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Showing posts from 2011

Fight Night Recap

In an ironic follow up to last weeks post I blocked three whirling attacks, but neglected to keep up the pace for the next spinning backfist that ended up terminating on my brow.  Boooiiinggg.  Class was relatively small with a new guy that comes from a Jujitsu school.  I’m not sure what his experience is, but he was pretty awesome with all the basics.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone move with their balance as well as him.  In the second hour Teacher announced that we would spar since it’s been awhile.  This was met with a lot of excitement since we hadn’t done any since I was teaching the class in September.  Time flies and Teacher was most likely focusing on bringing the new students up to snuff.  I got three fights which was pretty awesome.  My first was with the gal from the TKD background.  She was a bit intimidated due to the lack of pads and the requirement to check kicks and punches.  After we danced for a bit I started to get close and use my hands a lot which was not to…

The Place In Between

The struggle to push through the thin meniscus that separates the differences in consciousness is a mysterious purgatory in which I don’t have a lot of sensory input, but nor do I care about that loss either.  During the push to wake myself up in the morning I may be at all sorts of levels of awareness, but not necessarily awake.    This state of apparent (or false) consciousness  is the closest thing I can equate to where I’m located when I receive a blow to front or back of my head.  I would say, in a totally unscientific way, that it must be like a computer system coming on line.  Not every system is on at the same time – multiple services come on line in a consecutive fashion, often dictated by importance or the role of the system in it’s larger environment.  By extension the body possibly brings up functions in a similar fashion.  In my case vision and hearing come up last.  I’m drawing these similarities because I notice that seasoned fighters (at least in MMA matches) appeared …

A Little More Action, A Little Less Conversation

Teacher called me a little earlier in the day and asked me to teach a section on side kicks.  He’s been experiencing some tendonitis in his arms and has been struggling with plantar fasciitis off and on over the years.  So my responsibility was fairly low, but I thought about it all day and tried to get my thoughts organized for class.  When the time came I thought I was rather thorough, but after class I thought I might have gone on a bit much.  I spent a good 20 minutes breaking the moves down and getting everyone to focus on the little things.  Ah well, it was nice entry into the move to encourage thinking about the dynamics.  Storm, the advance TKD kicker, brought up a conversation about putting a snap into a kick.  He can put that last 5% of the move into nice twitch that really snaps beautifully, but trying to get folks to recognize that is really difficult.  I finally told them that it was an advanced technique.  After class I met with Teacher for some beers and he wants me to …

On Choking

I had Teacher around the neck in textbook choke when a pain shot through my arm.  The next thing I noticed was that I was laying face down on the mat.  We had rare few folks show up last night due to the weather, so we got to work on some very advanced techniques.  Normally this either fun or painful or both.  It was more painful last night than fun, but it went quick.  Any technique that requires that delicate balance point of action and thought is absolutely difficult to me.  I never realized I was such a strong rote learner as it relates to physical things.  So when we change around things and I start to think most of what I do is plain and fairly unimaginative.  This has a tendency to get me down pretty quick.  When I see the others really exercise their imagination I’m very impressed because I bring nothing to the fight.  I make the ideal Uke because of that quality.  So the first hour and some we worked on all our techniques from the knees to borrow from some of our Aikido linea…

Sticks And Stones

I think I’ve used this title before, but it always seems appropriate after blocking kicks for a few hours.  The essence of these classes being that the best block is not being there or, at the very least, stopping it before it comes to full fruition.   This is all and good, but I’m not Mr. Speedy so my ability to read a kick is really important.  The ability to read anything is tremendously important of course, but the kick I have really bad problems with is the outside crescent (or the axe kick).  When the kick initiates it totally looks like a front snap kick and then I fall for the lower block and end wearing foot sunglasses.  Last night we pretty much reviewed all the kicks and all the potential blocks at infinitum, but I had to admit my pleasure in that I was gaining in flexibility and control.  Normally, my back will let me know if I’m pushing it with it tail tell pull across the lumbar, but for whatever reason by the time we got to high, fast kicks my body was fairly ready to g…

Tater–Crusher Of Children

I’m not of huge fan of kids in general, but I’ve gotten better with more exposure to them in class.  As a secondary instructor I do feel a little pride when they see me in town and say hi or I get told by parents how much I’m mentioned.  Ego massage is such a great binder.  So last night I’m helping out Teacher with the kids.  While they do upper blocks I’m supposed to walk around doing chops to their heads to make sure they are doing things correctly.  In this case correct would be my downward strike being deflected.  A few of the kids didn’t have quite enough of an angle so I’d do the strike and they’d end up bopping themselves on the head with their own fists.  I immediately felt guilty about that and wondered if they’d show up again for the next class.  I think I’m probably over-analyzing again.  ---In the regular class we barely had anyone show (10 seems small now!) and we focused on spinning kicks.  I don’t recall ever having a whole class working on variations and drills and it…

PPP

Piss Poor Posting

I've found it extremely hard to sit down and right about class for the last month, but tonight I'm pretty wound up and figured I spend a few minutes typing down some thoughts.

In the past few posts I've been focused on the new folks and how much they mean to our class.  But I should have mentioned that there is this feast of famine dynamic that plays itself out.  Consistency in numbers really helps everyone learn because we all build at relatively the same time.  Each time new folks come we have to start out at the basics again to bring them up to speed.  Since you don't know if they are going to stay you still have to go through the motions.  We all also know that reviewing the basics is really fantastic, but it makes for a boring class.  Teacher is fairly good at not letting that happen so I think we are relatively blessed in this capacity.

So tonight we had a family start.  Three folks obviously very tight and interested in something new.  Howeve…

New Blood V.2

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I’ve long been a proponent of having new people come to class, but I really love  new folks that come and have a lot of experience.  We live on the outskirts of nowhere, on the edge of the world, but we have a highly transitional population and we occasionally get lucky.  Case in point – last week we had a new young guy who was incredible motivated and appeared very excited to be in class, but never showed up afterwards.  This week we’ve had a new lady show up and she’s also from a TKD school.  She has her black belt and appears to be enjoying our class, but you can see the confusion in her face at times because of the difference in teaching styles.  I hope she stays because she brings in skill as well as having another lady in class.  Our only other one is Swimmer, but she’s in High School and her schedule keeps her away from class frequently.  Elbow Strike to Face! (I was looking for an image of Confusion?!)

Judgment

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I’m a bit behind in posting because work has become very busy as of late and when I have a moment to myself I forget that I want keep some memory of what’s happened in class.  From last week - Dave was worn to the bone.  He got a tip that there was some free firewood and he filled up his trailer and truck and still decided to come to class the same day.  While he yawned his way through class Teacher asked him about testing.  Dave said that he was ready to go, so Teacher asked if he could do the test that night.  He nodded his head wearily (I might be projecting…) and, boom, the test commenced during the 2nd hour.  Teacher had everyone sit down, which is standard for his type of testing, but had Dave remain standing.  The additional surprise being that he had me remain standing as well.  I presumed that we’d start with sparring, but that was unusual because this was just Dave’s Green belt.  So Teacher had me join him at the head of the mat to help in testing.  To be specific he was act…

New Guy!

It’s probably not a reason to get really excited, but after hanging out with kids class, which seems to be sticking to the 23 member level, the adult class can be a bit of a let down.  We had 8 last night which is honestly a good number considered the space we have, but I honestly worry about us losing some of our numbers due to normal attrition.  So I was pleasantly surprised that a new guy showed up last night.  On top of that he’s a young guy with a black belt in TKD!  It’s like a dream to have energy and experience come into the class.  He’s a nice guy and was able to quickly learn whatever we were doing with a minimum of fuss.  Teacher was nice enough to place me with him for basic punching drills.  He was a bit shaky with our variation on it, but you could tell he knew what he was doing.  Later, during the break, he did flashy spinning kicks with Storm.  He’s certainly physically adept.  Every time they do that flashy stuff I become a bit mournful, because I’m older and not real…

Week In Review

I had to leave early last night due to a friend leaving town.  Since we are on an island a lot of folks take the long ferry ride back to the main land to continue their journeys.  Because the loading process is so cumbersome the time to say good bye can take a few hours.  If someone has some problems with saying goodbye the stretch of time can be anxiety provoking.  Case in point – last night our friend sprinted out the bar a full ten minutes before she had too.  Not good at good byes. Class on the other hand was a lot of fun, but I was panting.  My glorious return to the gym has not occurred yet so I’m not getting any aerobic work in.  I had a cholesterol test the other day that confirmed my last couple of months of inactivity.  At least I’m under 200, but my ratio is just horrible.  I can’t wait to see Dr. Sausage-Fingers this year.  The big highlight is that we’ve switched to evening hours and the kids class has restarted.  Since I’m still shy of being involved with all those kids …

Slideshow Update

For years I've only had a few photos from my first few years at class.  I just added a few of the most recent gang I've been working with.  What a cast of characters!

Teaching With Little Sleep

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As I’ve mentioned before I occasionally have difficulty with getting to sleep for a couple of days, but exhaustion usually wins out and by the third night I’m all back to a normal.  I’m not sure what’s going on lately, but I’m on my fifth night in a row of disrupted sleep.  What I feel like now.Just like Tuesday Teacher had me run the class for the first hour while he slept in an attempt to catch up on jet lag and fight his cold.  I had kind of anticipated this and had a few ideas to work on before he showed up.  I’m somewhat fixated on working on things that I’ve been avoiding. Primarily I’ve been avoiding downward blocks to Roundhouse kicks.  We had once tried this and I got a hellacious goose-egg on my forearm that ended up taking weeks to heal.  I assume it was a monumental bone bruise.  Just like any injury anticipation of pain starts playing on technique and then I shy away or adjust incorrectly.  So I worked on blocking roundhouses and ate bitter for awhile and was fairly surpr…

Teacher Is Back!

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I was leading the warm-ups as usual and had just got to the sit-ups and felt that tell-tale pull in my neck.  Figures – nothing like giving myself a tweaked neck before class has even started.  Duh!Not me – I’m lumpier in real life.Teacher had called me during the day and sounded horrible.  He’d picked up the flu or a bad cold during his travels and it was beating him up.  He asked me to run the first hour while he slept and then he’d come on down.  He showed up while I was introducing distancing with the side kick.  Most of the time distance is closed in the side kick via a step behind towards the Uke.  In times of stress, like sparring, that step behind might not occur and it’s replacement is a shuffle.  So the rear foot replaces the front foot in position.  The trick is keeping your balance so you can still deliver a decent kick.  Easier said than done. We spent the rest of the evening working on locks and throws.  The nice thing about having him back is that I can insert myself in…

Classes 6 + 7

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The Cherub and I were doing some light hand work and for whatever reason he decided to pull a technique out of one of our katas that ended up going through every bit of my defense and plowed into the flesh over my nose and between my eyes.  The unfortunate part of this being that he picked a spear hand.  Traditionally a really advanced technique because it’s coupled with a lot of hand conditioning we don’t do.  In reality if you pulled this technique you’d probably break all your fingers.  So The Cherub tags me once right between the eyes and the blood starts.  Neither of us is aware that he’s cut me and somewhat concerned about his control I stop the action and asked him what he did.  He shows me hitting me in the same exact spot!  Gad.  There’s actually cuts there – I swear!The Cherub.  I imagine that he might come across odd to the average joe on the street.  He has pale skin this side of sour cream, fairly bright red hair and very thick glasses.  I think he’s around 15, but fairly…

Classes 5 + 6

I’m having a hard time sitting down and typing for any period of time since I normally do these updates while I’m at work.  That’s what keeps the brevity most of the time.  For whatever reason work has picked up and so typing is broken in to a half sentence here and there.  Keeping to any kind of theme is really difficult.I think I’ve mentioned that I like using an outline for class, but gave it up because of the dependence it was creating.  So for the last couple of classes I gave up on that and stuck with a loose two portion approach.  For instance, last night I went with a blocking drill that I changed twice and then had a nice flow going so we could get a focus on in-fighting.  The second half of the class was split with kata and then throws.  As a rule TSD doesn’t really have throws, but due to our local school roots we have a few hip and trip throws. Both ideas came out of our last class where I learned an important teacher lesson.  Never put a exhausted guy back into sparring. …

Class 4

Or, “All by myself” <sung in a haunting way>.  This would be my first completely solo class and I chose not to have an outline sitting by the front of the class.  I figured that it was creating a weird dependence in such a way that I couldn’t think outside the outline.  I’d planned to have two to three sections of class with leg work first and then our version of scaled down Aikido next.  I was kind of taken by an idea suggested by Uchi Deshi when I asked him for some pointers.  He said that if there is a student getting ready for testing that he’ll run through the exam several times and fine tune anything that needs work.  Since we rarely know when Teacher is going to test this wouldn’t have worked out for us, but just before he left he told Dave that he would test him when he got back in September.  I thought the next couple of classes could have a little time on focusing on his test.  So class started well and we blew past the hour mark while we were all into the kicking dril…

Class 3

Not much to say other than that by the break I was pretty much running out of ideas. Thankfully Teacher showed up to save the day. I really thought my outline was going to keep me going all the way through, but I realized my fanatical attention to the clock is not helping me here. I started precisely on time and then spent a fairly long time on warm-ups. That left around 35 minutes of instruction before the break. “No problem,” I think. Well, I was wrong. I had about ten minutes worth after words. Teacher had me do everything up to that point including opening up the dojang and turning on the lights. I led the bow in and he didn’t show up until we got near the break. At the end of class he told the class while he was gone for the next month that they’d all get to participate in my education. Boy, was I thankful for that. Everyone is being extra nice, but I thought that was even better.

Class 2

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Although not totally officially in charge of the whole thing I ran the complete class with Teacher periodically poking his head in at random times.  The class was very respectful and called me Sensei throughout and the little outline I made worked very nicely, but I really needed Teacher to fine tune it.  I was way too heavy on blocking and he had me modify a few parts.  Frankly I was impressed that I was able to get through the whole class without boggling too much and over focus on too many things.  I think the trick will be getting through the first hour and having a segue way into the second.During the break I showed Storm the easy break boards we’ve been using over the years as I had found out that he was a significant breaker when he was younger.  He loved the wall mounted makiwari we’ve got, but can’t use (it would trash the wall) and even gave it a go on the black board.  That is the one that we’ve only been able to break with an axe kick suspended on blocks.Not me.Of course a…

Start Of Teaching

It's not like I haven't taught a class or two over the years, but I've never done it as a Sensei so this week was a little stressful in that I wanted to be better at instruction. I'm not very relaxed, and tend to get hyper focused on one student. In an effort to make a somewhat smooth transition to teaching full-time (only for the month of September) Teacher has had me take the first hour of class this last week to help me dial in a bit more before he takes off. The class has been incredibly receptive and supportive, but my imagination only goes so far.
I can do about 70 minutes worth of instruction, but my well of originality dries up pretty quick after that. Since I don't have the ability to make stuff up on the fly I use the "build on to the next thing" method. I pick a technique and break it down to the essential pieces and start the class on those and work up to the technique. Depending on the technique I'll add in partner work or focus dr…

A Little More Test Stuff

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A lot of the Black Belt Test was standing for five to ten seconds while the board took notes and commiserated and, frankly, a lot of the stuff I did didn’t look overly impressive.  So in order to keep your attention I made a highlights reel.  Some smooth things, others not so much.

Goodbye Look

Teacher called me before class and talked about preparation for his month long departure.   In a moment of drunkenness I volunteered to take the adult class while he was gone on vacation.  Let me stress that I, in no way, feel comfortable with this task.  For whatever reason I felt that there was an obligation to the class to continue on, but I sure as hell don’t feel like I’ll even do half the job that he does.Noting my anxiety Teacher had me not only lead warm-ups, but do the first hour lead in.  I was able to this without too much trouble, but honestly didn’t have a lot of ideas for the second hour.  When I asked if I should continue at the hour break he took over to my relief.   It’s going to be a long month for me and the class.
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During a moment of quiet I noticed that Little Sister wasn’t in the class and asked Teacher if she had left already.  He was somewhat mystified, but it became clear when she came in at halftime.  She thought we went back to the Fall schedule this…

A Little Black Belt Magic

Teacher once told me his frustration with earning a black belt was that it didn’t come with a bag of magic tricks.  I think he figured he’d be able to to jump to the second story and be able to single handedly defeat multiple magical warriors or something.  Well, that’s my take on it anyway.  Since he told me that many years ago I’ve managed to keep my realistic hat one and not get too worked up about what would happen about achieving the belt.  Mostly, I’ve felt that I haven’t deserved it or felt ready for it, but I did get to experience a little magic last night.  I noticed in the last two weeks that I’ve been able to pick up techniques after one exposure without any real difficulty.  So I’ve decided to attribute this to the magic of the belt rather than the fact that I’ve been doing this for 8 years and that all the building blocks are in place to grab the pieces from other lessons and tons of practical experience.  It’s totally the magic.---Storm, our black belt via TKD, has been …

Outtakes

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Not the most fit guy in the room. I started cardio and anaerobic training two months before the test in hopes that I wouldn’t look like this through most of the test.  Alas, I did.

Black Belt Test Video

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Custom Kata Teacher says, “it’s a kata a green belt could do, so you better do it like a Black Belt”.  I thought it looked technically decent, but I wished I could have been lower.

First Day With A Black Belt

I reached inside my gym bag with it’s signature Tang Soo Do fist at either end and pulled out my brand new Black Belt.  I rolled it around in my hands a little and told the guys in the changing room that this was the first time.  Their response, “man I would have worn that around the house, “ and “I would have worn that naked around the house”.  Good men all.  Teacher called me Sensei Tater at one point to which I ducked my head.  I really don’t feel like I’m a Sensei, since such a large part of the class has been there for awhile and know my good and bad points intimately.  Still, I can see where the change in thinking and pride in my accomplishment has started taking place.  At my wife’s birthday party I was doing falls to rolling standups in the front lawn while delivering drinks and then teaching folks how to do come-along wrist and should locks.  What a dork I am.  I spent most of the class working with our newest and youngest student trying to get her up to speed on the basics. …

Post Test Notes

Long story short – I passed my Black Belt test.  I’m filled with all sorts of emotions; pride and disappointment being the most prevalent.  The test lasted about a half hour and consisted of running me through a variety of basic techniques like kicks and strikes, then pad, or focus mitt, drills.  I then performed Pyung Ohn Sa Dan, Oh Dan, Bassai and my test kata.   They had me do my test one twice.  The final section was fighting.  I did four or five matches which couldn’t have been more than 30 seconds a piece and finished it up with a three against me match.  I’m proud that I’ve accomplished the belt, but I was disappointed in that I wished I could have shown a better performance to the judging panel.  I have yet to see the tapes (just thinking about it is making me nervous), but even during the test I have to admit I didn’t look or feel very sharp at times.  That coupled with my constant need for air made for a lot of breaks.  When I cobble together the video I can guarantee that w…

One Day To Go

Anxiety seems to lead to a lack of sleep, which in turn, allows anxiety to fester.  Not the greatest way to approach the upcoming test, but it’s also not a surprise either.  I usually martial through all of this and do okay, but the nagging lack of energy I’m experiencing is making me frustrated.  On Monday I went for an epic run (5k, cross country) and did better than my first time on that course, and assumed that I’d sleep like a corpse, but I ended up wide awake only getting minimal sleep.  So getting to class last night took a huge amount of energy on my part.On top of that Teacher ran a pretty physically demanding class (or maybe I was just so tired it felt that way).  At the end of class I’d completely soaked my gi, but so had the rest of the guys.  Teacher had me demonstrate my kata/hyung at the end of class and everyone said it looked sharp.  I have to admit I was pleased as well because I did it with a lot of intensity and did it correctly. Teacher had only one suggestion whi…

Prep Time

Teacher called me up today and told me that the test will be held on Thursday. That was a hard call because of the adrenaline spiking off my kidneys. I was breathing fast and sweating long before we finished the call. Although he didn't tell me not to be nervous, he did tell me that I'd do fine. It's funny, but I have never found that to help much. Possibly it'll sink in by the test time, but I do such a great job of being nervous on my own that I will be a bit of a wreck.
An additional stressor is that my wife has decided to come to the test. She's never seen one and knows that this is kind of a big deal to me. At least she'll have video proof so I'll be able to post highlights of a sort.
This is what I know. It will be an hour, I'll have three Sensei's running the test (just like my Brown with the same guys), I'll do three katas including my own, Sensei Grant will test my knowledge on technique execution (oh crap what?!) and then I&#…

Tests–Little Sister is Brown

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I guess the season must be upon us because Teacher let me know that he was testing Little Sister last night.  She’s been there for probably four or five years now and she’s leaving us for College at the end of the month.  We started class as usual, but halfway through the second hour we sat down for the test.  Although we didn’t the three Black Belts Teacher ran her through a wear down for about 15 minutes before her kata and fights.  She looked good, but Teacher changed things out, but having her fight a majority of the class one minute at a time.  I’d actually never seen her wrung out before and by the time she completed with Teacher (the last bout) she was bleeding out a loose thumbnail and could barely keep her arms up.  Previously to her testing we were working on up close fighting and I was partnered with Dave.  Alas I took a shot to the face and ended up getting rocked on my heels.  I thought I was going to lose a tooth, but everything turned out fine.  Although he’s got a cut …

Training update 2

I'm up in the mountains with my family for a little reunion and the place I selected is a Spa/Hotel. I'm sure the discerning traveler could write up tons of commentary on how the place looks and feels. I can only say statement, "workout heaven"! The facilities here are ridiculous. And I mean that in a great way. One full floor of gym equipment, exercise studios, and seating areas for chilling out. That doesn't even hold a candle to the spa itself. The spa is split by gender so the men and women enter and leave by different entrances. Both of their areas contain lounges, steam baths (with euchilypis) and so on. The shared area has water falls over hot tubs to use gravity power to pound your shoulders into putty while you bravely smile to the other folks in the soaking pool.
So I bravely put the onus upon myself to exercise as frequently as possible. Strangely, I'm not able to pull the epic workouts I'd like to, but I'm still able to work ou…

Training Log Update

I'm currently on vacation and the heat is unbelievable! I don't recall this kind of heat - ever. Of course where I'm coming from, at a full third of what I'm experiencing doesn't lead me to making the best decisions as it comes to the out of doors.
The first day I got here I figured I'd better get out and run. I think it was in the high 80s and by the time I got back I thought I might be near a stroke. I stayed in a cold shower for as long as I can handle it and still didn't stop sweating for another couple of hours.
The next day I accompanied my Father to his gym figuring the temperature would be a lot better and used the fancy treadmill to set up an interval training run. This worked successfully and I was able to get two miles in, but didn't push my anaerobic threshold too much. Some light weights and I was good to go. However, during the each uphill interval I silently cursed Dave and my PT for this type of exercise. I imagine I should hav…

Test Training Log: I Hate Dave

Ever mindful of how grueling the Brown belt test was, my focus has been directed at my cardiac fitness.  Luckily one of my friends is a physical therapist and has a impressive knowledge in sports training.  Unfortunately, he reckons that I need to focus on anaerobic exercise as it matches my level of activity during testing.About two or three weeks ago I tried emulate what that might be by taking a look at various workouts on-line and mirroring what I could.  My normal workout is kata, rowing machine, kata, burpees, etc.  If I can do 40 minutes I’m impressed with myself.  I’ve estimated that 170 bpm is my anaerobic threshold and my PT has told me that I need to get up there and work at that for 30 seconds or more and then bring it down to 165 or less for a few minutes and then drive it back up.  So Dave calls me up and asks me to go running with him as part of his routine and I think to myself, “what a great idea.  I’ll be able to confirm my level of fitness in an objective fashion”. …

A Miss and A Hit

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I had to miss Thursday night class because of work pushing it’s nosey requirements into my life.  I had some visiting folks from the mother ship in the big city and had to squire them around.  It’s not like they were bad or anything, but I had to get them back to the airport after an exceedingly long day.  I just had to remind myself, “this is why I get paid”.  Class was still going on for a bit when I showed up so I said hi and made an appointment to hang out with Teacher on Friday.  I’d put together a few more pieces and parts to my kata and wanted to find out if I was going in the correct direction.  Here’s were I’m at, but I’ve got a slightly different ending after the double punches. Struggling wit the awesome. Instead of the jumping axe at the end I’ve got some hand work.  Teacher made it very clear – “This is a kata that a green belt can do, but you’d better be doing the techniques all at a Black belt level”.  Yikes!

Test Info and Notes

I talked to Teacher this weekend and told him that I’d gotten a bit further with my test Kata and was hoping to meet up with him to check my progress.  I really didn’t want to be moving on and have him rework a bunch of my stuff.  I’m not terribly smooth with the few things I have so to have major changes would be a bit anxiety producing.We met early yesterday and I went through my starting sequence, one long pass and second sequence.  Teacher corrected a few pieces and changed around the entry and substance of the second pass.  I feel kind of bad because he’s such a part of it and won’t have any surprise, but I’m guessing he wants me to look good in front of the other Teachers.  Needless to say I’m getting rather excited by the test, but not having a clear idea of when it’s going to occur makes me a bit anxious.  Preparations for something nebulous make me nervous of course, so I’m just focusing on the kata and my cardio.  Currently I’m using my rower every other day to grind out 500…

Kata Progress And Notes

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Now that my system seems to have settled from my vacation I’ve been focusing on fitness and my kata.  Although this won’t help me aerobically or anaerobically I thought it was pretty kick ass.  Such a simple set and so good.  My kata is coming along finally.  I don’t have anything very fancy so the form is a standard “I” shaped form.  I’ve taken some hand techniques from our 10th hyung, Neihan Shi Cho Dan, but Teacher has had me simply focus on things that I do well and where I can demonstrate that I’ve mastered the technique (balance, execution, etc.).  I’ll try to get some video of that so I can check my own progress and express chagrin at my horrible performance.

Post Vacation Shake Down

I went down to Central America to visit my wife for a couple of weeks and had a great time, but as it relates to my practice I was pretty bad.  Our schedule is usually very compressed so there is little time or space to practice kata or technique.  However, during long rides I was able to start the mental work on my Black Belt test kata.  I’ve got the first eight moves nailed down and after last night I’m ready move to the next four or five.  Upon return to the States I ran into a rather frustrating phenomena – persistent diarrhea.  It was if as soon as I had water in Northern America my body went into total shock.  I’ve been home almost a week now and I’ve been barely able to get through a work day and I definitely haven’t been to the gym.  After a four days of meds I thought I could do class last night, but I was dragging hard.  One of Teacher’s favorite questions is, “are you alright?” when I’m panting.  Last night the answer was, “no”.  Each day I’ve been incrementally better, but…

Oh Snap!

Teacher says, "you're going to freak out."
"About what", I reply.
He says, " I want to talk about your next test".
Ironically that's exactly what I wanted to talk about when he asked me to hang out after class for a beer. Although I wasn't really thinking he was going to bring this up. Recently I'd been kind of wondering what was next in the chute. We don't have a formal system of how to determine belt testing so I'd kind of thought maybe I needed to ask what kind of horrible things he had in store for me for my next rank. Only there was a rub.
"I wanted to let you know that I want to test you for your black belt" he said rather straight forwardly.
Internally the hyper ventilating hit a seismic pace. Externally my pupils dilated and I just sputtered. I actually said, "I don't know what to say," which is pretty much what all the cool guys say when faced with an epic life experience. I will say this,…

Catch Up

I just realized that I haven’t posted since last Tuesday due to a rather busy schedule.  My wife is out of town for the summer so I’m doing all the stuff around the house that would normally be divided between us.  As usual I forget that although it’s not a lot of stuff, it’s still more than I do normally so I have less time to dawdle.  To add to general frantic nature of my day Teacher moved up the summer classes one hour.  So we get out early, but we have to get there early.  This means I’m moving fast after work.  I basically have enough time to change and eat a bit before I hit the ground running.  So I can’t actually recall what we did last week, and even last night was a bit of a blur, but we did have a couple of stand out moments.We call generic multiple attack scenarios “monkey in the middle”.  However due to the latest racial sensitivity problems I believe the word monkey is going to get dropped.  It consists of 5 person groups in which one participant stands in the middle an…

Feet, Don’t Fail Me!

Teacher quote for the week: as I tried to tap out of a rather painful lock – “you look like a penguin flapping it’s wings to stay warm.”  Nice. 
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All of us looked like we ran across hot coals as we uncomfortably moved from one foot to the other or stared at the soles of our feet.  This was a direct result of the new rubberized sports floor put in several months ago.  Unfortunately kicks that require foot rotation are miserable because feet don’t want to turn at all on rubber.  I was noticing after my shower later that night I had actually torn the flesh between the toes and ball of both my feet.  This morning I was was walking very carefully.  Hopefully, they’ll be mostly healed by tomorrow night.  Since I was only there for the first hour I didn’t get to experience anymore discomfort.  However, in that 45 minutes I was huffing and puffing.  My poor diet and lack of sleep really felt like they were weighing on me.  Hopefully, I’ll be back on a more even keel by the end of the we…

Shame

I knew, in those microseconds before, during and after my fist making a sickening crunch, that we had gone too far. 
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As part of the summer Teacher moves the class up an hour so we can get out and enjoy the long sunny evenings.  Unfortunately, the class hasn’t adjusted to this change so we are in variety of  states.  Personally, I was half a bubble off – dropping keys and bumping into things all day.  Dave was so hungry that he had dull eyes and we had the addition of two news kids in the class.  We were learning how to integrate the long punch into our regular work.  This is move comes from our 3rd kata (Kee Cho Hyung Sam Boo) in which the punch ends up out to the side, but the force is generated by a massive hip rotation.  I’ll have to do a video of this because it’s emphasis is totally neglected in videos I plowed through today.  Anyway, while were learning to do this Teacher decided to throw in an odd block in which you spin you opponents arm in a large spiral so you can mo…

Revelations

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My first years in TSD were marked with frequent “Aha!” moments. Over time those became sporadic as the learning of new skills was overtaken by the refinement of those very same skills.  As of the last few years they have become far and few between.  I was warned of this by Teacher and haven’t really thought about it much until something struggled to the surface about three weeks ago.  Teacher is very clever and adaptable at times so a move he promotes may not exactly come from the Big Tang Soo Do book or his older practiced styles.  However, he’ll do them if they work and have a minimum of cons.  So about three weeks ago we were working on entering our opponents space using the simple zenkutsu stance.  At first I was uncomfortable with giving my back to the opponent, but with the proper loading and speed I believe it to be a great set up for a throw.  After a few weeks of testing this out it dawned upon me that I needed to try this out somewhat formally.  Bob, at Striking Thoughts, ac…

On Thinking And Being

It is a rare thing that I have anything near to what I would call “clarity of thought”.  I imagine it would be like having the same train of thought for more than a few minutes at a time.  Although I’m self-diagnosing I am pretty sure I was one of those kids who was squirrelly and distracted all their lives that was later to be called ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) by the medical establishment.  Thankfully I had a parent that was very good with behavior management, but I remember the struggle of trying to focus during years of school, but having to contend a mind that flew about like a flock of birds on the wind.  Over the years I was able to develop some skills to contend with that inability and found that several things really helped.  One of those being Martials arts or some intense physical activity.  Ironically reading did the same thing assuming that I like the material of course.  So when I sit down to type about what happened the night before I can only recall…

Backfist To The Dome

I don't know about the folks out there, but there is a couple of moves that have an automatic follow-up move. The one I see most (and also do myself) is a side kick that's followed up with a spinning back fist. We do it so often that when we are sparring we almost automatically raise our arm to block when someone even hints at doing a move after a failed side kick.

That being said, during the evening's sparring I neglected to raise my hand to block since I figured two things; 1. that my opponent was too far away and 2. he could control his strike. I was wrong on both accounts. Dave is my height but must have slightly longer arms. So the back fist did come and I did not have my hand up. Dave also did not have the control I would have liked to see. This led to a perfect placement of his two knuckles on my side of my head at the hat line.

I had to shake that off but I swear I could feel the fluid filling the new dent in my dome. Before I went to sleep I looked into th…

Las Manos de Piedra y Sangre

What with all the hullabaloo around the last couple of UFC fights in which the winner employed a front kick to end the match, has made me dying to integrate the move into our sparring. It’s not that we don’t use it all the time, but the simplicity of the move and my innate flexibility in that area really calls to me. The only problem is that Teacher has been somewhat reticent to reintroduce sparring because of the plethora of plebeians (I love alliteration). For some reason we had a very light class last night and it was mostly experienced folks. That means that we’d have a better possibility to spar if Teacher ran out of energy making up class content. Luck was on our side as we had ten minutes of class left after practicing kata for 30 minutes. I got to spar with one of wonder twins and found to my dismay that a slowly performed front kick is easily blocked. What made it worse was his block was horrible. Normally performed the downward block would be more than adequate to st…

Lucky Wishbone

I was standing in a moderately deep stance as Swimmer went into zenkutsu (lower stance with one leg bent and the other straight) between my legs.  With a sharp twist of her shoulders my front leg went out and forward and my rear was already kind of straight and going no where.  My only escape was to fall backward and hope that I could take the stretch I didn’t seem built for.  Mental screaming ensued.  It seemed like a nice evening, filled with bonhomie, laughter and effervescent spirit.  This should be a warning after all this time; it usually means that focus isn’t on the mark and something is going to get mangled.  The first sign – me blocking a kick with an open hand and jamming my ring finger.  Nothing bad, but it stung liked I bent it sideways.  I was being over dramatic as usual.  Next, as we working on weapons attacks I took a escrima stick from Dave as he swung for my head, but I messed up the technique and we became tangled and the stick fell from his grasp and clocked me on…

Kick And Falls

Kicks, kicks and more kicks.  I had hoped that we do some kicking to get that extra bit of exercise. My balance felt good as well.  Some nights that’s not the case, but for whatever reason the I was still and centered. Teacher started us off with side kicks and I’d forgotten how doing even 40 can be exhausting.  He kept us going by then adding a second kick (lower) without touching the floor between.  Presumably to break the habit of going to the floor, but definitely forcing work on balance.  Unfortunately I was out of breath with minutes.  I’ve returned to holding my breath?!After break we pulled the matts out for a little ground work and minor aikido.  I did the first rolls and falls in 4 to 6 months.  It was like I’d never stopped, but I was very nervous about bending my spine.  I ended up doing about 6 warm up rolls and stopped there.  I took about 20 falls with no problems whatsoever.  The fascinating part of falls part of the evening was that Teacher had everyone work on falls …

Overcoming Exhaustion

My wife and I recently got a new cat as the house felt pretty empty.  I sure with deep introspection we’d probably see that both of us needs to focus on something other than ourselves.  Whatever the case the cat provides energy and focus at the house, but it means that a lack of sleep is back into the fore if we don’t make an effort to exercise the cat during the day.  Based on the cat’s behavior we assume that she sleeps all day and then remains awake during the evening.  This is exhibited by her sleeping on us, talking to us, sitting on us and cleaning noisily.  As I mentioned in the past I have occasional problems with sleeplessness.  The cycle goes something like two nights of bad sleep followed by a night of deep sleep.  If I’m lucky I’ll keep on a good schedule for awhile until the next sleeplessness comes up.   You may be asking yourself what this has to do with anything martial.  Well, the truth is probably not too much, but sleeplessness has a direct impact on my ability to p…

Knife Hand Strike

Teacher pulled me aside after noting my less than stellar attention to detail during a knife hand attack.  He held up his forearm and told me to attempt a strike with my shabby hand positioning (my fingers were spread, but my thumb was tucked).  Of course the energy of the strike was satisfactory, but my fingers make a nice cracking noise as they whipped at the end.  Owww.  Error noted and corrected.Class focused on two major areas – knife hand and round house kicks.  Teacher is really just focusing on basics to get the new folks on board and bring everyone else up back to snuff after their month off (mine was three months).  My general lack of fitness as it relates to class is making itself known right away.  I take pride in my regularity at the gym and my basic level of fitness, but when it comes to our basic exercises I huff and puff like an old steam engine.  I know this, but I still have to make a serious effort to ramp up my breathing depth before I even start feeling the first …

Creaky

I'm not too stiff this morning and my back didn't seize up on me so I'm viewing my return to class as somewhat triumphant.
It's been 3 months or so since I've been to class in any formal fashion so last night was pretty important to me in a couple of ways. I wasn't sure how much I could do because I've developed an unwanted, but needed, hyper-vigilence when it comes to my back. Every little bend and twist has me wondering if I've gone to far and a question of will I paying for it later. I was also testing the waters about how much I wanted to be there. I sometimes struggle with the desire to be there versus the requirement to be there. I only want to go because I want to not because I think I have to. I was pretty stoked to be back and leading the warm ups was like getting back on my favorite bicycle, so I think that answered that.
The big surprise last night was the floor. During the month of time off (while Sensei was away) the owner of the space cover…

Come Back Kid

Since Teacher is on vacation I been devoting my time to sorting out what I can and can’t do physically.  My last evaluation at physical therapy left me somewhat upset about those limitations.  Part of my responsibility in class has been leading the warm up and I’ve been doing what Teacher showed me years ago with only a few variations.  After having the therapist tell I can no long bend at the waist and do other exotic stretches he showed me alternatives to pretty much everything I needed to do, but the question would be, how would Teacher take a possible change like this?Since he’s out of town for the next month I was doing a lot of role-playing in my head about how to approach him.  Thankfully Beard invited me over to his new in home studio so we could practice katas and I discussed my conundrum to him.  Although he didn’t give me a definitive answer I got the feeling that he supports the change given that he’s about 6 years older than me and appreciates the less the extreme warm up…