Since I was young, I’ve had interest in martial arts, thanks to movies. I wanted to be like Bruce Lee, like Jet Li, Jackie Chan and others. 

In primary school, about Primary 3, something happened. I met a boy of my age. In one of our Physical Education (P.E.) classes, he did a full split and he got our attention. He did a few more moves and we all applauded him. He later explained to the class, how he had been attending Taekwondo classes. I was inspired and motivated and I couldn’t wait to get home that day. I recall, I ran to meet my mum to tell her about wanting to learn Taekwondo and she abruptly declined.

My heart was broken, but I let it go. Mum won.

Fast forward 15 years.

Last week, I was scrolling through the list of upcoming fitness events on Truppr app (a wonderful app all fitness enthusiasts should have) and I found a “Karate Do” event. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I joined the event anyway, and messaged the convener of the event to make inquiries and secure my spot.

Confirming my slot on the event got me feeling like..

..and couldn’t wait for the day to come.

Why Karate!?

Karate (空手) is an ancient Japanese martial art that has become popularised by movies. The art in itself has evolved over the years, and as a result, there are tons of forms of Karate. The most modern name, is Kara-te-do, which means “empty hand way” and this name was formed by Master Gichin Funakoshi. This name distinguishes it from other early forms, such as karate-jutsu as aikido.

I’m learning karate now, because of the values it proposes. Let me summarise the values of karate as I read in the book Karate-do Kyohan — The Master Text by Master Gichin Funakoshi.

  • Karate as an athletic training. The nature of karate is such that it requires the body to move in all directions. Karate does not focus on one area of body development. Also, katas (karate training moves) are quick to complete — usually within a minute or two, and can be done almost anywhere — garden, bed room etc.

  • Karate as a self defense tool. Generally, living creatures have some defense mechanisms in place for them by nature. Few examples: fangs of the tigers and lions, poisonous sting of the scorpions. While we should have no intention of harming other people, we must try to keep harm out of our way. And karate provides just the necessary training and skills to do this. Karate provides self defense without weapons!

  • Karate as a spiritual training. Hmm..well..karate fosters the traits of courage, courtesy, integrity, humility and self-control. Just like any martial art, training karate is harsh on the outset, and hence isn’t suitable for individuals of weak constitution. Karate helps to build and train your spirit.

Back from history class.

The day finally came, my first day at Karate class. I found my way to the National Stadium, Surulere.

I arrived at the event, and since Truppr now rewards event attendance by giving points, I quickly checked-in to claim my points. (Oh and by the way, I’m on Turbo now). I met with other students and the trainer, Sensei Olumide.

Sensei Olumide took us through warm up exercises, stretching exercises. The stretching exercises, were tough, to be honest. Really tough.

While the Sensei kept saying “enjoy the pain” my ears kept hearing “endure the pain”. Why? I don’t know for sure, but maybe the concept of “enjoying pain” didn’t make sense to me. Surprisingly, now that I’ve had a couple more sessions of the exercises, I actually enjoy the pain. Weird.

After that, we went through basic Japanese — counting (ichi, ni, san, shi, go…) , greeting (rei, oss), and other terms.

I learnt about beginner stances — Heisoku dachi (feet together), Yoi (ready stance), and also beginner punches (can’t remember the japanese name :( ).

I also learnt about one basic blocking technique. The uchi uke. This was the most interesting part for me. Uchi uke is an inside block that swipes across your inside and blocks the incoming punch and swipes it outwards. The video below, is a hyperlapse video (Courtesy of Babs) of the uchi uke. I’m the one on the left of your screen :)

Now, what?

After my first class, I have decided that I really want to do this! I’m about to fulfil one of my childhood dreams. I’m getting my Gi (Karate kit) by next class, so there’s no going back. I’ve watched primer videos on Karate, and I know it’s going to be a tough journey, but I’m willing to take it on. 

I’m glad Truppr helped me take the first step. I have resolved to sparing time to practice everyday, and also post about my progress here and share with my friends. I’m hoping my mum never gets to read this!

Please don’t tell my mum. :)

Sincerely yours,