Showing posts from 2006


I've been fighting a cold for the last week and now I'm about to step on a plane to go to Mexico for two weeks. If I see anything martial I write about it, but I may not have the energy to type in the heat.

M. Jordan

A long time I ago I was listening to a NPR story and I heard this guy talk about his experience playing basketball in a evening. He was short and fat knew he would never play in the NBA, however he related that at one point in his life, for one evening, for every shot he took, it was if the hoop was 12 feet wide. He would take his shots and turn to run without evening looking because he knew they were going in. He described is as to how Micheal Jordan must have felt every time he played.

I felt that way last night in a Karate way. We were practicing a lot of randori and focus drills and I was on fire. Every choice I took was quick, focused and even the others in class were murmuring about how good I looked.

However to every great thing there must be balance so with all my enthusiasm I ended up spraining my thumb (again) and covered myself in some serious bruises. I didn't even feel any of it during the evening. I noticed the thumb on the drive home when I tried to put the k…


A couple of weeks ago we were doing focus mitt drills which required us to strike both of outside mitts in a combination and then kick the holder as the final shot. This went very well so we started changing the combination to kicks to the mitts and then a strike to the holder.

My turn to hold the mitts. Everyone was doing very well with speed and accuracy when Check took her turn. I was very relaxed being the holder and was paying attention to the folks striking to see what I could see. Check took her position and I could see her focusing on the mitt on my left hand. She shifted a bit and went for crescent kick. The arc was beautiful and would have made a resounding impact into the mitt - if it hadn't made a resounding impact into my groin. I was on my knees so fast that Check hadn't even returned to zenkutsu yet.

The beautiful part about all this was when I was able to open my eyes the entire class was clutching their nethers and had bug eyes which, in turn, made me laugh a …


I was so low on calories that I labeled the title in lower case. My wife is dieting for our winter vacation so that means I'm joining her whether I need it or not (I need it). So about an hour into class I realize it's starting to get harder to get up off the mats each time I go down. Teacher asks if I'm okay and I know that I'm perfectly fine, but it seems to be taking more energy to get up. Like wading through water.

So Vet went off to training for military unarmed combat school last week. He came back and shared some of his quality stuff. The best was the escape from full mount and choke. We have basic escapes and practice our holds and blocks from the floor position, but this was great because it moved from the bottom to the top. Very neat. We don't have any jujitsu moves so this was a welcome addition. We normally attempt hand grabs and use an hand/wrist lock to control the situation. The only problem with constant lock practice is that my hands fe…

So a guy walks into a bar...

After class on Thursday Sensei had me and hairdo join him and his wife for a beer at one of the local bars. On the way out I was repeatedly stopped by a fellow. This was the conversation:

Him: Hey, are you in the coast guard?
Me: No.
Him: Oh.
Him: Well, you look like you're in the coast guard.
Me: Okay.
Him: Oh.
Him: Where do you work?
Me: Over there.
Him: Oh.
Him: 'cause you look like you work for the coast guard.
Me: nope
Him: Oh.

I got out the door while he was still shooting belligerent questions. Not a Karate moment, but still makes me giggle. I assume he has something against Coasties.


I was thinking to myself how I didn't want to go to beatings, but after the binge of the Thanksgiving week I needed all sorts of activity to assist in the weight loss I dearly needed. It turns out I wasn't the only one. A moderate turn out, but the story amongst the adults was consistent. It must be great to still be younger.

After reading "Zen and the Martial Arts" I got an insight into my behavior several weeks ago. Joe Hyams said that when he got hit during practice he would be immediately angry. After evaluation with his Sensei at the time he realized that he was not separating action from intent. I realized that my perception of interactions with Nut are me interpreting his behavior as taking advantage of me somehow. With that firmly in mind I braced myself as I entered class. I also realized this was the same feeling engendered when I originally met Beard in class. So I tell myself I'm a better man now.

What I forgot is that insight doesn't necessarily m…

T-Day prep

The bone chilling temperature rose a couple of degrees so the apathy it brings was alleviated. This means that pretty much everyone showed up for class and was ready to go early. After warm ups we did punches, blocks and kicks to get everyone on the same page and then did basic drills.

At half time I went over to Nut and apologized for my behavior and as I speculated, he didn't even have an idea of what I was talking about, but was very empathetic and pointed out that he suffers from similar feelings and ends up walking out every once in awhile to catch his thoughts.

After half time I partnered with the new guy, Vet. Friendly with no formal training beyond what he received in the Marines, Vet makes randori and sparring very enjoyable. He doesn't mind closing and infighting taller opponents and knows how to use what he knows. I'll look forward to continuing to be partnered with him.

I just started reading "Zen and the Martial Arts" by Joe Hyams. It's jus…

In the South I believe they call it, "code."

I was so cold when I got to beatings that my wedding ring kept sliding off my finger before I even changed out. That's not a bad thing though. A couple of years back I was sparring with a TKD black belt and blocked one of those super kicks poorly and jammed my ring finger. By the end of the evening my finger resembled a small eggplant in color and size. I ended up going to the ER and getting the ring cut off by a laughing nurse who didn't really care about the agony I was going through.

To this day I take my ring off before class. Not very real in respect to a real world confrontation, but the odds of me blocking a super speed TKD kick to the noggin in the real world are pretty slim in my estimation.

After a brief warm up I got partnered with Arms of Steel, but we thankfully didn't do blocks and strikes or my cold shrunk arms probably would have snapped at first contact. We started doing wrist locks and locks into throws. We don't use the Japanese terms here so I'd …


So I went in on Thursday of last week ready to apologize to Nut for my lack of cohesion even if he didn't realize that my gears were stripping last week. Alas, he didn't show and I was left off balance again (thanks Pat).

It was a very regular class and Teacher was very conscious of my back and kept asking if the activities were aggravating it. Felt like star treatment there for awhile. That will go a way in time I'm sure.

I got to do block and punch exercises with the new guy, Red. He's been around the block and seems to warm up to MA easily. I don't think I was doing my best as I ended up guiding a punch into my nose and then elbowing Red in the mouth. Teacher pointed out that sparring or even exercises in this case lead to more injury. The white belt does the unexpected! Boy I must have made his life miserable when I was a white.

Icy Hot

My vision became a very small circle, all frosty around the edges and I felt somehow larger and taller. It was like someone turning the volume all the way all at once. I was one inch from snapping and lashing out.

Returning to class wasn't going very well. My heightened paranoia about my back and wheezing through the exercises didn't give me a lot of confidence in myself. We then paired up and I got partnered with Nut. I thought, "no problem," and there wasn't any initially. I took my previous ideas about how to contend with him and put them into play and they worked great. I started keeping strict count on exercises and made sure we switched out on the mark. I would initiate a switch as soon as he started trying variations on the exercise. It was working great. I'm just not sure what happened next. His playfulness often borders on excess, so I thought I would respond by pinching him (bad idea in retrospect)which just encouraged him to continue with horseplay…


So I went to beatings last night to visit the gang. It was a small crowd and I ended up standing around distracting a few of the people trying to catch up on social stuff. By half way I had to leave because I had begun to sweat with the desire to participate. I had also started to correct people on stance and kick.

Whenever the other students correct me it makes me grate my teeth because I'm a sempai, but I don't think I'm particularly better than anyone. It's just that their commentary is exactly what goes through my own mind. I've been doing a lot of the moves enough that I know what I'm doing incorrectly and what I have to work on.

So with that in mind I figured that no else is going to want to hear from the guy that hasn't been around for three weeks whether I'm correct or not, sempai or not even if Teacher encouraged it. I exited soon after that.

Back News

I talked with the PT today and I'm off Beatings for two weeks. The most acute portion of the injury is over, but he wants a two full weeks to let it heal as much as possible before I start jerking around and getting thrown. Sigh.

Back out

I threw my back out this weekend. It's going to be a week or so until I get back into the swing of things. Ironically I've been doing my exercises regularly to keep my back in shape. I just pulled a coffee table a few inches and there it went.

Update - Went to the PT last night and it looks like it's the L5. A new set of exercises and waiting for the acute episode to cool down before I can get back to beatings. What a drag.

A steaming cup of hubris

I got a flashing insight, as I often do, in the midst of a choke hold. I got too close in Rondori last night and Beard moved in quick with a choke hold. I tried to angle my body to punch Beard in the crotch, but he was too quick to my game and wretched down on my neck leading to a complete set of crunching noises in my ears.

It was then I understood that I had learned something important. As soon as I could move my neck in what might be considered a reasonable manner I realized that I had gotten to the point where my responses are great; almost at a ganglionic level, but planning for the attack shouldn't be at that level because I get sucked into traps easily. At the end of two hours I was just realizing this when they called yame.

I know that Rondori is slow sparring to allow for better use of technique and to work on balance and so forth, but for a few of us it becomes sparring right away. Put Beard and I together and we immediately descend into a grabby, unskilled gutter fight.…

On Flem

I figured I'd give MA a chance last night. Fighting the tail end of this bout of flu leaves me with little energy. However the class went fast and I ended up leaving at half time after almost losing control of a big glob of mucous. I think I should be good to go next week.

Ironically Nut came back last night. No problems though. Tall guy got partnered with me for height related round house kicks and grabs. I think he bruised my boobie. No matter how I felt during the class I was shaking by the time I got home. Maybe I pushed it too much...


I'm fighting the flu at the moment, but I thought I'd put this up because although I'm not given to prayer this does seem divinely inspired. I was at the races and ran into Nutbag and he told me that he was going to have to miss MA for awhile. He got a job in the evenings that is at the same time as our classes.

This left me feeling odd. Because I naturally got frustrated with him in class I assumed I was working through a conflict and how to manage it appropriately. Now it's been taken away from me before I figured out the lesson. I'm complaining when he's there and now when he's not!

Fight Night

About once a quarter we have a sparring night. The last half hour will be dedicated to moderate contact matches mixed up between members regardless of their skill or size. I love it. When I first started MA I was horrifically overcome with fear and adrenaline about conflict. Now I wish we had fight night every couple of sessions. Teacher promises to make it a normal part of the classwork in preparation for the fall tournament over in the big city. I guess it's in November and I can't say that I'm anxious because of the cost of the airfare and lack of sleep I'd be experiencing. Before I got to the dojo no one even went, now it's considered part of the learning experience. Me and my big mouth.

It was a small class last night which is fun, but I was partnered with some of the young men and they have very hard arms. My bruises haven't healed very much at this point so it was a teeth gritting experience during punch and block exercises. Thankfully in the second hour …

Pain and Suffering

I know most of the people who read this have experienced bumps, breaks and bruises and I'm no exception, so I thought I'd post a nice bruise I got last night. I'm not sure how I got it or any of the other I picked up, but I'm creaking this morning.

So Teacher Slim was in and Teacher decided to make the whole evening devoted to mat time. I found that I'm definitely used to one hour of this compared to two hours. Beard is used to hours of breakfalls and hard landings, but I can honestly say that I'm good for about 20 and then I get up really slow after that.

We practiced most of our Aikido type moves. I gathered from some videos that Teacher Slim's Sensei in Washington, Chinen (sp?), utilized the locks and throws of Aikido without knowing it or co opted it somewhere along the way. No matter the history I can certainly vouch for the efficacy of the lock and throw. I'm also a connoisseur of pain at this point. The problem is that when my partner starts exert…

High Anxiety

I was feeling a lot of tension last night. After the last session and having teacher sit down with me for my "verbal" exam I'm a bit on pins and needles about my upcoming test. The class went well as can be expected, but when a belt test occurs he usually stops class at about 15 minutes before completion and then has everyone sit down leaving the person in question standing the in the middle of the room.

The standard test consists of a demonstration of all blocks, strikes and kicks usually done in repetition. Then a Kata or two. Previous to the test during the class there is usually sparring for a very long time (for me 15 minutes leaves me shaking with exhaustion - probably holding my breath). So after all these years I still can't tell when a test is coming other than the fact that teacher told me to expect it before the end of September.

During the first part of the hour we worked on stances combined with strikes after movement. I'm not sure if this happens to o…

Fat f&*!<

So I went to the doctors last week and just received my cholesterol test for the year. My bad kind of cholesterol is a bit high and the doc writes a note on the results saying that the bad kind is cardiocentric! Apparently I need more exercise. I'm trying to figure how I'm going to squeeze that into my schedule.

The Rumsfield Test

After what can only be construed as an awesome class Teacher pulled me aside and asked me if I was ready for my next rank. This in itself is unusual because he usually does a surprise test at some point when he feels you're ready. I realize that other schools are very specific as to what dictates a test, but we are unafiliated and so far I can't complain at the pace. It's not really a belt centric kind of place anyway.

So after stuttering about wanting to be in better shape (thinking of GonewiththeToe's testing months) he sat me down and we had a long discussion which could be summed up with, "Do you know what you know and what you don't know?" He had to use Kid Speed as an example. That guy is technically is a brown belt, but placed into a situation where he had to teach that info or even talk about it at length he wouldn't be able to. So he doesn't know what he knows. I almost didn't giggle here, but Teacher was in a good mood so he to…

lo cal

So after going to the doctors early in the week to look at a bump on my toe it was determined that I hadn't had my colesterol checked in over 8 years. So last night I had to start a 12 hour fast before my blood could be taken. Normally this isn't a big deal, but my wife has been on a diet that has a very low carb intake. I know that I really don't need that many carbs, but lately their absense from our diet is making me feel kinda flaky - as if I'm starting to have the flu.

That leads us to last night. Almost presciently Teacher didn't chose me to warm up the class and instead picked Kid Speed. I gather he wants Kid Speed to stop looking so outwardly bored. Which was fine with me as I could barely move faster than sloth speed.

It was a good crowd and we practiced more infighting and hand to hand stuff because teacher Slim wasn't around. The made me think about what I had read on another blog, gonewiththetoe, in which she is going through some real har…

20 Ways

Not very many people last night. This can potentially be a really great night because it means that the class is like private lessons or it can mean that the night will stretch on for some endless amount of time if Teacher is uninspired. We warmed up on our own and bowed in informally. I was partnered with new kid who moves quickly and ends up causing a lot of pain. To develop our kinesic sense Teacher Slim turned out the lights and we did Rondori for about 15 minutes. Rondori is the slowed downed sparring designed to get the practitioner to focus on technique, balance and such. In the dark you have to focus on contact with your partner so you know when they are hitting or kicking. New Kid tends to move fast with little control and that translates into painful blocks. Everytime I think the bruises in my arms heal I get another. I was under the impression that in time the nerves would withdrawal and the density of the bone would expand to the point that such things wouldn'…

Goodbye to Doc

We had a full night! It's unusual that we have so many of our class show up once. We had a guy from the kids class move up and join our class. He seems very serious and I was later informed that he has been home-schooled most of his life. I guess this indicates abrupt social skills, but time will tell. Nutbag showed up and appeared to be having a good night. I got paired with him as usual, much to my chagrin, but his arms appeared to be even more sensitive than mine and Teacher Slim loitered around focusing him somewhat so the practice went well. I got another insight from this. I think I've been intimidated about his innate skill and disgusting youthful vigor. Last night he didn't appear to have either going for him. I'm the man. Last night was Doc's final night. He's been coming for about a year or so off and on as his schedule allowed. His mere presence reinforces the idea that martial arts practitioners can come every walk of life. As one of the…
Oh yeah! Fear the knuckles of death.

Night of the Boobies

It was the night of boobies. Check was back after her surgery break and the new gal, Kick , started out. Traditionally Check wears tight shirts anyway, but it was an arresting view in a clean, tight white top. Kick was wearing a traditional gi that exposed a tremendous amount of cleavage. So much so that I couldn't help but notice a nice red bikini top. Hard to concentrate... Why don't they wear Sports bras or something?So on to the evenings exercises. No crazy Nutbag to drive to distraction, but I got partnered with Check most of the night and I've forgotten how tough her arms are. I was examining the line of bruises forming from wrist to elbow last night. Not much better this morning.

Foreign Exchange

I've had a day more to think about my time in the city. I wish I were able to express what occurred better, but I'll do what I can. I went to the dojo on Thursday and meet a few of the people working with kids. Very pleasent kids and the teachers seemed very good at working with them. Highly enforced manners to teachers, instruction and each other. Very formal, but nothing over the top - everyone still laughed and had a good time. I was warned that I wouldn't be able to "play" that night because they are big on having the visitor watch first. The Sensei came in and confirmed that, but it the beginning it appeared that he was going to give me the option to join the class, but found out that I could come back the next day so I sat out. It was probably the smart thing to do to see how the class was structured, but I was aching to get in there. Formal bow in and respect to the founder and then exercises that lead to more and more complex moves. Nicely done.…

Best Day Ever

I'm back from the big city. I got to go to a dojo on Friday. The Sensei had me watch the first session and then I could come back and participate on Saturday. Two hours of electricity! I'll write more tommorrow. I went to bed on Saturday night thinking to myself, "this is my best day ever." It was great at work meeting everyone and making good relationships and then on to beatings where everyone was nice.


So last night was pretty exciting. By this I mean that Check and Teacher Slim returned. Check just stopped in for a visit to let us know that she was alive. Teacher Slim however remained the whole evening. Which, in reality, is a mixed bag. His eye is extremely sharp for the things that I need to work on and he's okay with telling me about it. He also demos moves to the fine edge of screaming pain. He has never hurt me, but he sure can make me yelp on occasion. So I got partnered with Nutbag again last night. Which is fine, but at the end of the night I figured out why he ends up frustrating me so. It was like when I was working out with Beard - they both don't like to do the regular exercises over and over. Which, is unfortunate for me, because I need to do those basics over and over in order to learn them. After awhile Beard got over it and started focusing on technique and he became one of my favorites to work with. Now Teacher appears to be partnering me with N…

New and Old

I'm going to the big city tommorrow. We my new found enthusiasm I thought I'd visit a school while I was over there. I'd been poking around on the internet a found a couple of places over there and made a few calls. I can remember the first time I spared and the jolt of adrenaline and how spastic and jumpy I was - pure fear. Years later I'd like to think that is slowing down, but I'm not sure by how much. Teacher encourages me to concentrate on progress I've made; measured against itself. Everyone is different, but it's tough to see people coming in and picking things up so much faster or seeing Kid Speed express so much physical mastery at 15 as I stuggle at 39. Hah.

Time Shift

Holy crap, times fly. I've had ups and downs and many times that I didn't feel like I was moving forward and actually moving back. I wished I could have kept the details over the years, but trying to express what was going on was very difficult. I guess writing down feelings takes more concentration and ability than the average guy might have. Regardless of my abilities I feel like I've recently come through another frustrating period of learning.Over the last couple of years I'd run into a problem with one of the other classmates. This would usually consist of the other guy "picking" on me. For example a fellow student would take a "shot" at me or put me into a submission hold. Being unable to do much I'd have to sit there and wait for them to let go. So I get angry. I realize that there was a maturity level involved; me being appropraite while the other person is being a dumbass - that kind of thing.The classic is with the new guy, Nu…

Progress report

I've been doing this for one year and one month. I have a green belt. Tonight we got a new student, Beard. Beard has a blackbelt in Judo. I'm naturally a bit intimidated by his background, but he has chosen to start our class as a white belt. I felt a moment of superiority because of my flexibility, but that was immediately overshadowed by his innate sense of balance and ability to move. We spent the second half of the class working on locks and throws. Beard proved that he could take a fall extremely well. His slap of the mat was always beautifully timed. So Mr. P, Beard and myself worked with Teacher Slim on techniques for just about an hour.


Great class! Standard warm up, but it's just Mr. P., Kid Speed, Smallness and myself. The second hour was devoted to Rondori. Rondori isthe slowed down version of an actual fight. It gives the participants time to think of their moves without the highspeed interaction. In our cases rondori gets faster and faster until Teacher screams yame (Japanese for stop) I sparred with Mr.P for some time and then Kid Speed. Kid Speed seemed quite worn out, but for a 12 year old he beat the bejeezus out of my legs. Following that we had to go through the last four katas and he was awarded his first Brown tab!Kid Speed is a Filipino guy that moves so quick that it belys the imagination. I remember hearing that the hand moves faster than the eye, but connecting the idea that something is controlling that high speed hand boggles my mind. Did I ever move that fast? I doubt it. Watching TV in a dimly lit basement really doesn't lead to fast movement.


I should take a moment to introduce some of the students in the school. Tonight's focus is on Mr. P. I've lived in various spots up North and due to the small population I tend to run into people I've known in the past. I met Mr. P over ten years ago through his Mom. Due to an eclectic up-bringing and some interesting career choices Mr. P had a lot of rage and a deep fixation on conflict. Much like myself he had dabbled in different martial arts. Although from my perspective he appeared to love boxing.His interaction with our teacher taught me an important factor - it's hard to unlearn compared to learning something new. The common line that started showing up was, "that's great, but lets work on what we learned."Anyway the visiting/departing sensei of some hard style Karate visits with his one protoge and we do our warm ups and break into twos for various exercises. After some rotation of partners I was able to see Mr. P cut loose. Uninhibited s…

First days

I've changed the names in order to protect the innocent. Mostly me. It should be known that before all this I was interested in the martial arts ever since I saw my first Kung Fu movie on the local cable channel. I talked my parents into taking me to Karate when I was in something like 1st grade. I don't think I lasted very long because I don't remember much. Years later I took Wing Chun Wushu. It seemed to be so cool when I was in high school. I didn't last very long there either. Interest in girls and an interest in avoiding getting punched in the head helped me move along.As I write this some time has passed since I started - two months or so. I'm such a geek. I keep practicing the Katas in hopes of improvement.After learning the first Kata Kecho Hyung Il Boo and a couple basic kicks and punches I was tested for my first green tab.

The Get Go

My Wife and I were trying to be socially aware so given the opportunity to spend money for a good cause we leap at the chance to get out off house during the endless dark and fierce driving wind. The lure of a free glass of wine and folks outrageously dressed in their finest with Xtra tuff boots was too much to pass up. The local parks system had set up a service organization to help in the maintenace of the trail systems that sprinkled the local area. In order to make money the time honored tradition of the silent auction was put into play. The auction sheets were placed all around the edge of the room and I haphazardly placed low ball bids on interesting items. Long story short – I won the bid on a month of Martial arts class. When I was paying at the end of the night I found that the instructor was none other than the local liquor distributor. I talked my friend Adam into coming with me. I've found out that you can learn a lot about a guy via the martial arts. Maybe it's…