Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Distance

Class was very small again last night. Just Arms of Steel and myself. I'm learning to appreciate it more as the night goes quickly and it's very intensive. After warming up we started with randori - the real one with multiple attackers; not much aikido though.

I'm limping this morning because I thought I was being clever. I grabbed Teacher from behind while AOS front kicked him. After Teacher blocked that he kicked my leg out from underneath me. He simply waited until I put most of my weight on that leg before administering the coup de grace. I should have choked him. Duh.

During our action-packed fist fest I found that I had a few chunks of flesh missing and had bled on Teacher on AOS for their troubles. Hah. I think AOS needs to clip those toe nails...

Lesson for the night: When I learn an advanced move (in this case someone grabs me from the rear and I clamp on their hand and slide to the rear bringing their arm into a figure 7 arm bar) with one person very well, that it becomes impossible with another. I have to work on my differences in height...

Friday, January 26, 2007

Dearth

First of all thanks to all for the comments. I mentioned somewhere that there isn't a lot of people to celebrate the accomplishment with, so knowing that there is someone out there who knows how I feel by virtue of experiencing the same thing is awesome.

Following my test the class has gone through a substantial change or maybe I wasn't paying attention. The adult class was down to me and Check last night. When I first started four years ago there would be occasions where the class would be just one person and it would feel like private lessons.

I found out later that Arms of Steel fell on the ice and hurt his leg and Kid Speed had a birthday party to attend. Still the class feels empty. At the very least Beard shows up regularly for the second hour, but even he didn't show last night. I know our weather is bad, but this seems ridiculous.

I realize the life blood of our class is to have many folks attend regularly. We have been suffering lately. I guess I wish more parents would show up and join like I have heard at other places. Teacher doesn't seem to mind to much, but it brings on a change in his behavior that drives me crazy.

For the last two sessions Teacher starts to bullshit while we warm up. This goes on for 20 minutes! I'm anxious to interrupt him, but there isn't a way. I ended up bouncing in front of him ready to go. I think he's tired after the kids class and wants to unwind before we start. Or, perhaps, he just wants some time to connect with us. Arggh.

I didn't post on Wednesday because it was this way, but I had some excellent sparring. However a problem is emerging with shorter partners. Instead of doing a lower block (gae dan?) they will drop their elbow straight down into the top of my foot or shin. Painful. Tuesday Arms of Steel did this repetitively. It was instructive in that I would roundhouse to his head more often. I don't mind. By the end of the night I had punched him and kicked in the head once each. Heee.

Last night Check and I were sparring and I was trying to force myself to block correctly instead of the half ass stuff I normally do when I got the punch in the face. There is nothing like the meat smack of a punch to the face. Too bad I wasn't the one giving it.

No black eye this morning - dang.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Test Night - passed

I could go into a lot of detail about the test, but really the important thing was that Teacher doesn't give the belt test until the student is ready. In a way I had already passed and the test just acted as a formalized initiation. Nothing grueling in itself, but the class was tough because, as I thought about it afterword, the whole class was the real test. Thankfully I was on balance and on timing pretty much the whole time.

I was so proud that I didn't get to sleep until 11:30pm. When I came home I forced my wife to listen to me babble for an hour straight. Not that I said anything coherent mind you.

When the class is small Teacher lets us warm up on our own. Last night was very small again so I ran through every kick and punch about three times to make sure my flexibility was there. We used the whole first hour on two-step attacks. I'm not sure what the technical term for this is, but uke throws two of whatever; kick and punch, punch and punch, etc. and then we respond with blocks and counters. I believe I was imaginative with my attacks and responses as well as precise with technique.

The second half of class was on learning some very specific up close techniques that use a shoulder lock (ouch!) and a way to break the balance using the wrist. Very subtle and difficult to pick up, but it made me feel like we were learning some advanced stuff.

The test was brief. Every basic TSD technique many times over and then one kata. No hickups, but kicks to one side could have been better. Again Teacher didn't seem to be focused on that.

So, when I can get my wife to sew it on - I have my second brown tab on my green belt!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Advanced class

With only Check and myself in the class I expected time to slow way down. Foul weather embraced our small town like a grand-mother's hug. No one was moving anywhere and if they did it wasn't fast. So Teacher made due with what he had and made an advanced class. Both Check and I have different levels of green belt so the things were trying weren't normally touched upon in my memory.

Check is a 40 something mother of three who has been divorced for over five years. She's secure, humorous, and flirtatious. I believe she sees the class as her brothers and she has become good friends to most of us. In sparring or exercises with her I notice how she is better at some things than I am even though she has less experience and when she allows herself to make contact she can put her entire weight behind her fist. Amazing for someone who probably only weighs 130.

So the exercise that ties this all together was something pulled out of one of our kata (pinan cho dan) in which you punch into a punch and do circular block with the same hand. It was very difficult to learn because it forced us to leave our punching hand out until the uke punched. After we became used to this we could bring it up to real time which eliminated the hesitation and wait.

To complete the exercise after the block we would grab uke by the wrist, pull him/her off balance and do a under cut strike to the lats. Teacher encouraged us to use a fuller strike so that both people may understand underlying technique. Check pounded my lats into flank steak.

After the break Beard and Kid Speed showed up. We worked on using the slide with the elbow strike. Talk about seeing the direct impact weight and energy up close. If beard put his full energy into it I'd have a shattered sternum.

Kid Speed gave us some bad news. He's going to be moving to California for a year. What a bummer.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Anxiety again

So much for the energy of Tuesday. I forced myself to go to beatings and was surprised when we only had four people. This is usually a great class because it's almost like private lessons. Teacher had us pair up and start randori. I got paired with Check. She's probably a foot shorter than me so it means that she has to get inside to be effective. And effective she is. She can tangle my arms and set me up for a kick regularly. I can only be effective at the end of my reach. So I attack and try to stay away. I didn't feel like a superstar.

At the end of class Teacher pulled me aside and he said that I'll be testing for my next rank in the next two weeks or so. I told me that I wished he wouldn't let me know ahead of time and he replied, "well, you don't actually know what day it is." Touche.

Anxiety is now my close friend even though I think I'll be fine.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Energized

Normally the fear of injury, the lack of energy, the endless dark, or frustrations with other students have a way making beatings very difficult to get motivated for. Although every once in awhile I'm reinvigorated as if I was in that first year again. I'm trying to figure out why that was the case last night, because I was totally energized and ready to go.

Maybe it was the good dinner or I was just very rested and mentally and emotionally in a good place. I ended up warming up at home while my wife and I watched TV. I wanted to get those kicks just right and be limber as I could be.

Class was pretty standard, but one of the kicks we worked on the was the back kick. I'm ashamed to say that we haven't worked on it in ages. That means I haven't been practicing it either. So we worked and worked and my hamstrings were feeling like banjo strings - ouch.

Kid Speed is a step away from his Brown belt. This means that he is capable of doing most, if not all, techniques and demostrating mastery in them, but he's a horrible teacher. Admitedly, he's a high school kid, but he's super star. So Teacher takes the last 15 minutes of class to force him to teach us a technique. So, although, I'm not anywhere as good as him, I ended up whispering into his ear suggestions for expanding on the lesson. Teacher didn't tell me to shut up, so I thought it went well, but the class was well into heckling about half way. Teacher didn't stop this either, but Kid Speed didn't seem bothered. Nice. I can see that he'll be dynamic once he starts explaining things instead of doing them automatically.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Stupor 2

After only three weeks of lethargy I didn't think it would be possible to be as sore as I felt before going to beatings last night. My wife told me a joke and if felt like all my ribs were broken when I laughed. Not the best way to enter a night of physical frivolity.

It felt like an old home week because Teacher Slim was there. His attendance has been extremely sporadic over the last year, but I can't fault him. I suspect he gets bored by us and our lack of skills. However, this is never mentioned and he's always very jovial.

I mention him because after a half hour of side kicks (for you Mat) we were broke into skill groups. Check, Vet and I were passed to Teacher Slim for "Aikido" practice. I put that in quotes because I feel like I'm not be respectful to the folks that actually do traditional Aikido whereas we do the watered down locks and throws that only make up an extremely small portion of the art. That being said Check and I attempted to teach Vet all the things we knew. Let's say that I know 20 moves and I tried to break them down and show them to Vet. Later that night I realized that I gave him information overload. Stupid. Teacher Slim likes the advanced students to form the lesson without criticism and just helps teaching technique. Poor Vet - his eyes were glazed and we never noticed.

A positive note is that Check and I really got a lot out of teaching the techniques.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Stupor

After several weeks of vacation I can't say that I was surprised by my own lack of energy before class last night, but it was surprising to see pretty much everyone else in the same boat. We knew it was sad because everyone stood in a circle; not talking, not really doing anything, but looking vaguely in the middle distance.

Teacher took pity on us or wasn't feeling sprightly himself so the class was pretty much basics taken at a slow pace. At least we weren't yawning too much so the pace must have been good.

Good to be back at it.

Full Iron Circle

When I started at the Shudokan school five years ago, MaryAnn Sensei was working on her San Dan and as part of that she would teach me the k...