Thursday, January 19, 2017

A Moment Of Respite

Sensei Reed has the blackbelts in class on a text group so he can let us know if we are going to have afterclass .  99% of the time we have the class.  It's held at Daniel Sensei's parents garage.  As I've mentioned in the past, due to it's lack of insulation it can either be incredibly cold or equally hot during the summer.  

Due to the brutal cold snap we've been having going to afterclass is daunting.  I don't think I have circulation problems, but after an hour my hands and feet hurt.  And then it feels like it takes a day and half to get my body temperature up to normal. However, the second hour of instruction is fantastic because we have a narrow focus on the moves and get a lot accomplished.  

So it was equal parts sadness and glee when afterclass got canceled last night.  To compensate I went to class early.  This means that Mark and I can work out for a good half hour before class starts.  Unfortunately, for both of us our combined memory isn't always helpful trying to remember some things.  

Last night we ran into the same old block with our Oyo.  Unable to sort out a transition from one set to another we looked like to guys acting our age, Hah!  

Class consisted of:
- 3 x Kyoku Roku Dan kata
- 3 x Nifanshi ShoDan Kata
- 3 x 10 bunkai for Kyoku

We didn't quite make it all the way, but had a lot of refinements from Reed Sensei.  The class was far to quick.  Even though I wanted that respite from the conditions of the garage I feel like the clock is ticking constantly.  May is right around the corner.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Snowpocolypse Now

The Rose City is not known for snow at all.  The location secured from the ocean by a mountain range should ensure a moderated temperature all year around, but as each year passes the winter gets more wintery and the summer gets more summery.   This year the snow has come down and remains due to sub-zero temperatures. 

This means that business throughout the city is having a problem staying open because employees can't get to work.  In the case of class the place we go closed last week because they couldn't get anyone there to open up.  To add salt to the virtual wound our after class is held in Daniel Sensei's uninsulated garage.  It was in the 20's(F) last night and the garage was probably only around 60 at best.  Blue and white feet were definitely the word of the day. 

This is the third week in a row in which we might only have a single class during the week.  The new environmental problem is slightly warmer weather combined with freezing rain. 

Last night I went to class very early to warm up and thankfully Mark was there.  We worked on the Nifanshi Oyo and could barely remember how to put it together.  We hadn't practiced it for three weeks and it showed.  It's incredibly simple, but we couldn't remember the next move from the very start.

After class started MaryAnn and Reed both helped us remember the moves and then had us fix a few bits and pieces.  One of those was the shin kick.  Neither of us was putting any effort into timing or intensity. After that we both put a LOT of effort into it and this morning I noticed a considerable amount of bruises up and down my leg.  Ouch. 

I should mention that Mark was doing all this with his finger in a splint.  He had his finger slammed in a car door by a 7 year old.  It basically popped open like a grape.  I couldn't believe he hadn't gone to a doctor.  So we were really paying attention not to touch the finger! 

I led some warm ups and then Mark and I traded sides (attacker vs defender) several times until we felt comfortable.  I'm not saying we were great, but it was quite nice to remember the moves in their proper order.  MaryAnn was already to go traditional; which means one side does their side for months.  We had to tell her we both knew each other's side and just forgotten. 

I got to after class first (which is normal, but I don't understand because I usually leave last?) and got to grab Daniel Sensei for a run through of the ten bunkai.  For the first time I was able to go through them with a fair degree of recollection.  I sure wish I could practice those everyday.  I have no idea how to trick my wife into this, but if I could do that I'd be way smoother than I am now.

We finished up by working in the Kyoku application.  We worked out a few rough bits and then switched sides till I ran out of time. 

The only note from last night was that Reed said that he'd love to work more on the Elbow techniques, but since those aren't a requirement we need to focus on the application.  I got a laugh, thinking to myself that it seemed obvious that we need to focus on what we need to know. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Knee Cah Joe

It sounds like my Indian name doesn't it?  However in this case it means wrist locks.  Or maybe joint locks, but last night it was all about wrist locks.  Thankfully Noah was able to tell me it was Nikajo or Nikkyo. 

I'm very proud of my locks.  My old school took great lengths to train us to be able to apply them in a variety of forms and angles and yet I find myself being educated in news ways with Reed Sensei.  Usually a lock is applied by capturing your opponents hands against something.  In this case they have grabbed you by the wrist.  We use our other hand to hold it in place and then angle the wrist so the pressure goes against the joint in some horrific way.  

One thing I don't recall working on was escapes and counters.  We worked so hard on setting up and getting into position that I don't think it ever came up. The two big ones are getting super close to the other guy and getting so far out that the leverage is ruined.  I could feel that rush of understanding and being surprised that I could still be surprised.

The big treat last night was that Mark and I switched places in the application series and got about halfway through the routine.  That was a kick in the pants because it went so fast.  I'm still worried about my attention to detail.  So many little things to worry about.


My Indian name
a short story by the Tater

I used to work with Troy.  He's a Cowlitz Indian.  I was fascinated by his stories of dysfunctional tribal politics combined with a traditional thread tying his life together while frustrating him at the same time.  

I told him that I had been frustrated by my inability to track down my Lene-Lenape ancestry (this was before cheap DNA tests).  As a consequence I was robbed of ever getting an Indian name.  

He approached his grandfather one weekend to see if they could help me out. As as result I got the name Piah Kiah Ootlach.  It means Burns In The Sun.  

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Sh┼źdokan 110!

I'm always looking for something special on a milestone class, but as usual, I don't know the count of the class I'm in at the moment.

Reed Sensei said that the confirmation test would take place in April.  To me that feels like next week and we aren't exactly there yet.  There is a lot of content to go through and refine, but Reed says that we are going to be learning the other side of the long application series next week!  

I don't feel particularly smooth with my side yet and we are just starting to learn the advanced elbow techniques.  Although they aren't massively complicated they still need to be learned and become an addition to the already big catalog of material.  

Last night in afterclass we went through the application about three and half times.  I'm having some problems with foot work so we went through and made sure every stance was correct and that took some time.  After that we went over three of the advanced elbow techniques.  We have to learn 5 through 10 and I was able to make it up to 7 last night before time ran out.

Mark definitely has the advantage here.  He'd learned the ten basic elbow techniques as part of his blackbelt training in the last couple of years.  So the advanced stuff is just icing on the cake.  I'm coming in relatively fresh since I've only seen this stuff practicing with Mark in the last couple of years.  Wow, I can't believe I'm saying that!  

Yet to learn:
- Defenders side of the Kyoku Roku Dan application
- Elbow techniques 8 -10.

What I know reasonably well:
- Nifanshi Sho Dan Kata
- Kyoku Roku Dan Kata
- Nifanshi Sho Dan Oyo
- Kyoku Roku Dan Bunkai attacker/defender
- Kyoku Roku Dan application attacker
- Advanced Elbow techniques 5-7

All that being said I need to review the Oyo and Bunkai since I haven't been able to practice any of it for over a month.  Yikes!  It's already slipping away.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Bent Wrists Are My Specialty

I'm finally starting to get my sleep schedule corrected, but it's slow going.  Most of the last few evenings I find myself on the sofa being roughly awakened by my head hitting my chest.  This is around 6 to 7 pm.  Tuesday night I was fairly good because I made it 8 pm.  So I was reasonable awake for class last night.  

Reed Sensei must have been feeling some burnout on all the test prep stuff so he launched into a series of techniques that lead up to wrist locks and traps. This is always a welcome relief to me because it was such a large part of my old school's curriculum.  

I was partnered with MaryAnn Sensei, but she was clearly unused to being on the receiving end of techniques and I ended up spending a lot of time massaging her forearms after dropping her to her knees.  That didn't make me feel too good.  I wasn't sure if I was out of practice or she was just extremely sensitive.  Either way we didn't get far, but I got to introduce a whole bunch of stuff no one had seen before.  Yeah for cross pollination.  

After class was all about catching up for me.  Mark and me went through the ten bunkai, two run-throughs of the application and then three of the advance elbow techniques.  

When I got home, showered, and had a little food I ended up nodding off on the sofa again, but I made it 9 pm before I went to bed.  I later woke up refreshed and toddled off to the bathroom only to find that it was 11 pm.  Sigh.  I was able to get back to sleep and woke up at 4 am as usual.  Jeeze.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Sneeze 2

In a continuing celebration of my 50th year my wife and I traveled in Southeast Asia for a couple of weeks.  Thankfully the pace and location allowed me to practice my kata every other day or so.  I was very nervous that I'd forget something, but I was supposed to be focused on addressing some small details with my big kata. 

The folks we traveled with are dedicated practitioners of yoga and meditation so our mornings would be fairly quiet.  During their meditative practice I'd go into whatever space I could fine to work on my stuff.  This was met with some humor because I have a tendency to be embarrassed about my dedication.  For them meditation is something of a regular topic.  My focus on the karate is something fairly private to me, so I'm never really sure how to address it.  If I'm lucky my wife brings it up so I don't sound like a humble bragger.  It goes a long way if I need to go and practice without looking like a hermit.

The problem with this level of travel is the jetlag on the return.  I've know that return to the West is tough, but this appears to be next level stuff in my case.  I got back on Saturday afternoon and probably hadn't slept for 40 hours at that point.  The normal course of order is to stay up as long as you can to correct your sleep pattern, but I gave up at 6pm and had the worst sleep ever as a result.  Exhaustion and jet lag made for the sweats, tossing and turning and finally a wake up at 4am to which there was no return to sleep. 

I rationalized this by telling myself that it would get back to my Monday schedule faster.  Of course I ended up going to bed way too early and repeated the cycle.

Fast forward to last night and my return to class.  I was swaying a bit but got there on time and ended up leading the warmup!  Reed grabbed Mark right away to work on something so I was the lead.  This was kind of nice because I needed a bit of time to get things moving. 

After warmup Reed had me work on Pachu for the almost the entirety of the class. 
Sakumoto doing Pachu

Surprisingly I was able to get through the whole kata in my shaky state, but this morning I couldn't remember the last couple of moves.  At least it's a bit more knowledge in the brain.  This is the first of the katas from the Ryuei-ryu school of karate.  I'm not sure I'm going to be doing much with this one, but it's nice to have the occasional change in pace during the confirmation prep.

Mark and finished up the class with the first of our new elbow techniques.  We are going to be performing five through ten of the advanced.  Five is interesting and action packed.  It starts with a standard technique and ends with a trip and arm bar. 

I can't wait to be awake on Wednesday!

Thursday, November 24, 2016


It's thanksgiving here in the states today and usually most things around the holiday are put aside to get ready for family and cooking.  However, we took a vote and decided we'd do both classes as way to squeeze in as much training as we could.  However the first class only had five of us and then after class was only three of us. 

Reed started the class very quickly and that means the bare minimum of warm so we could get to content.  He asked how much was on my plate.  This meant that he was learning something and needed someone else to work with.  He does his best learning by teaching someone else.  Since he's kind of being pushed to work on his next belt he needs to learn four new kata under the Ryuei-Ryu school.  We'd learned Anan which was the fourth I believe, but Pachu is the first.  At any rate the pronunciation of said kata sounds like a sneeze to me; thus the title of the post.

We got most of the way through it, but class ended.  Everybody said their farewells since I'll be going on vacation to Cambodia and Malaysia for the next couple of weeks. 

After class consisted of Kyle, Daniel and myself.  This is Kyle's first after class session and thankfully we had the garage to ourselves.  It made for a spacious environment since it's usually six of us packed in there. 

As usual, it was work on the kata to refine pieces and parts for quite a long time.  This time I took notes on four areas to work on.  I know that by the end of the year I'll be pretty sick of this kata, but I'll look damn good doing it. 

We finished up by doing the application twice.  I'm ironing pieces of that out to smooth things out.  By the time I get back Mark will probably be fantastic and I'll have to remember stuff all over again.