Karate, exercise and researching fight scenes

I am just about the least sporty person you’ll ever meet. In high school, I was the one that walked when I was meant to be running, the one who used to squeal and duck my head whenever a ball flew at my face. (In my defence, my depth perception and peripheral vision are poor, so it was a valid self-defence mechanism.)

Still, I used to walk everywhere, so I was quite fit … until I got a desk job. (As Scooby Doo would say: “Ruh roh!”) Since then, I’ve occasionally gone on exercise kicks, but usually they’ve ended when I’ve injured myself in one undignified way or another: torn Achilles tendon, sprained ankle, strained calf muscle.

But this year I started karate, and, oh my glob, I love it — so much so that when I did strain my calf muscle back in August, I went to see a physiotherapist and then was back at classes two weeks later. There are lots of reasons I enjoy it, including the fact that I can meet (and sometimes perv at) new people and the fact that, as Suse blogged last year, exercise is a great form of stress relief.

But since AOR is a blog about books, here’s a bookish reason why I really love learning a martial art, and why you might consider it too.

Source: Shutterstock

Source: Shutterstock

Here are things I’ve been shown how to do recently at karate:

  • How to throw a punch or elbow strike for maximum impact
  • How to do various types of kicks
  • How to block someone else’s strike at me
  • How to fall correctly so I don’t knock myself out
  • How to get away if someone grabs my hair from behind
  • How to throw a man taller and stronger than me
  • How to throw someone off me when I’m on my back and they are kneeling over me (yes, like that)

I’m not saying that I could do all those things perfectly in a self-defence situation, because I’m only a wee orange belt … and frankly, I’m hoping I never have to find out. But I understand the theory and I know what it’s meant to look like when competent people do it properly (see, all that perving is for a good cause!). The “write what you know” mantra means life just got a little easier for me when I next sit down to write a fight scene.

Doing martial arts a couple of times a week obviously isn’t going to be for everyone. Another option would be a self-defence workshop, especially if you want to add a bit of extra realism to your protagonist’s attempts to flee the Big Bad. I’m hoping to get to one of those next year as well.

Something to think about, hai?

Cassandra Page is an urban fantasy writer who really doesn’t spend all that much time perving in class … especially if any of her senseis read this.

Cassandra Page


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