Possibly two words you never thought you’d see in the same sentence? Sightlife and Karate – but YES it’s true. SightLife (formerly known as Cardiff Institute for the Blind) are holding Karate taster sessions. Which should hopefully restart at some point after the lockdown. For reference, it usually took place on a Thursday between 10am and 11am – right before Bollywood dance! (hint hint haha)
I’ve attended 2 sessions so far. The first session was unfortunately cancelled, but as this was a last minute decision, a few people still turned up. One lady in attendance, Jackie, used to teach Karate herself, so she offered to show and teach us some very basic moves (HI-YAH!).
The most basic form we learnt was punching. Please note that I am not an expert and if Karate interests you please go along to a session at Sightlife or join a local club/group/class to learn proper technique. Anyway, professional talk over with, let’s get back to punching! Here’s how the movement went:
1. Stand with your back straight and feet shoulder width apart.
2. Make a fist with both hands and place them, knuckle side down at your waist (at the sides of your waist). Ensure that your thumb remains at the outside of the fist, not tucked in. This is very important.
3. Slowly punch your right hand forward in front of you, and while you do this, when your elbow passes your waist you need to turn your fist (so that knuckles end up facing upwards). So it goes from knuckles down, to knuckles up. Making sure to keep your arm, wrist and fist in a straight line, this is also very important.
4. Return your fist to your waist again by doing the opposing moves. Slowly pull back your fist towards your waist and once your elbow passes your waist turn the hand over so that knuckles return to facing downwards.
5. As the right hand returns to your side, repeat the first few steps with your left fist. So as the right fist is being pulled back, you want to bring forward your left fist and once your elbow passes your waist, turn your fist so that knuckles are facing upwards.
6. Do this slowly until you’ve really got the motion. Think of it like a pendulum movement. Your opposite sides working synchronised. Once you think you’ve got it, you’ve got a basic Karate punch stance!
I found it very interesting as I’ve never tried martial arts before, even though I’ve always fancied giving it a try. I must admit though, I did find it difficult when not being able to see what others were doing around me to check I understood the moves correctly. But as I said, this was a last minute show and tell type session rather than an official session.
I suppose the main thing I took from this session, that I felt was a very important point, was to “approach it as exercise first. Use it to help you develop your strength and increase your flexibility. Because if you want it specifically for self-defence this will take a couple of years to really get to grips with the movements and use them correctly.” Jackie said that “it’s not really something you can do just once a week in a class. You would need to do around 3 or 4 classes a week to use it as any kind of Self-Defence”.
The second session I attended really got down to more Karate. Rob Green, who was delivering the session was very enthusiastic about welcoming everyone and getting everyone to give it a go. Too much was done in just this one hour to go through it all, but be assured that there was a warm up, there was punching, there was body movement, there was physicality, there was Japanese spoken … it had all the stereotypical things you think of when you think karate.
If I’m honest, at the start I was really quite confused. I didn’t understand some of the instructions being given. So I was feeling very baffled watching the others that had enough sight to follow Rob’s demonstration as they got more and more into it. It wasn’t until I’d got a bit annoyed at myself and then spoke up to Rob, asking what did he mean by arm here? Or arm out, out where? etc. Once I decided I wasn’t going to just guess what Rob meant I started to enjoy the session so much more. But I guess that’s part of the partnership. People learn in so many different ways. Rob needs to know that I’m not getting it, and I need to keep in mind that he’s not a mind reader. Once I explained to Rob that I didn’t quite understand he was more than happy to come over to me and go through it all. Perfect, I was finally on the same level as everyone else, and from that point I have to say, it was really fun. Not only this, but Rob used Jordan Allen a lot in his demonstrations. It was an excellent display to see someone with not much sight to look like the next kung fu panda (I joke!). But seriously, Jordan was so professional, making it all look so sleek and solid. But then again he is a Brown belt! Which is very close to the black belt – watch out people. Just goes to prove you can do anything with the proper partnership of teacher and student.
The thing I enjoyed most was the physicality and mentality of it. Your brain has to be engaged to know what move comes next in the sequence and the body is always moving from one phase into the next. Keen for karate? Yeah, I think I am to be fair.
Written By Megan Price