Tuesday, October 12, 2010


This Sunday, I appeared for my karate examination. It was the second time for me. Last time, I was in class five, and used to train at another centre. There, I had some minor issues with the sensei, and dropped out right after I got my orange belt. Then, in the beginning of this year, we found that there was another class in Santose Club, just two-minutes away from my house. I was only too eager to join, and started attending from April. Though I had passed the examination and received an orange belt already, I had been out of practice for over two years, and sensei told me to start once more from the white belt.

I must acknowledge that I did not practice much at home. Whatever exercises I did were in class. My father told me many times to buck up and practice at least the warm up exercises regularly, so that I could keep lithe and supple. But I was just too lazy and unwilling to move. So naturally, I was feeling far from confident when the examination came along. I kept feeling that I would not be able to pass the examination, and would once again have to spend a year with the white belt.

The examination was scheduled from ten in the morning in a club in B-zone. It is quite far away from home, and we were going to give a lift to another girl, so we started off by nine fifteen.  This girl who came along with us had joined the class along with me in April, and unlike me, it was truly the first time for her. But she had worked hard at home, and was quite confident and relaxed while heading for the examination.

We reached the spot in good time. But like most other places in India, starting on time was quite unthinkable, and by the time the judges arrived it was nearing eleven. There were so many students, with an age difference so great that tiny six-year olds and people of my father’s age were classmates! And I saw how hopelessly some people were performing. Some of them were actually of higher belts then I am. This gave me some confidence. If these people had passed the examination, so would I. Anyway, to cut a long story short, after four and a half hours of sometimes easy and sometimes not so easy fighting and exercises, I was heading home again, none the worse for the experience.

This time the examination was much better than last time. Last time, we had had to perform without any break for four hours. I had been half dead by the time I returned home. This time we had been given enough rest and relaxation breaks. I managed to return without too many injuries, and a few funny stories to tell.

It is unbelievable how marks-obsessed people have become these days. I learn karate for self defence and for keeping fit, and I thought all others did the same. But yesterday, I saw a woman bring her little boy of class three or four, who was sick with fever for the examination. Her excuse: the marks he will get are very important. Much more important than her son’s comforts, it seemed. My mother was sitting with the group of guardians, mostly mothers, in the shade. She felt disgusted with their conversations. They were all praising all the other children but their own. They did not really care about how much their children were learning. All that mattered to them was the marks that their children managed to acquire.

When we came back home we told baba about this. He jokingly said, “When one of these children is confronted by gundas, he will say, “Do you know that I have scored 93% in karate! You should be very afraid of me!”” Not a highly unlikely thing to happen, is it?