Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Sh┼źdokan 120!

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 of twirling.  This guy has a pretty nice one:

I'm getting ahead of myself, but it's fun to look forward.  

I spent most of the class judging the brown's practice their test materials.  They have a huge amount of kata to remember with 40 bunkai.  Yikes!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

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 saddled with hyperactivity like so many others that have passed through.  Reed had me work with him on C-steps, downward blocks and punches.  He did pretty well with that so Reed had him work on the very first kata, which is just downward block and punch.  I was excused to work on my kata, but kept a vague eye on his interaction with Reed.  

Reed exudes some kind of vibe that makes people pay attention and it works with all ages.  It's like earnestness combined with a laser focus,  but it doesn't feel so intense that it's weird, but it helps you/me pay attention.  Anyway, he was working with Everett and then moved on.  The instruction was just to do the beginning of the first kata and repeat that over and over.  

After I got through most of my long kata I noticed that Everett was pretty much in the same place, but I heard some tears gearing up.  The two girls we have in class looked a little disoriented; unsure of what to do.  I finally went over and had a bit a chat.  

The weird part of this interchange was that I would normally hate this kind of thing, but I was drawn to figure out what was causing the problem.  After a few minutes I found out that he was upset because he forgot what he was supposed to do.  After I got him somewhat calm I pointed out that we all forgot, but that's why we practice.  So I worked with him until he relaxed.  

At the end of his class his Dad says, "well, I was going to buy a gi, but I guess we'll see if he wants to come back next time."  Well said Dad.  

After class was short for me.  I had a dinner with the neighbors so I could only get in about 30  minutes.  I worked mostly with Daniel Sensei and things went fairly well.  I got to work with Reed for about five minutes; specifically on removing what he calls "quarter movements".  These are the pieces where hands or hips move not in relation to what's going on.  I've had a problem with this in the kata, but hadn't put that in context with the application.  More to focus on!

Thursday, February 09, 2017

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.  Reed likes to blast in super fast when you show an opening so dealing with that is miserable.  I'm just not anywhere near his speed.

Once I got a little practice out of the way (on my application) we went to sparring. Daniel is a big thinker and not overly aggressive, preferring to be a responsive player.  So I often felt like I was pushing him into a corner, but as I got close he'd strike.  Before we worked out that dynamic we both exploded at the start with right punches and, bang!, both our fists contacted.  I actually had to stop for a minute from the pain - fearing that he broke one or more of my knuckles.  My hand functioned fine, but by the end of the night I had already developed a bruise.  My concern was a boxer's fracture; where the two knuckles over the ring and pinkie fingers are crushed.  Lucky me, this morning doesn't appear to be damaged.  

However, through the course of the evening, I had all kinds of impacts, but didn't really notice them due to sweet, sweet adrenaline.  When I got out of the shower last night I noticed my middle toe was black and bleeding out of the nail.  So I'm not sure it it's broken or just smashed to pieces.  I'm walking very slowly and taking ibuprofen. Definitely not optimal.  Doing kata this morning was terrible and that was only made worst by a terrible night sleep.  Hopefully, this will be good by Monday and I can go about my business in class with minimal degradation.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

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 week sections repetitively. 

My knees are better this morning, but still feel a bit janky.  I'm studying Spanish on the side and thought the direct translation of sore knees was hilarious.  The knees sick or sad (that would have been triste, which is funnier).  

Thursday, February 02, 2017

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 now an area higher appears immobilized.  I don't experience pain like with the L5, but I occasionally get a twinge that feels like someone put my finger in an electrical socket.  

Ironically, the subtle nature of the infirmity was helped along by my old school.  We were big on seiza (being seated on your knees with feet crossed in the back).  And to stand from seiza you don't use your hands to stand up.  So over the course of several years anytime I was on the ground (working in the yard or what have you) I'd stand from a seiza like position. 

Fast forward to the last couple of years.  Now that I'm in a school that puts me on my back more and more frequently and the getting up position is never from seiza.  I'm literally flat on my back and I'm not supposed to be rolling on my side and pushing myself up.  I have now been taught now to rock myself up, tuck my leg underneath me, go to a one knee kneeling position, and then up into a zenkutsu-dachi.  I can do this but it doesn't look very smooth.  Kind of like a turtle getting back up, but less elegantly.

So I went to my PT and he gave me some very basic exercises to regain flexibility in my lower back.  I can see the progress when I try to bring my leg up to put on socks and things like that, but to do a sit up remains an activity fraught with pain. I should mention that I do everything I can do keep a healthy gut.  I do daily ab work containing crunches, climbers and hanging knee ups.  So I know my stomach is strong but if I can't get past a certain point, like 1/4 of the way up all the muscles in the world can't move me beyond that point.


This griping came as a result of class last night.  Mark and I are learning each other's side now and it got a bit smoother after we did it about 10 times.  I'm hellaciously sore from the activity, including my right knee whiched is bruised enough to be sensitive this morning just doing some exercises.  Weeee. 

Bassai in the park

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