Tuesday, December 30, 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 Sensei likes to talk about something briefly.  He told a story about the founder and his pupil (in the US, not Japan).  It seems that one loved kata and other loved fighting.  The one who loved the fighting (main student) was eventually passed over for promotion because other folks were simply better and this was because he originally eschewed kata.  Once he realized this he got better, etc.

In my mind I said, "cool story bro.  We get it. Be well rounded, etc."  But there was the cool bit that never dawned upon me.  Sensei said that someone might be a natural fighter or just be plan speedy, but no one is a natural at Kata.  That's why the weight in belt testing falls on kata.  The judges can tell maturity and base level skills by how well the kata is performed.

I always like kata, but I was depressed when I didn't do well in kumite (fighting/sparring).  So there might be a bright future for me in kata; as long as they don't keep deconstructing my work.  It's like learning all over again.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

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 someone is trying to hit me.

I went over that in nauseating detail and I'm still not sure I'm doing it completely correct.  The teacher focuses on a lot of different things and I'm still trying to figure out what the hell I'm doing with one hand.  I guess that's the problem with coming in with a black belt from another art.  They are going to figure you know something or assign a knowledge level to you;  even with obvious deficits here and there.  

We finished the evening in my basement and worked for several hours on stances and transitions.  Something I thought I did well, but found that I need constant refinement.  During that time they introduced me to "European Blocking".  Another preset attack and defend demo with two people.  It's a set pattern of just a couple of moves.  So it can be executed fast and it's designed to be a show off thing in competition, but since the head guy liked it so much, it's become part of testing.  

The upside to all that work (3 hours) is that I slept like a rock.  

Friday, December 19, 2014

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 thinking as I rolled back the years to remember my first four or five forms.  I also had to announce which one I was doing.  I remembered about six names.  Very embarrassing.  I usually practice the last 5 black belt forms and my new one from Shūdokan.  So to dredge up stuff that I haven't practiced in over a year was a fairly horrible experience.  At one point Reed came over and did his version of Bassei Dai with me, but of course our versions were different, making our attempt look a Dick Van Dyke-esque off set dance competition.

We still had time left in the class after all that and thus the sparring.  A square was laid out with a judge on each corner and the match would go to 3 points.  Reed asked me if I'd like to go first and had me hold up my hand. He punched it very lightly.  He must have seen the blank look on my face then and when asked me to do the same to his hand.  He was telling me that's the impact level. Ahhhh.

The match went very quickly.  My one to his three.  I was a bit embarrassed because it was really run in and out type competition, not advanced technique practice.  I'm just not used to it.  Back in the old school we went until we hit three minutes or someone was sitting down.  This is all high speed and getting the right setup for a response.



Tuesday, December 16, 2014

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 assistance on current material that needs refinement.  So the after class, continuation is nice, but I'm suffering for it today.  The final move in the application portion is a shoulder lock on me. And, of course, it's the shoulder that plays up because it's been locked and ground for so many years.  That and the knees and back and everything else.  Maybe that's why I didn't sleep well.  Ibuprofen would have been smart.  I've got X-ray hindsight.

Generally speaking I'm working on three main areas of memorization.  An application of the Kyoku Yondan kata, the application of Kyoku Godan kata, and Wando.  Between all of this I'm retooling a lot of stuff.  How to hold the hand, stances, stances and more stances and the very straightforward approach to sparring.

Last night Reed Sensei took one of the teens and did a sparring sample.  There was much bouncing on toes (what I call body fencing) and then straight rushes.  I'm sure there would be more if there were two qualified folks, but it was explosive and no circling.

Since the school is reduced significantly there is no mass visit to the main school for testing.  I have found that Morris Mack Sensei comes and tests.  Last night I heard a few stories about testing in front of him and stress that created in the students.  Fun stuff filled with foot cramps and pain.  So I blithely wonder when would I be asked.  I realize I do this a lot and realize how important it would be for me get tested in another art.  Confirmation that I know a thing or two from a external source.  How sweet would that be?!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Shudokan 14

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 year with the whole region (Yakima).  The formal belt testing occurs during this time.  So everyone in class had to run through whatever their belt requirement were.  Since I'm probably going to be in belt purgatory for several years until anyone can figure out what I need to be doing to get some kind of belt.  Post 50 year old belt tests sounds like a nightmare.  

Anyway, the alarming amount of material they need to know to get their belts has me fairly amazed.  I think I have this correct:

  • 10 + katas
  • 10 elbows techniques (kind of like one-step exercises)
  • 5 application kata (two person dance party)
  • 5 bunkai of above kata (not sure how this is done)
  • possibly self-defense techniques
I'm on month 2 of my first kata (Wando/wanduan) and slowly helping Mark through an application kata (which if I could remember the damn name I'd look up on the interwebs) and now, starting last night I'm helping Mark with another application.  Instead of just throwing a punch I get to do all kinds of twists and turns and fun stuff.  I've got to get a camera in there. 



Thursday, December 04, 2014

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. 


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Step to the right while blocking left, upward elbow strike to jaw, spin with elbow to stomach.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 sweep, holding hand up then knee to ribs and finally elbow to head.
  6. Step to the left, block right, left elbow jab to ribs, left knee to back, while grabbing hair and pulling back (eye sockets for short hair people), then elbow/fist to throat.
  7. Allow punch to pass right side of head with left block, forward with elbow spike, turn with arm capture and elbow to back.
  8. Step to the left, block right, zenkutsu with twisting left elbow, twisting right elbow in wide stance, and close foot with left elbow to head.
This has taken me all day to remember this much.  Just sad.  Until next week.  

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

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 Sensei was able to give some really excellent pointers on the Wando Kata (also known as Wanduan if you search on the interwebs).  We finally finished the whole thing and now it's on to the details and smoothing it out.  That ought to take years.  MaryAnn definitely has the skill to help me out.  Just picking a few things a time to work on and is generally very complimentary.  My favorite head-sweller is, "you sure are picking this up quickly".  I have no idea how long it should take, but that makes me feel all sorts of awesome.   

Friday, November 28, 2014

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, but refining what I've learned is taking a long time and I'm not in a hurry.  

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

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 padding, but this class is on hardwood.  Talk about trying to make yourself light!  The Teacher finally gave me the, "please join the class" after a couple of minutes.  

We were reviewing the "escape from bear hug" we touched on the other week.  Ten minutes of escape, elbow to head, standing guillotine, to fall into full guard until tap.  Then the reverse and fight into side mount.  
---
The brown belt in class is working toward his Black belt exam and this includes 10 katas, 10 elbow strike patterns, 5 assisted bunkai and 5 European blocks.  This appears to be a phenomenal amount of memorization and I'm not sure when the testing is supposed to occur.  I'm very foggy on what European blocking means as well.  No free-sparring though.  Weird.  However, since that's been removed my overall health has been great.

After class we went to one of the black belt's homes to work on the assisted bunkai.  Bunkai being the practical application of kata.  It should be noted that it's in the 50's and we were on a concrete floor.  I thought the hardwood floor was tough for a couple of minutes of seiza, but in the assisted routine I have to take a side fall.  The concrete doesn't love me.  I actually had a tough timing sleeping because of the aches and pains.  So much for the lack of sparring and the pains it causes.  



Thursday, November 20, 2014

Shudokan 9

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 of Karate was based on effectiveness.  When it gained foothold in Japan it's focus was on precision.  I'm not sure how accurate that is, but it certainly speaks to the block on level.  The basic arm up and forearm over your head, parallel to the ground is effective to a degree, but with a little refinement it is way more effective without the muscle work needed to sustain a direct blow.

Last night I got introduced to something that I haven't touched on since I was a child.  I was fortunate to be taken to Karate class when I was in Elementary school.  Although I didn't go for long it left a few memories about basic dojo behavior, but it also helped dredge up a memory.  That was a double bunkai.  I'm not sure what the Japanese term is, but one person performs a kata and the other person acts as the attacker.  It's very organized and puts a very practical face on the kata.  I wish I could recall the terms, but they didn't even sink in.

The stances have changed on me and there is a lot more attention to detail.  If you stand with your feet together, pointing forward, that has a name.  Then point your feet out at a 45 degree angle, with the heels still touching - that has a name.  You keep going out until your in a low stance and each iteration has a name.  Dang!  Lots of terms to keep up with.   

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

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 presentation.  I think it's based on teaching someone brand new, but this is how the two blocks are learning are presented:

- Downward - ball your left fist (meat down) and place it on your right shoulder.  Right arm straight out.  Then do the block.
- Mid - ball your fist and place it in your arm pit.  Right arm out.  Then do the block.

So they seem exaggerated, but we still perform the block pretty much as usual.  The only addition being way more twist in the torso than I'm used to and my punching partner not really putting force into the punch. 

Notes for the evening.  Punching makes the muscles in my forearms very sore and I'm very thankful that this style doesn't seem to make a big deal on constant low horse stance.  My knees are very happy.  

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

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

  1. block (stop!), grab, kick to groin, elbow to right jaw, left jaw, eye stare
  2. block (stop!), grab, kick to groin, left knee to face, head grab to twist elbow to ear
  3. 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.  

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

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 lot less, eating healthy, cutting out drinking and getting back to running.  

The problem with this is that my system is trying to learn to work with less.  My carb load is fairly low so by the evening time I'm feeling a bit "light".  Thus the problem with the running.  I'm going to have to figure out how to have just enough to make class go well without overdoing it.

---

Due to the modest amount of time for class we immediately broke out the mats (I didn't even know they had them) and went into ground work.  Marcus had mentioned this might happen, but they hadn't dedicated much time in exploring it lately.

So I learned Open and Closed Guard, Full Mount and how to escape using a variety of techniques.  My partner, Kyle, apparently has pointier elbows than I do.  I know this because if I have him in closed guard (my back on the floor and I have my legs locked around his waist) he assumes a praying hands position with his elbows out.  He then drives those pointy elbows into my inner thighs.  Wow, I couldn't get my legs away from him fast enough which gave him space to wriggle free and "pass my guard".  

I feel like such a MMA fighter except my partner was 14 and pretty much made an ass out of my piddling skills.  

Still fun as hell.


Thursday, November 06, 2014

RCD Shudokan 5

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 mean time I feel like I'm flailing horribly.  The main Teacher will actually use Bunkai (practical application of what we are doing) to reinforce what we are learning.  Fantastic as it appears all practical.  I can see why he chose this one. 

My desire was to have target instruction.  Accomplished.  

Although it wasn't a specific desire for that class, when I originally started to shop around I wanted a class/school that had a good number of people.  This came from my old frustration of being paired with the same two guys for years. I'll mostly likely be paired with a small number, but the class expanded by a significant number last night.  Unfortunately, mostly kids from 6 to 10.  Lots of activity and energy and Sensei spent a lot of time channeling that into something productive.

Here's Wando:

Starring: Not me

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

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?  No one asks questions, but explanations can go on past a point.  You can't say, "got it" in fear of being a rude a-hole. 
So I would say that I'm in an adjustment phase.  Still excited to go to class, but gritting my teeth about different factors.  

I found out that we do testing 3 times a year.  I wonder what I'd be up for or if I'd qualify for anything.

I will practice breathing and letting it go (sing a Frozen song here).

Thursday, October 30, 2014

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.  "I think we'll to talk to Sensei about trying something different."  I realized she meant that I probably wouldn't be challenged by the complexity.  I assured her that we might as well complete the kata since I was rusty and this was a good start.  I would have preferred the first, but there you have it when you wear the black belt to class.

I was pleased to see Reed Sensei come into class because it might mean that the warm up period might be abbreviated.  I'm so sore that I'm popping Ibuprofen regularly just to keep ahead of the pain that seems omnipresent.  Apparently at 48 the ability to repair physically is going to take a bit.  Thankfully it was short and the bulk of the class was instruction.  Great pacing.

You might notice that I use that frequently.  When I taught it was the thing that bothered me the most.  Teacher (back up North) would talk at length at times breaking up the flow.  When I taught I tried to fight at by keeping the pace going constantly, but it exhausted me.  It dawned on me later that was what he was probably doing - grabbing a breather.  Anyway, Reed Sensei has a practiced, measured, calm approach.  Very nice.  

Monday, October 27, 2014

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 nice, but I experienced a modest amount of sadness thinking of all the time I spent learning all the hyung in my last school.

I texted my old teacher and said I was extremely nervous.  His advice, "pretend you don't know anything,  you should be good at that."  Ass.

Friday, October 24, 2014

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 to be brand new (later found out, only four or five years old) with floor size of about 3 competition fighting areas.  $165 dollars would get me 2 hours a week, but the Teacher was willing to work on that for me.  I would say that the worth was built into the instruction.  I'm used to waaaayyy different pacing.  For an hour worth of exercise there was no down time and he managed the class professionally for all sorts of skill levels.  Their version of Moo Duk Kwan was Soo Bahk Do.  Very similar to what I know.  

After visiting I realized that it exceeded my budget by two times, but the real killer was the time commitment.  Being new to driving in traffic like this made the 40 minutes to get there seem like a drive across the state.  So pulling roughly 3 hours out of my day wasn't going to fly.  I almost wept when I came to terms with that.  

More likely than not, my commitment to my new old house and the responsibilities it required precluded me from searching for a place to take a beating for a lot of months.  As of late we are down on our savings from all the projects and therefore can't move forward, so our time has opened up.  

Fast forward to endless web searches and I selected a school down the street to try out for a month.  Shotokan Karate.  Nothing like what I'm used to, but it's in Japanese (which we did our class in instead of traditional Korean).   

Here's my criteria:
  1. geographic closeness
  2. style
  3. cost
  4. general quality
  5. student makeup  
Here's the rating:
  1. Geo - 10 minutes
  2. Style - Shotokan - hard style with similar roots (maybe?)
  3. Cost - standard, but feels high after years of more for less
  4. GC - Very good instructor who is straight to the point.  Taught a full nelson escape I'd never seen before.
  5. Students - Sigh.  Back to a very small class with every spectrum of the skill that matched ages.  Age 7 to 55?  Only 6 students.  I was hoping for a place that had like 20 folks regularly, but I don't think I can get that without a TKD McDojo.  
I start Monday and I'll report my progress for the month.  After than who knows.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

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 years
  • I said that he'd been a teacher, a counsellor, and a friend.
  • he said that he grew from knowing me.
  • and I said me too.  I'm better for the experience.
It left me exhausted by strangely buoyant.  I'm ready for my next martial experience; I have lots to learn and lots to share.  I can't wait. 

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...