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Showing posts from 2014

Shūdokan 18 - Judgement

We're between two holidays and class membership is minimal.  Two kids, a teen, Marcus and me.  Sensei is still focused on prepping for "celebration" which is the nickname for testing.  In this vein the class was structured around one portion of the testing called "bunkai".  I always took that word to mean practical application of the moves from kata.  However, this appears to be components that everyone acts out at the same time at various levels depending on skills.  So the white belts would do a side kick whereas brown and black has to a spin, downward block, side kick and into fudo dachi (low stance) followed by a schto (I have no idea how to spell this word, but it's a strike with the bottom ridge of the hand straight from the chest).  We were only able to get through a few of these before we got bogged down in technique correction.  Even with the five of us organizing the different levels was technically challenging for Sensei.

At the end of class Sens…

Shūdokan 17 - Pre Holiday Rush

Class was down to it's bare minimum which I would assume would be standard for the week of Christmas.  Traffic is building and people seem to be in a hurry, so it's pleasant to go to class and just focus on one thing for a while.  Kind of like a Zen retreat with punching.

Class was spent on a longer warm up, which I find that I need to get my legs completely ready to go. This included kicking drills for the most part and then we broke up into skill groups and it was back to working on Wando kata.  Not that I don't mind working on this frequently, but I do like variety and it can be a bit much to work on in such long repetition.  My regular joke is, "only 47 more times to go".  Thankfully, that's well received.

One portion of the kata (which is very definitely Goju Ryu based), requires a small sequence of Sanchin footwork combined with a typical Goju block.  To me it's like being asked to rub my belly and tap my head with the addition of pretending someon…

Shudokan 16 - Fight Night!

Despite any small misgivings I might have had with the Shūdokan style or how Reed teaches them, there were safely put away last night when we got to spar.

I think I've mentioned that the style that Reed presents is fairly straightforward.  By this I mean simple punch and kick combos and actual forward and backward movement.  Granted I haven't seen him spar against anyone at his skill level so I'm basing a lot on just what I've seen in class as part of lesson.

Class started as a "10 Kata" night.  Which is actually like what it sounds like.  We are to perform ten unique kata (if you know that many) or repeat the ones you know until you hit ten.  We stop at the end of each kata and the Senseis walk around and provide a critique.  They start by telling you what you do well and what to work on.  A nice formula.

Much to my chagrin, remembering my basic forms from Tang Soo Do became a painful process in stopping and restarting. There was much squinting and thinkin…

Shudokan 15

I'm not sure what happened last night but I got little to no sleep, or at least it feels that way.  I normally associate that with drinking too much on a weekend night.  When the alcohol converts to sugar at 2 am and I thrash around because my heart is pounding like I'm running up hill.  Well, I wasn't drinking and I was in bed at the right time after a very long night at beatings.  I should have passed out and slept like a log.  Instead I kept surfacing every hour.  I was grateful when the alarm went off.

Due to the short nature of class time, the black belts meet after class on Monday and work out for another couple of hours.  I originally thought it was just to get the one Brown Belt, Mark, up to speed for his test, but I see that folks just want to get together and continue working.  There is way too much content to be covered or reexamined for the two hours a week we normally have.

I'm loath to miss any class because I'll be missing new material or assistanc…

Shudokan 14

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Missing class blows.

Due to some unexpected tasks at work I ended up missing Monday's class.  The irony being that I was going skip class anyway because my parents had intended to visit from the East coast, but my Father got bronchitis.  I thought to myself, "well, at least I get to go to class".  Then my wife revealed that she got tickets to a fancy house tour in the city at the same time.  Sigh.   For some reason being at work late seemed even worse.

I got to class early to warm up.  The room is empty the hour before, but we back up to a cardio class so we rarely run long.  If we do, women with bulging biceps and calves start making their way around the outskirts of the room, letting us know to wrap it up.

This is what I imagine is being said in the background
The bummer alert went off when I was talking to Kyle.  He ran through all the parts of the class, but the big part was they ran through a "celebration".  Apparently, this is what they do a few times a …

Shudokan 13

As I've mentioned before, Shudokan has a focus on a couple of areas and apparently one of those is elbow techniques. To assist Mark in his Black belt exam the Teachers have him teaching me the 10 techniques in an effort to cement his knowledge and introduce me to the fun stuff. 


Step to the right while blocking left.  Right snap kick to gut groin, close in with right elbow and cross left and back to the right.Step to the right while blocking left. Right knee to gut, double hand grab to head, right knee to face, twist head to side, elbow straight down to head.Step to the right while blocking left, upward elbow strike to jaw, spin with elbow to stomach.Step to the left, block right, left elbow jab to ribs, right hand grabs their left wrist and with left hand at shoulder stand roll other over at waist, elbow in back.Step to the left, block right, right hand grabs their left wrist and with left hand at shoulder stand roll other over at waist, immediately bring them back up for leg swe…

Shudokan 12

This is the beginning of my second month at class and I hadn't really considered trying another martial art; unlike the thirty day trial I had planned.  I'd forgotten until one of the kids mentioned it.  I guess that means it's a good fit after all.  The only complaint being the length of instruction is fairly short.  Two hours a week doesn't allow for a lot of personal interaction with a teacher.  

To remedy this I've made myself available to the others as much as possible.  The oldest student, Mark, is working towards his Blackbelt exam and requires extra time to get a lot squared away.  To make that happen I've offered my basement as a secondary training environment.  It's got a cold floor and a low ceiling, but it doesn't cost anything.  Sensei has offered to bring over some sport floor tiles to reduce the impact for falls and allow us to take off our footwear.  Last night we were able to meet and hour and half afterwords.  

During class MaryAnn Sense…

Shudokan 11

Class was small as expected and we got right to it.  A majority of the class was dedicated to movement.  I'm used to having both feet flat on the ground unless I'm in cat stance.  Shudokan on the other hand apparently doesn't get wrapped up in that kind of thing, so I feel like I'm unlearning all the time.  The name of the foot position escapes me, but the front foot is flat and forward and the rear foot is on the ball with the heel in the air.  The movement is called the yori-yosh.  The feet are never to cross. We did this for a substantial amount of time in all kinds of directions.  I found that we could move pretty well and fairly quickly.  Not crossing feet prevented tangles at high speed, but I couldn't stop giggling the whole time imaging the group of us  essentially skipping in perfect harmony.

The remaining time was spent continuing on with Wando kata.  I was up to 29 moves (or thereabouts) and just added 12 more.  I'm just few moves away from finishing,…

Shudokan 10

With visitors in town I was unable to get to class on time due to traffic from the airport, but I was able to get into class for the last 10 minutes.  I was somewhat disappointed to miss so much of the instruction, but I was in for a hard treat.  
As I learn the small differences between my old style and Shudokan I've come to the realization that my old teacher would really have preferred a much more informal environment.  The class had started out as a club so the formality was inconsistent.  The members of the class enforced their own rules depending on background.  For instance a gal from a hard school would do push ups if she showed up late and another would cup his elbow when he bowed to shake hands.  I brought in the "everybody shake hands after instruction" after class after experiencing at an Aikido school.
At my current class the "tradition" for late comers is to sit in Seiza (on your knees with feet crossed).  This isn't a big deal if there is some …

Shudokan 9

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Random Notes From Class (RNFC)

Since I've got a bunch of random thoughts running around my head without a cogent thread I'll just jot down some of the things that have come across the board.  

In TSD (Tang Soo Do) our upward block with fist cocked at angle designed,  and I'm guessing here, to act as a capture.  The hand is located about one fist's depth away from the forehead.  Sensei had asked me to perform some of my katas and supplied critique afterwords.  So now my upward block covers one eye, it's more up and down and the fist/wrist is straight.  He demonstrated the strength in this position compared to my old one.  Sold.
More like I was used to...

The new angle.
I'm not super keen on covering one eye, but the up and down of the block is very strong with it's angle.  
Sensei is very informative and in one instance pointed out a little bit of history I thought was pertinent to the issue of how blocks are done.  In a nutshell, he said that the Okinawan style o…

Shudokan 8

Let's go with the assumption that every martial art has a curriculum or has a syllabus.  It's rare that a teacher would give you a manual because the teaching process is fairly custom even if it's rigid looking at it from the outside.  Although I'm only saying that from my experience.

At two hours a week of direct contact how much content would have to be presented to start seeing repetition?  I'm at roughly a month of classes and haven't seen much in the way of repeating information.  Not to say that we haven't touched on things repetitively, but even the warm-ups seem like a never ending array of different things.  Last night we touched on five different warm-ups with explanations including sunrise and sunset motifs.  Nice, but I was worried about my back.  

TSD (Tang Soo Do) Has three main blocks; upper, mid and lower and I'm glad to report that Shudokan is pretty much the same with their Jo, Chu, and Gai Dans.  However, Shudokan has a different presen…

RCD Shudokan 7

I just got home and I'm desperately trying to remember the techniques we worked on and I sad to report that I can only recall a three of the five.  This school teaches 10 elbow techniques so I was glad for the jump into the deep end with Marcus, but I realized I can perform technique and understand it, but to remember it is tough.  The fifth one we did included a leg sweep with knee to the ribs. Fun, but how did I get there?

The notes below will hopefully help me remember the next time they come up. 

Elbow Techniques

block (stop!), grab, kick to groin, elbow to right jaw, left jaw, eye stareblock (stop!), grab, kick to groin, left knee to face, head grab to twist elbow to ear block from outside, grab, elbow to ribs in low stance, waiter's hand to push shoulder over, elbow strike to back ---

Found out that Sensei taught exclusively for 10 years until the school membership got too small.  I wondered why his teaching was so smooth.

RCD Shudokan 6

It's never a good sign to be out of breath during the warm up and even less when we only started and there's still a considerable amount to go.  Last night's warm up was to run around the room five times.  I thought to myself, "that seems nice."  Strangely out of breath near the forth rotation and grateful that we started walking after the fifth, I had to suppress my shock when we switched direction and had to knock another five laps.  

I'm going to attribute my weakness to my latest effort to return to a healthier me.  I recently had my lipid panel done now that I've moved South and was unfortunately given the honest truth - my enjoyment of food and irregular exercise has paid off with high levels of bad blood.  

I knew I needed to get on the stick and needed a big prompt.  I had started using beatings to get the ball rolling and the blood test was more or less the final nail to get myself together.  As part of "new me" campaign I'm eating a …

RCD Shudokan 5

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It appears that I was being a bit harsh in my last post, but a frustrating class is frustrating.  I was still excited to go last night, but I was trying to keep it in perspective; that I'm not always going to get what I want (queue the Stones).

To my pleasant surprise, the planets aligned and the class took on all the things I needed and didn't realize I wanted.  For instance.  I need a bit longer to warm up and Sensei took some extra effort to put in a lot of exercise.  So I was nice and sweaty before instruction actually took place.  Everything they do here is based on the count of 50.  Wow, I'm not used to that.  50 squats, 50 crunches, etc.

My desire in this case was to feel exercised at the end of class.  Accomplished.  

My next was to have some specific direction from the Teacher.  I was struggling with the Kata that I've been assigned.  Wando is a rare form and around 26 moves I start losing the details.  After a lot more practice it'll come to me, but in the m…

RCD (Rose City Digest) Shudokan 4

I really need someone who can explain a lot of what I'm experiencing.  It's like Jody Foster in "Contact",  "They should have sent a poet."  I'm not doing a good job in articulating so much of what goes through my head.  

Here's a bunch of jangled, unrelated thoughts:

Black belts that stay around and become sewanim (sp?) become lost boys for a reason.  Listening to the stuff you heard a million times becomes a challenge to absorb or filter out.I just want to get to the "meat".  I'm just impatient with excitement.Since we all learn at different rates and different ways, being patient with other folks can be a challenge.  I want them to focus on one aspect and then they focus on something else.  Learn to breath Tater...The continuum of skill - when you have 6 six year old next to you getting explanations of basic punching that takes 10 minutes; my teeth grinding becomes audible.Wasn't the old class model in Japan to never ask questions…

Rose City Digest - Shudokan 3

With an audible grunt I hit the hardwood poorly and rolled to my side and back, looking up sheepishly at the two Senseis.  As part of the class we were reviewing Bunkai (practical applications coming from kata) from Wando.  This particular component was how to get out a double lapel grasp.  The breaker (Uke) drops into a low stance and the grabber (Shite) gets drug off balance and setup for a knee in the face.  My partner is a foot shorter than I am so ended up going way off balance and then to the floor.   

For my second class I already feel part of group.  It's like I never left the environment, which is what I really love, but my flexibility and cardio are pretty modest and acts as a reminder that I have been away for a fairly long time. 

MaryAnn Sensei paid me a nice compliment when I was demonstrating the Wando kata, "Oh my" she said.  I wasn't sure what that meant and assumed I was doing something that didn't jive with Shudokan. "No", she said.  &qu…

Rose City Digest - Shotokan 2

I was barely able to contain myself this afternoon.  I mean I was at borderline stroke level blood pressure by the time I got to the dojo (by that I mean the rented room the class is held at).  I haven't been to beatings in over a year and my modest practice in the morning and general lack of exercise made for a very nervous entree into the class.  

I thought I had made a nice selection in that the warm up for the class was incredibly minimal, but the second Sensei ran the class tonight and I was in for a modest surprise.  

"50 jumping jacks", she said.  Followed by "50 squats".  

I realized I might be in for some problems.  I didn't quite start huffing and puffing, but the stretching afterwords was difficult.  I can't imagine how I'm going to feel tomorrow.  

The thread of class was working on Kata.  I was partnered with a 8th grader who walked me through Wando (?).  I was able to learn a small portion of it before we ran out of time.  Just moving was …

Rose City Digest - Shotokan

The reality of moving South has broken a lot of expectations I didn't realize I had.  I've been here since March and it's only now that I'm getting out of the house to search for a new school.  The Rose City has so many schools to chose from that I had to develop a criteria list to help me winnow it down.  Before I created the checklist I visited what I presume is the nicest Martial Arts school I have ever seen.  

Like any burgeoning metropolis, the Rose City has sprawled enough that it has consumed the neighboring small towns and they have become enclaves and districts.  The school I went to took 40 minutes so by the time I arrived class had already started their warm-ups.   My class was an unaffiliated Tang Soo Do school running from a previous club model.  At $55 a month it was a relative bargain at four hours a week.  

The place I visited was located in the most affluent suburban area in the region and it showed.  They had their own standalone building which appeared…

Saying Goodbye

I'm wrapping up various odds and ends as I prepare to leave town next week.  My wife has done the lions share of the work packing and organizing and all of our things are in transit down to the states so the remaining things left are saying goodbyes.

Last night I stopped in the for the last hour of class and got to play the role of returning sensei.  While the younger folks worked on exercises, I would get to make comments and correct areas of issue.  I forgot how pleasant a task that was.  Although it was mostly picking up on small things I realized that I remembered all the stuff I needed to be a good teacher.  

I went to the local bar with Teacher afterwards so we could have a moment to ourselves to say goodbye in some kind of formal fashion.  It turned out to be rather informal, but we were still able to pick out the reasons our relationship was helpful to both of us.

to wit:
he said that he wouldn't have learned to be a teacher without me being his primary student for so many…