Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Shaky Legs

I'm not sure I want to count the weeks that have passed since I've last been to beatings. But here I was back and it didn't seem like anytime had passed since I'd been there last. Except for all the new faces. We had six teen age girls! What the heck? Teacher asked me to lead the warm-ups and we broke into lines to do punching and blocking practice. Fairly standard, but I was wheezing already. We were then put into pairs and I got one of the new girls that had a gi from a previous school. Didn't mind hitting there I guess. More bruises for me.

After awhile practicing the shudo strikes we went to wrist locks and my partner had to stop for a second because her legs were shaking. She had gone horseback riding previous to class. No calories and frazzled body.

As I walked up the steps to my house I noticed my legs shaking as well. Months of inactivity have made me the human version of veal.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Life by the hour

I'm in school at night and I work a 40 a week job. My life has come down to a measurement of hours. I tell myself that I can do this or that based on it lasting a hour. So if I go to the gym - only one hour; if I work in the garage - only one hour. This has made me very compartmentalized, but I get a lot done very efficiently.

So it was with some trepidation that I went back to beatings tonight with the one hour rule in mind. Teacher wanted to talk quite a bit to catch up, but we got going and since I was the only person it turned into a 40 minute private lesson.

Part of my trepidation was my fear that I'd forgotten everything. I was surprised when we went into one and two-step exercises and then right to integrating locks and blocks. I actually remembered most of the stuff and could execute it fairly well! Color me shocked.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Training/Boredom Update

Teacher is back in town, but no beatings until November. So out of boredom I'm continuing to work out in the morning whenever I can develop the momentum. It's just so damn cold out that I have to break it up with something different on off days. So today was burpees and some pushups in the kitchen.

- 30+ pushups
- 10+ burpees
- 5 burpees
- 15 burpees
- gasping and retching

I think I'll go back outside tomorrow. Cold is better than burpees.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Downtime training record and a "Incident"

Since I'm not in classes for a bit and feeling better after a bit of illness it was time to jump back into the morning workout routine. As usual Bob at Striking Thoughts has added some motivation to my workout. In his most recent video he had something called "burpees." So I've added those into the workout and things have dropped back to the beginner mode. So where I was able to do three five-minute sessions, I can only do two. Here's today's accomplishments:

15 pushups
5 burpees
5 minutes of the knee/switch-foot drill
5-7 burpees
30+ pushups
5 minutes of drill
30ish pushups
5ish burpees.

Needless to say I was completely gassed. I'll remind you that I was in a 37 degree room doing this and I was completely soaked. It took a good part of an hour to cool down.

So I'm at my friends birthday party this weekend. She's quite fit and knew that I attempted to be a gymnast in High school. She proudly showed a set of rings she'd bolted into her ceiling in her training room. I asked immediately if I could try them out. No problem she said. I pulled myself into an inverted pike (feet straight up, head down, and then lowered my legs into a "L"). This was followed by a crack, a bunch of disorientation and me sitting on the floor holding one of the rings. Both H and I sat looking at each other in disbelief. Apparently the load wasn't rated for 200lbs. Oops. Folks from the party ran around the corner not sure what they were going to see - me laying on my back holding one of the rings while H stood near by with a glass of Scotch in her hand. Nice.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Last class

With Teacher going off to parts unknown I felt obligated to go to the last available class. I thought he was just going for two weeks, but I find out that it's off till November!

Nilon was there, but he does appear ready to go. Little Sister was there and was handing out pain as usual. She loves the heel palm strike and managed to clack my jaws a few times. So painful. You'd think I'd learn to keep my mouth shut or move my head back.

Teacher Slim made a showing and showed me some creative locks to throws. My shoulder has never hurt more. I'm glad for the break.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Time flying

I've started school at night so I haven't been able to sit down and write at all. Just a quick couple of notes:

Teacher is going on a 2 week vacation. A rare thing indeed. This will help me catch up on studies.

Nilon reports that he is moving away. As soon as he said this I started feeling down because no one is going to challenge me like he did. It was good and bad. Now that I said that I'm sure he won't be going.

I tried to continue my morning workout and got up to three five minute rounds, but the cold temperature and just plain exhaustion has made me fight a cold and keep me in the bed whenever I get a chance.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Right Hook to Plateau

I've made jokes to my friends about being beaten up by children and can usually back it up with some horrible injury, but last night was a classic.

As anticipated the first hour was attended by just Little Sister and myself. Teacher still looks like death warmed over (fighting a cold). We got a new gal, Angel, who is roughly my height and weight. She'll be a good addition if she stays.

So Little and I are paired to work on one-step exercises. These have been expanded somewhat by Teacher so we can work on combos. So I would do two punches and Little would respond with a combo of punches and kicks. Right away she rams her knee in my side which drops me quickly and then does a redneck punch to the jaw. All I heard was, "bing!" I blame her for the rest of the night's poor performance.

I couldn't do anything without using too much muscle and over-thinking everything. Definitely not an aha! kind of night until Beard showed up at the 2nd half. He asked if I wanted to work on anything in particular and I said kotegashi. Each time we work it I learn something new, but last night everything he said was valuable and made perfect sense. I realized that for the first time I was able to learn a huge amount - I might not be able to put it into play - but it all made sense. Unlike the once in awhile insights. Have I grown?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Footprints in the Gut

I was trying to settle into a restive sleep last night and, as I like to do most evenings, catalog my aches and pains - especially after a vigorous class. Unfortunately for me the amount of heat I put off makes me a very attractive sleeping spot for our cats. Over the years I've become used to their weight on my chest and legs, but last night I noticed something a bit more painful that usual. The inevitable ache of a serious bruise on my abdomen which the heavier of our two cats felt was the perfect spot to roost. Thankfully she thought better of it after about of half hour of my twitching around.

The bruise came from a kick we don't practice that often - the thrust kick. Explained to us as a way to move people away without serious injury. However we proceeded to do just that. Moving from a front snap to a thrust required a retooling of strength and accuracy we didn't appear to have. So there was a lot of oofs and whoofs when the wrong footing or placement occurred.

The class seems to be going through a dry period again. We were saying goodbye to Lux and Beard will start back to his Judo class Thursday. Little Sister only comes for the first hour. So the new class structure will be Little Sister in the first hour and Beard for the 2nd. Hopefully someone new will come. I guess I shouldn't complain about the personalized lessons...

Friday, August 22, 2008


I was helping my wife prepare her classroom for the new school year last night so I didn't get to beatings. So I've included a video of me on the receiving side of Kotegashi as we do it. Not very smooth, but I find it effective.

I've also, finally, started a drill in the morning that Bob at Striking Thoughts suggested. Taking a wavemaster, doing knee strikes for five minutes intervals with push ups interspersed. In fear that I would go into arrest I started with 2 minutes on the timer and then three. Tomorrow I'll try three three minutes rounds. So far I'm better than I thought, but the wavemaster has a tendency to move away so I'm either chasing it down or pulling it back. I'm hoping to shake off those extra pounds from wine country.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


I actually counted four or more times that I tried to find an excuse not to go to class last night. I was hoping that my wife was too tired from work and wanted me around to barbecue. I got the barbecue correct, but I was ushered off to beatings while she went back to school.

It's not an uncommon phenomenon for me, and I imagine others, that it literally takes wild horses to get to class, but once there I feel completely at home and totally refreshed and invigorated at the end of class.

Arms of Steel was visiting between semesters so his little sister stayed for both hours of the class. I mention this only because we did a little light sparring and AOS was pretty rusty with the sparring portion, but his sister who probably only ways 100 pounds, literally punched and kicked me with near her full force. I was thinking to myself, "who let this cat out of the bag?" and "Am I allowed to do the same to her?" I was completely discrete and punched and kicked appropriately, but most of it was rendered ineffectual because she kept getting inside my range, so I couldn't set up a good kick or punch. I hate kids.

We ended class with something I think we stole from Aikido classes. Multiple attackers and we could only use aikido to move people around. Awesome fun, but my fat was slowing me down.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Post Vacation

It seems like I'm typing that title out more often than I thought possible, but I live a good life so I have the strength of ten and bleed my vacation time to the very edge.

I went down to California to hang out with my wife and help her pack up and come back home (she was in school), but while I was down there I got to visit Uchi Deshi. I got to catch the 2nd half of his class and we were able to hang out and get to know each other.

As an aside I would like to mention that I was in amazement that I was able to meet someone through the internet, travel halfway across the world and meet them and find out that not only could we tolerate each other, but actually enjoy each others company.

The dojo he attends is easily the most impressive place I've ever been to. Two stories high and had a mat area that easily 50 by 50. Incredible. Plus the location on the beach makes it a stellar environment in which to learn the gentle art.

Tonight it's back to class and I'm already out of shape.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Weight of the belt

Teacher asks me last night, "so how does that belt feel?"

My first thought was "heavy."

When I put it on it doesn't feel right. I'm sure most of that is I'm so used to seeing the green belt that this seems out of place. The other part is that whenever I get to say Brown Belt in relation to myself I have dichotomous moment in which I say to myself, "that doesn't sound right," and "wow, I actually know something." I starting to think that a large part of the path is to come to believe in oneself and the skills you have. Colin mentioned something along the line about having the skill of a Black belt and coming to terms with the other portions of the path. I can feel myself getting comfortable with the role slowly. I can feel others giving me more respect - perhaps I'm accepting it more...

I noticed last night that everyone has heavy bruises on their arms. No one is complaining so that's nice. We still look like a bunch of abused husbands.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Bumps and Bruises

Oh how I ache. I'm used to seeing these types of pictures on Striking Thoughts because Bob does TKD. Those bruises are just from knife hand blocks.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Brown Day 1

I think I felt different. Kinda like, "Am I good enough for this?" and "Oh hell yeah, I went through the gauntlet!" The gang was giving me a lot of respect though, which was nice.

The brown belt against my red gi looked gross. Oh well, at least the little kids won't be calling me Santa Claus anymore.

Class had six last night and we worked very hard. I'm still drained from Tuesday so class felt very difficult, but I swear everyone was working harder than usual. Lots of knife hand blocks and spinning back kicks. Got some great pointers that I was able to immediately work on.

Still tired, still sore today. Not much to write about..

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

New Brown!!!

I thought it lasted an hour, but I was told it was only 40 minutes.

I thought I was going to puke about halfway, but I didn't.

I thought I was going to remember some strategy, but I couldn't remember how to spell Tang Soo Do.

Teacher called me earlier in the day and told me the basic format of the test, but I can honestly say that it didn't prepare me for what was coming up. We had a standard class for the first hour which I found exhausting anyway. My notorious bad breathing (breath holding) exhibiting itself right away. We broke for a fairly long time (20 minutes) which I didn't realize I should have been appreciating a bit more, then it was test time. Teacher, Teacher Slim and Teacher G sat in chairs at the head of the room. Teacher ran me through every kick, block and strike, sometimes mixing them with movement or not and then I did our first kata/hyung, Kecho hyung Ill Boo and our seventh, Pyung Ahn Sa Dan. Might I add that I was incredible.

Teacher then passed the exam to Teacher G. This was the unknown element. I've only seen Teacher G about three times in the last five years and his background is incredibly hard style. He ran me through multiple exercises with pads and movement and then threw in push-ups and back up again. I was pretty much going to puke and keep thinking to myself, "Can I do this?" or "This is got to end soon" unfortunately it didn't. He kept going to point where I was going to drop. It was precisely the feeling I had on a cardiac stress test, but there I could stop. Here I could not.

Next was Teacher Slim. With a silly grin he asked me to spell Tang Soo Do. Mentally, I was, "no problem, and I love you for giving me a break," but we I tried to speak there wasn't enough blood or O2 in my brain to carry it off. I gather it was t-a-n long pause s-o really long pause d-o. He couldn't stop giggling I couldn't figure out what I'd missed.

Teacher was the final portion of the of evening's festivities. Sparring. I wasn't even really sure if we were going to spar since I was so exhausted, but that's what happened. First it was Nilon, the man that loves to scrap. In his credit I will say that he didn't try any of his normal "invent a move" crap and stuck to the program. Second was Lux. During the first hour we had been doing minimal impact work, so this was a big change and I thought he did really great for a new guy. Then Beard. I knew he wasn't going to pull any punches when he palm heeled my cheek. Well I honestly didn't mind at that point and gave as good as I got. My last bout was with Teacher who came onto me quickly, but the irony was that I was ready for that. I laid into him as hard as I could manage and the worse thing that came from that was him popping my ear with a flat hand. Ouch = ringing.

They had me bow, gave me a belt and then we went down the street for a beer. I had to drive down the block because I could barely walk.

My favorite line from the evening was from Teacher, "I told you to fight them, not beat them!"

Monday, July 21, 2008

Test Prep Interlude

I met with New Guy yesterday for a test tune up. He's got a great eye for detail. We went over my kata and refined as much as we could. We also discussed kumite strategy. I feel a lot better. I think just talking about it with an informed party reduced a lot of my anxiety.

I asked about his background. He has five Brown Belts! He's been studying since his early teens and never got to stay in one place long enough to get his black belt. Dang.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Test Prep

The test is in two weeks.

I totally wasn't feeling any anxiety about it until I started writing about it. Thankfully Teacher appears to be constructing class to address my weak points in order to prepare me. We worked on a deceptively simple/complex forward chained attack. If I didn't come out of the kick properly balanced then the rest of the chain fell apart due to bad distancing.

We worked on Pyung Ahn Sa Dan, which is the kata he wants me to perform. Super critical eye time. He pointed out a few things that cleaned up some moves, but I found even more that needs to be addressed in the next week. Yikes. I tried it this morning and I totally fell apart. I need to warm up more maybe...

The last part of class was dedicated to Rondori and he partnered me with New, new guy. I may have mentioned before that his presence is about the most awesome thing to happen in class for a long time. He brings in a vitality and energy that is incredibly refreshing.

At the end of class I mentioned to Teacher that NNG likes working with kids! He had heard that and I think he was quite enthusiastic about it as well. Finally we have someone who loves teaching and loves teaching kids.

Holy crap update! I just got off the phone with Teacher. He wants to move the test up to next Tuesday so Teacher Slim can watch/particpate. Where's my 02!!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


That was a break.

You know when it happens, but you deny it because in only hurts for a few seconds.

We were practicing roundhouses with focus mitts as the target. Teacher was holding it at whatever distance he saw fit and it was a bit too close for me so my foot went under the mitt and my pinky toe did not. Crack.

I feel like I'm walking with a eggplant in my shoe.

The news - we got a new guy whom I'll call NNG (new new guy) until a name surfaces for him. He's got a Brown Belt in Kenwa-kai karate. I'd forgotten how nice it was to have someone to do stuff with who actually knows what to do. Insanely pleasurable.

At the end of class Teacher says that testing will occur in the next couple of weeks - gulp. That actually sounded specific.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Ah hah

When I got my green belt, Teacher pulled me aside and said that all the "ah-hah" moments I'd been experiencing were going to become less and less frequent. Sure enough the plateau of experience vs. refinement set in and over the last year or so things have slowed down significantly enough to allow me to focus on improving all the small things.

Last night I got a new version of the "ah-hah." We were do a move that looks simple and is very effective, but the execution took two hours to learn. As usual anything with taking someone's balance and keeping your own is something I find very challenging. Last night was no exception, but Teacher was able to break down everything I wasn't doing and give me a metaphor or some correction to constantly refine the work. But the end of the night it was if I had 20 little ah-hahs. Nice feeling to see and feel such quick progress.

The move was to block a straight punch, move in a bit and get the blocking arm to grab the punching arm elbow. While Uki is still in forward movement continue to pull them off balance and give them an uppercut to the floating ribs. We then did three variations of follow up, but they all a foot movement, elbow lock and a shoulder guide. One throws the person. One drives them to the floor and one retains the locked arm and requires us to shoot our feet out and ride the person down to the floor. Hard work! Sore knees! Excitement!

I also added a few pictures to the slideshow of last weeks show off for my Dad.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Bruise Randori

On Tuesday I could only attend half the class as my parents were coming in that evening so I came early to the kids class to help out/participate. After enduring that for awhile (you have to really take the long view on their progress) the class finished and I was doing jumping jacks when Nilon came in and, I swear to you, only did two stretches before he came up me all bug-eyed.

He was ready to go and I figured it would be a nice warm up, so on to Randori. However, this wasn't our regular slow, light impact kind. His first two strikes were pretty powerful and after that I knew I had to be careful as well as pay sharp attention. Nilon is hyper-aggressive and almost half my age so his advantages lay in his ability to produce a continuous attack and excellent fitness. His weakness is a lack of skill and virtually no kicking. I've never seen anyone so allergic to stretching their legs, but it's to my benefit in this case.

So we started and I have to say in all fairness it was really fun. As much as it can be painful it reminds me of how much I have learned and how I might do in a real-life situation. A kind of verification and feedback on how I've progressed in my own eyes. Well, I got cocky right off and didn't bother to protect my head and caught a spinning back fist across the chops. Again I was thankful that he doesn't look first or aim because if that caught me across the eye or brow I would have been out like a light. Thankfully, it didn't do anything, but he actually was concerned about his shot.

I shook my head and it was back on. Since I'm about 5 or 6 inches taller I have a nice reach, but he doesn't mind moving in and using elbows. I backed out and circled and used my legs for some head kicks. Round house to the noggin - point to me. I figured I'd do that for a bit and set up a pattern, but I was too slow. He moved in on a midsection roundhouse and used both arms elbow down to stop my kick. I think we all know this is a horrible block because he had to take all the shock in the shoulders in an upward motion, but I really came out bad because it felt like I had slammed leg into two pointy bits of metal. A little bit later Nilon stopped the action on his own!

Although I felt like I had taken the worst of it, he was dripping sweat from every pore. I guess he felt he got what he needed and was done. I turned to Teacher and asked how long we'd been at it. I asked this because I can never guess how long the action is - it could be 30 seconds or five minutes - when I'm in the mix I can never tell. 3 minutes he replied. Not bad. I wasn't huffing and puffing, but the elbows on the leg were starting to make my leg puff up.

We ended up doing Katas for the next hour to continue to knock the rust off and I could really feel that leg groaning. I took the ibuprofen when I got home. It's still sensitive two days later. Ouch.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wrist Lock

Never in my life have I had so much difficulty describing moves. Beard says, "how to do explain something felt?" In my last entry I was really unable to describe a lock, but Meg asked for a bit more so I took the camera and tried to get some shots of our basic lock. Thankfully we didn't do anymore in class because my wrists are still a bit tender.

Let me just say that their are a million ways to do this and we practice as many as we can, but this is about the easiest one I could describe.

First you take the striking hand on the outside with your same side hand. This could be from a block or just a straight up grab if you are fast and accurate.

We traditionally block farther up the arm and then slide down to the hand, but you get the idea.

Next is the hand placement. The fingers go around the ball of the thumb into the palm and your thumb on the back of the hand.

I usually do the next part with two hands, but this is really designed to be a single hand take. You are supposed to role the person's fist/hand up toward their body.

Note: You've got do this starting very relaxed or the person will tense up and if you've little hands like me then you are doomed. Away to assist into moving into this position is to dig your thumb between the two tendons - ouch!
This is first part of the pain. A person can be dropped to their knees in this position if the curling towards them is continued while close in. Not very descriptive - sorry.
And finally the twist. It's not a great shot of what's going on, but let's say that not only am I pushing his knuckles towards him, but I'm rotating his hand so that the ball of his palm is now going towards his body. You'll notice that his elbow is moving in towards his body to create relief. The only escape is take a fall or other counters that take to long to describe.
I usually have to do this with two hands. It reduces slippage.
And, in other news, Nilon is absolutely obsessed about testing for his next rank. He constantly asks Teacher about it during breaks and after class. I find this repulsive because it goes against my whole gut feeling about why we are there, but at the same time I'm absolutely drawn in because I want to know too! So Teacher says, "we are absolutely testing before the end of the summer." He pointedly looked at me...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Educational Differences

Inside my body I think I heard/felt a prolonged, "creeaaakk."  To the best of my knowledge I think that could be bad.  

However, I'm typing this without a problem.  It always seems to be that way though.  During the evening I'm positive the wrist locks we are preforming are absolutely spraining or breaking my wrist, but I wake up with only minimal discomfort.  

Teacher took a new tack on the start up.  We did a traditional kicking series and I was partnered with new guy, LG.  Front kick, forward stance, back-fist, step behind into side kick.  Nice but you have to have a partner that remembered to back up so when you chambered for the side kick you'd be pressed up against them.  

At first I was working with Nilon - who was apparently asleep on his feet.  After a couple of runs up and down the length of the room he couldn't even manage to concentrate long enough to make an impact on the pads and definitely wasn't keeping up pace with my kicks.  He finally bowed out and took off.  

I was making polite conversation after he left  - essentially that Nilon was tired because he worked construction all day.  Teachers response - "If he's that tired how's he going to defend himself?"  Basically, I think he disrespected the Teacher by showing and doing a half-ass job.  I guess he should have stayed home and took care of himself.  Shrug.

So off to wrist locks and throws.  I got partnered with LG and it was back to the basics of the grab, hand position, the lock and then the throw.  I've completely forgotten all the things that can be addressed in teaching the kotegashi.  After awhile I was getting frustrated and Teacher came to the rescue.  He has a very good sense of what to focus on and what to let go for later.  I kept thinking of all the things he has told me in the past over and over until the sunk in.  Poor guy; at least he has some new folks that show earlier promise.  

That's where the crack and creak came in.  Something I never really appreciated before as it relates to the fold wrist lock.  To take someone down in the kotegashi the way we do it (ignoring all other body mechanics and foot work) is to fold wrist up as if you are waving someone over to you and then twisting that exterior.    When the person is down we have a variety of locks to utilize, but one that has escaped me is just the folding lock.  I never seen to cause anyone anxiety in that position and knew that it wasn't correct.  I was missing that the arm has to come up to allow a greater circle to be created, thus putting more umph into the wrist lock.  I had been basically stopping to soon in two or three axis.  

So LG learned quick from my realization and took me to task.  I'm glad that my audible body noises and arched back made him back off!

Friday, June 20, 2008

It's all in the hips

I don't think I'm at the point in which I can say that I fully utilize my hips in kicks and strikes. Every time I get lower in stance I have to completely retool the hip rotation. So if I'm in a deep zenkutzu stance I don't feel like I can twist my hips at all, so I'll raise up only to receive admonition from Teacher for a poor stance. Hmmm. Since I'm going up and down in stance heights, I don't have a consistent spot in which to practice and lock down what I'm doing.

My best kick for utilizing the hip snap/whip is the outside crescent using my right leg. It remains loose and my hip leads the whipping movement beautifully, but my left side just won't move smoothly. I'm having some lower back problems and some bursitis in my hip so I'm guessing that could be the problem. That, or it's the old saw - you're better on one side that than the other.

I was working with one of the new guys on those kicks and he was awesome. He kept his balance and could generate a lot of energy. New people make me sick. To compensate I took all the credit in teaching him his new skills.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

This month in questions

Now I realize why Uchi Deshi only posts once in a while. When I started I figured it would be efficacious to keep a log of what I've learned to help me out in the future, but I find that at this point in my career the new things that I'm learning are far and few between or so subtle that it takes a few hours to write it all out. Also, the dramas of past classes have also seemed to died down to nothing as I've matured or, at least gotten used to the folks I saw as the source.

So I'll post if I can remember or if something profound comes up. Today I'm writing because of two subtle things. The first was that doing blocks that use the fore-arms has always been something that made me wince. What made it worse was that if we did not do a lot of blocking any "build up" was soon lost and the sensitivity would return. I noticed after a pounding last night I didn't feel a darn thing. I'm covered with some deep bruises, but nothing hurts. I guess the sensitivity to blunt trauma has receded. This is not to say that when Teacher uses a technique on me at full force that I don't often groan inwardly, but by and large I felt a little pride that I've been doing this long enough that blocks on the forearm aren't something that I have to dread.

The 2nd is that I believe that I have become a little bit smoother with my techniques. For years anytime I had to do any of our Aikido based techniques I would use a huge amount of muscle to force the issue - leading to poor execution and often a failure to get the desired effect. Of late we've been doing a lot of multiple attacker exercises and it's been pointed out that I'm not hunching my shoulders in effort and the take downs are a lot easier. However, after about 10 minutes of that I notice that my technique fails and I fall back on muscle - naughty.

Belt news - None! After Teacher and seemingly everyone in town seemed to know it was right around the corner, discussion and preparation have completely dried up. Is it me? Or is it Teacher? I don't think about it most of the time, but last night before class I was perseverating over it for some time. Asking myself a lot of questions with no particular answers or reasons to have them.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A little blood...

Arms of Steel is back in town for semester break. He was doing some arm work with Lux and punched him in the nose. There was a little blood flow. Lux has never had a bloody nose in his life! He kept commenting about it and I think Teacher got a little tired and said, "do you need a tampon?" to which Lux responded, "why, do you have one in your purse?" Everyone fell down laughing. Teacher said, "I guess I deserved that."

Since we had a new guy I was placed with him to work on the basics. He's very athletic so he took physical correction extremely well. The 2nd half of the class AOS, Beard and I worked on grabs and locks. Beard deferred to me to pick the techniques (kotegaeshi and shihonage!) and it went very well. The three of us had a grand time throwing and slapping to our hearts content. Teacher worked with the new folks for the whole time and would only visit for a second or two to see what we were up to or to answer questions.

After class I told Teacher that I should have offered to work with the new folks on kicking techniques. He said it was no problem, but we did have a good conversation about how good it is to do the education portion as it covers the gaps in my own knowledge.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Just Another...

I didn't post last week because I'm not really sure I had anything to say! Will wonders never cease. I didn' t have anything to rant about for once, no one to complain about and class is really pretty wonderful.

Having a class of eight folks is really fantastic. I'd long forgotten what it was like to have a constant rotation of different body types to work with. No longer stuck with one person and falling into a frustrating repetition. I hadn't realized the pure delight of seeing other folks. All of us doing the same techniques differently.

Of the influx we've had two for sure that appear as though they are going to stay around. Philly and Lux. At least they appear as though they will. Tonight was six folks when Beard showed up, but it was still great. I thought it was going to be repetitive, but Teacher managed to have a fun class that jumped through the time window again and made it feel like it was only a few minutes. Very engaging and great timing.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Endurance done?

I ran into Nilon at the store and he told me that we have two new people in class! It was like the clouds opened and sun shined right down on me. It meant that I didn't have to experience two hours of Nilon's supercilious attitude. With new people we have a little time to focus on basics and he can't get out of line too much.

Then it strikes me - and I don't think I'm being self-centered - he doesn't like to be there if I'm not there! He honestly wants me to be there so he can have fun. How painful. I find that I like him in real life (outside of class) where he is subdued and prefers to observe life. In class he becomes obnoxious in his excitement - at least to me.

So I changed my thinking as I went to class last night. We were getting new folks and Nilon's behavior took on a new face.

Of course when such things happen in the mind the reflection appears in reality. We had eight people show, not including teacher. Holy cow! We haven't had eight folks for as long as I can remember (maybe two year...). So Teacher had his hands full with absolute beginners and salty veterans mixed up doing the basics. We also had a visitor from another school in town. I didn't even know this one existed. The local native association had a class for a short time and it was taught by a co-worker of mine! I'm going to talk to him today about that.

Oh, and my knees are killing me.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Endurance Round 2

"What happened?" I'm not sure where my body went, but Nilon's body fell on me and I heard and felt a sickening crunch. Why does it have to be the bad knee? There is probably another rule in there, but I don't have the wherewithal to figure it out now.

It was the class I dread. Me and Nilon for the whole two hours. To his credit he was perfectly fine and we worked well together. The only time was on the mats when we were trying to figure out a circular defense on a shoot type attack. Always one to modify what we were trying to learn, he tried something exotic after going under my arm and knifing my throat. As if that wasn't enough he tried a throw well beyond his ability and we went down in a pile. Both he and Teacher heard the bad noise and were honestly concerned.

It's an hour later and it doesn't look any worse for wear, but it aches more than usual. I'll count myself lucky for the moment.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Endurance Round

When I went to class last night I assumed that it would begin a period of several months of toleration, frustration and teeth grindation. I actually thought to myself how ironic it was that I was looking forward to Beard coming back to class next week. I even thought about skipping class, but realized Teacher probably wasn't thrilled, so I put on my big boy gi and went to class.

Irony - I spent a whole day preoccupied about class and it ended up being Little Sister and myself. Teacher asked what we wanted to work on. I wanted to go back to Roundhouse kicks and LS wanted kata. I wanted to continue on the roundhouse kicks, which in retrospect, was not a good idea. I wanted to refine something that was starting to feel good, but instead everything seemed to be firing poorly. My back started knotting up after about 10 minutes. Thankfully the kata wasn't too bad - for once.

Little Sister left at the hour mark, so Teacher and I ended up sparring for 45 minutes! I'm not going to say this was non-stop because it was filled me grabbing a body part that was injured in an exchange and jumping away to groan or shout. The important thing here was that it was 45 minutes! That meant that I was able to control my breathing and keep fairly relaxed.

The next morning I could barely get out of bed. So stiff and sore I ended up walking around like the proverbial old man for most of the day. A good night sleep and a lot of Ibuprofen took care of most of that.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Rule 3

Rule 3 - You can do the technique perfectly over and over and soon as Teacher is watching you do it wrong. Or rather you might be aware of every bit of the technique that was wrong. Down to the angle of your hand, or just plan falling over after kicking.

There are two guys in class who are not bad, but they require me to be constantly on my guard. They are the kind of guy that constantly takes a poke at you when you aren't paying attention. I feel like the focal point because I never see them do it to other people. Am I permissive to this behavior? I can't tell. It reminds me of children that can't stop grabassing.

It can be argued that they are excellent for me to practice my situational awareness, but I find that it takes away from my ability to concentrate on the learning. One of these is Beard. Tuesday he says that he won't be in class for three weeks and was silently pleased because it meant that I didn't have to watch my back so much. Of course when I walk in Nilon shows up! I thought he was long gone. Now with a pot belly and long hair, he claims that he needs to get in shape. Still the same guy who explosively warms up and never appears to be listening. To add insult to injury Cook with be gone for 3 months, so it'll be me, Nilon, and Teacher. I hope Little Sister shows every once in awhile.

The highlight was working on roundhouse kicks tonight. Never a favorite because we warm up without having a target so it's all balance and finding the proper spot for chamber. For once in my life I was able to do it with no problem. Will miracles never cease! So he moved on to the water dummies for a target and I never received one critique. Granted I suppose I'm not supposed to be showing signs of incompetence at my "level" but I like having the correction. I guess a step up for me.

I believe I will endure the next three months with silent stoicism and if I can make my way through this I will be a better man.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Just another...

No rules tonight, but it sure was a great class. Teacher was at his best with building blocks on skills. From basic hands and one legged balancing to side kicks for multiple attackers to reaction timing drills. Exhausting and thrilling.

Beard brought a guy in from way in the past. He's been off to Iraq and been through a horrible divorce. He doesn't have a lot going on so we might see him a bit more in class. Great guy.

Teacher has us practice our basic locks and I end up teaching new guy. I'm starting to think he's really getting me into the space to teach a few techniques very well, because each time I end up teaching the first new lesson. I'd like to eventually try to teach the technique to the same person a couple of times in a row if they were consistent.

I got kicked in the lower ribs and had to bow out for a second. I had terrible breathing again. I swear I'm breathing regularly and it seems very clear that I'm holding my breath. I have to force myself to keep my mouth open. I feel like mouth breathing doesn't make me look very intelligent.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Potatoe's rule 2

Colin told me several months ago that the secret to giving the side kick authority was by giving the last few angles of moment a bit of snap. I have to admit that this puzzled me because I just couldn't picture it. I was so proud that my foot was hitting the proper angle the moment of impact that I wasn't able to see another layer in the onion that is the sidekick.


Rule number 2 - Teacher will tell you over and over the same words, but until you are ready to receive the substance of what they are saying it doesn't work and doesn't mean anything.

Rule 2a - You will have a moment in which the same crap everyone tells you suddenly makes sense and you can change your form or behavior or mind enough to modify on command.

Teacher asked Cook and I what we wanted to work on. He got identical blank looks. This means side kicks and lots of them. That's when I had my epiphany (or rule 2a). I'm not even sure I can describe this accurately, but let's say that you are 9/10s complete with the kick. You've got your foot moving out - and this is the crucial bit -you are supposed to role your hip over so that the completion of this part of the kick has you looking over your shoulder, a slight crick your lower back and a perfect view of your kicking foot on target. To get this snap, just before you roll your hip over (if you don't know what I mean I'll have to go into that some other time), and you knee is still fairly bent, you have to recruit you glute and ham in a contraction that actually forces the hip over and leg shoots out.

I've heard this (thanks Colin) and it never sunk in until tonight. Now that I understand, I have to get the timing right. No easy feat for someone trying to maintain their balance and aim at the same time.

The rest of the class was a review of forward rolls, rolls into breakfall, and back breakfall. I rang my bell on those because I wasn't watching my own neck very well. I have to keep my chin down a bit on those. I had good time though. Then it was on to wrist locks. Kotegoeshi? So painful, but surprisingly less than usual. A good night.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Potatoe's rule 1

There are exceptions to every rule.

However, exceptions are rare.

Tonight I was filled with dread and excitement about returning to class. It was Teacher, Little Sister and Cook. Thankfully it went slow and easy, but I bruised easily. It's going to take a long time to develop the bruise layer again.

Here is the first rule - whatever body part is hurting and you want to protect; it will focused upon and abused during class.

Case in point - my knees apparently both have tendinitis in them. Or at least it feels like it. In the second hour we practice a grab with a kick in the back of the leading knee. Perfect.

After about 20 or 30 0f these it's my turn to kick. I can barely pick my leg up to do the kick. So I have to do more to get it right. It was one of those nights where no matter how much time and effort went in to tell me how to do it, nothing was going to work. I could do it on short folks, but anyone my height was a whole different situation. Painful.

Friday, April 04, 2008

PU review

Since there isn't much going on in terms of class until next week I'm just working on kata and pushups. I got to 40 pushups on knuckles this morning and switched to half height for 20 more! I think I'm still too sore to do more.

O Dan, Bassei, Neihanshi, repeat. I'm up to move 20 on Neihanshi. Tough to remember.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Fake out

I was so excited. Last night was the big night to return to class. I had my bag packed two hours before it was time to go. Everything was in order. I left early to participate in the kid's class.

I get there and the sign on the door says, "no Karate till April 8th."

I went home somewhat dumbfounded. I practiced Neihanshi Chodan for a bit.

Wow, Teacher went on vacation. I thought that was only me!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Back from Vacation

I haven't been to class yet, but my wife and I are a study in how jet lag completely discombobulates someone. Neither of us can stay asleep for more than four hours because our clocks are so far off. It's waking up at 4 or 3 in the morning and not being able to get back to sleep.

In an attempt to stay in some kind of shape I tried to keep up with Pat's challenge of 100 push ups just to see if I could do it. Bob at Striking Thoughts has broken it up to 50, rest, 25, rest and 25. I figured since Bob and I are roughly the same age I could do the same. I thought wrong! I guess heavy lifting doesn't translate to quantity. My best on the trip was 42, rest, and 10. I was too fried after that to do more. Yesterday at the gym I was able to do 50 in one shot, but nothing more.

I'll continue to try more in my morning warm ups and see how far I get.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Empty Class

I'm getting ready to leave for the big city and then out of the country so prepping the house and packing has taken a huge priority. I've also got a cold and I'm pretty shaky at best, but I didn't want to miss my first regular class after 10 weeks.

I get to class there's only me! It's like a private lesson again. Thankfully Little Sister came in and we spend the hour doing katas. I was turning kind of grey by the end and sweating profusely so I packed up at half time. I felt bad for teacher - where was everyone? When I asked him he shrugged non-commitally. "They come and go," he replied.

I guess it seems disrespectful after all the energy I've been putting in try to keep up during my off time, but he didn't seem to mind. It's always been that way - the class will wax and wane as time moves on. Selfishly I keep thinking how this is going to make learning tougher when we don't have more people, but I loved the individual attention.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Private Lesson 5

Each refinement knocks a piece away from the bad form or bad balance. For a moment I felt like a sculpture and Teacher was the artist slowly chiseling away the imperfections. That is until my legs got too tired to hold me up anymore. When the legs tire I tend to stand up and and then my balance goes to hell. So we had great progress while I was fresh, but as I got tired we had to move on to the next thing more frequently.

In O Dan there is a transition that requires me to switch to the hind leg and then come around with a crescent kick which is complimented with a downward block. This is challenging to me because if I don't do it correctly, my body spins past the desired end point. So today we worked on where I'm looking and keeping my head up. Two simple things that erased a lot of problems.

After that we went to knife attacks. I realized as he got the bowie knife out how I really dislike these exercises. I mean I know why I don't like them - I'm not great at the defense and these are the most likely to occur in our town which adds an aspect of unwanted realism.

To my surprise I was able to go through about six that really worked well and a few that are really fantastic. These attacks are based on a straight forward thrust and slashing. Nothing to do with someone who knows how to really fight with a knife. So my confidence got a boost, but I had to take a lot of shots in the belly before I really started moving my torso.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Private lesson 4

"This is what Teacher Slim looks for....", "This is what Teacher Slim looks for...."

The third time I heard this I started getting mildly panicky. Teacher keeps referring to what Teacher Slim is going to be looking for - as in my Brown Belt Test. I can't believe I'm experiencing panic over this. I know the source - the fine tuning we are going through is bringing up all kinds of things I feel I should have had down pat by now. The angle of a foot in a kick, the placement of the leg in chamber, the accuracy of a punch, the creativity of a counter-attack, balance in a particularly difficult Kata, etc.

I have an additional concern. Sunday I started having some problem breathing. It felt like I couldn't get any air and passed in about 20 seconds, but it happened three or four times. It was as though I had sprinted up steps and needed an extra breath to get a little more air. This agitated my wife so she called the doctor. The next day I got for every damn test in the world. Needless to say after all that they find out I have a virus of some sort. Since we are on the end of the world the results won't get here for two weeks at the most. Great. In the mean time it lethargy and occasional shortness of breath - which sounds like me anyway!

For whatever macho reason I couldn't bring myself to tell Teacher. I feel like I've given him so many reasons for poor performance that this would adding insult to injury. So I huffed and puffed during our lesson and looked generally out of breath most of the time. Thankfully his back is bothering him so we didn't get to far into throws or take downs. I was rusty!

My poor knee groaned through one take down. I've been nursing this damn thing for three weeks now and the one time I have to do a quick drop it shrieks like tore it open. No pain today so I count that as a blessing. I was worried that I would be paying a price this morning.

I starting to fear the test - not for it's difficulty, but that I won't do my best.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Private lesson 3 (Toes, turns and twists)

With my quad/knee slowly on the mend I thought I'd give beatings a try this weekend. We both skipped last week due to prior engagments and that was fine for me. Apparently more rest for my knee is better.

We started out with first kata to make sure everything I learned was still there since the last two weeks. Thankfully it was, but as this is prepratory to Brown Belt testing (it's not even a secret anymore - hello stress out) everything is picked apart for analysis. So if I set up in a poor stance I corrected immediately to which Teacher responded to with praise. I rather do it right the first time of course.

He had me work on side kicks for a while and taught me a litte trick. When I go into chamber with my foot - making sure it's really high of course - was too make sure I had my kicking foot in the 90 degree with my toes as far up as I can get them and the kick and my balance are almost perfect in execution. He had me watch myself in the mirror when my chamber was low. I had no idea how ineffectual the kick looks. I guess it could be at least somewhat of a shot, but it looks horrible as the line goes from the floor to the full extension.

As we worked through a couple of katas - done at the slowest speed - he pointed out something that's come up a few times. The body as a unit. When we do throws we have to land with the body as a complete unit. When I turn I have to make sure I do it as a complete unit. Not something I've been practicing.

Finally, how is my foot placed in the final part of the kick. It is not supposed to be horizontal, but pointed slightly down to make sure the heel is the striking point.

Practice, practice and to wonder what the test will entail and when.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Book Meme

Pat mentioned this. It'll keep my mind off of things for a bit.

"Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more. (No cheating!) Find Page 123. Find the first 5 sentences. Post the next 3 sentences. Tag 5 people."

Be that guide whom love sustains.
Rise above the daily strife: lift on high the good you find.
Help to heal the hurts of life.

-from Signing the Living Tradition

Depressed for no good reason

When I was young I could have sworn we healed overnight. In contrast I'm stronger and much more agile than I was back then, but so easy to break and so long to heal. The lack of activity is eating at me. I'm doing katas standing up just to remember and working out at the gym has taken on a new level of non activity. Walking on the treadmill for 20 minutes just doesn't give me the same umph.

Be patient....

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Diagnosis: Pain!

I've noticed a rash on my stomach that has progressively been getting worse over the last week. I assumed it was a group of spider bites, but they haven't gotten any better. So off to the doctor and he tells me I have shingles! I'm old! Nothing to do but wait it out - maybe another week of exquisite discomfort.

Then he goes on to tell me that I have quadriceps tendinitis. Just when I'm showing real progress in my low stances! What are the odds?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Private Class 2

Somewhere between the falling and the pain I had an extended moment of thought. Dread that I injured my knee further, pleasure that the fall itself was nothing in relation to my contact to the ice, and some anxiety that I had ruined my nice pants.

My wife was going over to the big city. Being the gallant gentleman I figured I'd carry her bag and backpack while she navigated the snow and ice. Alas, for the first time in years my balance was stolen from me. Not by any combatant, but a poorly balanced load on my arms and the beautiful sheet of crystal clear ice that was waiting under a half inch dusting of powdery, clean snow.

I felt my feet both going and working under the weight of the bags I figured I'd just bend my knees and regain my balance. Half way down my right knee started to protest mightily and I had to roll to my back to relieve the pressure. Ouch.

That was Thursday and today was my second private session. It was with some trepidation that I showed up concerned that I wouldn't be able to hold a low stance very long. Thankfully the miracle of adrenaline or simply warming up carefully made the workout move smoothly and painlessly.

I demonstrated the progress on my stance and the exercises I've been doing (reading in low horse stance, etc.) so we focused most of the time on doing katas together and fine tuning my ability to stay at one level/height the whole time instead of bobbing up.

The new assignments were meditation and pin-pointing my strikes to the face/neck/head. I've been treating the whole head as more or less one target. Now I have to make sure that I'm aiming for something specifically.

Strangely, I kept giggling and laughing the whole time. Bliss?

After I got home and sat for awhile my leg told me that I had, indeed, been working hard. Ow.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Quick Interlude

Since I don't have class practice has become the regular work out. Now when I go to the gym on off days I try to add as much leg work in as I can. I believe it's helping, but I'm not sure at the moment. It's nice to get the odd looks as I practice my low stance with forward and backward movement in the back of the gym.

I've also started some plyometrics and was pleased that even though I don't jump high I can slam my knees into my chest way easier than I thought. If I wasn't careful my exuberance would have put me on my back.

Very sore today.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Private Class 1

I heard a mountain climber describe a syndrome in which his leg would twitch in an uncontrollable fashion - it was called "sewing machine leg." After so much tension is placed upon the muscle in one position it begins to fail in a spectacular fashion.

I occasionally struggle with what Teacher presents to me to learn, so it was some trepidation that I went to our private session on Sunday. I was a bit concerned with his focus on my stance. Privately I was wishing for something a little more exotic and was thinking that stances were probably the last thing I needed to work on, but always the dutiful student I knuckled down and smiled through the work.

To my surprise he pointed out incredibly helpful stuff pulled from the first kata/hyung. The low stance he demonstrated and I tried to emulate was extremely difficult for me. Over the years I have, as he put so gently, adopted a bent kneed lean. So we did work in the mirrors that had me gritting my teeth, sweating profusely and getting a terrible case of sewing machine legs.

The biggest lesson was as I lower my stance my center of balance shifts. I'm now emulating a new student because, I guess in reality, I am one again.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Day 1

Last night was my first evening in a long time that I wasn't heading off to beatings. I was experiencing some mild guilt as I sat down at my night school desk trying to mentally prepare myself for two months of sit down classwork. However, those feelings passed quickly as I found out the pace that were going to held to. The teacher was going to be married in mid March and had to complete the entire course content in the next 9 weeks. Ugh.

I talked with Teacher yesterday about what I need to be working on. As I expected, but also dreaded - it's time to get low. My poor bummy knee is giving me problems now and doing a low stance where my thigh is parallel to the floor can be difficult. So some trepidation I started Chil Sun Ee Roh it didn't seem bad, but the problem with low stance is that it requires a lot of space which I don't have. So half my stances are nice and low and the others I end up bunched up next to a ficus fending off it's lower branchs with an augmented block. I'm so tough.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


I might have mentioned before that although we do TSD the class is taught in Japanese, or at least we use Japanese terms for everything. Teacher Slim has his second degree belt in TSD, but all of his other belts were Japanese styles so by default we are Japanese as it were.

So the kata in Korean is a Hyung. In review of some new manuals from a grandmaster I hadn't heard of before (we aren't affiliated with any federation or society) I noticed a couple I hadn't seen before. They both start with Chil Sun. They don't look particularly difficult so I asked Teacher if I could go ahead and attempt to learn them. No problem.

After our discussion about what I need to be focused on to move toward my Brown belt Teacher pointed out that a few things I do that need to be addressed. One of them was the depth of stance. He said that anyone near this belt class needs to be doing a low, low horse. So tonight it was low, low stances. Oh how my legs protest.

I wonder what other pleasures are in store. He mentioned poor blocking and a few other things, but I was too excited about the possibility of Brown belt to concentrate. I'm going to pay for that.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Big Question

So maybe I've seen too many movies about how you are supposed to be all respectful to your Master and that any changes to how things are done should be treated with the upmost significance.

It was at the break that I finally got up the nerve to approach Teacher about a change in schedule. I needed to take some evening classes and I'm getting the point in class that it's become exceedingly hard for me to let go in fear that I'm missing something or I'm backsliding. So I haltingly tell him how I need to take these classes, but I didn't think I could afford to miss beatings.

As my wife guessed Teacher was more than open to helping me out with some face time during the weekend or whenever he had a break in his schedule. Awesome!

Kid Speed returned after I don't know how long and a new guy has returned a couple of times so I'll call him Lee Majors because he looks so much like him. I accidently called him that a few times tonight!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Circle Work

Following the break we were standing in a circle reviewing our respective holiday adventures. Teacher thought this was a great idea for close quarter drills. Attack to the right (two strikes); the defender defends and then returns two strikes and immediately goes to their right to attack. Ideally it would look like a continuous stream of attacks resembling a "wave."

Ironically we started standing farther apart, but as we progressed around the circle a few times we got closer and closer. I felt that was good because we all seemed to be developing comfort in an area in which we need a lot of work. A moment in which the group strength helped us grow individually.

Once, long ago, we were taught the benefit of the "eyes down." I think the story was that monks used to keep their eyes down as a sign of respect, but in actuality it gives you awesome peripheral vision. So I used that to my advantage in the circle and was able to see everything coming from Teacher and Nilon. I walked out with a big head and slept very well. A good way to come back from vacation.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Back from Vacation

So I've found that two weeks of diving isn't very conducive to cardio fitness. The focus is so focused on breathing in a relaxed manner so that you can conserve your air that when I ran up two flights of stairs I almost had a heart attack.

So it's back to the grindstone for fitness. It's dark here and rainy so I might as well get on the stick.

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...