Tuesday, September 11, 2012

New Things

Wow I can't believe it's been two months since I last posted here. I guess that says something about how busy I've been, and also how time is mysteriously speeding up with every year that goes past.

I just came back from Judo and I'm still buzzing so it's probably a good time to post something. I started doing it way back in March after an old friend posted a video on Facebook about his club. I've done martial arts before, Karate as a teenager and Taekwondo as an adult (I didn't advance far in either) but this looked completely different so I thought I'd give it a go.

To be honest, it scared the living daylights out of me, and it still does. There's something deeply unnatural about allowing other people to flip you, throw you, choke you and hold you down in excruciating positions. They tell me you lose the fear eventually but it hasn't happened yet. It probably hasn't helped that I tore a hamstring in my second lesson and had to have physio for a month.

I think that's one of the reasons I keep going back, because it terrifies me. In the style of Taekwondo I did, people got belts based on the time they'd been attending and their skill at doing patterns, which when you boil it down are little more than dance routines without music. Six weeks after I got there I graded for yellow, did my dance and a little bit of non-contact sparring, and got it. Twelve weeks later they gave me green. It didn't scare me one bit, but neither did it particularly challenge me, beyond making me stretch into positions that my ageing body would rather not be in.

Judo, on the other hand, is a huge challenge. Tonight I got my yellow belt, after six months, and to get it I had to throw an obliging blue belt in about three different ways, hold him down twice, and choke him. It's not just the skill involved that's difficult, it's the need for a modicum of aggression. I think in some ways I'm probably too nice to be a good judoka, which is evidenced by my wanting to apologise every time my opponent hits the mat. Sure, it's a sport, and I know that, but it's the most aggressive sport I've ever played. That's why, deep down, I really like it, because it takes me well out of my comfort zone and pushes me to do things I don't normally do in daily life.

From a writing point of view it's also beneficial. It's always great to have new and different, even scary, experiences to draw on. They add to that library in your head -- the one you can peruse and select from when you're piecing together scenes or building worlds. That's especially true when you're writing a book set in an Asian themed world with a martial-arts element.

So, hopefully, I'll press on with it, and eventually get used to the bits that scare me. Maybe I'll even post some videos if I get daring!