Tuesday, 6 November 2012

'I Have To Get It Right' - Chapter 5

Chapter 5

I arrived back home Monday teatime after work and I had a light snack, changed into my jogging gear and set off to MMAC. Mirfield Martial Arts Club, the address that Sumisu san gave turned out to be less than a mile from home! It appears that the club has been there for 30 years and specialises in Aikido. That became popular when Steven Seagal brought it into his films. When he fought he was relaxed, calm, almost smiling. He was strong and powerful, yet he didn't jump or kick. Made him lots of money and popularised the art.
True Aikido is practiced with no aggression. In an attack the aggressor's force is simply redirected and controlled using a system of movements and techniques. It is exactly this principle that makes Aikido a practical system for self-defence and it intrigued me.  By redirecting as opposed to blocking, your attacker's force is used against them. This makes Aikido ideal for anyone, regardless of age, height or stature. All you are required to have is an open mind and a commitment to learn.
Because of the calm nature of Aikido, it is mistakenly referred to as a "soft art". Giving the impression it is not a valid system of defence. The truth of the matter is when practiced correctly you are relaxed. That is the nature of Aikido.
The building is part of a mill conversion. I walked in through the swing doors just after seven. I was to meet a guy called Vince Thompson, (Strangely un-oriental name.), an 8th Dan Sensei. He was to be my instructor. I was reading the notice board in the entrance when a guy walked in.
“Hi.” He smiled.
“Hello.” I replied. “I am supposed to meet Vince Thompson”
“He’ll be here soon. Just have a seat. “
“Thanks!”
A couple of minutes later a rather rotund guy about 5’ 8’’ with a white goatee beard aged in his late fifties early sixties, strolls into the place and straight passed me. A few minutes later he was in front of me in his ‘uniform’.
“You must be Patrick. I’m Vince Thompson. We will start this evening with you looking on for half an hour then I will show some simple moves followed by your homework!”
“Yes ok. Homework?” I asked.
“Don’t worry Patrick. You will find it very relaxing.” Vince smiled turned and waved me to follow him.
I walked into the dojo and took off my shoes as all the others that were now arriving were doing. I walked to the back of the room where there was no cushioning and sat cross-legged on the floor. For the next 30 minutes I observed a group of ordinary people of varying ages, both male and female, moving gracefully and hitting the floor when it was their turn. They ‘fought’ if that’s the right word, gently. Those being attacked were unhurried and relaxed, and those attacking did so with purpose. It looked like a well-rehearsed dance. Hard to see how this could benefit me!
“Ok everyone,” called Vince. “Our visitor this evening is Patrick. He’s a new member and is going to be with us all this week and then to come when he can as business takes him away periodically.”
There was a muted ‘hello’ from everyone and I waved a self-conscious hand to the room. Vince gave me a set of clothing and sent me to a changing room. When I returned the group were practising moves in rows all together and Vince indicated I should join in. Thereafter I fitted in with what everyone was doing and when that was over I changed and was about to leave when Vince called me and gave me some literature to read then hurried his way out into the evening. I called at the pub had a couple of pints and went home with my bundle of new equipment.
I made a coffee and sat down to read. It was interesting and mostly about philosophy.  There were also breathing and meditative exercises which I tried for half an hour before going to bed.
Work again. I had a glance into Jim Thompson’s account to see if there was any unusual activity. There was nothing obvious so he is either doing as he was asked or is getting cleverer in hiding his misdemeanours! It’s a weird feeling doing a mundane job and keeping my other life so secret. If only they knew. The people in the office just think I am some kind of strange guy who only works 3 days a week. But people who work together rarely have anything in common other than the job. I wonder what they would think if they knew they were sharing office space with a killer!! Or at least a modern day ‘Robin Hood’ with Japanese tendencies! They were so set in their ways. So self-satisfied! So safe or so they think. I am always pleasant, quiet and hard working. I wonder what the office loudmouth would do if he knew how easily I could sort him, instead of putting up with his bullying. Well maybe that day is not too far away. I could see that I would have to move on at some point. I wouldn’t be able to increase my intensity of working with Sumisu unless I give up my day job! It’s a thought that is very active in my mind again. I have a mounting balance in my Swiss account, as I am still not spending. It is going to be difficult to invent a cover story for the amount in there! Perhaps I need to take up gambling or achieve a win on the lottery! Pay off my mortgage, resign and buy a property abroad. I would always have my flat. Engage a cleaner. Buy a warehouse and a new car. Why a warehouse? Well it would be somewhere to keep my cars and other ‘equipment’. I could create a personal gym/dojo for my physical maintenance. There are plenty of disused buildings within easy reach of the apartment.
Anyway – for now concentrate on the job in hand and back to the dojo tonight. Last night was straight forward enough and the philosophy of Aikido is fascinating me. I like the calmness with which challenges are faced. It’s an extremely powerful assertiveness, which is totally lacking aggression, yet if followed, would seem to make you invincible. We will see what little Vince can do for me. I haven’t even reached novice status.
I jogged on to the club again. There were the same faces for the most part. One or two people I had not seen before. We warmed up like a chorus line from Cabaret and then saw some demonstrations from the most proficient members. We were then paired up and given instructions on specific methods of avoiding attack in different ways. I suppose it’s testimony to my naivety that I had never considered being attacked by one of my targets. Even with my training in Bodyguard school it did not include unprovoked attack on myself, rather how to protect a 3rd party. It was the detection of and protection from violence.
The moves we were practising were based upon using the aggressors’ attacking thrust to defeat them. Pulling and twisting rather than expending our own energy in aiming blows that may or may not hit the desired target. Or, indeed, to have a disabling effect! Whereas the skill of aikido was to disarm and incapacitate, using your opponents’ momentum. I could see the benefit. It is down to the aggressor to make the first move and for the one being attacked to channel the violence back to the person attacking. A neat theory but after half an hour of attacking and being thrown and disarmed I was somewhat less confident in my ability to turn the tables myself. However, after some coaching and practice from Vince I managed some basic moves.
The rest of the week followed a similar pattern with me making some improvements and also persevering with my reading. I liked this Aikido and the thinking behind it but I was also keen to get back to ‘work’. I had heard nothing from Sumisu san and still had no way of making direct contact. I knew I would have to wait. It was incumbent on me to put the art of being patient into practice. I waited. I also continued with my studying and practised some moves as well as running and maintaining my life. A new week began and once again, as well as work, I attended the dojo. I found myself being teamed up with different people and playing the roll of both aggressor and Aikido ‘expert’. I even found myself being attacked by two people at the same time and handled myself with some skill initially! Still no news!
Wednesday morning I am driving into work when my phone made its characteristic sound when accepting a text. I pulled into a side road and read one single word – ‘Resign’. I was shocked even though the idea was in my mind and had been since this adventure had started. Because it had felt like that, I had never felt confident that it would last. This is why I had not used my Swiss account and nor had I seriously considered resigning, but there it was, an instruction from the ’boss’. I continued into work feeling numb. The first thing I did was to log on and check the balance on my Swiss bank account, then write my letter of resignation. I just kept it simple and lied through my teeth! I told them that I was taking a sabbatical before going back to University in September!! God forgive me! It wasn’t the trauma I thought it would be. On the other hand I don’t think anyone thought of me as a team player, partly because I was only part-time, and also because I didn’t socialize with my colleagues. So it was agreed I would come in on Thursday to tidy my desk and then ship out.
It felt that I had made a huge decision but I was happy with the way I felt about it. So it was right!
I took some food and booze into the office the following day and left with a card and some vouchers for a bookshop. (For my university course, which was my excuse!) When I got home I sat down with a glass of wine and pondered what to do next. I started thinking again about a property away from the flat but still in the town, that would allow me some space for training equipment and vehicles. I went online and looked at my Swiss bank account. I still had nearly a quarter of a million in there. I knew he had given me a bonus but I never expected that much. One slightly disturbing thought was that I was being ‘tied in’! There were one or two industrial units quite close to the canal at the bottom of the hill from my flat. They were the sort that were brick built half way up and then finished with steel and corrugated panels. Concrete floors inside with huge doors for loading and a small part sectioned off for office space on 2 stories with an outside staircase. I needed to find out how much it would cost to buy and what taxes were involved. I also wanted someone to look after the place and my flat. Maybe a couple with time on the hands who were looking for semi-retirement!
Such grand ideas! What would I be allowed to do? Or is that not an issue, is it more a case of how soon would I be able to realise my dreams and what would I have to do to afford them! I walked to my local and had a good session with the lads.
I received a text when I got up the next morning. Hurt Torino!
“Goodness what now!” I exclaimed aloud.
Thinking about it was obvious. There I was blundering around trying to create problems with minor accidents to encourage contact with whoever was in charge when the solution was so simple. How stupid am I! Sumisu san rarely wants me to waste time. Torino would be at the site in the morning. The rest of the day to plan and prepare and then off in the wee small hours!
Easy! I am an excellent shot after all the practice I had at the university rifle club and it wouldn’t be from any great distance. It would have to be far enough away to be difficult for his henchmen to ascertain the direction from where the shot came. The park should provide cover and I would be away before the ambulance arrived. The text was specific – ‘Hurt Torino’ – I was not to kill him. It would certainly create a storm. I could feel the adrenalin pumping already.
The empty house I used before would be too close, no escape route. No this time I would park on The Avenue at the top side of Glebe Park on the other side of the tree lined boundary of the park. It was the road that passed Washington Old Hall and would allow me to get on to Northumberland Way that intersects with Sunderland Way and would lead me back to the A1 and home. Ok that is my entry and exit route. Now for the weaponry! No Glock automatic for this job. No it would have to be the Swiss OM50 Nemesis. I will only need the short barrel (15”) I will probably be no more than 100 – 200 yards away and that will allow me to be accurate within 0.5” with the silencer attached. I will pack it in my camouflage bag, it looks less like a gun case and I am not going to be in arctic weather or a steamy jungle. I will be able to pick my spot and be away in no time. No need to do a deep clean as I oiled and greased the weapon after the last time I used it! All I needed to do was clean the grease off and re-oil the moving parts which I spent an hour doing. It was packed away shortly afterwards, but as I was dismantling it, wrapping the parts separately and secreting them in the compartments in the bag; I couldn’t help thinking how menacing the thing looked. The metal had a chilling blue-grey sheen and felt cold. Nothing pretty at all!
I will take small arms as well just in case! I will be working in deep shadow so my black gear is a must. I need to be there an hour or two before hand to pick my site and ensure no do-gooder can stumble over me. Dog walkers could conceivably be a nuisance, because of the location of the park and surrounding housing estate! So I will have to leave around 4am. That means in bed by nine, it’s no good trying to shoot straight when your eyes are tired. 6 hours sleep will sort that out.
I decided to go for a run and have a shower before going to bed. I finished the day in my kimono, with a glass of malt whisky and a coffee, while listening to some Barber and anticipating the thrill of what I was about to do.


God Bless