Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Shift

I’m not sure when this occurred, but Teacher is giving me more and more responsibility in class and I’m not really sure I’m ready.  For instance, last night we broke up in to two groups and he assigned me one group to work on really basic grab and throw.  Since the group is made up of folks with varying skill levels and physical aptitudes, I was stuck in the predicament of explaining basic engagement with Uke and Tori.  Even though we were doing monkey-in-the-middle type practice they plainly weren’t getting the idea that they needed to face the Tori one at a time.  Instead I got a cluster*#!$ of people attacking from the rear to tapping Tori on the shoulder.  Jeeze!

After we got that sorted out Teacher came over to my group to see how we’d faired.  I was sort of nervous because I didn’t think we doing that well, but he seemed happy in that we were jerking each other off our feet with a minimum of effort – a good measure of success. 

After break we worked on refining that grab and tossing people around.  At the very end of class he demoed with me and as usual my shoulders and knees were telling a tale of woe when I got home.  The joy!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Smooth Running

I'm relaxing with a glass of Scotch after teaching both classes tonight. After a spending the day with increasing anxiety or wondering why I was more anxious I ended up going really early and vacuuming the place. I don't think I have OCD, but I do enjoy seeing a clean floor and it gave me something to do instead of fretting. Of course one of the students saw this and ran over to take over. So I sat around and watched the clock.

The twins that normally cause a ruckus didn't show up so the class was quiet and respectful and moved smoothly. I had prepared an outline for both classes, but for the kids class I stuck with easy things and only ventured into tough territory with a blocking combo. All in all a pretty fast and pleasant experience. I was only anguished by kids that couldn't keep up with certain things or were easily disoriented when we moved. Kata's proved to be most of their undoing, but I forged ahead thinking that this wasn't the time that I needed to focus on individuals.

Beard was nice enough to come to the kids class and participate with the students, occasionally straightening out a kid's form as needed. Before I knew it the class was done. I wished Teacher and Teacher Slim were there for this one. It would have been a nice start to my "testing" classes.
The adult class had really given me some angst because I could remember years ago where, in my mind, I had epically failed at the whole experience. I was teaching technique way ahead of my skill level and rushing badly. This time I was relaxed and the pace was comfortable and I stuck with only things I felt comfortable with. So I ended up with about four that were easy to teach or, at least, were easy to introduce.

I think that mostly it was good, but I'll go over my notes with Teacher tomorrow and see what I could have polished. But, honestly, I feel really good about the whole thing.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Slipped Disk?

I got up to use the bathroom around 1:30 am this morning and when I sat down on the bed I noticed a quickly growing pain in my back.  Seconds later I could barely lay down.  Being mostly asleep I figured laying down would be a good idea, but as soon as my back started to settle the pain became so intense I had tears running down my cheeks.  Unable to find comfort in any position I went to the medicine chest and choked down 10K of ibuprofen and shuffled back to bed while literally gritting my teeth. 

After an hour of moving very carefully back and forth in a variety of positions I found I was able to lay on my back once again and fell asleep.  The only thing that was going through my mind was that I had to teach class on Thursday – this can’t be happening!

Some where in the back of my mind I realized this was different than other incidents.  Normally, with a back spasm all the muscles lock up around the spinal column causing the most intense pain.  However, even my pain and sleep induced haze I could feel my muscles all behaving normally but the pain in my back and radiating down my hamstrings was absolutely new. 

This morning I’m kind of sore, but my flexibility is mostly in tact – what an intense relief!


Last night I made it a point to show up for the entirety of both classes.  This frustrates my wife a bit because it means I’m out of the house for more than three hours, but she’s trying to be a good joe about the whole thing since I’m working toward my next rank. 

I forget how fast the kids class goes.  I feel like I was just warming up when the class was done.  I think all my nervousness is going to be reserved for the adult class which I feel totally unsuited for.  I’m using the rule that I can only teach technique that I know really well, which when it comes down to it, doesn’t feel like a lot. 

I went over the few things I was going to work on with the adults with Sensei and brought up a lot of notes.  The biggest concern being the vast difference in skill levels.  I want to do some mat work, specifically throws, but he pointed out so many of the students were new and knew nothing about even taking a basic roll.  So that’s what I’ll be working for most the third hour.  Fantasies of high flying are gone now.  Wahhh. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Open Seasame

I saw nothing but blue and a felt a quick flash of pain in my neck as I snapped to the side. 

Beard was wearing his reversible competition Judo gi with the Blue side out when he came in last night.  I normally get the flack for wearing non-standard gis (red, tye-dye, etc.), but his super high-end gi is an attention getter because it is so nice compared to our low-end purchases. 

At the very end of class we had a new exercise to practice.  The person to be executed against stood still and closed her/his eyes and waited for the signal.  The person doing the attack got the choice of gun, knife or open hand.  This proved to be an endless source of entertainment for the class as the defenders usually ended up eating it one way or the other. 

My turn to defend was predictably a huge mess.  Sensei said go and I had my eyes open for a fraction as I realized Beard was doing a flying knee and was literally a hair away from contact.  Thankfully we all move much faster than we think we can and I dodged left as he shot by.  I didn’t fully escape his head grab, thus the sharp neck crank. 

My second “contestant” was Swimmer, who, as I may of mentioned in the past, has little to no ability to throttle her control.  Sensei said open and I could see her hand flash around my side.  My attempt at block and avoid were way to slow and I felt a nice slashing pain in the back.  I kept the maneuver going and took her down and fell on top of her.  Later, in the changing room, the guys pointed out that I had two perfect horizontal lines across my kidneys.  Damn.
This was my second night of partially leading the kids class.  Teacher made a point of leaving the room for long periods of time so that the kids could get used to me and I could get used to not falling back on him.  All things considered, my time with the kids went well, but I got really tired quickly of bad behavior.  I also learned that “shushing” the class does exactly nothing. 

Teacher is having me take both classes next Thursday.  I don’t too feel too anxious right now, but knowing me I’ll be wound the whole day before. 

After class he complimented me on the segments that took over and noted my relative comfort with kids.  Could I be learning something?!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Last night was my second evening working with the kids class and it went pretty well, but being entirely honest I was glad that it was broken into pieces and I didn’t have to construct the lessons.  Teacher does all his lesson construction from the top of his head, picking from vast years of experience and applying whatever crops up in his mind to apply to whatever is going on. 

That used to drive me crazy because I like knowing what is expected of me and what we as a class we’ll be working on, but I’ve come to appreciate the finesse he brings to bear with what he produces.  With an ever changing cast of characters, progress that we experience as a group is always set back to basic as newer folks join our group.  Teacher seamlessly brings beginner techniques in while getting advanced students to work on variations. 

With the kids I’m not quite sure what you can teach or say just yet so my exposure to their very fast hour is really helpful.  I tried explaining the outside crescent kick to them and got a lot of blank looks.  I realized sometimes you just have to move on and hope that works. 

The adult class was packed and we had three new people that have the look that they may stay around for a bit.  We had 17 people and three were missing.  The room feels particularly crowded and the heat level kept going up.  If we keep this level up movement based work is going to be a challenge.  We did a few katas/hyungs, so everyone’s stances got short in an effort not to trip over their neighbor.  

Friday, November 05, 2010

And so it begins…

To get ready for my upcoming “test” I went to class early to work with the kids. I wanted them to get used to me by having me around instead of treating me as the substitute teacher.

I wandered through the rows of students correcting hand positions and stances then Teacher had me lead kicks for awhile – giving me a moment of control over the class.  I thought it was going to go well, until my first monkey wrench appeared with in five minutes. 

We had just begun crescent kicks (inside) when a hand went up in the back.  My first mistake – answering questions.  I can’t repeat it verbatim but it was so left field I wasn’t sure what to do. 

“Yes?” I said.
”I don’t want to be here.”
”I don’t know this [sic]move.”

My confounded look and stuttering response was interrupted by Teacher who explained that we get to learn new stuff all the time. 

I was really expecting interrupting and squirrely behavior, but that was novel.


The adult class was kick intensive and sweat inducing, only made worse by my warm up.  I have no idea why but I decided to make it a real stressor.  Just a lot more volume, but pushed the push-ups to 11.  Big Dave said, “you’re my hero” after we did finger pushups.  

We did a lot of pad work to get some force into our front snap kick.  This was followed by two punches.  It was illuminating to see who could project that hip and create some power.  I did see a lot of folks holding smashed and twisted toes.  I realized that this was pretty important in that it forces folks to get the proper foot position or pay a price immediately.  

We finished class up with Katas/Hyungs.  We did the first 9 with many repeated for newer students.  As we moved up the newer students would sit out and watch the rest of us.  By the time we got to 9 (Bassei) it was just Teacher and I and I was breathing like I’d been sprinting for the last 15 minutes.  No pretense of breathing normally.  Just gasping. 

After class I had teacher explain a triangle choke to Dave and I.  Dastardly stuff.  He took me down and used my body weight to put pressure on my neck.  Horrible position. 

Beard wanted to see me kick for some reason without touching my kicking foot to the ground.  I gave him three successive side kicks – one at to the knee, one to the gut, and one to the chin.  I actually touched him on the chin!  I was impressed in spite of myself. 

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Tests and Nightmares

First day back to class and all was well.  Exhausting, but in a good way. 

Teacher pulled me aside after class and told me what my next test was going to consist of – I have to teach two children’s classes in their entirety while he and Teacher Slim critique me. 

I didn’t think that was too bad, but that night I had horrific nightmares about getting to tournaments in sports I really didn’t know much about and couldn’t get to the airport on time.  A connection?

To prep for the kids classes I’m going to start going in early to participate in the class.  I’m not even sure how this is going to go, but I’m not going to smile and I’m not going to joke around – two things that mess me up as a teacher. 

I told Teacher that I hated him and he laughed.  I told him that I’d rather run around in a circle for an hour instead.  Ironically, in my head I didn’t think it was too bad.  It should be challenging, but not deadly, but I thought I should play along in how horrible it was going to be.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Beatings Starting Up!

After a month off of regular class we are going to reconvene tonight and see if I kept the rust off by working with Dave.  I’m a bit sleep deprived today, but I’m hoping the anxiousness and excitement will wash that away when 7pm comes around.

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...