Thursday, April 30, 2015


After being overwhelmed on Monday, a little dedicated time in the evening to work on the kata appeared to let things settle in my mind.  Although I still have to stop and think, I can keep things separate now.  I mean I have to really think the whole kata through before I do it.  Thankfully they are really short.

We went over the 6 major blocks; which I find very different from my own.  Anytime we do a block we initiate with elbows stacked.  It's somewhat exaggerated, and when we do them at speed a lot of that is lost, but we practice all at three speeds.  The lesson is that you want to get it correct, but at speed you're not going to be perfect.  And that you have to practice at high speed. 

After that we worked a bit more on Pinan Shodan before Mark and I worked on his kata, bunkai, application work. 

At the end of class we gathered at the front for a lesson.  Reed Sensei likes to spend a few minutes for an instruction or moral tale.  I wasn't sure what to make of these, but I enjoy them because I can't think of anytime in my life that anyone actually said this stuff (maybe Sunday school?).  Last night's lesson referred to eye gazes.  To recall we tend to look up and to the right and if stretching the truth we tend look down and to the right.  Thus the term "a downright liar".  Obviously it depends on lots of factors, but it was pretty cool.

He finalized the time with a poem:
I'm born with a set of tools,
A shapeless mass,
And a book of rules.
I need to build
before I die
a stumbling block
or stepping stone. 

I don't think I have that totally right, but you can see that where he was going with it.  Nice sentiment and places the work in creating the people we want to be in our own hands.  Or that's how I interpreted it. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A Little Overwhelmed

I think I officially hit the point of saturation yesterday.  I'm up to six kata and I'm struggling to keep it all straight.  They start to fold in on one another and then I have to go back and start over again during practice.  Then they evaporate altogether!

I got to class a bit early and asked one of the young black-belts if they knew the second Geki kata.  She had no idea what I was talking about.  So I guess Reed Sensei is assigning me kata based on an algorithm know only to him.  I'm not complaining other than I don't think I'm doing things justice.  I can do the technique well, but have a hard time remembering transitions and stances. 

In my latest case the two Geki kata are very similar and start off the same, but change subtly after the first run 1/3.  So now they are blended and I'm struggling to keep them separate. 

Added to this is that the whole class is learning a kata together (Pinan Shodan) which is fun and all, but as in the case last night I'm removed to help the black belt test guy.  Which I love, but then I lose the content of the other stuff! 

So until I can settle the Gekis I'm going to have to practice more in the evening to separate them.  Another concern is that my forms from TSD are going to go away!  How do we keep all this in place?!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

New Stuff

After warm up I was directed to MaryAnn Sensei while each group went to work on different things depending on skill.  I was supposed to check off on Gekki SaiDai-Ichi and then learn the next in series, Ni.  I love this kata because it's relatively short and incorporates sanchin. 

We went through it a few times and refined some pieces and then moved on to Ni.  It starts pretty much the same way, but moves to open hand Sanchin and changes to cat stances in the end.  Fun! 

Not me, but this is exactly the one I just learned.

I finished the day working on Wando with Kyle.  I had to straighten out the starting stances. 

I also realized that I have been given a lot of respect in that they continue to teach me Black belt level kata.  I was struck by the fact that no one else seems to be working on the things that I'm working on.  It could be that I'm being taught things that are somewhat for someone getting close to the test or for the 2nd degree.  I'm really not sure, but it is fun.  

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Fight Night 2

One of the returning Black Belts, Olivia, requested a sparring night so I wasn't too surprised to find that we were going to do last night.  What I was surprised by was my physical response - total adrenaline wipe out.  I know everyone is different about how it hits them, but for me it's always been complete exhaustion.  It's like I have all the after-effects and none of the exhilaration. 

We had a brief warm up and then spent a good 20 minutes on movement drills.  Basically trying to speed up our ability get in and out of distance.  The drills are great because they drive in the idea that you don't need to cross your feet to move in all directions and that you can actually move quicker as a result. 

The class had about 12 people so I got two matches in.  One with Mark (the brown belt) and one with Reed Sensei.  I got Mark 3 to 1, but Reed whooped me 3-0.  I'd like to think that I got a couple of good ones in, but they were either obscured or occurred at the same time and he presents way better than me.  By that I mean he ke-ayes appropriately.  It always takes me a few minutes to remember that.  Derp.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Sh┼źdokan 40

I ran into class a few minutes after it started.  Dojo decorum dictates that I sit in seiza (kneeling with feet crossed) until I'm acknowledged by the Sensei and asked to join the class.  Even on marginally soft material seiza is brutal to me after a couple of minutes.  Circulation cuts off quickly, but in this case I'm kneeling on hardwood to add the measure of discomfort. 

Sensei pointed to me after a minute and I started to rise, but he began explaining to the class how I was demonstrating appropriate behavior and went on for another minute before asking me to join.  I got to my feet unsteadily and joined in the kicking warm up.   I normally love exiting seiza because you can stand so smoothly without using your hands, but in my case it looked pretty unsteady. 

We were "introduced" to side kicks last night.  I've been doing these since my first day in beatings over a decade ago.  Considered an advanced technique in this school it has only been shown to me for the first time last night.  In a way to get folks to possibly avoid worrying about foot placement, the kick practice is to direct the foot to the rear corner.  This mean you don't have to shift the floor foot. Clever but weird to me.  And since I'm nursing a sore back that doesn't seem to want to heal, my kicks were incredibly low. 

Then it was on to learning yet another kata!  I'm struggling a bit to practice them all in the morning.  My TSD ones are falling behind due to time constraints!  The one we are learning is Pinan Shodan which includes that side kick.  Although we didn't get all the way through Sensei had us work on the bunkai of the first couple of moves.

One rather significant point of the bunkai, in this case, was to showcase how to properly rest into the cat stance (Nekoashi Dachi).  If done correctly the groin is protected. 

I'm hugely dubious of this claim because I can't quite get into the position to hide my junk, but Reed Sensei had me kick him in the groin twice in front of the class to show that it can be done.  Brave man.  So I know it's possible, but I can't control the cringe that comes along with impact downstairs.  Something to work on.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Drink From The Firehose!

In attempt to be a bit healthier I decided to eat a salad at lunch.  This turned out to be a poor idea.  By the time I got home I was ravenous and had to set up the basement dojo for after class practice.  I finished putting the mats down and ran upstairs and shoveled a few handfuls of frosted mini wheats into my mouth before running out to class.

I usually try to get to class about 15 minutes before go time.  This allows me to warm up a bit and go through my katas before the kids show up and start running around.  It's nice to have all the space to myself.  I also don't have to worry about ramming the staff into the ceiling when I do that kata. 

In last nights class we had a fairly difficult warmup, because Olivia, our 18 year old Black Belt, lead and her youth comes with a lot of energy.  Running on low calories also mean that I was swaying when we got up from the floor. 

Our group activity was to work on reverse cat stance, with block and kick.  After doing that for awhile I was pulled aside to learn Kyoku Shodan.  Mark got the job to teach me, which I thought was nice because I'd been his dummy for awhile and now I was actually learning was he was going through with me in the past.  It's a simple kata for beginners, but with the addition of Bunkai and Application I was a little overwhelmed. 

After class we met in my basement and I had to demonstrate all three components to Reed Sensei.  This means doing the kata, doing two Bunkai (self-defense-esque setups) and then application of the whole kata from an attackers and defenders standpoint. 

Then I was partnered with MaryAnn Sensei to work on Gekki Sai Dai Ichi.  I knew the basic pattern, but I need to sort out all the foot work.  Since it's a Goju Ryu I assumed it was all Sanchin stance, but there is all kinds of stances.  So we worked that out and I sat back for a second and realized that I was completely saturated.  By that I mean I could work on what was in front of me, but I was concerned that I was going to forget what I just worked on. 

This morning I did all four kata and was pleased that I could remember what I worked on, but it all felt rough; with plenty of stopping and thinking instead of just "doing". 

So occasionally drinking from the fire house is possible without getting your head blown completely off.  I'm living proof.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Rebuild 2

I came in a bit early and worked on my katas and generally warmed up.  Olivia returned, potentially swelling our ranks to one more person.  And then the surprise was that Charlotte (a four year old?) was joined by her mother, Sarah.  She decided to join the class.  She came from a Kyoshukin school and was asking me questions.  We both came to the conclusion that the lack of sparring and hard contact exercises was probably a good thing.  I based that on the fact that I don't have regular injuries or trips to the doctor at all.  So kind of sad and kind of nice.

The basics we worked on were knife hand and stance differentiation.  Because Shudokan borrows from other schools, they want to pay respect by doing technique as that school does.  To this end bow ins, stances and movement are all to mirror the founding school.  So we often come across with all kinds of things that tend to be very specific. 

For example, we learned the difference between fudo dachi and shiko dachi.  Two different schools that are similar, but neither uses both.  Fudo puts the feet into a "L" shape.  Whereas Shiko places the feet 120 degrees. 

We practice Fudo and then added the knife hand strike.  After flailing about for awhile we actually appeared to smooth out after awhile. It was learning to walk and chew gum all over again.  I assume that only my massive years of experience allowed me to do it without falling on my face.  Hah!

We finished up with escapes from front choke attempts.  The more advanced technique ended up in a standing guillotine.  My neck is still tender from a few weeks ago (exacerbated by chopping wood) so I was a bit nervous.  Thankfully my youthful companion decided not to joist down on my neck. 

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  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...