Belfast Telegraph

The force will be with me when I train to become a Jedi warrior!

By Robert McNeill

Bizarrely, for a man normally at the cutting edge of yon zeitgeist, I missed the whole Star Wars thing. I think much of the original trilogy came out under Thatcher.

In which case, I wouldn't have had money for the pictures. Still don't, though it's not so much the ticket cost as the price of the pick'n'mix.

I caught up with Star Wars later, and enjoyed it as much as the next sad fantasist, but felt I was getting on a bus that had already been, if you get my drift. Still, I like the whole idea of Star Wars: the force; good against evil; wee men sentences speaking wrong order in.

The force has much in common with the chi of Chinese Taoist thought. Chi permeates the universe, including your heid, and if you can harness enough of it, you can become invincible, fly aboot, and so forth. Sorry, I'm confusing chi with drink.

However, my point - audience: "He has a point!"- is that it would be fine to train as a Jedi warrior. You laugh, but it can be done. At the moment, it's only possible in New York, Americashire. But if it's in New York on Tuesday, you can bet that everyone'll be doing it in Belfast by Thursday. Give or take a year or two.

The New York Jedi Club teaches spirituality as well as mincing about with a lightsaber, and has proven very popular with those and such as those.

Founder Flynn Michael (crikey, even his name is in the wrong order) told the New York Times that his students "come in geeks and go out Jedi warriors". If I could have that in writing, with a money-back guarantee, I'd sign up right away.

In my time, I estimate the number of martial arts classes I've attended to be 7.2m. Usually after six months, you discover they're all rubbish and as much good in a fight as a chocolate sword. Often, I'd turn up at a new one, look at the fierce, burly-looking fellows waiting to go in, and think: "Jeez, this looks like a tough crowd."

Then it transpired these guys were fathers - proper adults - there to pick up their kids from the previous class. Once they'd gone, that left only a collection of sad gimps - your hero included - who were actually there for the martial arts.

Generally speaking, my fellow students were short, weedy chaps hoping to learn magical arts that would help them against the Big People. Alas, I never managed to develop a force that could ward off enemies in a fight. The nearest I ever came to it was farting: can buy you precious moments while you make your escape.

But there's more to being a Jedi than running away.

There's the spiritual side, learning to meditate and switch off your gibbering monkey mind to gie yourself peace. And you might as well get fit with a lightsaber than sashay away to disco music at Bodywallop or some similar cobblers.

There must be something in Star Wars because, all these years later, people still love it. There is hope, they think, even while the streets and clubs fill up with budding Darth Vaders. All the more reason why there should be a Jedi class in every major city.

Till then, may the fart be with you.

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