Behind the scenes...
We were unprepared. And not “unprepared” like those few students who cry and cringe before the exams but come up with all A’s later. We were, in fact, more like those who counted the minimum marks they needed to pass the exam the next day.
It was Saturday already, the show was scheduled for the evening of the same day and the only practice we had had till then was, well, none. But hey, do not judge us yet! In order to practice for an on stage karate demonstration, you need 100% attendance of the students, which is hard to achieve when all the students happen to be engineers and doctors working in various shifts of the day. There was enthusiasm, but an inability to commit. There was dedication, but a lack of planning.
“I have a plan,” Sensei Vijay told me, and that was surprisingly enough to bring back the confidence. Now, a quick word here about this man: Sensei Vijay Ravichandran is the Chief Instructor of Seibukan Karate of Bangalore. An expert martial artist and a multiple-time national champion, Sensei Vijay has served to be an inspiration and a role model ever since my first karate class in Bangalore. Naturally, I trusted him and I knew something would work out.
So let’s go back to the Saturday. We were unprepared, and as if that was not enough, I reached an hour late for the only practise session that we were going to have. By the time I had reached, the ‘plan’ was already in action and the roles decided. I could see that their faces were lit up, their spirits aroused and energy at their peaks! Things looked good. Pretty good.
We practised till past noon and then left. Full contact karate is exciting but also equally dangerous, even when you’re only pretending to hit each other! I, for instance, had a swollen toe and a cut in my lips by the end of the practice session. There were more, but I’ll come back to that at a later part of this article.
The stage was set. The crowd was waiting. One after the other all the artists went up onstage to showcase their talents. The singers were melodious as were the dancers graceful. But this article is not about them so I wouldn’t waste your time with the description. However, there is this one thing that I would type in because it was special for me: during the few hours that I spent there in the auditorium of Christ School, it transported me back in time- to my own student life- when I too used to perform dances on stage. For some time I was a Bosconian again, a twelve or thirteen year old waiting for her turn to be up on stage: nervous, excited but so proud.
Forgive me for trailing off, dear reader. Let’s move on.
Some time before our turn came, Sensei Paul asked me “How many tiles are you going to break on stage?”
“None,” I replied at once. “I’m afraid it might not break. That’ll be embarrassing.”
That was cowardly, I know. In my defence I would like to say that I was inexperienced. The tiles they had brought were thick, unlike the thin ones I broke in Assam. But the team wouldn’t hear of it! From that precise moment till we got up on stage, Sensei Paul along with the rest of the team left no stone unturned to encourage me. “You have the required strength and power,” they told me. “You’ll easily break six or seven tiles in one shot!”
Six? No. I wasn’t confident enough for that. Three, I said. Five, they countered. Okay, let’s make it four. “If it doesn’t break it’ll be extremely embarrassing!” I warned them still. But they seemed to have more faith in me than I ever had in my life.
Before long, we were there- on the stage- the kids in the front line and us at the back.
The demonstration went on beautifully, like some properly planned poetry. Of course, there were some notes that failed to rhyme and a few spaces that were accidentally left blank. But with the amount of practice that we had, it was all excellent. In fact, it actually made me realise that our potential is far more than what we assumed it to be.
The audience was highly encouraging. They clapped to our feats and gasped every time we took their breath away, which was more than just once. And the best part? You must’ve guessed it already. I broke all four tiles. Given the excitement and adrenaline rush you feel up there, I swear I could’ve broken more!
A warning here: Do not go attempting to break things now. We are professionals. It was my first attempt and my hand was in a lot of pain at that moment (though I was far too proud to tell anyone about it and had to keep myself from yelling out loud every time somebody shook hands with me). It had swelled up the next day and on the third, that is today, it has turned black.
But I do not mind, really. Karate has always helped me build up my confidence and this particular experience was no different. As they say, “An injury in martial arts is like wrecking on a bicycle as a child. You slowly build up the courage and ride better than before, or you never ride again.”
So I’ll keep on riding, hopefully better than before.
Thanks for reading. J