Friday, October 22, 2010

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, but Dave and I decided to continue unabated so the sounds of the evening consisted of:

“Downward dog.”
”Plank pose.”
“Warrior pose.”
”Something pose.”

We kept that up for a good half hour before the constant standing up, even with Dave’s assistance, started playing havoc with my knees.  Using his arm to get up was great because I never do it in real life, but it totally extended that part of the lesson for me.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t pull out mats and work on his falls which I’m dearly excited to do – since it means I’ll get to throw someone.  However, we’re running out of time since Teacher gets back in a week or so. 

After we left to change out I noticed a flyer on the wall saying that yoga class was starting that night – whoops. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Pilgrim’s Progress


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 foot stays in touch with the ground and glides out to where you’d normally step to and the rear foot immediately closes into a normal stance. 

I had Dave do a block to the outside while shifting towards me (at a slight angle) then doing a jaw strike/push to turn me around.  The progression went from the head control to a head lock/rear choke. 

We found a boxing timer on the wall and set it up for 99 seconds and did some light sparring.  Dave was definitely taking advantage of the fact that a forward attack is hard to get away from.  That’s when I got bopped on the head.  I was pretty creaky this morning. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010


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 and their power.  After that we used the bag to work on actual force.  I forgot how much labor that is compared to striking at air.  Thankfully my balance was mostly good, but the power felt like it was really lacking. 

While we were practicing punching/blocking drills apparently someone walked by the door and gawked.  Dave interpreted this as awesome.  I only hoped we didn’t look like two guys over 40 with pot bellies trying not to punch each other in the nose.  I’d rather it be perceived that we looked like dangerous, steely-eyed martial artists barely escaping being punched because of cat-like reflexes. 

I put our sparring section into the middle of the work out so we could come down off the adrenaline a little sooner.  We started easy, but as always, intensity ramps up quickly.  Dave did a spinning back kick while I moved in – and I saw him control that kick fairly well, but the impact was on the nerve on the thigh – it caught me and just buckled my leg. Wow!  Was that painful. 

We finished off with the first three katas and I was pleased to note that Dave is keeping his shoulders straight and relaxed.

Monday, October 11, 2010

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 there is any stress around what we are teaching and he takes instruction extremely well.  The exercise for me is mental in that I have to break things apart for easier consumption and his sticking points aren’t necessarily ones that I’ve experienced in my past. 

Dave and I are continuing sparring regularly in hopes that we’ll learn to breath better and think a bit more before running in and exhausting ourselves.  Two minutes is good so far.  I’d like to see that at more towards three.

Possible insight to test – An old student was in town and ran into Teacher somewhere and they talked about the test.  It sounds like it’s going to be heavy on teaching.  I’m intrigued. 

Thursday, October 07, 2010

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…

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

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 he’s tentative, but motivated to get over that.

After a nice warm up where I was surprised that he didn’t have experience in punching drills (where have I been?) we moved to punching and moving at the same time.  Another area that was very tough on him.  It gave a us a nice scale of measure for what to work on. 

The next area of work was taking falls.  Since he has a really bad knee and I’m always watching mine the normal set up to learning the back fall was a bit tough.  We have the uke kind of do a one legged squat and then fall into the landing position.  After they are comfortable with that we have them go higher and higher till they can do it standing. 

We practiced that for some time and I tried to show him how to do a shoulder throw, but that was a bit beyond his skill.  Never the less I felt pretty excited because if we can get him up to speed then I can work on throws!

We finished up the evening with sparring again.  This time I wanted to make sure we kept breathing as the most important thing.  We were able to last ninety seconds on first round and used a 1 minute timer on the second.  Although shorter we weren’t even huffing. 

Because he doesn’t have a lot of flexibility yet his kicks are low and that meant my knees kept “getting in the way.”  At the time it just stung a little, but today to top edge of both of my knee caps are fairly bruised.  Ouch.  It makes bending down very unpleasant.  Thankfully we’ll have Thursday off so I can have an extra day to heal.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

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. 

Dave and I met on Saturday and went to his gym; literally the most modern and beautiful place I’d ever stepped into, and began warming up.  We were sharing the massive “aerobics” room with a single guy when we got there who was fiddling with the stereo which led me to ask Dave what music he listened to.  “80’s music.” replied.  He never grew out of it like many of my generation.  As if by magic the guy started playing death metal circa 2003.  Ah well.

While we were going through basic kicks and punches and identifying weak spots in form and technique more young men came in to use the room.  Occasionally I’d look through the mirror to see if any of them were going to give the old men any flak.  I needn’t have worried because they were pulling up their shirts to check if their abdominal muscles were in the peak of bulginess.  I kept asking myself, “was I like that at their age?”  Probably.  Now I’m afraid the combination of white flesh, hair and sagging mid-line will terrify my opponent. 

They all left after twenty minutes of primping and squeezing so Dave and I got to spar.  This was the breakdown:

- 30 seconds
- 45 seconds
- 90 seconds

By that last round we were both watching our breathing and made sure we weren’t flailing wildly.  Dave would amazingly move to throw!  I couldn’t believe it the first time, but we was totally okay with soaking up a few punches to get his hip in and do a beautiful throw.  Hunh! 

We shall see what tonight brings

Bassai in the park

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