Wednesday, April 26, 2017

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 shoulder and his hands were taking handfuls of my skin.  When I took my top off later I could already see the black and blues starting.  That's going to look stellar tomorrow.

So that wore me down pretty well, but it was off to after class.  They had us run through a practice test.  We had four judges and then made us do everything twice to make it a bit more difficult.  I was wheezing horribly at midpoint, but we made it through.  Without going into too much detail about the corrections (because at this point it's become ad nauseam) the main point I came up with is to keep my mouth shut and try to recover as smoothly as possible after an error.

Today's practice was from 3:45 to 7:30.  I still have to pick my wife up at the airport at 10pm.  I see a short, hard night of sleep tonight.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

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 just aren't going to be able to much more.  Frankly, I'm still fascinated that he's spotting stuff that I've actually forgotten and have had to re-add.  

I finished my on-call week on Friday, but didn't get any additional practice this weekend.  Which is a shame, but at the same time I need a break from it.  I'm definitely at the point where the repetition is becoming onerous.  I'll be glad to be doing something a bit different. 

So I returned to the regular class last night and it was back to the schedule.  However after warmup was complete Mark and I were directed to run through the test.  I welcome the practice.  Since Mark hasn't been able to practice for nearly a week his rust was showing.  After three runs we looked pretty good.  However, I notice if we do it around six times he starts mixing up portions of the kata.  If I make a mistake we fall apart as well.  

After class we ran through the class with only a few corrections in the kata portion.  Almost no corrections in the bunkai and then it was on to the applications.  We had a few hiccups, but the second time we looked pretty good!  

Now to make hotel reservations! 

Friday, April 21, 2017


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 warmed up it was enjoyable to be helping, but last night after I got out of the shower I noticed I was pretty stiff.  This morning was not enjoyable getting out of bed.  Urgh.

However, the savagery of the session was what I needed.  The continuing flow of information about my Mom and Dad is like being punched in the gut over and over.  Karate provided a nice escape for several hours.  Coming back to the empty house wasn't great.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

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 again tonight to run through stuff again, but I was unable to practice much.  So hopefully I'll fix a few things tonight.

Monday, April 17, 2017

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 our long application string.  We picked up a few fixes (open hands with closed fingers, and step this way not the other), but by and large we looked pretty good.

I'm glad we are fairly decent because my mind is occupied with all kinds of issues with my Mom.  My wife, who is retired, is heading out to the east coast tonight to be with my parents for a couple of days.  Organizing care and getting insurance to pay for it is a learning experience for everyone.  I'll be going out the weekend after my test.  

Thursday, April 13, 2017


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 to go.  We practiced before class and got the first half of class to work on some of the test material.  The second half was dedicated to "self defense".  In actuality we worked on our elbow techniques.  The moves are considered something of a Shudokan thing.  I don't think we are doing anything that would be considered earth shattering or unique, but they are "fun" and interesting.  About half way through we went into choking.  We worked on escape and such.  At end of class everyone had red necks and messed up hair.  A sign of a good class.

After class consisted of me and Mark going through the test components.  Lots of fine tuning, but by the time I left we were looking fairly good.  With 21 days to go I think we can still work on being better, but for the first time I'm feeling very good about where we are at.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

23 Days To Go (Sh┼źdokan 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 dread and relief.  I ended up talking to him for forty minutes.

I got to go to after class and had Daniel Sensei work on my testing stuff.  Concentrating on the details was a nice way not to think about my problems. 

I guess technically this is my 130th class because Reed and Daniel came over to my house to work out Sunday morning for a couple of hours.  We go one in, but they were able to point out a huge amount of corrections in the simpler of the two kata I have to do.  Being able to make those corrections in the next twenty-three days will be a challenge, but nothing they gave me we was horrible. 

Before they left they started talking about what was next for me.  Mark has apparently told them that he no longer wants to work on testing or a next rank, but simply train.  The wear and tear and/or boredom and repetition was bringing him down.  I have the choice of three schools of style to chose from which is a departure from both their experience.  Apparently, students are not pleased with the next sequence to 2nd degree.  But honestly I don't know any better so I'm fine with whatever they have to offer. 

Thursday, April 06, 2017

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 love. 

At one point Mark was lamenting how frustrated he was on such a small kata and why was it taking so much effort to clean up.  I pointed out that within a half hour we'd cleaned up 80% of our errors with no problem.  Honestly, I was feeling the same, but I noticed that we could fix almost everything within one session.  That in itself was tremendous.  To compare, it's taken us a year to learn the basics, relearn the basics and continuously refine.  A half hour is awesome.

After class was more of the same with even more refinement.  Hopefully Mark and I can get together this weekend and get a little practice in, but organizing our schedules is going to be a nightmare. 

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

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 we get going on practice all that stuff leaves us behind for the time being.  Reed Sensei has asked us to practice the test each Monday and then work on the bits and pieces that need to be addressed each Wednesday. 

Mark and I howled through the test and needed refinement here and there, but it looks like we'll have enough time to look pretty as we can be for the big show.

We go up on the Friday and test that evening.  We overnight and then we can participate in the Color belt testing the next day, but I imagine Mark and I will head back in the morning.


The part of the class that tends to disgruntle Mark is that as Black Belts we are expected to teach as much as we learn.  However, I'm about worthless because I know none of the beginner kata.  So Reed will often teach me very quickly and I'll be directed to teach the youngest children.  Last night I got two 6 year old girls.  About half way through class I was starting to thinking my karma was coming back from something I did long ago. 

However, I would probably complain about whatever he passed my way, but if I have to do it every class session I can definitely channel my inner Mark. 

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