Writer's Block

I'm a Trinidadian and I occasionally write for a living.
Euro 2008 Gazelle? Delicious. 

Euro 2008 Gazelle? Delicious. 

Not many outside France know the early Zizou. Here he is v Spain in Euro ‘96. I think this match ended 0-0

So I understand Spanish now? :/ 

Elwyn Hall from the old Karate Union of Great Britain. That duck and take down at 28 seconds… :-O

Nice colours! 

Nice colours! 

Ushiro-Geri- Another waza that I like these days. In my early years I didn’t fancy it though, but when executed properly, it’s a work of art.

One my favourites: Jodan Kizami-Zuki in various forms.

Things of interest in the footy world this weekend. Wenger responds to Mou’s mind games, Neymar stamps his credentials (again) for the skeptics, Adidas reveal their Wcup away kits showing their intent to move away from tradition and Balotelli brought the house down with a ground-to-air missile v Bologna.

Remember when we hosted the U17 FIFA World Cup in 2001? Here are some extremely rare images. The first with the mascot “Beats” as well as what the winning medal design and tickets looked like. 

I could do with some of this in my life. 

I could do with some of this in my life. 

A black belt with a side of fries, please!

The Martial Circus

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Ever watched the comedic misadventure that was the martial arts flick “The Foot Fist Way”? If you haven’t, all is forgiven because I think that it was a straight-to-DVD release to be honest. Anyway, the movie (highly underrated in my opinion) stars Danny McBride as a Taekwondo instructor trying to carve his own legacy with his school of martial arts. Without going into too much detail, I literally laughed for an hour and a half at how bat-shit over-the-top and silly that movie was – Danny McBride is a talented actor. However the frightening thing is that there was a lot of truth embedded in such a whimsical film.

The McDojo™ is a very real place my friends. Here in Trinidad and Tobago there are damn near one hundred of these underground circuses running around taking people’s money and *cringe* taking themselves seriously. I’d consider myself an expert on this topic, because once upon a time I was the brainwashed end product of one such school. To clear the air a bit, it wasn’t that I was attracted to the: “attain-your-blackblet-in-a-year” b.s. actually quite the contrary to be honest. When I was younger I always thought that Karate was a ridiculous waste of time, because it consisted primarily of some zealots prancing around in some pacman-coloured costumes, shouting at the top of their lungs as if they were high on something. So it was with great satisfaction when I stepped into my first martial arts school – thinking that I had avoided the circus.

You’d have to excuse me for my naivety, when I cased the place I saw students diligently in their stances and white gis and thought: “yeah, this seems about right…”. The school didn’t even teach karate, but rather a mixture of Taekwondo, Karate-do, Aikido and Judo. Sounds pretty serious and legit at the same time right? Boy was I in for a shocker! Let me see, for the first year or so, I trained like a robot; my mind was a sponge. My “Grandmaster” could do no wrong. However as I moved up in rank, certain things began to disturb me. Like for instance the lack of high ranking students available to teach the weekly classes. Which meant that me, a white belt was regularly teaching the children that I’d train alongside. The GM occasionally taught the classes and his instruction would vary. As a matter of fact, I’m sugar-coating… “vary” in this sense means that his explanation of the same technique would be as opposite as night and day; which was extremely confusing. Being a glutton for information, I ‘d often visit the library or martial arts store to look for books on Shotokan, which was akin to sacrilege. The GM’s instruction was indeed the gospel truth, and his disciples had to fall in line!

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Every so often, we’d be compelled to compete, regardless of whether it was our cup of tea or not. In my early competition days, I gained a few consecutive kumite wins which increased my appetite for training. However, it did bother me that we would train for a tournament LITERALLY the day before the event itself, so injuries were quite common. Particularly when we were placed in actual Karate tournaments – like sending lambs to the slaughter. As I grew in the art I began to shake off the gullibility that comes with the territory of being a lower rank. I started to question the status quo, under my breath of course. Things that started off as rumours began to actualise; like the master asking some of his students out on dates for instance. Favourable students blazed through the ranks whether or not they knew the difference between a stepping punch and a hazmat suit. As a matter of fact, when my turn came to accept my promotion handout, I refused (heresy this) stating that I wasn’t ready at the time; big mistake. However a good tournament result later, and I’d be back in the hall of fame again.

Meanwhile, the more I researched about Karate and the JKA et cetera, was the more it slowly dawned on me that… something was really wrong!

The Foot Fist Way radically tells the quintessential McDojo story. A world where demi-god complexes run rampant, masters earn their black belts in self-marketing and countless students’ perception of Karate is destroyed permanently. Luckily for me, my motivation for training was always self defense, no sorry let me use the politically correct term: budo. So I had to leave. It was a decision that I never regretted. As a matter of fact, the only real regret is how far back those incorrect basics have set me. But it doesn’t matter, what I hope readers would take away from this piece is that there are many bogus institutions out there. Like in my case, some even seem like the real deal, but a little patience and research can usually destroy the façade. Potential students searching for legitimate training from a competent instructor owe it to themselves to find the right school. Almost eight years to the day after walking onto the floor for my first training session, I know better than most how essential that is.

OSU!

Also see my “Signs of a bad school” post. It’s almost three years old, but still relevant I suppose. 

Something I wanna do in the new year. Minus the tights. 

Something I wanna do in the new year. Minus the tights.