Friday, August 27, 2010

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.  Teacher would constantly try to slow her down, but even the slightest adrenaline would remove any governance in her strikes.  My favorite – which I wish I had video of; it would have made a million hits on you tube – was her attempt to a ridge hand strike on one of the Wonder Twins.  This was not foiled but briefly interrupted by the second Twins head.  So she executes a shot to one brow and moves on to the others neck.  All done so fast and furious that we presumed she broke her fingers in the process.  Excitement! 

I woke up today feeling like I had the precursor to the flu.  All my joints seem sore and I feel achy across my back and shoulders.  Great.  Just in time for the weekend.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

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 thing as supportive piece of knowledge. 

When we do a few of the locks (especially as a lead into throws) I often run into the problem of getting someone moving if they have a solid stance.  Struggling to take someone towards you doesn’t work out when you get all rigid.  So Beard taught me a little trick of “dropping the hips.”  I took this to mean that I needed to bend my knees quickly and fractionally and it worked like a charm.  The balance was disturbed at a low level and I was able to move him. 

I wish I had more of me to have the time to learn Judo.  Sure looks fun.

Friday, August 20, 2010

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!
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 end of the first hour the fist was good and the chamber was held most of the time.  I’ve definitely been spoiled by the other student rapid learning curve. 

I had a nice surprise when I got home – a friend dropped off a bottle of Tequila (gooood) so I was able to have a snort before bedtime.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


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.  The new dog in the neighborhood killed the cat that I was quite fond of. 

Every since my wife and I had to put our older cat down during the winter I’ve become a clingy, emotional wreck around any animal, but cats in particular.  The neighbor’s cat was an especially gregarious male that like to hang out with us.

So, short story long – I wasn’t really in the mood for beatings and had an impressive mental shopping list of things I didn’t like about class running through my mind.  “Are we going to be doing the same things again…” and so on. 

Needless to say that didn’t last very long when Tall new guy elbowed me in the ear during drills.  We both got to laughing something fierce and the bitter bug that had been up my ass died quickly.  Of course after a week I wasn’t at my best and ended up kicking TNG in the mouth with the ball of my foot.  That’s what I get for trying to judge distance with a mirror instead of watching the target.  Sorry New Guy!

Friday, August 06, 2010


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 makes me guess that what makes us fast is a certain set of muscles and not all of them.  Brighter minds probably know.

To amplify on this Teacher had me block punches very close at real speed.  A majority of these made it through to varying degrees.  He had me practice a quick relaxation and unfocus from the situation then he punched again. 

I should mention here that my mind was completely occupied with trying to ignore all the external stimuli and figuring that I wasn’t going to block his shot for all the tea in China. 

While my mind was struggling to free itself from the monkey-madness Teacher took the shot and before I could even think I had already blocked the shot.  Stunned, I just gaped for a minute.  Teacher punches very fast and I performed a beautiful block with little or no stress.  He saw my obvious disbelief and had me relax again for another shot.  As my mind inevitably got itself into a dither he did another and I blocked just as nicely!

Tall new guy joined me in disbelief.  There was a lot of mouth breathing. 

We worked on unbreakable arm for awhile.  Only two folks in the class could get there last night.  After all these years I still fight believing it even though I see it in front of my eyes.  Doubting Tater – the pragmatic martial artist who can’t grow for that very reason. 

Wednesday, August 04, 2010


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 punch with over my lead foot) to which she added a slight bounce with with her hooking foot.  The result was my feet flying and since she had twisted my shoulders I had to take the fall from fairly high on the hard floor.  I landed beautifully.  Yeah experience!

When it was my turn it took me a few times to work out distance and get chagrined about the closeness that is required to execute the move properly (It’s very intimate to have my leg firmly planted between a lady’s legs – especially when they aren’t my wife).  The third time I did everything correctly and she went flying – except she wasn’t supposed to and ended up crashing to the floor.  She was writhing in pain from a really bad fall and I thought she had broken her wrist!  Thankfully she was okay and explained to me that she tried to stop the fall poorly and the shock went up her arm and slammed her shoulder into her jaw.  Bad Sempai!

I was examining my feelings after the fact and was surprised that I didn’t feel bad over the possibility that I caused another person possible serious injury, but the horror to know that I still have problems with controlling my power.


On a lighter note – my hunting trip was grueling and my legs are very tired.  No bambi’s were harmed.

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...