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. 

Bassai in the park

Holy Cow!  So much time has passed since I've sat down and collected my thoughts for a quick update about my martial practice.  March wa...