Learning to jump – both literally launching oneself into the air, and figuratively jumping right into the deep end, or doing something you’re afraid of – normally are equally impossible for me. More like learning to fly (“I’m learning to fly/ but I ain’t got wings/ Coming down/ Is the hardest thing”).
Unlike Tom Petty though, I’ve got the coming down part sorted.
Jumping is a thing with me partly due to a kata I’m learning called ‘Enpi’, which roughly translates from Japanese as ‘flying swallow’. It is one of four Sentei kata that karateka at brown belt level need to know. They are all much longer, more difficult kata than I’ve learnt for previously. Enpi, although apparently the shortest Sentei kata by numbers of moves, is famous for this spinning jump you have to do at the end.
I don’t actually need wings to do this jump. Stronger leg muscles on the other hand would be handy. I do work on building leg strength fairly consistently, but at the same time I am one those dopamine-deficient people who struggle to maintain body mass. Exercise, particularly strength building exercise, is the proverbial plug in the dam at this point.
To do the jump you have to pivot from a forward leaning position, jump off one foot, spin 360 degrees in the air (feet tucked up) and land in the back stance (with about 70% of your weight supported on your bent back leg).
(Kitty – “Good grief!”. Rolls eyes.)
Yes, this is difficult stuff. But I didn’t really realise the extent of it at first. I was too used to seeing kids (aged from about 8 to teenagers) do this jump before. They don’t seem to have a problem with it. They love it, and they look like more like flying squirrels than swallows though… maybe some kind of squirrel ninja.
I, however, am 42 years old. My joints are slightly dodgier, and I lack the spring of youth. To say the least. It is now making sense to me why Sensei has stopped making those over 35 do Enpi very often.
I think it was hearing that maybe I wouldn’t have to do it though that made me really dig my heels in and want to learn this jump. I had been in a bit of a slump before that. After passing the brown belt test I’d felt jubilant and victorious. I’ve done it! Then I glanced up at the size of the mountain left to climb, and at once started down-grading my expectations. The fear of thinking I can’t do anymore was stopping me from trying.
Which brings me to the second part of the significance of learning to jump for me – it is really a metaphor for doing what terrifies me. I got inspiration to bust through the veil of terror partly from being told it was okay to not try. But a lot of the inspiration also comes from my friend Kitty. She thinks I am a hard worker, but she amazes me with her ability to do brave stuff. I went to support her at a comedy gig she did recently. I thought I was being brave by going out at night (I’m afraid of being tired and freezing up a long way from the safety of home). But Kitty is the one who bloody got on stage and performed her heart out.
She is my jump inspiration. Jump in and do what terrifies you. Don’t listen to any voices telling you can’t – they don’t know shit!
As for the Enpi jump, no I can’t do it yet. I am amassing an amusing training montage, which has launched me back into some of my favourite anthems to jumping from the 80s and 90s. Van Halen led to the Pointer Sisters (which then obviously led to me doing a spoof of Hugh Grant’s dancing PM from Love Actually), which then led to Kriss Kross (‘nuff said), and House of Pain (truly an inspired band name for this context).
I’m having fun, and so are other people who’ve seen my attempts. I’m going to keep trying, even if just for the music.
I certainly do not intend to be put off by the fact that all this shouldn’t be possible.
If you feel similar, if you need help or feel unhappy:
Reach out to your health professional, doctor, friend or family member. Please don’t allow yourself to feel alone and unhappy. There are people out there to help you.
Kitty Fitton is a motivational speaker, MC and comedian. She is also a full-time blogger and writer. She is mother to four small people and was very cross to discover she had Parkinson’s Disease.
Find out more at her personal site below.
Emma Kyriacou is a real-life ninja. Taking up Karate to help fight her Parkinson’s Disease, she’s co-founder of Good Moves and is passionate about promoting exercise to improve mobility and neuroplasticity. (Is that a word? It should be.)
Find out more at her personal site below.