Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Karate In The Time Of Covid

 I gotta watch that big toe

I gotta watch my neck, don't punch to hard

Watch for overloading that left knee.

Don't kick so hard on the left or you'll hurt that bad hammie.  

Try to get time with Sensei to answer some questions about that one piece in the kata.

Keep your eyes up during the kata.

Man, my mind is busy.  The above was floating around in my skull before and during our most recent session in the park.  I'm trying to address the work at hand, but my recent spate of physical issues tends to press in inopportunely.  

I tweaked my left knee recently going up and down a ladder.  It stiffens easily.  I've had this before so just babying, regular movement should clear it up in a week.  

My bulging C6/7 is finally resolving.  Regular exercises have pulled the bulge back to the point where the nerves are barely pinching.  However, punching at full strength certainly aggravates things, but I was totally fine to go to sleep comfortably last night.  

My PT has given me new exercises to help with work on my hamstring.  Because the injury appeared to be so high up (on the hip bone) I probably wasn't doing too much with traditional stretches.  The new stuff really is nice and I see progress, but this morning sitting is tough, which means I probably overdid it last night.  

I'm up to six kata (of the twelve I need to learn for my test) and although they are short I find myself forgetting pieces and parts.  They aren't totally engrained yet.  So I imagine it's going to be a bit before I get to number seven.  

The current list:

  1. Gekki Sai Dai Ichi
  2. Gekki Sai Dai Ni
  3. San Shin
  4. Tensho
  5. Saifa
  6. Shiso Shin
Please forgive spelling errors.  


Thursday, July 23, 2020

Bassai in the park

Holy Cow!  So much time has passed since I've sat down and collected my thoughts for a quick update about my martial practice.  March was my last entry!  Here we are in July and I've a bit of a restart about a month ago.

Sensei has the blackbelts meeting in a nearby park twice a week.  We all wear masks and stay six feet apart.  The heat has become unfortunate, but the shaded areas are reasonable.  I feel like there is a certain amount of irony about all the folks complaining that they can't breath with a simple surgical mask.  I think they should be doing an action packed kata with one on. 

I'm often breathing so hard that I'm pulling the mask into my mouth a good bit.  Apparently I'm back out of shape.  Doing kata for an hour has become grueling.  I'm not sure the heat or generally my household internment is the greater cause, but I can assume both have weight in the problem. 

During the covid lock down I've returned to weightlifting, but I've been accumulating injuries consistently.  Hamstring, two shoulders and a forearm have been the stuff I've been overcoming.  So the return to karate has been really nice.  I see it as a reasonable exercise, but as we gear up at the park I struggle to keep up with my various injuries peeking through. 

Since we can get near each other the only thing we are doing is working on kata.  I'm not slated to learn much more than what I know (towards my third dan) so I'm helping out Kyle work on his Nidan.  It's a treat to help, but as per usual, I'm not confident with my teaching skills.  What to focus on?  What to correct? And so on. 

Sensei took yesterday to get us all to learn Bassai Dai.  I was very pleased because this was a kata I did for my Blackbelt in Tang So Do.  However the versions are different, and I doubt I could remember it anyway.  Once we got rolling I was able to recall the moves in some spots.  Below I've got an example of the karate and the TSD so you can see the differences.

Karate with commentary! 


TSD with some notes.  Master Kil

As you can see the patterns are fairly compatible, but TSD really doesn't look at the stances too much and adds a lot of spring to the whole thing.  Sigh, the good old days.  The stances in the Japanese version are challenging to me.  

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Full Iron Circle

When I started at the Shudokan school five years ago, MaryAnn Sensei was working on her San Dan and as part of that she would teach me the katas she was working on.  Here I am five years later doing the same thing!

As part of good learning we are told to teach to really absorb what's going on in a kata.  The four kata I have are relatively simple and short in length, but teaching represents a challenge because I tend to parrot what I've been told, but I don't know a lot of the "why's" and "what fors".  

Since my usual partner, Olivia, has been out to family issues Mark has been nice enough to work out with me.  As part of that I've been teaching him the four Goju-Ryu kata I know.  So that completes the circle for to a degree.  We touched on them Monday and as of yesterday he had all four down by the end of the second class.  He still struggles with pattern, but considering it was about five hours, he did a great job for someone who lists his own memory as being really short.

I'm feeling better and better with them and I think I might jump ahead and take alook at the next one to see how complicated it is.  Whoop!

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Covid Dachi

The slow and insidious creep of Covid 19 in our region is impacting lots of things, but in respect to karate all the regional tournaments have been canceled.  That means that our focus for the last several months just ground to a halt. 

Reed uses a text string with all the black belts to give us news or ask questions.  As of this week this has turned into how do we deal with this issue of transmissible disease.   No one wants to miss class, but no one wants to wrangle with a case of the flu.  As a result we are now focusing on kata and pretty much zero contact.  

Thankfully we have a nurse in class and she gave us the info we more or less need - wash your hands a lot and don't worry so much if you're healthy.  The social distancing is probably good for the population in general, but the concern is over blown for healthy people.  If your old, if you have respiratory issues or immuno-suppressed then you might need to hide out for some time.  

This has allowed for us to focus on kata for a big stretch.  Since our new bb club is so close to the class we don't lose 20 to 30 minutes of driving.  So we are getting two plus hours of practice and instruction.  

For me it was back to Goju-Ryu basics and fine tuning my first three kata (Geki Sai Dai Ichi, Ni and Sanshin).  During the regular class it was all foot work, meaning that I had to do sanshin dachi for a half hour before he had me work with Cooper on his stuff.  My legs are pretty tired today.  

I definitely have to practice more though.  I'd forgotten a few items as per usual.  Sigh.

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Bugs and changes

With the corona virus being in our backyard everything appears to be a bit impacted.  Work has required every one to work at home and cancelled all but necessary travel.  I hadn't really thought about anything beyond that, but last night Sensei mentioned that he's not going to the upcoming tournaments out of an abundance of concern.  Especially the ones where there are travelers from Southeast Asia going through multiple airports.  Yikes!

This means that the next tournament I had planned on might be in jeopardy.  Reed said we'll continue to work toward the tournaments as if we were going.  I guess it gives us a focus.  

We tried out a new place for the black belt group.  Mark has houses all over the area and has a basement near the club where we have our regular classes.  It's massive.  I think like 3000 square feet.  It's broken up into a lot of rooms, but it worked out for us.  Reed split us into skill groups so no one was stepping on anyone's toes.  The ceilings are a bit low with texture, so hands and knuckles beware.  This could be a new potential home base for us and certainly reduces all the driving we normally do.

The evening class was mostly occupied with working on a kata we all knew and tearing it down in various ways.  And then Mark and I tried to teach Cooper the second Kyoku kata.  I was enthusiastic, but with two teachers and one student I think we could have been better.  He's a good student so it went well even though we had poor instruction.  

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Still In Prep Mode

I'm not sure how it is that I don't remember this time of the year from years past.  Clearly Reed and the others that normally go to tournaments during this quarter tend to focus on the little preparatory things, but I don't remember this level of involvement before.

Monday we focused on our katas that we'd be doing for tournament.  By that I mean it was working on details until we were blue in the face.  Which is nice to be honest because at home practice is usually once or twice run through with no one but myself.  It makes it hard to be objective.

Last night was back to fight night.  After a lot of interesting drills, which broke up our previous moves into different patterns we started matches way to late.  The style of tournament we are practicing now is more international.  There is a three point system which really emphasizes kicks to the head for three points.  The matches are 12 points and three minutes long.  They feel like forever.  To prepare for this style we added a huge amount of kicks to our repertoire.  I normally love kicks, but I'd forgotten how exhausting they are.  That's a lot muscle to energize over and over again, but against a shorter opponent I do way better than I thought, if I can regularly take shots with my legs.

Only one match and it was against Todd who always wins, but I got him 12 to 5 due to kicks.  Whoop.  

I immediately went home and gobbled ibuprofen to get ahead of the worst of the pain.  I guess this what we do in our 50s.  Ugh.  More stretching for sure.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Post Tournament Review

There is so much to talk about, but I'm not sure how much I can put into a cohesive story.  Of course, I'm not sure how much I write is cohesive, hah!

I decided fairly late into the process to go to tournament with my Sensei and Todd.  Normally I would have planned ahead by a couple more weeks and Sensei would have better numbers for the organizers.  Then we would have probably planned our weekend better, but such is life.  

We ended up leaving at 5 am, driving three and half hours and walking into registration at the last minute.  We were still dressing up when the first staging was occurring.  Thankfully there was around two hundred competitors so the little kids took up most of the first hour.  

The tourney was in a high school gym and the floor space was broken into 6 "rings".  The entire time I was there, except for the final grand champion fights, every ring was in use.  Totally a 6 ring circus and incredibly well organized.  

I registered for four events.   Black belt kata (men's open), Black Belt kata (men over 45), Kumite black belt men open and Kumite black belt men over 35 heavy weight.  

For my first kata I got an 8.5 which didn't place me due to the amount of competitors.  My second kata, which I thought was great was an average of 8.4 I think.  Still not good enough to place.  

We had to wait around a bit for Kumite so Reed and I thought we'd warm up during which he punched me in the mouth while we were moving fast.  No damage, but I thought I was going to go into competition with Kim Kardashian lips for a minute, hah!

Our open group of men turned out to be the friendliest folks.  We got chatting and laughing, but when it was fight time everyone was very serious.  I liked that vibe quite a bit.  It relaxed the atmosphere.  Todd told me later that the low color belts had a lot of testosterone.  We didn't seem to have it in our crowd.  

I honestly felt that I wouldn't be competitive due to the lack of experience in the last fifteen years, but to my surprise I won my first two matches.  I lost the third and figured it was no big deal.  I had my equipment off and got surprised when they called me again.  The single elimination thing really threw me off.  So I got another match in and lost that one and was finally out.  However out of a group of 12 guys I ended up fourth!  What the heck!?  
Micheal and Me.  Not elegant.

Mr. Rice and Me.  This is the one that ended my reign.

The next kumite was black belt men over 35 and and heavy weight.  We all asked what the weight cut off was and they said it was our preference.  What?  Finally an old timer said that the cut off was 175 lb.  Well we definitely all met and exceeded that.  

My first and only match was with Eric, the guy that ended up as grand champion.  It wasn't much of a contest.  I did a 0-3.  I felt that I got one point, but the judge was a AAUW guy and sorting out the action was so weird.  He never stopped us and both Eric and I got confused because we would reset and he would say "I didn't say yame."  So we'd launch as fast we could and the first person would get the point.  Sigh.
Eric and me.

My Sensei, Reed ended up in the grand champion round so we stayed pretty late.  We stopped for dinner on the way back and I ended up getting home at 9.  A long day.  

Karate In The Time Of Covid

 I gotta watch that big toe I gotta watch my neck, don't punch to hard Watch for overloading that left knee. Don't kick so hard on t...