Thursday, December 20, 2018

Post Vacation Review

My wife and I got invited to our friends house in Mexico and it was the perfect antidote to the cold temperatures and endless darkness of the Thorn city. Even now I'm looking at my cold fingers while I'm typing and wishing I was back down there looking out across the bay in my shorts. 

At the very least I was able to get back in time to get to class last night.  We are going into a tiny bit of shutdown for Xmas and New year so I was anxious to get to class and get some directed practice in.  

At the Black Belt class we jumped right into a test practice.  Since I'd been practicing and fairly well, I thought, I gave off the energy of confidence.  However, the first two kata got somewhat messed up, we missed a kata somehow and then I didn't depend on myself and ended up forgetting where I was in a kata.  Not a great show.  However Reed said that we were ahead of schedule and looking reasonably well.  

We were also told that the blackbelts prepping for testing would be heading up to Eugene for a day in the new year to meet with Albert Sensei for test critique.  I gather this is a special deal since this hasn't been done before.  He's been practicing for 50 years and has an attention to detail that is phenomenal.  Last time we met, a few years ago, he was suffering from some physical issues, but gave as much as he could and had a very good attitude.  

In regular class we completed the test practice because we didn't get the last kata in during the black belt club.  After that, we each got 5 minutes to chose whatever we wanted to work on.  I ended up picking European blocking because I'm mystified by it.  It's not necessarily complicated, but I can't seem to get ahold of it.  Some showed up with as a demonstration at one of the Shudokan schools and the Shihan there said, "oh man, that's cool.  We should add this to the blackbelt test."  Since I didn't do the formal brown to black here I missed out on this bit.  I can't find a video on the youtubes, but it's a east/west north/south drill in four parts.  The four parts are broken into attack and defense and then move to the next position.  Done fast it's very cool and show all the basics in one package.  

My NiDan partner, Olivia, chose to work on our stances  - in this case neko, the cat stance.  To help us out Reed Sensei place a staff in our belts along our back to ensure a proper upright stance.  Very eye opening as I tend to lean forward to look low.  My back was pretty sore by the time we finished that.  So much to learn!

Have a happy holidays!

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Daygrinder and Bluetoe

It sounds like the title to a new buddy action comedy set in a dystopic waste land in the future, but in reality it's just two facets of my life from the last week.  

The Bluetoe refers to the color of my toenails last night while we did a run through of the test in Sensei's garage.  Alas, his wife had forgotten to turn the space heater on earlier.  Although we couldn't see our breath, the room felt like it was in the mid 50s (f) the whole time we were there.  We were extra vigorous just to keep warm.  No dilly-dally for us.  I believe we finished in about 45 minutes.  Record time.

About two weeks ago I bit down extra hard and knocked a chunk of tooth off a molar.  The pain was exquisite.  After the dentist had removed the shard and repaired the spot she said that I needed to get a night guard as I showed signs of grinding my teeth.  After making an appointment I realized that I forgotten to mention that I wear retainers and my teeth can't actually touch one another at night.  I was then told that I'm a daygrinder.  Now I'm painfully aware that I do it all the time.  Trying to stop it is a poorly drawn battle line.

Last night after the test run through we did something I can't recall doing in ages - kicking drills!  We ran through front, shove, side, step through and wheel kicks.  I thought I was going to be crippled this morning, plus all the lumps I took from my co-kickers, but I'm delighted to tell you only my pinky toe seems to be giving me any trouble.  I'm going to keep moving around today as much as possible in fear of stiffening up.

The highlight to all that was I was experiencing a lot of anxiety because I wanted to protect my already messed up toes and was concerned that I was unable do the kicks anymore.  To my delight I was still able to do a roundhouse to Kyle's six foot head.  Lucky me.  

We did a lot of self-defense kinds of things and that's when I noticed those of us who were at the garage session had blue toenails.  It was like the march of the living dead karateka.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

New Guy Dave

Our text feed was filled with people saying they couldn't make one or both of the classes last night.  Although that's a bummer generally speaking, it means that the class was going to be small or a private lesson.  I used to be frustrated by that, but now I'm definitely down with the attention to detail it provides and the longer periods of time we can spend on single parts of exercises.  

The black belt extra class, which meets at Sensei's house between the general class and the adult class requires a drive to the South which can take anywhere between fifteen to 40 minutes depending on traffic.  For whatever reason I got all green lights and ended up second.  Very unusual for me.  The class ended up being Mya, Mark, Sensei and me.  Perfect class.

We went through as much of the test as we could in forty-five minutes.  By the end we had made it through seven kata and their bunkai.  Not bad, but the slow up was due to Sensei's attention to detail on the bunkai.  It mean lots of restarts and conversation.

I finally got to meet our latest addition to the adult class, Dave.  A silver-haired guy that reminds me of the consummate ex-Californian.  You can practically visualize this guy surfing.  I found out later that he was a student of John Sells who our Sensei studied under from time to time.  Dave lives almost an hour away so he appears to be very invested in the class time.

Because Dave has been out of practice, Reed is taking some extra time to go over the basics.  In my experience this can be trying because the basics are something we do with the kids and can be boring even if you are focusing on your stances and getting things correct.  However, since Dave has been around since back in the day, the basics took on several layers of complexity.  Simple drills became very complex as step and step were added.

We finished the class with a little kata.  I was able to teach Haku Cho to Sarah for a bit which was nice, but we ended up having a discussion about teaching method.  I've definitely got a learning curve there.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Finally! I Get To Teach An Adult

It's not that we aren't helping each other all the time, but acting in the role as a teacher specifically to pass recent knowledge is pretty exciting.  

The two folks that made it through their year of confirmation have both decided as of last night to follow the track to Ni Dan using the Birds package.  

Blocks of Kata and their associated Bunkai/Oyo are called packages in Shudokan parlance.  In my case I'm doing the "bird" package.  At least five of the kata are straight up white crane kata derived from an ancestor of ours that when to China to learn martial arts.  So we have the version that has been filtered through Japanese culture, but it's pretty recognizable by anyone for what it is.  The remaining kata were selected over the years as the default for one reason or the other.

Starting with me (or my skill level in this year) we were given the option to select a different package which contained five Shotokan kata and five Riuryu kata.  I stuck with tradition and the fact that I sort of knew two of the kata (Wando and Rohai) to help me make my choice.

When the two new sho dans (Sarah and Kyle) had the "talk" with Sensei they both went with the traditional, aka "the birds". To me the talk was kind of a big deal.  I was aware that I was making a choice about what I was going to be doing religiously for the next two years and these both gave off the air of nonchalance when they did it.  So much for tense considerations.  I was worried that everyone would blow off the birds because they seem so weird, but so far there are four of us following that path.  Since Olivia and I are a year and half in we get to be close in teachers.  

During class we were able to start the process of teaching Kyle and Sarah.  However, with the both of us saying different things it turned into a hash pretty quickly.  Way too much information for them to absorb.  We found that when we taught them one on one we did way better.  Learning to teach all over again.  

A side note - now that we are getting the bunkai down, Reed and Daniel are adding to the few moves to make them more complex.  Yikes, more to remember when everything seems so tenuous.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

A Rat!

Sensei sent out a message on the text chain letting us know that someone had contacted the local code enforcement officer about running a business out of his garage.  Namely our class!  Consequently he didn't want us there to practice between classes until he sorted it out. 

A side effect of this issue is that it has lit a fire under Sensei about finding a place.  However, a brief conversation about rent prices really shocked me.  Just finding a space in an out of the way strip mall costs around $6000 freedom dollars!  How does anyone stay in business?!

We all realize that if we had our own place it would be so much easier to train.  Some of the students train three classes in a row twice a week because that's all that's available.  That's really pushing it for some of the kids in school.  By the time we get out of the last class (8:30) I'm ready to hit the sack and they still have hours of homework.  It doesn't make for a conducive learning environment. 

By yesterday afternoon Sensei finished up with the city and straightened out the code.  Since it's just us coming to work out and no money is being passed around they were cool.  But the question remains, who dropped a dime on Sensei?  We better getting Scooby Doo.

Last night was a lot of detail work on a few of my katas and during the class it was a lot of basics exercise.  My feet and legs are killing me today.  Brutal and made it easy to sleep.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Forgotten Notes

Hey Everybody!

Oh man, it's been a long time since I've posted.  Where did the time go and all that?  I keep forgetting to write in the blog the day after.  Too much going in life, but I am still remaining as consistent as I can be with class and practice.

As I mentioned in previous posts I'm on the log slog towards my Ni Dan (2nd degree) test in early May.  If I didn't describe it in the past each exam in the Shudonkan school is from a different style.  This is a reflection of the schools roots, when it was simply a place for anyone to practice.  So many people from many styles would come and hang out, but instead of cross pollinizing the school chose to learn the style of the other folks as best they could.

So the first test, Sho Dan, is a smattering of some in house (proprietary) kata and technique and some ground level stuff from other Okinawan school.  The second degree is mostly bird kata.  And when I say bird kata I mean it.  It's 90% white crane from Wushu that's been modified for Japanese sensibility and finally practiced by my tall, gringo ass.

The third is all Gjo Ryu and in the fourth the practitioner is encouraged to find a style and learn it.  Fun stuff.

In my case, and the rest of the tests as well, you are required to perform ten kata in that style and execute 10 bunkai that take a piece of the kata and transform it into a technique.  There are set bunkai (a two man pre-staged) given to us by the teachers, but as of late Reed has been encouraging us to invent our own.  Considering the massive effort we've been putting into the kata developing bunkai feel likes it's insurmountable.  Neither Olivia or myself are given to being creative in that area and just learning the basics has been challenging enough.  We've still got six months so there is still room to amplify if we can.

In an attempt to do better, I've started taking private lessons with Daniel sensei so I can amplify my regular practice.  I just started that last Saturday and it was eye-opening about how much I can work on.  My new normal is taking notes and trying to undo bad practice or add in things I've missed.

So, for the few of you that do read this I apologize about the absence.  I'll try to keep up!

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Ten In Thirty

I apologize for not writing frequently, but that's mostly because I update the blog while I'm at work.  The issue is the new job doesn't have a lot of slack time for to think deeply about my Karate practice.

I recently started moving my practice around so it resembles the test as closely as I can make it.  This means I do all ten kata in a row.  Because I'm not stopping to do the Bunkai between each form I can basically do the whole thing in around a half hour. 

As a result I've found my weak spots in my kata which is great, but absolutely infuriating. I had definitely thought I had everything nailed down way better than I do.  I also learned that I need to practice this everyday because little practiced katas have a tendency to fall apart when not touched upon at least every three days.

I think I've mentioned that I had a few weeks of 10 to 11 hour work days and as a result I have crippling pain in my left hip and right ankle.  I literally sat so long I compressed and shrunk tissue in my hip.  I also tend to cross my ankles for long periods of the time. The result ended up doing the same in my ankle.  So it was back to the PT to sort out all that stuff.  Walking is painful and running doesn't work at all. This means much of karate can be fairly painful. 

I'm back to taking Ibuprofen once a day and icing several times a day.  Warming up and stretching have become pretty important and I should have more conscious of it in the past.

Notes from class:
- Kyle and Sarah are off to Yakima to do their confirmation exam this exam.  I sure wanted to be there.
- Our youngest member of the adult class, Maia, is a new Brown belt.  She's learning and retaining at a phenomenal rate.  I'm super jealous of that.
- Reed, Daniel, and Olivia are off to tournament on the 12th.  There are doing a three person demo based on the kata Wando.  I'm experiencing a bout of jealousy.  I'd love to do something like that, but time is the villain.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

So Much Wando

It's been a couple of weeks!  Work turned into a bit of a nightmare.  I've been working 10 to 12 hours days for about 10 days straight now.  The exhaustion didn't leave me much time to do anything, but eat dinner and go to sleep and then do it all over again.

The emergency is slowly resolving give me some more time to myself.  And maybe I'm getting used to the long days, but in any case I was able to go to class for the first time in awhile.  Let's just say that my performance was less than adequate in my own mind.  But the occasional practice I've been doing kept me from looking like a total failure.  Olivia and I ripped through out list of test katas in 45 minutes.  I didn't look good on two of the bigger ones, but the speed made me feel good.

In the main class we focused on a single kata, Wando, and I was able to refine that pretty darn well.  Lots of things I'd missed in the pass.  I took about 15 minutes to work with one of our new Brown belts, Mia.  I'm not impressed with my ability to be objective with another persons kata, but I did find a few things to target that caught my eye so maybe I'm not that horrible afterall.

After class finished Reed, Daniel and Olivia practiced their big demo for the next tournament.  An incredible fight scene for the entertainment portion of the day.  They used Wando as the base and created a fight scene based on all the moves.  Lots of fun and bodies flying.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

A Twist In The Test

As I've reported before, I'm on the long slog to the test so there isn't much to add on a weekly basis.  I'm just trying to remember and be better with the things I need to know while balancing the real life stuff.

As you will recall part of the test is to do the Bunkai.  Bunkai is a series of moves that come from the kata that acted out by two people.  One acts as the aggressor (they are the Uke) and they are the loser in the show.  I have ten kata so I have ten Bunkai to learn. So far in the process, they have not been the emphasis, so learning them has been a bit of a challenge.  We've only touched on them fleetingly so it feels like a struggle to learn them. 

The new wrinkle was that Olivia (my test partner) and I were told yesterday that we were now encouraged to make our own bunkai for the test!  This was is a fairly large change, but we now have till May to sort this out.  Olivia and I are supposed to invent them and then present them to the Sensei and he'll say good or use the standard.  In one or two cases we've decided to use the standard because there isn't anything that would be better.  But the whole shock here is that we getting this as an option.  This is normally set for the third and fourth degree folks.  

As part of the process we also needed to pick a theme.  Olivia is pushing for fast and specific, like a bird.  I like it, but I'll need to pick moves that I can do that look fast.  She's actually fast.  Hah.

Temperatures have finally dropped and we can breath outdoors again.  Too bad it means the fall is coming, but what a relief.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Orange Skies

The Thorn City is currently covered in a cloud of ash produced by the West coast fires.  Air quality is getting close to Beijing on a bad day.  So I'm definitely not encouraged to do anything vaguely athletic outside, but the skies are beautiful at sunrise and sunset. Well, there were up until last night when the view started looking like something out of bladerunner.

Even though we are getting to the point where we are all supposed to be wearing masks I slogged up to Sensei's house to practice.  He thankfully had the garage doors closed, but the garage felt like an oven.  We reviewed older kata and did our first few kata before time ran out.  

Part of Olivia and my home is to name the bunkai to help us remember what they are.  So far I've got:
- haku cho
- haku cho dai means on in the eye
- hakutsuru no Onna means go hard
- hakutsuru no Ottko means go soft (pretty hands)

I'm stuck there because it didn't really help me sort out what I was supposed to be doing, but it's a start.

Class was thankfully back in the airconditioned room and we more or less repeated the same things we did at BB class, but while I had Mark going through some fine tuning, Olivia, Reed and Daniel were practicing a three-man attack for competition.  It's based on Wando and although I couldn't see what was going on there did seem to be a lot of bodies in the air.  The problem with not going to the competitions is that I'm missing out on a lot integrational fun with the others.  

My next assignment is to figure out how to get video of the bunkai for better memorization.  

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Good Kind Of Sore

In my late twenties I wanted to be a body-builder.  I grew up long and thin and was incredibly self-conscious about it.  I hated wearing shorts when I was in high school because my knee joints were the largest part of my legs.  You could hang hats and coats off my hip bones.  Needless to say that drove me pretty hard to put on weight when I had the time to put into it.  Over the years I became "normal" and made many friends at the gym.  At one point I was working out with my friend Jerry, who was an actual competing body builder, I made the comment, "I can't wait to be big like you so I won't be sore anymore."

This was met with laughter combined with disbelief. 

"You know it's part of the process.  You'll continue to be sore forever.  You recognize it for what it is - muscle growth.  It's a bit masochistic,"  he said.

I can remember being so disappointed, but over the years I realized it was a built-in feedback mechanism.  If you did everything just right you grew, but if you overdid it, rest was the only thing that helped and that threw off your schedule. 

But I digress.  Due to small class sizes the last two classes have been dedicated to more self defense related material.  Last Wednesday Reed wanted to cover the advanced techniques his daughter would need to learn for her next exam.  Each of these included an Aikido wrist twist/takedown, followed by an arm bar.  Thankfully I'd done this in my old school, so a lot of the muscle memory still remains.  The lead-in's were all new, but it still meant that I had to take falls over and over again.  I wasn't too sore last Thursday, but today was a different story. 

My wife and I moved a 1000lb chicken house and poured cement for three days.  I went to class last night after moving 60lb bags of cement in the afternoon heat.  Thankfully, when I got to BB class we just worked on kata in front of the fans.  I was probably partially dehydrated, but did well considering it was basically a private lesson for an hour.  Car accidents, work and family issues got in the way of everyone else.

Regular class was just Reed, Jonah and me.  So it was back to take downs, trips and throws from the kata Rohai Shodan.  I had no idea there was so much to draw from, but it was a lot of fun.  I was fairly exhausted by the whole process of getting up over and over again. 

On the way home I drank two liters of water due to thirst, but that meant I'd have to get up in the middle of the night to pee.  Sure enough at 2 am I had to pry myself out of bed and was met with the stiffest body I've had in a while. 

When my alarm went off at 5:20 I was barely able to move.  My feet felt swollen and my legs and knees felt locked up.  After a warm shower (barely tolerable in the heat) I was able to move around.  After a few katas and some basic exercises I felt "normal" again.  I realized when I went up the steps at work I had that good kind of sore.  It lets you know your alive and you feel vitality through every move. 

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Notes from the Long Slog

I'm not filled with the muse to write at the moment, but here are some notes.

It's been two weeks since I've been to class.  Good news is that the recent colonoscopy only had two pre-cancerous polyps - both removed.  I'm clear for another three years, but that was a missed class night.  I didn't come out of the anesthesia as well as I had before. Thankfully my wife drove.

With nine months ago, I imagine all I'm going to be writing about is test prep.  So katas and bunkai and probably not much else.  

Progress took a bit of a back step for me since I didn't practice as intensely as I should have while I was out.  This showed as we went through the newer kata.  Aggravating. 

Monday is kata night and basics night.  The bb class was at 90 degrees plus again.  I can't believe how much water I go through and still remain thirsty.  We managed to get through first five kata with their bunkai.

During regular class we worked on Wando most of the class, because we have a returning student from years ago, Jonah.  So it was a refresher for him and helped refine for me.

At the end Olivia and I worked with Daniel on Ni Pi Po.  I could only remember the first half and we ended up running through it many times for me.  They are very nice.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

A Lovely Day For Big Bird

There was a break in the heat finally, but I was leaving on vacation today so I wanted to get a little training in before I left so I chose the first hour of class (the black belt session) which is held at Sensei Reed's house.  When the class gets a little big we end up practicing in his front yard.  I guess the old adage would be that the lawn is good training for our feet.  Anyway here's the progress video.

Nothing to brag about, but at least I have a lot of basic movements down.  The big deal is that it's my tenth kata so it's nothing but refinement for the next 8 months.  That and learn the ten bunkai as well.  Right now I can remember maybe one or two.  Stay tuned for a plethora of badly filmed techniques.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Big Bird Six

Last week I was up North for a week of work training, but I was able to practice every day, so I was looking forward to Monday night.  I was assuming that we'd just be working on the last few Katas, but to my surprise we started Hakutsuru, the big daddy of the bird kata. 

I should mention that the heat here in the Thorn city has really taken off.  Thankfully the humidity is relatively low, but it makes traveling to Sensei's house a psychological challenge.  We practice in his garage and under normal circumstances it's fine, but the high temperature make it oven-like.  

So I showed up with my extra water bottles and Reed said let's jump in to work!  

Hakutsuru is the longest of the bird kata and it encompasses all the cool moves from all the other bird katas, making it long and confusing to me.  The beginning of the kata is called the yoy (spelling?).  Its the part where you bow in, but each family of katas is different and unique.  Hakutsuru appears to take a portion of each yoy and layer it on one another.  Our joke was that whoever designed this one was in a pissing contest with the senseis and made his the most fancy he could muster.  

So I got that part sort of under my belt, but struggled with remembering what came next this morning.  I need to practice all the katas so I don't start forgetting.  

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Half In The Bag

I certainly came across with a lot of bravado about my retention of the two katas I most recently learned, Ni Pi Po and Rohai Shodan.  That hubris was rewarded with a memory wipe of two or three portions of the katas.  Overweening confidence! How you mock me.

So I was very pumped to get to practice yesterday to cover those gaps.  I jumped right in with Olivia and Reed Sensei and felt pretty good about it.  Olivia coached me through a few gaps while videoing.  

Not as talented as most of the videos out there, but not horrible either.  Maybe in a month or so it'll be a bit better.  

We were also reminded that our testing will occur in April of 2019.  A small change is that it sounds like all the returning blackbelts are also eligible.  Whereas before I thought Olivia was out for another year beyond that, she, Kevin and Terry, might be good to go.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Wednesday Means Fight Night

Somewhere in the middle of last year Reed Sensei said that we'll be doing quarterly assignments to come into line with the main school.  Part of this is adjusting our schedule so we are more systematic with our lessons.  So Monday is Kata/basics and Wednesday is bunkai/sparring. 

This schedule allows us know what's coming up.  In the past sparring was a bit of a surprise, but not that it was bad, but it was infrequent.  For whatever reason we haven't had sparring in a while.  The focus has been bunkai for the last couple of months so needless to say most of us were out of practice.

The Black Belt class mostly focused on Bunkai from our various testing cycles.  Of course the guy studying for his forth degree had the most interesting stuff.  The few of us working on bird katas have fairly make sense kinds of things.  Daniel sensei's stuff contains great throws and arm bars.  We worked on Ka Ku Fa which is three birdy hand strikes and a eye smack.  It can be done very fast which is cool. 

Regular class was mostly preparation exercises for sparring.  Lots of leg work and then rapid punching drills.  Daniel Sensei wanted to work on training fast twitch muscles, but the exercise was pretty grueling so by the time I got to punch in sparring everything was really slow.

We only got four five point matches due to the length of the exercises.  Mark and me sparred poorly so our match went on forever.  Definitely not our best work. 

I'm strangely sore today and wished I had some ibuprofen to ease my back muscles. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Ni Pi Po In The Bag

In a flurry of productivity I was able to get Ni Pi Po completed.  I'm not saying it looks good, but I can get through it in a halting fashion.  This is notable because I'd just finished Rohai Shodan the week before.  Although I'm using the word "completed" you should know that this means that I can make it through the kata with zero timing and zero elegance and probably a plethora of mistakes. 

My progress report as of Monday night:

Haku Cho
Haku Cho Dai
Hakutsuru no Onna
Hakutsuru no Otoko
Ka Ku Fa
Koryu Ni Pi Po
Ni Pi Po
Rohai Shodan

I'm a year and a month in since I've started this.  Reed says this is excellent progress and way ahead of schedule.  The regular schedule is to get all the kata complete by one and half years.  The last six months is all about refining as much as possible.  In my case I'll need as much time as can to make sure I stop making larger mistakes.

So one more to learn which is the largest of the bird katas.  I also need to learn five more bunkai.  I think I've got the first five, but since we haven't touched on them too much I can't recall what I do and don't know.  I need to get those recorded so I can reference them easier and post there here for your viewing pleasure.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Rohai In The Bag

After a brief introduction to Rohai months (years?) ago I'd completely forgotten even the few moves, but was left with a vague sense of a few of the moves.  But, as part of my exam, it's one of the kata I need to know.  Everyone in class actually knows this because it's considered a fairly elementary form.  All the better for me since I was able to pick it all up last night after doing it about twelve times.  The proof being that I was able to do it this morning even without practicing it last night when I got home.

But I'm jumping ahead in review of the evening.  As I might have mentioned the class schedule goes like this:
4:15 to 5:15 is the kids class at the health club
5:30 to 6:45 is the blackbelt additional group at Sensei's garage
7:15 to 8:15 is back to the health club for the adult class

As you can imagine this means a lot of driving around and it's during rush hour.  Which means exactly what you'd think.  Just getting to Sensei's house can be an exercise in patience and calm. 

Monday's heat and humidity were on my mind as I drove to his house.  I like to drive my motorcycle if the weather is nice, but I opted to take the car due to air conditioning.  Thankfully a storm was coming in and the temperature had dropped to 84f.  Sensei had set up several fans so his garage was breathable, but half of us had opted to wear t-shirts.  I was soaked after a few minutes.  I don't understand how the others wear their gis with that kind of heat.

After a few runs of Rohai we decided to work on Sensei Daniel's bunkai.  He's working on his fourth degree and as a result the attendant bunkai (the technique derived from the form) is complex, violent and physically challenging.

One of the forms he's doing is Unsu.  I don't have a sense of it, but in contains a 360 degree kick.  This didn't mean much to me, but after a quick demo and a slow start we all got into the spirit. 

The 360 starts by a right-kick (in this example) which is captured by Uki.  We roll in the air to our left and before we hit the ground we do a back kick with our left and drop to a tripod stance.  In the case of this bunkai we are supposed to continue turning, come up to our feet and gouge the eyes out on Uki as we drive them to the ground.  Weee such fun!

After my third attempt I was warmed and ready to go. I flew and twisted through the air, executing the kick perfectly, but in my enthusiasm I turned to see where my foot was going and over-rotated a bit.  So when I came down my right hand didn't land well and I ended up mangling my fingers.  Probably a small sprain, but my right hand is a bit swollen.  It didn't bother me last night, but this morning I'm a wreck.  Swollen hand, my left foot feels pretty bruised and my left knee hurts like hell.  What the heck did I do?  

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Melancholy Removal

Not to wax too philosophic, but family issues once again weigh in on my life priorities.  My mother took a cliché fall and was found to have a broken hip.  Due to her dementia this was a big deal, however her care was exemplary.  She had a new hip in one day, but the anesthesia proved to be troublesome during her recovery. 

My wife and I traveled to the East coast to help my Father out and visit with my Mom while she sorted out her recovery.  Without going into too much detail the stress of the trip didn't leave a lot of time to practice kata.  I'd planned to run every other day and do plenty of exercise to counter the tension.  But by the end of the week I'd only practiced twice and never ran.  When I got home I was concerned that I'd forgotten everything and was very out of shape.

I got home on a Tuesday night and the jetlag proved to be too intense so going to class was lost to going to bed early and trying to reset my clock.

Fast forward to last night.  We are now moving into the Summer and the heat was pushing the low 90s and due to a bunch of cloud cover, humidity was incredibly high.  Blackbelt club met at Sensei's house and he directed Olivia and me to go through the first four kata for our test.  A half hour in Sensei and me were dripping sweat while Olivia didn't have the decency to even look vaguely warm. 

Adult class was like a trip to heaven due to the air conditioning.  Since it was a Monday we just stuck with a continuation of Olivia's and my work.  This meant that we were doing Bunkai for the evening which was good for me since I can barely remember them.  I ended up actually remembering a few, a few were actually taken from the kata which made them fairly easy to perform and then the rest were awesome take downs. 

By the time I got home I was completely wrung out.  I barely spoke with my wife and crashed hard after a long, cold shower.  I'm definitely looking forward to Wednesday. 

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Long Thin Legs

Amidst review of our kata, Reed Sensei reminded me that I needed to go lower in some of my stances.  It's no doubt a direct result of the people around me that I don't appear to be even trying.  The folks who've been doing the cat stance since they were ten years old appear to defy gravity with the depth they can achieve while in comparison I look like I'm barely bending a knee.  

It's not like I'm not aware of it, but it bugs me that I'm unable to really get deep enough to even look vaguely capable.  As I've gotten older I'm hyper aware that I'm losing muscle mass.  To add insult injury, without meaning to, Reed said I really need to hit the stance low and beautiful because of my long, thin legs.  Ouch!

The old joke in the gym was, "what are the four meanest words said by a loved one?"  You're arms look smaller.  

I know I'm vain, but over the years I don't have the physique to even pull that off to myself anymore, but I winch over the simplest comments.  How weak am I?  When I was younger I wanted to be a body-builder because I was skinny all through my adolescence and I worked hard at it through my twenties.  Now that I'm in my fifties I look at the weights in the rack and have a hard time developing the energy to even pick up the light ones.  I can barely stand to watch my hard won muscles decay before my eyes, but the amount of work I do around the house doesn't really leave time for me to indulge myself in that kind of activity.  Thank god for karate.

Anyway, the gist of my melancholy was that after the comment from Reed we were doing deep fudodachis (sp?) and even though my thighs were parallel to the ground I noticed that I do have long, thin legs.  No hint of muscle.  Sigh.

One item of note is that we made it through Rohai Shodan which was a big deal for me since it's the second to last kata I needed to learn.  I can't totally remember it but we'll be working on it for the semester and that'll help me quite a bit.  

Thursday, May 31, 2018

A Modest Celebration

I've been out for the week because work sent me to California!  The weather was overcast and cool the whole time, but I learned a lot and meet the people on my team.  Did I mention that I have a new job?  It's been about four weeks now. 

I practiced as much as I could while I was in my hotel room, but everything was pretty distracting so I don't think I learned too much beyond what I knew before in terms of the new kata. 

Upon my return I had to get ready for the Celebration last night.  This is the testing for colored belts and all the black-belts were asked to attend due to the numbers of students.  I proctored/watched two of the oldest students and they did really well, but I guess everyone did.  I wanted to watch a few of the real fireballs, but didn't get a chance.
Afterwards we went to the local pizza place and I was saturated in the sounds of family and happiness.  I hadn't realized that I would enjoy the family atmosphere so much.

Back to the adult class - I think there were eight of us and we worked on some basic strike/block drills for a few minutes before we broke into groups and worked on our testing kata. 

I'm still struggling with NPP, but can't figure out if that's normal.  No one seems stressed about it except me.  Olivia asked me if I thought I'd be ready by next May.  I'm not sure, but it's a whole extra year to work on things.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Stinky Rolling

The beautiful blue sky has given way to grey, moody clouds that appear to be perpetually threatening rain, but never produce.  Unfortunately that creates an higher than average humidity and that means exertion, not matter how little, will be rewarded with a greasy, clinging sweat.  

This also means that I need to special care when cleaning my gis.  If I leave the Gi in the washing machine too long the materials get a bitter, acrid odor that the dryer seems to bake in.  In yesterday's case I didn't notice this until I was being choked out with an ankle and realized the bad smell was coming from me.  That was in the first 15 minutes and I had two more hours to go.  Yuck.  I also felt for everyone that had to hug me for the bulk of that time.

In BB class we decided to do ground work for that hour and do test prep for the regular adult class.  The big local celebration is on the 30th and Reed wants us all to know what the kids are expected to do so we can judge in stations.  

In the BB class we started with the full mount, doing an armbar and then swinging one leg around and tucking the foot under the chin for an additional choke.  This hints at having some strength and flexibility with one leg I didn't seem to have, but at least I could get there.  The next move was to fall to the side while maintaining the armbar which is a fairly common move.  But what if the guy on the ground knows to grab his own arm to stop the bar?  We then drive one of our feet into the elbow of the farthest arm while slamming their head with one of our legs. 

We continued with escapes and extremely complicated figure-four armbars which were all quite fun and painful.  At one point I realized we appeared to be in a laboratory.  Reviewing why something worked and why something didn't.  This is a divergence from our normal work, but because the discussion always goes to "most fights go to the floor".  

The practically of Sensei Reed never ceases to amaze me.  As always, hyper traditional Karate (or at least in my experience) doesn't really cover anything about going to the ground other than putting people there.  So when he has time he learns as much as he can and introduces it to the blackbelts.  Simple escapes and how to deal with basic MMA type shenanigans.  We wouldn't be able to deal with an experienced person, but might be able to escape someone if the opportunity came up.

In the Regular class we went through each self-defense move that the each belt level was going to be expected to know during the test.  So from white belt all the way to orange the moves get progressively more complex and violent.  The final one does a pull of the leg and ends up breaking multiple pieces and parts.  Damn!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Heat Back Stroke

In the afternoon the temperature started climbing pretty high for the Thorn city. The mid 80's in Fahrenheit. With a slight breeze this is somewhat durable, but standing in the street practicing kata makes this gradually increasing effort.  I'm not sure if it's dehydration or just the body's inability to shed heat after a long winter, but Olivia and me were finding it harder and harder to get motivated to do kata over and over. 

I made the spectacularly poor choice of wearing a black t-shirt.  By the time we'd got through a few katas I was completely soaked.  But because it was relatively dry the shirt was fairly dry by the time we stopped.  We ran through Ni Pai Po and Koryu Ni Pai Po multiple times. 

I don't mind running through NPP over and over again because it is steadfastly refusing to stick in my brain.  After a multitude of times and a lame attempt at videoing after class last night I've actually retained a few more moves.  Olivia tells me that she ran into the same problems when she was learning it, but she only had six weeks ahead of me on this.  I guess that's a life time in Karate learning. 

Mark came back when I was guessing he wouldn't.  Due to his age and fragility we talked and made sure that he wouldn't be chosen as Uke anymore.  At the very least we are supposed to be very conscious that we need to be careful with him, especially with take downs and throws.  We don't want to be responsible for a detached retina.

We got to class and did a test prep I think.  Well we were supposed to do ten kata anyway, which is vaguely like a test.  I'm roughly on my eight one, but I'd call it seven point five because I can't through it without help. 

We ran through the bunkai for KNPP which is just a quick exchange, but it ran out the clock.

The additional note - I found out that Olivia might be eligible to take her Nidan test with me next May.  Time in belt is based on attendance, so even though she got her first belt long ago her eligibility is based on her recent restart.  I hope this isn't the case because I'd like her and Kevin to test with me. 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Firehose Part Two

I went into class last night thinking to myself, "okay, Tater.  You've got two reasonably decent nights of sleep under your belt.  You're going to be a machine tonight." Well, I get there, and I actually remembered to bring my staff - a gift from my wife over ten years ago, I think I'm good to go.

Because our Kyle is getting ready for testing we started the blackbelt session with a review of his kata.  We each got to give three observations.  I'm not particularly good at this because I get caught up in trying to see all the details and can't back out to see the whole thing. 

With that we started heavy work on Ni Pai Po.  Even though we started on Monday, which I'll admit I wasn't very alert for due to lack of sleep, I assumed I would have retained something.  However, nothing remained.  I had to do each step over and over again and had to ask for help each time.  Thank god everyone was patient because I was losing patience with myself.  By the end of the session I had the first quarter back down. 

After the BB session we went to regular class, which has become a rather small affair.  We lost all of our new people and some of our others due to schedule.  So there was four students last night.  I love that now, but it makes me sad for the school generally speaking.  We worked on NPP for the whole evening and I left generally feeling better about the whole thing.

Flash forward to this morning.  I had another decent night of sleep, but I wanted to try NPP first thing and could only manage to get through the first quarter before failure.  Sigh.  Then I try KNPP (Koryu Ni Pai Po) and got all confused.  I didn't have my phone with me to consult about the policy so I wasn't sure about where I got confused.  That was aggravating.  I ended doing a couple of other kata to console myself.  Hah!

While you wait for my next riveting video here is a guy that does it crazy hard core. 

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Another Firehose Night

Although I went to class on Wednesday it still feels like I've been away from class for a long time. Consequently I tend to get focused on my stuff and forget there is a syllabus of a sorts moving forward during the course of the year.

When I got to the blackbelt session we went to work on Ten Ryu No Cone Ni (bad spelling I'm sure), a bo/staff kata.  Although I'd rather be working on my stuff this has been fun to practice.  Since we are using staffs we practice in the street; which garnishes us looks from the neighbors. The only problem last night was that the heat has started up in the Thorn city and there wasn't much of a breeze. 

Reed followed this up with the Dai version which I have no recollection even though we went over it a bunch of times.  It takes the moves from the Ni version and mixes them up and ads a bunch more.  Ergh. 

We finished up and headed over to class where we learned the beginning of Ni Pai Po.  Unlike Koryu NPP which is incredibly long and diverse, NPP seems completely different to me.  I was told at one point that they would blend together, but I don't see how.  What we learned was nothing like the Koryu, so that's good for me that I won't confuse them, but I was so tired yesterday that I absorbed absolutely nothing.  I normally video after the class to help me with memorizing the actions.   That slipped away because I left after the class instead of chatting. 

This morning I couldn't remember much of it, but a few moves.  Thankfully Koryu NPP remains intact and I'm able to do it better and better. 

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Beach Kata

My in-laws came into town for a week to celebrate our niece's graduation.  As part of the activities my wife planned an outing to the beach for several days.  To be able to make the trip affordable she planned the time to occur during the work week.  Normally, I wouldn't be able to go along, but I recently switched jobs which offered me a new take on how I do things. 

During the first week, my boss visited me in my cube and asked if I knew that I could work at home full time.  I wasn't aware of that, but it was seismic change in how I think about work.  I mean, you go to work, and then you are done and then you come home.  By taking your work with you, where does it start and then stop?

I got to put this to the test by going to the beach with my wife and family and drug my laptop with me.  It turned out to be doable, but somewhat frustrating until I found a good wifi signal.  Short story - I can work wherever, but it's not preferable to my work environment. 

Because the family would take long walks on the beach while I worked or go on trips I had the place to myself.  This meant that every time I wanted to stretch my legs I could work on my kata.  Thankfully the weather was pretty poor so I didn't have an incentive to go outside.  The living room was spacious so I was able to practice Koryu over and over. 

We got back yesterday in the afternoon so I was able to attend BB class and the regular class.  Much to my pleasure I was able to get through Koryu pretty regularly with Sensei Reed.  My footwork needs a lot more help, but generally I've got the thing down.  Thankfully for the beach practice.

We also realized that May is my anniversary date.  That means I have another year to be eligible for testing.  I would have like to be further along with the kata by this point, but I'm glad for what I have.  I have six of the ten and a part of one of the others coming up.  The bunkai for each of the ones I have is fairly simple, but I haven't learned them yet. 

The generic work of both classes has left me sore in a good way.  Good to be back in a hopefully regular schedule.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Knees Reborn

I remember reading this fantasy story when I was young. After being tortured, a wizard heals himself and at the relief from pain he groaned.  His cell mates assumed he was groaning from pain.

During one of the numerous visits we had in the last week, my friend the PT came over from Idaho and suggested I take some Ibuprofen for an unrelated muscle ache.  Later, when I was in the shower I bent down to clean the wall and was so surprised that the pain in my knee was absent that I lost my balance. 

I actually thought something was wrong.  I took a couple of tentative deep knee bends and found that I was apparently cured for the afternoon.  Much to my distinct pleasure I found out that on the next day the pain had not returned.

When last night started coming up I had a mental reminder to take a small dose before class started.  I remembered and took some before I went and low and behold I had a great hour which included the ten ryu turning jump into a kneeling position.  I could lower myself without a problem.  What happiness!

I practiced Koryu a few times and my frozen toe still makes it difficult to come up well, but my knee didn't hurt so I was very happy there as well.  

On a side note, I got my blood pressure taken and it was down to 120/80.  I've been holding at 193 pounds due to eating well and cutting my drinking down.  All in all doing well physically, but I'm due to take another colonoscopy next month.  Sigh.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Crinkly Knees

One of the moves in Koryu (Ni Pai Po) is that I drop to one knee and then spring up with a elbow strike.  Unfortunately the repetitive action has made my left knee feel like I'm grinding glass under the knee cap. 

The Senseis are practical and have asked me to not kneel for awhile, but it feels like everything we do lately requires a kneeling position at one point or another.  Then my knee goes back to complaining. 

Last night I got to the BB class and we worked on learning/refining ten ryu no con ni.  The second in a series of three staff kata.  My lack of weapons experience makes this very attractive and generally speaking pretty darn fun.  It's action packed and the end contains a spinning jump.  Of course you have to land in a kneeling stance.  Argh!

We practiced that the whole hour which was a lot of exercise considered all the starting and stopping we were doing.  Since we were using staffs and there were four of us Sensei had us move into the street.  Of course the neighbors all stopped what they were doing and stared at us for awhile which I enjoyed.  However, attention spans being what they are people soon went back to whatever they were doing.  We joked that they would be staying longer if we started hitting each other.

Regular class consisted of reviewing Wando and doing elbow techniques.  Since I'm in the "advanced" group I had to take a lot of falls on the hardwood.  I'm feeling it pretty good/bad today.  Super stiff.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

NPP Process Check

It's been a month now since I started working on Koryu Ni Pai Po.  In a big press, Olivia and I worked through the whole Kata last night.  The result below is rather hurky-jerky, as befits a new kata, but you can see that I get to the end with occasional prompting.

This is one of the few super long kata that are in all the black belt testing levels.  Although there is nothing necessarily hard about the techniques there is a lot of them.  I guess I have another coming up with a similar length.  Ugh.

Koryu Ni Pi Po - so slow it hurts

Here's my current progress report on my 2nd degree:

  1. Haku Cho
  2. Haku Cho Dai
  3. Haku Tsuru No Onna
  4. Haku Tsuru No Ottoko
  5. Kaku Fa
  6. Haku Tsuru
  7. Rohai Shodan
  8. Wando
  9. Ni Pai Po
  10. Kuryo Ni Pai Po
I clearly have to keep working on KNPP for awhile before I move on, but it's nice to see some progress.  I gather from Olivia that Ni Pai Po is the more current form and they are close enough to cause a headache.  Yuck.

She is learning the kata in reverse order from me, but it appears that she had some experience with these before she took an extended break so she's learning at a rapid pace in comparison to me. 

In the adult class we learned Ten Ryu no Cone something.  It's my second weapons kata so I got a kick of learning something new, but my brain is pretty full so I had a lot of problems with it. Still cool stuff. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

A Little Progress

Holy Cow!  I lost a month when I wasn't paying attention.  Well, that's not accurate.  My wife and I decided to add a new bathroom to our house and as the primary workers all our time has been consumed trying to get it done. We had originally thought it would take two weeks.  How cute. We found out that you always multiple by twice when making the estimate and that's still shy since we are still working on it.  Thankfully we are down to paint and some fine trim.    

Since we've changed the schedule a bit, I now go to the Black Belt only training first which provides a great warm up, but we had our first warm day yesterday in some time and the garage where we practice was overly hot.  A few of the others wore t-shirts and immediately chided myself for thinking I should be fully suited.  I was immediately sweat soaked. 

While I've been gone one of the few returning black belts has started studying for 2nd degree as well.  They wanted us to study together, but while I was gone she learned the entire Koryu Ni Pi Po.  So last night she had the dubious honor of teaching me the rest of the kata.  Due to it's length we were only able to move forward a bit more.  Daniel Sensei says that I'm a little over half way. 

We finished up the session with a couple exercises devised from the kata Pachu. There is three elbows and then a take down.  Always fun. 

On the way to class I noticed a man by the side of the road.  He was on his side and there was some blood.  I assumed he was hit by a car so I pulled over as quickly as I could and ran over to him.  A small group of people went to his aid and we found out he stumbled while mowing and fell on his face.  He had a hell of cut on his face from his glasses.  He was pretty disoriented, but his wife had come out.  We had him on his feet by the time I left.  I realized later that he might have been on blood thinners by the way of he was bleeding. 

In regular class we worked on foundational moves from the kata Wando.  Which was a nice review for me because it's one that I need to have squared away for my test. 

It took me a very long time to get to sleep last night, probably due to the excitement of being in class, but I got the added bonus of foot cramps when I finally relaxed.  When I did get I sleep very hard and had pleasant dreams.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Two Stubbed Toes

In preparation for tournament Reed has declared, as he put it "selfishly" that we are going to work on sparring drills for the evening so he can get squared away for this weekend.  After work on drills for the last month I kind of felt motivated about getting back in the ring, as it were.

The blackbelt meet up, where we normally work on our specific rank items, in my case katas, got dumped for a night of test kitchen.  By this I mean we did all sorts of tests to see how we can punch faster.  We are all sorts of fighters and by this I mean we have people springing on their feet to people, like me, who stand aloof until it's time to go.

The thought was that bouncers have a faster launch so we timed and compared as much as possible and we couldn't get a conclusive measure.  People who do this more often than others work their bodies as much as possible to get an advantage.  However, I was able to close the gap when we had and experienced person go flat footed and have me bounce.

I should note that bouncing in this case is not going up on toes, but dropping a bit.  You still get the mechanical advantage of movement to movement, but not burning calves.  This worked out great for me because I'm a sloth fighter. 

During regular class we did drills to warm up and then we did a gauntlet style round robin on Reed and Daniel.  They never left the rings and the rest of cycled through fighting them continuously. 

The new rules for this tourney are based on half-points and full points.  This was an adjustment while I was judging, but by in large it makes for a longer more interesting match.  Full points are awarded only for a kick in the head, knocking an appointment off balance or knocking your opponent down and following with a punch.  While we didn't have any clean attempts I went for a lot of head kicks that got spoiled because I was too slow. 

Then the inevitable occurred while sparring Daniel Sensei.  I jammed my left big toe on his shin.  It didn't bother too much, but last night the ache set in and walking around on my heels this morning because neither of my big toes is working.  Cripes, what a predicament.

You get a sense of how I'm walking at 1:20ish.  But you'll want to watch the whole thing to see how that guy got that walk.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Two Straight Hours

We had a slow start yesterday.  Everybody wanted to chat for a bit so we ended up yapping until Reed showed up.  I spent the whole time with Daniel Sensei working on adding to Koryu Ni Pai Po.  For whatever reason this kata is coming along nicely.  It's one of the two very long ones I have to learn for my belt test, but strangely its coming along faster than I than the first four.  Is it his pacing?  Is it the kata?  Hard to say, but I'm happy that we've got the first third of the kata done.  Maybe not expert or finished, but remembered.

The only problem was that my left knee started acting up due to the move that has me go to my knee and immediately spring up.  My bum toe doesn't allow me to flatten my foot all the way down, so springing up puts a lot of weight on my left knee.  Owwww.

In the adult class we did our bow in and Reed Sensei immediately pulled me to the side to show him all the kata.  For whatever reason I was unable to do two of the kata clean.  Tired?  Too focused on the new ones?  I wasn't sure, but we went through them and worked on some spots and then it was back to koryu.  Since it was going smoothly enough we added even more steps. 

Further along on section 1

I ended up doing what you see in the video about twenty times.  It's now way more refined with a lot less stops.  Not a very flattering snapshot of me though, hah!

Thursday, March 01, 2018

My Right Foot

I might have mentioned in the past that I've stubbed or jammed my toe in class, but I really can't remember specific incidents; just that's in occurred.  Since I was going to my doctor to do my annual check I thought I'd ask her about it.  I noticed in the last year that the joint won't actually bend back.  And when forced by a body weight move it's very painful. 

Here's the result:
Significant degenerative changes in the first metatarsophalangeal
joint with joint remodeling. Moderate degenerative changes in the great toe
interphalangeal joint. Enthesopathic changes at the insertion of Achilles
tendon. Mild overgrowth likely representing degenerative changes at the dorsal
portion of the navicular bone. Partially fused accessory ossicle os naviculare.

I'm not sure what that says, but my doctor says some bones have fused and I appear to have an extra bone in their as well.  With that information I found myself a bit depressed because it means a lot of what I do in Karate is a bit compromised.  Time to find some workarounds!  I wonder how running is going to be in the Spring?

Last night I was told to hold off on Hakutsuru.  Since Daniel Sensei needs to work on Koryu Ni Pai Po and I need to learn it, he put us together.  We were able to finish one section before we ran out of time.  One section is a loosely based how he breaks the kata apart.  It's fun an interesting. 

Here's the first portion:
Our shared space is bumping between classes.

Regular class was all about prepping folks for tournament.  Striking and movement drills left sucking wind.  I had to admit I was liking all the effort he was making us go through.  I am very exercised! 

Reed and Daniel will be heading off next weekend to tournament so we get to get the prep work and exercise.  I'd dearly like to get to one of these, but time and money always seem to get in the way.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Ground and Pound

Usually after an extended break I show up at class and it's immediately into sparring or something equally challenging.  Of course last night was no different.  Because of the change in schedule for the new adult class I was somewhat warmed up by practicing kata with the blackbelts for a bit.  Adult class was all about groundwork last night.

Although Reed Sensei referred to our work as Judo, the telltale throws and associated actions were missing.  We practiced five ground based holds and the transitions from each.  I was paired with Kyle for a bit, but Reed felt like he was too light for me.  I was placed with Kevin, one of the returning adults from way back.  The time off didn't seem to impair his skills though.  He was very fit. 

Reed couldn't remember the Japanese names for the positions so I'll just use informal nomenclature below.

1. Side grab with zig zag legs.  Basically your legs look like the bottom of a swastika and you control the arm while you press up against the Uke's side.

2. Smash that face.  You are in the 69 position, pressing your belly against Uke's face.  Your arms are under his and you grab his belt. 

3. Cradle.  You are perpendicular with one arm under the leg farthest away and one around the head.  Hands preferably locked.

4. Full mount.  The only twist being that you are choking them with their own arm.

5. Triangle side mount.  Keep the choke but you are now on one side with your outer leg perpendicular and rigid.

Kevin proved himself as a worthy opponent and I found myself gassed almost immediately.   I had good recovery, but I could only go for about ten seconds at a time.  He escaped me three out of five and I was only able to escape once fully. 

A fun return, but boy am I tired. 

Monday, February 19, 2018

Old School Melancholy

I just got back from my trip up North and returned to cold weather and snow.  Since the Rose City isn't particularly known for it's snow it's a bit of a surprise.  However the drive in to work was easy and quiet because of it.  The drivers around here take it easy when anything out of the ordinary happens.   

My visit up North was filled with nostalgia.  Seeing friends after a four year void was emotional and exciting, but my highlight was visiting my old school.  Since I've been gone my old teacher has decided to pilot his own style while keeping the basics from Tang Soo Do.  The hyungs/katas are the same as well as the blocks, punches and kicks, but after that there is a divergence. 

He decided that after some analysis he would eschew the wait for the attacker and simply try to execute all moves into the attack or avoid the attack but both need to the defender to have very good timing.  This is thing evolving thing for him and the class, but they all seem to like the practicality of it all.

After several years of traditional Okinawan Karate I must admit my ability to refocus was a bit tough.  I got the feeling that my Teacher kind of wanted to discount anything I learned; to exhort the superiority of what he was going through.  I found myself bouncing back and fourth.  I really wanted to just enjoy being in class again and just enjoying the exchange of knowledge, but in the end I just felt a bit frustrated. 

My take on traditional study is that is that we are following something "traditional".  So you don't always get the most practical approach to self-defense.  The other end of the spectrum would be something like reality based self-defense, but I always felt they lost out because of the lack of beauty, if that can be said about something that's all about hitting and kicking. 

The class went by way too quick, but he let me lead the warm-ups and at the end he had me to do three katas.  I explained the white crane stuff I was studying, but I don't think anyone really cared.  I'm assuming they just thought I was doing some kung fu kind of thing. 

In retrospect I would have liked to anonymously participated in class just to enjoy the nostalgia. 

Bassai in the park

Holy Cow!  So much time has passed since I've sat down and collected my thoughts for a quick update about my martial practice.  March wa...