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. 

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

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 the past now could make an evening class giving us a strong start.  Jason is a big red-bearded man and would probably make a good Viking impersonator, while Tom looks like he's had a hard life.  Tom had some martial arts experience a long time ago, but has long since forgotten all.  Both had the look of people trying to get their feet underneath them, but neither complained about the repetition of moves or the work on basics.

Reed focused on teaching the intro to Pachu.  Since Shudokan doesn't have a style per say, we adopt others.  In this case we are using Ryuryu, an traditional Okinawan style. 
We worked on footwork and then added hands.  A lot of fun and a slightly different method to absorb material.

The Black-belt class which used to be called the after-class consisted of me, Mark and Daniel. After I did some kata work Daniel had us work on something called the three elbow flow.  I guess it has a long complicated name that he didn't catch, but it was one of the exercises taught at a recent seminar.  Another thing I missed in the last month. 

The sequence:
- Uke starts with a right punch.
- We cover our ears (not really, but that's what it looks like), step forward with left.
- Block with right, turn right, push down with left arm, turn with elbow strike to face.
- Left hand goes down and right hand goes to back of head.
- 6/12 o'clock throw, holding arm and kneel on "gun".
A fast, fun technique that I hope to take to the north with me next week. 

Thursday, February 01, 2018

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 exercise, but one of the boys slowed down and Reed had him takes some deep breaths and step aside for a moment. 

This is one of the rambunctious boys who was really trying to keep himself together, so I'm not sure what set him off.  We ended the class with elbow techniques and it was going pretty well, so he stopped and thought we should go through the jump ropes.  This is basic dexterity which gets more and more complex.  By the end it becomes double-dutch and we have to get through both in one jump. Again, everyone seemed to be doing really well, but the same boy ended up in the corner crying loudly.  I was thinking it was low blood sugar, but apparently he hit his toe.  However, the loud wailing was distracting to the class.  You could see many of the students wanted to help and console, but knew they needed to be focused or they'd get waylaid by the rope.  Eventually he calmed down.

Just before we finished with the double-dutch pass through Reed gave me the chance to give it a go.  I made it through the first time.  So happy.  It requires a trust in your own timing. 

Next week
I'm off on vacation to visit my old home in the far North and visit my old school!  I'm so excited!
I'm also hopefully going to go to the first adult class - depending on packing and travel prep. 


Full Iron Circle

When I started at the Shudokan school five years ago, MaryAnn Sensei was working on her San Dan and as part of that she would teach me the k...