Tuesday, 1 December 2015


Whenever a KARATE class starts for the first 20 minutes or so the students get into strange postures and bounce and jerk as they try and stretch and loosen their joints ,ligaments and tendons. Along with the grunting, groaning and gasping there is the odd click,crack and grinding sound as joints ,balls n' sockets ,etc bend in unusal angles and positions...Some may say unatural rather than unusual!

As you find yourself straining your ,mainly leg joints, you can hear the internal straining noises as your body grumbles and moans about the beastly treatment your putting your ever trustworthy frame through. 

As you go through all this you also are aware of the external and internal protestations of the bodies around you, some not as in possibly as good a physical state as yourself causing some real teeth clenching ,stomach churning joint grinding, cracking and oddly popping type sounds , but sometimes they can confuse you as you sometimes wonder was that tortured joint cracking your own knee or hip ball n' socket joint.

I remember one evening in a room full of straining grunting gasping students all in lines trying to adopt a sideways full splits, a very odd sight to a passer by. All the years i trained and stretched the one thing i never mastered or came near to was a sideways splits. I was fairly suptle and even with my short stubby legs allowed me to kick to head height even to this day.But this evening our instructor who was a real 'KNUCKLE CRACKER'....Knuckle crackers're a strange breed and are fascinated with the grinding crunch of  simultaneous 5 knuckles at a time 'CRAK! CRAK! CRAK! CRAK! CRAK! Some impressive ones can crack the thumb as well, but the more they do it the stiffer the fingers get and the easier and louder the knuckles crack!

As we stretched and strained in our attempts at the splits he walked behind and interlocked his fingers and did a thunderous 10 -KNUCKLE CRACK!!!.... I honestly shit myself convinced i'd  wrecked my hip joints and was on my way for plastic hips within the hour. As i looked about me in abject fear and panic waiting for the pain to kick in which it was bound to any second now! The strangest sight met me, everybody was like me , in that bloody awkward position, but also, like me they were looking from their groin, hips and around the room in blind abject panic! Then slowly the realisation that we weren't  lifelong cripples and paraplegics, but it was a knobhead instructor who passes his spare time cracking his knuckles kicked in and a collective sigh of relief filled the room . The relaxation helped us sink deeper into our sad attempt at the splits.

Like the cracking of knuckles where the joints stiffen and crack easier the more you do it, the stretching excercises , bending and bouncing which i followed faithfully for donkeys years i now realise didn't do a lot of good. After the training my hips would click and be stiff after being seated for a while. My knees were 'shocking!'...If i bent down i could guarantee an explosive 'KEEERRRAACCKK!!''....I remember being in WH SMITHS bending down for a magazine when my knees exploded and everybody in the shop just shuddered and clenched their teeth in horror and disgust ,i ended up apologising for my cracking knees.

Years later in my 40's i started TAI-CHI while living abroad and now i'm 55(ouch!)....I train in a Tai-Chi manner ,slow and relaxed . Ideal training for a lazy bastard ,the slower and more relaxed ,the better. But a very odd thing has happened . My speed and power as well as stamina has improved as breathing is very important. Try not breathing and see how far you get! But my suptleness is better now than when i was a youngster ,grunting ,tensing and straining and stretching .My joints dont click at all. Much as it pains me to admit it , in some respects i'm growing old gracefully, but in many other ways ,thankfully i'm making up for that by doing the rest thoroughly disgracefully i'm proud to say.

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