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Snowmen - Article from Punchlines Magazine 1996

Another extract from the CFTS Punchlines magazine 1996 by Hannah Kidby. Hannah is the eldest of Renshi’s Daughters who was Nidan Black belt when she stopped training to pursue her teaching career. She was only 11 at the time of writing the piece below.


It was a Monday night, Gareth. Sian and my dad and I were off to train in Wolverton Club. It was a lovely clear evening but cold. When we got there, I practiced kata with Sian whilst Dad (Sensei) was taking the first class. We joined in for the second one practicing the basic sets including set five. The class finished with line training where we could do our favourite techniques and maybe things that were not in the sets.

After the lesson Sian and me got quickly dressed and waited for Dad and Gareth who were busy talking to Sensei O’Reilly. When we got outside we saw it had been snowing. Our car was covered. There were maybe a couple of inches covering everywhere.

We set off on our way home and it continued to snow heavily. The roads weren’t really that bad because they’d been gritted and traffic was keeping them clear. As we turned off the main road it suddenly got much deeper. It was even a struggle to see where the road was. Dad was worried saying, “We’re never going to make it!” and of course in the end we got stuck. Dad and Gareth tried to clear the snow to get us moving with their hands but the wind just blew it back.

Further down the road it was drifting so we would have struggled to get much further anyway. Dad rang Mum to explain what had happened and why we were late home then phoned the police to ask for help. They told us we weren’t the only ones stuck and put us in a queue. An hour later, and after another hours heavy snow fall, nobody had arrived. Dad decided to ring to find out when help might arrive but we were out of signal probably due to the heavy snow.

So we had no choice but to start walking home leaving the car under what was becoming a snow drift. It was over two miles to walk and there was a fifty mile an hour blizzard blowing so we were not looking forward to it. To make things worse Sian and I were only in shell suits and had no coat with us.

My Dad had a brainwave! He wrapped his towel around me for protection and put his Gi jacket on Sian which fitted her like a coat. He sat Sian on his shoulders because the snow was still falling heavily and very deep on the road. We set off but the snow was so deep it came over my knees! It was not long before we looked like four lost snowmen. We were soon so cold, that I couldn’t feel my hands and feet and my face was so cold I could barely speak! Walking really was such hard work, freezing cold, wet, wading through deep snow and a blizzard blowing in your face. To occupy our minds dad had us counting our footsteps, in Japanese, up to thirty, then starting again. When my spirits got very low my Dad said, “Hitotsu, Doryoku No Seishin O Yashinau Koto,” meaning to foster the spirit of effort. There we were knee deep in snow, and all my Dad could think of was karate! It did make me think tough though and made me try harder not to be a wimp.

We walked on. Eventually we made it to the main road. We struggled on and then passed a graveyard. “That place is so exciting,” Dad said, “People are dying to get in there!” HA! HA! HA! (Not so funny) but we tried to laugh but couldn’t through our frozen faces anyway I was too wet, cold and fed up! I hadn’t gone out training to become a snowman. With only about half a mile to go a car came by surprisingly stopped and kindly offered us a lift.

It was well past midnight as we walked in doors. We had a hot bath and something warm to eat and drink. At about half past one we went to bed very tired, warmer, and happy to be safe. It is not a night’s training I will forget in a hurry.

I suppose Dad is right; karate is not just for the dojo and the principles of the dojo kun can be applied anywhere in your life.

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