Thursday, May 30, 2019

Head So Big

Hey All,

Just another episode of "practice, practice, practice".  It's been tough to get motivated to do my daily practice (the entire test with shadow bunkai), but I'm trying to do a little each day so I don't forget stuff.  Mostly I'm working on two basic stances, cat and long split (Nekoashi Dachi and Zenkutsu Dachi respectively).  

Sensei had told me to video myself as much as possible and it's provided to be a cruel mistress.  Even when I think I'm doing better in practice, review doesn't pull any punches.  I've been doing this for three weeks or so and really trying to do a few things better.  That would include depth of stance and balance.  Two things that are so simple yet equate to the backbone of what everyone is going to see and judge me on.  

As I suppose all men must do, the farther I squat down the more I have a tendency to lean forward.  I've been forcing my back straight for awhile, but it means that I have to struggle with my balance in a new position which is also trying to be very low.  It also means that I have to practice this in every position in my katas.  Ouch.

Last night we had a very small class, just three of us.  So Sensei had Mark watch him and I do Haku Cho and Haku Cho Dai.  He wanted any remarks so I was prepared to take the regular onslaught of commentary following me do a kata.  

These comments aren't verbatim of course, but here's the gist:

  • Tater had lower stances
  • Tater had better hands
I told Sensei I'd give him a 20 later for making me look so good.  
Of course it wasn't particularly fair since it's all that I work on, but it was a nice feeling after being made to look shabby by doing the same things next to Olivia for the last year and some.  

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Working The Basics

It all comes down to the basics - at least when folks are looking at you with a microscopic analysis of your skills.  Each superfluous movement of a foot, every time I look in the incorrect spot, and every stance that makes me appear standing far too tall all add up to make me look less than proficient.  

I mentioned some years back that this style of karate tends to focus deeply on Kata because one of the original guys said that some people are naturally adept at fighting so the only way to see where the skill lays is within kata and bunkai.  

Because of my intermittent history with various martial arts over the course of my life my basics are scattered at best, but has made me flexible when it comes to relearning.   

This all leads to last night.  Somewhere in my head/sub-conscious I decided that I would do all the stances as low as possible.  Just to see where it would go.  I'd stop when my knees couldn't take it or i'd fall over.  Then I'd focus on my hips.  I make them snap for every move with a punch or strike.  

What I didn't take into account was that Daniel was going to run the class and he was okay with working on our cardio.  And part of working of cardio was just trashing the legs.  Squats, sprints and slow kicks.  I mean I loved it, but by the time I got to work on kata I was pretty wrung out.  However, I made sure those stances were fantastic, just hard as heck to keep balance when moving.  

Today's practice felt a tiny bit better and a tiny bit lower.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Painful Review

Or maybe not.

It's taken me a bit to sit down and write about the test and my feelings around how it went.  It's been a week plus now and I have had plenty of time to mull over how it went.  But let me jump back to the test first.  

Reed, MaryAnn and me got to Yakima with about three hours till testing.  We checked in our hotel which was pretty rough as places go, but at least semi-clean.  Lesson learned; don't go for the cheapest place you can find.  

We drove over to the dojo and they hadn't opened up just yet so we sat around outside socializing while everyone collected.  After they opened we went in and changed into our Gis and started warming up.  Strangely, I felt very distanced emotionally and not overly nervous or excited.  

Olivia and I practiced our bunkai lightly and worked through our kata and just chatted until we were told to line up.

The test seemed to take a long time because we were with some other advanced belts and their parts took a very long time.  This gave me ample time to rest which I appreciated.  I also had a great view of their bunkai which impressed me greatly.  There were a lot of complicated throws which we rarely see in karate.  

After we completed we ended up sitting in the lobby for an hour.  Apparently, there was a lot to discuss which was intriguing.   We found out later that the judges were taking the view point that their style was different that what we were presenting.  Reed was politely explaining that our style was what we'd been doing for the last ten years.  So they had to come to terms with a lot of theoretical stuff before they could address the results.  

The higher ranking folks went into to get their results and it took another hour for just three folks.  Finally Olivia, me and another guy that tested for Nidan were ushered in.  They gave Olivia her notes first but they said right away that they all passed her.  They went into a lot of detail about what they liked and what needed to be fixed, which was minimal.  They loved her bunkai because of the way she thrashed me around.  

Then it was my turn.  They all agreed that I need to come back next quarter and do the test again.  I had been fairly hopeful, but it was balanced with everything they had said before and I had a sneaking suspicion that being partnered with Olivia probably wasn't in my best interest.  She looked so good that everything that I did looked mediocre - the differences were really emphasized.  I mean I really needed to do some things better, but you get the idea.  They also didn't like the fact that she was my partner.  They thought I needed someone that I could hit and I clearly was holding back on occasion.  Although she would say that was untrue because she was really sore.  

In the end I got two pages of very detailed notes which makes fixing things way easier when you have a check list.  So I'm burying myself in making my basics way better, but the depth of my stances really weighs against me.  I'm not totally sure how to make them deeper because it doesn't actually feel like I can.  Well shall see.

I have until September 3rd (which is the next test day) to see how far I can go.

Thursday, May 02, 2019

One Day To Go - Nidan

Everything is in preparation and everything is practiced.  A few of the bunkai got shifted yesterday, but not in a big way.  Hotel is secured.  Travel is planned.  Details are detailed.  

The adrenaline is pumping and we all feel good.  Three of us are testing (Daniel, Olivia and me) and we've been told we look really good.  Better, in fact, that when Sensei took his Nidan or so he says.  

Last night we aggressively went after our bunkai for several hours.  Unfortunately, I'm feeling pretty bruised, but nothing is impaired.  

I'll do a run through today and call it good.  Tomorrow we leave in the morning and will have a couple of hours before the exam to warm up.  I'm not sure I need that much, but it'll nice to work out some of the adrenaline with a light run through for me.  

Pray to the karate gods that we get good and equitable judges and that we do a great job as well.

Your Clothes, Book Cast With 100%

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