Sunday, June 14, 2015

Off Task

Hey loyal followers and anyone else that makes it to this page!  I haven't posted in a bit because of family issues and an unfortunate cough that has turned out to be bronchitis.  I'm looking forward to seeing the end of it, but I'm only on week two and I've been told the minimum is four to six weeks.  I'm going to try to return to class tomorrow to see how I do.  I'm almost up to 50 classes and I love a milestone, but to what end I'm not sure.  Just that it's a nice round number.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Story Time

One thing that I very much like at this school is the "story time" component.  Apparently, the original gringo got his stories from the Japanese master and would periodically tell them.  In time each school leader would repeat them so after awhile everyone would get the details; a verbal history as it were.

These stories are where the kata came from and how they have changed and why.  Yesterday's story was about the elbow techniques that we have to know.  The basic ten moves we have to know for the first black are performed with another person (Uke) who pretty much just throws a straight punch.  But because there are ten of them my poor memory struggles to get past four or five.  Everybody seems to be making a mnemonic to remember, but so far that hasn't happened for me yet. 

The story of the elbows is that Ichigawa was in Europe (Switzerland?) with Morris Mack Sensei.  He had a dream that included a kata of elbow techniques.  When he woke he approached Morris and said I think this is for you.  Morris said thanks and learned it, but didn't think much of it.  Over time that kata became the ten techniques we know now.  While we learn them Reed Sensei also shows the things that have changed even through his sojourn;  an open hand here versus and fist there.  It gives the feeling of acting out living history. 

During the warm ups I was telling Reed that I really liked how I wasn't constantly fighting injury in this school.  This is germane because I woke up this morning with a mangled neck again and shoulder again.  I can't figure what I'm doing that flairs that but it was completely gone for the last couple weeks.  Sigh.  I've also started running again which makes my legs completely fried.  Stretching feels I'm pulling scabs.  I definitely have to work that in more regularly. 

One of the teenage students, Kyle, is going to be off for the summer.  I told him that I hoped I'd be farther ahead by the time he got back.  He said, "If youre better that would be great for me to learn from and if you're not it'll give me an opportunity to resume where I left off".  Either way he wins.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Notices Of Age

I am absolutely in the worst pain right now.  Apparently abundant manual labor around the house is no substitute for the gym and moderately hard aerobics.  I discontinued running awhile back because I just didn't seem to be able to put it to my schedule.  The same goes with the gym.  Since I've moved to the Rose City I haven't been able to look at a gym because of the time commitment. 

Which brings me to why I'm so uncomfortable right now.  Last night we started late and MaryAnn Sensei led the warm-up.  Although she is thorough, I can barely stifle an inward groan sometimes.  She takes a long time and doesn't use an out loud count.  This leads to the occasional late start.  Last night was an impressive detour into yoga moves.  If it were anything but in our class I would have applauded because I clearly needed to work on torso flexibility, but the warm up went into the 30 minute mark and I was groaning before we finished.  What happened to my flexibility?

While we were finishing up Reed Sensei placed rubber disk in patterns around the back of the room.  This indicates we'd be doing movement drills.  Again this can be onerous, but are great for reminding our feet what they need to be doing.  However, last night they went into new territory.  I thought doing cartwheels was a challenge, but we did a one knee down squats.  Again this shouldn't have been an issue, but even after one run of 10 or so squats I could feel my hams lock up.  By the 20th I could barely stand up. 

Thankfully everyone was very supportive, but I think they were a bit concerned since my face was not only congested red, but I was sporting a rictus of pain.  After that, we were asked to see what we needed to work on.  I partnered with Kyle to work on details of Pinan Shodan.

When I got home I needed to mow the lawn.  Now a considerably daunting task since my legs weren't really supporting my weight.  It was like someone removed my knees.  Before I hit the sack I took a Alleve and I think it was the only thing that allowed me to get out of bed today.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


After two plus weeks off I was experiencing my normal anxiety about returning to class.  I may have mentioned this before, but it's like experiencing a panic attack.  The adrenaline is spiking and I feel absolutely weak.  I know, intellectually, that I'll be fine when class starts, but wading through that is challenging.  

What made me nervous is that I feel out of shape and it was going to be a long night.  I was hosting the after class practice in the basement dojo and that can run on till 7.  So I'll be going from flaccid to three hours straight.

Class whistled by and I did some focus time with MaryAnn Sensei on the Goju kata, then we did a little work on the Pinan Shodan.  This time doing the application work which everyone finds very fun.  I partnered with Olivia and once we worked out the bugs we moved very well together.  

During After hours I worked with Mark most of the time on his three applications.  Which in any situation is a sickening amount of stuff to remember.  He did great until the last bit which is when he lost a few moves.  We tied it together and thought we were great until Sensei came by and point out that we missed a huge amount of stuff.  Back to beginning!  

At the end of the night we reviewed the application drill that we had gone through during class and I was partnered with MaryAnn Sensei and she demonstrated that enthusiasm doesn't always equate with smoothness.  It's a hell of a thing to talk to a senior and ask them to slow down.  

As of this writing I'm only experiencing modest soreness, but I imagine as the day progresses I'll be begging for ibuprofen.

Thursday, April 30, 2015


After being overwhelmed on Monday, a little dedicated time in the evening to work on the kata appeared to let things settle in my mind.  Although I still have to stop and think, I can keep things separate now.  I mean I have to really think the whole kata through before I do it.  Thankfully they are really short.

We went over the 6 major blocks; which I find very different from my own.  Anytime we do a block we initiate with elbows stacked.  It's somewhat exaggerated, and when we do them at speed a lot of that is lost, but we practice all at three speeds.  The lesson is that you want to get it correct, but at speed you're not going to be perfect.  And that you have to practice at high speed. 

After that we worked a bit more on Pinan Shodan before Mark and I worked on his kata, bunkai, application work. 

At the end of class we gathered at the front for a lesson.  Reed Sensei likes to spend a few minutes for an instruction or moral tale.  I wasn't sure what to make of these, but I enjoy them because I can't think of anytime in my life that anyone actually said this stuff (maybe Sunday school?).  Last night's lesson referred to eye gazes.  To recall we tend to look up and to the right and if stretching the truth we tend look down and to the right.  Thus the term "a downright liar".  Obviously it depends on lots of factors, but it was pretty cool.

He finalized the time with a poem:
I'm born with a set of tools,
A shapeless mass,
And a book of rules.
I need to build
before I die
a stumbling block
or stepping stone. 

I don't think I have that totally right, but you can see that where he was going with it.  Nice sentiment and places the work in creating the people we want to be in our own hands.  Or that's how I interpreted it. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A Little Overwhelmed

I think I officially hit the point of saturation yesterday.  I'm up to six kata and I'm struggling to keep it all straight.  They start to fold in on one another and then I have to go back and start over again during practice.  Then they evaporate altogether!

I got to class a bit early and asked one of the young black-belts if they knew the second Geki kata.  She had no idea what I was talking about.  So I guess Reed Sensei is assigning me kata based on an algorithm know only to him.  I'm not complaining other than I don't think I'm doing things justice.  I can do the technique well, but have a hard time remembering transitions and stances. 

In my latest case the two Geki kata are very similar and start off the same, but change subtly after the first run 1/3.  So now they are blended and I'm struggling to keep them separate. 

Added to this is that the whole class is learning a kata together (Pinan Shodan) which is fun and all, but as in the case last night I'm removed to help the black belt test guy.  Which I love, but then I lose the content of the other stuff! 

So until I can settle the Gekis I'm going to have to practice more in the evening to separate them.  Another concern is that my forms from TSD are going to go away!  How do we keep all this in place?!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

New Stuff

After warm up I was directed to MaryAnn Sensei while each group went to work on different things depending on skill.  I was supposed to check off on Gekki SaiDai-Ichi and then learn the next in series, Ni.  I love this kata because it's relatively short and incorporates sanchin. 

We went through it a few times and refined some pieces and then moved on to Ni.  It starts pretty much the same way, but moves to open hand Sanchin and changes to cat stances in the end.  Fun! 

Not me, but this is exactly the one I just learned.

I finished the day working on Wando with Kyle.  I had to straighten out the starting stances. 

I also realized that I have been given a lot of respect in that they continue to teach me Black belt level kata.  I was struck by the fact that no one else seems to be working on the things that I'm working on.  It could be that I'm being taught things that are somewhat for someone getting close to the test or for the 2nd degree.  I'm really not sure, but it is fun.