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).

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...