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Black Stripe Test 1b

After getting my notes on Tuesday night I was really struck with a case of the nerves for the Thursday observation.  I went to class early as usual and started vacuuming after I changed.  I thought I might as well take advantage of the OCD and anxiety and put it to good use.  Teacher could tell I was ramping up and pulled me aside to do some very light sparring.  After about two minutes he said, “now do it with breathing.”  Ha ha.  He told me before class that I could continue teaching the kids class until I improved.  Since I was fairly anxious I immediately starting reading into that.  I figured that meant I wasn’t going to get the belt tonight because I had to grow so much more.The class went smoothly and in retrospect I’d say that I tried very hard to put the notes Teacher gave me into action.  Afterword he gave me some more notes, but it started with the fact that I had, in deed, improved vastly.  He added that I needed to refine a few areas and, frankly, I knew when I blew it mo…

Black Stripe Test 1a

As part of my testing criteria for this stripe I’m required to teach two kids classes while being observed by two black belts.  After the class completed Teacher pulled me aside to give me some notes.  “Tater” he said.  “If you get into a fight with five guys and you focus on only one guy, what’s going to happen?”  “I get my ass kicked by the other four guys.” I replied.  “Well, that’s what happened in class tonight,” he finished wryly.  Apparently my OCD nature got the best of me because I spent half the class fixating on the one new kid who couldn’t do anything while the rest of the class started to wonder away from their lines or lose their attention in some other fashion.  I was kind of feeling good about the class, but after he pointed that out I started to realize that I had let a lot of stuff go poorly because I’d focus on something either too long or try a concept that was too involved for their ages.  Later Teacher gave me so more notes which I think will be the hardest of al…

Grumpy Knees

I was having this internal conversation with myself yesterday. “I completely exhausted from work and poor sleep for the past couple of nights.  I’ve got a second job that’s sucking the life out of me.  I should probably skip beatings tonight.”“The whole point of beatings is that it’s something you do no matter how you’re feeling or what state you’re in.  So you should go – it’s not just for your physical fitness.”“I know I’m in a foul mood though.  It makes for a tough night.”“Right. Whatever.  You’re sounding pretty whiney now.  You’ve got to go early and work with the kids to show proper spirit and also get ready for next week’s observations.”  So I went.  I’m my own worst and best litigator. 
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As usual the kids class blasted by at high speed.  I only started the class off and Teacher didn’t have any notes after words so that was nice.  The rest of the time I walked around doing corrections and holding a pad for the kids to kick.  Another Blackbelt was helping out since his li…

More Bruises

I showed up early for the kids class again based on a hint from Teacher.  My observations got moved back to next week so he wants me to keep up with the kids so they can continue to keep comfortable with me as well as me being comfortable with them.  I wouldn’t say that I was doing very well with them, but neither was it horrible.  I’m still using words that are too big and trying to describe concepts that are too much for most of them.  Teacher also pointed out that I might be using a bit too much humor.  It gives the really frisky kids permission to do the same. 
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Adult class was packed.  17 people!  I wasn’t quite awake and feeling somewhat stressed about work and the kid’s class when Teacher announced that we’d be working on blocking kicks.  If there’s anything that catches my attention it’s that.  There is nothing in our compendium of exercises that causes so much soft tissue damage in a single event.No one else seemed terribly concerned which I think is absurd, but it coul…

Subdural

I remember this scene in the movie, Constantine,  in which Keanu presses his forearms together and the audience gets to see a nifty tattoo of a star from two merged designs.  I have this now, but completely composed of bruises.  Not like this hasn’t happened before, but I’m really having a hard time placing my forearms on anything.  So typing is a challenge because I have to do it correctly – with no contact.  At least I’m foiling carpal tunnel.  --- I went a little early again in hopes that my presence might be a motivating force to move my class teaching observations up in the priority list.  Instead I got teach the kids round house kicks and run around with a focus mitt.  Honestly it was a good warm up for me.  Teacher’s notes:  “I think you’re still being a little too nice to them.”  During the adult class I covered the basic one-step sparring that is inherent in TSD and demoed the standard – left middle block, punch, punch, side kick.  In my mind this is the easiest exercise ever…

Wishbone

Life Lesson 42:  Heavy squats at the gym and while fighting a cold is a really bad idea the day before class.I went early for the kids class in hopes that I could warm up my legs a bit.  Squats the day before had left me stiff and inflexible.  Dealing with the sniffles on the side also made it hard to get my blood pressure up and going. The kids class went by quickly, but I never really warmed up.  Teacher plainly has a good time teaching that class, but I was totally out of it.  The adult class went by quickly, but during the second hour we were knocking each other off our feet.  The standard move being that we slide our leg in behind the Uke’s calf and simply straighten our leg.  The Uke’s leg goes flying out.  As Uke with my neophyte partners I’d end up crashing to the floor to save ripping my groin muscles.  More experienced partners would do the “pop” and then catch me to reduce the odds of doing a split.  Near the end of the night Teacher came around and started working on refin…

The Shift

I’m not sure when this occurred, but Teacher is giving me more and more responsibility in class and I’m not really sure I’m ready.  For instance, last night we broke up in to two groups and he assigned me one group to work on really basic grab and throw.  Since the group is made up of folks with varying skill levels and physical aptitudes, I was stuck in the predicament of explaining basic engagement with Uke and Tori.  Even though we were doing monkey-in-the-middle type practice they plainly weren’t getting the idea that they needed to face the Tori one at a time.  Instead I got a cluster*#!$ of people attacking from the rear to tapping Tori on the shoulder.  Jeeze!After we got that sorted out Teacher came over to my group to see how we’d faired.  I was sort of nervous because I didn’t think we doing that well, but he seemed happy in that we were jerking each other off our feet with a minimum of effort – a good measure of success.  After break we worked on refining that grab and toss…

Smooth Running

I'm relaxing with a glass of Scotch after teaching both classes tonight. After a spending the day with increasing anxiety or wondering why I was more anxious I ended up going really early and vacuuming the place. I don't think I have OCD, but I do enjoy seeing a clean floor and it gave me something to do instead of fretting. Of course one of the students saw this and ran over to take over. So I sat around and watched the clock.

The twins that normally cause a ruckus didn't show up so the class was quiet and respectful and moved smoothly. I had prepared an outline for both classes, but for the kids class I stuck with easy things and only ventured into tough territory with a blocking combo. All in all a pretty fast and pleasant experience. I was only anguished by kids that couldn't keep up with certain things or were easily disoriented when we moved. Kata's proved to be most of their undoing, but I forged ahead thinking that this wasn't the time that I nee…

Slipped Disk?

I got up to use the bathroom around 1:30 am this morning and when I sat down on the bed I noticed a quickly growing pain in my back.  Seconds later I could barely lay down.  Being mostly asleep I figured laying down would be a good idea, but as soon as my back started to settle the pain became so intense I had tears running down my cheeks.  Unable to find comfort in any position I went to the medicine chest and choked down 10K of ibuprofen and shuffled back to bed while literally gritting my teeth.  After an hour of moving very carefully back and forth in a variety of positions I found I was able to lay on my back once again and fell asleep.  The only thing that was going through my mind was that I had to teach class on Thursday – this can’t be happening!Some where in the back of my mind I realized this was different than other incidents.  Normally, with a back spasm all the muscles lock up around the spinal column causing the most intense pain.  However, even my pain and sleep induce…

Open Seasame

I saw nothing but blue and a felt a quick flash of pain in my neck as I snapped to the side.  Beard was wearing his reversible competition Judo gi with the Blue side out when he came in last night.  I normally get the flack for wearing non-standard gis (red, tye-dye, etc.), but his super high-end gi is an attention getter because it is so nice compared to our low-end purchases.  At the very end of class we had a new exercise to practice.  The person to be executed against stood still and closed her/his eyes and waited for the signal.  The person doing the attack got the choice of gun, knife or open hand.  This proved to be an endless source of entertainment for the class as the defenders usually ended up eating it one way or the other.  My turn to defend was predictably a huge mess.  Sensei said go and I had my eyes open for a fraction as I realized Beard was doing a flying knee and was literally a hair away from contact.  Thankfully we all move much faster than we think we can and I …

Preparatory

Last night was my second evening working with the kids class and it went pretty well, but being entirely honest I was glad that it was broken into pieces and I didn’t have to construct the lessons.  Teacher does all his lesson construction from the top of his head, picking from vast years of experience and applying whatever crops up in his mind to apply to whatever is going on.  That used to drive me crazy because I like knowing what is expected of me and what we as a class we’ll be working on, but I’ve come to appreciate the finesse he brings to bear with what he produces.  With an ever changing cast of characters, progress that we experience as a group is always set back to basic as newer folks join our group.  Teacher seamlessly brings beginner techniques in while getting advanced students to work on variations.  With the kids I’m not quite sure what you can teach or say just yet so my exposure to their very fast hour is really helpful.  I tried explaining the outside crescent kick…

And so it begins…

To get ready for my upcoming “test” I went to class early to work with the kids. I wanted them to get used to me by having me around instead of treating me as the substitute teacher. I wandered through the rows of students correcting hand positions and stances then Teacher had me lead kicks for awhile – giving me a moment of control over the class.  I thought it was going to go well, until my first monkey wrench appeared with in five minutes.  We had just begun crescent kicks (inside) when a hand went up in the back.  My first mistake – answering questions.  I can’t repeat it verbatim but it was so left field I wasn’t sure what to do.  “Yes?” I said.
”I don’t want to be here.”
”What?”
”I don’t know this [sic]move.”My confounded look and stuttering response was interrupted by Teacher who explained that we get to learn new stuff all the time.  I was really expecting interrupting and squirrely behavior, but that was novel.---The adult class was kick intensive and sweat inducing, …

Tests and Nightmares

First day back to class and all was well.  Exhausting, but in a good way.  Teacher pulled me aside after class and told me what my next test was going to consist of – I have to teach two children’s classes in their entirety while he and Teacher Slim critique me.  I didn’t think that was too bad, but that night I had horrific nightmares about getting to tournaments in sports I really didn’t know much about and couldn’t get to the airport on time.  A connection?To prep for the kids classes I’m going to start going in early to participate in the class.  I’m not even sure how this is going to go, but I’m not going to smile and I’m not going to joke around – two things that mess me up as a teacher.  I told Teacher that I hated him and he laughed.  I told him that I’d rather run around in a circle for an hour instead.  Ironically, in my head I didn’t think it was too bad.  It should be challenging, but not deadly, but I thought I should play along in how horrible it was going to be.

Beatings Starting Up!

After a month off of regular class we are going to reconvene tonight and see if I kept the rust off by working with Dave.  I’m a bit sleep deprived today, but I’m hoping the anxiousness and excitement will wash that away when 7pm comes around.

Yoga and Beatings

Moody dark lighting.  Trance-based, Hindu-tinted, soft music.  People in abstract poses.  I stared at Dave when the lights went down and wondered what the hell was going on.  Apparently the room we use was being coopted by a yoga class that couldn’t care less that Dave and I were practicing throws and locks.  ---We’d had the room to ourselves for almost the entire hour when a few folks started trickling in with mats and doing some basic yoga poses.  I thought this was a nice change from the guys who were listening to Death Metal especially since the women coming in were very easy on the eyes.  By the time we started working on basic locks and then throws the lights went out unceremoniously.  Followed by “ching-ching” of temple chimes.  I was mostly focused on tell Dave about some esoteric component of the throws to realize that more people had come in and that a class was starting (how’s that for zanshin?).  Call me passive-aggressive, but they might have mentioned the class to us, bu…

A Pilgrim’s Progress

Bang! Even as Dave’s strike left the side of my head I recognized the hammer fist by the way it covered my tiny, shell-like ear.  Dave winced and immediately stopped; sputtering his apologies.  I was just thankful that he hadn’t cupped his hand or I would have been deaf in that ear for a while.After a few days off I was a bit rusty and having a hard time getting centered.  I was pretty tired and emotionally at a low because our cat was diagnosed with kidney problems.  However, after we started going I was able to pull together a nice progression from a base lesson.  I’ll be the first to admit that I’m systematic and could be perceived as boring or repetitive, but I find solace in the known and it allows me to warm up carefully and reinforce the basics.  During this time it’ll dawn upon me that there is something to work on and I’ll try to sort something out.  With that in mind I thought we’d work on shifts.  The shift is a movement forward without taking a crossing step.  The front fo…

Scheduled

My schedule is a bit off because it’s October.  There is something magical about this month that converts any kind of pattern into a mess.  I think it’s because my birthday comes late in the month and the build up to the “special day” creates all kinds of stress.Social obligations pour in as people leave town and side work suddenly picks up for some strange reason.  I’m glad for the work, but the amount of time it leaves to work on beatings and fitness can dwindle quickly.  My dream schedule for this month was to do beatings with Dave three time a week and try to work out three times a week.  I was able to accomplish that for one week.  After it was broken up pretty quickly. This week was a great example – Beatings Sunday and Wednesday, workout on Monday – nothing until next Tuesday.  Plus I’ll be fat from all the eating during the weekend.  Last night we did the standard warm up and ran through all the blocks and strikes.  I introduced pivots into the strikes to get focus on the hips…

External Training Update

I’ve got anywhere from a month to six weeks to prepare for my next test.  I remember vividly being wildly out of breath through most of the test and just getting through by sheer will power.  To mitigate this feeling of oldness and general lack of fitness I’ve really tried to amp up my exercise regimen.  I’ve been training with a new class member, who is my age, three times a week in two hours blocks and other days it’s off to the gym where I try to get in a decent work out with emphasis on aerobics rather than weights.  I’m finding the fear of failure very motivational, but boy am I tired.  I get the sneaking suspicion that I’m not getting enough rest, but days off allow huge amounts of anxiety to seep in and thus, throw fuel on my motivational fire.So this morning I’m completely tired because I couldn’t turn off my brain last night and ended up having a lousy night’s sleep.  Definitely not conducive to seizing the day. 
---Work with Dave has been pretty great.  I don’t feel like the…

Proper technique

Every once in awhile Teacher will throw in a change to our warms-ups.  A few months ago he added finger-tip pushups into the mix.  I liked this change because it was interesting and I’d never done them before.  I was pleased to find out that I could do five.  Since then I’ve worked up to 10 or 11.  I’m pretty sure I could do more, but the pain stops me.  This led me to a very quick search on the internets about proper technique.  I’m not kidding when I say that there is nothing of value out there, but I was briefly entertained by Jack Lalane pumping out superman pushups while on his finger-tips.  Badass!I’m doing them straight fingered and experimented with bent fingers with not much change in capacity.  Anyone out there with any feelings on the matter?---Roughly two months to the test.  Trying to develop that cardio, but not sure that’s what matters…

Sore Knees

In the back of my head I was wondering how careful I needed to be to remain safe after a lot of intense one on one with consistent sparring.  Our last session on Saturday left me with a slightly tweaked pinky toe, so I thought I was doing good.   Everything in moderation – even moderation.  I’m not sure Ben Franklin said that but I love the sentiment.  With that in mind I figured I’d try to keep the current pace set on Saturday and just add some features that came up.  One of those was teaching Dave to fall.  Being taller in class comes with a frustrating component – I don’t get to throw very often because it’s hard to get low and the less experienced students are terrible with their break-falls.  I also can’t remember who knows what in class, so some can do a fair fall and others are horrible.  Since Dave seems so good at other things I presumed he’d be good at the falls.  Our first night months ago led to a partly separated shoulder because he reached down instead of slapping.  Now …

One on One

Teacher has taken the month off to travel to far off lands, so the class is left to its own devices in the mean time.  So although there is no official class offered, me and a few of the over 40 club decided to get together whenever we can.  I’ve decided to call us that because we stick out so significantly.  A bulk of the class is in their teenage years, followed by the three guys in their early 20s and then there are the four of us oldsters.  Between us the litany of physical complaints would probably never stop if class wasn’t in the way.  It makes you wonder where the missing population segment is - Probably busy having families and other important stuff.I asked Teacher a week or so before he left if it was okay to train/teach with Big Dave while he was gone and I got the nod.  However, as soon as I got a yes Big Dave goes to Trucker and tells him we’ll be working out.  Oof.  Awkward.  Not wanting to exclude someone I took his number and wondered how I was going to manage that.  D…

Close And Personal

Tang Soo Do has a fairly straight forward precept – move forward.  Or, at the very least, Teacher pushes this as a basic building block to our one and two-step sparring.  You’d think something that simple would be easy to absorb, but as with all simple ideas, instituting them becomes a challenge.  For many of us in the class a natural response is to back away in the face of advance to create space naturally and temporally.  I’m far enough along that I can push beyond that natural response if I put my mind to it.  So during sparring practice I like to focus on my weaknesses (and there are so many) and in the case of last night we’d practiced getting close so sparring gave me the opportunity to try it out with Beard.  We hadn’t actually sparred in ages.  Maybe 3 months or more to the best of our group recollection.  This was due to the fact the bulk of the class consists of new folks and when they get in the mix someone usually gets hurt.  Teacher asked who of us that would like to go f…

Magic

A few years after Teacher got his Blackbelt he said he the experience was very anti-climactic.  “Where was the super powers? The magic bag of tricks?”  I understand what he’s saying on a objective level, but on an emotional level I’d love to have the same thing.  You get a belt and, poof, you walk through walls.  Last night was grueling for several different reasons but as we filed out Teacher pulled me aside and wanted me to do the unbendable arm.  Mentally I was trying to get ready for failure and think of fuzzy baby bunnies at the same time.  While futzing with that I realized that Dave was bearing down and I wasn’t using any muscle!  I freaking did it!!!  I hugged Teacher and felt a blast of yummy chemicals paint my brain.  After five years and finally I got that damn thing.  I only hope that I can do it again.The reason class was so exhausting is that Teacher threw some Kounseling (K for Karate) at me the other day.  Basically, I need to stop giving people accommodations.  I need…

The Semi-casual Aside

The room was sweltering, which I didn’t think would possible in September, but the crowd of 13 bodies drove the humidity through the roof.  None of this was helped by the new addition of finger pushups during the warm-up.  Teacher is one of those guys who can get to two fingers (thumb and pointer) during push-ups and is encouraging us to strengthen our hands the same way.  I was able to do five with all fingers which surprised the hell out of me.  Nothing I’ve ever tried before.  I felt bad for all the new kids in class. For the first time in a long while, or as long as I can remember, we actually have more people new to class than old timers.  Beard and I are the most senior, followed by the Twins and Robot who just started within the year, and the rest are all sorts of new within the last two months.  After warm-ups Teacher placed me with Tall J, who I presume is in high school and is very pleasant.  We did one-step sparring and he obviously knew what he was doing so I finally asked…

Karate Kounseling

After I earned my Brown Belt some time ago (7-08!) Teacher pulled aside from time to time to work on my progress towards my next rank or Blackbelt.  I say next rank because I was unclear which route he was going to go with my next ranking.  On all our other ranks we have to “stripes” between each main rank.  So altogether there would be 10 gups – the 10th being the blackbelt.  So based on that logic I’m technically I’m a 7th gup.  Our school’s ranking system is based on subjective measure so there’s no hours to watch and no skills to acquire to determine what I need to be working on to gain my next rank.  However, Teacher makes it fairly clear that I need to work on two things before he’s ready to test again.  Situational awareness and assertiveness.  One thing that agitates Teacher more than anything is someone walking around with their head down and absolutely unaware of the surroundings.  I don’t I fit in this category in the extreme sense, but he has caught me texting and walking …

Burghers of Calais

When I used to live in Washington, D.C. a lifetime ago, I stood in an outdoor sculpture garden and stared at a work by Rodin, the Burghers of Calais.  The work represents the way people might approach death – fear, resolve, etc.  I realized on Friday night that I got a taste of that when I worked at Teacher’s women’s Self Defense course.The class lasted three hours and moved from lecture to practice about every half hour.  I was fairly interested with how it was going to be laid out because of Bob Patterson’s comments at Striking Thoughts (him doing a self-defense based course).  Since this was a single class no effort was taken to train from the base up.   We were literally teaching the most minimal moves to excise one from a situation and then get running.  Based on how hard some of these ladies were hitting and kicking they would definitely make an impact on anyone stupid enough to hassle them.As the women and young ladies cycled through the various stations we had set up I got to …

Bodies Flying

The thing about Beard is that he contains this huge amount of knowledge encapsulated in a person with little or no patience to explain extremely complex concepts to people with only the slightest idea about he’s talking about.  We had another huge class and because Teacher Slim was there we broke out the mats for almost the whole two hours.  Slim teaches in the most non-linear fashion so you do a couple of techniques and ask him what he thinks and he’ll teach a dizzying array of alternatives while leaving you gasping in shock and awe.  To wit –our base technique was to block a punch at the elbow and bring our up our other arm (into what could be shoulder/neck choke), but moving to take down.  You can either use you thumb in the neck (preferred) or press the shoulder (tough).  So I’m practicing with two of the new folks and Slim comes up and shows two variations – one with a throw that blew Dave and Swimmer’s minds.  Clearly beyond what they knew they’d be in for.  Slim, thankfully, di…

Heat

We’ve been getting an influx of new folks for the past couple of weeks so the class hit maximum capacity at 12 last night.  This means we actually have 3 lines for bow in and it also means a larger pool for rotations.  Unfortunately, it means that during the rotations I’ll be placed with new folks.  That means I’ll be doing simple stuff with a huge amount of repetition.  It could be argued that this is fantastic for me in that it helps me to focus on cleaning up bad habits, furthering my teaching skills, and generally lowering my stance (so many short folks).  The only thing I miss out on is the higher speed and advanced creativity that comes with working with a more advanced student.  When I finally do get partnered with one of them I find my creativity at a low and just stick with the straight stuff.Somewhere in the second hour someone noticed that the heat in the room had hit an unacceptable level.  This is such a profound difference compared to our regular bland cool temperature t…

Almighty Knee To The Balls

I think most guys have felt it at least once in their lives and most women can sympathize, but an almighty shot to the pills is universally cringe-worthy no matter who you are.  I rarely wear a cup during class because of the profound discomfort, but if I know we are going to be sparring I’ll force myself to “gird up my loins” in preparation.  Ironically, the incident of groin shots is absolutely minimal during sparring.  I presume this is because everyone is working very hard on controlling themselves.  Last night was filled with a lot of frustration and silliness.  Teacher separated the class and gave half to me to work on an “out of time” move.  In standard hard style feet movement is characterized by making half circles while moving forward.  This allows the feet to remain in constant contact with the ground and allows for a nice trip setup if that’s your thing.  I ended up teaching my group absolutely backward even though they understood everything correctly.  The Uke is supposed…

Aches And Pains

Teacher called me up yesterday and asked if I could run the class from the “doing” standpoint.  He lost a filling and apparently when right to infected.  His jaw is swollen and misshapen and appears to be fairly miserable.  However he still showed up at class and taught a fairly normal class.  I only led a few things that required jostling so he could avoid moving his head.A remarkably small crowd last night: The Wonder Twins, Swimmer, Me and the Tall new guy came in late. Swimmer is a 16 year old girl who looks perpetually exhausted.  She is a competitive athlete at our local high school that requires her to practice two times a day in two hour blocks.  For whatever reason she’s pulled into our class and appears to enjoy it fully, but hasn’t really mastered controlling the strength she applies.  I notice this is a common factor with a lot of female new comers.  Weird.  During our four on one attacks (weee!) she would be set upon by all of us and would deliver the most brutal counters…

Drop The Hips

After what seems like years we are finally having some semblance of Summer weather.  This usually has a negative impact on class size because you literally don’t know when you’re going to get a chance to get outside.  So the hardcore (read dumb) come to class no matter what.  In our case Teacher, Trucker me, Beard and the new girl got started kind of late.Near the end of warm-ups the Wonder Twins, Robot, and Tall New Guy showed up to fill out the class to it’s normal 8 folks.  Teacher kept things pretty basic because of the new gal and had us really focus on some very beginner items – most specifically the chamber (the fists ready position previous to a punch).  After a lot of practice we did the first kata/hyung to check ourselves.  Nice exercise.  Afterword we did the basic locks and grabs I partnered with Beard.  Normally I’m a bit trepidatious of his heavy handed approach to locks, but we actually had a very informative session.  His blackbelt in Judo turned out to a very good thi…

Back on Track

The remnants of my slight back strain are fading away, but they always make me wonder about the extent of the original injury. I can almost track the healing process after the lockup.  Even after I’ve got back to full mobility I feel that deep muscle ache down through my glutes and into my hamstrings.  As usual when one part hurts I end up thinking about everything else that hurts and start feeling really old.  Add being tired from work and not enough sleep and I get maudlin.  Thankfully in the middle taking some hard floor falls I realized that I didn’t hurt at all and felt pretty good.  Thanks adrenaline and corticosteroids!
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We got a new gal last night and since I’m the sempai it was quality time with the new person.  I know I wasn’t the most physically gifted new-comer, but I was really impressed with the lack of ability she brought.  Even warm-ups were a start and stop adventure of hand-holding and explanations.  Punching was a new experience with her as well, but by the …

Whitewash

I took the week off last week due to a slightly tweaked back and felt relatively good to go last night.  Of course being up and around is way better than sitting for long periods so I drug myself to class and led the warm ups.  Once class got started I had a tremendous run of negative thinking to tend with.  My neighborhood could be considered borderline anywhere South of the 58th parallel, but in my rural town you could say that it’s relatively nice.  My wife spends a lot of energy working on our gardens and our neighbors spend a lot of time on the upkeep of their homes.  So the ‘hood looks fairly nice and things like old spa tubs, abandoned cars and heavy machinery in front lawns tend to get overlooked.  Our neighborhood is also very nice because people have a lot of friendly pets, but tend to let them off leash to wander freely. That hasn’t turned out to be a problem before, but my wife pulled me aside after I got home from work and gave me the bad news about our neighbors cat.  Th…

Relax

Teacher let us know on Tuesday that he wanted to work on meditation last night.  This usually means that he wants to do energy work as well or what I call “feats of strength.”  After a short set of blocking drills we refocused using a circular block that really requires relaxed shoulders and arms.  Teacher will occasionally take a foray out of our hard-style comfort zone and attempt to get us to relax portions of our physique that should be relaxed no matter what.  I mean that a cross-block in TSD (Tang Soo Do) is also a strike to a certain degree and requires muscle tensions in all sorts of directions.  So not only are you blocking, but you are also striking.  As I’ve mentioned before dynamic tension in the move is a shockingly difficult concept to get my head around – something best felt rather than intellectually encapsulated.  What Teacher is trying to show us is that certain things need to be strong and other things need to be relaxed.  My ignorance of the physiology involved mak…

Steamrolla

Beard’s been out for several weeks so his arrival filled out the ranks quite a bit (we had nine!).   Any more makes the space a little close.  For instance during the second hour we practiced kata/hyung and we had to be very careful or we’d end up clipping each others heels.  Our technique for the evening was a cross block that leads to a behind the elbow grab.  This is integrated with a step forward with a hooking step.  The uki gets his/her shoulder bunched up, balance disrupted, and then falls.  I started out with Tall new guy and found out that whatever flourish he uses ends up knocking me on my butt.  He doesn’t know what he’s doing so it yet so we were just appreciating the fact that he was effective without too much fuss.  We then rotated and my new partner was the new gal, Swimmer.  She’s about my wife’s height (a foot shorter) so automatically has an advantage in certain spots.  This was definitely one of them.  Once she had the basic dynamic we tried our first variation (I p…

Dynamic Muscle Tension Choke

I got the new guy in a straight-armed wrist lock, jumped up, clamped my legs around his neck, fell to the floor in an arm bar before he even knew what happened.  That didn’t happen at all because I would have hurt my back and probably kicked him in the head instead.  Never the less, after choking one another for 20 minutes it had felt like I’d done the flying arm bar.  Teacher was going over all the basics to prep Robot, and the Wonder Twins for the test in the 2nd hour, but got a bit burned out and decided to teacher a blood choke for the last half of the 1st hour.  When done correctly it goes smoothly and the main vein on one side of your neck gets pinched you go nighty-night.  What I learned – Some people have a big vein on the neck and it’s easy to choke them (me).  Some people must have their vein buried deep in the or their body takes up the slack by pumping hard on the other side (new girl).  So when you can’t knock them out you crush them and that doesn’t work at all.  So the …

Click, Click, Boom

I may have mentioned that I live in a very remote section of the country in the past.  Part of that means that I get to do things that most folks don’t have easy access to do.  One of these is to go hunting.  Let me just say that I have never really hunted.  As a suburbanite raised gringo the closet I ever came to seeing wild life was at a zoo or cows along the side of the road.  It certainly means that I’ve never seen the taking of an animals life up close and personal.  That’s all about to change.In an attempt to eat healthier and save some money my wife and I have been trying to stick to fish caught during the summer and occasionally eating of venison or buffalo for a red meat fix.  Where we live fish is given almost all the time as way to share the bounty and spread the luck, but venison is a prized possession because of the effort to get to it and get it back.  Short story long – my friend invited me on a hunt.  The season starts on Sunday and I’ve got to hike into the mountains …

Video Outtakes

Teacher pulled me aside and said that he was going to be taking video of the students doing their kata/hyungs.  He remembered years ago where he and I had done some elementary attempts and it turned out to be a great teaching tool.  The first hour was an ironic treat.  He pulled me and the new tall guy up front and we worked on “how to attack a tall guy.”  Something I’m all too comfortable with.  Not that I know what to do with it most of the time, but to give everyone ideas was a little stressful.  One of the shortest guys in class is a nightmare to spar with because he simply climbs inside and beats me to pieces.  Thankfully, after a frustrating time of getting pummeled he pulled me and the other guy aside to give some pointers about what to do.  These turned out to be hilarious because it took advantage of head control.  So if my less that average heighted opponent got too close I could steer or turn his head.  That lasted about one round with each of the students.  They immediatel…

Wrist Locks

On almost every paper I’ve read there is a main title and then a subtitle that is a play on words.  I think mine would be "and other forms of self abuse via teaching.”  I’m pretty sure that any psych professor would be pleased to see that in the pile of their evening reading.  Teacher is trying to get us to use more combinations and to this end he’ll have us do a sort of Simon Says routine.  He’ll do a staggeringly complex combination of blocks and strikes and count and we are supposed to follow along.  Hilarity ensues.  We’ve found out that you have to move slow or suffer that dumb look when you know you’ve done it wrong.  During break I asked about a throw I’m not very good at and that got Teacher’s juices flowing for the 2nd hour.  So we brought the mats and learned how to do that throw.  Imagine someone grabbing your left shoulder from behind with their left hand (improbable, but it’s easier to describe this way).  You reach across with your right and clamp down on their hand…

Too many laughs?

What is becoming a predictable joke in my repertoire happened yet again last night but with a bit more substance.  I love telling people that I get my ass kicked by children, adolescents and whatever comes across as a juxtaposition on my size compared to theirs.  It’s not a great advertisement for our school based on the fact that I’ve been crippled by children more than a few times.  The worst was when I was in a perfect chamber for a side kick and a kid kicked underneath and collapsed my ankle.  Result – rehab for months.  Thankfully nothing was torn completely through.So last night one of the new girls, Swimmer, did a one-two on my face.  One chop in the jaw that snapped my head around and the second in the lips because my head was turned.  Double ouch.  End result – two fat, bloody lips.  I got to smile at the class with my carmine stained teeth whilst I knuckled away a manly tear.  At the end of class I noticed that we’d spent most of the class laughing hysterically about little …

Joints-a-poppin’

Yet another night of being the prime demonstration fall guy. Not too many people in class lately (during the summer we loose a lot of folks to work and travel) so it was nice to see four folks run in just as we finished the bow in.  Dorks.Teacher seems to be ratcheting up the action more since the base level of our group is pretty high.  As a result, the new guy is struggling to keep up, but he’s game for all it and loves every bit of it.  In keeping with the theme, the post warm up punches, blocks, and strikes were twice as much and twice as long.The practical part of class was with the mats, which I eyed with some trepidation.  After taking a thrown I get worried about the constant standing up.  Coming out of seiza isn’t too bad because I use my right leg first, but if we do throws that require me to bend or lean with the left leg first it usually starts squealing pretty bad.  No problems emerged as we started flying through the air.Continuing with Tuesday’s theme of what do do with…

Tight and flight

As we finished our bowing out one of the Wonder Twins said, "this was the best class ever."

During the class I had a few fleeting insights that I'm wracking my head over. They seemed really important, but nothing is surfacing as I type.

For some reason the class is clicking as a phenomenal level. Tonight it was only guys and everyone was an adult.

I'm trying to take my job as junior instructor seriously with the new guy and he appears to be totally open to everything I'm saying. Teacher often pairs him with me, because I enjoy as well. During the break I was talking to him about the word Randori and was pointing out the differences between schools. For whatever reason the jujitsu schools came up (because we have no idea what they do) and I mentioned that we rarely "rolled." I guess Teacher over heard me because we went right into how to deal with someone who tries to take you down.

Unfortunately/hilariously I was the demo man. Teacher spared n…

Unbendable

This was getting ridiculous.  I was literally using all my muscle at this point.  My left hand was in his elbow and my right was under his wrist.  The other students were starting to titter as my face become congested with blood and the veins in my neck bulged with the effort. I’m often picked for demos because of my height or size in class.  It shows that a smaller man can easily manage a man 50 to 60 pounds heavier than him or 5 to 6 inches taller.  In this case Teacher picked me for the muscles.  In demonstrating unbendable arms he picked me because I was going to pop out of my gi trying to fold him up.  Unbendable arms are something I never request to work on.  I’m not even sure I can sum it up it quickly either.  Teacher puts it under the heading of “energy work.”  He says we are to visualize a ball of energy that swells in us and then is channeled by leaving us via our arms.  The analogy is our arms are fire hoses.  They are without structure until water is moving through them a…

!@%*ing Knee

A couple of years ago I promised that I’d stop complaining about physical pains or injuries in class knowing that there is a fine line between whining and letting Teacher know that I had an impediment.  I made that pledge to myself, because when I saw others do it I thought it was incredibly unflattering to the student and the result was mixed.  Most folks can’t remember to hold back unless it’s an obvious injury.In interest of full disclosure I have a chronic irritation in my right shoulder which is perpetuated by our constant shoulder locks.  My L5 is a bit dicey and can lead to spasms if I don’t stretch regularly and the other massive problem I’ve got is my left knee.  Apparently the inside surface (cartilage) of the kneecap gets easily inflamed.  That takes endless patience to rehab and beatings doesn’t help at all.  Last time I had to take about two months off from class and that was painful in itself.That being said following vacation I savaged my knee playing on the neighbors t…

Shaky, shaky

After three weeks off I presumed that moving and kicking and such might be rather painful.  The over indulgence at pretty much every meal made the multitude of plane flights seem like mobile veal pens for humans.  I’d put on 8 pounds in that brief amount of time.  All my pants are tight and I’m always looking for an excuse to put on sweatpants.  My friends call and invite me over to dinner.  My immediate response, “is this a casual affair?” and then, “how casual?”Since I’ve got back I knocked of two of those pounds, but I’ll feel better once I’m back into beatings and the gym regularly.  The addition to the blubber is that prolonged inactivity sets me up for knee problems.  As soon as I try anything after a couple of weeks of sitting around my left knee acts up.   So when I got back the first thing I did was inflame it.  So running is out for a while and I have to sit on the exercise bike with no resistance to rehab the knee.  Not exactly a great way to burn calories.  Class was nice …

Whiplash Hustler

Last night we took a lot of falls.  I’d forgotten that we had new people that had no idea how to slap so I’d grit my teeth when they’d reach out to catch themselves when I’d throw them.  So we’d stop and I’d do some basic education about landing, slapping, foot and hand placement.  The only problem was that to get them used to the timing I’d hold them longer in order to set them down.  I’m going to say that this is a bad idea through and through.  My lower back is absolutely thrashed.  Thankfully, no spasms, but definitely tired and sore.  I did a lot of Uke time to get the new folks into the groove of the throws, but as a result I got sloppy with my slaps and ended falling wrong more often than not.  When I fall wrong it’s really wrong.  I don’t land in one piece, my head isn’t tucked, etc.  One of the new guys threw me beautifully and when I hit my lower back beat all of the rest of my by a beat.  The last thing to hit the mat was the back of my head.  Whiplash!I figured when I woke…

Schooled

I was having one of those Karate Kid moments where Pat Morita was using some mundane task as a base for a movement. I wasn't that awesome, but I was working with a new student, Nurse, and found that if I broke blocking exercises up and did repeating patterns she immediately got the rhythm and did a nice job. I'm awesome.

The 2nd half of class was mostly a tripping throw. Going calf to calf with someone and rotating their shoulders until they fall. I'm the king of falling. I can't stay up when my shoulders are twisted so I'm the best Uke anyone can get. I was partnered with Trucker for the first part of class so my arms bruises from last week had a nice flair up while we did exercises.

Trucker has decided to make more of class and start studying on the outside. Our class is complicated in that we teach in Japanese, but it's a Korean art. We forget to tell people about this and they assume it's just Karate. Anyway, Trucker called me and I had to go…

Kick, Block, Twitch

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Our small town has a festival for Memorial Day and it gets pretty geared up for a special function.  Unfortunately, it means that parking downtown is totally unavailable during the four days that it’s going on.  So Teacher has been cancelling class for several years around that weekend.  On top of that our weather has finally turned nice and that means that class was doubly empty of bodies last night.   After warm-ups we went right to blocking, then blocking kicks.  Teacher let us beat our selves into a pulp for a half hour or so.  I’m not sure what thing I’ve come to dislike over the years, but blocking a kick hard-style has to be one of the big ones.  I got partnered with Trucker and the very first block felt like it snapped my ulna (or radius).  We went over every kick for that half hour and never have I looked forward to a break more.   I’d gotten to the point where I was blocking minutely lower or higher just to avoid the golf balls that were rapidly growing on my forearms.  As w…