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
Wando
Ka Ku Fa
Koryu Ni Pi Po
Ni Pi Po
Rohai Shodan
Hakutsuru

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.  

Two Ways To Skin A Kata

I felt like I just got to the point where I had met the absolute max of what I could take in.  It felt like zero to 100% in one instance tho...