The Grade: Karate & Getting Engaged

Words by Maggie McDade

Published on February 17, 2014

Reviews of life and stuff.

Last year two things happened that changed life quite a bit. In June I started karate in a Richmond school hall, with Con the Greek policeman, a black belt of over twenty years. In December, my boyfriend Duncan asked me to marry him beside the esky in my parents’ backyard. While giggling madly and staring longingly at his face I said yes, of course I will marry you.

People’s Reactions

Aside from knowing that you will be with someone forever and so forth, the best part of getting engaged is telling people the news. The look on your Nanna’s face when you say you’re getting married is second to none. It’s wonderful, and you receive many hugs.

However, I had not thought about or prepared for the extreme nature of excitement that accompanies an engagement announcement. My close girlfriends screamed down the phone and said oh my god oh my god a lot, and my best friend started to cry and sat down in the car park where she was unloading groceries. When I told my boss, in a shop full of people, she jumped up and down, shook her hands and her head from side to side at the same time, and made a sound something like ‘waaaaaeeeeee’.

Reactions to saying you have started karate are of course more subdued, but there are still abstract sounds involved. Usually something along the lines of, what did you get up to last night, oh I had karate training. And then, oh I didn’t know you did karate. And then, obligatory knife hands and a noise like ‘heeeeaaaa’. (Then I usually share some information that most people aren’t interested in, like, the noise people associate with karate is KIAI, a traditional Japanese war sound).

New Gear

There’s pretty dope swag associated with being both newly engaged and a karate beginner. Foremost, the ring. I got a very, very nice ring, of significant sentimental and aesthetic beauty. It is white gold, with a set diamond that shines up at me. It is perfection. People notice this ring all the time. While signing a delivery invoice from Wes, the meat truck driver at work, he grasped my hand and looked at me and told me how happy he was for me. I returned the signed piece of paper with a big smile on my face and said thank you, Wes. Thank you very much.

Starting karate, Con gave me a gi. It is like a large pair of stiff white pajamas, held together with a belt. When I wear it, I feel powerful and swift. The fabric makes swishing sounds when you do drills up and down the hall, and whispers as you move slowly in kata. It focuses you, and makes you sweat like a pig.


In karate you get injured. There are the things that you kind of expect with all the kicking and punching involved, like bruised arms and shins. I’ve gotten very used to being sore the day after training, and lifting my arms with difficulty. But there are others that I didn’t comprehend. Like, blisters on the bottoms of all ten toes from doing drills on carpet. And permanently having a sore forearm that I can only assume is a bruise so deep it has penetrated my bone. But, I have gotten off lightly. Poor Krispin the orange belt broke three ribs on his first day at training.

The only injury I have sustained so far from being engaged is cutting my right leg by accident on the diamond.


Marriage is a pretty serious business, one that you don’t commit to lightly. So is karate. You don’t commit to look like an idiot for the best part of six months unless you really, really want to get better.

Both karate and getting engaged: 4 stars.