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Showing posts from 2017

Laughing All The Way

I got in from the East Coast late on Monday.  For those of you that haven't read the past few posts, I had to travel out visit my parents.  Unfortunately my Mother has worsening symptoms around dementia.  It's absolutely the worse and my Father isn't in the best health to help manage around the house.  It's a soul-sucking situation. 

I'm normally very easy to laugh, but with the combo of jet lag and the situation I haven't found anything very light.  Every time I do laugh I feel guilty and so on.

I haven't sleep well for five days, but I know if I didn't get at least some exercise it would be even worse.  I opted going to the first hour knowing it was going to be sparring, but that suited me. 

The only problem is that the kids are so inexperienced that Reed Sensei is trying to get everyone to learn basic etiquette around the ring and how to handle themselves.  He's pretty clever so instead of working on tactics too much he opted to make it a game…

And So It Begins

Despite still being a bit wiped out from the weekend I was anxious to get to class to see what was next!  MaryAnn had planted a bug in my ear about the day after you get your sho dan (first degree).  You get to do something else! 

It hadn't dawned upon me that I was actually going to get to practice something else for once.  I've been working on Kyoku Roku Dan and Nifanshi Sho Dan for so a whole year so getting to look at something else was absolutely novel.
Regular class is taking on a new vigor.  A majority of the students are young folks from the ages of 6 to 13.  I think we have eight children most of the time now with new ones appearing all the time.  Last night we got a new kid and I was assigned to him after warmups to work on the basics.  Normally, I don't care for this kind of thing because kids have even less attention span than I do, but he did great.  Probably a half hour of straight work and he got better and better as time went on.  I was very impressed.
My gue…

Post Confirmation - Shūdokan 140

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I'm trying to reflect on the whole year and compress it into one post.  The simple fact is that I'm still processing what happened during the confirmation test and basking in the fact that that piece is done.  

Me and four others went to Yakima Washington to the main school there.  They have a rigid schedule of testing every four months.  We were unsure of the numbers of people testing, so it was some surprise that we found out it was Mark, me and a 12 year old boy doing the confirmation.  The confirmation is done one year after a blackbelt has been awarded, but the certificate has not been written up.  This is a measure to "weed out" folks that can't fully commit to what the belt means.  I gather about one third of the folks that passed the belt test are only the only ones that make it through confirmation.

The test only lasts about an hour, but like clock work we got through all the basics and then messed up during the big application series.  Somewhere on the se…

One Day To Go1

Tomorrow is the big day!  I'm having constantly rotating feelings of excitement and nerves (which I would assume are two sides of the same coin).  The calms I'm experiencing between the nerves allow me to reflect on the fact in scheme of things this isn't that massive a deal for anyone else but me.  All the senseis have pointed out this is confirmation so actual testing is off the table.  In fact clips boards are put down so the judges can sit and watch. 

I hear what they are saying, but my internal mechanisms push me to be the best that I can be.  My ability is a reflection of the training I've received in the last year and a reflection of the teachers that have spent time on me.  To do poorly shows a bad reflection on the teacher and school. 

To be honest I feel pretty good about the whole thing.  Just as long as we have plenty of time to warm up I think we'll be pretty good to go.  Mark and I look pretty good after three run-throughs. 

Case in point - we spen…

Protocol And Behavior

Class whistled by at high speed.  The new norm is all the kids need work on the basics and the ones that have been there are bored in the extreme about the learning process.  Of course that means that Mark and I get selected to help the young kids with the kata we are working on at the moment.  Nifanshi Sho Dan isn't necessarily a complex kata, but it has a lot of detail.  Trying to get 12 folks to pay attention and get most of it right is a bit of a challenge.  Not my best work.

Mark and I warmed up early and got some practice in.  He's exuding a lot of patience and calm, because his blackbelt test was so difficult.  However, he's vexing me because he still forgets two parts.  However, I'm not much better.  I still like to mess up a few spots, but I'm stressed because I don't want to do that.  But as Reed Sensei points out, get ready for when you make the error, because you will.

After class was all about the confirmation and what to do and how to act.  We lit…

The Run Down

Reed, Daniel, Mark and I met on Saturday and ended up working out for three hours.  I was glad to have the time to work on everything, but I was left amazed that we spent that much time on all sorts of things.  I'm not sure I'm going to remember everything (or much for that matter), but the take away continues to be - you're doing great and you are always going to have something to work on. 

Hand locations, deeper stances, what to do when you forget, etc.  They all littered our conversation the whole time.  And I couldn't believe they were spending all this time on us!  Reed has been working on his test materials for three to six hours a day!  His wife and kids, all of whom are in class, understand this, but I bet he is straining things a bit.  We only have a the remainder of this week to get ready and my blood pressure is up. 

I don't think it's only because of the test, but my family issues are changing on the hour and emotionally robbing me of my ability t…

The Run Through

Now that Sensei has created a schedule he appears to be sticking with it.  This means that one Wednesday will be self defense and one will be sparring.  The whole class was mostly children so Mark and I popped off to the corner to work on our test.

Previous to class we worked tirelessly on getting rid of bad behaviors and this was pretty good during the class time, but it was a different story later.

After about a half hour Reed asked to help out with directing the kids behavior during the self-defense practices.  It wasn't for me to say, but I thought he was going into some pretty complex moves for fairly small  kids.  For my troubles, the six year old accidentally gave me an elbow to the face and I chomped my tongue.

I was often selected as Uke during the demos and this meant taking falls on the hardwood.  I mean I'm glad he knows that I can do it, but damn after the fourth or fifth fall I thought I'd said something to piss him off.  Part of the setup was a grab at the…

10 Days To Go!

"So how do you feel about things?", asked Reed Sensei.

"If you asked me a year ago that I'd even have any of this vaguely looking like I knew what I was doing, I would have said you're probably crazy.  That being said, I'm pretty darn happy that everything looks fairly good after a year of hard work.  My biggest concern being that I recover from an error without looking too bad," I replied.

Not the most auspicious conversation, but it was illustrative of where I'm at in the process.  Normally Reed will simply state, "You are doing great and could do the test no problem; I just like to see things more refined".  He no longer says that, but asks how I feel about my progress.  

Mark likes to point out that that Reed will try to refine our moves up to two days before the test.  At that point he says, "you are good to go".  That got me a chuckle, because Reed could always find something to address, but he knows at a certain point we jus…

Uke

Daniel and Reed are getting together whenever they can so they can knock of Reed's requirements for his test. I believe he's going for his 5th degree?  He has to show 10 kata and create bunkai for all of it.  Very exciting stuff. 

We meet at the garage again around 5:30 and got started going through my test requirements.  Although there was a lot of notes on the my first kata we were able to get through all the requirements and do some extra refinement before my alarm went off. 
Since I really didn't have anything important to get back to at home I drug my leaving out.  Thus I got to participate in their bunkai contstruction.  Our school requires that the moves from a kata need to show a practical or impractical move to go with them.  Since there is no right or wrong move the imagination of the presenter can make for some interesting interpretation.  

Reed wanted me to work with Daniel so he could see how it looked.  This meant taking a lot of twisting falls.  Since I was …

Speed Test - 14 Days!

I'm still on call so I was only able to go the after class last night.  Which turned out to be fairly awesome.  Daniel Sensei and I chatted for some time and I realized no one was showing up.  So we ran through my test and I don't recall ever going through things so quickly before.  I was literally wheezing by the time we finished up. 

I hadn't realized that Mark and me have a pace that we go through and we tend to stop and rework things off and on.  Consequently it takes us about 15 to 20 to finish.  I think it took Daniel and I about 10 minutes altogether. 
Reed showed up a little later and ran me through my Kyoku kata.  He originally wanted to run through my whole test, but we ended up reviewing a lot to work on in the kata.  I can't say that I was frustrated, but I sure thought I was doing a bit better than his corrections would indicate. 
Due to the feeling of pressure to get ready, Reed and Daniel are trying to meet as much as possible.  So we'll be meeting a…

18 Days To Go

I keep telling myself that I am feeling pretty good about the test coming up.  I've been studying this stuff for a year and Mark and I get through it pretty easily, but there is always errors.  I don't think we've gone through our application song and dance without at least one hiccup.  I had my wife video us but I'm actually dreading looking at it.  We hadn't warmed so we were a mess to be sure.  After about three run throughs we looked okay.  

I'm currently on call so I'm living a weird schedule.  I can't be farther than 20 minutes away from a computer at any given time so going to class is out of bounds, but that's more because if falls before 5 pm.  My real time shift ends at five.  So Mark took pity on me and came out to my place to practice for an hour so I could be close to work.  Although I didn't get any emergencies I was able to get work done during the hour I had to sit here.  

After class was just a run through over and over again of o…

Submitted!

It was kind of a big deal last night as I turned in my Black belt paper/thesis.  I went through six revisions and two modest rewrites to come to a grand total of five double spaced pages. What a joke.  I remember suffering through writing my masters thesis and some other big research papers that probably took less time and effort than these five pages.  I mean I love what I wrote, but I'm guessing after it's read once or twice it's going to go in a folder somewhere and influence exactly no one.  My wife enjoyed reading it though and it provoked a few good discussions.

I also turned in my testing fee last week (or farther back), so I'm on track.  I just need to rent a hotel room for the night of testing and I'll be ready to go. 

Reed Sensei wants to put a little structure into class so one Wednesday a month we'll do self defense and another we'll do sparring.  That makes for something to look forward to! 
Mark has returned from a bit of illness and was ready t…

23 Days To Go (Shūdokan 130)

I like to reserve this blog for writing specifically about class but my regular life is feeling like it's impacting things at the moment.  My Mom started developing Dementia symptoms a few years back and they've been accelerating at an alarming pace lately.  After a bout of sickness that was mishandled by my Dad and her she had to go to the hospital.  Things are in a messy state because my Dad is having troubles making clear headed decisions.  My wife has volunteered to travel to the East coast to help him out while they try to put their affairs into order.

I'm consumed with guilt about not being there, but it's not that I could have done much except fretting and generally pulled my hair out.  It all seems so chaotic with no clear idea of what to do next. 
Last night I was just starting class and got the two little girls (much to my chagrin).  I didn't have much patience anyway, so when my brother called I had to leave class to get the latest details I felt mixed dr…

28 Days

Well, there's no zombies in this post, but I'm under 30 days until confirmation.  When I start thinking about how far I've come I get electric feelings in my hands.  I remember this from my old school when I was just starting to learn stuff.  My feet felt like they were alive with lighting.  It's a bit of a let down to know that it's a by product of adrenaline bursts, but when it happens I feel like Iron Fist for a second.

I went to class with a lot of dread assuming I'd be teaching the girls all class again.  I went really early so Mark and I could practice as much as we could and we got a solid half hour of work in.  I ended up leading the warmups and gritted my teeth when class assignments were handed out.  Low and behold Mark and I were told do the Nifanshi Shodan Oyo!!  I've never been so happy to do repetitive work.  We literally did the same thing for the whole hour.  Reed would come up every couple of minutes and correct some portion that needed some…

31 Days To Go

Blissfully, it appears that we are going to be working on refinement for the rest of the month.  The only problem being that regular class is treated as regular class, so Mark and I don't get time to work on test items then.  To address this Mark and I try to show up as early as we can and get working on the material early. 

In our rush to get going and review material neither of us warmed up at all.  This led to Mark pulling a butt muscle and me twisting my shoulder and neck.  What a couple of idiots.  Although we laughed through it Mark surprised me with the pronouncement that he was probably going to quit after the confirmation test.  Although he said that he was tired of teaching children when he was paying to learn I think the long litany of complaints over the last year have culminated into a feeling that he needs to be a lot more careful with his body.  I'm twelve years younger than he is and I've been thinking the same thing!
That's all in the future, and once w…

A Visit From Eli

We rarely get visitors to class due to the time.  We start at 4:15 and a majority of folks probably do these classes around 7 pm in the real world.  So we are a combination of after school and pre-dinner.  If we wanted to expand the student body we'd have to have a better time slot at the health club.

So when someone shows up in a gi that we don't know, it's a moment of excitement to be sure.  I'd forgotten that Reed needed to pick up a final kata before May.  He's going for his next rank (fifth?) and wanted to pick an old friend's brain.  Eli Sensei is from a Shotokan school and had the day to work with Reed and the gang on that one Kata.  

Eli no longer has a school to go to, but has been practicing non-stop since he's been 5 years old.  His background is based in the older, more physically demanding schools of the past.  His hands are an uneven testament to breaking; sporting broken knuckles and uneven surfaces.  With that kind of life I assumed he'd b…

37 Days To Go

Previous to class Reed Sensei will send out a group text to let us know if we are having an after class in Daniel Sensei's garage, but he'll also let us know if something is up.  Yesterday he included the note that we might be having three new students. 

New students are a small reason to celebrate.  If anything the life blood of the school depends on new people coming to force growth and development.  I think I've been the only new student that's been consistent for the last couple of years which is a shame because injection of new folks here and there have been fun and interesting, but the bottom line is that it means that money isn't really coming in.

Reed has pointed out that he's horrible about advertising or growing the business and Daniel has a marketing background, but seems stalled about what the next step is.  In the past the natural feed for new, young students was via home-schooling gym credits.  After there was some shift in that process the school …

44 Day To Go

I'm coming off a week of being sick couple with the start of allergy season so my hoped for relief is disappearing before my eyes.  Thankfully, when I'm moving/exercising my runny nose and sneezing dries up.  The only time it became an issue was when Mark held me in an inverted position and my nose would start to run. 

Everyone was in pretty good spirits after a weekend of tournament.  We had relatively good placement for all our players, but most notably was Daniel Sensei picking up first place for weapons.  Reed Sensei might have picked up first place for sparring, but some bureaucratic snafu got him skipped in one of his classes.  However, second place was pretty good I think.
Mark visited a tournament that was fairly local run by the head of Yoshida teriyaki sauce.  I guess it's pretty spectacular.  They fly folks in from Okinawa to run the seminars and the have the top competitors from all over the world come to compete.  There is even money to be won!
I've got 44 d…

Fight Night Review

Pride goes before the fall; or so they say.  I was into my third match and hardly making any points.  Sarah has completely shut me out and Kyle and I had gone to sudden death.  I got one point on Reed because of an error on his side. It was only late into one of the matches that I realized that I wasn't trying anything particularly interesting as a result was paying a price.

As part of the prep for tournament Reed Sensei has been doing a bit more sparring practice.  A big piece of that is strategy.  He said he originally had 57 tricks of the trade, but over the years found that the jab and follow up punch was what got him all of his medals.  So that's what we focus on a lot.

This goes into conflict with so much of what I'd been doing at my old school.  Most often we led with kicks for judging distance, but that doesn't get any points.  So it's that clash of semi reality and sport karate that's so frustrating to me.  However it is fascinating to finally understand…

A Tourney

The regional tournament is growing near (March 18th) and Reed and Daniel Sensei are going.  Due to the time and money involved I didn't really think it was a good idea for me, but their enthusiasm is making me question my decision.

The class got converted to a testing laboratory last night.  Mostly it was talking and discussing the classes and weights for the various competitions.  I found out that I'm in the rarified group (Masters) that doesn't have a lot of membership.  45 and older has no weight class nor weapons which I found interesting.  Just sparring and kata. 
The problem with Blackbelt only sparring is that even though I'm a 1st degree, I might be going up against very high ranking folks.  What a joy.  They are most likely sneaky and thoughtful.  Although I'm not to that point yet, I see that I would probably get suckered easily. 
The other part of competition, since it's an open tourney, is that there is no public demonstration of Kyoku kata.  So I…

Test Run Through

I think the count till the test is around sixty days.  With that in mind, Reed used the after class to run Mark and I through the test.   

The test consists of:

1. one run through of Kyoku Roku Dan
2. one run trhough of Nifanshi Sho Dan
3. demonstrate all ten bunkai - two times each
4. two run throughs of the KRD application; once as defender and once as attacker.
5. two run throughs of the NSD oyo; once as defender and once as attacker.

After looking fairly well through most of this well completely fell apart on the NSD oyo.  We'd been doing it wrong for so long that it was messing us up.  So that'll have to be retooled.  Just two moves, but we were crappy with that anyway so a relearn is going to take a bit.  The problem is that if we have an issue we need to go directly to Reed to confirm.  The other folks have long forgotten the moves and tend to cement our bad behaviors.  

Reed gave us a sheet of notes, but thankfully a lot of what we did was good, but the stuff we need to work o…

Shūdokan 120!

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After a week and half off I was excited to get back to work.  Of course a week and half off means that I'm going to forget a few things and it was apparent right away.  

Mark was at class super early so we went over a lot of basics as quick as we could.  Of course we forgot two areas which mess things up.  The first was in the Oyo for Nifanshi.  We forgot the second kick and then everything just gets messy.  Later we spent a good ten minutes reconstructed the final moves of the Kyouku application.  Not an auspicious return and with about 60 days to go.  Yikes!

I did find out last night that after the confirmation we are allowed to have 6 months of "fun" before returning to the process of learning the 2nd degree material.  I chatted with Daniel about his favorite weapons kata and thought I would request a Kama kata.  I was hoping for something flashy, but it really depends on what they have available or if I can make my own.  I'm not pro, but I'd like to see a lot o…

Tears Of Innocence

My wife and I don't have any children.  It was a combination of choice and circumstance and we're pretty okay with it.  She was a teacher for twenty plus years and acts as a Doula on occasion so she has enjoyed young people around her over the years.  As I've mentioned in past posts, I'm not much of a child person.  As such, my old teacher made sure that I had to teach kids classes for a stretch.  I'm not sure if that was a practical joke on his part or just helping with the whole teaching process.  Maybe both.

In my current school the classes can be incredibly small, so Reed Sensei can cycle through each student and give them individual attention.  However, the class can get just big enough that we should either all be doing the same thing to make it manageable or break into groups with separate teachers.  In the second scenario, available black belts will act as the extra teachers.  

We have a new young fellow (maybe six) named Everett.  He is enthusiastic, but not…

Mano A Mano

In keeping with my Spanish theme from my last post I thought I'd try start with a bang.  A literal bang.  

Regular class was taken up with Celebration, the seasonal testing for under black belt grading.  For once I was able to concentrate on what was going on because I knew the kata and techniques well enough.  I just had to judge two people in the middle of their brown belts and there were doing all the same techniques, so I was able to compare and contrast.

Just as we were leaving to go to afterclass Reed Sensei said that Daniel wanted to practice sparring because he was leaving to a tournament soon.  The normal spike of adrenaline I normally experience wasn't really happening.  I guess I was tired.  

When I got to the garage, where after class takes place, I was the only person there for about ten minutes.  I stretched out and tried to go over some common attacks and counters that I thought might help me out with Reed.  I've never sparred with Daniel so he was an unknown. …

Las Rodillas Dolor

I'm not sure what I did last night, but half way through the class my knees started sending out alerts related to their dissatisfaction. I presume that I hit a stance incorrectly or got my knee too far forward at some point which filled the rest of the class with punctuated yelps of pain.  
We had a new student in our regular class who was about 6 or 7 and we had Reed Sensei's daughter come back after a month off so the dynamics of the class shifted quite a bit.  I ended up going over Nifanshi Shodan with Charlotte and Neva for quite some time.  After that I worked on Kyoku Roku Dan three or four times with Daniel Sensei correcting different pieces and parts.  
After class I got to practice my weak side of the application about three or four times with a lot of focus on weak spots.  Since Mark was out sick I worked solely with Daniel which meant I was able to really move fairly quickly.  Thankfully he's incredibly patient with me and was totally tolerant about going over my …

Getting Up Is Hard To Do

And in the title I'm not referring to getting out of bed, but that comes with it's own challenges after 40.  I'm referring to getting off the floor after a foot sweep ends up putting you down.  

Before 40 and possibly a few years after I don't recall ever thinking about the process of getting up, but as time trundled on I became aware of the fact that doing a sit up was getting harder and harder.  I've completed several rounds of physical therapy for back problems and have always come out pain free, but as a result of the evaluation I had to give up certain exercises and learn new ones.  I honestly thought I was doing great, but the back thing has a certain way of compensating incorrectly and very subtly.  

My L5 has some issues that have been corrected by exercise and stretching.  Before I addressed it I would get the most exquisitely painful back seizures.  I haven't had one of those in over three or four years.  However, the damage has crept up the spine and n…

Smallest Measure

I suppose it was only a matter of time where I'd get a bit frustrated with Mark.  We are always working together and pretty much always on the same stuff.  We both show up early to class and work on our stuff so we can squeeze in as much practice as we can.  

About half way through class he started forgetting what the next move is.  Finally, I asked if he was having low blood sugar; the change was that rapid.  My guess is that he must have the same problems with me.  I can remember what's next, but attention to detail fails me as time goes on.  I notice that I can't remember my foot placement, but it gets better each week.  Mark can remember all that, but forgets the next move.  I guess we are perfect for each other.  

Progress is being measured by increments.  Reed Sensei went over our Kata and chiseled away at small issues.  I think I had more than six things to work on.  This mornings practice found me me going over piece after piece.  

We can now tear through the bunkai. …

Minor Milestone

I wasn't able to make it to Monday's class since I had to pick up my wife.  She was returning from a trip up North and it fell dead center in the middle of the classes.  As a good husband I swallow my tongue about my desire to get to class, but honestly I'm always a little glad to miss a class here and there due to wear and tear on the knees.  I just hate missing practice.

This was made painfully clear since it'd been a week since I got to work with Mark and we struggled warming up.  I really hope this was just due to focusing really hard on details, but it felt like Mark was really disoriented.

He said that he had to take multiple falls on the hardwood during Monday's class.  He was so sore that he got yelled at by his wife and doctor (who is a friend).  To get ahead of that we set up pads in case we were going to practice that stuff last night.  Although we didn't I felt better about being proactive.  I have no desire to get dropped over and over again. Reed Se…

A Moment Of Respite

Sensei Reed has the blackbelts in class on a text group so he can let us know if we are going to have afterclass .  99% of the time we have the class.  It's held at Daniel Sensei's parents garage.  As I've mentioned in the past, due to it's lack of insulation it can either be incredibly cold or equally hot during the summer.  

Due to the brutal cold snap we've been having going to afterclass is daunting.  I don't think I have circulation problems, but after an hour my hands and feet hurt.  And then it feels like it takes a day and half to get my body temperature up to normal. However, the second hour of instruction is fantastic because we have a narrow focus on the moves and get a lot accomplished.  

So it was equal parts sadness and glee when afterclass got canceled last night.  To compensate I went to class early.  This means that Mark and I can work out for a good half hour before class starts.  Unfortunately, for both of us our combined memory isn't alway…

Snowpocolypse Now

The Rose City is not known for snow at all.  The location secured from the ocean by a mountain range should ensure a moderated temperature all year around, but as each year passes the winter gets more wintery and the summer gets more summery.   This year the snow has come down and remains due to sub-zero temperatures. 

This means that business throughout the city is having a problem staying open because employees can't get to work.  In the case of class the place we go closed last week because they couldn't get anyone there to open up.  To add salt to the virtual wound our after class is held in Daniel Sensei's uninsulated garage.  It was in the 20's(F) last night and the garage was probably only around 60 at best.  Blue and white feet were definitely the word of the day. 
This is the third week in a row in which we might only have a single class during the week.  The new environmental problem is slightly warmer weather combined with freezing rain. 
Last night I went t…

Knee Cah Joe

It sounds like my Indian name doesn't it?  However in this case it means wrist locks.  Or maybe joint locks, but last night it was all about wrist locks.  Thankfully Noah was able to tell me it was Nikajo or Nikkyo. 

I'm very proud of my locks.  My old school took great lengths to train us to be able to apply them in a variety of forms and angles and yet I find myself being educated in news ways with Reed Sensei.  Usually a lock is applied by capturing your opponents hands against something.  In this case they have grabbed you by the wrist.  We use our other hand to hold it in place and then angle the wrist so the pressure goes against the joint in some horrific way.  

One thing I don't recall working on was escapes and counters.  We worked so hard on setting up and getting into position that I don't think it ever came up. The two big ones are getting super close to the other guy and getting so far out that the leverage is ruined.  I could feel that rush of understandin…