Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Two Ways To Skin A Kata

I felt like I just got to the point where I had met the absolute max of what I could take in.  It felt like zero to 100% in one instance though.  

I got to the black belt class early and so did Mia.  So I asked her a few questions about the first in house only kata we have, Kyoku Shodan.  After that she asked if I wanted to learn the second one.  "Sure," I said, thinking that it was going to be as easy as the first one, but to my chagrin the pattern was confounded with additional hand techniques so it immediately turned into a blur.  Later in the regular class we went over the 10 kihons (beginners kata) which added to the mess in my brain.  

When everyone else showed up to the BB class Olivia and were taught the first iteration of Sanchin, the primary kata for Goju Ryu.  This is the one where you'll usually see the guy with the top of his gi off while someone hits him to make sure that their stances are correct.  And here I was doing it and grinning like and idiot while I was it!

Not me pictured

The guy in the video is doing variant B of the kata.  Olivia and I were informed that the Goju schools don't really care what version you're doing, but you better have damn good basics when you buddy starts doing the smackins.  

The problem with this kata being so slow is that keeping place for me becomes a challenge. It's not actually a long kata, any stretch of the imagination.  Three steps forward, five punches at that point, four press downs and two muashiukes going back.  Boom you're done.  However due to the deep breathing and pace I can remember if I'm on the third or fifth move.  Sigh.  And on top of this, tomorrow we learn variant two which has the turn in it.  It's the one I learned four plus years ago.  Good luck brain!   

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Rear Hand Blocks First

Well, I thought I was doing pretty good with this first couple of kata from the Goju school and was anxious to move on to Sanchin or the second Kyochu.  Reed shot me down on that and after some review I had a lot to do to refine what I had.  But don't I always! 

Although I've done some Goju in the past, actually putting it into use is tough for me.  One of the biggest pieces is that they block with the back hand and then pass that grab or blocked hand to the lead hand.  It's hard to describe, but if I can put together a video to demo it you'll see what I'm referring to.

After practicing at some length and making errors left and right, Olivia pointed out that we are essentially white belts in a new style.  Ergh, didn't think of that, but so true.

Thankfully everything seems pretty straightforward now, but we'll see. 

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

A Little GoJu, A Little Shudo

Just a quick progress report today.  

  • Gekisai Dai Ichi and Ni are down pretty good
  • Bunkai is better, but still needs to be smoother
  • Learned Kyoku Shodan
  • Bunkai is two separate items
  • Oyo is back and forth with the two Bunkai
Pretty easy so far, but I've got Sanshin coming up which I did four or so years ago, but my recollection is a bit fuzzy.  The video below gives you an idea, but we have a slight variation because we are Shudokan doing another school's kata.  Weee.

So much breathing!

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Pulled Muscles That I Don't Know The Name Of

As a follow up from Monday I'm still plagued with the issue that I'm fairly out of shape.  In my defense we don't often do a lot of basics due to test prep, but that's changed and it was a shock to the system.  

At blackbelt class (before the regular evening adult class) Olivia and I went over Gekisai Dai Ichi and went on to learn Ni since they share most of the same moves.  We followed that up with the Bunkai.  I'm pretty proud of the fact that we learned it as fast as we have even though it's fairly elementary.  The bunkai causes me more problems but even that was going fairly well by the end of adult class.

I'm scheduled to learn the Kyoku kata with a high school guy named Cooper.  This will make my plate very full indeed, at least for that first year or so.  However, my focus immediately turned to the warm up.  This is usually by-passed because were all working out in the blackbelt class the hour before.  To add insult to injury my wife has been learning to become a yoga instructor and we thought we'd run through a routine just before I left for class and it left my legs like rubber.  So much for warming up.  

Daniel had us do kicking drills for only ten minutes.  In just ten minutes I managed to pull/frog the thigh muscles in my left leg.  What a softy!  This morning was met with the worst pain just trying to get out of bed.  Not fun.  I was able to run through the kata this morning, but I'm really enjoying sitting still.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Fresh Look

As a celebration I decided to try another theme for awhile.  I hadn't realized so much time had passed since I last posted so when I sat down to type I thought it might be nice to have a small change.  

The last month was pretty much a write off in terms of classes and practice.  I got to go to two classes right after the exam and then work had me travel until class last night.  I was feeling pretty out of shape and pretty soft, but the treat of completing a rank is that you get to learn something new!  

My current plan for my third degree is incredible aggressive.  I have to learn twelve kata with the bunkai in three years, but I also have to learn 5 kyoku kata on the side.  These are the school only kata that are not shared outside, but a brown belt needs to know them all before they achieve blackbelt.  My job is to learn those as well because my blackbelt was acknowledged from my old school, but it left me without some fundamentals.  They are actually seven Kyokus, but the first five are supposedly elementary, the sixth is for the confirmation exam a year after the blackbelt is awarded and the seventh is supposed be for fourth degree and above.  

So I was pretty excited about going to class last night, but really didn't understand how quickly I'd gotten out of shape.  I wasn't out of breath, but my muscles felt slack and warm up basics that required lots of blocking showed me that my desensitization has long since passed.  I was squirming in pain a lot.  

The good bit was that I got to learn Gekisai Dai Ichi.  I had learned it four years ago in order to help MaryAnn.  Back then I was just helping people out with whatever.  MaryAnn was learning and she was best doing it by teaching others what she was learning.  

It wasn't that I remembered it well, but I remember the basics.  It's a fairly simple pattern to remember, but leave it to me to make something more complicated than it is.  We also went through the bunkai which generally speaking, is easy, but there is a lot of moving parts.  

Here's a slow and fast breakdown of the kata:

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Finally.... Nidan

While we waiting for the results of the exam Reed, MaryAnn and me lolled in the back practice area amusing ourselves with anecdotes and stories about the test that had just finished.  But time was moving on and the advanced belts were passing through to the locker room and leaving and I still hadn't been called.  

When we lined up to start the test the room was absolutely packed to the gills.  Twelve of us were testing this time which is a fairly large number for the room.  Add to this twenty plus judges and at least 10 testing partners.  The room was 90 degrees and we were already sweating profusely from lightly warming up.  

Since putting the twelve of us on one line proved impractical we were broken into three lines to give us space to move around.  Unfortunately, I placed myself on the far left of the room due to my rank and the length of my kata, but a 7th degree blackbelt placed himself in front of me which was frustrating.  I wasn't sure how to manage that because who knew what kind of crazy stuff he was going to be doing?

As part of the test process judges and come up and randomly select a person to judge.  In my case they would ask what Kata package I was going to be doing and either moved on or got my list of kata.  I'm not the two who ended up with me were particularly thrilled with doing a Nidan, but they both knew the katas in my list so I thought that was a good sign.  Unfortunately, the guys that did my test last time didn't volunteer again which bummed me out because I wanted to show how much I'd improved.  

The test always feels like it starts abruptly, but that's because that wait is several years long!  We do the bowing and then it's go time.  I don't remember doing much of the kata, but can recall the bunkai fairly well because of the thumps, sweat and exhaustion.  Reed and I selected a complex bunkai to finish everything off after the 10th kata.  I was completely shot and we had to do it four times.  Each time I had to reach down and pull the energy to get moving.  I wasn't quite gasping, but I was pretty darn close.  

And then it was done and we got to watch a few folks that has twelve kata and then it was bow out and drink some water.  A side note is that I didn't urinate for a full 12 hours afterwards, and that was after consuming liters of water.  I've never been so dehydrated.  

During the test I had to make my way around that 7th degree guy, which wasn't great, but I gather it didn't weigh against me.  I completely messed up the 9th kata I did, but I did it with great confidence so if the folks who were watching they might not have caught that.  I could fail two kata and still pass though.

After everyone had passed through I started to get concerned.  There was a lot of passes for the high rank folks and there isn't a lot of tests where everyone passes.  My nerves were getting to Reed so he went to find out where things were.  He popped his head back around the corner and waved me forward.  

Reed and I kneeled in front of the two Shihans running the test.  

"You've got two passes!" I whooped and bowed.  And then they reviewed the notes from the two judges and gave me the certificate.  And then I was done.  

I was pretty happy evening and we ended up staying up to 1am telling stories and joking, but I found that the next day I simply, was.  I was neither up or down.  Phooey.  

I was glad that I was able to start something new after so long, but I didn't necessarily feel any particular excitement.  So it was the journey after all, not the destination.  Phooey again.  I wanted that excitement of achieving something I'd worked on for so long and feel a buzz that lasted days.  Sigh.  I was just focused on trying to sort out what to work on next.  

The drive back from Yakima was long, but fun and I think that was a reward in itself.  Rather than dealing with failure, it was gift to look at the future and the possibilities expressing themselves while we talked.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Fragile Male Ego 2.0

Here's the pattern.  Practice at home when I can.  Go to class or private practice.  Get corrections, repeat.  Wake up in the middle of the night going over moves in my head or get cramps in legs because I didn't drink enough water.  Repeat.

I've got eight days before the test.  I can't believe I'm typing that.  We keeping working on detail work that Reed indicates should be related to the level of skill I should be at.   I'm meeting with Reed every day now and the heat is near unbearable in late August.  

He doesn't say I'm ready or not and I'm not asking.  I don't think I can bare to have him say it's 50/50.  The truth is that I have to be better than I was last time and I have to have judges that like what they see.  Urgh. 

I realize I can only do as best as I can, but I'd rather be done with this.  I really don't want to be in Ivana's situation where she had to come back three times.  I can only imagine that she kept going back to prove it to herself, but it absolutely burned her out on Karate.  She never came back.  School and regular life took the preference at that point and she never made space ever again.  I definitely don't want to be in that situation.  

Writing this is cathartic.  I've got to get my head in a correct space to do well, but not perseverate over the results.  The goal is to do the best I can without rushing.  

Ten straight days of practice?  Not sure about that part, but it allows for a lot of focus on one kata/bunkai a day.

Two Ways To Skin A Kata

I felt like I just got to the point where I had met the absolute max of what I could take in.  It felt like zero to 100% in one instance tho...