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Showing posts from September, 2010

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…