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Karate kids in Walsall take on the World

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They’ll be competing in the Wado Kai World Cup in Nagoya, Japan next month.

For the students who all train at Kombatkids Central Karate Schools based in Walsall, this will be the first time they’ve competed at such a high level.

Shriya who’s one of the competitors called it a “once in a lifetime opportunity”, while her fellow teammate Harry said they were expecting tough competition and had been training hard.

After four years of karate classes, the flaneur felt in good enough shape to undertake the more rigorous training in Fu Jow Pai Kung Fu at Mountain View Studio, with sifu Eric Brugnoni. A frame maker by trade, married to an artist of Japanese ancestry, Eric ran his classes with quiet authority. He taught forms, calisthenics, and light contact sparring, assisted by imperturbable senior student Greg Dinger, who in his other life is a classical guitar player.

The flaneur kept his mouth shut and observed — as well as he could while standing with a log balanced on his outstretched forearms. The students around him were concentrated on the workout as if sitting in Zen meditation. Sweat beads dripped from foreheads. He heard stifled groans. Eric smiled.

Courage was a given in kung fu. Pain was to be ignored. The flaneur became fond of banging his forearm against that of a partner, to toughen it. The bruises were displayed with nonchalant pride. After a month of training, the flaneur lost his fear of fighting. He was never good at it, usually he could hold his own, and some times he got lucky, like the time he knocked a giant cop down. The young officer towered over the flaneur, but the bigger they are…

Martial arts become addictive. The flaneur went to the Byrdcliffe Barn for Aikido classes with Harvey Konigsberg and Lowell Miller, and spent a year studying Tai Chi with venerable Master T.K. Shih. Studies in Taoist fighting completed his education. Ten years passed this way.

What had he accomplished? He was in the best shape of his life, and when he walked down Tinker Street or Avenue B, he feared no evil. To celebrate, he took a solo walking trip across Wales.

Martial arts had shown him that he could live free of fear, but he could feel the ten years of work in his bones. Was he in danger of losing his idler status?

Now when he spent navel-gazing time in the philosopher’s corner on the Guild porch, he day-dreamed still about Schopenhauer’s pitiful pessimism, and feminine pulchritude; but sometimes he just relaxed, and let his meat loaf.


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