I in the right place at the right time? Only time would tell, and I was about to find out quickly.
This was a situation that was about to go either way swiftly and I was hovering in the moment of time quietly waiting and watching like a hawk, I’ve had this often over the years and it always brings about a strange cold but warm feeling. What had happened previously at the family door with the son before I got there I had no idea, but the son was now cowering on his door step leaving his father to be slaughtered like a lamb. Things had now rapidly progressed and changed course and the group had now turned their attentions from the son to the father, they were after blood and didn’t care whose it was. All of them were now standing in the middle of the road with the dad being surrounded and pushed around a little by a group of around eight. As I say they were after blood and they were going to get it, or so they thought. In all honesty they weren’t men but inner-city youths in their late teens and early twenties, the type who have no respect for themselves let alone anyone else. In many ways these sort of low life scum can be the most dangerous to deal with as they fight cowardly like a pack of hyenas, even more dangerous because they often carry concealed weapons whilst having no thoughts for consequences when it comes to using them either…… To be continued….