The grass is always greener..... I have practiced many martial arts so far, some have been for a long period of time, some ive had a crack at for a few free lessons and turned my nose up at. id like to talk about my recent journey through a few arts and how my ideas have changed. This year i decided i wanted something different, the once green grass of my long followed systems of Boxing and Muay Thai seemed a bit faded and i fancied something different, so up comes 2009 and i figure ill have a go at a few things that are alien to me. My boxing had to end a while before this due to my Girlfriend being worried about me traveling at night through that part of town ( understandable as it is dodgy on my training nights) to get to the Gym. So that went and i missed it, but its something ive done for a long while so i didnt have the burning enthusiasm needing to go every free hour god sends. Then comes Aikido - i had originally thought this was a system of nerds in skirts playing part-time samurai. but i went, and i thought the warm up and cardio bits were lacking utterly, i felt like the ubermench for not feeling tired, being ready to thwack these woefully unprepared guys, then the lesson starts, it felt alien i didnt like the attacks, i didnt make much of the set ups, but then on comes a few techniques, and they hurt. im there thinking ' oi, i should be immune to your girly skirty Aikido' but wey hey, the techniques had me locked, face into the mat, wrist feeling like id been arm wrestling a goirilla. I respond well to pain in martial arts, so if it hurts and i can hurt someone with it, im all game for the learning. i lapped up the locks, wasnt impressed with the projections but kept my gob shut. loved the Jo and the bokken unrealistic as it was. it was fun playing samurai, being able to casually walk anopponent into an Ikkyo pin or get that sexy iriminage. but i couldnt get it out my mind, when would i do this? could i do this in the pub? could i even pull this off against my old Judoka buddies..., the answer to me was not ' never, aikido is rubbish but more so ' maybe, but not for about 10 years of doing this'. i missed the feeling of grit, in my bad attitude, everytime a reasonable grade/instructor did something on me i felt like grabbing a lapel, taking a leg,headbutting, going for a decent punch instead of the majorities lacklustre Yokomenuchi. this i did, i felt like i may aswell try and hit you, else i wont learn and they wont learn. this upped the game with my partners and it felt a bit better, not being so uniformly dull and lacking in attack. but even so, Aikido felt off, it felt sexy, traditional, i liked its natural postures and the shapes but of its movements, but it fit me like a shirt a few sizes too small, i felt to rigid, to unplayfull and it just didnt suit. Im still tempted to go now and then, but in all honesty itd probably be for the Bokken and Jo, i liked the pins, came out thinking that these guys werent japanese hakama lifters and felt like i respected Aikidoka better for it, but it just wasnt me. Karate - I received a flyer in town from a professional looking lady offering a months free lessons at karate world wales in Newport. I go there and it looks like a tight ship, they bow at me at the door, call me sir and make me feel like a persian king... well not quite. ive come in joggers, a t-shirt with a bag with tattered bag gloves in. Im warming up whilst waiting, then im told ill go for a meeting with the head of the club, a meeting thinks i, expecting 5 minutesof this is me, this is what we do, this is what i charge,done. But no, im led through her reading a booklet asking what i want out of martial arts, rating things out of five, im told the stryleis independent to the martial arts chain Karate world, that its a mix of Karate,Ju jitsu and special Goal orientation. that seemd odd,i didnt fancy much its non transferability. i was told the charge was £90 for the first month, and a hundred each after and that i get money off for each referal. Being used to a couple of quid a lesson, i was mouth agape thinking ' no freakin way!' but a months free lessons are offered and i consider this as reasonable,and to make sure the lessons were being taught by HeMan as to comprehend the extortionate costs. I find out the lessons are 3 x half an hour lessons a week. i think 30 minutues is silly and is barley a warm up where i come from. i come back a few days later, this time to try it out, theres a nice young bloke, about my age, apparntly chosen just for me as he had experience in MT and Judo too. he runs me through what they learn, seemingly poor Wado ryu ju jitsu remix, it was bog standard boxersize on mitts then onto some poorly executed Ju jitsu explainations of techniques, didnt take to this too well, and didnt think his standard befitting a blackbelt. I had a peek at a few other classes, not very impressed at all, young high grades, lots and lots of gradings,i mean they had three white belt gradings for adults! i hated the business and reach your goals atmosphere. hated the Dillman clippings on the walls and hated the plastic veneer of a business Dojo. end of Karate World wales saga. Nanbudo - This was a wild card, never heard of it before, i can see why. i went to the class, it was held at my Judo dojo hall, and im the only guy there, quiet night but thats good for me. i meet the short chubby man, hes the sensei, hes very rotund and a second degree and didnt lookup to much clobber. i try the class, bog standard warm up, then we sit in seiza and chant about courage and power.....(in my head laughing at the bizzareness) then a kata like series of movements, its very long and i had to copy him in this strange positions mimicing the forms of nature. i beleive it was the wave form. in any case, very big, silly and irrelervant to everything but interpretive dance. from the first punch i knew this wasnt for me, the punches are done vertical fist outwards with the hand in guard is shot all the way out up in the air and cocked fingers at a 45 degree angle, for fighting, utterly useless, no amount of talk can account for a hand waving in the air whilst punching. the rest was generic karate style kicks, stances and movemnet, but the hand with the punch made me despise the sillyness. the instructor answered my questions however now and then during chitter chatter about what i was doing he would spring a poor attack at me and say ' protection' but in french, as the japanese master teaches from france. Now i dont know about most but im not wanting to be attacked in a rubbish and irelervant way when im trying to understand something, and when i prevent the attack with absent minded parry i wonder why the **** is he doing that when im asking about the cost of lessons. But whatever. I felt i had an issue with the style and found it impossible to imagine a reality in which they were a good idea, and i dont enjoy having a poor and overweight instructor, middle aged spread, no probs, but actually overweight makes me harbour very little respect. The style is popular in scandinavia, eastern europe and france, it has many meditative aspects and is almost unknown in the UK, if i had a say in it, id probably want to keep it that way! Nanbudo Saga ends... So here i am, wanting more, exhausted what classes are in a reasonable distance wanting variety,weapons, grappling, sparring, quality and a bit of tradition to make me feel like that imaginary samurai that i felt in Aikido. i figure i move away in a couple of months to begin my training as an RE teacher, so ill be in a new area, on my list of greener grasses is Choy Lay Fut and Hung Gar. if i try them, it will again be an alien world , as i have no chinese terminololgy, no experience in Chinese arts but what the hell, ive got to find out what i feel like im missing. The Saga Continues, until then its Jab,cross,hook on the bag and a wait to find something that fits me.