Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Burning All The Way

We lost every bit of Spring this year.  We went from the fifties to the eighties over night and it doesn't look we have any relief in site.  So this means Karate class is going to be insufferable due to the heat. 

Thankfully the club where we hold the class is air conditioned, but it appeared to be labored and just the barest activity brought the sweat out.  I probably wear the lightest of all our gis, but I was dribbling just trying to help a few of the tiny girls work on a kata.  There seems to be a regular ten children coming which is nice for the class, but it means that the old folks don't get to do much in terms of learning new stuff, but we are getting a lot in terms of teaching kids.

As I've grumped before that the kids can be challenging to me.  The two girls I got are cousins and love to laugh and giggle.  They are sweet and relatively nice, but they have a hard time digging into the details.  I'm afraid I'm not much of a teacher for that age group, but I know the kata they are learning so it's off to the races.  After a half hour I was much relieved to be given to Ivanna Sensei.

Ivanna is still in high school and is very quiet, but she's a second degree black belt and knows the material I'll be learning very well.  We reviewed Haku Cho and cleaned up some hand locations and chatted about the bunkai.  I hadn't realized that I needed to learn ten kata for my second degree.  I was under the impression it was five.  Whatever, I learn and move on.

Second hour (afterclass) was off because Daniel Sensei is moving, but Reed offered to go to the park if we wanted to train.  I wanted to train, but it was 92 degrees out.  No thanks. 

I surprised my wife by showing up early so we were able to have a date night on a Monday!

Thursday, May 18, 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. 

We got pool noodle swords and had regular matches instead of punching and kicking we were waving around the swords.  I actually caught myself laughing for a really long time, but upon leaving class I was returned to reality.  Yuck.

On a side note we are starting to build a website for the class.  If we get one regular student out of it we will have paid for in one month!

I still have to order my belt with name and school.  Getting a translation out of someone who can actually read and write in Japanese is a bit of challenge.  I'm concerned that I'll get something silly by accident.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

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 guess is that this is going to be the nature of things for some time.  Work on getting the kids up to their next belt and then work on our own stuff in the background.  It doesn't feel fair since we pay the same amount, but the focus of the school to maintain the current students is very important if we want to ever expand again. 

To that end I hope to start working on a rudimentary website for the class/school.  Reed Sensei's wife is open to the idea and working on a possible e-commerce idea so folks can pay through the site!  Talk about forward thinking.  I was just hoping to have something folks could find if they were searching online.

After class was pretty exciting in that I got to learn a new kata.  Haku Cho is the first of the bird style forms I have to learn for my second degree blackbelt.  The next part of my life is two years of White Crane kata in order to get there.  I'm a big bird!

Hopefully I'll be able to squeeze in a Kama (little scythes) as well.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Post Confirmation - Sh┼źdokan 140

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 second run through we got turned around and ended up completing the whole series as if I attacked again.  I was so embarrassed.  

The thing is that the confirmation doesn't come with any penalty connected to it.  So no matter how bad we messed things up we were going to get our certificate.  The point is to show commitment for a year be a good person.  I just felt chagrined that I didn't do the test as well as I could of, but I also feel chagrined that I put so much emotional stake that I felt embarrassed.  Mark was so relaxed about it.  He totally didn't care; he was just glad to be done.  

We spent the rest of the time judging other tests and reviewing the politics of the dojos and what new leadership meant.  Our Shihan is retiring and a leader from a nearby school is taking over.  There really isn't any wrinkles, but the minute details took hours of talking to sort out.  I surprised myself in taking an interest and hoping to participate a bit more in the workings of the dojo.  

I thought I would be more emotional at the ceremony, but I was too overwhelmed trying to figure out what to do and where to go to feel properly grounded in the moment.  I can say that it's better, because open weeping might have been too much.

Tater is second to the right

Thursday, May 04, 2017

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 spent a majority of the class running through the test and identifying any quick issues we could change in the next day.   So by the after class we'd done the run-through about two times.  During the after class we had another technical run of the test.  We did fairly well, but had two sticking points which drive me bananas.  However, the judges said it was fine and we should do fine. 

The intriguing advice was to keep thinking about two moves ahead and not so much on the current one.  I guess trust that when we are in action we do great, but if we start thinking we have a tendency to catch ourselves.  Durp!

To add to the excitement of the big day MaryAnn told me that when they went to get hotel rooms there was only one left.  A fact that I told them two weeks ago.  Now they are all going to share a room, so I feel like I should share my room to ease the crowding, but I got the room so I could have my own space.  Ah well, for the good of the order I suppose.  But, it sure is some poor planning for a group of folks that's done this for years.  I guess it's rare that the hotel is ever booked up.  It's not like we are going to have a lot time to hang out though.  I gather the whole evening can last till 1am, so we'll head to bed and crash and then get up and do it again the next day for the under belt testing. 

I took the day off tomorrow so I can sleep in. I don't want tomorrow to be filled with yawns as the evening plows on. 

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

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 literally spent the whole time covering all the questions that I could think of.  I was honestly a little thankful for the break.  I'm vaguely sore all over and Reed pointed out that he was very sore.  He's gone all in on training, but it sounds like a classic case of not giving himself enough time to rest.  Every day for hours at a time doesn't sound great, but he's a machine. 

Friday is the big day!

Monday, May 01, 2017

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 to be in the present.  Thankfully, Karate keeps me in the present, so I'm hoping tonight's practice goes well. 

Bassai in the park

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