Thursday, April 28, 2016

Prep Mayhem

Sensei called me in while I was on the way to class and asked me to get everyone bowed in and warmed since he was stuck in traffic.  I had to ask him the word he used before we reply "Oni gashemas" (sorry can't spell it).  He told me it was "Hajime mas"; or "begin we will".  I felt so bi-lingual. 

I started the class with bow-in and exercises and the, boom, we were on it.  I guess Sensei is starting to feel the pressure of getting everyone up to snuf for the testing.  Mark seems way better, but there is going to be some stuttering in some of the things he needs to do.  He'll do better with a better partner though. With me he can practice, but he doesn't look good because I pause too much and it ruins the flow of the routines. The ladies shouldn't have a problem, but I really don't  know how to judge their work.  To me they appear soft, but that might be what is desired for their level of work. 

We ended up bouncing from one thing to another.  For a chunk of class three of us worked on the Rohai, but then before we could finish the kata, we started working on the Bunkai.  Which, thankfully, was pretty easy.  There are two pieces and one is just a block and trip.  I was partnered with Ed and our height differences made things a bit comical.  However, since he's new to our school I love something he does after the action - he actually gives me a hand up!  I'm pretty sure that was verboten, but what a lifesaver.  I felt since he was doing it for me, that I could reciprocate.  Ed is a bit thick in the middle and getting up is a bit of challenge so giving him a hand was "easing his way" while he gets used to our type of methods.  I can only get away with this so much, because I'm supposed to get up with one of the three methods as a matter of course (because of the black belt).   

I'm off to the East Coast for the weekend to spend some time with my family so I'll only get one class in next week.  Then all the eligible folks head off to Yakima for the big do.  One day I'll get to go!

Diet note - down to 195.4!  I definitely don't remember this weight.  I'm not sure how well I'll be able to hold on to the diet this weekend, but my pants fit great right now.  I think I've lost 10 pounds in 9 days?  How much extra was I carrying anyway?

Monday, April 25, 2016

Rohai Razzle Dazzle

Tonight was another class where we carried on the theme of Celebration Preparation.  I'd only had enough time to practice the Pinan Sandan a few times and had already lost a few of the steps.  On top of this the diet (now on day 6), with it's lack of carbs has left me light-headed.  Great combo.

However, providence interceded and instead of working on Sandan we started yet another Kata.  This was for the Green Belts, but since I didn't know it they threw it at me to learn.  This Kata is Rohai Shodan.  The setup and stances are new -  I guess like a bird or something.  It has the feeling of white crane or something along that line.  I have to admit I'm happy that I can pick this stuff up fairly quick since Sensei likes to put me in front of the class to lead the kata through where we had just learned.  I'm very honored that he does this, but god knows how many boo-boos I'm perpetuating with the others.

At one point he broke down the dymanics of a punch to make sure how we activated our chest and back muscles.  It's certainly more thorough then I've ever heard before.  I'm envious how he juggle all the different balls in class and still have times for lessons like that. 

We ended the class with a game of jumprope.  Brutal because if you mess up you have to do pushups!  Everyone got through okay - this time!

Diet note - 197.8 this morning!  I'm not sure when I've seen that before.  3 years?

Story Time - The Knife And The Hammer

The Knife And The Hammer

A story by Tater

A young student approached the Master with his observation about how he was very accurate with one hand, but not strong whereas his other hand was strong, not accurate.

"You see," said the Master, "we are usually dominant with one hand or the other and some people are slightly split with their talents like yourself.  As we learn our arts we try to even out our skills so that we have a little of the knife in both hands and a little of the hammer in both hands.  At some point in your future, after you've practiced enough, you'll be as good with both hands as you are one side now."

The student thought about this as he picked his nose industriously. 

"Or maybe not in your case," said the Master.

"Hunh?" said the student.

Sigh he sighed.  "I rest my case."

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Celebration Preperation

I like getting to class early and that usually gives me some time to do a bit of early warmup to loosen up.  I sit most of the day and jumping into class can be a bit stressful on my tight tendons and muscles.  This also means that I occasionally get to lead the warmup which I enjoy, but I can't always remember the sequence of exercises.  With the introduction of the hancho(?) exercises, I put those into practice when ever I get the chance.  And everyone seems to enjoy them.

On this particular occasion Sensei had to get some Gi pants for our new guy Ed.  Ed is on the shorter side, but built like a anthropomorphized beer-keg.  So finding clothes to fit him has been entertaining to watch.  His pants are way too long and are now rolled up to his knees. But, at least, he can kick now.

The term testing is really only used with Black belt level exams.  Sub Black belt testing is called Celebration - A demonstration of techniques, kata and application.  I'm unused to this format, so I'm often looking over my shoulder to figure out what's going on.  It's seems basic, but since I don't know what's next or what I'm doing it's a bit of a challenge. 

It starts off with basic technique, but everyone does it at the same time. The only difference being that as your level of experience moves up, your technical skill needs to be shown at the same level.   So we do kicks and punches and then three kata.  After that we did an application of the Pinan Sandan kata, but I'm not sure that'll be in the Celebration, but was fun to get all the creaking old folks to move around a bit.

On the diet front - I weighed in at 199 this morning.  This is about as low as I can get with my regular diet, but that always allowed way more crappy food.  Now that I've joined my wife on the anti-inflammation diet I'm really hopeful to see that number drop down to 195 (which I haven't seen in many years).  The biggest part of this being the lack of dairy, most carbs and sadly beer.  We'll see how low I can go by next Wednesday.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Shūdokan 70

Thank god it's my 70th class because I couldn't think of a snazzy title for this post. 

Due to the sudden heat wave in the Rose city I was more than happy to go to beatings since the place we use has air-conditioning.  Strangely enough the heat is dry and drying.  You can almost feel the moisture leaving your skin.  Even with the air on I was damping my gi just during our warmup.  I guess it could have been enthusiasm. 

My wife has been experiencing sinus problems for a couple of years now and hasn't been able to completely get rid of it, so she became excited when she heard a friend finally get rid of her problem by going on an anti-inflammatory diet for a month.  So my wife did a bunch of research, and as the supportive husband, I'm going along with the process.  At the very least I'm hoping to lose some weight, but by and large, I didn't feel bad before, so who knows how this will make me feel.  Today is my first day and the change is breakfast is weird.  No grains or dairy.  How I miss thee. My start of diet weight is 204lbs.

After warm-ups we were split into groups and I was placed with a group that was working on a kata.  After we got started, Reed asked if I knew this one or had been working on it.  I hadn't, but once we got about half way I realized that it was close to one of mine from Tang Soo Do!  Pinan Sandan.  That makes learning go fast!  The refinements that are part of the Shūdokan school are great.  I don't recall my last teacher having the knowledge that's being pressed here about foot placement and movement down to such a fine detail.

Right after we more or less mastered the refinements, Sensei had us pair up and use the moves in a bunkai sort of thing.  An inside crescent kick, an elbow block to arm grab -> into arm bar then a big rotation into a laying arm-bar.  I was paired with Sarah who has a brown from another school and has opted to go white and work her way back up.   

I finished the evening working with Mark on his application.  We now can do both sides, but after a couple of days off we are not smooth and have to remind each other of the actions we need to take.  Lots of stuttering. 

The question of the day was how do we contend with a dog attack.  Our new guy, Ed, had been horribly mauled by a dog so we went with all sorts of ideas.  I'm not sure what's the best approach is as I always thought getting the dog on it's back to stop mobility would be best while other were all about poking the eyes (which I think is a hard target at the best of times, let alone when chopper has  your arm in it's mouth).  Ed showed us the scars and all I could guess was that it was a big dog because the scars are profound and all over him.  Yuck.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Drop And Roll

I probably read into things, but I swear sometimes the first few minutes of socializing before class is a prophetic indication of what's to come in class.  We were chatting about breakfalls and sure enough in class, for the most part, was all about being thrown and getting up.

I was incredibly sore from Monday and I only took about 10 falls altogether, but I presume it was the rolling and getting up that was really tough on me.  The kata application (dance!) I was working on with Mark is called Kyoku Nidan (I finally got the name down) requires a break fall and a reverse rollout.  Because the rollout is on hardwood, I try to be as gentle as I can be so my knees and back take a break from serious bruising.

After warmups, which have taken a wonderful new turn, we put down as many mats as we could.  This was a bit unusual since the focus on class content is to prep for celebration (sub blackbelt testing) and blackbelt testing in early May.  I thought maybe that Sensei was going to put a slight change in curriculum just to keep everyone fresh and interested, but surprise!, it was going to be all about doing throws and rolls from that kata.

We first started on rolls, or specifically, getting up.  The first was me laying on the ground face down. Instead of the push up, I slide back on my knees, keeping my head down (in yoga, it's like moving to child pose) and then move to the one knee stance. 

The second position is from the back.  I roll slightly to my side bring my feet and keep one hand up for protection.  The other arm goes from floor to elbow to hand, and then I hop up to a tripod-esque position; and up to standing.

The third is from the back as well, but its a backwards rollout.  I was positive that I've been doing this great, but Sensei went over the steps and I realized I was missing a few bits that never came up in my old school.  One hand is out and one crosses the face (it reminds me of a fainting lady from the Victorian era) then I do a partial sit up to get some motion then I fall back throw my feet over.  I actually roll on the shoulder with the arm out and the fainting hand becomes the support to keep my head off the ground.  One foot kicks out to give me more momentum (or kick a villain) and I bring a knee down to roll up into a one knee stance.

After the class practiced this for some time we turned to doing the throw that would end us up on our backs.  I got partnered with Kyle and was taken aback by his ability to put me down directly at his feet.  When I do the foot sweep throw, my uki usually ends up spiraling out somewhat.  Which means I'm using too much muscle.  Sigh - the old bugs keep haunting me. 


Warmups by Hanchi. 

I'm not sure how to spell the name (natch!), but Sensei introduced us to the traditional warmups from our school.  It a series of 6 or 8 simple moves just to get the body moving.  It's a lot of fun to me for some reason.  Up to the point that I giggle.  In trying to evaluate this feeling and I think I see a connection with old videos of schools all warming up and the wonder what they were up to.  And now I'm one those old guys! 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Other Side

Now that the countdown is on for the few people in our class to go to testing in Washington, the class tension is slowly rising.  And not in a bad way.  Everyone appears to be more focused, and the after class practice time has gone way up. 

Sensei definitely wants Mark to get his blackbelt.  Mark had a five hour training session last Saturday and it wrung him out.  However, everything he does is very smooth and he's pretty comfortable with everything we do. 

The stuff he and I do in class is the application of a kata (which I have no idea of the name even though he's told me a thousand times).  I've done one side enough now that I know it fairly well and Sensei can see that both Mark and I have got it down fairly well.  So last night he had us switch roles.  Although we had a messy start we were able to get through the whole thing at a slow speed. 

As I drifted off to sleep last night I kept thinking about the parallax view of taking the other side.  It was like being in a dream in which you take each person's roll for while.  To see me act out the things I've seen takes on a surreal and often confusing aspect, but we were able to eventually educate ourselves by simply pointing out each piece that we knew. 

I'm holding my weight steady at 200 lbs.  I'd definitely like to see 195 again some day and to that end my wife has encouraged me to see a naturopath.  She really wanted to see the doctor herself, but when you get in they drag in the rest of the family.  It was refreshingly like a regular doctor, but with more questions.  I have to go off all supplements and medicines for a month and get a comprehensive blood screen to start the whole thing rolling.  Neither my new doctor or think I'm getting of Statins to control my cholesterol, but we shall see what the blood test shows. 

On top of that my wife, who loves a good fad diet, has decided to go on an anti-inflammation routine for the next month.  Although I understand the idea, I can see that's it's going to be personally very difficult for me.  She's working on the house and it really doesn't leave her a lot of time to shop or cook.  That means a lot of that might be left to me and I'm not sure I can be that supportive when carbs are cut out.  I guess not-so-secretly eating lunch out during the week won't be too bad.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Ouchie Uki

After warm-ups Sensei had us move up and down the floor in the zenkutsu stance to clean up foot placement and weight placement.  Definitely more intense that I remember from my old school. 

New things:
  • at least 80% of your weight is on that front leg (this stops feet from moving around prematurely to moving - a naughty tell).
  • The outside of the foot is parallel or turned in slightly.  Never outward or even slightly outward.
  • I have heard you should have your knee forward enough that can't see your toe, but it should be to the outside enough that the whole foot weight is centralized.
We'd assume the stance and sensei would walk around us with a Bo (staff) and drop a pointed end all around the knee.  If the knee wasn't placed correctly then the staff would bang into your foot.  Thankfully Sensei isn't cruel and didn't slam the tip down.  Nevertheless it was incredibly illustrative. 

I spent the rest of the class with Mark working on his complex application.  I can't believe how rusty we seemed just after two days.  It took about a half hour to get the whole thing back together and up to a point where we could start refining again. 

One portion of this "dance" routine is that I, as the Uke, get trapped and catch a shot to the chest while getting foot-swept.  I take a fall where I then get a kick to the chest.  I am then supposed to roll out backwards to leap to my feet to block a shot and then start attacking again. 

This is all very action-packed but there is an issue.  I'm on a hardwood floor.  Even though Mark drops me gently as he can I have to take the slap.  If I don't fall correctly elbows, hips and back take enormous abuse. 

And then there's the roll afterwards.  There is an approved method of doing the roll which I haven't learned, so I do the best I can muster based on a few Aikido classes and our modest curriculum in Tang Soo Do.  I end up slapping the ground with both hands while throwing my legs over my head.  One leg tucks in and I whip my hands around to push myself up.  But one foot stops the rotation.  This one hits the floor on it's top. 

After about ten of these, my left foot had a blossoming red mark and some missing skin around the big toe knuckle. 

I should get video of this.  I'm sure I look like a walrus exiting the pool.  Or a drunk guy getting out of a car. 

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Sanchin Bunkai

I staggered into class last night completely exhausted after another brutal weekend of house work and late nights.  Sunday my wife and I decided we need to clean up our acts a bit because we are gaining weight.  This means no booze and good food this week.  I've already lost three pounds, but my sleep is severely impacted.  I'm exhausted and cannot get to sleep.  I clearly was using booze to get to sleep, so the trade off will be thinner, healthier me, but with giant bags under my eyes. 

After warm up, we broke up into a variety of groups and I ended up getting three little girls with the instruction to teach moving front kicks.  Each girl was about one year older than the next.   The old girl, probably eight or nine, had the best understanding and had obviously practiced.  The other two had some issues with concentration, but that seemed pretty normal.  So we did kicks from zenkutsu, and cat stance.  Then from front leg and back leg.  Then we did a little with kicking at targets.  This let me know that none of them could kick over hip height which kind of confused me.  As far as I could tell, all the kids in class are way more flexible than me, so I would assume they could kick higher.  While I pondered this and tried to figure out how to address it, Sensei partnered me with MaryAnn Sensei to continue on working with Sanchin.

Last time MaryAnn added some more refinements which I managed to remember, just in the incorrect place.  But once we addressed those I was introduced to the bunkai.  Basically a dodge to the left and right, each with punches and a little hand work.  Very cool and not overly complex.  The validation was that I was able to do the kata this morning (half asleep) without forgetting too much.

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...