Thank you to Rachel from Rachel’s Random resources for inviting me to participate in the blog tour for Memoirs of a Karate Fighter and thank you to Ralph Robb, the author of the book, for his guest post!
Memoirs of a Karate Fighter
Novelist and former karate champion Ralph Robb recounts his experiences at one of Europe’s toughest dojos and provides an insight into the philosophy and training methods of a club which produced national, European and world titleholders. In a hard-hitting story, Ralph tells of the fights on and off the mat; his experiences as one of a very few black residents in an area in which racist members of the National Front were very active; and the tragic descent into mental illness and premature death of the training partner who was also his best friend.
GUEST POST BY RALPH ROBB
MEMOIRS OF A KARATE FIGHTER
At the time of writing this book, I had to do a lot of soul searching relating to violence in the street and how much of this topic I was to include in the book. I knew the comments it would receive, comments such as ‘the members of the YMCA were no better than the thugs they were fighting in the streets.’
While I wanted to recount how things were and the fights that happened outside the club, I didn’t want to glamorize the violence or make out that I was training with a bunch of saints. I suppose it is all about context and in many cases, this varied as much as an individual’s attitude to violence.
One of the main reasons why I started karate in the first place was that I quickly learned that in the poorer sectors of the city, there was a constant threat of violence. Like it or not I had to live in that reality. It wasn’t just the treat of racial violence such the type people like Enoch Powell and members of the National Front propagated. But in the 1970 football hooliganism regularly shut down the town center as Wolves supporters clashed with away team fans and gangs of skinheads. As worrying as this was, this threat of violence was mainly brought into the community from the outside and wasn’t the threat I encountered on a day-to-day basis.
This came in the form of what I considered, domestic violence. Not the spousal type we all know about, but violence committed by local (domestic) criminality. Gangs, theft, fraud, molestation, breaking and entry etc, etc. Let me give you an example, at school we played an across town rival at football. After the match the police had to be called to escort us out of that area, as crowds of armed pupils were accumulated along the path, we would have to take to get home. This is just one example of many of the silly little turf wars that took place daily.
In our minds we’d be righting a wrong for incidents such as fraudsters taking money from your elderly mother. Reporting it to the police was often a waste of time and the quickest way to retrieve the funds would be direct intervention. Much of the incidents that involved members of the YMCA Karate club fell into this category.
As I went back to my car thoughts of visiting Clinton on the way home meant that I had not taken much notice of the raised voices that came from somewhere beyond my peripheral vision. “Hey! I’m talking to you, you black bastard!” someone shouted.
I finished unlocking the car door before I pivoted around to see four young guys on the other side of the car park. The skinhead I had first seen on that day in the lift shortly after I had moved into the flat was amongst them. He had allowed his hair to grow a little longer but other than that he had not changed much. He led the other three toward me. At his shoulder was a man who was slightly larger, his pudgy face was contorted with hate. Maybe they had waited this long because somewhere in their befuddled minds they had figured that now I was no longer living in the flat there was less chance of any acts of retaliation from me. The car door was unlocked and I had the option of jumping in and driving away but my running away days were long over.
Ralph Robb was born and raised in the industrial town of Wolverhampton, England and now lives in Ontario Canada with his wife, cat and dog. A proud father of four, Robb works as an engineering technician and loves rugby, martial arts and a good book. His world is balanced by quality TV, global events, great outdoors and of course his grand-daughter.
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Thank you to Ralph Robb for his guest post!
If you would like to check out what other bloggers thought of Ralph’s book, read their reviews or more exerpts from the book or just drop in and wish his book success, here is the full blog tour schedule: