Tuesday, June 27, 2017


During my black belt confirmation trip to Yakima, Reed Sensei and the others went to great length to talk about the upcoming year.  This was to develop the curriculum to match the other schools in the region and pitch ideas back and forth.  Through a lot of stories I've heard all kinds of the passive-aggressive behavior that the schools have had with one another, but for the most part they want to be on the same page.  However, having a head master who might not be absolutely consistent from time to time creates friction.

An example in Kata.  He tells one school hands are this way and another school that way.  When testing happens one school fails all the tests because their hands are wrong. How is the local instructor supposed to deal with this?  He teaches his students the other version and then they go back.  As you can guess this might create some feelings. 

To contend with this students are taught to expect flaky judgement at tests.  Not fair, but that's the way life is I guess.  Thankfully color belt tests are all done locally so that's all consistent with the local curriculum. 

So after long conversations with the new regional head guy everybody is on the same page about what katas are supposed to be learned.  Another area of contention, but everyone is on the same page.  We'll see how this ends up in a year.  The black belts all had to rapidly learn a relatively simple kata, pinan godan, and get ready to teach it to everyone in bites. 

This process started last night.  Thankfully, this first portion of the kata is fairly simple and the kids were able to absorb it.  We worked on that for half the class, but as the only other black belt I was instructing the kids again.  The little bit of delight in that was that one of the little girls didn't want to touch the boy across from her.  For their age group and skill level we will often have them touch hands so they know how far they need to be for the work.  These two would get farther and farther apart.  Hah! 

The second half of class was spent working on kata with a brown and green belt.  We didn't get to clean too much up, but the practice was nice. 

I ended up missing the second hour due to work.  Sigh.  I'm definitely not advancing at this point.  This summer is going to be a challenge to remain consistent.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Two Senseis And The Cramps

"That's the name of my band.  You've probably never heard of them."
The tongue and cheek comment of many young musicians who like to quote that line in the Rose city seemed appropriate today.  The ridiculous, but fun situations I end up being in made the perfect band title.

Our regular class was a play day because of Celebration on Monday.  In the beginning of class Sensei said, "you can play or you can train."  His wife and I ended up training on the same kata for the whole hour.  It was fairly well needed in my case, just because I hadn't seen regular training in a few weeks.  His wife hadn't even been taught the kata.  So it worked out for the both of us.

I will say this, the children realllyyyy enjoyed their time.  I've never seen 45 minutes been so animated, and loud.

After class was brutally hot in the garage, but I got Daniel and Reed as teachers.  I needed to complete my learning of Pinan Godan.  I'd had the first half down, but needed the last couple of moves.  A simple kata with complex moves.  I suppose they are all that way, but we are supposed to be starting to teach the color belts for the next year so I needed to know what I was doing. 

This year they are going to see if breaking the kata down into digestible sections will work better.  Each section will be taught with it's bunkai in an effort to get the understanding of what's going on increased.  I have to admit I liked doing it that way quite a bit.  The more esoteric movements suddenly have a foundation.

I got  home pleasantly tired, but as I was failing asleep I got a tremendous cramp in the my left foot.  As I brought my foot up to try to massage it my in thigh muscle (maybe the groin?) cramped as well.  The pain had me fall out of bed and try to sort out what position would create relief.  My wife mumbled in her sleep, "straighten your leg."  Which is normally good advice, but as I got to my feet I couldn't stand on the effected foot.  I worried that I had pulled a muscle and walked/drug my foot on my way to the bathroom.

Within a few minutes the muscles unknotted themselves and I was able to lie back down and go to sleep.  Thankfully when I woke this morning I was totally fine!  I'm breathing a sigh of relief.  That leg/thigh cramp was the first of it's kind for me and I was concerned it did some serious. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Teacher To The Stars

I'm trying to be better at recalling the schedule Sensei has set for class, but because we are getting ready for Celebration (quarterly testing in other words) the content of class has been devoted to getting the under-belts ready. 

Sensei thought he was going to be late and wanted me to start the class, but he showed a little bit early.  I'd spent a couple of minutes practicing the bow-in and didn't realize my part was just Hajime mas.  "Begin we will,"  in English.

Before class Mark gave me a "thank you for training with me" gift!  He's a fine artist so I was fairly pleased but felt dorky since I don't have anything for him.  My wife was happy because that's going to go up on a wall somewhere. 

Since we had time we ended up practicing bo kata and then Pinan Godan or as much as we could recall.

Class started and I knew where it was going to go before we even bowed in.  Time to teach the girls. Sigh.  However, I was only given Niva and without her cousin it was like a breath of fresh air.  She paid attention and didn't get distracted!  I felt like a real teacher!

After about twenty minutes I was working on some self-defense with a group of four kids.  That went fairly well, but spacing and timing went poorly.  Again, it was pretty good considering the newness of the students.

A whole class of teaching!  Who would have thought.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


A big part of my life is wrapped up around people visiting during the summer months.  Our home in the Rose city is pretty big so having visitors has become a fairly regular.  This summer we have exactly no weekends free.  Our current visitors are my cousin and her family from PA and that's been pretty great.  I don't have a sister and she's pretty much the closest thing I've got in that case and I also get along pretty well with her husband.

While they get out and tour around I try to see what my schedule looks like and what I can fit in.  Thankfully I was able to go to the first hour of karate last night.  I thought we were going to be doing a false celebration to get the students ready, and I was partially correct.  I was given to the brown belts and told to run through their test.  We had forty-five minutes and I didn't think that was going to work.  The Black-belt exam is pretty extensive and usually takes an hour at the very least. 

However, I was given some unique instruction. Don't chit chat, and keep the flow.  Don't stop to critique.  With that we flew through a lot of the material, but they suffered in a few spots.  Their kata was fine, but remembering the sheer volume of bunkai bogged them down in a few spots.  When they didn't know something I had to move them to the next component.  I'd say they knew ninety percent of the material, but I got them through the whole test in forty-five minutes. 

My wife asked later if they would have passed.  "Oh hell no," I replied.  They've got four months or so to be ready.

Class ranks have swelled and remained fairly consistent.  We've usually got ten children regularly and now have a returning black-belt, Anthony, so the class can be up to 18 members at times. 

Maybe Wednesday I'll get a little more time to work out since the family will be out on tour.  I think my wife already has plans for labor tonight.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Random Stuff

I'm not sure I forgot to post in the last week or so, but the slew of summer visitors has now arrived and my attendance is a bit spotty as a result.  

Tonight was still warm, but Mark and I were there early and worked on the staff kata for a bit.  Thankfully Kyle showed up and helped with a lot of the basic work, but I was already sweating by the time we bowed in.  

We had a long and interesting warmup.  By that I mean that we were introduced to push ups and crunches.  We don't normally do this stuff, so it was a nice change of pace, but he wanted the young students to know about it for the future. 

I ended up working with four kids on downward blocks for quite some time.  Normally I hate that kind of thing, but all four are very dedicated and serious so the time flew by.  

We finished up doing a little back and forth with Nifanshi Oyo.  My two kids knew it pretty well and took instruction very well.

Off topic - I have a sunburn.  My skin feels very tight and it's of course very sensitive.  Ironically going to Karate made me feel better in the sense that sweating and moving seemed to loosen things up.

On an another totally unrelated issue.  My Mom's dementia seems to be kept in check for the last couple of weeks, but she told me that when she missed my phone call in the morning she couldn't remember how to hit redial or call me and just sat and cried waiting for me to call back.  That just guts me.  Thankfully Karate was there and I didn't have to think about that for an hour.  Sigh.

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...