Friday, September 30, 2011

Teaching With Little Sleep

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. 

dogWhat 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 surprised that I didn’t have massive bruises this morning.  Maybe tomorrow.

My second avoided technique is the spinning back kick.  Not something I’m particularly good at so I wanted to practice as much as as the class.  Bad idea.  No one was particularly good when we first started and I really needed to be paying attention to them.  Thankfully Teacher rolled in as was able to do that part while I stumbled around like a drunken sailor. 

As the class progressed I was supposed to act as the augmenting instructor, but if I wasn’t participating I was yawning enough to cause a vacuum.  The second hour seemed to drag a bit, but ended abruptly.  Teacher had me over for a couple of beers and asked how my time was while he was gone.  I tried to compile a quick list of lessons learned, but he mainly focused on how proud he was that I stood up and took control of the class for him.  Not too many times in my life has that occurred.  I went home and fell asleep immediately and then woke up at midnight.  The rest of the was light sleeping again, but I feel a bit more refreshed today.  We’ll see how long that lasts.  I’m supposed to going on a run with Dave.  Ugh.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Teacher Is Back!

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!

neck-pain120Not 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 into the fun more, but I still had to instruct more often than not.  It’s tough trying to tell someone what they are doing wrong when your upside down. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Classes 6 + 7

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. 

eyes2smallThere’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 physically advanced.  The reason he seems pretty cool to me is that we met his brothers early on and they seemed really odd.  Now that we have a new guy who has a lot of problems being socially appropriate (read: keeping his mouth closed) The Cherub is the model of the upstanding martial art student. 
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Tuesday went pretty well with another class of six folks.  At the end the Twins and Robot pulled me aside and said that Teacher had told them that there we also going to get tested in the upcoming month.  Based on that I figured that I needed to do another pre-test class (Thanks Uchi-Deschi!). 

So last night we had nine folks and after the first half hour I was going to move over to test prep when, to my vast surprise, in walks Teacher!  So I had to continue like he wasn’t there and constantly refer to him as if he wasn’t standing there.  Kind of funny most of the time.  “Well as you know Teacher like to see…”

He just got back to the states last night so he was totally off his schedule and still decided to come in.  Ironically The Cherub had been at work since 5am and Dave had just got in at 6am.  So a lot of sleepy faces in the crowd. 

The only thing that caught me eye was when we were doing the sparring and one of the twins really stood out as being unflappably brilliant in his hand work.  He would forget to use his feet, but still beautiful hand work. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

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.  Also Never go into sparring with an exhausted guy when you are not up to speed.  Needless to say, I took some very hard lumps. 

The match started with a kick to my testicles.  After a rest break and restart I got behind Dave to which he immediately elbowed me way too hard and set me up for a throw.  We were locked up and I figured I’d just step around his leg. Wrong.  As soon as I moved my leg he took my balance and he threw me very hard.  I had a great landing, but we weren’t using pads.  He had to help me up.  Let’s just say I was unable to make the 90 second goal I had set for myself. 

Although it’s not a rule I would say that exhaustion also leads to horrible sparring.  The reason I took a shot to the testicles was that Dave was just throwing out random things instead of planning. 

So in class I wanted to work on hands in a tangle and various throws (on mats).  I introduced the class to the tomonagi and the idea of a sacrifice throw (you are going to the ground to do the throw).  After that we focused on throws based on driving one leg between your opponents legs. 

I have to say that I really like doing the class and I thought it went pretty smoothly.  Considering we only had 5 folks I tend to think that smaller classes are a bit more fun and easier to keep track of. 

Thursday, September 08, 2011

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 drills.  After class I was going to work on kata so Dave could get some practice on his test specific one.  I totally lost track of time after the break because we (I mean me) got engrossed in teaching hand grabs and locks.  We ended the class on a “run”, which is to say we have one person standing at the head of the class while each person attacks in line so the person at the head can practice technique. 

We never got to Dave, but we were close to running over and everyone had a good time and a good workout.  Dave and I reviewed some notes from class and decided that I might want to reduce the amount of techniques taught at one time.  Oops.  I guess not everyone can drink from the fire hose. 

Friday, September 02, 2011

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.

Full Iron Circle

When I started at the Shudokan school five years ago, MaryAnn Sensei was working on her San Dan and as part of that she would teach me the k...