Thursday, November 29, 2018

New Guy Dave

Our text feed was filled with people saying they couldn't make one or both of the classes last night.  Although that's a bummer generally speaking, it means that the class was going to be small or a private lesson.  I used to be frustrated by that, but now I'm definitely down with the attention to detail it provides and the longer periods of time we can spend on single parts of exercises.  

The black belt extra class, which meets at Sensei's house between the general class and the adult class requires a drive to the South which can take anywhere between fifteen to 40 minutes depending on traffic.  For whatever reason I got all green lights and ended up second.  Very unusual for me.  The class ended up being Mya, Mark, Sensei and me.  Perfect class.

We went through as much of the test as we could in forty-five minutes.  By the end we had made it through seven kata and their bunkai.  Not bad, but the slow up was due to Sensei's attention to detail on the bunkai.  It mean lots of restarts and conversation.

I finally got to meet our latest addition to the adult class, Dave.  A silver-haired guy that reminds me of the consummate ex-Californian.  You can practically visualize this guy surfing.  I found out later that he was a student of John Sells who our Sensei studied under from time to time.  Dave lives almost an hour away so he appears to be very invested in the class time.

Because Dave has been out of practice, Reed is taking some extra time to go over the basics.  In my experience this can be trying because the basics are something we do with the kids and can be boring even if you are focusing on your stances and getting things correct.  However, since Dave has been around since back in the day, the basics took on several layers of complexity.  Simple drills became very complex as step and step were added.

We finished the class with a little kata.  I was able to teach Haku Cho to Sarah for a bit which was nice, but we ended up having a discussion about teaching method.  I've definitely got a learning curve there.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Finally! I Get To Teach An Adult

It's not that we aren't helping each other all the time, but acting in the role as a teacher specifically to pass recent knowledge is pretty exciting.  

The two folks that made it through their year of confirmation have both decided as of last night to follow the track to Ni Dan using the Birds package.  

Blocks of Kata and their associated Bunkai/Oyo are called packages in Shudokan parlance.  In my case I'm doing the "bird" package.  At least five of the kata are straight up white crane kata derived from an ancestor of ours that when to China to learn martial arts.  So we have the version that has been filtered through Japanese culture, but it's pretty recognizable by anyone for what it is.  The remaining kata were selected over the years as the default for one reason or the other.

Starting with me (or my skill level in this year) we were given the option to select a different package which contained five Shotokan kata and five Riuryu kata.  I stuck with tradition and the fact that I sort of knew two of the kata (Wando and Rohai) to help me make my choice.

When the two new sho dans (Sarah and Kyle) had the "talk" with Sensei they both went with the traditional, aka "the birds". To me the talk was kind of a big deal.  I was aware that I was making a choice about what I was going to be doing religiously for the next two years and these both gave off the air of nonchalance when they did it.  So much for tense considerations.  I was worried that everyone would blow off the birds because they seem so weird, but so far there are four of us following that path.  Since Olivia and I are a year and half in we get to be close in teachers.  

During class we were able to start the process of teaching Kyle and Sarah.  However, with the both of us saying different things it turned into a hash pretty quickly.  Way too much information for them to absorb.  We found that when we taught them one on one we did way better.  Learning to teach all over again.  

A side note - now that we are getting the bunkai down, Reed and Daniel are adding to the few moves to make them more complex.  Yikes, more to remember when everything seems so tenuous.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

A Rat!

Sensei sent out a message on the text chain letting us know that someone had contacted the local code enforcement officer about running a business out of his garage.  Namely our class!  Consequently he didn't want us there to practice between classes until he sorted it out. 

A side effect of this issue is that it has lit a fire under Sensei about finding a place.  However, a brief conversation about rent prices really shocked me.  Just finding a space in an out of the way strip mall costs around $6000 freedom dollars!  How does anyone stay in business?!

We all realize that if we had our own place it would be so much easier to train.  Some of the students train three classes in a row twice a week because that's all that's available.  That's really pushing it for some of the kids in school.  By the time we get out of the last class (8:30) I'm ready to hit the sack and they still have hours of homework.  It doesn't make for a conducive learning environment. 

By yesterday afternoon Sensei finished up with the city and straightened out the code.  Since it's just us coming to work out and no money is being passed around they were cool.  But the question remains, who dropped a dime on Sensei?  We better getting Scooby Doo.

Last night was a lot of detail work on a few of my katas and during the class it was a lot of basics exercise.  My feet and legs are killing me today.  Brutal and made it easy to sleep.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Forgotten Notes

Hey Everybody!

Oh man, it's been a long time since I've posted.  Where did the time go and all that?  I keep forgetting to write in the blog the day after.  Too much going in life, but I am still remaining as consistent as I can be with class and practice.

As I mentioned in previous posts I'm on the log slog towards my Ni Dan (2nd degree) test in early May.  If I didn't describe it in the past each exam in the Shudonkan school is from a different style.  This is a reflection of the schools roots, when it was simply a place for anyone to practice.  So many people from many styles would come and hang out, but instead of cross pollinizing the school chose to learn the style of the other folks as best they could.

So the first test, Sho Dan, is a smattering of some in house (proprietary) kata and technique and some ground level stuff from other Okinawan school.  The second degree is mostly bird kata.  And when I say bird kata I mean it.  It's 90% white crane from Wushu that's been modified for Japanese sensibility and finally practiced by my tall, gringo ass.

The third is all Gjo Ryu and in the fourth the practitioner is encouraged to find a style and learn it.  Fun stuff.

In my case, and the rest of the tests as well, you are required to perform ten kata in that style and execute 10 bunkai that take a piece of the kata and transform it into a technique.  There are set bunkai (a two man pre-staged) given to us by the teachers, but as of late Reed has been encouraging us to invent our own.  Considering the massive effort we've been putting into the kata developing bunkai feel likes it's insurmountable.  Neither Olivia or myself are given to being creative in that area and just learning the basics has been challenging enough.  We've still got six months so there is still room to amplify if we can.

In an attempt to do better, I've started taking private lessons with Daniel sensei so I can amplify my regular practice.  I just started that last Saturday and it was eye-opening about how much I can work on.  My new normal is taking notes and trying to undo bad practice or add in things I've missed.

So, for the few of you that do read this I apologize about the absence.  I'll try to keep up!

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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...