From Free Life, Issue 18, May 1993
ISSN: 0260 5112
Aidan Trimble and Dave Hazard
Stanley Paul Limited, London, 1993, 80 pp., £8.99
(ISBN 0 09 177545 0)
Early last year, while in Bratislava, I helped to interview the leader of the Slovak National Socialist Party. This party sank without trace in the subsequent elections, its views held in general contempt. But interviewing its leader seemed at the time a good idea. Sadly, he did little more than boast about his new edition of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. At last, deciding that we were unlikely to get anything saleable out of him, we retreated to a vinaren, where I talked and drank and drank and talked until I was thoroughly inebriated.
I have no idea how long I sat with my eyes closed waiting for my number 26 bus before someone standing over me asked where to catch a tram to Dubravka. I looked up at two youths, both large and of rough appearance. I replied in my best Slovak that the tram stop was over the road. This done, I shut my eyes and went back to my fuddled ruminations.
I opened them again after what seemed a very long time. The youths were still there. One now asked what sounded like "have you a woman?" I pretended not to understand, and for some reason that evaded me even then began a lecture on the beauties of English literature.
When I again opened my eyes, they had not gone away. Worse, when my bus eventually came, they also got on and sat behind me. As we moved further out from the Centre, the bus emptied, until there were just the three of us plus the driver. Outside, there was snow on the ground, and we were heading into thick fog.
My readers may appreciate how wretched I was starting to feel. Suspecting danger, I was completely unable to say how much. Nor could I think of any obvious escape. I decided to go past my stop: it was too quiet there, and I had too far to walk home. We all continued to the end of the line. The driver took enough pity on me to keep the doors open during his ten minute break, so that I was not left entirely alone.
The youths now came closer. One of them grinned horribly at me. "I can be your woman" he said, putting out his tongue and moving it rapidly from side to side.
I hope that I shall not be thought unenlightened if I say that this reduced me to a state bordering on nervous collapse. "No thank you" I said primly, groping my way back onto the bus.
We began the return journey. Passing my stop again, I decided to jump off and try for home. I jumped not fast enough. At least one of the youths got off with me. He snarled an obscenity as he took me by the collar. One way or another, I was to pay for the use of his time.
Luckily for me, I held a Yellow Belt in Ty-Ga Karate. I may have looked like a lamb waiting for the butcher's knife, but my Master, Gary Wasniewski, had prepared me for just such an occasion. A right arm block freed me from the youth's grip as I took my fighting stance. Wheeling round on the ball of my left foot, I delivered a massive right round-house kick into his upper groin. He fell back noiselessly out of sight into the fog. His friend was nowhere to be seen.
My next movements were less dignified. I ran home up a hill, falling down in the snow every few seconds and scrabbling forward on my hands and knees, promising God that I would forget all doubts regarding His existence and even go to church, if only I might be spared. I probably looked like a vile, slobbering, drunken beast when I was overtaken a few minutes later by a cab occupied by the person with whom I was sharing accommodation.
Of course, I never did go to church. Most reprehensibly, though, I soon after stopped doing my regular Ty-Ga exercises. Today, I have grown too stout to fit into my karate costume, and am fair game for any villainous rent boy.
This book reminds me that I ought to take myself back in hand. It also gives those readers who may be encouraged by the above story a good introduction to the basics of karate. The steps are clearly described and illustrated. Common mistakes are warned against. Unlike in many such manuals, nothing impossible is demanded of the beginner.
Moreover, the Introduction contains a short history of karate, explaining how it developed in response to a government's attempt to deprive the people of their right to bear arms. This shows how perfectly suited the Art is to our own times. I doubt if even my Master would dispute that nothing beats a bullet for self defence. But in the dreary little police state that England is fast becoming, a good, hard karate kick is probably the next best thing.
© 1993 – 2015, seangabb.
Thanks for reading this. If you liked it, please consider doing one or some or all of the following:
1. Share it on social media – see buttons below;
2. Like my Facebook page;
3. Subscribe to my YouTube channel;
4. Sign up for my newsletter;
5. Click on a few of the discreet and tastefully-chosen advertisements that adorn this article;
6. Check out my books – they are hard to avoid.
Oh, and for those who may feel inclined to leave some small token of regard, here is the usual begging button: