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.   

Tourney Bound?

Hey All.  I went back at it last night.  "It" meaning I went for the two hours since my cold has passed and my regular level of fi...