Posts

Showing posts from 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 mo…

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 winc…

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 …

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 …

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 …

Firehose Part Two

Image
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 …

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 diver…

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…

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…

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 neigh…

NPP Process Check

Image
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:
Haku ChoHaku Cho DaiHaku Tsuru No OnnaHaku Tsuru No OttokoKaku FaHaku TsuruRohai ShodanWandoNi Pai PoKuryo Ni Pai PoI 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 …

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 wa…

Two Stubbed Toes

Image
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 …

Two Straight Hours

Image
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?  To…

My Right Foot

Image
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 …

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 again…

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…

First Night Of Adult Class!

I shouldn't expect that something like this would be so exciting to me, but last night was our first class of adults only.  After several years of working in and around the children that made up majority of the class I was having a hard time imaging how the class would actually flow. 

It's been over four years since I've been in an adult only class.  At my old school we had grown so much that we had split due to space considerations.  The adult class always remained fairly modest, while the kids class swelled so much that my old teacher had to make two kids classes. 
Here, due to the time we have in the space, expansion isn't going to happen easily.  Our main class ran from 4:15 to 5:15 so bringing in new adults was going to be extraordinarily difficult.  I figured the new adult class we be relegated to a small number of people until some recruitment could happen.  I was fairly surprised when we ended up with twelve people!
Two brand new folks and a host of others from …

A Cup Of Tears

The jokes around the water cooler are often filled with my stories about the previous nights Karate class.  I had always been sensitive about sharing that part of my life, but recently the tears of the young students give me a desire to vent in the coffee room with my friends.

Knowing that the time with the kids is coming to an end due the advent of the adult class I'm now experiencing a moment of sadness because I realize a lot of kids will stay with the class for many years and I won't be there as a constant. As much as they vex me so their constant excitement is something I do enjoy.  It's just that it turns into a lot of screaming really quickly.
When I got to class I thought it was going to be test prep again, but I think Reed sensed it might not be a good idea to grind it in just before the big event.  So he took one piece of the lower belt kata and made a game of it.  This created a lot of enjoyment for the crowd and I thought it was a wonderful way to get a lot of e…

Pre Celebration 2018

I'm fighting a cold, but my weight is up pretty high so I felt driven to get to class and get a minimum of exercise.  In retrospect that probably wasn't a great idea.  I hadn't slept well on Sunday night so I was swaying on top of what felt like a slight fever.  As usual I checked my blood pressure before hand and was appalled by 156/92.   The doctor is going to have a field day with me next Monday. 

Celebration prep is in full swing.  So the class schedule was side-lined to make way for a "station" model to run the kids through.  Each of us black-belts had one station.  I was bunkai, Mark was kata, and Kyle was elbow techniques. 
Although we had a rough start the bulk of the time went fairly well.  The oldest of the group at 13 years old looked absolutely polished compared to the 10 year olds or younger.  Even with their exhausting friskiness most of them looked fairly good once they were reminded what they were doing.  And it does make you appreciate the really…

Whiplash Hustler

Even though we are preparing the under belts for the upcoming celebration/test Reed Sensei is still trying to focus on keeping the class consistent.  So it was self-defense night which means the moves we practiced were going to be in their test anyway.  As usual, I'm deeply impressed with all the things he has to keep track of during a class.  Each grouping of children have to have their specific technique for the test.  Since we had fourteen kids split into about four levels this can be very complicated.

I got to be the Uke and take the hits and falls last night.  These aren't necessarily a big deal in the sense that I just throw a punch and then eat the floor.  If I do the technique correctly I fall well and it looks good, but Reed is a big, strong guy and wants to do the technique correctly so it can get a bit painful at times.  With this in mind I was trying to be conscious of how I fell.  On the first go, I almost took out the front row with my legs because the hardwood w…

Birds Of A Feather

I felt a little shaky last night before class.  I wasn't sure if I was coming down with a cold or just experiencing some ill-defined nervousness.  My wife had been fighting a cold for the last week and I'd rather not get it if possible.  So my hypochondria kicked in to review every little pain.  Great.

Mark and I went up to the classroom and found an aerobics class in session.  There had obviously some rescheduling at the health center.  Now Mark and I would have to sit around before they cleared the space. 
While we waiting I used the blood pressure machine they had in the corner.  It's the kind you sit in at the grocery store.  I normally have to sit quietly for a moment and relax before I get my taken.  It was the worst I'd ever seen.  168/90.  Well into hypertension.  I couldn't believe it.  I had Mark sit down and take his BP and his was only moderately high, but still good.  I've got to call the doc today.
After warm-up I was given the new black-belts and g…

Tears And Progress

It had been a week since I'd been to class and that feels like a hundred years.  I wonder about how the shared training and the stresses it brings can create such a powerful drawl to the group.  I may not like all the people there, I might not like training some days, and I can feel my frustration clearly due to the division of training others and practice myself, but in the end it all pulls me back like a vacuum and when I walk away I feel so much better mentally and physically.

Last night was typical in that Mark and I arrived early to warm up and end up chatting.  He then pointed out that the last couple of classes had been trying in that the new boys were just running around out of control. Neither Mark nor Kyle had been able to keep them in check.  Apparently they were disruptive enough to even warrant Reeds attention.
I groaned thinking this was going to be another lost night with kids who could care less, but mentally pulled up my boots and focused on the task at hand.  After…

New Year, Fast Star

I hate showing up late for class because I'm never quite in the correct mind set and never quite warmed up for immediate action. 

I got called by work just as I was leaving the house.  I had to make some calls and send some emails, but I was on the road as quick as I could which had me arrive to class with about a half hour left. 
After I bowed in Reed had me be the kicking demo dummy.  He was demoing the hook kick for the orange belts.  Which meant in my first two minutes I got kicked three times very hard.  Sigh. 
I ended up helping the new black belts with their test preparation and was pleasantly surprised that I was able to help a little bit, but overall couldn't remember the overall moves.  Brain is full. 
After class turned out to be me and Daniel Sensei.  We went through all my Bird katas and refined as much as my brain could handle. 

Here's my current progress on Ka Ku Fa.