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.

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...