Monday, December 17, 2007

New Pix and vacation

I've added a couple more photos on the slide show. Just Cook and Teacher doing some floor work.

I'm on vacation for the next couple of weeks. Sunny Mexico here I come.

Two weeks of healing!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Kick High

I leaned over and whispered into Arm's Of Steel's little sister's ear during sparring.

"Do I kick as well as Cook?"
"Well, you do kick high" she replied.


To include Little Sister in sparring we moved it to the first hour since she leaves at the break. For whatever reason this meant that we went into action with a diligence. I had to spar with Teacher and Cook in succession. Thankfully I was given a rest break between sessions. Wheezing and gasping let me know that we don't practice that nearly enough.

Since I'm no longer a newbie I don't normally get the "speech." Teacher usually says, "since your new to this you need to remember to control your strikes." Which instantly filled me with concern. My diet I'm sharing with my wife doesn't include a lot of carbs so I was feeling washed out as it is, and now someone I needed to move quick and wasn't feeling it.

So after four matches I was sat down and took a short inventory of myself. I was pretty pumped since I didn't get pummeled too much but had a nice golf ball growing out of my forearm. Ouch. What was strange was that we didn't do any wrist locks and both of wrists feel lightly sprained. Did I really block that hard?

Thursday, December 06, 2007


And, no, I don't mean a certain clergyman.

Years ago I was watching "Kung Fu" with David Carradine and he was fighting a rather large fellow (possibly professor Tanaka) and he does, what my mind recalls, a tomoe nage (thanks for the proper spelling Silverstar). The professor doesn't get up and David says rather shyly, "he didn't fall well."

This has been a concern of mine for some time. We don't practice falls regularly, but when it's show time I'm expected to do it well due to my sempai status. Ironically, when it's done fast and well I'm at my best. When done slow and studious accidents always happen.

So it comes to tonight. We've got a couple of newbies and the mats come out during the second hour. So we start with wrist locks and some take downs - which is kind of nice now that I get to teach the new folks basics - off we go. I forgot how punishing it can be to teach the new person on wrist locks. I had to take a dose of ibuprofen to deal with the ouchies tonight.

We move on to hip throws (koshinage?) and even a couple of shoulder throws.
This video demonstrate what we aspire to. We aren't usually this fast or precise. Who knew the Poles has such whipass guys!

I think I have mentioned that I slightly taller than the rest of the group. I find throws to be very cool, but getting my hips under the short folks is murder. I'd rather pick them up and do it - which I find out later is somewhat acceptable if they aren't struggling. Talk about stealing their balance!

When I first started we had a guy who was enormous. Short story long - when we learned to throw the first night I was excited because this guy had hips as high as mine. For the life of me I couldn't throw him because I couldn't take his balance and he wasn't giving it up. However, he threw me a good 10 to 15 times. Remember I didn't know what I was doing. I got home that night and considered not coming back. I had never taken that amount of physical abuse in my life. Well here it is 4 or so years later and I easily took 20 throws and even gave a good 10 and I walked out of there with a smile on my face.

Back to the beginning. I don't know about the rest of you, but I fall really well to the right (a left hand slap to me). We just don't practice the other side a lot, so tonight Nilon threw me to the left and I ended up landing on my right hand and arm. Holy cow did that hurt. Mostly humiliation pain since Teacher was watching, but that was the other reason for the ibuprofen. I looked at the new guy and said, "that's why when you slap your arm needs to be out at a 45 degree angle." Very instructive.


I just added some photos from over the years in the sidebar. Watch the bad technique!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Belt and Rank

Our class is going to be taking a break for a week or so I was going to bring my video camera to get a couple clips of us practicing kata or kicking each other. When I get there I had to stifle a groan when I realized that camera had no charge. So no video this week.

Cook brought in his new born daughter for a few minutes before attending class. He let me hold her for a few minutes which aways evokes a bunch of feelings for me. Thankfully he took her off my hands, but not before I was awash with sentimentality. Hell of way to start class.

Lots of kicks for the first hour and then a few self defense exercises in the 2nd hour. We went over Kata for a bit and the word came out, "everyone sit to the side." This is followed by, "except for ____." The irony of this was that I've have been thinking about what a test for my Brown belt might consist of. However he called Cook and after the test he gave him his first Green tab.

Since Teacher customizes each test to the user I was thinking how I'd do my own test in his place. I was thinking that I would have to do all the Kata that we know up to this point, Sparring for a longer than average period, Do some multiple attack scenarios, show effective wrist and joint locks, and them demonstrate a technique as if educating someone.

Most likely he'll see that I accomplished all that over time and the test will be some formality, but I guess I should be thinking about it. I just feeling an itch that means things might be moving forward again. With Cook getting his 1st rank my anxiety popped up a bit.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Sleep interrupted

So I've got a problem living in the far North. As the days get shorter I tend to have more problems sleeping. What happens is that I was born in the South so my biorhythms tend to be fairly "normal." By that I mean that when it gets dark I tend to relax and think about bed. I get into the rituals that mean I'm getting ready for bed - cleaning the kitchen, taking care of the cats, etc. This gets a little difficult when the winter comes. As you all know the farther you get North the shorter the day gets. When my wife and I lived in the Arctic there are certain times of the year where there is no light.

So what I'm trying to say is that around 5pm my body wants to go to sleep and sends me signals by being drowsy and so forth. If I indulge in this and go to bed early I can't get to sleep; setting up a frustrating cycle of tossing and turning and easily disrupted sleep. Add to this two old cats that like to come at all hours and announce their cat problems. Arggh.

So I count on beatings to help me sleep by working me hard enough to be exhausted to get to sleep. Even that isn't working, so tonight (after class) I'm on a sleeping pill and drinking a single malt in hopes that I'll soon have to go to sleep.
Class included what I think is Bunkai. Uses components of kata in actual application. We use the knife hand in several Kata and tonight we drilled with that quite a bit. I'm not a particular fan, but just a few oopsies led to to me flexing my throat muscles in anticipation of a strike that never came. Perhaps this will change in time, but I have no training in hardening my hand in that fashion. My wife laughs at my use of a brick to harden my knuckles.

Although she's never mocked me about the brick I thought I saw give me a couple of glances. Then, while we were having a party, a few people noticed it under the coffee table and my wife ends up telling everyone how I'm always training with it and so on. Everyone looked impressed or weirded out. I'm wasn't sure because their was beer involved.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

"Not the good ear!"

I don't think I've mentioned this before, but one of Beards ears is sort of mangled. In his childhood a dog got hold of him and tore it lose. The reattachment was only so good so it's a bit off kilter. It's not something easily noticed until he points it out. Last night we were practicing a series of elbow blocks that lead into some knee strikes. The first would go into the groin forcing the Uke down and then second would be in the face. When practicing with Teacher he had his head slightly askance so when the second knee came up he came up with the quote for the evening - "not the good ear!"

We spent most of the second hour working on wrist locks. I was placed with Priest who is a willing student so I got to review all my knowledge while I suffered mightily at his hands. I presume this means I'm a good teacher.

After class Teacher pulled me aside and pointed out that my right crescent kick is out whack. He had me do the left leg first and it was awesome - enough so that one of the news guys said, "whoa." The right just won't make a nice circle. It's as if I'm fighting my own legs and hips. Something to work on.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Toe Jam

As I drove home last night I actually said this out loud rather dryly, "well that was self-fulfilling prophecy".

Normally I have a mantra I say to myself before class to get my head straight. I do this while I'm sorting out my gi, belt and water for class. It's basically this, "don't take it personal, you need this exercise, don't fear injury, but be careful, etc." Although I say this all the time before class it really hasn't come true to any degree in a long time. Last night broke that healthy stretch, but thankfully it appears to be nothing more than a painful sprain of the big toe.

I'm hobbling around today, but I don't feel any of that lingering frustration about class or myself that attends a "bigger" injury. Hopefully I'll be at class on Tuesday.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Spar, Boom, Jib

Kick to the leg, kick to the leg, kick to the leg then feint to the leg and kick to the head. God, I love sparring with new people. All the stuff I can't do with someone with experience actually works with new folks.

We haven't done any sparring for a very long time, but Sensei obviously thought it was time to get the new folks up to speed. I'm assuming it's a misnomer in our mixed Korean/Japanese class, but he likes to call slow speed sparring Randori. From what I understand it means different things in other schools and classes.

Needless to say it was pleasant to pick where I'd left off months ago. Except this time I was able to focus on a few techniques I hadn't been able to put into play in the past. I guess I'll have to learn a few more.

Cook is entering the question everything phase. I'm not sure what all the developmental phases of learning MA are, but one of them is definitely the "endless questions." Last night he had to ask about everything - "why, why why?" Tiring stuff after awhile, but it's good that he challenges Sensei to describe things. I tend to go with the flow and forget that I need to know the underpinnings of what we are learning in order to apply things later.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


I'm not even sure how to put tonight's thoughts into coherent, linear writing, but things were definitely percolating in my brain after the weekend.

I've mentioned that people have come and gone to our class over time, and because it's a small town you see these folks as you go through your regular living. So excuses of time and changes of schedule can be taken with a grain of salt if the class doesn't suit someone and they need to move on. I also know that Teacher's style might not "jive" with certain folks learning style and they might have to move in time as well.

So during the weekend I ran into Check who hasn't been to class for sometime. I had actually wondered if she moved because the Karate fairy dropped off a water weighted kicking dummy in front of my house several weeks ago. So we chatted and of course class came up. She basically was tired of second guessing Teacher and his methods. To me it sounded like the old quandary, do we blindly listen or do we question to learn more? Check is definitely the latter, while I'll try to straddle both schools. To add insult to injury she said that she ran into Vet and he pretty much couldn't take class because there wasn't any structure. I could sympathize with this because I've often thought that to be like a normal school or have more success in student retention that we'd have skills laid out and have static testing benchmarks. Obviously some folks really want that. I guess we should get rid of belts all together, but it's some tradition built in that keeps the chain of continuity together.
In the end I was kind of wounded for Teacher and myself. I felt like the only reason that I was staying in class was because quitting something is anathema to me. What a horrible reason to stay and what a horrible thing to think.
After a lot of soul-searching I realized that I enjoyed the class for a few simple reasons. It's great exercise and it allows me to develop insights into myself which in turn help me grow as a person. It could have structure, but it doesn't and that's just fine.
So we come to tonight and as I'm walking in I see Check following close behind. She told me during class that after talking about it the weekend she ended up being drawn back to the excitement like a moth to a flame. Hah! She mumbled here and there, but maintained a stalwart composure and didn't complain hardly at all.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


I've been tagged by Frotoe on the 7 Random facts meme.

1. I used to be Marriage and Family Therapist.

2. I've been married for 12 years.

3. I used to live in the Arctic.

4. I swam with Galapagos Penguins.

5. I'm a liberal and I like guns.

6. I love the clean and jerk.

7. I find cleaning the catbox relaxing. It's like a zen sand garden.

Friday, October 12, 2007


I'm not saying that we practice any "real" kind of Aikido, but we are heavy on the wrist and joint locks and we do love the throws based off those locks, however teaching these things and being Uki for these things is brutal in our class.

I'm definitely going to have to rethink the way I present this to a new person. I've been steadfastly telling new folks that you have to take me to the point of pain so you know how to do the technique properly. A half hour into instruction I'm barely able to move my right wrist without serious discomfort.

Of course the next day I have no problems with articulation or discomfort, but during a few of the locks I kept thinking to myself "man, that's got to be a light sprain." My wrists are never more than slightly sore are so you'd think I'd be better at dealing with the discomfort. And I might be, but pain is pain and wrist pain is something special in its dry intensity.

We started with a few one-two drills and moved on to very slow kicks and distance work. Very tough on the legs, but a great exercise for me as distance is tough for me when we are sparring. I notice that since I've started that I'm growing more comfortable with getting closer, but I'll only do it sparingly. It was on to wrists and then, as if by magic, the night was done.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Peaks, Valleys, and Plateaus

I'm going to describe tonight in reverse order. As we exited the changing room Teacher asked me, "What has been your learning experience like?" I said at first it was exciting and everything was new and then I hit that plateau and since then it's been puncuated with small peaks and valleys. Everyone echoed this. We found out that Cook is very excited (stage one) and had one of those nights where everything felt wrong even when he was doing it right. We all laughed.

The lesson? When you do this you need to realize that you are only fighting yourself and that you need to relax. Cliche, but I can't describe it any better.

The whole first hour was kata. One through Nine. My legs were shaking and during instruction my mind kept going blank. Terrible feeling. Teacher would have to remind me the first step and then I was good to go. Urgh.

More Elvis hip twist drills that lead to a throw over the thigh. Fun. I was able to one, but not another that required me to take Uki's balance then rock them the other direction when then fight to correct which led to a through. Not so good tonight.

Thursday, October 04, 2007


Nilon came back this evening and I was proud to say that I didn't have any emotional responses to his appearance. I was more relieved that he showed so that class would have some more people. I was a bit chagrined when we got partnered once or twice. After doing the technique once or twice he becomes restless and wants to try other things. I don't know why that agitates me so, but I know he needs to focus on his basic technique and get that rote repetition in. Personally I want to do the technique over and over again so I get it right. When I was visiting an Aikido school in the big city they had the rule of four. Four times one side and then the other and then switch partners. That way you didn't get stuck with height and distance so much. Ah well, it's good training for me.

With the two girls we totalled six. Which I'm starting to think is the perfect number if we rotate frequently. If the new guy comes then we'll have seven which will be crazy. We haven't had that many people in the class in years.

Teacher is upping the ante again. New moves! He says that these are all things we've learned in the past, but he's putting them together in a new fashion. I'm not so sure about that, but it's still a rush to have so many things tied together. Tonight we had a sequence that went:
Block from the opposite outside, getting in close to trap Uki's striking arm against your body and ram the and hand up into the jaw. Swivel body and Uki goes boom. Then we had to learn the counter. As senior Sempai I had to take a very small circle through from low height. I went boom hard and loud. It's several hours later and no problems!

Items of note: my intent to reduce apologies seems to doing fine. In a drill I elbowed Nilon in the jaw which rewarded me with an audible clack. After making sure he was okay I grimaced and we moved on.

Priest and I trained well together. Both of us are on the same page for figuring out footwork and body placement before Teacher can get to us. Awesome.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


In the words of the Rolling Stones - "Shadooby, shattered, shattered." Before class started we had a visitor share with us his desire to join but had to wait until a MRI cleared him for beatings. This brought up the inevitable conversation about what pains we all had; to be shared like a potluck to a pain picnic. In turn, Cook shared with the details of his intriguing back problem. As a youth he was driven over by a car - twice! No wonder he is the crooked man.

Ironically while we were all sharing, none of the catalog of injuries had anything to do with class. I totally forgot about my ankle. However we all said that we felt great after class. Teacher went on at length about how the work we do actually helps spinal health. I'm not totally convinced as I can still experience lower back issues now and then, but those are usually due to poor falls.

I believe I've mentioned that for the last month Teacher has been ratcheting up the complexity of the moves we've been working on. I think that now that we have a few more willing bodies the class has presented him with the opportunity to work on stuff that's been simmering in his brain for a long time. Unfortunately, I chose Tuesday class to tell a junior student how I thought these were the most complex we've ever done. Not really appropriate for the a new guy to hear from a Sempai.

The moves we learned included the most complex hand capture we've ever done. The capture of the punching hand required me to be in a Benny Hill salute then swiveling the wrist lock to take the person down. This includes huge variety of other parts too numerous to mention to be completed at the same time. Do I tell Teacher that if I can't do them then the rest of the class will certainly have a some problems? Probably not because he always introduces us to stuff that we might not be able to do now, but in time do just fine. It's just that this is a boggler.

Final notes:
Not feeling great at moves - rusty at take down stuff/sweeps - not feeling like the advanced student. Can teach somewhat, but not all the way.

Friday, September 28, 2007


I sat down on Wednesday to write about Tuesday's class and couldn't bring anything up that was overly interesting or fun to jot down. I think what has happened is that I'm really getting interested in keeping detailed notes of what I learned and I'm finding out that I don't have the ability to capture what has occurred in writing.

I really started this blog with the intent to work out my petty peeves from class. I'd found an avenue in which to explore the issues that were nagging at me and really making going to class a chore. What I found was that I take a lot of what happens as personal and if I didn't learn to get over it really quickly my desire to learn was always going to be overshadowed by the inability to deal with my classmates. Having the small community of folks on the web has been integral for me dealing with this and growing beyond it. This is not say it'll never be an issue in the future, but I' d like to think it'll be easier to get my head around and then work out constructively.

What I'm really trying to say in long-winding fashion is a deep heart felt thanks to anyone who's ever read this and commented.

We had a full class of 6 folks for the first time in a year last night. Everyone was in good spirits and the complexity of the moves are continuing to increase each night. Last night we continued our focus on cat stance. Simple and frustrating at the same time. We'd fall back under attack into a stance doing a double knife hand strike. After the chop we grab the arm, slide our rear leg forward between the Uki's legs, elbow strike to chin, continue rotation of torso and do a quick elvis leg twitch and Uki goes flying. So fun we couldn't stop!

New guy! I'll call him Priest. Cook's wife is going to start Lamaze so we'll miss him on Thursdays. I wonder what will happen when the baby comes. I imagine he'll disappear.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Flying Chokes

I believe I'm becoming a connoisseur of chokes. I think it was the 10th or 12th time last night where the incessant adolescent giggling started kicking in following the adrenaline kick that attends the end of the tunnel which we call consciousness.

I hate missing class now. Teacher has been motivated lately to show us some more advanced moves and Me and Cook are eating it up with a spoon. So being gone for a week to visit the parents was tough in two ways - I missed class and I fell behind on a couple of new moves.

Teacher is actually building on skills from class to class in a regular fashion!

The three moves we did last night:
Uki makes the punch. At the same time shoot to the outside of punch. Rotate so your back to back. During rotation curl hand behind to face and drive chin up and then down. Uki goes boom.

Uki makes the punch (right hand). Tori makes right hand outside capture at wrist. Tori drives left hand up under Uki's arm and goes to back of neck on Uki. With a rotation of position, pull Uki's arm up and head down. Then Pick up closest leg and wrap around Uki's head and simply step down. Uki goes down or rolls out.

Uki makes the punch. Tori passes to outside and wraps his arm around neck and punching arm in downward posture (unusual catch). Forearm to neck on grab to start choke. Tori sits down to start tominagi (sp?) and Uki flips onto back. Tori scissors legs and lays on Uki's shoulder and head completing choke.

Today my neck feels like it has a 2nd degree burn all away around, but it was an awesome way to get it. I've got to get video of this stuff because I can't describe it save my life!

Off Thursday because I'm flying over to the mainland for work. Next week!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Fighting Children

And by this title I don't mean two minors fight while I bet with other adults on the outcome. No, I mean this in the literal sense.

The adult class which is always struggling to maintain it's membership beyond a few people looked pretty sad last night. Check and Beard didn't show so it was just me and Cook. However, we had a graduate from the kids class. This gal is the younger sister of Arms of Steel. AOS has left for college, but the legacy remains.

So as Teacher explained some of the differences in the two classes Cook and I continued to warm up on our own. I couldn't help but notice the juxtaposition - both Cook and I are over 6 feet in height and Little AOS is about 4'5" and about 90 pounds.

So we did some blocking drills. I was partnered with her and while we did this I noticed the size of her fists! I know I don't have the biggest hands, but hers appeared to be close in size to mine. I enjoyed this until we went into block, block, punch drill. She doesn't mind making contact and she put those mini-hams right into my floating ribs. Ouch! Damn upper cut from tiny people.

She took off at half-time, so Teacher worked with us on a move I don't remember ever doing before. Attacking into an attack in nothing new, but he fused about three moves into one. We would lock out the same side attacking arm, coming over the top and grabbing behind the elbow. At the same time we'd have to reach across with the other hand move the head of Uki around and get the palm under the jaw line. By this time Uki is off balance and with the rear leg we'd slide into a slightly deeper zenkutsu and Uki goes over easy. From there we can go into an arm lock or elbow lock.

In conclusion small children with big fists are dangerous to lower ribs and I had some backsliding on the apology problem. I said, "I'm sorry" about twelve times.

I'm on vacation for the next week. Visiting Parents in the East.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Technical aspects

Nothing really funny or overwhelming noteworthy, but we had an awesome time. A total time slip. We started out with a combo exercise after doing kicks for a half hour. The roundhouse still frustrates me to no end, but that's what the practice is for. I'll definitely have to do that on my own more often. I've been working on side kicks for so long that all others got rusty.

So the combo was an upward block (jo dan) combined with a punch to the solar p that then moved to a neck grab to knee strike. Executed smoothly you get the feeling that the other person would never know what hit them. I had to learn a few things around this combo. First, go as low I can on the strike so I can use the upward block to keep uki's arm up. Then, second, keep my elbows up as I slide my hands in for the neck head grab to further my control of uki's arms in the short time I'm doing the move. I have a tendency to keep my arms down, since we've been taught that so often, it's now become hard to do anything different. And, third, when grabbing the head for a knee strike, you're actually grabbing the neck with fingernails down with slightly interlocked fingers. You don't even have to use muscle as it naturally guides the uki's head forward to the proper kneeing position.

So I learned that the harder I strain for the knee shot the shorter my stroke it. The more I relax for the strike the higher I bring my knee up. It was like a full foot difference -wow.

Cook asked Teacher about practical sword use. I was intrigued because we rarely bring out the weapons and this seemed interesting. Teacher used the common sword draw hand movement and turned it into a self defense move. Uki sticks a gun or knife in your kidney and you do the sword draw. Basically, you reach across with opposite hand, take their hand (making sure not to get stabbed or shot) and do the draw. This brings their locked wrist/hand up and over your head and then as you move down in the "strike" position Uki must roll or flip to exit a very painful wrist/elbow/shoulder lock. Fun as hell. It's like all those dumb movie stunt man moves that requires the stunt man to do all the work while tori effortlessly moves out of the way.

I only said "I'm sorry" five times this evening. I made sure that I was making contact and that I was doing it correctly. Day one of the new me.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

3 Times

Since I've started I've heard this three times, "I wished we met more that twice a week."

The first was from my own mouth during the first year.

The second was from a student who has come and gone.

The third is Cook.

Funny how that special type of enthusiasm comes and goes over the years.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Bloody Nose and Bruises

I missed a post last week and I'm not sure why, but I had a good time playing instructor with Cook. Most of the class was dedicated to simple instruction and some basic work on movement. It felt good to have some practicle knowledge and have the ability to impart it so that it's understood.

So tonight we got started on time (will miracles never cease) and immediately started on one-two drills. I've seen videos of this kind of thing and I guess it's very formalized in some Tang Soo Do schools, but not us. For the beginners it's a time to embrace the basics and for the more experienced students it's time to work on our speed, ingenuity, and accuracy. I was paired with Check for the first hour and that went well. I felt like we were really exploring our weak areas and fine tuning some older stuff that doesn't get worked on often.

After the break I got paired with Beard. As always his skills from Judo make him a fierce opponent and force me to concentrate on everything I've ever learned. So we started working on two part attacks which require the other person to respond with three different moves. At our level (hah!) we are expected to show a lot of imagination or, if not that, very good skill. Almost immediately Beard did a great attack where the leading fist drops after a punch attempt and the lower blocking hand circles up to do another strike it the absence of the first. I got the first two, but forgot they can keep coming. After a poor block I felt a light contact on my nose and didn't think anything about it until he broke off contact. I can't say that I've ever had a bloody nose from the top before but they bleed just like any other kind. What a mess. I ended up doing the rest of the class with a band aid on top of my nose and that made me think I had my glasses on.

Still paired with Beard, the rest of the night was pretty awesome. I would occasionally show some good skills, nothing great, but they always make me feel good. At the end of class, after I had taken some jarring blocks off his kicks he mentioned something that almost stopped me cold.

He said, "I think you need to stop saying I'm sorry when you make light contact. I think you need to start talking to yourself in a positive fashion - like, 'I'm going to make contact but it will be precise.' I think this is messing up your distance and ability to make decent contact."

He was right! Time for a mantra. I will punch and kick correctly and with the right force!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Red Jaw

I was actually looking forward to coming to class tonight. I have to admit that there are times where I'm either dreading it or too exhausted to contemplate the exercise. However, after such a long hiatus I've been looking forward to going back with some regularity.

So Cook came early and I asked permission to start teaching him the first kata. Teaching kata is so difficult. I think the art is determining how much detail you should give a person. I definitely don't have that. I have the tendency to talk too fast and try to correct every little thing.

Sensei was big on basics tonight. Which I thought was great just for my own development. Block drills and movement. Great for the new guy and great for me - the old new guy.

The second hour was all ground work and fending shoots to the hips and legs. The one that really sticks out in my head is the catch of the back of the neck. We form a cup over the yuki's neck and ride our middle fingers past the ear lobe and then press the nerves in the jaw. Holy cow! Dropped me like a slaughtered hog. This required very good timing, but once achieved was very effective.

From there defending and attacking into a kick while you are on the ground. Tough but fun as hell. It was rather sobering that you'd probably get a busted rib if your timing was off and it probably will be in a bar on the floor. But once we had them down we learned a nice submission on the foot. I wasn't paying attention and Check kicked me in the lower abdomen with her free foot. Keep that other knee up!

By the way, when I said I wasn't sore last time I was incredibly hasty in that statement. I spent the weekend taking ibuprofen hoping that I wouldn't die. Getting back to shape is going to be tough, but I've started.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Back! again...

Sensei asks me, "how do you feel?"
"I'm fat, old and hung over - well maybe not in that order - more like hung over, fat and old."

A month of indulgence made my face look like a wadded up bundle of sheets. Pale and blotchy with heavy lines under my eyes, I endeavored to work as hard as I could without pulling an myocardial episode.

So I'm back, again. Sensei has been calling regularly to tell me what's coming up and see how I was doing. After one month of 12 hours days, six days a week I've been feeling pretty frazzled. On top of this my wife and have had a not stop stream of visitors and social obligations. The real icing to this cake has been an almost constant battle with a flu that never seems to completely clear up. Even last night Sensei commented on my slight nasal honk.

The night before was my wife's birthday. I stayed up way too late and and drank way too much for a work day. I was groaning most of the day at work, not being terribly productive when Sensei called because he was getting two new students and wanted the class to be filled out. The proved to be an excellent excuse to get to class.

The two new girls didn't start that day. They just watched a bit and promised they'd be back in the future. However we have a new guy who started while I've been in hiatus. I'll call him Cook. Tall and thin and what seems to be the perfect attitude for starting out in beatings, he was a pleasure to work with.

Anywho - I'm not nearly sore as I thought I'd be. Yeah!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Visitor

Sensei called me up last Wednesday and told me that he ran into a guy who was an instructor for 35 years and talked him into coming to class to visit/instruct. So he wanted as much of the class there so everyone could get a little more. Since I was still hacking like I have TB I just visit for the last hour to see how it was going.

Without knowing the visitor's background I'd have to say he knew some stuff about some stuff. I haven't been doing MA for very long, but did you ever notice that you can tell someone who has skills no matter what they look like. He reminded me of Teacher Slim in that he had an everyman appearance and didn't appear to have a super hero physique, but in action he had so many skills that I don't have enough knowledge to even describe how good he was.

While I sat with his wife he took our members to task. He definitely came from the old school. By this I mean that hitting is for keeps and grabs are extremely painful. After class we found out that he has attended schools in Japan and the Philippines and had acted as a trainer in so many places that I couldn't keep track. Quite the CV.

I talked with Teacher tonight and he said that everyone was still sore afterwords. Life! I can't wait to get back...

Monday, July 16, 2007

Still dragging

Another week of poor health. I had to work until 2 or 3 am last week and that following two weeks of poor health sent me right back. I woke up on Sunday thinking I was hung over, but I hadn't drank the night before. I couldn't get out of bed to save my own life. I can't wait for my wife to get back and take care of me...

Friday, July 06, 2007

Back In The Saddle

"Are you feeling okay?" asked Check.
"I think so. Why?" I replied.
"You're completely pale and sweating." she responded.
I looked past Teacher's shoulder into the floor to ceiling mirror directly behind him and noticed with concern that invisible mime people did a ghostly makeover on me while I was doing punching drills. The sweat I could discount until I realized that no one else was having a problem with the light effort. Nice.

I realized later that there are two types of out of shape; one that comes from general inactivity and one that comes from prolonged illness and the inactivity that it breeds. The later had me in it's grips last night. I was doing everything I could to keep breathing regularly, but at end of a sequence I'd be huffing and puffing like I just did sprints. Can a person have negative cardiac fitness? Apparently.

I was dreading going back because I wasn't sure that I'd have the wherewithal to do a whole class, but I made it through, drank two beers and when to sleep. It was great to see the class again. We now have a new member, a young man (12 or 13) who comes from a formal Karate background. At Yellow belt he knows 12 Katas very well compared to our 8. Ah youth.
Apparently his attendance has helped everyone be a little bit more professional so we are back to a formal bow in and out. Very nice.

Saturday, June 30, 2007


When I returned from vacation I had thought I had a bout of allergies, but it turned out to be a substantial cold. It's in it's second week of incubating and causing me misery. Apparently everyone has it here, so I've just got to ride it out.

It a moment of frustration I decided to run. The cold just makes me feel mildly icky so running seemed like a great way to get back into gear. At five minutes I almost passed out in a drainage ditch. I ended up walking home enjoying the weather while massaging the already fierce cramping that was starting in my thighs. Wow, four weeks of enforced relaxation doesn't do me one bit of good.

So I promised a picture, but much to my shame I'm not in shape or very tan for that matter so here's the closest one I could stand posting.

Now you can all see my inability to match clothes, but they are easy to wash...

Thursday, June 21, 2007


We're back from Vacation and it's taking me some time to get back on my feet. The trip was great, but I'm exhausted and my allergies are in full gear. Who would have thought it would ever be nice here.

Anyway I promised a picture so I'll try to dredge something up from the trip. I'm afraid it wasn't a vigorous trip so I'm out of shape and there wasn't much sun either.

Friday, June 01, 2007


In the week up to leaving my wife and I are running around as it is and then I get an evening job to get going! Stressful!

Anyway, no posts for a couple of weeks. I'll post a picture when I get back.

Friday, May 25, 2007

No Beatings

Our local festival kicked off yesterday and Sensei knows none of the kids are going to show even if it is raining and 43 degrees (F). So this is one time class is canceled, but I got roped into moving some friends in the rain. Sweating in the rain - yeah.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Sad Interlude

Quick notes for a bummer evening.

First we started with the oppposite hand grab and then a side kick in the ribs. Then a semi-complicated move that had us move out of the way of the punch, stand shoulder to shoulder and knuckles to the face, groin, throat. Very action movie.


Practice basic grabs and locks. Then advanced. Then out comes the fake sword they use in Kendo. We were practicing the baseball bat attack and counter. I have to say that I had an "aiki" moment because I was great. I got inside the swing did a couple of throws and was generally brilliant. My back is killing me and one of the disarm moves required a punch through the arms that beat the crap out of my bicep. I promised that would whine less, but that was too much so many times in a row. Ouch.

So Check shows up because she was feeling fat and out of shape. So it was nice to have her. She was originally going to move this summer, but things didn't work so we'll continue to have her around. The bad news was that Arms of Steel's Dad stopped by and told that AOS wouldn't being coming back. He's just signed up for the military and would be heading out for training shortly after graduation. He was obviously upset but wanted to be supportive. He's scared for his son and I have to admit that I think it's an odd choice for someone who was planning to go to college. We'll just think positive thoughts that he won't get shipped out right away.

You've also heard me complain in the past about Nilon (Nut) and I find myself feeling less anxious about him all the time. It's as though I can see him mature in the skills and I don't take anything personally anymore. He seems lonely and I feel like he has a hard life.

It's back to raining and being cold. Seems to fit the mood.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Zombie Class

Never have I seen such a lack luster, non-energetic, yawned filled evening. We actually ended class early because we were stumbling around so much. There was only four of us, Kid Speed, Nilon, me and Teacher.

One and Two-step drills and some Kata. I don't know about the others, but I felt absolutely beat to death after Tuesday. We actually have some sun now so I even sleep less. I gather everyone is in the same boat.

I felt bad for Nilon. We were working Pyung Ahn O Dan and Bassi and he's still struggling with the first Kata. He still smiled and tried his best.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Post Sick

After a week off I feel as week as a baby deer. Well maybe a bit stronger than that. I went to the gym and managed five minutes on the treadmill before my legs told me that was enough. Then tonight, even though I was very focused on breathing, I had to take frequent rest breaks to slow down my heart. Illness is terrible on morale.

Now that the summer has arrived Teacher's youth class is down to small numbers but it looks more difficult to me. I've never seen such a collection of unusual children. I can only guess ADHD for the lot of them, but maybe some developmental disability as well. Teacher is worn out by the time he gets to us. Yuck.

Simultaneous block and strike with a hip twist to give the punch some umph. My back was starting to protest after so much inactivity. Then on to multiple attacker drills and the after the break multiple attacker with knife (rubber). I sprained (light) my thumb again - same damn one I always tweak and took a kick to the elbow that has left some swelling. Not an auspicious start after a break. But then again, I say that all the time!

I received two corrections that were really insightful. The first was that I was having a stuttering attack. Where I make two really great strikes that are well placed and timed and then I hesitate and strike again in another flurry. It was pointed out that it was redundant. Stop at the first part and move on.

The second was that when confronted by attackers you aren't going to know if someone has a knife or a gun or what have you. Focus on doing the best and concerning you self about the knife as it arrives. Hard to do when you know it's there, but fun to work on.

Good to be back and get some exercise. It makes me feel alive.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Out sick

So Beard calls me Monday and let me know.

"I got third place in Kumite!"

I said, "Oh man, that's awesome - I knew you'd do great."

"Out of three people!"

I said, "...."

Thankfully he was laughing about it. It appears that our training regimine didn't work out the way we expected. We trained so that he had the cardiac fitness to go forever, but the matches were only two minutes! He needed to have a plan in place and execute immediately instead of waiting to see the weaknesses. Ah well, next time.

The cold I've been fighting off for the week finally found me. Running nose and stoned out of my gourd from Sudefed. Weeeeee.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Fat hips that haunt

I've never posted right after class before, but since I can't sleep I figured I might as well. I'm on the laptop sipping Old Overholt wondering if I run tomorrow because of the insane bruise on my foot. Out of the whole class we did only a few minutes of kumite with Beard and I still pick up a couple of lumps. I've never heard him complain about anything (I'm trying to quit) so he is either tough as nails (possible) or just doesn't see aches and pains as an issue to discuss (very cool).

So I was feeling extremely fit tonight after I hopped out of the shower. I was admiring myself in the mirror and sucking in my gut as guys do when I thought in a moment of vanity that I would take a picture of myself and share it with anyone who might chance upon the blog. Now anyone who knows about life in the far North realizes two things; you don't get a lot of sun and you wear a lot of clothes. To cure the first part my wife and I going to the tanning booth to get ready for our vacation down South next month. The second part I thought was going to go away because I exercise so much.

You'll notice that there is no photo today. I am definitely not as tan as I thought (think sour cream) and my physique in the lens made me look like an aging porn star. I was suddenly depressed and didn't want to make anyone gag. I'd already tortured you with my tie dye gi and I don't want to push my luck.

Class was a lot fun in the second hour. We learned a variation on a wrist lock take down and as usual I ended up slowing class up by making Teacher show a lot detail. I just need so much fine tuning. I ended up apologizing at one point, but realized that because I take the time I'm learning the moves very well and Teacher doesn't mind at all taking the time teaching. He loves it.

I was going to call the post hips, hips, hips because we practiced a ton of roundhouse and it was if I'd forgotten how to do them. Very frustrating. Something to bring up on the practice priority.

Teacher's sage words to the kids when they complained about wanting to learn something new. "So you want to learn something new, but don't want to continue to practice what you know. This mean that you'll learn the new stuff and have to practice it and the old stuff - oh wait, you don't want to practice any of that stuff. Get back to work."

To borrow a phrase from Mat - Persevere!

Late note.

Whoops, I forgot to post the other day.

In the big city the large Karate school is having a tournament this weekend. Teacher was encouraging me to go as usual, but my wife pretty much put a stop to that. She has attended the tournaments with me in the past and was pretty upset with beatings I took even though I got first place. I had to get examined by two EMTs after the kumite to make sure I didn't have a concussion. Needless to say she was incensed. I think she would have been alright with me going if she wasn't there, but I thought how much the trip would have cost and figured it'd it was for the best. I'd have to buy a airline ticket, get a car rental, and then a get a room. Ouch.

So Beard, Teacher and Teacher Slim have made plans to go. Although the Teacher's aren't competing Beard will get a full compliment of video for his Kumite. He's not doing any Kata or weapons, so he might have a relatively short day at the competition.

To prep him we've been doing kumite at class that vaguely resembles the rules of the Karate tourney. I've got thin little arm bones and when I woke up I realized that I did, indeed, stop a kick near my wrist. Ow.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Time Compression

And then class was over.

We got started late and then went into the break and then class was over. I can't decide if I like it when class flys by and there has been a loss of time or frustrating because it didn't feel like I was working hard. Well, you know I was working hard, but you know what I mean.

One and two step sparring for the first hour. It was pointed out that I didn't need that many strikes after a block. Teacher Slim pointed that out to me in a rather memorable fashion. I was favoring a short rib strike followed by an elbow or two quick punches to the head. So he pulls me to the side and punches me in the short ribs. Naturally, I curled up around his fist like a slug around a new flower. He pointed out that my head was no longer in the same position and, therefore, I shouldn't be punching to that space.

So after a lot of retooling I started thinking with my legs. Lots of knees to the head of the bent over guy.

After break the mats came out. Since Teacher Slim was there it meant that locks and throws were going down. After I don't know how many chokes, throws and locks class was halted. Learned an awesome counter for the rear seated choke if I can move fast enough.

I still couldn't go to sleep until Eleven.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Practical Application

More bruises! This morning a big blue one on a bicep and big brown one on my hand. I know the one on my hand came from the wrist locks, but where did one arm come from? Mysterious and I don't bruise very easily - at least I haven't in the past.

I assumed that since my legs were barely functioning that we'd be doing kicks because karma is like that, but instead it was night of applying kata and then an evasive move to throw.

In TSD our katas can seem often bizarre (to me anyway) and since we don't have formal bunkai we are often left questioning the practicality of certain movements. So Teacher took a couple of odd bits and made sure we had an idea of how they played into reality - fun!

The rest of the class was devoted to evading a bear hug attack. Teacher's friend was all drunk the other night and he got to pull this one out of his hat. We do the double upward block (from kata!) then using an elbow to the shoulder, a behind the elbow pull and a step out of the way the uki goes flying. It took about an hour to get it flowing, but it was awesome fun when it worked correctly. No effort for a beautiful flight.

Ironically my legs were nicely loosened up all the activity.

Realisation - we need more people for the class. We're going to be losing two more folks this summer and then it'll be Nilon and I with Beard on occasion. Yikes.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Gym Note

9:55 mile (struggle to run)
225 Squat (barely able to move this morning)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Blood and Softness

Where do they come from? In the shower last night after beatings I noticed two holes in my hand and something that looks like a burn mark on one forearm. I can't remember doing or receiving anything that would create these but there you have it.

The first hour was dedicated to sticky hands! This is rare, but fun as hell. Nilon and I did it for a full half hour without the shoulder strain that usually accompanys the exercise. I assume that means that I was relaxed enough to learn.

Second hour was a big shift - soft block and evade. This is one of those integration things that is apparently very hard for me. TSD is so hard style and then Teacher shifts gears and makes things all touchy feely which I apparently suck so bad at that I create a vacuum. Still interesting and fun. And when done correctly requires no muscle. Fast night.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Down Time

I skipped beatings last night. I had to work late at the second job and by the time I finished dinner class had already started. That and the pain up and down my left side didn't feel very motivational. If it sounds like I'm making excuses - I am. Everytime I laugh it hurts and when I rolled over in my sleep last night I woke myself up from discomfort. Nice. I'm so tough.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

It's full of stars...

The afterimage of a hundred flashbulbs flashed in the darkness. After the static in my vision cleared I tried to quickly pick myself up and get out of the way of the next uki. I took a horrible fall and the result was a sore neck and momentary loss of vision. Tough night.

We started with punching and kicking drills that somehow seemed incredibly fun and fast. I got paired with Nilon and AOS. Nothing really new, but Teacher Slim came in for his once in a month visit. He was to my one side correcting my newly developed bad habits, while Teacher corrected my old ones. Making a fist, breathing, etc. As usual Nilon struggled to remain consistent with the exercise and immediately started trying his locks and grabs. Teacher Slim really doesn't have patience for such things and wandered away. When I have both of them its like watching ADD in stereo. Teacher Slim only wants to teach advanced moves and concepts - often pushing far beyond what I capable of doing, while Nilon wants to try whatever he can think of instead of the exercises at hand. This frustrates me because I want to know what Teacher Slim has to offer, but you really have to concentrate and give him your full attention and that's not possible with Nilon.

Nilon, whom I used to call Nut, was getting on my nerves again last night. I'd like to think that I was making my peace with him, but he has special powers to drive me over the edge. The more energy expended the more he gets energized. Thankfully he took a three hour hike before he came to class. Even the constant exhortations of "relax" from the teachers had a limited effect.

So the mats came out at half time since Teacher Slim was there. Nilon, still full of vim and vigor took care of that all by himself. Youthful energy makes me jealous. But seeing it makes me even more tired.

So it was on to Aikido. I may have mentioned this before, but Teacher Slim had some exposure to Aikido in the past and has taken some favorite things from that art and combined with them with some really painful stuff from Gojo-ryu.

We partnered up and then practiced all the basics and a little of the advanced moves. From there we had the person in the middle and the rest did a line. Attack, attack, attack. Supposedly we are trying for variety, skill, and timing. In reality there is a lot of poor falling, poor throwing and general poor execution - well, at least from me.

And that's where the stars came in. Beard pulled me in and executed a wrist lock and take down so fast my feet left the ground. I didn't even have time to tuck my chin. Boom. From there everything got a little less smooth.

One of the moves takes the attacking hand and moving it into a circular block to move the arm out of the way. You then take your other hand and grab the back of the head forcing it down and if executed well then the uki ends up doing a roll out. I crashed to the floor thunderously. I got a really sore foot from that one.

I slept like a log last night.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Fog Of Weekend

I left beatings early to catch a plan to the city. I know I had something interesting to talk about, but I'm so tired right now I can't remember what it was.

I think Nilon and I were trying sticky hands. I saw a video on another blog by some fellow that was a definite expert. So we tried this and there some moments of synchony but not much beyond that. I helped with the kids class. This does nothing good for my blood pressure.

Uninspired on a Monday morning. I feel like I was gone for a year.

Went to a bar on Saturday night with a friends and his friends. Missed two fights right next to me. So much for me situational awareness. No kung-fu skills here.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Video Review 2

I didn't have much of a class last night because I got called into work after we started. I did have enough time to catch myself on film though. Here's Bassei again. Although I can get through the whole Kata Teacher notices that I'm trying to rush to the end and don't have any dramatic pauses. I think you can see that he's correct...

Saturday, March 31, 2007


I missed last weeks beatings due to other obligations and fighting a cold. As an alternative I hit it hard at the gym. I was able to run a 9.05 mile. Not bad for an out of shape 40 year old.

Two conversations about Brown Belt rank. I had assumed that I was no where near that damn thing. One of the guys at the gym is loosely affliated with us, but due to a bad back rarely attends anymore. So he braces me about the whole belt rank thing thinking I should be there soon. Yikes. Then I was talking to Teacher and he says something along those lines. He apparently understands my reticense. I think he said something like, "you think you aren't ready, but how many times have you said that in that past when I knew you were ready." Yikes again. I just my rank the other day! I hope this is just a discussion in general...

Friday, March 23, 2007

A Moment of Brilliance

My wife is back from her journey and I was surprised when she let me just trapse off to beatings. I figured after a week and half she'd be, "I miss you and I want to spend time with you." Not that this is bad and I would have been fine with this, it's just not what I expected.

So off I went expecting a bland class with Nilon and Beard. Surprise! We had Check, AOS, then Kid Speed and Beard for the second hour. Check gave us some bad news while we were warming up - she wants to move South. Problems with her ex and daughters and the lack of any warmth here for a year have put her into a moving frame of mind. Dang.

The exercise flow started with a two-step consisting of backfist step punch. This migrated into someone grabbing you from behind and punching. This was met with the backfist (properly done you'd get a block and strike at once) and then punch. We had to practice outside and inside because Teacher says under pressure you never know which way you're going to go. After profficiency we moved on to sparring.

I didn't realize that I had missed it so. I felt alive in every sense of the world. No matter how many troubles there are in the world and in my life (not too many) there exists nothing beyond the conflict at hand. Other than a lot of fun last night I did a beautiful thing. I executed a roundhouse aimed at the side of Beard and as he blocked I changed direction to gently pop him on the side of the face. I have never been able to execute such precision before. Awesome.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Short story Long

It's been a couple of weeks, but my wife left town and I had a couple of side jobs in the evening so no beatings for two whole weeks. I was actually dreading going back tonight but it turned out great. The first hour was Nut and I (I can't call him that anymore so I'm re branding him Ninlon (Nut who Is No LOnger Nut).

I had been jonesing for some contact and Ninlon was ready to go. It was almost organic how things came together, but I'd have to pull out every couple of minutes because I'd lose the pattern. It was all hands but it was beautiful.

Techniques from Teacher have a natural migration anyway, but tonight it seems extra clear. First was the two punch and the other person would try to get inside. This lead to chin and throat strikes and then lead to throws.

I'm not sure how I feel about throws. I love them, but I'm not good at them. My height plays against me and then I use muscle which defeats the purpose. So the second hour was an endless practice of getting my hip in and taking the balance of the uki. Very difficult, but I got a couple in. For the first time I actually knew what they were talking about. Beard was my unfortunate uki most of the time since he's my around my height, but letting go of my muscle use is tough.

Good to be back even with my back in knots.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


So my wife is leaving the country for a week or so and we wanted to have a romantic evening together so I missed out on beatings.  We went out to dinner and then sat around with our laptops doing bills and such.  Hah.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Knife attacks always hurt

I'm writing fast today because I don't have a lot of time at work. Here's the skinny version.

No Kid Speed! Not the most demonstrative person I've ever met, but this does seem mysterious to me. Of course at 15 I assume he's thinking about girls and what his friends are thinking about. In the years I've known him I've never heard him string together more than five words together. At his age I couldn't shut up (I'm not much different at this point).

We started with kick combos and then knife attacks. Exercise one was low inside crescent (to foil low kick or movement forward), then other foot roundhouse, followed by punch punch. Very awkward and definitely not smooth for me. After lots of corrections we changed to low inside crescent, switch foot round house, remain balanced then with same foot back kick. That worked great because I didn't have to bring my weight back around.

Knife attacks always hurt. I have a bad habit of blocking down instead of across because of height difference and me not twisting my torso until too late. This means that the point of our wood knives find themselves embedded in my boobie. Ouch.

So after lots of corrections and a variety of attacks and defenses we went to the stairs. Teacher had taught practical self-defense in the past and had obviously thought it would work with a small class. We went to the stair case and learned how to foil attacks from every direction. This means that I took a lot of sprawls down the steps. My feet felt a little bruised as I'd fly down the steps trying to find a spot and inevitably miss.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Dream Fight

When I first started beatings Teacher Slim told me that when I have a fight in my dreams and win that I'd be on my way to really absorbing the material. Here I am years later and the dreams I have that relate to fighting haven't left me feeling good about my mad skills. Usually I fight and never seem to get that finishing move in.

So last night I have a fight dream. I have to subdue a woman taller than me who appears quite substantial. We are located between benches (church pews?) I'm doing fairly well (she seems disturbed) but I can't quite clench the deal. I change tactics and dive between her legs and kick up with my feet to knock her over. I fold her up elaborately and then I guy comes up and shoots her. Messy.

As I stared in shock I mentally slapped myself on the forehead thinking how I could have really attacked her legs and knees with kicks...

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

20 to the Throat

Around the 10th time I felt like I had the idea, but that simply isn't enough in Beatings. Rote repetition really makes an impression especially in the crook of my throat.

I found yet another area to work on. I really dislike using spear hand in relation to a throat strike. I know that my opponent, in this case Beard, knows to relax his throat, but the idea of sticking my fingers intentionally in something smooshie kinda freaks me out. I guess I felt like I really had to have excellent control and knife hand is not my forte.

So after jabs and getting jabbed I was thankful to be blocking kicks. Something simple and painful and easy.

Then lots of Kata. Weeee.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Kicks and Wrists

Arms of Steel was back in the class last night. It was nice to have someone else in class for the first hour. We started off working on Bassai and making AOS do it as well. Poor guy was sweating and spinning around trying to figure out what the next step was. I think I'll be ready for video in a week or two.

On to kicks. Spinning side kick and crescents were flying. Flying knee! This is totally new to me, so it took 20 times to get anywhere near what it was supposed to be like to be effective.

So the application was a crescent kick to move the hand or object out of the way (in my case a shot to the head; height and flexibility are on my side) then a side kick to knee or gut. The finish was knee to the face or falling back fist to the neck or back of head. If we chose the knee straightener then the opponent should still be upright prepped for knee to gut. So fun!

2nd hour. Wrist locks to throw. I've been doing this for years and it dawned upon me that I'm not doing it at all. I've been using muscle for every aspect that I am unable to do correctly. This is so upsetting! Now I've got partners that won't budge unless I do things exactly correct. What a blow to my ego.

- I have to be relaxed. If my muscles are tense then they tense.
- Turning into opponent. My lead foot must be placed like I'm prepping for a kick - heel as pointer.
- Keep elbow up. They will get you if you don't have that up.
- Fold that wrist! Straight fold is somewhat painful, but fold with twist is what puts people down.

I couldn't sleep because of wrist pain. Beard put the ouch on me. It was nice to see that he wasn't immune to using muscle when things didn't go correctly. Unfortunately, it was with me. His judo background seemed to have gone to hell at one point because throw that comes after the lock was super explosive. I hadn't hit hard in a long time. Thankfully my slap was timed well and took the sting out. After that happened I felt a great deal of simpatico towards him because his frustration was showing much as mine does. Heee.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Bassai Redux

Just me and Teacher last night. So we went over Bassai around ten times. We kept stopping as he tried to recall the various versions he had learned over the years. Talk about "knocking the rust off."

Beard showed up for the second hour and we went over our fourth Kata for him and I ended finding out that I had been doing something wrong for five years! I was in shock and it threw my whole game off. Time to start over again.

After class Teacher and I went over two different videos and his old manuals to confirm what I was missing in Bassai (Ba Sa Hee in one). I've missed a lot of stuff, so it's back to the drawing board. I've got about 13 to 20 moves I've missed and I certainly don't look fluid by any means anyway. I was up doing kata in the false dawn this morning trying to add in the extras via an ancient book. Hah.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


The tell-tale ping of muscle hitting it's threshold and locking up painfully surprised me in the middle of a half-assed attempt at a cool down stretch. Mind you, this wasn't a power stretch into a japanese split, but a simple one vaguely reaching down to a knee. On top of that I was fairly warmed up. Groan.

After a week off of everything due to work I decided to go to the gym for a circuit class to knock the dust off as it were. I've had a groin/inner thigh problem for about a year or so that I thought would heal on it's own. No luck.

So the RT says I have to stretch for 30 seconds every hour for two weeks; barring sleep of course. I'm now at work with legs out. After two days it does seem quite a bit better. I guess the educated folks in medical land can actually help sometimes.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


For the first time I've been going to beatings Teacher called me up and cancelled class. His neighbor and his father in law both passed yesterday. Very stressful; so he's running around trying to organize a bunch of stuff.

I'm glad for another day of rest!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


No beatings last night. I've got a bunch of work this week and this means I'm burned out by evening. Hopefully things will slow by tomorrow.

Friday, February 09, 2007


I was told by Teacher Slim long ago that when you do Kata you should be out of breath from the exertions involved.

Fast forward four plus years and after doing one kata I'm mildly out of breath assuming I did it well. I can't tell if it was because I was really doing a great job or was holding my breath. I'm forcing myself to breath out on every strike.

Last night - In order to feel more productive Vet and I did our normal warm up (the one that a class would do together) and took the video. I just took a look at Bassai (is that how you spell it?) and realized I left out a portion. Teacher suggests learning in two parts. I guess I should have done that automatically.

It was knife fighting night. Vet had dislocated some bones in his hand, but still wanted to play so when he was uke I had to take attacks from his left.

I found that I'm rudimentary in my response whereas he is filled with fabulous take downs and painful binds beyond his experience. Feeling kinda white belt...

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Video Review

This is me doing Bassai. Try not to gag.

Yes, I'm not very anonymous. Yes I'm crappy at it, but I've only done it three or four times. Yes I'm wearing a tye dye gi. Our water was bad one season and my wife had some extra dye laying around.

This is me doing Pyung ahn o dan. Much smoother in my opinion, but less complicated. Sorry for the extraneous video. I have to learn how to edit.

I'll try to get a better view and better video in the future.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Kicks and Apathy

So I approached Teacher about trying to learn Bassei on my own. Unsurprisingly he was interested in what I had learned and then showed me the several ways that he had learned it over the years. Awkward procedural problem resolved.

Class is still dead. Only Vet showed up in the first hour and then Beard showed up for the second. We worked on kicks in self-defense mode. Rather fun stuff.

Shoot/slide to the rear and when the person attacks side kick into solar plex. This was refined by a slide to the side and round house kick to solar plex and then side kick to the hip joint. Fun, but hard to practice well.

I got home and felt a little disappointed. It seems teacher is less and less motivated to keep the class formalized and thus time seems to be wasted. The informality is nice, but it drives me crazy. Actual time in class seems like 30 minutes in the first hour and then maybe 30 in the second hour. Arghh.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


In TSD Bassei is supposed to be the last kata before black belt, but our school is not hung up about that kind of thing. However, I've been itching to learn something new after doing the first 8 katas for years now. So I've taken it upon myself to learn Bassei on my own and then broach the subject with Sensei.

I suspect I'm breaching protocol here and I haven't really learned the whole thing (it's got like 60+ moves), but I have to approach Teacher and make sure I'm not being an overreaching ass.

Beyond the protocol issue Bassei is pretty cool, but learning from video is brutal. Constant rewinding and then writing it down makes me dream about it. However, practically, I feel like I'm learning the first kata over again because of the lack of flow I feel.

Friday, February 02, 2007


Improving roundhouse kick - ouch, so sore. Foot, hip, aim with knee, don't snap kick, over and over again. We look horrible.

Randori with three attackers!

A little Kata.

Do I start practice on next kata and then show Teacher to motivate learning something new?

Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Class was very small again last night. Just Arms of Steel and myself. I'm learning to appreciate it more as the night goes quickly and it's very intensive. After warming up we started with randori - the real one with multiple attackers; not much aikido though.

I'm limping this morning because I thought I was being clever. I grabbed Teacher from behind while AOS front kicked him. After Teacher blocked that he kicked my leg out from underneath me. He simply waited until I put most of my weight on that leg before administering the coup de grace. I should have choked him. Duh.

During our action-packed fist fest I found that I had a few chunks of flesh missing and had bled on Teacher on AOS for their troubles. Hah. I think AOS needs to clip those toe nails...

Lesson for the night: When I learn an advanced move (in this case someone grabs me from the rear and I clamp on their hand and slide to the rear bringing their arm into a figure 7 arm bar) with one person very well, that it becomes impossible with another. I have to work on my differences in height...

Friday, January 26, 2007


First of all thanks to all for the comments. I mentioned somewhere that there isn't a lot of people to celebrate the accomplishment with, so knowing that there is someone out there who knows how I feel by virtue of experiencing the same thing is awesome.

Following my test the class has gone through a substantial change or maybe I wasn't paying attention. The adult class was down to me and Check last night. When I first started four years ago there would be occasions where the class would be just one person and it would feel like private lessons.

I found out later that Arms of Steel fell on the ice and hurt his leg and Kid Speed had a birthday party to attend. Still the class feels empty. At the very least Beard shows up regularly for the second hour, but even he didn't show last night. I know our weather is bad, but this seems ridiculous.

I realize the life blood of our class is to have many folks attend regularly. We have been suffering lately. I guess I wish more parents would show up and join like I have heard at other places. Teacher doesn't seem to mind to much, but it brings on a change in his behavior that drives me crazy.

For the last two sessions Teacher starts to bullshit while we warm up. This goes on for 20 minutes! I'm anxious to interrupt him, but there isn't a way. I ended up bouncing in front of him ready to go. I think he's tired after the kids class and wants to unwind before we start. Or, perhaps, he just wants some time to connect with us. Arggh.

I didn't post on Wednesday because it was this way, but I had some excellent sparring. However a problem is emerging with shorter partners. Instead of doing a lower block (gae dan?) they will drop their elbow straight down into the top of my foot or shin. Painful. Tuesday Arms of Steel did this repetitively. It was instructive in that I would roundhouse to his head more often. I don't mind. By the end of the night I had punched him and kicked in the head once each. Heee.

Last night Check and I were sparring and I was trying to force myself to block correctly instead of the half ass stuff I normally do when I got the punch in the face. There is nothing like the meat smack of a punch to the face. Too bad I wasn't the one giving it.

No black eye this morning - dang.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Test Night - passed

I could go into a lot of detail about the test, but really the important thing was that Teacher doesn't give the belt test until the student is ready. In a way I had already passed and the test just acted as a formalized initiation. Nothing grueling in itself, but the class was tough because, as I thought about it afterword, the whole class was the real test. Thankfully I was on balance and on timing pretty much the whole time.

I was so proud that I didn't get to sleep until 11:30pm. When I came home I forced my wife to listen to me babble for an hour straight. Not that I said anything coherent mind you.

When the class is small Teacher lets us warm up on our own. Last night was very small again so I ran through every kick and punch about three times to make sure my flexibility was there. We used the whole first hour on two-step attacks. I'm not sure what the technical term for this is, but uke throws two of whatever; kick and punch, punch and punch, etc. and then we respond with blocks and counters. I believe I was imaginative with my attacks and responses as well as precise with technique.

The second half of class was on learning some very specific up close techniques that use a shoulder lock (ouch!) and a way to break the balance using the wrist. Very subtle and difficult to pick up, but it made me feel like we were learning some advanced stuff.

The test was brief. Every basic TSD technique many times over and then one kata. No hickups, but kicks to one side could have been better. Again Teacher didn't seem to be focused on that.

So, when I can get my wife to sew it on - I have my second brown tab on my green belt!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Advanced class

With only Check and myself in the class I expected time to slow way down. Foul weather embraced our small town like a grand-mother's hug. No one was moving anywhere and if they did it wasn't fast. So Teacher made due with what he had and made an advanced class. Both Check and I have different levels of green belt so the things were trying weren't normally touched upon in my memory.

Check is a 40 something mother of three who has been divorced for over five years. She's secure, humorous, and flirtatious. I believe she sees the class as her brothers and she has become good friends to most of us. In sparring or exercises with her I notice how she is better at some things than I am even though she has less experience and when she allows herself to make contact she can put her entire weight behind her fist. Amazing for someone who probably only weighs 130.

So the exercise that ties this all together was something pulled out of one of our kata (pinan cho dan) in which you punch into a punch and do circular block with the same hand. It was very difficult to learn because it forced us to leave our punching hand out until the uke punched. After we became used to this we could bring it up to real time which eliminated the hesitation and wait.

To complete the exercise after the block we would grab uke by the wrist, pull him/her off balance and do a under cut strike to the lats. Teacher encouraged us to use a fuller strike so that both people may understand underlying technique. Check pounded my lats into flank steak.

After the break Beard and Kid Speed showed up. We worked on using the slide with the elbow strike. Talk about seeing the direct impact weight and energy up close. If beard put his full energy into it I'd have a shattered sternum.

Kid Speed gave us some bad news. He's going to be moving to California for a year. What a bummer.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Anxiety again

So much for the energy of Tuesday. I forced myself to go to beatings and was surprised when we only had four people. This is usually a great class because it's almost like private lessons. Teacher had us pair up and start randori. I got paired with Check. She's probably a foot shorter than me so it means that she has to get inside to be effective. And effective she is. She can tangle my arms and set me up for a kick regularly. I can only be effective at the end of my reach. So I attack and try to stay away. I didn't feel like a superstar.

At the end of class Teacher pulled me aside and he said that I'll be testing for my next rank in the next two weeks or so. I told me that I wished he wouldn't let me know ahead of time and he replied, "well, you don't actually know what day it is." Touche.

Anxiety is now my close friend even though I think I'll be fine.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Normally the fear of injury, the lack of energy, the endless dark, or frustrations with other students have a way making beatings very difficult to get motivated for. Although every once in awhile I'm reinvigorated as if I was in that first year again. I'm trying to figure out why that was the case last night, because I was totally energized and ready to go.

Maybe it was the good dinner or I was just very rested and mentally and emotionally in a good place. I ended up warming up at home while my wife and I watched TV. I wanted to get those kicks just right and be limber as I could be.

Class was pretty standard, but one of the kicks we worked on the was the back kick. I'm ashamed to say that we haven't worked on it in ages. That means I haven't been practicing it either. So we worked and worked and my hamstrings were feeling like banjo strings - ouch.

Kid Speed is a step away from his Brown belt. This means that he is capable of doing most, if not all, techniques and demostrating mastery in them, but he's a horrible teacher. Admitedly, he's a high school kid, but he's super star. So Teacher takes the last 15 minutes of class to force him to teach us a technique. So, although, I'm not anywhere as good as him, I ended up whispering into his ear suggestions for expanding on the lesson. Teacher didn't tell me to shut up, so I thought it went well, but the class was well into heckling about half way. Teacher didn't stop this either, but Kid Speed didn't seem bothered. Nice. I can see that he'll be dynamic once he starts explaining things instead of doing them automatically.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Stupor 2

After only three weeks of lethargy I didn't think it would be possible to be as sore as I felt before going to beatings last night. My wife told me a joke and if felt like all my ribs were broken when I laughed. Not the best way to enter a night of physical frivolity.

It felt like an old home week because Teacher Slim was there. His attendance has been extremely sporadic over the last year, but I can't fault him. I suspect he gets bored by us and our lack of skills. However, this is never mentioned and he's always very jovial.

I mention him because after a half hour of side kicks (for you Mat) we were broke into skill groups. Check, Vet and I were passed to Teacher Slim for "Aikido" practice. I put that in quotes because I feel like I'm not be respectful to the folks that actually do traditional Aikido whereas we do the watered down locks and throws that only make up an extremely small portion of the art. That being said Check and I attempted to teach Vet all the things we knew. Let's say that I know 20 moves and I tried to break them down and show them to Vet. Later that night I realized that I gave him information overload. Stupid. Teacher Slim likes the advanced students to form the lesson without criticism and just helps teaching technique. Poor Vet - his eyes were glazed and we never noticed.

A positive note is that Check and I really got a lot out of teaching the techniques.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


After several weeks of vacation I can't say that I was surprised by my own lack of energy before class last night, but it was surprising to see pretty much everyone else in the same boat. We knew it was sad because everyone stood in a circle; not talking, not really doing anything, but looking vaguely in the middle distance.

Teacher took pity on us or wasn't feeling sprightly himself so the class was pretty much basics taken at a slow pace. At least we weren't yawning too much so the pace must have been good.

Good to be back at it.

Your Clothes, Book Cast With 100%

  At 6:05am I looked at my phone quizzically while trying to wake up.  My SaBomNim (master teacher), who is legally blind, sent me the messa...