The Little French English Improvement Project

little french person trying to improve her english, little french english person trying to improve herself, french english person trying to improve a little bit… and blogging along the way. (Now in Deutschland)

Posts Tagged ‘karate’

Karate tournament (hence the delays in blogging)

Posted by Alice Challet - alicethefrog on January 27, 2011

Dear reader,

It’s been a week since last I published anything, and yet again: many apologies. I’ve been having a more difficult time than expected keeping to my fresh un-new-year’s resolutions. Not that I have erred from the straight and narrow path, I’ve stuck to my decisions, only to end up with a lot less time to devote to daydreaming (and consequently blogging). Every time I wa going to write, I ended up doing some reading/studying/grammar exercices. So now I have shuffled out of my usual lethargy, I simply need to find a way for my new found drive to cohabit peacefully with my good old lazyness and propensity to lie/sit/stand around and let my mind wander off. Not as easy as it sounds. Plus, I can’t even write in the evenings, these days as soon as my head hits the pillow I am dead to the world and in no shape to write anything whatsoever.

And yet, I find whenever I do something unusual (go to a local karate tournament, sing at an Irish session, make smoothies), I want to tell the world about it. So no more shilly-shallying, let’s not waste any more precious time and start with the karate tournament.

It was last Sunday (23rd of January), and I’d been really looking forward to it, so on saturday night I made macarons au caramel de beurre salé (salted butter caramel filled macaroons) and charged my camera battery. It was the first “proper” tournament I have ever seen, and I was ridiculously excited, for someone who was just going to sit in the audience and admire her friends do what they do very well, or punch each other to a pulp. What’s a bit sad though is that there were very few competitors: karate is apparently not as popular as other martial arts, and those who choose to practice it often do so with no further objective than learning. Fair enough, says I; that’s precisely why I started, but it is a shame for those who are interested in tournaments and competitions, because they often find themselves without an opponent.

I mean, that’s good for them if all they’re interested in is getting a medal at the end of the day: they can do so without the effort of having earned it, but surely that’s missing the point isn’t it? I thought competition is about finding and pushing back your limits when facing an opponent, about hard work and, well, competition. A girl from my dojo, Roxane, was suggesting I started competing, just so she should have an opponent (in kata, not combat, thank god). She came all the way to the tournament to find out she was championne du Puy-de-Dôme, without even having to pull on her kimono. I know it would be nice for her to have an opponent, but with my less than satisfactory technical skills, I would be little more than a useless presence on the tatami. Then again, what an easy way to become the local vice-champion… (once I got over the ridicule of tripping over my own feet in the middle of my kata – which let’s face it, must be my unescapable fate whenever I try to perform anything in public).

But anyways, it was nice to see them all at it (from a safe distance), and I took innumerable photos with my amazing second-hand lens, and I fed people macaroons, which made me very popular. I look forward to the regional tournament, maybe this time there’ll be a couple more participants.


Posted in Life | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

France is on strike. Yes. Again.

Posted by Alice Challet - alicethefrog on October 19, 2010

Sorry I didn’t write yesterday, obviously my strong firm resolutions were not as strong and firm as all that. To sum the day up  quickly, I managed to come down to Clermont despite a train strike and no fuel being available in the region (or maybe the counry – this lack of oil does mean people travel a lot less these days), then I went to my one lesson (studying german has got its advantages), went food-shopping for the week, had a nap which swallowed up my entire afternoon and went to training. Training was hell by the way. It was just one of those days where I could not get anything right. And when I say not anything, I mean there wasn’t one exercice I did well. Even the teacher was starting to lose his patience, and he has probably seen his share of whingeing pains in the backside. He would keep on explaining, but it was no use. The sports I do by the way are Shito-Ryu Karate and Nihon Tai Jitsu (which can be dumbly translated as Japanese body technique, or Self-defence)and the theme of yesterday’s lesson was  ushiro-geri, a kind of backwards kick. I am just a beginner in both disciplines, having started karate 1 and a half years ago, and Self-defence only half that amount of time. As things are, I am still the only girl in the advanced group, although on occasions such as yesterday, everyone wonders what I’m doing there. Never mind, I enjoy it most of the time and I’ll try to get to the open training session tonight if public transports are running again (combat, yay!). I’ll probably devote a proper article to karate and stuff later on, but I mentioned strike in my title, so I had probably better mention it a bit.

So yes. The french are practicing their national sport: going on strike. As I write this it is 10:00 am in France and everywhere in the country where there are enough people and streets marches and demos are setting themselves into motion. Everywhere else is devoid of human life: they are all in town, marching in the street, blocking the roads and schools and post offices and trains and oil supplies. Everyone born in October will get late birthday cards this year and although that is probably the least of their problems right now, I sympathise.

For those of you who happen not to be in France at the moment, this current wave of striking ( I say wave, but I should say tide because it does just come and go on a regular basis) is because of new laws on retirement which our government wans to put into place where you have to work for aaages and ages and ages and get less money at the end of it. There also something where if you can’t or won’t work the 41 years that you’re supposed to work, you receive less than the money you have contributed… it’s all very complicated. And it all comes after three years of having Nicolas Sarkozy at the head of the french state and seeing the country going ever further down a steady slope (with a big gaping pit at the bottom of it.

When Sarkozy got into office, he promised two things:

  1. Transparence: which he used as an excuse to sprawl his private life all over french and international tabloids. As  .  if  .  we  .  cared.
  2. “Réformes”: he was going to change things, and he has. Every two months or less they come up with a new réforme, a new law. Usually the aim of these is to destroy the welfare state, make poor people give rich people more money and help them keep it, and generally piss off all working people in France. Up until now, the only people in the streets at any one time were the specific victim of one new law or other, with a couple of supporters from other sectors thrown in. But now, by changing laws about retirement he has managed to anger everyone at the same time.

There are so  many things wrong with the system and the way it is run at the moment I am getting all messed up. I would like to tell you about each one of the new laws is actually written during times such as summer holidays so that when people find out fter their vacation it’s already too late, or how it’s true that things have to change one way or other, and how the situation has degraded so badly now whatever solution is offered will cause more damage to some section of society or the other. Basically we are neck deep in shit and whatever turn events take, it will take us a very long time to crawl out.

On this happy note: Happy Birthday Mam! (Don’t worry, I’ll give you your birthday card in person; it won’t get lost in the mail)


PS: the reason this entry took so long to be posted was that half way through someone started the fire alarm (probably to try and convince unmotivated students to give up on lessons and take to the streets) and I had to evacuate and close the library.

Posted in France, Politics, Studying | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »