Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Ghost Man Commeth

Teacher asked me to take the kids class tonight and I thought it might be nice, but the timing was off.  Work has accelerated and I've got visiting specialists in town commanding a lot of my time.  It was actually a great time to get away from work out just to clear my mind.

I honestly wish I was a better writer just so I could relay the Heironymous Bosch-esque nature of the class. Teacher has a very serious clamp on behavior and totally okay with getting kids to do push ups and sit ups as punishments for speaking or acting out of turn.  What I mean to say is that I don't think I'm up to his approach and it showed.

I'm not sure what I thought was going to happen, but I didn't get a feeling for the level of oddness that emerged fairly quickly in the class.  First off, I presumed that class would be small.  Wrong.  Tonight we are having a blizzard and no one is driving. I even questioned this myself as I drove slowly to our down town.  If anything, the class should have been small.  Out of 20 I get about 17.  Unbelievable.  

Although they didn't really catch my attention at first, two of the students really started decompensating as the hour went on. The first, a little girl who could star in commercials she was so cute, began to talk and would never cease.  So I would stop her for a few moments and she would pick right up.  Not terrible, but a bit exasperating.  The boy next to start belching like a fraternity guy at a kegger.  I couldn't believe it.  He followed this by staggering bouts of foul gas that made moving around him a challenge.  After asking to go to the bathroom - thank god! - he came back completely out of sync with class.  He started grabbing his face and pulling his eyes down so only the whites would and begin moaning.  "I'm a ghoooosssttttt," he would groan.  

This was during a whole class of movement with people that had no idea how to hold a line either.  So Cherub, who was nice enough to help out,  and I would try to straighten folks out suppress outbursts and class moving.  No surprise the hour flew by.  We even went over, but I was starting to suspect that the parents were getting a little antsy due to the weather.  

Cherub and I stayed and working on in-fighting, side roll-outs and then tomonagi (belt throw).  After a couple of bad landings on my part I was glad to let that go for the evening.  

I'm out of the country for the next couple of weeks, so unless something strikes my fancy - I'm out!

Blind Man's Bluff

Due to the incredibly busy schedule at work, which often requires me to work late into the evenings, I count myself lucky to attend class on the rare occasion. In the last month I've been able to come back to class with some regularity and have found incredibly fun and full of thoughtful exercise.  

Although I rarely have the time to capture all the great stuff we've been working I wanted to do a couple of posts on the highlights.  Two weeks ago the adult class was down to the three of us (Frenchie, Cherub and Myself) and Teacher.  Always looking at the bright side, Teacher had a class where we would repeat some esoteric move until we are blue in the face.  After the beginning sequence he would pull me aside to practice something "fun".  In this case he grabbed an old belt and blindfolded me.  
The goal of this was to reduce dependence on site and focus on tactile clues, but the neatest things was that without too much warm up you could call out where your opponents parts were located.  I could pick up the chin, neck and elbow pretty regularly (with some serious errors here and there) and with more accuracy than I would have said was possible.

He moved on to sparring in the most mildest sense and it was pretty glorious in that with a blindfold on I could still do basic and sometimes advanced moves.  I totally had a flash back to Bloodsport where VanDamme is hunting around for his bad guy and flashes back to his vision impaired training.  Easier than I thought, but I definitely have to be touching a guy to know what's going on.  



Thursday, November 29, 2012

Too Fast Too Soon?

I should be at class right now, but a confluence of events has me with one foot in bed. Work has slowed down enough that I thought I would start going back to class, but the always eager desire to skip reared it's ugly head when we had problems at work.  So I literally sat at home waiting for my one employee to call me with updates.  By the time he finished it was past start time and I'm fairly tired from a lack of sleep anyway.

I did go on Tuesday however, and had a reasonable time.  By that I mean I'm so sore laughing actually hurts.  I have to hold my sides.  None of that was from throws, just punching.  My back feels like it has a shell on it, but thankfully my lower back isn't going into spasms.   

There was only three of us which isn't bad, but still makes me ache for the larger class dynamics.  It does mean that Teacher will focus on some hard stuff coupled with advanced technique. 

Cherub, Frenchie and Me warmed up on our own, but Teacher had me do the startup which consisted of punches and strikes.  During my quick notes on Shudos, he pointed out a neat trick for improving the whipping motion. Use a soft toy or light ball to work on the shoulder, elbow, then wrist release.

Rest of the time was using elbow strike in close quarter situation. 

1st - using it as a close in strike following a regular block. 

2nd - using it as an attack into the strikes.  Super painful for the attacker and sets up nice strikes and space for manipulation afterwards. 

Discussion at half time. 

My katas have become flaky as of late.  I told him I'm worried that I might be striving to much.  I have no idea where to limit myself and I'm starting to think I might be beyond my skill level.  He watched my Kong Sang Goon and didn't say anything about not doing it, but really had me focus on something else. 

He suggests a sanshin breathing approach to lower katas to get focus.  Although this isn't novel it did get my attention because I don't want to rush through kata only to get nothing out of them.  Unfortunately, just working on the punch and block was what made me so sore.  Reworking or retooling the basics is very hard work! Relaxing the shoulder, having the punch come so far before the energy is released.  Boom.  And then boom goes the ibuprofen.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Walking Before Kicking

I was speaking to Teacher after the kids class; commenting on their various performances during testing.  I pointed out that many of the kids had trouble with side kicks in that they had poor balance.  I speculated that they maybe hadn't developed enough to do those kicks.  Teacher's response was:

"Hell, most of those kids have only been walking a couple of years;  of course it's tough!"  

I hadn't been to class for over a month and maybe more so I was a bit nervous (when am I not?).  I wanted to protect my slowly healing shoulder and I knew my general fitness was pretty low due to being sick for the last month.  

However, the class had a slow relaxed pace since we have a new gal attending (Frenchie!).   This brings our regular class to the awesome number of four while the kids class has stabilized at 20.  By the time this kids reach the age to participate in the adult class we'll all be too old to take hard falls.

We did two advanced techniques that were worth noting.  The first was our standard arm lock but with a twist I wasn't aware of.  By placing the forearm into the interior of the elbow (the pit?) we found out that the ulna (thumbside) acts as a lever against the nerves on the top of the forearm of your opponent.  Pants wettingly painful.  

The second was a spot behind the knee.  In a close tussle you can drive you knee into that spot with a twist of the leg and the other guy goes flying just to get a way.  Teacher dropped me in a second and then pressed down on the spot further.  I thought I was going to shit myself in an attempt to get away. Good lesson learned.

Saturday, October 27, 2012


I've been fighting a cold for about two weeks now.  In of itself, it's not bad because I can still work (and work late), but not it seems to have settled in my lungs making me cough a wet sounding bark whenever I have slightly elevated breathing.

I've become somewhat concerned that I haven't been able to exercise regularly due to work and a change in the weather.  That means gaining weight is right around the corner.  So I went to class figuring I'd get a little sweat going and maybe jump start my health regimen.  

When I got to class I realized it was going to be a long night because it was only Teacher and myself for the first hour.  Most of that time was spent on talking, but every time we'd start doing something I'd end up coughing and hacking for a few minutes. By the time Dave showed up in the 2nd hour I was done.  

The good part to all this is that I finally went to the doctor for a nagging shoulder pain and it turns out that I have small rotator cuff tear or sprain.  It was good because I've dreading going to class because every little thing seems to make it hurt.  Class is the perfect place to exacerbate the whole thing especially since that's where I got it in the first place. In the end I avoided hurting myself further and went home and slept for 10 hours.

Today I'm at home avoiding a lot of stuff so I worked refining and completing Kong Sang Goon. Here's a really nice rendition:

Once I get mine refined I'll take a video and everyone can giggle at the poor comparison.  

Friday, October 19, 2012

Birthday Bash

Yesterday I turned 46.  As I've entered my 40's I haven't been entirely excited by the calendar and this year seemed a little more daunting than years before, but taking things into perspective I'm doing rather well.  

Previous to my Black belt test over a year and a half ago, I starting running with a classmate, Dave, so I wouldn't be winded during the testing.  In retrospect I probably started way to late and really didn't know what I was doing to get ready, but it started a trend that I've been keeping up.  After getting my knees to cooperate, I stuck with the treadmill during the winter and sloooowly added time to my runs.  In May I was able to run my first 5K race and I just did my second one last weekend.  I was able to shave off a minute which wasn't great, but wasn't bad either.  

This run was done at 43 degrees and in the rain.  So no matter how you dressed you were going to end up sweaty and cold at the same time.  Coupled with working exhausting hours for the last month and disrupted sleep I ended up getting sick Sunday night.  

Boom, it's now my birthday week and I had to skip working late to indulge in NyQuil so I could get ahead of my new cold.  Thankfully parts haven't come into work so I could actually relax for a few days. 

To celebrate his birthday, my old classmate Greyhound, came over from the big city to visit friends, come to class and participate in my big annual party.  Ironically, he's actually sicker than I am, but he wanted to see Teacher and see how class compared to his current school.  

We showed up last night sneezing, blowing snot and generally hacking germs all over the place.  But the best part was that it was a spontaneous home week.  The guy that broke my ankle came to class, The baker and Greyhound all being there gave class a very surreal feeling.  The baker hadn't been on the island for 7 years!  Ankle breaker hadn't been there for over 8!  The both had kids and respectable lives!  I'm sure using a lot of exclamation marks, but it was great.  We couldn't stop talking which is a sure sign we weren't working  hard enough.  

Once we got started the lightheadedness almost had me stopped a few times in the first hour.  After teacher got us through the basics we moved on the technique which thankfully seemed less strenuous.  

Great night of knife hand blocks to grab and then side kick.  Then we learned a new counter (apparently we learned it before, but I'd forgotten like Steven Seagal) to the step behind trip.  Rotate the body at the point of being taken to escape or force your opponent down.  Very cool and fun.  

Slept great knowing that I can still do this at 46.     

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Night And Day

I was drifting off to sleep last week and my wife mumbled to me, "you need to go back to class."  Wait, what?

Living in the far North has a depreciating quality on my well-being.  On one hand you can have an incredible summer in which the sun never sets and you have such boundless energy that it never seems to end.  On the other you have a soul-sucking winter that never seems to end and the chance to see the light of day comes once every couple of weeks.  When the winter starts my mood becomes quite labile (mercurial maybe?).  I'll watch those Hallmark ads and burst into tears; I'll over-dramatize pretty much everything; I'll walk around the house in sweeping robes, with the back of hand on my forehead bemoaning my outcast fate.  

Okay, I don't do the last one, but I'm sure my wife gets pretty tired of stretches of depressed whining.  She noticed the correlation of beatings and me having having a relatively decent mood.  I'm still not sure I understand it myself, but I can actually tell the difference when I come home.  No matter how much of a shit class it might have been, I usually skip up the steps and sing mindless songs as I get ready for bed.  

So the winter hasn't even started and I haven't been crying too much over puppies and kitties on TV so my wife's comment caught me off guard.  It's true I've been dodging class for a bit, but I must have been outwardly showing the signs.  So with some sense of renewed vigor I went to class last night with a smile on my face.

Class was creative and interesting.  Closing in on the other guy and working the legs in a variety of ways; heel shots to the other guy's calves, etc.  I was paired with Teacher the whole time which was fun, but I'm rue to throw him because I'm not as smooth and he's got aches and pains.  Then I get partnered with Cherub who fights every move.  I've told him that it's training for me and that at times he's going to need to let it happen so I know I'm doing something correct.  It's a tough concept for someone that fights everything.  

It was just four of us which depresses me to a degree.  The vitality of the adult class got bled off in the last year.  I would say that the class hits it's equilibrium at 15 members and then fails with more than that because it can't address the disparity in levels of experience and skill.   

I slept well and woke up reasonably easy which makes for a good day.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Speaking of Krav Maga

I went to a birthday party on Saturday.  

I love parties.  I am a social butterfly.  I love social lubricant.  However, I am old and careful, and dare I say, responsible.  I was on call last weekend and I have been called too often in the evening, so I took the high road and became the designated driver.  

This is a predicament for me.  If I'm not drinking I get a little fidgety and end up not really enjoying myself.  Luck found me and I became the bartender for the evening.  So I was able to drink by proxy, as it were.

Through the course of the evening I was able to meet a great deal of people, but I also saw them get blurrier and blurrier as time progressed.  One of the folks at the party was a guy from Israel fresh off six years with the IDF where he practiced Krav Maga the whole time.  

He noticed my costume with the gi top (I was dressed as zombie hunter and posted my resume on my back) and he obviously felt that simpatico that a lot of beer can bring on.  So for the next two hours he had to discuss his philosophy with me.  After the first 20 minutes I realized this was going to be agonizing  - no one was going to rescue me. The problem was the repetition of the stories.  Sometimes he would slip in a bit interesting info, but it was mostly the same thing over and over again.  

Barring the drunk babble, I was able to extract these similarities in practice to TSD:

- Always close in on your opponent.
- Shorter folks have an advantage.
- Strike at the knee, if the guy that can't walk he can't chase.
- Never, ever use your skills; unless you have no choice.
- You always have a choice.
- Every moment is a moment to reduce escalation.
- Every moment is a moment to get away.
- You can eat insult and take a punch, but if you main or kill it's forever on your head.
- If you get into a fight you take responsibility for you and your opponent.  
- Always treat your opponent as if they are an expert. 

It just dawned upon me that these are things we should be repeating in class once in awhile.  I'd say that the incident of conflict for anyone is pretty much nil, but it's nice to cover philosophy of practice once in awhile.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Falling Behind

I'm going to straight up admit it.  I've been avoiding class.  I'm not totally sure of my motivations, but I think I might just need a rest break. 

For awhile I've been trying to find reasons not to go and conveniently work has become so tiring and labor intensive that I working late and very stressed out.  So I text teacher about an hour before class and let him know I'm not coming. 

As I'm writing this I know part of the problem is that I'm trying to get ready for another race and my ability to focus on multiple things is totally limited.  I've also been gradually becoming self-conscious about my physique - not that I'm gaining weight; although that is an eternal struggle, but the loss of muscle tone.  Ever since I started running in some earnest I haven't had time to go to the gym.  I've been telling myself that the cardiovascular benefits are more important that throwing around weights, but I've spent so many years trying to be low-end body builder and fearing physical aging that I can't let it go easily. 

So I'll go to the gym and run on the treadmill, which doesn't seem to have the same training benefits as road running, and then I can lift some weights.  But three miles is still 30 minutes and then trying to do a workout is going to add all kinds of time I don't have.  A conundrum for me.  So beatings has been left behind because of all this and the dwindling time I have at home with my wife. 

My wife, in addition to a 40 hour plus job, as taken on two board presidencies so her downtime is extremely limited.  We knew it was going to be tough, but the reality is that she's exhausted most of the time and we don't get a lot of time together.  Mostly we talk about the day and then fantasize about our next vacation in December.  Sad.

So I practice my katas (hyungs) and make sure I'm flexible, but that's about it for this month.  After the race I'm going back to less running, on the treadmill, lifting the weights and then back to beatings more regularly.  Or so I'm telling myself.

Friday, August 31, 2012

So Angry!

I went to class thinking it was going to be Cherub and me again, but shortly into our warm-ups Dave showed up on his bicycle.  

Dave is going through a rather painful divorce and he's only in the preliminaries.  He still hasn't lost his sense of humor, but it often takes on shades of frustration - still hilarious though.  For instance at the end of class he gleefully clapped his hands and said in a high pitched voice, "oh boy, I get  to go home now!"

I gather we are one of his few respites.  

Class was mostly just basics for the first hour, but Teacher grabbed an elbow block out of Pinyon Sam Dan.  It's as if you have your hands on your hips in exasperation, but you twist your body to knock away punches and such.  This is great because in reality hands in pockets make this the perfect tool for a cheap punch from someone.  

For us, we knocked the punch to the inside and swept the arm up and over, then rotated our body and take the puncher down.  Easy and elegant, but Dave and spent a good 30 minutes making a mountain out of a mole hill.  That took a lot of refinement.  About one and ten was close to correct.  I'm starting to think that's my statistic.  

We finished up class with a sticky-hands exercise that supposed to be easy, but the tension in Dave was palpable. Instead of a relaxed, sophisticated feeling of touch Dave just used 100% of muscle to keep my hand out of the way.  After doing this for a few minutes I realized what was happening and described what we were supposed to be doing.  It was still hard for him to relax; he needs an outlet to burn off the tension.  

I finished up with Teacher and it was super fun in that it was relaxing challenging and still a bit of a work out.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Lumpy From The Throws

Teacher called me up and said, "do you remember how many were in the kids class last year on the first day?"

I said, "I think around 30.  I was pretty blown away."  

"It's going to be over 40 this year" he said with some enthusiasm and exasperation.  

There's no way he can fit that many kids into the space and he came to the same conclusion.  It looks like he's going to have to split the kids class which means it'll be 5 to 6, 6 to 7, and 7 - 9.  He'll be burned out within a month or to.  Too bad we can't use the area on more days a week.  It' certainly be a nice treat for all of us to come more than twice a week.  

The odd thing is that our adult class is pretty much down to just a few folks.  Last night it was Cherub and me.  So we had awesome private lessons, but for whatever reason we got into throws and that was kind of a bummer because he's a lot shorter than I am.  We both struggled with the fine points and at one point I tried to pull Cherub across my back.  Instead of an effortless throw it turned into an awkward 140lb pull.  Ugh.  My back is tired today, but not spasming, so I'm very pleased about that.

We also leaned how to do the counter to the throw.  As soon as the thrower grabs your arm, your free hand has to come around the chin and move the throwers head around.  I got it right about once out of ten times.  Not pleasant to have someone fall on you though.  When it goes right, the throw fails and the thrower has to rotate due to the "follow the head wherever it goes rule".  It has been done very accurately and quickly.  Tough to accomplish for us plodding artists.  

In the end I think the count was around 40 to 50 throws without being to rattled.  I slept pretty well.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Roundhouse Renewal

Teacher called me up yesterday afternoon and let me know that he had taken ill and might not be able to do the whole class.  This was ironic because I had just finished telling him that I'd made a poor choice of drinking all night in conjunction with my wife's birthday and was miserably hung over at work. 

So class wouldn't be the best of the best by both of our reckoning.  By the evening, and a big dose of ibuprofen, I was able to rally and get to class early and warm up.  The class only consisted of Cherub, Beard and myself so I didn't feel any pressure to be super awesome.  However focus was off due to the previous evening's activities.  Long story short, I ended up kicking Teacher in the crotch with a poorly controlled roundhouse kick.

Although that didn't make him particularly happy he also didn't get upset either, but it did move him to focus on my roundhouse kicks.  So, for the next 30 minutes we spent a lot of time retooling my roundhouse kick. 

For the last how ever many years I've been doing the roundhouse in such a way that I can place my toe anywhere I want it, but it delivers zero energy.  So the work began on creating the "whip".  As we do with certain strikes (shudo in this case) the effort begins at the shoulder, then elbow and then hand.  I literally crack the whip with my fingers being the point of contact.  The trick is being very relaxed until the moment of impact.

So to translate this to the kick I had to break each part of the kick down and make some rather large (at least in my mind) adjustments.  In the end the kick starts now from the shoulder twist, to a torso twist, leg in position and then finally whipping into the target.  Although that took a half hour to sort out I saw an immediate change in power transfer and the impact on the water dummy was pretty impressive.  

Teacher ended up leaving class early; looking rather horrible and I finished class with kata work.  Both of them are working on Sa Dan (number 7), but I don't feel totally confident telling them what to change.  I mostly focused on stance, and some other refinements. 

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Flipping And Falling

Tonight we had our characteristically small class; just five of us.  This is actually optimal because it means that Teacher will work on more and more advanced technique which is a rarity when we have new folks.  Class will be dedicated to bringing them up to standard.

I missed last Thursday which sounded like a tragedy.  Dave took his first steps in falling and throwing.  I would have loved to have seen it, but he made some breakthroughs about how to run his body right for the fall.  This means a lot to me because I don't have a lot of people to throw in class unless Beard shows up.  He's dyed in the wool badass when it comes to throwing.  He's got a black belt in Judo and has had it for 20 years.  He can do the most amazing things falling through the sky. 

So Teacher says that we'll redo everything practiced on Thursday to really help Dave integrate what he learned.  I was stoked.  Another rarity for us.  Throwing has been relegated to the "maybe we'll practice it some day, but that's not really our technique".  

So they pulled out the pads and doubled them up, to which I laughed because the 1" mats really don't do too much to absorb shock and doubling them doesn't do much at all either.

And for the first time I was able to do decent throws after 8 plus years so I felt like a million bucks.  Teacher worked some excellent magic about foot  and hip placement and I was able to balance people on a hip!  To which I hollered "dancing with the stars!"  After which Cherub buried me into the floor with the completion of the throw.  Thankfully, I'm the best faller after Beard in the class.  

I'm currently sitting back and drinking some Rye to celebrate what I consider a momentous occasion. I took more falls in one night then I have ever taken before (I guess around 25) and only the last one was kind of crappy so I banged my knee up a bit, but I'm still jacked.

Buddha Brings The Pain

We periodically get new students and it's worth celebrating in my mind.  Their arrival always reminds me of the time I stepped through the doors and started this particular adventureOur class has had fairly low numbers as of late, but we picked up another young guy awhile back.  

The youth class is good up to certain point, but Teacher will pull from that group once the kids are either too big or so sophisticated that they might quit from boredom.  In this case while the kids class is on hiatus for the summer Teacher invited an interested youth to join the adult class.  Buddha has the most placid features I have ever seen.  His expression rarely changes and his eyelids seem to be always at half mast.  He looks exactly like pictures of the buddha at his most serene.  

Since I'm usually silly I can get him to crack a smile once in awhile.  He's very nice, but doesn't talk much.  

So last week Teacher decides to work on pressure points.  This is incredibly interesting and, like other esoteric techniques, takes a lot of practice to get right on various people.  Unfortunately, we don't practice these very often. 

In this class we focused heavily on points around the face, head and neck.  While I practiced with other adults Teacher stayed in the corner with Buddha and concentrated on doing a few techniques really well.

Since Buddha is about 10 or 12 he has a few friends that watch the class the sidelines and occasionally giggle about the inherent silliness of it all. Near the end of class Teacher pulls me over to the door and has me pick up Buddha by the lapels of his gi.  I've got him off the floor and he applies a mastoid realignment that almost had me urinate by accident.  Needless to say he was dropped post haste to the delight of his friends.  I wiped away a manly tear and turned to Teacher who beamed at the new, quick learning student.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Just Move

Although this didn't necessarily come up during the last class it has been sticking around in the back of my head since last week.  Teacher noticed that during some of the structured one-step and two-step practice that I had a tendency to freeze for moment while I thought of the technique I wanted to use.  The more I thought, the slower I got on response time.  

So he told me this story:
"When I was teaching ballroom dancing to a room of 100 people I would run into the occasional moment where I couldn't remember what I had just been talking about.  So I would just start talking about something until I could remember where I was - just a space filler.  After I while I realized I just needed to move and things would just flow."

So I took this info and did what he said.  In the next exchange I didn't think ahead and just let myself do something.  To my surprise I was able to move smoothly and definitely.  How often do I forget that I have all the base work inculcated and had it for years?  Now it's just trusting myself to let it out, and to do that I just have to move.  So easy, but so hard to come to terms with.


On Tuesday's Class we had our old compadre, Dave, show up after a couple of months off.  I had thought he had moved away, but he's going through a brutal divorce which makes him unpredictable and tense at times.  I think class is one of his only physical outlets.  I hate sparring with him because I get pummeled due to his lack of restraint.  You can see the frustration and anger pouring out of him.  Probably the most realistic fighting we have in the class.  

Teacher pulled out a cane and some Escrima sticks and then the beatings began!  My reedy, pipe cleaner arms hate anything to do with sticks.  I don't wear those bruises with pride because after the first block I'm mostly controlling a spastic relax that goes with the anticipation of pain.   Not very martially arty.  

Unfortunately, I was partnered with Beard and the cane.  That stupid handle is perfect for catching and twisting with unparalleled discomfort.  I'm not sure I'll remember the techniques as it's a rare thing that we bring them out, but I was able to get a few under my belt and blinding pain is great to help recall a few things.  
Last note - Teacher pointed out that my open hand strikes were actually contacting in the wrong place.  I was making contact just under the meaty part of the palm instead of the meaty part itself.  

Friday, July 20, 2012

Boost Of Confidence

The basic structure of the class starts with a bow in and then we do a 15 minute warm up led by yours truly. Usually before the bow in I try to warm up and pre-stretch so the actually warm up isn't too much of a shock to the system.  During the warm up one of the things we do is practice balance with our eyes closed.  We have to stand on one foot and count to ten.

If there is any time in your life that you feel great about yourself I strongly encourage you to do this to completely remove that silly notion.  Some days I have wonderful balance on one foot, but never both and ten seconds usually is the max anyway.

Teacher was watching from the side during the warm up and pointedly focused on trying to get us a little better balanced once class started.  Obviously regular practice is going to be key for us, but he was trying to give some hints to make it better.  He had us adjust our feet, changed position, moves hands, etc.  By the time we'd been working on it for around ten minutes my legs were shaking so bad, any balance was out of question.  Teacher had the discretion not to roll his eyes too much.

So the confidence was pretty low at that point.  Thankfully he moved on, but it was still eyes closed stuff.  We partnered and made contact with our partner and then have them strike twice.  The deal was that if you placed the blocked shot in the proper place, you end up dictating where the next shot is coming from.   For example if I drag a blocked hand down and across so the next shot from the other guy would punch high (face) and so on.  

That part of class worked out pretty well.  There was no occasional thud of fist to flesh so our small group was doing very well as it relates to distance and use of power.  

We took a break then rotated partners which left me with Teacher.  Since I'm supposedly better than some, Teacher always gears up whatever lesson we've been working on.  I often feel like I'm struggling to understand whatever he's imparting to me and then I struggle to recreate without looking too foolish. 

His variation on the exercise was to have returned strikes after the blocks.  Mind you, this is with eyes closed.  The first few exchanges made me very nervous since I didn't think I could get the distance so I punched really carefully and very far away.  When he took his turn I could relax because he has zero problem landing a shot directly on my chin without any problem.  By that I mean it's perfectly placed and absolutely controlled.  

He obviously noticed my discomfort with the distance thing and had me close my eyes and grabbed my wrist.  He then would call out a body part and have me touch it (all with my eyes closed!) and I was able to do it without any problem!  

So with confidence restored with tried the exercise again and I was able to lay a fist on him with proper control 95% of the time.  Unfortunately, I smacked him in the face a couple of time due an either fantastically place shudo or poorly placed semi-roundhouse.  No blood though.

We finished up class with a small sparring session.  Little Sister was in town from college so we got to go first.  The moment of note was when we did a simultaneous spinning back kick that ended up locking our legs together.  We got great laughs as we hopped in syncopation, trying to extricate ourselves without losing balance and not opening ourselves up to another shot.

I came home thinking I was super ultimate man.  Yeah beatings!

Thursday, June 28, 2012


I haven’t been feeling particularly healthy as of late so I end up going to the doctor for an unrelated reason (to remove a cyst on my head) and totally forget to tell the doctor.  Derp!

Anyway, I’ve been looking for excuses to avoid going to class so I can go to bed early, but I need the exercise so badly I decided I better go tonight and sweat a bit.  It’s not that I’ve been not working out it just feels like my relative progress is modest at best.  It feels like I’ve got a potbelly and that I have to outrun the damn thing. 

For instance I could run a 5k pretty regularly in May and now I struggle with 2.5 miles.  I know it’s not far off distance wise, but I’m barely making it. 

My lousy diet is mostly the cause, but living clean this week has made no change in how I feel.  Mostly tired, a constant headache, some lethargy, but not so bad that I don’t exercise some. 

Anyway, class was supposed to have a visitor, which I absolutely love, but the dude never showed up.  We ended up working on long punches and then working them into technique and then added a throw at the end of the technique.  Kind of fun and the class flew by.  So good exercise, but I still had an ice cream bar before class.  Damn ice cream!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Unfocused Goal

We are continuing to have a small number of folks in class which is really fine, but my attention deficit would like a little more variety at times.  The two new kids are usually placed together to work on basic skills while the three of us more experienced folks are placed together for some advanced technique.  A lot of what Teacher has us focus on is really stealing balance and a focus on technique.  In my case I frequently miss the technique and immediately exert muscle.  To any of the experienced folks out there you'll recognize the fault in that.  

The move we worked on was a block to the inside that terminated in an elbow strike to the liver.  From there the blocked are was elbow locked against my chest/stomach and then we can move the uke anywhere pretty easily.  

Well, for me that didn't ever want to go correctly.  After some time focusing on the micro, I realized it was a macro problem.  For others these moves are easily managed, but if I don't picture what I'm going to be doing with uke then the move falls apart.  I have been focusing on doing the technique only and now I'm at the point that I need to know what I'm doing from beginning to end.  

Another problem I've been experiencing is that I have no sense of when I'm making folks hurt.  With the plethora of really flexible students with little or no pain response I get very sloppy.  So I got partnered with Beard and apparently I reefed way too hard on his elbow (during the aforementioned technique), so when he gets a turn he cranked on me hard enough to make sure I was hurting this morning.  I really would have been okay if he just told me - ah well.  

Friday, June 15, 2012

Little S!*@%

It happens every couple of years in class.  We get a new person or someone in the class develops in a way that absolutely grates on my nerves.  It's happened again with one of the younger students - Cherub.  

Cherub was one of our younger fellows in the adult class who totally fit the mold that folks are starting to identify with martial arts classes.  He's home-schooled, fairly intelligent, self motivated, but has no association with group sports.  

Over the last couple of years he's become very good at technique and has an unquenchable desire to learn.  He's an absolute sponge.  However, he wants to practice advanced technique as much as possible, but that comes with the annoyance of him grabbing me and doing the technique poorly and painfully.  

This in it of itself isn't horrible, but last night he was just unstoppable and every new attempt was even more painful.  He was literally getting on my last nerve.  By the end of class I could barely move my hands.  

I thought about it some and came to this realization,  he has the highest pain tolerance I've ever seen and therefore has absolutely no empathy when it comes to locks and grabs.  You can see it in his eye when he does a technique way too hard  - just absent of any kind of connection.  Then he laughs because he's unaffected in kind.  

After that much torture I was able to sleep extremely well.  I turned out the light at 9.  That's a rarity.    

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Quick Note

Quick news post.

We had a gal from the kids class move up to our class.

We only had four folks not including teacher.  Makes for intense lessons, but makes me sad.

Those intense lessons are intense.  I had my neck cranked around about one too many times.  However, my knowledge and usage is getting better around balance stealing and recognizing my desire to escape close in fighting.  It's terrible around shorter people - with good reason.  They hurt.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Hurried Catch Up

To those of you who follow this blog it's no surprise that I've fallen behind on posts.  I honestly haven't had too much to write about, but I got kind of beat up in class last night and there is never a bad time to post bruise pictures.

To be forearmed is to be forewarned

I don't remember getting mauled like for several years now.  There was point where I was bruising all the time, but that eventually went away around the time I finished up my green belt.  The other strange thing is that these are red.  Who ever heard of red bruises?  The barely seen one on my hand is actually the aubergine of a nice one developing.   

If anyone ever did a development curve of the stages of martial skill acquisition I'd be the first person to help out with the name of the various stages.   I know that around the green belt the repetition of basics was mind numbing; the endless plateau of never feeling like you are learning stuff, but knowing that you'll pick things up in the end.

Then there's this point where I learn something new and it puts all my basic learning into a new light.  This happens periodically; usually when I develop an insight in some move or technique.  The end result is that I feel like a beginner again, but one that can do everything moderately well.

What I'm trying to say is that I've been a Black Belt for awhile and I feel like I'm experiencing both of those stages at once.  Everything is repetitious, but I also see it in a new light which ends up making me feel like I'm starting over again.  Is there some point where you feel like you have mastery?  Or, at least, less incompetence?
Since the class has been small, as of late Teacher has been focusing on really complex technique which is challenging to us all, but fun and intellectually gripping.  

Friday, May 11, 2012

Fred Flintstone Feet

There is a little known affliction of martial artists from hard style schools – it’s called Fred Flintstone Feet.  Most of them have experienced it one time or the other, but didn’t realize that it had a diagnosis. 

We had a personal record of cases last night; four in total.  Trucker is still recovering from a broken toe, Teacher broke or dislocated his pinkie toe in the first 10 minutes of class coming off the ground and catching on his pants. 

I smashed three toes into Truckers shin and later had a kick or fall on to my other foot.  And then later Dave through me over his leg, but had trapped my slap hand so my elbow and all 200 pounds of me when straight down on his foot.  I could tell by the his face that that was going to leave a mark. 

Teacher called me today to commiserate about his toe (completely black today) and I related my rather disrupted sleep due to pulsating feet and general sensitivity.  Strangely, none of us complained about any other pains in our bodies when the toes are mangled. 

Teacher has occasionally added a touch of reality based fun stuff to our classes.  This is based on his tireless collection of altercations in our towns small number of bars.  Some he’s heard about from the players, some are from what he’s witnessed and some of them are from things he’s participated in. 

A few weeks ago the bar near where we hold classes had a fairly epic brouhaha.  Eight fellows from a boat took umbrage to something the bouncer said and it was on.  Unfortunately there was only three bouncers.  Said altercation led to one of the bouncers on the floor on all fours while his opponent took an impressive kick right to his face; rearranging his nose at an unfortunate angle. 

So our exercise was to start off on all fours and see what we could do before he showed us a few neat ideas.  Basically, we needed to remember to get one hand up at the very least.  Moving is awesome of course, but we managed to plant an inside hammer block/strike or a punch down strike/block.  If done with good timing and power the kicker is spun so that their back is to you and then they are sad. 

Great class, but throbbing leading to FFF syndrome is nothing to laugh at; unless it’s the other guy.   

Monday, May 07, 2012

In other news

I thought I’d depart from the normal “dear diary” format of the blog to mention that I had a small fitness milestone yesterday.  I ran in my first 5K and finished in 30 min and 27 seconds.  My normal practice runs are around 33 minutes so this was quite nice for me. 

I’ve never been in a mass start before and I was incredibly disheartened when all the people surged ahead of me within the first few minutes.  However, my pace being what it is (slow and even) I ended up picking off a multitude of people as the course progressed. Mostly these were elderly folks or parents with small children, but I’ll take victories where I can.  The last half mile saw me upping my pace and then sprinting to the line.  I only did this because a morbidly obese women kept passing me repeatedly.  That kind of stung. 

Friday, May 04, 2012


Of all the deadly things we have in our arsenal of weapons the elbow seems so underrated in Tang Soo Do.  I should clarify.  In our forms we use it quite frequently, but it just doesn’t seem to be used to much in one step sparring.  I can’t help but think this is because it’s a weapon of infighting and brutality for the most part and the majority of the one step drills favor an arms length or legs length distance. 

So when Teacher starts encouraging it’s use during drills we start taking notice.  Dave, in particular, loves using it whenever he gets close and has caused me some pains over the last year because of that. 

As I mentioned we’ve always viewed it as a blunt force object, but Teacher has started stressing that like all other parts of ourselves that we use, the elbow can be used as a sophisticated weapon.  Last night we elaborated on a technique we started on Tuesday. 

The original exercise is to close in while blocking roundhouse punches (think redneck fighting).  Those punches from the side are met with an elbow slightly under the bicep.  The elbow swings in an upward loop that carries the punch over your head.  Bob’s your uncle – you can punch at the liver and kidneys at your leisure.  The more advanced technique was to choke out the guy with his own arm.   Fun, but the other guy had to be shorter or it turned into a greco-roman wrestling match. 

Last night’s variation - there was no blocking before the elbow interaction.  The dependent factor being that you had to have exquisite timing to pick off that arm and move it over your head.  Needless to say, we all got a lot of elbows in the biceps and forearms.  No one looked particularly happy at the end of the night, but we were all smiling.  Bunch of sickos. 

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Trips, Flips and Whips

The first thing they need to teach you in taking a fall is that your body must land as a unit.  So no falling by piece, i.e. shoulders, lower back, buttocks and then legs.  By the time your legs get to the ground they resemble the end of a whip. 

Normally, we practice breakfalls and rolls before we do any mat work, but for whatever reason Teacher moved into throwing the Tater around first thing.  Ostensibly, I should be able to take those falls without warmup, but Tuesday proved to be an exception.  That first trip into a throw led to a brutal whiplash.  When my eyes retained focus I saw the gang look a little concerned. 

Cherub said, “Wow, you should have seen your eyes!” 

I gather they rolled around a bit.  Even today my neck is telling me a story.  Ouch. 

The second part of class was very close in-fighting.  This is very difficult for me since it means that I need be able to pick off strikes when they are just a foot away.  Not my best place. 

I noticed the week before that those punches were way easier to pick up when my opponent is shorter than me.  The eye gaze down makes it easier to see more.  When I have to look straight across or even slightly up I miss so much more. 

Of course in close the use of elbows is strongly encouraged and I took one from Dave between the Ulna and Radius that we both heard clack and crunch.  Big bruise on the inside and nothing to show on the outside. 

The final lesson was around controlling balance to prep for a throw.  Fun fact – if someone comes at you to clench (not at the waist) drive you hand up and move that head back.  The rest of their body keeps moving forward and, boom, the easiest throw you’ve ever done, because you didn’t do anything. 

In order to keep track of the class progression and prep for testing I made a cheatsheet of what is expected for the 5th gup test.  He liked what he saw and wanted me to write out a syllabus for all ranks.  Yikes!  I have some work to get out of the way.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Forewarned Is Forearmed

I’m not sure about the spelling there, but we had almost two hours of the most punishing wrist locks, arms bars, and shoulder twisting.  By the end of the night I was sweating from pain management rather than exercise. 

Our normal grips and movements are designed to easily lead into locks on our opponents.  So Teacher moved up our skill level by showing nerve pinches in the fingers. 

The closest we’ve ever come to this is small digit manipulation that is simply grabbing a thumb or pinky and yanking them back at uncomfortable angles.  This is an entirely different approach.  I thought the most effective being a nerve running across the top of the thumb.  The person doing the technique rolls their thumb (or anything for that matter) perpendicularly across the top.  After a bit of sensitivity builds up the nerve is easy to find and just moving it around creates the most pants wetting pain.  We moved to other digits, but the thumb won until we moved to the wrist. 

As with before this is best done with the bad guy holding something firm so you can bring weight to bear on the sensitive surface.  We were using escrima sticks from a spinning, over the elbow lock that ended up putting the stick against the left or right of the wrist.  That definitely requires a video to even understand, but the pain was well beyond pants wetting.  I was standing on the tips of my big toes with no effort; my back arched like I was get 220 applied to my sensitive bits. 

I always with this very technically complex stuff I doubt I’ll remember a lot of it, but it lays a foundation I’m really impressed by.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

An Hour Late

Work is getting more stressful by the day and on top of that my social obligations seem to grow or, at least, carry more meaning. As our close friends seem to be all moving off the island we want to spend more time socializing.  So last night we promised to meet up for a meal with one of our friends (who’s moving) and I ended up having to miss the first hour of class.

When I got to class it was like old home week.  A few of the teenagers were there; one who had moved out of town and came back for a visit, Teacher Slim and others.  When Teacher Slim shows the mats always come out.  His devotion to crippling locks and painful submissions makes you want the mat.  If you’re not going to take a throw you’ll want the mat for you knees at the very least. 

In an attempt to warm up I went straight to rolls where I stand up in the end and then do it to the other side.  After five on a side I puffing and suitably ready to go, but knees are aching somewhat today.  I’m not sure why because I don’t use them too much coming up.  Assuming I’m doing it correctly, the momentum carries me up and I don’t have to use my legs much.  I’m guessing that I used them more than I thought. 

When class started up Teacher used me as the dummy for demonstrating the techniques, but when the class got started I ended up doing more instruction than anything else.  Which, I found to be quite pleasurable by the end of class.  One of our visitors from some years ago was muddling through a technique with a newer student and I was able to set up and correct very nicely within a 20 minute period. 

I ended up going home and not getting to sleep for hours and then getting up a half hour early.  No winning.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Back In The Saddle – Mildly Thrown

I’ve been out sick for the last week and half so I was a bit nervous about class, but once we got going things were pretty good. 

Teacher had told me about a drill they did while I was out, so he repeated it for me.  Four people with focus mitts surround a guy in the middle and Teacher calls out hands or feet and basically you go to town with your techniques.  I was having a grand old time with jumping high kicks when my toenail got peeled back.  Barf! 

Really it’s only a little bleeding, but there was also a split in the nail too.  Thankfully, there is the miracle of superglue to tie that back together.

Teacher somehow separated his rib from his spine during the last couple of weeks.  He’s in a lot of pain so there is lots of talking, but not much moving for him.

Poor Dave.  It sounds like his marriage is suffering.  That means that he is taking it out on the pads – boom!

Beard comes in at half time so my job has been to catch him up on what we learned and show him really quick.  He’s a black belt in Judo so I don’t have to show him much before he’s ready to go with technique, but he is great to work on with lot’s of stuff because while we mull over some esoteric point Teacher will come up and fine tune us.  I just realized last night that I’m getting super concentrated awesome lessons.  I’ve got to remember this.  Although I will admit that I feel like a dork a lot of the time, because they both do things with ease and have to talk slow for me in order to get the technique – hurr derr.

Friday, March 23, 2012

When The Dominos Fall

The first domino:  Nervous about going to class after getting punched in the head.  Adrenaline was making me weak instead of getting me pumped up. 

Second domino: During the warm up we balance on leg and close our eyes for the count of ten.  I normally struggle through that anyway, but Teacher used me as an example and I just got worse even with his helpful hints. 

Third domino: Because of class numbers I wasn’t able to partake in the exercises; only to assist teacher.  I need practice as much or more as others.  We started with a hammer fist to the punching arm and using the same arm to slide up with a chop to the neck.  After that we went to two step-sparring, using it as an initiating event and then to be creative afterwards with a response.  I kept doing the same thing over and over again. 

Teacher is definitely taking time to work on advanced technique with me and I was feeling like I was starting out as a white belt.  He took away my ability to grab with hands and work on technique with forearms instead.  I could do it, but only after multiple attempts.  And even then I couldn’t apply any imagination to the moves.  I think I could see his disappointment, or maybe I was just projecting my own troubles.

Fourth domino: We practiced kata/hyung for the second hour.  This is normally my best area, but I kept getting everything wrong, tripping over my own feet, and generally not being helpful.

I later talked with Beard and told him my troubles (which I should mention no one appeared to notice)  and he told me that in Judo he runs into similar issues.  If the first throw or fall goes wrong then they all have a tendency to snowball as he over-focuses on the one piece that needs work.  

Here’s a good day – Me doing Pinan Oh Dan. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Lump On Head

A blast of sparks shot across my vision from the left.  Ouch.

The class got started late and we mostly focused on the long punch.  The fist is oriented North/South instead of the standard East/West format.  If feels very Chinese to me.  It’s incredibly convenient for specific shot like into the xiphoid process amidst heavy protection. 

The whole move is something we pull out of our third hyung (kata).  On one of the long runs we cross our whole body and drive the fist while untwisting the whole body.  It’s an incredibly powerful strike. 

Here’s a guy doing our third kata.  At 13 seconds you can see the move, but he has no hip drive whatsoever. 

We practiced that with some other moves and had a grand old time twisting necks and arm locking each other.

Then Teacher does a big change out.  He wants to do an exercise in which we don’t block, but just evade – just like a boxer.  Well, after getting two roundhouse punches got landed on my head I realized that pain does not make a great educator. 

After 8 years of using my hands to block shots this was quite a change and it showed on me.  The new students were fine, but I couldn’t move fast at all.  My head really aches today. 

Friday, March 02, 2012

New And Old

The class was incredibly small last night (possibly due to bad weather) so Teacher and I got to work on stuff ourselves while the four members did basic work amongst themselves. 

We’ve got a father son team that I find interesting to watch.  The son doesn’t want to be there, but Dad has joined the class so he’ll continue to come.  I’m not sure of the logic, but it’s a bit of a laugh to see the son with his frowny face and his lack of desire to participate.  Later in class he joins in, but he sure doesn’t want his Dad to know he’s having a good time. 

While working with Teacher I discovered something – I noticed that I tend to stay out and work on strikes while he closes and does advanced techniques.  This got me to thinking – I do this all the time, but now that we have tall people in class it’s become a deficit.  I need to be able to close more because staying out where I’m at only leads to me taking a beating.  I actually need to work on advanced technique during the one and two step practice.  And I’m not smooth there.  New focus!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

An Evening Of Light Choking

Synopsis – We got a new guy and his son, and then we choked each other for an hour.

My heel appears to be doing okay, but I was a bit nervous about class and it turned out to be fine.  Whatever we do there is like Physiotherapy.  My symptoms were completely gone by the time I got home.  Only a little infirmity when I woke up so I skipped the jump-roping (see what I did there?).

I led a really long warm up for some reason unknown to me, but I definitely felt better about it as we got to kicking and punching.  Unfortunately I was wheezing horribly after a long run of side kicks.  Teacher asked me if I need a Lipitor – smartass.

Our main move for the evening was doing the “wax on” hand movement to defeat two straight punches and then move into a choke with leading pressure on the brachial nerve.  Short story – my neck was beet red by the end of the night. 
Trucker is struggling to get through his Katas/hyungs and has asked me to record a few and throw them up on the web.  Stay tuned for that horror.

Speaking of katas – I think I’ve got Jin Do finally complete!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Heel Hell

I just read an article about web publishing saying that to be successful that you need to be consistent in posting content.  I just realized I haven’t posted in several weeks, but this is mostly been due to illness and injury.  When they are in the house I have little interest posting my gripes for the world to read.

Anywho, last Tuesday we were trying to work on spinning heel kicks and decided to practice using the water dummies.  This led to many jarring impacts on the Achilles tendon.  I didn’t think anything of it because I was too focused on protecting my big toe.  But it was doing pretty good and no one stepped on it so I thought it was a pretty good day.

Segue way to the next day at the gym – I doing my less than adequate run on the treadmill and realized that my Achilles is really starting to hurt, but I’m so manly that I ignore it for a few more minutes.  I stopped very early in the run and realized that the pain that was growing is now staying. 

Here I am a week later and although it’s a lot better, it’s not completely healed.  I thought I was all done yesterday and decided I could run up a hill behind work (like 20 feet) and boom the tendon was back to ouchland.  Great. 

I’ve got to be healed up and five pounds less in the next week because me and my wife are going on vacation to New Orleans where walking and eating are going to be a significant part of the agenda.  Whoa is me.  

Friday, February 10, 2012

Toe Jam

I made that stupid noise.

The one that gets pass your lips before you can even make a decision to clamp your lips, or grimace, or whatever one does to shut off an expulsion, or exclamation, of pain.

In my case the big toe of my right foot had an unexpected moment of intense friction while my body was moving forward.  Unfortunately, I was putting a lot of weight there so the toe curled under made a gross popping noise.

<I can barely type this remembering it. Barrrrffff>

I was completely out of breath most of the class.  I’d been off for a week due to a cold.  It was a struggle to keep up and I did a good job, but had to take a lot of rest breaks. 

Other then the toe issue class went nicely.  I was extra thankful that Teacher was back because my imagination had run dry.  Yeah!

Here’s one of my last sparring matches with Trucker.  We were really slow because I’m slow and he’s got a broken toe.

Slow, but coordinated

Friday, January 27, 2012

Class V 2.6

A strange sense of malaise is overcoming me this morning.  I’m not sure if it’s simply exhaustion or seasonal depression; or possibly a combination of both.  I got through class with my normal enthusiasm (I think), but when we got to fighting my energy had completely left me.  I participated in a couple rounds, but my heart wasn’t in it at all. 

When my heart and mind aren’t in the fight I have a really hard time keeping up the pace and I end up getting hurt.  I had talked to Trucker earlier in the day about coming to class (he’s fighting a dislocated toe and difficulty with a previously broken back).  I assured him that we could spar, but we would take it really easy. 

Trucker’s fighting style is very aggressive, but disorganized as it relates to hands.  Nevertheless, it’s effective when it comes to a fight because you have to contend with them.  Of course I blocked poorly and jammed my thumb early on. 

My second match with Beard was slightly better, but I was moving so slow I gave up after a minute.  He got an excellent shot right on my solar plexus at one point that removed a lot of my enthusiasm. 

Our post fighting review made me feel slightly better.  I spent a little time lamenting my slow speed, but the guys felt that my style was more thoughtful and relaxed.  Hunh!  I wouldn’t have said that myself. 

We practiced a guided throw and the tomo-nage and generally had a good time. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Class V2.5

Whoops!  Missed a post.  I like doing the post fight review from our Thursday classes, but we had so many matches that I couldn’t even begin to tell you anything about what happened beyond a few humorous bumps and dings.  Most notably, in a very slow match with Beard, I couldn’t keep my hands up and would regularly run into his fist with my face. 

In retrospect I’m really impressed with the amount of enthusiasm and energy that’s created by the sparring classes.  A flurry of phone calls, texts and email comes blasting my way the day after class.  Everyone wants to analyze so they can be ready for the next class.  Oddly enough they are all getting better whereas I’m technically proficient, but horribly slow.  My spinning back kick or hook kick is so slow that they can eat a sandwich as I make my lazy way around.  All I ever do is end up eating another foot or catching a shot to the crotch. 

Last night’s class was focused around handwork so I could get folks to use that more in sparring.  The footwork we have going on is almost silly.  There is a throwing of feet and hands for no reason in most of the exchanges, so I want folks to work on technique.  Slow coming.

I couldn’t put together a coherent plan for class in my head so I had something called the technique waterfall.  It means that I’ll pick one technique and I’ll migrate one to whatever is closest it to and keep going from there.  It’s surprisingly fun for me, but it creates a technique flood for the class.  Those poor bastards have to remember a few things from all the stuff I throw at them.  Not particularly helpful. 

Highlight – The Twins and Robot showed up at half time while we were reviewing some of the jumping kicks from Tuesday.  I ended up reviewing the jumping side kick and put everyone in a line (12 of us!) and seeing who went the farthest.  A fun competition for anyone teaching. 

I spent a moment on jumping reverse hook kick and gave it up for the youngest and most advanced folks.  We chose the crescent to jumping crescent instead.  It’s a lot of fun. 

Personally, I’m working on Sip Soo and have it down nicely and I’m just starting to look at Jin Do.  So much to carry around in my noggin.

I think tomorrow it’ll be a small amount of mat work on a small throw and some tomonage before fights. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Class V2.3

I had a small case of pre-class nerves, but as soon as we started up they disappeared.  I never thought that my incapacity to do more than one thing at a time would pay off, but leading class sure falls into that dynamic. 

My mind fills with anxiety that consists mostly of, “what do I do after that?” but I move on much more fluidly than I could have ever imagined.  I gather that I’ve been participating in the class structure so long that the everything just comes along in sequence the less I think about it. 

I wanted to work on our few Aikido moves and some throws after introducing a new kick, the jumping crescent and a new throw combination (as seen here)

Tim Cartmell demoing a circle block into throw.

The rule that Teacher set for me was that I was never to teach anything that I didn’t know.  The temptation being that my skills were enough to “interpret” what I see and then construct a lesson around it. 

Let’s just say that I’m glad I didn’t take any video of our execution of the moves above.  Tim does a beautiful hip throw at the end of the move and my back won’t allow that, so that bit of the move becomes a trip and rollover-the-leg type of throw.

After beating that move (and each other) into submission we practiced our basic hand locks and moved on to the two most common throws we like, kotegeashi and shihonnage (wrist twist and four corner throws, respectively). 

Next time we’ll work on the jumping side kick, which should wear folks out enough that sparring will be appropriately executed.  I think I use the block, roundhouse to stomach, followed by axe or crescent at the exercise.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Class V2.2

Due to the incredibly inclement weather where I live I really assumed no one would show up for class.  My wife was curled up on the couch in a cocoon of blankets with our cats snuggled in close.  Thankfully, I had the keys to the dojang door and that forced me to push myself out the door and into the elements. 

To my surprise we ended up having eight folks show up.  Very nice since it was going to be fight night.  I wanted to be able to spread everyone out a bit.  With a smaller crowd I don’t think we’d be able to do very well in longer fights.  I see more incidence of injury the longer matches go on.  When we do informal sparring there are no stopping for points only calls from the director to move away from mirrors or when the action gets out of control.

I started the class with review of cat stance, cat stance with front snap kick, then with a review of double knife hand strikes.  We followed that up with a review of good things to remember while sparring.

- obscuring vision during a planned attack makes a nice setup for kicks
- Set up a tempo with the same attach over and over then change up for the third or fourth shot.  Works most of the time.
- Break tempo if one is occurring
- Keep moving  - side work is nice for linear folks

As promised I started the sparring before the hour break with the idea that we would be fresh and less prone to causing injury.  We got in about four, two minute matches and then went to break.  We resumed afterwards and in retrospect I’m not sure that we did much better.  I think I did really well, but the same lack of clear, clean moves was missing.  I’ll put up a couple of videos later this weekend.  I think, subjectively, that a match is really technically beautiful when one person is really good.  If not it can devolve into a sissy slap fight (with kicking!) pretty quickly. 

We ended up with a bloody nose, a bruised rib and dead leg/foot amongst us.  I’m the one with the foot.  I think I bruised a nerve or something.  I’ve got a noticeable lump on the side of my lower leg and my foot feels numb.  I’m unable to pick the foot up very far so that’ll bare watching.  Last night was weird when I tried to sleep.  I kept tossing and turning because I couldn’t feel the foot.  Weird.

The second hour concluded the sparring and we went to Kata to finish up the night.  Probably the best kata I’ve seen in ages.  As a group everyone was crisp and well balanced. 

I think I’ll follow the formula next week with mat work on Tuesday before beatings on Thursday. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Teaching Class V.2.1

I moved up the class by a half hour so we could get out a bit earlier and this was received without complaint.  Not that we are a democracy or anything, but since we are a club model I felt that if we had buy in from most of the people it would go well.  Last night we had 10 folks so I felt vindicated.

Unfortunately, I was stricken with a horrible case of the nerves.  I think it was that I had turned my brain off every since Teacher came back from his last trip.  I haven’t participated in hardly any leadership at all since.  Not that I was doubting my ability to do the work (maybe I was!), but as soon as we started I was able to get comfortable with the process. 

Before Teacher took off he gave me few tips for class last night.  I had started a big pad drill for kickers last time so he had me get three people for the kicker which everyone loved. 

To continue with the kicking theme I did side kicks, then with some variation, back kicks and finally spinning back kicks. 

I’m trying to get everyone to focus on regular sparring/combat strategy.  The primary easy technique being obscure the eyes to set up for the kick.  Thursday I’ll work on set up a pattern and then break that. 

I’ve also broken tradition a bit by having stretching for the last five minutes.  I really wanted to do it for me because I don’t get a chance when I get home.  This has also been well received. 

Next class I’m going to have sparring before the break which is also a break from tradition.  I think Teacher does it in the end of class because he wants folks to be tired and have them work on adrenaline management, but the amount of bruises and fat lips has made me worry a bit.  I’ll give it a try and see how it goes.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Teaching Class V.2

Most of us in the class have a few gis.  I bought a second one because I only do laundry once a week if can I help it, but some of the folks have been in martial arts forever so have quite the collection. Teacher is no exception to this rule.  Last night he was in a rather smart black Chinese style uniform.  Black with white cuffs and white frog closures.  What I hadn’t realized was that meant he was going to use that as a focus. 

Immediately after warm-ups we went into a technique that required us pass a punch into the armpit where it was clamped between the arm and side.  The we’d rotate around, doing a nice elbow lock across the back and swinging our spare arm to clamp across the neck doing a choke.  You had to be relaxed and you couldn’t drag your Uke around or you’d never get the neck choke.  Fun and furious.

Height was a good thing to practice around.  If you had a significant height difference it became a challenge.  If you couldn’t get your arm around the elbow made a nice home in Uke’s ear.  Still effective. 
This was Teacher’s last night for a month so he left at half time to get ready for his trip overseas.  I didn’t have a specific plan in mind so I focused on kicking and kicking combos.  I ended up doing focus pad drills and finished the last five minutes on stretching.  I know the older guys appreciated that. 

Next time I’ll continue with kicking, but have pads for three people so the “monkey in the middle” will get to work with multiple attacks.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Axe Kick To The Arm

It’s been three weeks since I’ve been to class, but I was pleasantly surprised to see Little Sister visiting from College and then later Beard who hasn’t been there in ages.  I was mostly worried about my cardio fitness after largely doing nothing on vacation so I kind of barfed my way through the post warm up exercises.

Into the second hour we started work on Katas/hyungs and I was mostly burned out at that point.  So, Teacher wanted Little Sister to have some fun and had us spare for a minute at the end of class. It was nice to see that we still had an easy going but nicely paced interaction.  What stopped the fight was me dodging an axe kick (or crescent – not quit sure) that ended up coming down on my left bicep.  It totally frogged that arm and it’s really sore today. 

I’ll start leading class for the next three weeks starting tomorrow so I hope my imagination kicks in or it’s going to be long for everyone. 

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...