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Showing posts from 2015

I Promised...

I promised to myself that I would not gripe about my physical ills on the blog, but since I've had some time off working on the house I've collected a slew of small issues.  Most notably my right foot has three puncture wounds that have healed enough that I can endure class, but last week's session produced a tear in the pad of my big toe.  Which simply produces the worst pain until it healed up.  I guess it's the constant pulling and movement.

So last night I'm doing good, but notice another spot on the right foot is giving away.  Great.  This time near the pinky toe.  I should have called myself Pinkytoe instead of Potatoefist.  

It was just Mark and I until an boy of about five was brought into class.  This isn't usually a big deal, but the kid's parents are the most beautiful people I've seen.  All white teeth and blond hair with a tan.  And on top of that the boy is able to focus the whole time!  Damn perfect people.

Reed Sensei had us go through move…

Move and Sprawl

Two nights in a row!  I'm practically a lifer at this point.  Ha! After such a long time off I was incredibly sore on Tuesday.  I still felt pretty horrible this morning, but I was kind of excited to work on something new. 

Unfortunately plans went a little sideways because we did a lot of basics which I clearly needed.  Shudokan uses a very direct approach and they are okay about crossing feet on attack which I can't even begin to do unless I concentrate really hard. That and very twisted torso on the reverse punch.  I mean it makes sense to cover a lot of distance, but it takes a lot relearning on my part. 

I'm also out of practice as it relates to distance and contact.  My left punch was severely needing some recalibration.  I struggled so much and partner was a slight 19 year old girl.  If I made a poor contact I would have taken her head off. 

While we practiced variations on that Reed Sensei brought out the mats and for the next session.  Which was defending again…

Big Sweatin'

I just realized I haven't posted since August!  Well I'm back for at least three sessions before travel and work get in the way again. 

Back in August we decided to work on the house again  which meant that we'd be working every night and every weekend.  It's been grueling, but we've made major progress.  During this time the only time I've had to myself to practice is really early in the morning.  Three katas a day has allowed me to keep most things in place.  I was rewarded in class when Reed Sensei said, "well you've obviously been practicing", boom!

After a brief warm-up I taught, or retaught, Sarah the staff routine and after a few goes at that Reed moved me back to the Kusanku and refined my boo-boos.  I got learn the next section which was a lot of fun. 

On the ride home I realized I haven't been moving like that in a long time.  Lots of ab work to jump around.  Argh.  This weekend I turned 49 so I felt pretty good that I still move pr…

New Kata 2

After warm up Reed Sensei got me back on Kusanku to introduce me to the next couple of pieces.  Since I actually haven't seen the complete kata I have no idea it's overall length or complexity.  So it's kind of fun to iron out the components as they come.  

Periodically Reed will stop and work through a piece of the kata. When I asked he said he hadn't taught this one in five years!  I don't know if I could remember anything if I stopped doing it after 6 months.  He certainly has a phenomenal memory.

After that it was back to the elbow techniques. This time I was trying to test my knowledge by going first, but I was only able to get through the first five and still needed hints.  We got through the two bunkai and application and then moved up to Mark's third kata's work.  I hope I'm helping him memorize this stuff because it comes slow to me.

The heat is almost unbearable outside, but the sport's club where we have class is nicely air conditioned.  For…

New Kata!

As I've mentioned before Shūdokan is very focused on kata.  The preset movements act as a foundation to everything done at the school.  First comes kata, then the bunkai and finally the application.  

Unlearning the casual brutality of my old school is not difficult, but I often look back fondly on how tough it used to make me feel.  I miss the physical contact, but not the injury so I console myself with the excitement of learning new stuff as a replacement.  However, my learning curve is a bit modest.  At six katas, I'm still getting fine tuning tips and reminders about footwork etc. 

To my pleasure, last night Reed Sensei hit me up with, "let's work on a new kata tonight" again.  Before that started Mark and I went through the ten elbow techniques and then worked on the Kyoku series.  

The Kyoku are specific to Shūdokan meaning that they aren't supposed to be shared openly.  That being said they feel fairly normal in the scope of kata, but their bow in and ou…

Low Legs, Lowest Legs

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It was a fantastic evening.  I had been having a difficult time keeping a regular schedule in the last month mostly due to season tickets to our local Women's soccer team and a lot of social obligations. So actually getting to class has become a pleasure as well because it acts as a stabilizing force in an otherwise chaotic schedule.

There are 10 techniques and I notice everyone has there mnemonic.  Here is my new list:


Stop 1Stop 2Stop 3Waiter 1Waiter 2holdingSlipperyElbowsholdingKnockdown twist Of course, this morning I can't remember what I call number 6 or 9, but I'm getting better!  

I worked the rest of the class with MaryAnn Sensei on her application of a Gojo Ryu kata.  I'm about a foot and half taller than her which is great for her because of the Aikido-like management of the attacker.  I walk up behind her and grab her arms which lead to a complicated arm lock (because I don't let go), a heel to the groin, followed by a Judo throw.  I think it's a Ha…

Exercise Note 2

The heat in the area is showing no signs of going anywhere so I grabbed my running sandals and hit the road in 100 degree, arid heat.  The strange thing about being in such a dry stretch is that it didn't appear that I was sweating at all.  I am fairly used to perspiring a moderate amount trying to move my 200 lbs around.  I realized later that it was probably evaporating as fast as I was producing it.  I never felt uncomfortable, but I only ran for 13 minutes netting me a 1.3 mile run.  Not very exciting, but with reconstructing my gait and a slight fear of overdoing it in the heat I thought I did pretty good.

I only took one pause at the turn around, but I did feel sorry for people out in the heat as I trundled by.  A man chasing his stomach while his lovely moobs swayed to a mild beat has got to put anyone off their chow.  I wonder how my wife can tolerate the site.  However, this might explain why she has the lights off in the bedroom when I come to bed.

The important part o…

Gettin' Swole

Since my crippling run on Sunday I haven't put on the sandals for my next run, but I would say I'm more or less back in working order.  All the pain I experienced several days after is gone and my legs feel a bit stronger.

The problem with going for a run is that we are going to be hitting 100 today.  The only time to run being late in the evening and that's when I'm trying to get ready for bed.  A conundrum since I need to get back out on the road.  It might be a short run (1 mile), but it'll be getting out there for a little bit to toughen those feet up and work on my technique.

Just as I left the house last night my wife said, "have fun", which I rarely think about anymore. While I attended at my old school I made her say, "break a leg" as way of fending off injury.  That honestly didn't work since I was fending off injury constantly.  And now when she says have fun it appears to have the opposite effect.  Last night was an unfortunate …

Burning Thighs

My foray into barefootish running lead to an immediate physical blow back.  I finished a mile and half loop and felt pretty good until the next day.  The idea is that because you are moving so carefully you insulate yourself from impact and thus running doesn't cause any issues to knees and back.

What is not mentioned is that if you are still out of shape your body is going to be pissed off after a surprise exercise session.  I got up on Monday morning barely able to move my legs.  My left knee felt liked it had been kicked by a mule which is an unfortunate sign that I overdid the exercise.  On the flip side I had zero problems with my feet.

So it was off to class in the evening with my normal pattern of trepidation, but it this case it was founded on the concern that I could barely walk up the stairs.  Thankfully we did a bit more warm up than usual and I didn't suffer horribly when we had to run around the room five times.  The class went smoothly.  I ended up doing the el…

Exercise Note 1

I purchased some Bowflex adjustable weights off of Craigslist this week and started a modest work out routine yesterday.

In the evening I did an 8 mile bike ride followed by a half mile run with my new sandals.  I should mention that I ate a huge amount negating any of the positive effects I was working towards, but I woke up feeling a bit fitter.  I'm sure it was all psychological, but I'll take it.

As promised, running in sandals turns out to be a less stressful activity that one would think.  Because you are conscious of your feet, you become careful about the force you place on them which evens out your running.  I also had to make sure that I keep my posture upright.  I realize a half mile isn't saying much, but my feet and legs appear to have no issues.  I'm not sure how this is going to pan out as weather gets colder, but I'm anxious to try a longer run when I get back from our weekend.

My goal is to run regularly for a month.  When the scorching heats th…

Big Shūdokan 50

I guess I should express some enthusiasm for making it to my 50th class, but in all actuality I haven't passed a year and relatively speaking I haven't learned a lot of the syllabus.  
That being said, I've enjoyed the class immensely and love the folks there. Progress feels slow, but every time things speed up I can barely keep up.  So maybe the pace is just right for me. 
Monday night I helped teach the squirrelly kids basic movement to "wear them out".  All that I succeeded in was to tire myself and doubt that the kids were getting the point.  
The rest of the night I spent teaching Sarah the beginnings of the staff routine, Chattan Yatta.  She's got a lot of experience in her old school so she was able to pick up a lot faster than I originally did.
Fitness Report
Living in the Rose City can be a trying experience in that life here is a never ending exposure to delicious food and wonderful beers.  As my friend likes to say, "sometimes you have to pump the …

Inauspicious Return

After a month of having an unsettling bronchiospasmic cough that still appears once in a while I was pretty excited to return to class.  I think I've been out for almost two months at this point.  
I got in late by my standard (five minutes till) and no one was there.  Which always leads me to think that I may have gone on the wrong day or they had a holiday and neglected to mention that to me.  However, I had a text chat with Sensei and knew that everyone should be there.  
Before we got started a very muscular man came in with his 6 or 7 year old son. I didn't get to chat because we started to line up pretty quick, but before Sensei rushed in I overheard him talking to his son.  It was along the lines of "I know you don't want to come sometimes;  I know it's fun when your brother is here; sometime we have to keep coming to build on things...".  I was impressed because this was a very big man.  The kind I associate with brash, over the top personalities that c…

Off Task

Hey loyal followers and anyone else that makes it to this page!  I haven't posted in a bit because of family issues and an unfortunate cough that has turned out to be bronchitis.  I'm looking forward to seeing the end of it, but I'm only on week two and I've been told the minimum is four to six weeks.  I'm going to try to return to class tomorrow to see how I do.  I'm almost up to 50 classes and I love a milestone, but to what end I'm not sure.  Just that it's a nice round number.

Story Time

One thing that I very much like at this school is the "story time" component.  Apparently, the original gringo got his stories from the Japanese master and would periodically tell them.  In time each school leader would repeat them so after awhile everyone would get the details; a verbal history as it were.

These stories are where the kata came from and how they have changed and why.  Yesterday's story was about the elbow techniques that we have to know.  The basic ten moves we have to know for the first black are performed with another person (Uke) who pretty much just throws a straight punch.  But because there are ten of them my poor memory struggles to get past four or five.  Everybody seems to be making a mnemonic to remember, but so far that hasn't happened for me yet. 

The story of the elbows is that Ichigawa was in Europe (Switzerland?) with Morris Mack Sensei.  He had a dream that included a kata of elbow techniques.  When he woke he approached Morris and sai…

Notices Of Age

I am absolutely in the worst pain right now.  Apparently abundant manual labor around the house is no substitute for the gym and moderately hard aerobics.  I discontinued running awhile back because I just didn't seem to be able to put it to my schedule.  The same goes with the gym.  Since I've moved to the Rose City I haven't been able to look at a gym because of the time commitment. 

Which brings me to why I'm so uncomfortable right now.  Last night we started late and MaryAnn Sensei led the warm-up.  Although she is thorough, I can barely stifle an inward groan sometimes.  She takes a long time and doesn't use an out loud count.  This leads to the occasional late start.  Last night was an impressive detour into yoga moves.  If it were anything but in our class I would have applauded because I clearly needed to work on torso flexibility, but the warm up went into the 30 minute mark and I was groaning before we finished.  What happened to my flexibility?

While we w…

Softshock

After two plus weeks off I was experiencing my normal anxiety about returning to class.  I may have mentioned this before, but it's like experiencing a panic attack.  The adrenaline is spiking and I feel absolutely weak.  I know, intellectually, that I'll be fine when class starts, but wading through that is challenging.  
What made me nervous is that I feel out of shape and it was going to be a long night.  I was hosting the after class practice in the basement dojo and that can run on till 7.  So I'll be going from flaccid to three hours straight.
Class whistled by and I did some focus time with MaryAnn Sensei on the Goju kata, then we did a little work on the Pinan Shodan.  This time doing the application work which everyone finds very fun.  I partnered with Olivia and once we worked out the bugs we moved very well together.  
During After hours I worked with Mark most of the time on his three applications.  Which in any situation is a sickening amount of stuff to remember…

Downright

After being overwhelmed on Monday, a little dedicated time in the evening to work on the kata appeared to let things settle in my mind.  Although I still have to stop and think, I can keep things separate now.  I mean I have to really think the whole kata through before I do it.  Thankfully they are really short.


We went over the 6 major blocks; which I find very different from my own.  Anytime we do a block we initiate with elbows stacked.  It's somewhat exaggerated, and when we do them at speed a lot of that is lost, but we practice all at three speeds.  The lesson is that you want to get it correct, but at speed you're not going to be perfect.  And that you have to practice at high speed. 


After that we worked a bit more on Pinan Shodan before Mark and I worked on his kata, bunkai, application work. 


At the end of class we gathered at the front for a lesson.  Reed Sensei likes to spend a few minutes for an instruction or moral tale.  I wasn't sure what to make of these, …

A Little Overwhelmed

I think I officially hit the point of saturation yesterday.  I'm up to six kata and I'm struggling to keep it all straight.  They start to fold in on one another and then I have to go back and start over again during practice.  Then they evaporate altogether!


I got to class a bit early and asked one of the young black-belts if they knew the second Geki kata.  She had no idea what I was talking about.  So I guess Reed Sensei is assigning me kata based on an algorithm know only to him.  I'm not complaining other than I don't think I'm doing things justice.  I can do the technique well, but have a hard time remembering transitions and stances. 


In my latest case the two Geki kata are very similar and start off the same, but change subtly after the first run 1/3.  So now they are blended and I'm struggling to keep them separate. 


Added to this is that the whole class is learning a kata together (Pinan Shodan) which is fun and all, but as in the case last night I'…

New Stuff

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After warm up I was directed to MaryAnn Sensei while each group went to work on different things depending on skill.  I was supposed to check off on Gekki SaiDai-Ichi and then learn the next in series, Ni.  I love this kata because it's relatively short and incorporates sanchin. 

We went through it a few times and refined some pieces and then moved on to Ni.  It starts pretty much the same way, but moves to open hand Sanchin and changes to cat stances in the end.  Fun! 

Not me, but this is exactly the one I just learned.
I finished the day working on Wando with Kyle.  I had to straighten out the starting stances. 

I also realized that I have been given a lot of respect in that they continue to teach me Black belt level kata.  I was struck by the fact that no one else seems to be working on the things that I'm working on.  It could be that I'm being taught things that are somewhat for someone getting close to the test or for the 2nd degree.  I'm really not sure, but it i…

Fight Night 2

One of the returning Black Belts, Olivia, requested a sparring night so I wasn't too surprised to find that we were going to do last night.  What I was surprised by was my physical response - total adrenaline wipe out.  I know everyone is different about how it hits them, but for me it's always been complete exhaustion.  It's like I have all the after-effects and none of the exhilaration. 


We had a brief warm up and then spent a good 20 minutes on movement drills.  Basically trying to speed up our ability get in and out of distance.  The drills are great because they drive in the idea that you don't need to cross your feet to move in all directions and that you can actually move quicker as a result. 


The class had about 12 people so I got two matches in.  One with Mark (the brown belt) and one with Reed Sensei.  I got Mark 3 to 1, but Reed whooped me 3-0.  I'd like to think that I got a couple of good ones in, but they were either obscured or occurred at the same t…

Shūdokan 40

I ran into class a few minutes after it started.  Dojo decorum dictates that I sit in seiza (kneeling with feet crossed) until I'm acknowledged by the Sensei and asked to join the class.  Even on marginally soft material seiza is brutal to me after a couple of minutes.  Circulation cuts off quickly, but in this case I'm kneeling on hardwood to add the measure of discomfort. 


Sensei pointed to me after a minute and I started to rise, but he began explaining to the class how I was demonstrating appropriate behavior and went on for another minute before asking me to join.  I got to my feet unsteadily and joined in the kicking warm up.   I normally love exiting seiza because you can stand so smoothly without using your hands, but in my case it looked pretty unsteady. 


We were "introduced" to side kicks last night.  I've been doing these since my first day in beatings over a decade ago.  Considered an advanced technique in this school it has only been shown to me for …

Drink From The Firehose!

In attempt to be a bit healthier I decided to eat a salad at lunch.  This turned out to be a poor idea.  By the time I got home I was ravenous and had to set up the basement dojo for after class practice.  I finished putting the mats down and ran upstairs and shoveled a few handfuls of frosted mini wheats into my mouth before running out to class.


I usually try to get to class about 15 minutes before go time.  This allows me to warm up a bit and go through my katas before the kids show up and start running around.  It's nice to have all the space to myself.  I also don't have to worry about ramming the staff into the ceiling when I do that kata. 


In last nights class we had a fairly difficult warmup, because Olivia, our 18 year old Black Belt, lead and her youth comes with a lot of energy.  Running on low calories also mean that I was swaying when we got up from the floor. 


Our group activity was to work on reverse cat stance, with block and kick.  After doing that for awhile I…

Rebuild 2

I came in a bit early and worked on my katas and generally warmed up.  Olivia returned, potentially swelling our ranks to one more person.  And then the surprise was that Charlotte (a four year old?) was joined by her mother, Sarah.  She decided to join the class.  She came from a Kyoshukin school and was asking me questions.  We both came to the conclusion that the lack of sparring and hard contact exercises was probably a good thing.  I based that on the fact that I don't have regular injuries or trips to the doctor at all.  So kind of sad and kind of nice.


The basics we worked on were knife hand and stance differentiation.  Because Shudokan borrows from other schools, they want to pay respect by doing technique as that school does.  To this end bow ins, stances and movement are all to mirror the founding school.  So we often come across with all kinds of things that tend to be very specific. 


For example, we learned the difference between fudo dachi and shiko dachi.  Two differe…

Rebuild The Base

Class took a slightly strange turn last night.  Instead of test prep, we worked a strange augmented block.  Not that the block was strange, but that it was initiated from a side chamber.  I guess a lot of any art probably looks odd from the outside perspective.  The trick at the end of this was the disclaimer that we (black belts) would need to execute the block at the very last moment.  This causes me to rethink everything I'm doing and thus look and feel very clumsy.  Relearning, retooling whatever the word might be.


This was prep for Pinan Shodan.  Which has tantalizing similarities with my Pinan Sa Dan.  It will be interesting as we learn more of the Kata to see their similarities.


A new old person showed up. Olivia has her Shodan (1st degree black belt), but hasn't been able to attend due to her college schedule.  Hopefully she'll be able to continue to come regularly.  I am finding that our 4pm time is pretty terrible for most folks.  I love it because I get home early…

Flex And Fall

We had a nice warm-up which included stretching.  I mention this because this school doesn't really focus on this too much.  I guess if you are working on flexibility it needs to happen outside of class.  Since the kicks and work we do are pretty basic, flexibility isn't an issue.  I have to give this approach a lot of respect because the athleticism required for fancy kicks and dynamic moves wouldn't have been great for me.  I would have tried to do them and been sore all the time. 


That being said, I ended up getting thrashed quite a bit working with Kyle on his next self-defense moves.  Uke leads with a left jab, that arm is captured in an arm lock followed by a takedown, move into shoulder lock and rollover.  Then submission.  After 30 minutes of that I was creaking.  If Kyle did the take down slowly I ended up falling slowing and that always hurts.  Once we got up to speed I could take the fall normally.  Unfortunately, I would have to take it slow for him and that pu…

Denouement

Assuming the test was a bit anti-climactic to my co-students, I was wondering how they were going to be emotionally post celebration.  I assumed a renewed attitude to get it right next time.  However, class was restricted to four of us.  People were out sick or obligated and none of the kids showed up because of spring break.  Which didn't make it feel like we were going to jump in with vigor.  Ivanna was out sick and Mark did, at the very least, look more focused. 


There was a couple of young guys working out in the room when I got there who ended up joining us.  Sensei talked about prices and some other basic class stuff when I got to work on my stuff.  A young lady came in a bit later.  I assume she must have been a previous student she started working with MaryAnn on a somewhat advanced technique. 


It was back to the Bo (staff) for me to iron out even more technique issues.  Mostly focused on stance and then Sensei had me focus on staff positions.  Then on to work with Mark.  D…

Judgement

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I put my big boy gi pants on and went with the other black belts from our school and went down to Eugene.  It was a two hour trip with two hours spent getting there and then two hours back.  I finally got home at 11pm.  It made for a very long day. 

First thing of note was their school.  An old auto shop that had been refitted at some expense.  It must have been 2000 square feet or so.  Two full rooms.  That school's leader was a fifth degree (go dan) which gave the proceedings a very authoritative feeling, but the big deal was the Shihan and his wife (another super high ranker) doing the judging.

So many degrees I got sunburn.
The fun bit was being in a room with only blackbelts.  Everyone was very convivial and most people were mostly focused on warming up.

21 Black and 2 Brown
I can't claim that I totally understood the scoring system, but the candidate had to perform 10 kata, then they had to break it down into sections with another person and then perform the whole kata …

Surprise Celebration

I knew something was up when I walked into class last night.  Chairs were set up all around the periphery and mats were on the floor.  Most of the kids were there running around and a few of the adult students were fussing around.  My presumption - we were going to do a dress rehearsal for Celebration (nice way of saying testing), but I was incorrect. 


Sensei Reed hadn't gotten to everyone at the last minute, but we were doing the Celebration last minute for the colored belts and on Friday the black belts and candidate Mark were going to Eugene to test! 


Apparently the head cheese got double booked and it was either that or waiting until May and driving to Yakima (five hour drive?).  So the three black belts and Mark all decided Friday was good.  I'm invited along, but not sure if I want to burn half a day for the experience.  I want to be there for Mark and celebrate if he's successful and be supportive if he's not. 


While the kids tested I was helping Mark through th…

Meat Collar

I'm too lazy to research if I've used this title in the past, but it's appropriate this morning.  I'm having a hard time looking side to side and it made driving a challenge on the highway.  It feels exactly as if I have a thick collar of gristle wrapped around my neck making move difficult, but painful. 




I'm more used to the lower back spasm that tells me I haven't been careful. I think anyone over 40 knows the neck pain I'm talking about.  Hell, I've done this sleeping poorly and woke with the same neck pain that lasted for a couple of days.




The flip side of this discomfort is that it is a direct result of Kyle getting ready for his test on Friday.  His portion includes two self defense scenarios which include escape from a full nelson and a throw from an attack from the rear.Unfortunately, I was the punching dummy for him for most of the night.  At the end of class he was telling me that he wanted to ask MaryAnn Sensei if I could be his dummy (Uke) d…

Uke or Ookie?

With only two more classes to go before the celebration testing, I'm probably showing more excitement about the whole thing than anyone in the class.  I just realized that they've done all this before and it's new to me even though I'm not doing anything other than standing in a corner (I think...).


After warm up I got partnered with Mark to practice his 10 elbow techniques.  Now that I've done these a few times,  I'm starting to remember the overall pattern.  We went through them three times which left me a bit bruised since I was the Uke the whole time.  I always thought it was pronounced yookie, but everyone in this class says Oo-kay.  The Uke's job is to give himself to the Shite (it's pronounced sch-tay, not like the Irish saying the poop word).  Ideally, if I present perfectly all ten times then Mark will not have to think; just react.  I am the canvas on which he paints a masterpiece of technical prowess. 


Well, I don't know if we reach the …

Shūdokan 30!

Thirty Classes!  It's astounding to me that so much time has passed.  At eight classes a month, plus some after hours practice with the black-belts I feel like I've been there for a year.  My original idea to try a different style every month pretty much went out the door after the first couple of classes.  While not super warm to my presence, I have felt welcome enough to be taught at my level of skill.  The folks that have been going there have been doing so for a long time so my guess is that the bonhomie that I normally associate with a class is probably normal for my time here. 


Next Friday is the big test!  It's exciting to see everyone get geared up psychologically.  At the old school testing felt very random and it was targeted at one person at a time.  Here it's based on a three or four month cycle in which all people are tested (not me) for their next rank.  So the little kids will be working on their ranks and the teens will be working towards their regular…

Hiatus Week

I'm out for a week due to house work project backlog.  We bought a 100 year old house when we moved to the Rose City and it needs constant work.  This month we are replastering walls and ceilings.  Brutal dust and physical labor. 


So just practicing my three new Katas in the morning and hoping I'm not missing too much at class.

Welding With Children

The horrors of the past have come to revisit me.  I have become complacent in my outsider student status, but that was disjointed sharply by MaryAnn Sensei last night. 


In my old school my Black Belt test had a few things predicated before I could take the actual test.  The test not occurring until my teacher was satisfied with my progress in a few areas.  The first I will call "Deal with your fears"  or "For god's sake, they are just kids." 


After years of teaching the adults off and on my teacher noticed that I only took a peripheral interest in working with the kids.  The patience required was well beyond what I could generate even on my best day.  But when he went on vacation I would take up the challenge to provide continuity for the kids.  He didn't usually take kids under six, but there always seemed to be a row of kids around four years of age eating their boogers and generally not knowing their left from their right. 


So when he wanted me to be rea…

Progress report

Slight change of plan last night after we bowed in.  In fact so much so that I didn't even know what the Sensei said to me. One of the other students told me, "he wants you lead warm up."  Oh right!


I'm usually shifting my brain into neutral during the warm-up, so suddenly being in charge again after years of leading in my old class threw me off somewhat.  I think I did everything we normally do, but some of it was out of order, but no one appeared to mind.  But by leading I ended up missing out on the little run that goes around room five times and then back around the other way.  It's a great way to warm up.  Ah well.  


Kyle and I completed the Chatan Yata Bo Kata, but I'll need a lot more assistance on that one.  Actions are good, but transitions from stance to stance are missing in a lot of pieces. 


After class we headed down to my basement dojo to work with the gang on the test prep.  Judging doesn't feel like my forte', but I gave my best shot af…

Preppin'

Last night was back to the preparatory grindstone.  As of tomorrow the class has 30 days to get ready for Celebration.  Celebration being the general term for gathering the various schools and doing testing.  In the past all the schools in the Northwest region would get together with their families and it became quite the event.  Due to the cyclical nature of martial arts school membership the event is now a very modest affair. 


Instead of a big road trip to Yakima we have the head guy come here and sign off on tests with a big social/dinner afterwards.  If I understand correctly Shihan Morris is into his 80s at this point and his sons are showing signs of their age which may preclude the celebration from occurring on the selected date.  However Sensei will continue on treating our curriculum as if we are going to have the gathering. 


Mark will be going for his Black Belt and Ivanna will be going for her 2nd degree.  And thankfully I won't have to do anything.  I was a bit concern…

Chokarama!

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Clutched tightly between the thighs of large man, with my own shoulder compressing the veins in my throat, I struggled to understand why I was so jealous of Bob and his judo class.  But that was a very small thought as my desire to breath overruled pretty much everything else.  

Bob has recently started Judo class.  I am jealous of Bob.  The mechanics of Judo make it necessary to practice with other people.  The mechanics require the practitioner to engage physically with another person. My current art is very traditional.  We do not engage physically very often.  I am on my 26th class and we have done groundwork about 3 three times.  I am not complaining, but I miss the chess like struggle of using the body in 3 dimensions and letting kinesiology take over when other senses are not centrally engaged.  

So while we prep for Celebration next month I assumed that we would be working on kata and exercises ad nauseam.   During a self directed warm up Sensei pulled out mats and and prepped a…

Weps 2

I just realized that I had forgotten to post after Wednesday's class, however it wasn't much more than a repeat of Monday's course work.  Kyle got assigned to me to continue my work on the Chatan Yata staff kata.  I'm pretty sure that's not the way the name is pronounced, but until I get an authoritative response from Sensei I'll go with Noah's best guess with spelling/pronunciation.  
Ironically, Kyle showed up early to work on the kata anyway so we worked on it until MaryAnn Sensei showed up to start the class.  My new word is Say-deit-say.   Again I have no idea as to the spelling or pronunciation, but it's said at the beginning of class to call the students into formation.  Blackbelts not instructing stand on the right of the Sensei perpendicularly.  Instructing ones face us and the students are in a line facing the Sensei.  
After bow in (Go-zi-mash-e-tah) Kyle spent the rest of the class helping me get through the first third of the routine.  In add…

Weps!

Midway through class I could see my right hand swelling up, which was weird because I haven't seen any injury based on class since I left my old school.  The base of my thumb was literally twice the size of the left and both hand were bright red. 

I didn't care though.  I had a huge smile on my face and a partially functioning hand was not going to remove that. The reason is because Chiten Yata, my first staff (bo) kata.  I have no idea if I'm spelling that correctly, but after a decade or more I'm finally doing a weapons kata.  Sensei has asked me a few times if I knew anything or had any experience.  I can literally count the times I touched a staff on one hand and I'm not using all the fingers.  In my last school our syllabus sacrificed weapons for more and more complex technique.  I'm sure if we could have worked in one more day of instruction we could have had that.  

Last night the class consisted of me and Kyle and bunch of kids.  I've come to enjoy th…

Dojo

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Just a quick note to the fans that I've made a lot of progress on my basement dojo.  When my Sensei was moving he had to clean out his storage and had a huge pile of the those 3 x 3 interlocking sport mats.  For helping him move I have a semi permanent borrow of a huge stack.  So I've been cleaning them and installing them downstairs for the last several weeks.

I've done a couple of rolls and the mats are very compressed.  Of course they are on concrete, but whatever foamy goodness they had 10 years ago seems to have left the building.  Still, it creates a nice insulating layer against the cold floor.

Behind The Scenes

Since I have been writing this blog I have struggled with the direction of the writing.  I would like to be entertaining, but I really started it with the idea that I would have a location in which to store my notes from class and have people reflect on those if they felt they could add something.  

Since I have started Shūdokan I figured I would just stick with the notes and not worry about the personalities in the class.  The class is small enough and folks are nice enough that I don't feel the need to write about them much.  

My last school had such a cast of characters and in regular rotation that I could have really spent most of my blog writing about them.  This was most likely because I lived in a small town and everyone knew everyone and their business. For instance my good friend ended up divorcing his wife and soon she was dating another one of my good friends from class.  It would put us into a weird situation in which we couldn't talk comfortably.  

A compounding feat…

Roll!

As a fan of UFC fighting and its progression over the years, I have always been intrigued by the notion that a fully rounded fighter needed to know ground skills as well as stand-up striking.  I just assumed that ground work was just something I was not ever going to get to do.  Just learning the catalog of skills related to TSD (Tang Soo Do) took me 7 to 8 years.  

In TSD a big principle is "never go to ground".  So I spent my whole martial arts life pretty much learning never go there or fighting my way out if I took a throw.  I was fairly jealous of the guys in our previous small town that got to do Judo and later the military combatives.  Those classes were pretty much the same time as ours or in conflict with something else.    

Let me make it clear, I am never going to compete in UFC or whatever local version they might have for old men, but I have always been struck by the idea of a well-rounded fighter.  So that is why I get excited when we stop testing preparation and…