Sunday, April 25, 2010

Not Right

There is a simple shoulder lock that we teach the new folks to get them used to the idea that muscle is a poor substitute for technique.  Basically you capture the wrist, rotate the arm and as the person passes by you move the locked arm into the upright position forcing that person to bend over or experience pain in the shoulder and wrist. 

I’m in the middle of “monkey in the middle” at the tail end of class where we’ve been reviewing our locks.  The idea is that you try it with everyone giving you an idea of what works with different heights, lengths of arms and skill levels. 

Everybody gets a chance to be the Monkey and eventually I get up to the head of the line and one of my first people is Little Sister.  Little Sister is notorious in that no lock can be put on her.  Everybody has a spot that locks them out of course, but she’s only got one and it’s difficult to get her there.  She is a veritable rubber man.  I can’t believe how easy this is to forget, yet I do it over and over.  On this occasion I presumed that a shoulder lock would work just fine.  I actually knew the wrist lock was a failure as soon as I got a hold of her arm, but I went through the motions smoothly.  Little Sister looked up at me when I confidently had her in position – which is to say that she was bent at the waist and her arm was pointed up at 45 degree position behind her – and then stood up straight while her arm rotated in the socket even farther up.  The only thing that ran through my mind was my old G.I. Joe doll.  Somehow when they designed it they left out any possibility of normal shoulder rotation, giving the children of America an unrealistic idea of the limitations of the body (not to mention the lack of genitals). 

Long story short  - I thought I for a second that I was going to be sick and since I wasn’t I immediately made fake retching sounds and dropped her arm like a hot iron.  My discomfort made the class piddle themselves in hilarity.  I actually had the Wonder Twins on the floor laughing. 

Another incident of fine teaching.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Mini Revelation

I was reading Mat's Way this afternoon and left a comment how sometimes I felt it was hard to express things in class when there is only small revelations every once in a while. Those are interspersed with hours of labor perfecting technique and trying to learn new things.

I remember when everything was new and it was a tremendous effort to sift through everything I was learning in order get to settle in my brain. Now so much of it is rote so I can focus on the nuances. I was struggling to describe in posts past, but tonight I got a metaphor pop in my brain.

I realized that every night that I go to class it's like the first time learning technique, but I have all the skills and didn't realize it. It's like now I'm the first time natural will all the gifts, but I also have the gift to see what's wrong in others and myself without being critical.

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Teacher asked me to teach our sixth Kata/Hyung tonight. I must say that it went very well and as a class with had a beautiful synchronisity to our movements. At one point during our kicking drills we all knew that we in synch and balanced as well. You could feel it extending to the new students and it seemed to carry on throughout the class.

Sweet.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

PPT

Piss Poor Teaching.

I talked with Teacher before class and reminded myself of to work on the slowness I needed and focus on fundamentals.  However, after mentoring a new guy (Hippie) for the first hour I was feeling unusually good about my segment in the 2nd hour. 

My part was on the Cat stance.  I reviewed all of our stances in Japanese (because I can’t remember the chases – Hu Gul in this case).  I gave a brief introduction foot placement, weight placement, etc.  We practiced movement back and forth and everyone looked pretty good doing it.  I threw in front snaps kicks and finally got to the double knife hand (Mahk ki something something) over the lead leg.  We got so good at this I started cracking jokes.  As soon as I did this I started mentally cursing myself for making said jokes.  Not that they were bad, but I told myself I wouldn’t, but as soon as I did it the mental cursing messed me up. 

I didn’t have the heart to talk to teacher afterwards.  So last night I had terrible nightmares of teaching, messing things up and never really get lessons started because I was bogged down in all the little things.  Damn, I’m neurotic. 

Friday, April 09, 2010

The Soreness

I’m so sore that moving my arms makes it feel as if I’m tearing scabs off my biceps.  The combination of beatings and the gym is absolutely punishing me to the core.  Ironically I think it’s the beatings that causing me the most anguish.  If I sit for more than an hour my legs completely stiffen up and make walking an awkward drunkards stumble until my hips loosen up. 

As usual the internal griping and whining disappears after we have warmed up and started moving.  I was actually dreading leading the warm ups because of this, but Teacher chose Little Sister to run that portion.  I was never so thankful.  Of course later in class we did side kicks for a half hour and I almost barfed from the agony of keeping the ground leg bent and kicking slowly. 

For some reason the class moved very slowly in time and we were able to pack in a huge amount of content.  Teacher continued to drill on the beginning techniques for the benefit of the new students, but I found a great deal of comfort in focusing on the basics.  I’m finding that I’m pleased that I can remember the odds and ends that he normally teaches and then apply them to myself.

The 2nd hour was dedicated to kata/hyungs.  That really beat the legs up.  He stopped us at one point and had us practice our kihap.  We all sounded pretty lame in the beginning, but we sounded great after we got going again.  There is nothing like everyone being in unison and belting out, “Hai!”

The last 15 minutes was dedicated to a bit of slow sparring.  I say slow because that’s all I was capable of.  I got paired with Robot and the sure signs of Rust were on both of us.  He has a horrible habit of catching my kicks which is nice when we are slow, but leaves him open in all sorts of ways.  Last night he did the same thing, but when I started to say something he kept his balance and planted a nice kick in my crotch.  I guess I need to amend my opinion or move a bit quicker. 

In the last bout Teacher brought me up and give some pointers to the class with me as the dummy.  When we did get going I was able to keep moving fairly well, but I noticed that my eyes were closed more often than not.  Too many fingers and elbows were making me nervous.  Beard complimented me on my technical acumen, but then chided me for taking it easy with Robot.  I guess I can’t win! 

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Rust and Nails

After 6 weeks of no class (ha ha) last night was a welcome diversion from lazy evenings at home.  Not that I’m opposed to that, but the sofa and I have a long relationship and I need my space. 

During the time Teacher has been gone I’ve been diligent about working out regularly assuming that I’d been in reasonable shape for this week.  This assumption has proven to be incorrect more often than not and last night was no exception to that rule.  We were practicing simple punch and block with movement and after three or four runs up and down the hall I was getting more and more out of breath.  Due to the numbers I was able to step out of rotation and help correct form and stance in the others and catch my breath.  Teacher came up to me and I whispered in his ear, “man, we look really rusty!”  He laughed because it was true.  There was not even an ounce of smoothness in any of us.  Our class looked like absolute beginners. 

So we struggled through the basics for two hours.  Mostly bad balance and shaking legs betraying the fact that none of us had practiced this specifically. 

After working on basic movement for awhile Teacher asked who had the lowest stance.  I looked around and pointed out two students who looked pretty good.  He said nope.  It was the two guys that had already turned around and headed back in our direction.  I screamed, “cheaters!” 

To finish the class Teacher decided to do a little knife defense.  I assume this was to show off a bit to the new students.  He took a different approach and let us suffer a bit, by letting us try to recall our moves on our own.  I was really pleased to learn that I could recall the few very important lessons from just before break and thought I was pretty smooth considering the shakes.

Just before the end of class Teacher asked me to the front for demo time.  He then showed the class what their options were from the variety of attacks one could expect from a knife wielder.  I’ve never been in a knife fight and nor do I want to be so I’m sure hopeful that the stuff we are practicing has some semblance to what we could expect.  So while Teacher is throwing me around, locking me out, and otherwise abusing me in front of the class he told us the story of the police officer here in town that got stabbed 13 times.  The officer thought he got punched and almost bled out because the attacker didn’t slash – he just punched with the blade. 

While letting that soak in he demonstrated an arm capture with spinning back fist.  As he spun around his heel peeled up my big toe nail.  Not wanting to look any worse a weenie than I normally do I just pursed my lips and gritted my teeth for the rest of class.  Ouch.  Bloody toe again. 

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...