Thursday, December 29, 2016

Shūdokan 110!

I'm always looking for something special on a milestone class, but as usual, I don't know the count of the class I'm in at the moment.

Reed Sensei said that the confirmation test would take place in April.  To me that feels like next week and we aren't exactly there yet.  There is a lot of content to go through and refine, but Reed says that we are going to be learning the other side of the long application series next week!  

I don't feel particularly smooth with my side yet and we are just starting to learn the advanced elbow techniques.  Although they aren't massively complicated they still need to be learned and become an addition to the already big catalog of material.  

Last night in afterclass we went through the application about three and half times.  I'm having some problems with foot work so we went through and made sure every stance was correct and that took some time.  After that we went over three of the advanced elbow techniques.  We have to learn 5 through 10 and I was able to make it up to 7 last night before time ran out.

Mark definitely has the advantage here.  He'd learned the ten basic elbow techniques as part of his blackbelt training in the last couple of years.  So the advanced stuff is just icing on the cake.  I'm coming in relatively fresh since I've only seen this stuff practicing with Mark in the last couple of years.  Wow, I can't believe I'm saying that!  

Yet to learn:
- Defenders side of the Kyoku Roku Dan application
- Elbow techniques 8 -10.

What I know reasonably well:
- Nifanshi Sho Dan Kata
- Kyoku Roku Dan Kata
- Nifanshi Sho Dan Oyo
- Kyoku Roku Dan Bunkai attacker/defender
- Kyoku Roku Dan application attacker
- Advanced Elbow techniques 5-7

All that being said I need to review the Oyo and Bunkai since I haven't been able to practice any of it for over a month.  Yikes!  It's already slipping away.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Bent Wrists Are My Specialty

I'm finally starting to get my sleep schedule corrected, but it's slow going.  Most of the last few evenings I find myself on the sofa being roughly awakened by my head hitting my chest.  This is around 6 to 7 pm.  Tuesday night I was fairly good because I made it 8 pm.  So I was reasonable awake for class last night.  

Reed Sensei must have been feeling some burnout on all the test prep stuff so he launched into a series of techniques that lead up to wrist locks and traps. This is always a welcome relief to me because it was such a large part of my old school's curriculum.  

I was partnered with MaryAnn Sensei, but she was clearly unused to being on the receiving end of techniques and I ended up spending a lot of time massaging her forearms after dropping her to her knees.  That didn't make me feel too good.  I wasn't sure if I was out of practice or she was just extremely sensitive.  Either way we didn't get far, but I got to introduce a whole bunch of stuff no one had seen before.  Yeah for cross pollination.  

After class was all about catching up for me.  Mark and me went through the ten bunkai, two run-throughs of the application and then three of the advance elbow techniques.  

When I got home, showered, and had a little food I ended up nodding off on the sofa again, but I made it 9 pm before I went to bed.  I later woke up refreshed and toddled off to the bathroom only to find that it was 11 pm.  Sigh.  I was able to get back to sleep and woke up at 4 am as usual.  Jeeze.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Sneeze 2

In a continuing celebration of my 50th year my wife and I traveled in Southeast Asia for a couple of weeks.  Thankfully the pace and location allowed me to practice my kata every other day or so.  I was very nervous that I'd forget something, but I was supposed to be focused on addressing some small details with my big kata. 

The folks we traveled with are dedicated practitioners of yoga and meditation so our mornings would be fairly quiet.  During their meditative practice I'd go into whatever space I could fine to work on my stuff.  This was met with some humor because I have a tendency to be embarrassed about my dedication.  For them meditation is something of a regular topic.  My focus on the karate is something fairly private to me, so I'm never really sure how to address it.  If I'm lucky my wife brings it up so I don't sound like a humble bragger.  It goes a long way if I need to go and practice without looking like a hermit.

The problem with this level of travel is the jetlag on the return.  I've know that return to the West is tough, but this appears to be next level stuff in my case.  I got back on Saturday afternoon and probably hadn't slept for 40 hours at that point.  The normal course of order is to stay up as long as you can to correct your sleep pattern, but I gave up at 6pm and had the worst sleep ever as a result.  Exhaustion and jet lag made for the sweats, tossing and turning and finally a wake up at 4am to which there was no return to sleep. 

I rationalized this by telling myself that it would get back to my Monday schedule faster.  Of course I ended up going to bed way too early and repeated the cycle.

Fast forward to last night and my return to class.  I was swaying a bit but got there on time and ended up leading the warmup!  Reed grabbed Mark right away to work on something so I was the lead.  This was kind of nice because I needed a bit of time to get things moving. 

After warmup Reed had me work on Pachu for the almost the entirety of the class. 
Sakumoto doing Pachu

Surprisingly I was able to get through the whole kata in my shaky state, but this morning I couldn't remember the last couple of moves.  At least it's a bit more knowledge in the brain.  This is the first of the katas from the Ryuei-ryu school of karate.  I'm not sure I'm going to be doing much with this one, but it's nice to have the occasional change in pace during the confirmation prep.

Mark and finished up the class with the first of our new elbow techniques.  We are going to be performing five through ten of the advanced.  Five is interesting and action packed.  It starts with a standard technique and ends with a trip and arm bar. 

I can't wait to be awake on Wednesday!

Thursday, November 24, 2016


It's thanksgiving here in the states today and usually most things around the holiday are put aside to get ready for family and cooking.  However, we took a vote and decided we'd do both classes as way to squeeze in as much training as we could.  However the first class only had five of us and then after class was only three of us. 

Reed started the class very quickly and that means the bare minimum of warm so we could get to content.  He asked how much was on my plate.  This meant that he was learning something and needed someone else to work with.  He does his best learning by teaching someone else.  Since he's kind of being pushed to work on his next belt he needs to learn four new kata under the Ryuei-Ryu school.  We'd learned Anan which was the fourth I believe, but Pachu is the first.  At any rate the pronunciation of said kata sounds like a sneeze to me; thus the title of the post.

We got most of the way through it, but class ended.  Everybody said their farewells since I'll be going on vacation to Cambodia and Malaysia for the next couple of weeks. 

After class consisted of Kyle, Daniel and myself.  This is Kyle's first after class session and thankfully we had the garage to ourselves.  It made for a spacious environment since it's usually six of us packed in there. 

As usual, it was work on the kata to refine pieces and parts for quite a long time.  This time I took notes on four areas to work on.  I know that by the end of the year I'll be pretty sick of this kata, but I'll look damn good doing it. 

We finished up by doing the application twice.  I'm ironing pieces of that out to smooth things out.  By the time I get back Mark will probably be fantastic and I'll have to remember stuff all over again.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

On Track!

Roughly five months to go before the confirmation exam and Reed Sensei says that Mark and I are on track!

This is a big deal because after voicing some small frustrations about progress he pointed out that we only need to learn the other side of the Kyoku application and some elbow techniques. 

Many of the moves we employ in the application follow the rules of traditional karate.  The most common of these is that you block over your leading leg.  For most of the first year of training this rule is pretty much universal, but somewhere along the way the teachers start saying there are exceptions to the rule.  I assume this is the case because reality has a way of messing up what we do in practice. 

So last night we were performing a complex arrangement of arm-bars and double blocks and it was pointed out that we'd get confused because one of the blocks was not over the lead leg.  So the rule was explained to us as; "always block over the lead leg, but there is always an exception to the rule.  The second piece is that the next move should remediate the fact that your hands are in the incorrect position."

And sure enough the next move in the sequence corrects the hand placement. That was a long time learning, but when we are moving it looks fantastic.  The whole application is quite action packed and requires a lot of energy.  So by the end of the second class I'm fairly tired.  It was a pleasure to hit the sack last night because I was so wiped.  I can't imagine getting used to this level of work combined with the falls and throws, but it does come with a immense sense of accomplishment. 

Last Night:
- 1 x Koyoku Roku Dan
- 1 x Nifanshi Sho Dan
- 10 Bunkai for KRD
- 3 x NSD Oyo
- 1ish of KRD application.

After Class:
- 1 hour of application with refinement.  Maybe 10 times? 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Just Some More Work

My wife is about to head out of town for several months, so I'd like to spend time with her as much as possible.  As usual Karate has to take a back seat to my real life demands, but since I need the exercise no matter what I managed to do the first hour of class. 

I left the house a bit early and went to the building we have class in hopes that Mark would be there early.  My gamble was successful.  Mark has been coming to class a bit early himself to warm up and practice on his own.  So after a little visiting we got into the application, but the frustration of memory betrayal reared it's ugly head.  I could remember components of the application, but not how they tied together.  By the time we got through a couple of guesses Reed Sensei showed and started sorting us out.  But it was for not; class started and after warm up our practice outline was:

- 4 x Nifanshi Shodan Kata
- 4 x Kyoku Roku Dan Kata
- 2 x Nifanshi Shodan Oyo
- 2 x Kyouku Bunkai

This took exactly the whole hour.  I had a few questions about foot placement in the Kyoku, but that was the whole show.

The hardwood was unforgiving and my back and knees feel bruised and sensitive, but possibly the hardest part of this is that my new found desire to have more flexibility in my back is meeting a big amount of resistance.  Unfortunately our side kick warm up makes my back's issue very well known.  To exacerbate that further, the breakfalls on hardwood have made my back very ouchy indeed. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Early Onset Rigor Mortis

Exercise, by it's very nature, is going to make the practitioner sore and stiff especially as the amount of effort is increased.  That being said, I'd hate to admit that I usually put in the amount of effort needed at the time and usually not much more. 

For me it has always been an issue of gain, fighting with the avoidance of pain and discomfort.  However with this confirmation year I'm actually motivated to do better and take the accompanying discomfort in stride.  That is; until it got embarrassing. 

As a personal milestone I'm incredibly pleased to have finished one half of the long application.  That doesn't mean I'm good at it, but I've made it to the end of one side.  The Application is a manufactured expression of all the bunkai from a single kata.  In this case it's for Kyoku Roku Dan, a kata with around 50 moves.  Instead of breaking the pieces into a one or two-step example the whole kata becomes a flowing process between two folks.  A complicated dance for sure.

This is further made difficult in that it contains several break-falls, roll-outs and about ten arm-bars.  Once I'm warmed, up this is fairly exciting because it represents a vast amount of technical work with a tremendous amount of physicality. 

After Monday night (and I took Ibuprofen) I wasn't quite sure how sore I'd be, but as Mark and I compared notes we both cataloged the level of discomfort we were both in.  Not that it was debilitating, but we both knew we less mobile that we cared to be if we were supposed to be operating at our best.  My muscles appeared to be forming a cast around my lower abdomen and back down to my mid thighs.  On top of this my knees were complaining just walking up single steps. 

And let me reiterate that I was barely able to get out of bed that morning and the first thing we do for a warm up is jumping jack then push up.  This goes from 1 to 5 and back down again.  I  honestly needed it to just get the blood pumping, but I was the last person to finish.  I just couldn't get my legs under me to stand up. 

In time the joints were lubed up and the muscles had some blood flow, but I was assigned to help Charlotte to work on her Kata.  She's 6 or 7 and when she's bored she just simply walks off.  Brutal.  We got through a kata five times and then the Oyo five times, but it was an act of god to get through all that.  I was never so thankful to do something different after we got that far.

After class turned out to be me and Sensei's Dan and Reed.  So it was the private lesson of dreams, but I had to hustle the whole hour to smooth out my half of the application.  Needless to say I slept like a log last night.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Reap and Sweep

Earlier in the day I made a poor choice with my lunch.  I mean it was delicious, but the amount of hot peppers made my stomach feel like a furnace and eventually gave way to a wave of gas that felt borderline dangerous in the wrong situation.

So when class started I was nervously joking with Mark about the throws we take on one of the moves; telling him not to do it hard or I'll end up pooping my gi.  We made a few jokes and class got started, but just like always, any jokes seem to come to fruition as content.

After warmup we laid out as many mats as we had and grabbed our partners.  Although we didn't work on throws, my concerns about hard falls were somewhat justified because we worked on foot sweeps which still end up landing us on the floor hard.

The four sweeps:
1. Sliding the instep to outer side of the lead foot.  If caught when the person is putting their weight on the lead foot they go boom.  You need good timing.

2. Similar to the first but you bring your foot all the way through; almost a low crescent kick.  This can turn a person all the way around if timed correctly.

3. Spinning sweep - Step forward (so right foot to left foot for example), turn and kneel, tripod stance, leg out and around.
The closest example I could find.

3a. Combine one and three.  If the initial sweep doesn't work then go directly to three.  It gets the back leg since you're so close.

4.  Dodge a punch, follow with knee, drop knee leg behind their lead leg and do the "elvis" and that leg comes out they go down.

4b. Scissor take down.  Dodge a punch. Round house kick to stomach, drop kicking leg to behind lead leg.  Switch to tripod stance and do a heel kick so that they trip over leg. 

I realize that these are terrible descriptions, but they are reminiscent of every old karate movie where someone gets their leg swept and they go down in a puddle.

After class was mostly dedicated to working on the application of Kyoku-Roku Dan.  We are about half way through one side.  So much to concentrate on, but nice to see a small amount of progress.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Progress at 6 months

I think I might have missed a few postings, but I guess there is nothing much to report that grabs the headlines.  Mark and I in a familiar pattern; Two kata, 10 bunkai, 1 Oyo, and 1 application. 

I was actually feeling very frustrated about progress.  I'm totally dependent on Mark for the partners practice and some of the pieces aren't necessarily logical and require some hands on correction to get correct. However Mark pointed out that we need less and less assistance to get going and can sort out more and more on our own.  Within 25 minutes we'd almost completed the above list. 

The Oyo is a combination of the bunkai and application.  Normally bunkai is reminiscent of my one or two step techniques from TSD; a formal attack with expression of technique in two or three moves.  However, the Nifanshi Shodan kata is relatively short so instead of just doing the two bunkai it was combined for brevity's sake. 

Unfortunately Mark and I struggled to remember this at first, but Reed proved to have the patience of Job and got us going again.  Within 20 or so attempts we started looking fairly good, but there a long way to go.

Our note from Reed Sensei was that we are about half way through the year and we are more than half way through the stuff we need to know.  So our pace is good, but once we have both applications squared away we'll both need to learn the other part of each.  And then some elbow techniques.  It still seems pretty far away at this point and I'm not feeling like we have enough time.  My next vacation is going to make me nervous about the forgetting again.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016


Last night was my first full two hour stint after coming back from vacation.  As you can imagine it was a challenge but that was mostly because I was sleep deprived.  I wanted to get back on my diet again in fear that I'll get a bout of gout if I'm not careful.  So that means no booze and cutting down on fatty stuff. 

I hate admitting it, but the drinks I do have really help me get to sleep.  With their removal I'm pretty much tossing and turning most of the night.  Not totally asleep and somewhat awake all at the same time.  The last time I did this it took three days to get my sleep cycle corrected.  I assumed that it would come quicker this time since it was only two months ago.  Wrong.

Anyway, it meant that I was dragging myself to class but, as usual, the attention to detail and activity level kept me going.  Class consisted of doing five of each of the last three katas.  15 kata doesn't sounds like a lot but after the first five I was dragging and puffing.  I can tell when I'm tiring out because the kicks start turning into a leg fling instead of a crisp action.

In the after class Mark and I just got started on the ten bunkai.  And then relearning the application series.  This time Mark is doing the other side of the application.  We got about half wayish - around the fifth step.  Being tired makes it a miserable affair trying to remember the smallest things. 

Hopefully Wednesday will bring a refreshing brain to the class and I'll feel less overwhelmed and stressed out.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Shūdokan 100!

As usual, I lost count of my classes and didn't realize it was the 100th one until just now. I had assumed that I should do something special that would require endurance and such, but instead after some work I got put in charge of Charlotte.  She's seven and actually a good student, but has no response most of the time.  Just a vacant stare.  

As I've mentioned I can barely stand working with kids because I don't know how to interact with them.  One of the worst things is getting instruction from Sensei that says practice this or that.  We all know that means that you keep practicing it until he says otherwise, but most of the young kids do it once and want to be done. Repetitive practice just doesn't go into the equation.  

My next frustration is that you can't offer "what would you like to do" and expect an answer.  I have to be directive and keep forgetting that little fact.  Despite my griping, Charlotte was able to learn the second half of a kata that I'm struggling through myself.  

The class consisted of warmups and then Mark and I were to run through as much as we can as it relates to the exam.  We didn't get very far because we couldn't remember the application to Nifanshi.  After a refresher from Reed we were back on schedule, but never got to through the bunkai for Kyoku Roku Dan.  Sigh.  The only way we are getting to get anywhere is by doing both classes.  I've got to get myself together to get both classes in or we are never going to move forward.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Shooting Stars

A blast of golden sparks played across my vision and cleared as quickly as it appeared, but for those few moments I was completely vulnerable.  As usual I would have loved to see all that in slow motion.  Probably a really cruddy block on my part; letting a hooking punch slip through and bang my chin.

This is what it felt like anyway

I've been off for a month and my practice has only been kata.  There hasn't been any exercise except for the occasional long walks on windy Scottish vistas.  Upon my return from my vacation I tried running, but I was only able to eek out a weak 2.5 miles.  So when I finally make it to class it turns out to be fight night.  Reed Sensei is getting ready to go to tournament this weekend and needs to get his head right, so that means we all get to practice a bit.  Thankfully we all had our teeth protection on.  The first time I've put mine in for over five years!?

To prep for fight night we have to warm up fairly well and do a bunch of speed drills coupled with a few tips on strategy.  And they we were ready to go.  Alas I was partnered with Reed right away and my glaring errors came to light.  The worse thing I do is stop fighting when he gets a good hit in.  If whoever is acting as judge doesn't see it then they don't stop action and I could get a good shot in, but I end up there getting tagged a second time because of this bad habit.

Something to work on should I ever go to another tourney.  I'm also very slow.  Or fast with really bad form and technique.  Sigh so much work to get back where I was. 

Yesterday I ran almost three miles.  I far cry from my big 5 before I left.  I'm hoping to run five on my birthday (Tuesday). 

Thursday, September 01, 2016

App Happy!

It was a momentous night.  And definitely one where there was a karmic balance in place.  During the first hour post warm up I was given the four girls. 10, 8, 7 and 6.  Woe is me. The ten year old, is an excellent artist, but vexes me because she is bored of the routine work and easily gets frustrated with her younger cohort.  The others are a challenge because you can only get them to focus on the smallest changes at any given time.  

I got them to work on a practice celebration.  For them it's three sets of blocking (downward, cross; downward, cross, kick; downward, cross, kick, punch) and then drills that move up and down the floor.  Then it was on to three kata.  This was followed by the application.  The application uses the bunkai in a two person series.  The girls actually do this reasonably well considering their age and relative sophistication.  After that we reviewed the wrist locks; opposite side grab and same side grab.  Pretty substantial based on the fact that these gals are very young.

After class I got to Daniel Sensei's place early and wanted to stretch out a bit so when he showed up I was ready to go.  He surprised me by wanted to start the application of Roku Dan.  Unfortunately, this was reaching really far back in his memory so we were only able to get the first couple of sequences before the rest of the folks showed up.  With Reed Sensei we were able to get about eight pieces together before I had to go.  It was just a massive moment for me and Mark.  Although we still have a lot to go, the fact that we were able to work on this was just a fantastic mile stone.  

I was going to turn in my Black Belt paper and test fees this week, but we have a holiday Monday and then I'm off on vacation for the rest of the month.  I guess it'll have to wait till October.  Crap, I'm not going to remember anything!  Very frustrating indeed.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

No Warmup!

Although it happens on occasion it is fairly rare.  As soon as we bowed in Reed Sensei grabbed Mark and me and ran through the application portion of Nifanshi shodan.  So my warmup in reality was a lot of head twists and face smashes.  Not ideal, but the amount of time to get directly into practice was great.  We then got partnered with the young ladies (8 and 10) to continue the pattern and then switch sides.  This lasted for the entirety of the class. 

After class was just working through the bunkai for Roku Dan.  I keep thinking that it's going to go fast, but for the forty minutes that I'm there we dig further into the foot work and body placement.  However for the first time we were able to get through all 10 bunkai.  It is a lot to absorb, but we are doing very well.  If I could have stayed for the last half hour I think Dan Sensei would have started the first part of the application.  I hate that I can't stay longer.

I've got two pages of my Black Belt paper written.  I was going to turn it in on Wednesday with my testing fee, but I want to take another look at the requirements.  I think it's only 150 words, which seems awfully short.  If that's the case I'll need to take a look at my work and figure out what the heck I need to be focusing on.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Shūdokan 95

I'm trying to compare the time I've been going to the amount of classes I've been to lately.  I don't think the overall number is worth really remarking on because it's going to keep climbing, but since I'm closing in on 50 numbers are taking on a larger significance.  I think I've been going for a little over a year with periodic gaps due to construction efforts.  I'm fairly pleased by recent progress and part of this is tracking my new katas.  Learning the Kyoku-Dan kata has been kind of grueling at times due to the level of finesse that's required. 

This level of finesse bumped up another level last night when I had to go over each hand position and foot position until I understood why they were going where they were going.  I also had to slow it down which gave me a flashback of my old teacher telling me to not rush to the end.  Whoops. 

Regular class was a lot of kicking.  However Reed Sensei decided to stop using each others hand for support which lead to the worst kicking I've done in a long time.  The drill is one kick for me and one kick for him and it builds from there.  We are supposed to be able to do tens kicks in a row.  I didn't realize I had lost a lot of my balance over the last couple of years.  It was so important at my last school. 

After the endless kicking we moved to speed drill.  Uke attacks and the we move to a side and do a side kick.  I feel so slow, but Reed pointed out that one side was better because I was actually stepping out better and giving myself a lot more room.  Nice catch.  It made my left kick way better!

Then on to practice Anan a couple of times with Ivanna and then a run at Roku Dan. After class was the refining of Roku Dan and then work on bunkai for up to the fourth before my alarm went off.  Frustrating not to have more time. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Big Toe

After class on Wednesday I went to bed, but ended up tossing and turning most of the night.  I woke around 3 am thinking that I had dislocated my toe during the night.  I've definitely jammed my big toe in the past and this level of pain by-passed that.  I kept reviewing what I might have done that would have hurt so bad; a kick that dislocated, a break that's finally showing itself or a cramp?  

I finally got out of bed at four and called the nurse advice line and she thought it was gout.  Since I'm living a very healthy life at the moment I totally disagreed, but the pain was getting worse and worse.  It didn't warrant a visit to the ER, but I was starting to lose my ability to think rationally.  I couldn't put a bag of ice on it due to sensitivity and my wife managed to get me to gag down a handful of Ibuprofen to take off the edge.  

At this point I noticed my foot had to start to swell and I couldn't put any pressure on it at all.  After finding out that I couldn't get into my doctor I was directed to go to an emergent care center to get checked out.  My wife took me to the closest one and we walked in to the first appointment!  Unfortunately, she fell back on the same diagnosis - gout!  The only thing to do was get anti-inflammatories and put the bad foot up.  Two days later I could hobble around the house without gritting my teeth and by Sunday I could run again.  I was clear for beatings on Monday!

The nice thing about heavy duty anti-inflammatories is that my semi-persistent back pain is gone!  I hope this is a permanent thing.  It's wonderful.  

Class last night was a relatively fast affair.  Mark is turning 66 this week so we chatted about age and worked on our last two bunkai until it was time to bow in. I'm starting to think that he's having a hard time working on this stuff, or at least, focusing on it.  After several years prepping for his Black belt I think this must be less excited or he's burned out working on this stuff.  He's not practicing outside of class and it's starting to show.  I don't want to be frustrated, but showing him stuff that we've already done is painful, but there is nothing wrong with him memory for older stuff.  

Classwork consisted of working Nifanshi shodan.  After running through it several times with Mia, I partnered with Mark and we ran through the application (bunkai ohyo?) several time.  I'm not sure that we have it down, but lots of fun.  About four or five sets of moves going back and forth.  

No after class unfortunately.  Dan need to be somewhere and Reed needed to get back home.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Random Fight Night

On Monday Reed let us know that we'd be sparring on Wednesday.  I'd rather he surprise us on the day of the because I get anxious.  I'm not sure why I get so anxious, because I tend to enjoy the experience after the fact. 

We started the class working on the second Kyoku.  The Kyoku kata are specifically Shudokan in nature.  Due to my weird entry into the confirmation period I only know the first and now the eighth, so Reed asked Mark and Sarah to get me to work on the second.  Thankfully the work we've been doing on the ultra complicated ones makes the second kata feel relatively easy, but I'm sure I couldn't do it any justice one day later.

After that we set up for sparring.  This presented a challenge.  We had four adults and six children.  None of us (except for Reed) has any real experience judging.  My few runs at tournament didn't require me to participate in the judging side of things.  Although it shouldn't be tough, the basics, or the lack there of, turned much of our work into a slapstick performance.  The head judge should be bowed to after each awarding of a point.  This turned into bowing to the other opponent and then back to the judge and so forth.  And then at any given time Mark, who has trouble hearing, would just start as if the Judge called Hajime.  Of course at any given time two corner judges would be children under 10.  Their take on the proceedings could widely vary depending on their attention span. 

I was able to shut Mark out at 3-0, but I did get 2-3 with Reed.  This is phenomenal because I rarely score on him unless he makes an error.  This gives you an idea on the judging.  

After class was dedicated to working on Anan.  We rotated working with one another and really focused on a lot of finesse things, but I was itching to work on Roku dan.  However Reed has it in his mind that we need to work on Anan as a group.  As he says, "learning kata is a group activity". 

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Four Month Learning Curve

The big excitement from last night was that Ivanna taught me the last couple of moves of Roku Dan!  She was thankfully fresh from teaching Mark the same thing last Wednesday.  Right on the tail of that I was able to learn the tenth bunkai related to this kata.  

I'm trying to measure the success so far.  Four months to learn the entirety of the kata and the 10 bunkai.  That's not to say that I'm actually refined to the point of comfort, but it looks pretty good.  I'm sure the last two sequences will need to be refined, but I love that the bunkai absolutely matches the actions taken in the kata.  It makes it easier to remember.  For instance, the last bunkai blocks the kick, steps in with a reverse chop to the ribs.  Uke grabs your wrist and you do a twist and push.  Boom!

Anyway, I'm down to eight months to have all the bunkai locked into place so I can start on the application.  I can remain consistent Reed might be able to confirm us sooner, but to have the level of flow I see him and Daniel execute it might take several months more.  Hard to say.  

An addendum

I think I'm about halfway through writing my thesis which I've been wanting to get out of the way.  

I usually ask the advanced students if they want help in their practice.  I.E. can I be the Uke?  So last night Ivanna says, "go ahead and choke me".  Well that just led me into getting kicked and punched.  I'm not so sure about my volunteer efforts after that.  

Wednesday, August 03, 2016


Following our five hour experience in Eugene and adding a hour and half drive afterwards I didn't end up practicing the new kata until the next morning.  Even then I was only able to get through a few stretches without it falling apart.

It should have been absolutely predictable that we were going to work on the kata at some point soon, but I was surprised when it became the content of the class and the after class.  All other content was moved to the side in order to cement the moves as quickly as possible. 

After reviewing Anan with Reed I was given the task of teaching it to Ivana.  I felt somewhat intimidated since she's several ranks above me, but she's got a rather pleasant attitude so whereas we didn't get far we were accurate.  After we ran through as much as we could I was given the task to play judge on two of the brown belts while they ran through five kata.  The rule is one compliment, one correction and then move on.  No second attempts because time was compressed.  I felt odd because I'm correcting a guy that taught me the kata, but he hasn't time to practice and the kata was looking frayed. 

After class it was running through Anan over and over until I had to go.  I was sad because it's another week that I'm not closer to the final moves of Roku Dan.  It's not that soul crushing because I have plenty of new stuff to work on, but it would be nice.

Monday, August 01, 2016

5 hours

Sensei contacted me on Thursday to see if I could travel up to Eugene with him to work with Albert Sensei.  He and MaryAnn had several questions about specific pieces of the kata then needed to work on and then, if time permitted learn a new kata.  My job was to learn the new kata with Sensei and hopefully act as another repository for knowledge. 

I didn't want to miss the opportunity to meet Albert Sensei, one of Reed's teachers for over 14 years.  The drive is an hour and half out of the thorn city so my whole Sunday was going to be shot (and more than likely, get me in dutch with the wife), but as usual I felt honored to be invited along and wanted to get a look at this level of training.  A kind of "peering behind the curtain" kind of thing. 

Albert Sensei is an unassuming man with a peppy, upbeat attitude and a non-stop patter.  He clearly loves to teach and educate.  He wants to make sure you understand exactly what he means and this can mean he'll give a long story to get there.  Apparently patience isn't my strong suit when time is on the line, so I would inwardly struggle with some of the stuff.  I'm starting to think "keep your mouth buttoned up" is a base level martial art thing. 

While Reed and MaryAnn when through a rather extensive check list of questions I practiced Roku dan an ungodly amount of times with Albert occasionally checking in to correct the movement of my hands and their relative moments to one another.  I'd like to say I'm more refined, but I'm back to thinking about what I'm doing and it doesn't look so good.  Back to starting and stopping.

When they finished their questions Reed and I learned Anaan, a Ryu (sp?) school kata.  Closely related to Goju Ryu, many of the blocks seemed right from the canon, but other portions have flowery, ostentatious hand work that is very reminiscent of Chinese kung fu.  You can definitely see the influences.  I ended up taking video of Reed doing all the steps in fear that my attempts to remember would be too feeble to be helpful later.

 When we were trying to learn a piece Albert had me lay down into a crunch position because, "I was the youngest one".  Hah, I'm pretty sure I was as old as he was. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Detached Retina

While warming up for the beginning of class Mark told me that after our previous class he started seeing flashing lights in his vision.  After he visited the doctor he found out that he had a detached retina!  He thought that it was from the throws I was giving him on a leg sweep move.  Wow.  I was kind of feeling guilty, but he pointed out that it's just his body being old and we just have to take it easy with throws in the future.  Needless to say when we practiced that move again I was hyper aware of where he was going and how fast.

Regular class was laughably small.  Basically Mark and I with four very young kids.  I got three six year olds and was told to set up the sports floor.  These giant red and blue puzzle pieces are the mainstay of most dojos I've every been too and provide a nice barrier between my pointy bones and a hard floor. 

After we emptied the closet out and got the floor put together (we can't keep it down permanently because we are renting a space for the hour).  We had an exercise to teach the kids how to bridge.  One would bridge (a back arch with the shoulders and feet on the ground), one would roll balls under the arch and one would catch the balls.  As you can imagine this was met with incredible delight and much noise making.

After that was mastered, we were taught the full mount, open and closed guard, feet hooks, and an escape from full mount.  Once the kids got used to being in close proximity to one another they did a fairly nice job of twisting and rolling.  Thankfully Reed came and saved me gave me the option to do this same stuff with MaryAnn Sensei.  As usual I'm worried about my back, but since I was fairly warmed up I could bridge her and roll without any problem.  I took Ibuprofen in the evening just in case though. 

After class we met at the garage and ran through the kata about three times and addressed a lot of little pieces.  An arm out and foot placement in a couple of spots.  I'm not sure I remembered any of this in my morning practice though.  Too sleepy this morning.  However we are only a few moves from the end of the kata which feels tantalizing close.  The practice time is paying off.  We are three months in and the kata is almost fully realized.  In another month is should be fairly smooth and we might possibly working on the two man application. 

On the depressing side, by wife is getting a little tired of me being away from the house for so long.  She's been great with letting me have this time but it irks her because it only gives us a few hours a night to hang out.  I'm seeing that I'm going to have to make some breaks in the schedule to reduce that trouble spot. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Dangerous Dance Of Death

Sometime back my buddy, Bob Patterson, had an article about folks looking for support in order to fund a documentary on the Dance of Death.  The skinny is in this article. 

The reason this caught my attention was that I read those comic books as a kid and saw those ads for the "Black Dragon Society" and how they fired my imagination.  This was augmented by endless viewings of kung fu movies on local cable access channels.  How it would be a wonder to fly through the air or be able to whirl my hands in complicated patterns to make striking like a snake seem so effortless. 

Three plus decades later I'm writhing around on the ground with a foot in the back of my shoulder while my arm is pinned in such a way that one sneeze would shatter my elbow joint and I think to myself, "man, he's got to improve his technique to make this hurt more". 

When I had a few minutes to think about the session I asked myself, "where did that sense of youthful wonder go?" In the thick of action, when me and my partner are experiencing a smooth synchrony, there is a shared frisson of energy.  This apparently only occurs when I'm learning, but much like staring at pictures of cute baby animals on the internet, it's a feeling of pleasure that only lasts for a relatively short time.  After I crest the learning curve I need something more complex and engaging to get the same zing I get the first time around. 

That being said I got a partial thrill learning the next bunkai for kyoku Roku dan last night.  After you get put into an arm lock you get to a snake-esque move with your captured arm which leads to a shudo to the chest of the other guy, followed by a liver punch and then an outlandish straight-legged kick that throws the other guy in the air.  Super fun!

As usual I get ahead of myself.  Although class was the standard block of practice I got assigned to two little girls to work on their kata.  Queue circus music.  I have so little skill with working with little kids.  No wonder my first Sensei got so much pleasure in assigning me work with them.  Sadist. 

I did have a moment of clarity in teaching when I realized that I could get one girl to do an inside crescent into her hand to sort out the move in a bunkai.   Reed was watching out of one eye so I felt proud when he emulated it.  I'm sure he would have done something way better and faster though. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Flying Elbows Of Death

In the after class Reed Sensei sat us down gave us the low down on our requirements for Black Belt confirmation.  A fee, a thesis, and the components of the physical bits (kata, 2-man, bunkai, etc.).  An intriguing piece was "good attitude".  Apparently some folks would get big britches and be a bit condescending to lesser belts.  I don't know how that would even be possible since everyone there is so cooperative.  Different times with a bigger school allows all sorts to move through. 

The other area in which we are expected to perform is the advanced elbow technique.  There are roughly three levels of skill related to the elbow techniques; the first being basic - which would equate to moving out of the way and giving Uke a shot with a elbow.  The next level would be adding a should lock and strike.  The level Mark and I are going to be working on includes a brutal takedown coupled with an arm bar.  After ten of those I had to take a handful of vitamin I this morning - and I fell great. 

The throw and locks occurred during the regular class session after a brief warm up and some partner drills based on the Kyoku Shodan kata.  The browns are just starting their ramp up for the Black Belt process and this is the first of the Shudokan only katas.  The bunkai is pretty straight forward, but I'm feeling a bit bruised from the repetition.  Being the attacker can be a bit painful because the initiating punch is always getting blocked hard to open up some area. 

The after class session had the sit down as I mentioned above, but we went into Kyoku Roku right away.  Mark has missed a few classes so we had to review where he left off.  As agonizing as I find his learning pace, it must no worse than my own.  He has to go over it slowly and repetitively until he's ready to go on.  He then got a big dose of the next steps which I mentioned in the last post. 

My last addition to the kata, following the water cups, is the straight legged kick.  A silly looking think that yori's into a umadachi; the weirdest stance I've ever scene.  One leg bent and the foot forward while the other is straight with the foot turned in.  It's so you can execute a punch to the side while the feet remain in place.  Wild!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


For the second class in a row I haven't had my partner Mark to work with.  Although it's not a drastic thing at the moment, the fact that he was ahead of me was helpful because he could help me work through some stuff.  As of last night I'm slightly ahead in the kata and, I think, have refined enough that I'm looking at least as good has him on what we commonly know. 

I was partnered with Dan Sensei last night in after practice to work on refining the kata till I was blue in the face.  Paired with the fact that I'm not feeling rushed we slowed down the speed and worked on each piece till I started getting it right.  This morning I was able to do it fairly well I thought.  Only a few slow spots that agonize me while I try to remember what's next. 

Regular class was spent with a brief warm up and then kicking drills.  I love these because if we keep regular with them I feel healthy and balanced.  Infrequently practicing them makes me feel out of shape and shaky.  After that I practiced Kyoku 6 four times and got a small addition of moves.  At the after class I was able to get a little bit more. 

The new moves, which I will call the pizza man and the water cup, turned out to be simple in comparison to the constant use of wrist strikes and hand rotation.  Those have been befuddling me for the last three weeks whereas the pizza man took one minute to learn.  The water cup turned out to be an easy one for me.  In my old school we had an exercise where you had a half full cup of water.  You had to rotate it under your arm pit and over your head without spilling it.  This turned out to be the same move.  Hilarious!  I never thought that would turn out to be helpful.  You just have to wait 6 years and poof!

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Shūdokan 85

I was hoping to make a bit more progress in the big kata last night, but when I did finally get to work on it in the after class I just stuck with sorting out all the handwork in the one section I'm slightly frustrated with. 

During regular class we worked on adding a few more moves to Nifanshi Shodan, but these were introduced as self defense moves.  After we finished up the warm ups we were to partner up and I got Sensei.  I enjoy working with him but it means I'm going to take some hard hits now and then.  And here I complained about not getting impact now and then!

The after class session took a bit to get started, but I was able to go through my trouble areas several times and iron out the boo-boos as much as I could.  Ivanna went through all my bunkai, but while this was occurring Reed, MaryAnn and Dan were sorting out the application series. 

The application is a continuous display of bunkai using two people.  There is attacker and defender rolls and the purpose is to display the each bunkai shifting back and forth.  If done smoothly it resembles a great fight scene.  I'm looking forward to learning this for sure.  I told my wife she'll have to get the video camera out because when I get to do this it'll be fantastic.

Thursday, June 30, 2016


Mark is 60 something and took his first Alzheimer test awhile back.  He got a borderline result on a basic office visit and means that he'll have to go in for advanced testing - probably a CT to see if there is any physical degradation. 

This bit of knowledge came up while we were in my backyard struggling to remember pieces of the kata (Kyoku 8).  I was genuinely concerned that I was slowing down his progress because I was really having a lot of difficulty with one section and didn't appear to be getting any better.  Amidst my apologies he started talking about memory and he gave me his story. 

His daughter is a psychologist and says that going to Karate is pretty great for him and the continuing health of his brain.  So I guess I have a leg up with trying to study Spanish at the same time, but his open admission about his own concerns made me depressed and hopeful at the same time.  I told him about my Mother and her decline and her current use of a dementia suppression medication.  The underlying fear being - am I going there?   Mark's matter-of-factness certainly goes a long way to making me feel better about being present and just addressing ones issues. 


Because my brain is so full of trying to remember, and frankly not feeling so good with my lack of progress this week, I started feeling nervous about class.  Slowing down Mark, disappointing Reed and myself; all start playing at my nerves.  That small dread of going to class was starting to rear it's ugly head, but, as usual, getting there and going through the motions eliminates the problem. 

In class we were assigned Ivanna to help us (Mark and me) out.  A few runs through the kata with almost constant help at one portion and then it was on to the 7 bunkai.  Ironically, we have those down fairly well, but we are both helping one another.  In a vacuum I'm not sure I could pull them all out by myself.  However, for a teenager, she is incredibly patient with her "old men".  She wanted to make sure of how we learned to make it a successful session, but I realized I have no idea how I learn!

By the time we finished up with our work, class had finished.  But we got a text from Dan Sensei saying that he couldn't have us over after class.  Again, I had that mix of conflicted feelings.  Relief that the evening would be mine, but the horror of not getting more time in to work on the kata.  In the end desire to learn won out and I invited everyone over for a backyard session. 

We collected and started working on the kata, but my yard provided a nice challenge.  It's all down hill.  So when I tried to go into a zenkutsu stance I'd find that rear foot contacting way faster and throwing off my balance. 

We ended up getting a lot farther in the kata and learning the eighth bunkai; humorously called, "I surrender", due the double forearm block that defender employs at the beginning. 

By the end of all the work, my fears has dissipated and my normal crappy practice the next morning wasn't as horrible as I anticipated.  A good week! 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

All Natural Percussive Temporary Tattoos

At my old school bruising was regular and sometime spectacular, but it was also a badge of pride.  Now that I look back I sure we looked like a bunch of heroin addicts unable to find veins in our arms anymore.   A side effect of this was that over time I bruised less and less and impacts hurt less and less. 

In my current school the impacts are way less because we are so focused on form, but on occasion we'll have a blocking drill that will remind me of the good old days.  However, I notice that the sensitivity that I worked so hard to drive away appears to be eeking it's way back. 

Last night, I acted as Uke to Reed while he demonstrated a piece of the bunkai from Nifanshi Shodan (Now I realize it's also called Tekki Shodan).  I grabbed his wrist and he would drive my hand down to break the grasp and then while he brought it up he would slam a hammer fist down on top of the forearm to completely break the grip. 

Let's just say that the first time I was pretty sure he used all of his strength to escape the grab.  I'm not sure what my face did, but I was trying to be contained as possible.  I was truly shocked that I could feel that shot as much as I did and wondered about the bruises if it hurt that much.  And then he did four more times. 

Of course this morning there was no bruise and no soreness at all.  Sigh.  For all the lumps I would have like to shown something at work.  More than likely my co-workers would have assumed I'd fallen down. 

Class was mostly dedicated to learning more of the Nifanshi, but after class was back to the Kyoku Roku Dan.  I'm trying to make every piece count, but I feel like I'm slowing Mark down.  He's ahead in the kata and I'm struggling with a lot of nuances.   This was reflected this morning while I practiced the next steps at super slow speed.  Not because I was being cool, but because I couldn't remember the pieces.  Sigh.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


I have now moved into what I call SOP; Standard Operating Procedure.  My life has become a clockwork schedule of repetition that will hopefully keep me on the straight and narrow. 

I get up around 5, practice kata and exercise.  On Mondays and Wednesdays I go to Karate in the afternoon for two hours.  On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays I run (one day for time, one day for pace and one day for sprints). 

I've done this off and on over the years with some regularity, but I have been doing this 6 weeks straight and, boy, do my arms looks skinny.  I used to love lifting weights, but I don't seem to have time to get that into my schedule.  So I'm looking thinner and this is enhanced because my pants look big on me and my shirts are looking draped rather than stretched.

Last night we were introduced to Nifanshi Shodan.  This was one of my blackbelt test katas back up North, but was called Nihanshi Shodan there.  Reed tells us there is no F sound in Japanese thus the multiple pronunciations. 

The cool part being that I essentially know this kata, but as with everything in this class, the attention to detail is extraordinary.  Even the stance is called nifanshi dachi.  The hand locations are all based on a left-handedness which is another plus for me.  

I always feel that when I compare and contrast these things the Japanese version seems heavily stylized, whereas the Korean version is based on power, but neither seem practical.  Another spot that the Japanese version has over the Korean is that we learn the bunkai while we learn along with the kata.  Although moves are a bit exotic at least it forces the doer to realize that things can be done with the movements.

The after class session just ended up being Mark and I going over the 7 bunkai for Roku-Dan.  Hot and sweaty, but nice to go over the moves. 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Two More

Knowing that Mark and I are on an accelerated pace to learn two kata with attendant bunkai is thrilling.  Yesterday the after class focus was to move us further into the Kata and then teach us more two more bunkai.  Know that we are up to number 7 is cool because we only have three to go. 

But I'm getting ahead of myself.  Reed came into class carried a stack of boards!  I've never broken a board in class.  My last school was on an island and wood was expensive.  I think we could have gotten raw cut lumber, but I'm not sure where we would have dried it.  We always used the plastic break away boards, but those would give up their useful lives fairly quickly. 

I didn't get the option to break though.  We did paper, scissors, rock and the younger students all go to try.  I have to admit it's awesome to see a 10 year old blow through a piece of wood and just come off stoked. 

We focused almost solely on punching for the whole hour.  I feel refined for sure, but my body is also telling me that I was getting into new territory with how far we stretch it out to get that punch out.

The blackbelts all took off to Dan's place and after a wait we got rolling with our kata and bunkai.  As I spend more time with Mark I realize that we learn in different fashions which probably helps us quite a bit. He tends to hyper focus on whys before we get very far and I can remember the overall pattern, but the details escape me.  We are made for each other.  Hah!

We learned a little more of the kata with explanations and then we went straight into the bunkai.  Our new ones continue the high intensity grapple and lock.  Here are the clever names our older students have given them.

6. Breaking Sticks - push block in cat stance with a wrist capture, elbow slap/break, shoulder gi grab, push his shoulder to your knee and then penetration punch to head.

7. Is a drag - another capture, with a shoulder press lock and then kick to face with drag of Uke.

Violence is fun!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Shūdokan 80

Bone crunching, tendons grinding and snapping - that is definitely the way to celebrate the 80th class! 

I was experiencing the same feeling of dread, partial exhaustion and even a little a nausea from adrenaline, that I used to get going to classes at my old school.  This came, in part, due to the often regular contusions and joint pain I got from the regular impactful contact and joint manipulations that were part of the syllabus. 

The Shūdokan class has never invoked these feelings in me before because we rarely do locks or heavy impact, but I realized that there is an underlying excitement in having a goal and in the relatively short time of a year.  Also having class on Monday is a bit tough for me because I'm not usually well rested. 

With that being said, I got a surprise during class.  Mark and I paired up as usual to do our "fours".  We are to do the kata four times, and then practice the bunkai four times with each of us performing the attack four times.  We know three of the bunkai and it takes us some time to work through the second one. 

Currently the abbreviated list is:
1. Double shudo - into arm lock
2. Ridge hand block sequence
3. Wrist lock that ends in punch
4. Four on the floor
5. Belt pull

As I said we got up to the third bunkai and then MaryAnn Sensei was assigned to us to teach us number four.  Four on the floor is the name because that is where Uki's face ends up.

The move starts with a push block of a punch.  Then a two handed wrist lock that locks the elbow and shoulder (due to the rotation).  Push Uki to floor; stomp his shoulder to the ground and step over to lock arm until tap.  Step over head, pull arm up and chop to ribs. 

Number five was a relatively easy one.  Your back is to the attacker, they seize your belt.  You yoriosh forward to jerk them off their feet.  Turn and yori back into them and shoulder lock them and chop to neck.  So easy in comparison!

I'm guessing we're at 340 days to go!  We have to learn two kata and the first has ten bunkai, but Reed Sensei pointed out that it's kind of a fun thing versus a formal testing thing.  I'm not sure how that'll roll out, but time will disappear before we know it. 

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Three Bunkai

I'm pretty sure, at this point, Mark and I are going to be working on this kata, Kyoku Roku Dan, until we are blue in the face.  Reed has emphasized that we are to be absolutely focused on quality over quantity.  This means that due to the length of the kata we aren't supposed to be moving forward until each section is pristine.  The chunk we know is pretty good as Reed and Dan target spots for improvement over and over, but now the focus is on bunkai. 

Last night we started our warm-ups with kicks.  I love and hate the drill we perform.  Grab a partner and hold opposite hands and then endless roundhouse kicks.  It's a progressive drill that starts with kicks to the knee, then abdomen and finally head.  It's exhausting because at the peak of the drill you are doing 12 kicks on various targets while you remain balanced on one foot. 

So the day after I'm usually fairly sore from this kind of thing, but I'm suspiciously not crippled up.  So tomorrow I should be a broken man assuming I get a run in as well.

The horrible hot weather has passed so I was too troubled by going to Dan's house.   We trouped over there, but town is crippled with parades and fleet week, so time kept moving on and there was no Dan or Reed.  Impending weather finally made me impatient for everyone to show up so I bid adieu to the gang and ended up mowing for the next few hours.  Not the best way to learn, but my man Mark will be up on the next moves I hope.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Burning Hot

The Thorn City is currently in the grips of another early heat wave.  That means going to class is an absolute relief.  My house doesn't have air conditioning and usually our space is a little cool for my comfort, but after the short drive I was absolutely swimming in delight at the cool breeze blowing through the studio.

After bow-in the students who Celebrated(?) last week received their belts, badges and diplomas.  During the course of the class each student was taken to the side and they would discuss the results of the testing.   I'd love to hear what was said because Reed and MaryAnn have a very sensitive approach to how they talk to the kids. 

While that was going on I warmed up the class for some time.  This wasn't really required because most of us were already sweating quite a bit, but it was fun to try to remember the hansu stuff.  After that I lead basic kicks and punches up and down the floor.  I'm just not that imaginative. 

We moved to different katas depending on belt level.  I started working on Rohai Shodan with Ed, but was told to work on Kyoku Shodan with the new browns.  I already knew that one, but I was happy to clean up my bad form.  When I turned around at one point Ed had disappeared.  I hope he wasn't pissed for some reason. 

After we finished up it was time to head over to Dan's dojo garage.  Let me emphasize that I'm very happy to work out extra and learn a little bit more, but this is his actual garage and it is not air conditioned.  Reed and I got there a little early and, to our dismay, there wasn't a fan in site. 

I got a little further on Kyoku Roku Dan, but Reed and Dan dialed it back trying to get me to focus on little details before we advanced.  I was fine with that as he added two more bunkai to what we learned so my brain was getting filled. 

While doing grabs and wrist locks on Mark the heat and our perspiration created a fairly frictionless environment.  So a grab would slide around easily making it difficult to seal the deal.  I possibly made it worst by switching to a t-shirt, thinking that a gi would be too hot.  By the end of 45 minutes I had to quit in fear that I'd pass out.  No one else seemed as effected so I'll chalk it up to having poor heat management.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Celebration Actual

The day has finally come where I got to participate in Celebration, the under blackbelt testing demonstration assembly that runs roughly three times a year.  During the last year and a half I've managed to miss every single one of these, but I did get to see the blackbelts test up in trail city.  The blackbelt test was so confusing because I got pulled in to the testing and had no idea what the hell I was doing. 

Well, last night was a fraction better.  I got handed a clipboard filled with boxes and was told to choose two students.  We were then broken up into groups and there were three basic movements and then a series of kicks.  Followed by three kata (thankfully my two picked the same katas).  The bunkai for the three kata which took a while since both sides needed to do it three times.  I realized this was a good idea because the first one was a bit rough, but then they smoothed out.

The testing rounded out with elbow techniques and knife defenses.  Both of which my two folks did really well with. 

After the congratulations the students got notice that they'd get their results and belts on Monday.  Grading is based on EGON.  E is for excelled I guess.  I gave my two Gs with pluses and minuses.  I guess O is Okay and N is no go.

Since I'm gearing up for my blackbelt I started going to Dan Sensei's house last night.  This where the BBs can get their extra training in.  Dan is working on his forth degree and lives to make a dojo business, but this is rather informal and to get everyone moving forward takes some energy.  I don't have lots of time so I'm nudging as soon as we get the garage door open.  Unfortunately last night was already getting warm.  The thorn city is hitting an inclement period and it was already 90 when we started up.  I could only practice for about 40 minutes before I had to take off. 

The sum of my knowledge - about four more moves on the Roku-dan and no more bunkai.  But a few things pointed out and corrected.

Thursday, May 26, 2016


Before class got started I got into a conversation with Kyle about Celebration next week.  As usual I have the facts incorrect, so he was nice enough to clarify a few things for me.  The Celebration is just that.  It's not actually testing, but a display of basic skills and then specific stuff depending on belt level.  The student actually has to have a bunch of things checked off before the day and then they get a belt.  Kyle is scheduled to receive his Brown on Wednesday! 

On the other hand the brown to black transition is really a test and you better bring your A game.  That's the one I witnessed in Track town where all of our folks did not pass. 

Now that Mark passed his Black belt exam, he his has one year to learn two very long katas and a bunch of bunkai and applications that go with them.  This is where I fit in.  Because I have my blackbelt from another school and have been going for a year I'll be going along with Mark learning the after test work to earn my certificate!  I'm sure I have some part of this wrong, but we jumped into work on the first of the two katas last night.

Kyoku Roku Dan - We got about 17 moves into the form then Reed stopped us for the first bunkai.  Leave it to Mark and I;  we converted a simple block and lock into a ten minute head scratcher. 

Normally, I forget the kata as soon as I get home, but I was able to do it this morning with a lot of stopping and thinking.  But if I understand correctly it's going to be very long and I've got 364 to learn it and it's partner before I have to demonstrate it in front of people.  Weeee.  Something to do and something to look forward to!  A great way to celebrate my 50th year. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Exercise Note

As part of my getting healthier I've been required not only to revamp my diet, but regulate my exercise.  Just a few years ago I worked out regularly and ate poorly, but in the last two years I've been eating horribly and only getting occasional exercise.  This has caught up to me in a big way; not that I'm fat, but my blood tells a terrible story of bad eating, drinking too much beer and horrible genetics. 

I had a soft entry into my current diet when I started the whole 30 about a month ago.  Since I started that I've lost 12 pounds and this morning I'm 193.  The doctor wants me to on remain on a fairly rigid diet for another 60 days. 

In addition to attending Karate twice a week I need to be doing some exercise for 40+ minutes at the very least two more times week.  To that end I started jogging again yesterday.  I ended up doing one mile in 14 minutes.  A speed I think most people would do walking.  Hah! 

I decided I'd be philosophical and keep in the "a journey of a thousand miles starts with one step" mindset.  I'll add a little bit more on Thursday or just do the same.  I just have to use thinner socks or use my running sandals.  My toes weren't too happy with my choices apparently.

Push-ups were pretty horrible this morning - I could only manage 20 due to feeling just plain week.  Lost of muscle I guess?  I wouldn't have thought it possible with the amount of protein I'm putting down, but maybe the loss of the the extra me is losing my leverage. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Big News

At the very end of class Reed was going over the criteria for the upcoming celebration (testing of under black belts).  Mostly fixed routines and then techniques for the various levels. 

Mark's new Blackbelt places him in our formal line a little bit differently.  When we address the shomen (the front of the room, usually with a small alter, but not us since we are just renting the room as it were) we stand facing various directions.  The bulk of the students face the Sensei and front of the room in order of rank.  The Blackbelts stand to the right or left of the Sensei facing one another, completing the sides of the box. 

Mark now stands beside me and Ivana on the left side facing MaryAnn.  I guess when you get up to 3rd degree you move to the other side.  I'll have to ask sometime. 

For class we practiced a lot of basics and then worked on kata for the rest of the time.  The note for the evening was that when we are doing Chatan Yata (a staff routine) and have to change grips on the staff - a problem area for me - I was shown where specifically to do the exchange.  I have to switch a lot earlier essentially.

When we lined up to bow out, Sensei mentioned in passing that he now had a plan for me.  My ears perked up, but I didn't think anything about it and he didn't go into detail after class. 

Later in the evening he gave me a call and said that he had a conversation with his Sensei in Yakima.  Basically he said, "I've got a blackbelt from another school that's been here for a year, what do I do with him?"  Since the brown belt just passed his test there is now an inducement for me to move up even though I don't have an official rank within Shudokan.  So Reed got the approval to move me into a testing track!! 

He gave me a bunch of details, but after we hung up I couldn't remember a damn thing.  I think I'm going to be working with Mark (the new blackbelt) for his second degree and I'll be doing the same thing.  I'll find out more on Wednesday when Reed said he'll give an expectation sheet. 

I'm so thrilled!

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...