Thursday, March 30, 2017

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 be like the hardened, condescending folks I've met off and on, but this guy is the exact opposite.  He has an incredible sense of humor about the art, himself and everything around him.  When he's doing the kata he's very earnest, but that's where it ends.  I don't think I've even met such a silly man.  Every story is filled with matching faces and usually self-effacing references which in something horrible has happened to him.  

I spent a majority of the class working with the three new kids.  We worked on the first elbow technique ad nauseam, but they didn't complain.  The only thing I had to work on was their family dynamics.  The standard, "you're kicking too hard", "no the other way", and so on.  However, I believe they'll have it down pretty good by the next time they have to do it.

After class Mark and I worked on the "test".  Each time we work together it gets better and better. I stumble here and there and so does he, but it's getting smaller and smaller in the overall scheme of the work.  That's a distinct pleasure.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

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 took a massive hit to membership.  I believe all the kids grew up! 

So our three new students were probably 7 through 10 and seemed keen on learning the basics.  I got them for the first half hour to teach them walking through zenkutzudachi and added some punching.  I gather there interested came from watching the Karate Kid movie.  I wonder how old Ralph Machio is now days?

Just before we were leaving to go to after class I got called out to work.  It was extra frustrating because when I finally got all the information I ended up not being needed.  Thankfully Mark and I both showed up early and practiced before hand and then got to spend the end of the class practicing.  I would like more of course, but we are getting a nice groove going on and I'm feeling a little better each time.  Hopefully Wednesday I can have two hours worth and we can get a lot of practice in then.

I just need my wife to proof my paper and I'll be able to turn that in with the testing fee.  I just don't want to forget that until the last minute.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

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 days until we go through our confirmation up in Yakima.   Naturally, I want to be the best I can, but I find it very tough to really fine tune a lot of what we are doing.  This is a problem because I don't want to be so burned out on the work that I can't pay attention to detail, but keeping it fresh is tough.

To this end Reed gives us small challenges to keep us in the moment.  Last night it was to count how many times we had a heart guard in one of our katas and then to rate each other on how correctly we are doing it.  I count six, but I'm unsure how well I'm doing it.  Wednesday, Mark will judge me and we'll find out.

Reed said that we were pretty much ready to go, but the month will be all about being as best as we can.  Correcting this and that, but the biggest change is how I do the kata now.  One; one-two, pause.  Giving the kata proper and/or dramatic timing to show control and power.  I so used to just running through it.  This gives it a fresh take. 

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A week off and post cold I was pretty washed out during the first half hour of class.  After providing critique to others I did kata and was pretty winded.  Hopefully the allergy symptoms will pass in the next month and I'll be well rested. 

Thursday, March 09, 2017

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 what the judges look for and play the old tapes of fights in my head.  I had literally won three of four matches in previous competitions by getting walloped by over enthusiastic competitors, not by any fancy moves on my part. 

I've got a big bruise on one ankle that's going to take a while to heal (a week?), but I didn't break anything so that's good.  Reed caught me on the chin pretty good at one point and I got to see some sparks, but nothing horrible. 

After class was just practicing the application portion over and over again.  This time it was all me as the attacker.  This was my original position and I've become quite rusty so that took a lot of going back over.  We finished up working on the bunkai and cleaning up a lot of stuff. 

I made the decision not to go to the Yakima tournament.  I'm going to be gone the next weekend so I can't give that up and fall behind on work at the house.  Frustrating, but in the end the best choice I could make.



Tuesday, March 07, 2017

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'd have to dust off one of the few I know on the side and present that.  So the rest of the class was spent on practicing the kata even if were weren't going.  I have to admit it was a nice change in pace to practice something different and focus on cleaning it up.  So I was back to Wando with Mark and MaryAnn Sensei.  With the three of us at it at the same time we were able to generate a very clean presentation. 

After class was dedicated to practicing the Kyoku application till we were blue in the face.  Since Mark and I have switched sides we have a stuttering approach to the kata.  So I broke each section down to were he couldn't remember a piece and made him do it over and over again.  I thought we looked pretty good, but we when went back to our original sides (where I was the attacker) we fell apart.  I couldn't remember a lot of transitions.  More practice!  Only two months to go!

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Good stories from past tourneys.  One part of the process is called "entertainment". 
 - A bunch of folks dress in Star Wars stuff, with light sabers, having a sword fight.  A child dressed as Yoda comes in and beats them all.
- An old guy comes in and does a kata and some guy heckles him from the audience.  He ends up coming down and getting beat by the old man.
- Big choreographed fight scenes.

It might be the head Sensei's last tourney.  He's getting a bit older now and this takes a lot of effort.  The 40th anniversary 

Thursday, March 02, 2017

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 on doesn't seem insurmountable.  In fact this morning I was able to remember one or two points to work on.  

In addition to this confirmation the review committee with ask if we want to add anything.  Assuming we can learn some more stuff we might be showing European blocking or the advance elbow techniques.  Time will tell.

Regular class was a bit of a blur.  I worked with the kids on a new move so we all stumbled through that a bit and then did my kata a bunch of times.  

The countdown is on!


Tourney Bound?

Hey All.  I went back at it last night.  "It" meaning I went for the two hours since my cold has passed and my regular level of fi...