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!