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.

Bassai in the park

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