Friday, September 29, 2006

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 we went on to kicking. I don't know about the rest of you, but I notice if kicks aren't practiced regularly mine become shoddy and take a bit go get back up to speed. I can hear myself screaming, "bend the knee!" That might be a TSD thing though.

The only thing of note from sparring is that the 12th grader with arms of steel left my legs looking like my arms. The bruises haven't emerged at this point so I don't have any good photo content. I had a nice golf ball growth on my shin by the end of the night.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

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 exerting the lock I end up going into the fall before I should in order to avoid the worst of the pain. This is inherently bad for the new person because they begin think that the throw point is somewhere else. Thank goodness we rotated so people can get an idea of everyone's different break point.

Last thought. I got partnered with Nutbag last night. I've got to change his nickname, but I'm not sure to what at this point, but last night every time he would try to try something "funny" coming out of a throw I would make a "mistake" and fall on him. By funny I mean he trys to do a counter or something beyond his skill level. I realized that he feels that he's mastering the moves and feels like moving on. A common error with a lot of folks who have some innate skill. So in an incredibly immature fashion I would get pissy and give him direct result of not practicing the basic move. My classic was to drive a knee into his waist when he'd pull me over. I'm a dumbass for doing that instead of verbal instruction. I'm shamed.

I'm still having issues. Any ideas where my head needs to at?

Friday, September 22, 2006

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 others, but have you noticed when you practice a move on one side that it becomes comical when you try it on the other for the first five times. After all these years it's becoming easier to transfer those skills over, but not much.

We were having one-two punch, block, punch drills and I got partnered with Nutbag again. In our school we praise variety in attack and this is something I'm not great at. I have a tendency to use my elbows because of arm length and distance. So I get a little boring to myself. My antithesis is Nutbad who never does anything the same and never seems to remember the exercise we are supposed to be working on. Pure enthusiasm that guy. After taking numerous hits from him during the exercise many which bordered on loss of control painful and I ended up doing a roundhouse at his head followed by a spinning back kick to the stomach. I swear I only tapped him, but Teacher was looking and Nutbag goes dramatic at that point. Bad timing.

So at the end of class we ended up sitting in seiza for 10 minutes (oh my knees), blood pouring out of a toe, having to listen to the "why we don't go hog wild with karate" speech. I'm still not sure if this was for Nutbag or me, but it certainly could be applied to me. I'm frequently distant from my emotions in class so I don't know if I'm pissed or what - that and the kick may have been poorly applied.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

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.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

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 took it in stride.

Teacher revealed some poignant moments in his belting. He referred back to when he received his Blackbelt (I was there for that) and how anti-climactic it was. No bag of tricks and the feeling of questions if he was worthy of it. I gathered he sensed that in what I was trying to say.

After I got home I ended up thinking about it for awhile and realized that I had kind of received a verbal exam (The Rumsfield baby!) and felt like I passed.

I should mention that class was great because we doing a double punch and then the block for them that led into a double wrist lock. Awesome.

Friday, September 15, 2006

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 hardship on her journey to blackbelt. It was constant blows to the bruises on my arms that made me wonder for the upteenth time when they would toughen to the point of less discomfort. For all I know they have, but I might be putting more umph into my shots and blocks and thus reap the benefit of a higher level of endurance. That, or I'm big wuss.

The night ended with sparring and katas. I started with Beard and it went well, but he adjusted quicker than I did. This meant he was able to get inside my kicks and was able to take advantage of me. My second match was with Nutbag. I wasn't sure how this was going to go, because Nutbag often checks himself out of class for a moment to compose himself. I'm not sure what's going on in his head, but I appreciate it because you just get the feeling he's trying to contol something unpleasent. At the same time it comes off as though he's over dramatic. But who am I to comment? I jump around like a cartoon character most of the time.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

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't hurt. My arms go through phases where I think they are getting to the point where they don't have problems with blocking and then it gets worse again. I gather it's not an accumulative process; more towards regular use.

So I partnered with Check and we worked on block that lead a grab that lead to an attack. This is something that we normally do, but teacher Slim was watching and assisting as much as possible.

Teacher Slim. I'm not sure how old he is, but it's got to be somewhere beyond fifty. Permanently jovial, a strange sort of comb-forward with some possible hair color and a Santa Claus belly Teacher Slim would never give you the impression of anyone knowing anything about the martial arts. That would be the worst mistake anyone could make. Teacher Slim learned extremely hard style Karate in the Pacific Northwest from a Japanese teacher that adhered to the hard school approach. You get tough by taking a vigorous pounding. He got his Black belt and started teaching at the age of 18 during the hey day of hippies with ass long hair and construction workers unable to tolerate the same. His stories start with "some guy making comments about my long hair..." Always great with realistic advice about street fights. Teacher Slim went on to get Black belts in some four martial arts. Formidible. He's actually forgotten more than all of us put together will every learn.

The rest of the evening was devoted to practicing the most painful locks standing up that I could tolerate. We from the nerves in the knuckles all the way up to the neck and beyond. I have a peculiar response direct nerve based pain - a jolt of adrenaline and a nipple erection. Who wouldn't love the discomfort! We ended up choking each other out. If I were anymore a pervert I'd be hog heaven with the thoughts of auto-erotic asphyxiation.

By the end of the second hour I figured that we had practiced about 20 ways to cause grievous pain and still remained standing.

Friday, September 08, 2006

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 preeminent scientists in our town he experiences some notoriety by playing in rock bands and night and still remains his scholarly demeanor during the day.

After class Beard, Teacher, Check, Doc and myself went to the bar and had a little Tequila and shared some stories. I told him about my flash of jealousy when he first started and appeared to have an instant grasp of rolls and simple wrist locks, things I still struggle with doing regularly. My pleasure what apparent when he appeared mystified that we had even thought about him. He shared the reason why he came in the first place. Urban fear. What I assume is the standard concern about having to deal with a conflict with a stranger.

The whole thing left me maudlin as we made our way into the night and ever present downpour.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


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.

So I go back the next night and fill out the "holds harmless" form and off I go. After I changed into my Gi I got to meet everyone attending the class while we stretched out. Such a small world. I met a lady who knows people from our town. I started blathering at that point in order to prove that I'm from here. I wished I could have shut up a little bit more because I suspect I would have come across a little more settled if I had. The sensei asked me if I could a forward role and demonstrated and then he asked if I could a backward one. I must have looked pretty shabby because he grimaced. I guess I'll be working on that one.

So on to the exercises. Everything was based on a wrist grab and the attacker holding on pretty tightly. Based on that the defender would do a variety of things that would end in a role or slap. Very fun! It was nice to know that the exercises could be performed without a wrist lock, but the massive emphasis would be on timing and a complete attack by the partner. Sensei was extremely supportive and I was treated just like any other student which made me feel very good. I can't wait to talk to Teacher and Teacher Slim tomorrow.

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.

Returnees

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 Nutbag regularly. Could this be another test for me? I imagine Teacher sitting back and thinking deeply about who needs what and when, but in reality it''s probably pretty impulsive. I suppose in his position I would try to rotate us as much as possible.

First hour was blocks. Then blocks with continuous movement; like getting behind the elbow and making a larger circle to draw the opponent off balance. Lots of kicks, but mostly inside and outside crescent. I had a lot of correction from Teacher Slim. Mostly embarassing stuff about not using my hips. I felt like a new guy again. Unable to use my hips in the timing properly.

I asked Teacher and Teacher Slim about going to the big city dojo and how to handle that. My excitement is waning a bit because I think it's going to be less exciting than I'm hoping. Aikido, which is the style at the school I want to visit, requires the participant to give him/herself to the person executing the move so it can be learned properly. This is my problem with Nutbag. He appears to think that every moment is to be treated as a conflict to be dealt with. Beard still does this to a degree, by not giving much up in terms of attack. However, they might be more realistic than the practice in Aikido where you have two people who have made an agreement to participate in a exercise. We shall see. The timing and movements in Aikido are so beautiful and the locks are the same as we use.

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, Nutbag. He gets jacked up on adrenaline and can't wait to make a grab at me. The standard - the headlock that I feel obliged to fight against. It's a no win for me because I shouldn't have gotten into it in the first place. I remember when Beard would do this and I'd get angry inside. After many months he's become a friend and someone I truly respect. Hah. What will time reveal. Most of the people who are intense end up leaving or I grow in such a way that it no longer becomes an issue.

My rank is currently a green belt with one brown tab. Teacher tells me that I'll be testing for the next tab in the next month. Kid Speed is going to be up for the full brown sometime in the near future. Wow. He moves so smoothly I can see it easily. I'm clunky in my own eyes.

Our current class is now split between kids and adults. The kids class starts at 6pm and can normally have 15 students. The adult class unfortunately has about 5 to 7. Currently we've got Me, Beard, Nutbag, Kid Speed, Check, and as of Thursday Kick and her husband. The two new folks will really fill things out only if we can get Kid Speed and Check to continue to show up regularly. Check is off schedule due to her breast lift. I guess after three kids and 40 plus years she was tired of having her boobs sit in her lap. Sounds sensible. I hate it when I gain a little weight and have to take panting breaths when I bend over to stretch my hamstrings, so I can only imagine her discomfort. No wonder she doesn't like flips.

School's starting next week so Kid Speed should be back. At 15 years of age he's managed to sprain my fingers, toes and on one special occasion my ankle. I went down like sack of bricks, but even as I lay on the floor writhing in agony I had to admit it was a beautiful counter kick.

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.

Slowness

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.

Mr.P

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 sparring is his joy. The end of the night he was covered in bruises and had a torn gi from the faux knife fighting.

Lots of grappling hints.

When I was partnered with the visitor I was struck with his high energy level. He had either poor control or didn't care about control. A couple of shots on me were shocking, but didn't hurt more than a second or two. I'm just not used to it that's for sure. At the end of class I realized I was pleased that our teacher had taught most if not all principles that the visitor had come up with. It allowed me to compare his knowledge to an outside source and find that it was good.

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 just the amount of time you end up spending with someone, but I swear you get to see stuff that wouldn't normally pop up everyday life.

I'm starting to chalk it all up to adrenaline. I seems to hit people in a couple of ways. People like me get a hit of it and then it goes quickly followed by huge exhaustion. People like Adam get a hit and then they want more. They seem to get more energetic as time gets on. It looked methamphetamine usage to me.

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 wa...