Don’t mess with me. I know karate. OK, that may be exaggerating a bit. What I do know are some basic self-defence techniques, thanks to Shihan-Dai (martial arts leader) Daniel Scott. I recently ventured into the unknown with my first karate class at the Goshin-Do Karate Dojo School, St James. Looking official in a Gi (Japanese name for karate training uniform) I took to the wooden floor to warm up. Scott focused only on self-defence moves and led the class, consisting of myself and two male students, through stretching exercises, which were way too long for my liking or endurance, but he assured they were necessary. “You have to warm up and do stretches to prepare the muscles for the workout,” said Scott, 22, who’s been doing karate since the tender age of three. “You could have serious injuries if you don’t.” The exercises consisted of jogging on the spot for a few minutes, kicking (karate-style) while walking forward and backward, abdominal crunches with an eight-pound weight ball and several sprints. To save face, I didn’t let on that I was considering cheating by asking for a bathroom break. But then came the fun part. Scott, along with his student Hakeem Beswick, went through the paces, teaching me how to defend myself when faced with violent situations such as robbery or potential rape. Placing a dull knife—which looked more threatening than it actually was—to my neck, Beswick began acting out the rape scene. It was somewhat uncomfortable—I had to lie on my back on the floor, while Beswick “attacked” me by lying on top of me. The fact that he’s a minor didn’t help much either. In the present crime situation, though, learning self-defence is important, especially for women. It will give you the confidence to protect yourself in dangerous situations and may even help you save your life.
All about discipline
Scott says karate will make you fit. It will also help enhance stamina, flexibility and endurance. Scott, who says three is an appropriate age to start learning karate, also taught me how to protect myself if attacked face to face by someone with a weapon, such as in a robbery. I had to tie my feet into Beswick’s shins from the inside out and extend both legs at a 45-degree angle outward. With that I was able to get up. Sounds easy? Well, it wasn’t. Defending yourself while being attacked from behind is a little more tricky. For this scene I had to turn around, grab Beswick’s hand and put him in an “arm lock” to prevent him from escaping. “Doing this would ensure he wouldn’t have any use of his hand,” Scott said. “It could either unarm him or break his hand.” Karate is all about discipline. It’s more of a mental sport than it is physical. Scott says he teaches his students to use karate only when absolutely necessary. In other words, they can’t flex their muscles unless they feel like they have no other choice. He said: “Karate teaches you when and where to apply force. You can’t just go around jump-kicking people. I tell my students, only use it in extreme cases. Only if your or your family’s lives are at stake.” In today’s increasingly violent society, Scott, who teaches approximately 40 students (children and adults) daily, says one must also let good sense prevail to protect oneself. “If someone comes up to rob you and you have $2 in your pocket, give it to them. Fighting with them for $2 just isn’t worth your life.” Overall, the karate session was fun, physical and eye-opening. There are so many ways you can defend yourself with your bare hands, some strength and plain old common sense.
Fun: Eight out of ten.
Ease: Six out of ten.
Expense: $200 registration. $175 per month.
Gi prices range from $300-$800
Skills needed: Discipline, flexibility, must be able to take orders.
Convenience: Afternoon and weekend classes accommodate just about anyone.
Want to learn karate?
Tuesday to Thursday
4 pm – 5 pm (Beginners class)
5 pm – 6 pm — (Intermediate class)
6 pm till (Advance class)
10 am – 11 am—(Beginners and Intermediate class)
11 am – 12 pm — (Advanced class)