It’s not, of course, the way a karate suit, or gi, looks—even I would have to admit that, far from being an outfit to strike fear into the heart of one’s enemies, it’s more reminiscent of something you might wear at a spa. It’s all to do with what it signifies—the black belt most of all.
To be trained in karate is something because karate is a vicious thing. If you are any good at it, you can kill somebody with it. It is a vicious way to fight. ~Thomas Foran
The ultimate aim of Karate lies not in victory or defeat, but in the perfection of the character of its participants. ~ Gichin Funakoshi
So what is karate? Tuition in mindless thuggery, or zen-like character building?
In my latest novel, Hard Tail, my hero Tim’s hobby is karate. He’s a very new black belt—in fact the belt itself still has folds in it from where it was in the packet—and he’d be the first to admit he hasn’t quite mastered the perfecting-the-character bit. However, he’s streets ahead of the sparring opponent he meets when he moves down to Totton, a rather aggressive fellow known unaffectionately as “Pit-Bull”.
The thing about karate is that it attracts all sorts. You get a lot of people who want to learn a bit of self-defence. There are kids who’ve been bullied at school, and whose parents want them to gain a bit of physical confidence. Karate is very good for that.
And then there are the men (and it usually is men) who just like to hit people. They’re rarer than you’d think, but Pit-Bull is one of these. I knew a Pit-Bull at a class I used to train at. As Tim says,
They’re the ones who, when they go through their basics, give it 100 per cent power all the time. They punch the air like it just mugged their granny, and when they kiai you need earplugs to avoid permanent damage to your hearing. Their gis are stained with sweat and pulling at the seams over steroid-enhanced muscles. They tend not to be black belts, because a key requirement for passing your black belt is the possession of control.
I used to hate sparring with this guy, when he was a brown belt. But you know what? Since he got his black belt, he’s been a different person. The chip’s gone from his shoulder, and he no longer acts like he’s got something to prove.
That’s the thing about karate. If you stick with it long enough, it ends up teaching you how NOT to fight.
What do you see when you look at someone in a karate suit? A confident, tough guy? Or a prat prancing around in pyjamas?
And if the latter—would you dare to say so to his face? ;)
JL Merrow is that rare beast, an English person who refuses to drink tea. She read Natural Sciences at Cambridge, where she learned many things, chief amongst which was that she never wanted to see the inside of a lab ever again. Her one regret is that she never mastered the ability of punting one-handed whilst holding a glass of champagne.
She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance and the paranormal, and is frequently accused of humour.
Find JL Merrow online at: www.jlmerrow.com
All commenters will be entered into a draw for winner’s choice of an e-book from my backlist, PLUS a gift certificate for $25 from Amazon (or the e-book retailer of your choice). The more blog tour posts you comment on, the more chances you get! See my website here for full itinerary.
Finding love can be a bumpy ride.
His job: downsized out of existence. His marriage: dead in the water. It doesn’t take a lot of arm twisting for Tim Knight to agree to get out of London and take over his injured brother’s mountain bike shop for a while. A few weeks in Southampton is a welcome break from the wreck his life has become, even though he feels like a fish out of water in this brave new world of outdoor sports and unfamiliar technical jargon.
The young man who falls—literally—through the door of the shop brings everything into sharp, unexpected focus. Tim barely accepts he’s even in the closet until his attraction to Matt Berridge pulls him close enough to touch the doorknob.
There’s only one problem with the loveable klutz: his bullying boyfriend. Tim is convinced Steve is the cause of the bruises that Matt blows off as part of his risky sport. But rising to the defense of the man he’s beginning to love means coming to terms with who he is—in public—in a battle not even his black belt prepared him to fight. Until now.
Product Warnings: Contains an out-and-proud klutz, a closeted, karate-loving accountant—and a cat who thinks it’s all about him. Watch for a cameo appearance from the Pricks and Pragmatism lovers. May inspire yearnings for fresh air, exercise, and a fit, tanned bike mechanic of your very own.
Hard Tail is available from Samhain Publishing at a reduced price for a limited time only.
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Links: my website: http://www.jlmerrow.com/
Blog tour itinerary: http://www.jlmerrow.com/index.html