Monday, November 09, 2020

Four Places and Sixth Kata

 I'm actually on my 7th kata, but we learned one of them out of sequence.  I've just learning the 6th one, Seiyunchin now.  Here's the video after completing the kata.

Sorry about the quality, framing, etc.

As I may have mentioned before, each degree in Shudokan, is a new style.  The nidan, or second degree was White Crane and the third (shodan) is Goju-Ryu.  So I have to learn a completely new style each rank.  In the case of GR I have to learn twelve kata which makes it more demanding since the traditional number is ten.  

Another factor that is weighing in on the learning curve is Covid.  We normally meet at our local park, but the lack of light and temperature has driven us inside Mark's garage, but it also means we can only have four people training at one time.  As you can see in the video we work at keeping 6 feet, but that's even a challenge.  

Tonight should be even more challenging due to cold weather.  Ugh.  

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

3 Days of Donyu

 I may have underestimated Reeds enthusiasm about Yamanni-Ryu study.  We are on our third day studying Donyu Kun kata.  Not that it's horrible to being something different, but I feel like we used to balance exam prep with something new a bit better. It's just me being antsy to get to my test.  I'd rather have it all done as much as possible so I can refine and refine for the next couple of years.

Anywho, we kind of beat the Donyu Kun Ichi kata to death.  It's simple pattern, but the moves have some subtly that only time is going to draw out.  So we split the group into two and the folks that wanted to try the next kata went with Daniel.

Yamanni-ryu uses the same pattern for the kata and then adds moves in that are move advanced.  For example in kata one we simply block. In kata 2 block, parry, strike and parry.  So the pattern doesn't change, but there are a lot of new movements.  Super fun.  

An added difficulty for me is that my staff (bo) is heavy.  Fifteen plus years ago my wife wanted to buy me something special and chatted with my teacher at the time about a weapon.  I ended up getting a heavy oak one with a modest taper.  I'm not sure what the advantages are, but my shoulders are definitely feeling it after the fact.  Moving it, controlling and stopping it all contribute to a long hard hour of work.  

I'm writing this the morning after and my hands and shoulders appear to have the worst of it.  Sore, tired and somewhat swollen.  

The embedded video below is an example of how the pattern got way more complicated.  Fun!

This afternoon I'll go on my fourth run after restarting after several years off. Ugh.  1.3 miles is my current limit.  My legs and knees are catching up to my lungs, but my pace is still fairly slow.  At 10:30 mile.  Nothing to get excited about.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Weapons In The Park

 Sensei hit that point in training where he wanted to try something different.  I totally appreciate when we hit this point.  Usually an indication that we've hit a plateau and need to shake it up.

As a group we don't focus on weapons a great deal.  I'm always interested because I have such a minimal exposure.  I have three bo (staff) kata, but have largely forgotten them.  

Yesterday we studied a short kata from the Yammani-Ryu school, Donyu Kun Ichi (Introduction Staff One).  Reed went into a lot of description about why we were doing what we were doing, but we completed it by the end of the time.  Apparently it continues to gain complexity in the second form, but uses the same pattern.

Here is a nice example of what we learned.

We are a bit more vigorous.

In other news - It's been slightly over a year since I took my Nidan exam.  I've got two years to go before my exam.  I'm really hoping that the pandemic is managed by then.  My classmate Mary-Ann is going for her Yondan which sounds stressful.  All wrapped up at the school and possibly get Covid or do it at home via video conference where things are so separate.  

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Karate In the Time Of Apocolypse

 I haven't written much because there hasn't been much going on.  The Pacific Northwest has been inundated with biblical plagues during the last month, so even leaving the house was becoming hazardous due to air quality.  While waiting for the air to clear we had to keep an eye on the fires that were creating them.  My wife and I packed to leave twice when evac levels started ramping up.  Absolutely stressful.  I now have a small insight into what folks in California run into year to year.

During this time I've been diligently practicing my six katas, but have a tendency to moan about progress or lack there of.  When you can't leave your house all of sudden the time that you never had you get back in spades.  So practice became a regular thing.  Too bad we could get together as a class.

Just as covid set in I began a serious regime of weight lifting.  I once aspired to be a body builder in my younger years and took up the weights again in a attempt to stave off the muscle wasting that seems to come with age.  Unfortunately, returning to the process also landed me with several injuries.  A hamstring, a shoulder and finally my neck.  When the neck thing started appearing I finally ended weights, but it took about four weeks of PT to get to the point where I can be mobile without pain.  It would appear that I have a slightly damaged C6 or C7.  When it bulges it pinches a nerve that goes down my left shoulder and arm.  The pain it created almost made me psychotic.  I now have insight into people with chronic pain conditions.  I wouldn't want to wish that on anyone.  It's horrible.

So the PT worked it's charm and I do all sorts of weird exercises to alleviate the pinch in my neck and I can do a lot again.  I haven't picked up the weights just yet due to fear, but I was able to go back to karate!  

And now that the air is clear (the air quality hit 500 at one point - toxic) karate in the park was back on, but socially distanced as before.  The concern I carry now it about warming up and minding my body carefully so I don't re-injure or slow down current healing.  

I got there a bit early and starting warming up, but I strangely never feel like I'm ready to go.  Our warms up always let me know that one part is not ready to go at all.  In this case my left ham appeared locked. I couldn't even sit with spread legs.  Super frustrating.  

We got going and I ended up working with Olivia on Shishochin.  She hasn't had time to practice so we went over a multitude of times.   Then we were corrected by Sensei on a host of little things.  After a ton of refinement we moved on to a new kata - Seiyunchin!

I got the three first moves down and we ran out of time.  Super cool though, since this means that we are on seventh of twelve kata!  

After I got home, my neck told me that it was worked so it was back to exercises to loosen it up and try to relax.  It appears to be fine this morning - whoop!

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Karate In The Time Of Covid

 I gotta watch that big toe

I gotta watch my neck, don't punch to hard

Watch for overloading that left knee.

Don't kick so hard on the left or you'll hurt that bad hammie.  

Try to get time with Sensei to answer some questions about that one piece in the kata.

Keep your eyes up during the kata.

Man, my mind is busy.  The above was floating around in my skull before and during our most recent session in the park.  I'm trying to address the work at hand, but my recent spate of physical issues tends to press in inopportunely.  

I tweaked my left knee recently going up and down a ladder.  It stiffens easily.  I've had this before so just babying, regular movement should clear it up in a week.  

My bulging C6/7 is finally resolving.  Regular exercises have pulled the bulge back to the point where the nerves are barely pinching.  However, punching at full strength certainly aggravates things, but I was totally fine to go to sleep comfortably last night.  

My PT has given me new exercises to help with work on my hamstring.  Because the injury appeared to be so high up (on the hip bone) I probably wasn't doing too much with traditional stretches.  The new stuff really is nice and I see progress, but this morning sitting is tough, which means I probably overdid it last night.  

I'm up to six kata (of the twelve I need to learn for my test) and although they are short I find myself forgetting pieces and parts.  They aren't totally engrained yet.  So I imagine it's going to be a bit before I get to number seven.  

The current list:

  1. Gekki Sai Dai Ichi
  2. Gekki Sai Dai Ni
  3. San Shin
  4. Tensho
  5. Saifa
  6. Shiso Shin
Please forgive spelling errors.  


Thursday, July 23, 2020

Bassai in the park

Holy Cow!  So much time has passed since I've sat down and collected my thoughts for a quick update about my martial practice.  March was my last entry!  Here we are in July and I've a bit of a restart about a month ago.

Sensei has the blackbelts meeting in a nearby park twice a week.  We all wear masks and stay six feet apart.  The heat has become unfortunate, but the shaded areas are reasonable.  I feel like there is a certain amount of irony about all the folks complaining that they can't breath with a simple surgical mask.  I think they should be doing an action packed kata with one on. 

I'm often breathing so hard that I'm pulling the mask into my mouth a good bit.  Apparently I'm back out of shape.  Doing kata for an hour has become grueling.  I'm not sure the heat or generally my household internment is the greater cause, but I can assume both have weight in the problem. 

During the covid lock down I've returned to weightlifting, but I've been accumulating injuries consistently.  Hamstring, two shoulders and a forearm have been the stuff I've been overcoming.  So the return to karate has been really nice.  I see it as a reasonable exercise, but as we gear up at the park I struggle to keep up with my various injuries peeking through. 

Since we can get near each other the only thing we are doing is working on kata.  I'm not slated to learn much more than what I know (towards my third dan) so I'm helping out Kyle work on his Nidan.  It's a treat to help, but as per usual, I'm not confident with my teaching skills.  What to focus on?  What to correct? And so on. 

Sensei took yesterday to get us all to learn Bassai Dai.  I was very pleased because this was a kata I did for my Blackbelt in Tang So Do.  However the versions are different, and I doubt I could remember it anyway.  Once we got rolling I was able to recall the moves in some spots.  Below I've got an example of the karate and the TSD so you can see the differences.

Karate with commentary! 


TSD with some notes.  Master Kil

As you can see the patterns are fairly compatible, but TSD really doesn't look at the stances too much and adds a lot of spring to the whole thing.  Sigh, the good old days.  The stances in the Japanese version are challenging to me.  

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Full Iron Circle

When I started at the Shudokan school five years ago, MaryAnn Sensei was working on her San Dan and as part of that she would teach me the katas she was working on.  Here I am five years later doing the same thing!

As part of good learning we are told to teach to really absorb what's going on in a kata.  The four kata I have are relatively simple and short in length, but teaching represents a challenge because I tend to parrot what I've been told, but I don't know a lot of the "why's" and "what fors".  

Since my usual partner, Olivia, has been out to family issues Mark has been nice enough to work out with me.  As part of that I've been teaching him the four Goju-Ryu kata I know.  So that completes the circle for to a degree.  We touched on them Monday and as of yesterday he had all four down by the end of the second class.  He still struggles with pattern, but considering it was about five hours, he did a great job for someone who lists his own memory as being really short.

I'm feeling better and better with them and I think I might jump ahead and take alook at the next one to see how complicated it is.  Whoop!

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Covid Dachi

The slow and insidious creep of Covid 19 in our region is impacting lots of things, but in respect to karate all the regional tournaments have been canceled.  That means that our focus for the last several months just ground to a halt. 

Reed uses a text string with all the black belts to give us news or ask questions.  As of this week this has turned into how do we deal with this issue of transmissible disease.   No one wants to miss class, but no one wants to wrangle with a case of the flu.  As a result we are now focusing on kata and pretty much zero contact.  

Thankfully we have a nurse in class and she gave us the info we more or less need - wash your hands a lot and don't worry so much if you're healthy.  The social distancing is probably good for the population in general, but the concern is over blown for healthy people.  If your old, if you have respiratory issues or immuno-suppressed then you might need to hide out for some time.  

This has allowed for us to focus on kata for a big stretch.  Since our new bb club is so close to the class we don't lose 20 to 30 minutes of driving.  So we are getting two plus hours of practice and instruction.  

For me it was back to Goju-Ryu basics and fine tuning my first three kata (Geki Sai Dai Ichi, Ni and Sanshin).  During the regular class it was all foot work, meaning that I had to do sanshin dachi for a half hour before he had me work with Cooper on his stuff.  My legs are pretty tired today.  

I definitely have to practice more though.  I'd forgotten a few items as per usual.  Sigh.

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Bugs and changes

With the corona virus being in our backyard everything appears to be a bit impacted.  Work has required every one to work at home and cancelled all but necessary travel.  I hadn't really thought about anything beyond that, but last night Sensei mentioned that he's not going to the upcoming tournaments out of an abundance of concern.  Especially the ones where there are travelers from Southeast Asia going through multiple airports.  Yikes!

This means that the next tournament I had planned on might be in jeopardy.  Reed said we'll continue to work toward the tournaments as if we were going.  I guess it gives us a focus.  

We tried out a new place for the black belt group.  Mark has houses all over the area and has a basement near the club where we have our regular classes.  It's massive.  I think like 3000 square feet.  It's broken up into a lot of rooms, but it worked out for us.  Reed split us into skill groups so no one was stepping on anyone's toes.  The ceilings are a bit low with texture, so hands and knuckles beware.  This could be a new potential home base for us and certainly reduces all the driving we normally do.

The evening class was mostly occupied with working on a kata we all knew and tearing it down in various ways.  And then Mark and I tried to teach Cooper the second Kyoku kata.  I was enthusiastic, but with two teachers and one student I think we could have been better.  He's a good student so it went well even though we had poor instruction.  

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Still In Prep Mode

I'm not sure how it is that I don't remember this time of the year from years past.  Clearly Reed and the others that normally go to tournaments during this quarter tend to focus on the little preparatory things, but I don't remember this level of involvement before.

Monday we focused on our katas that we'd be doing for tournament.  By that I mean it was working on details until we were blue in the face.  Which is nice to be honest because at home practice is usually once or twice run through with no one but myself.  It makes it hard to be objective.

Last night was back to fight night.  After a lot of interesting drills, which broke up our previous moves into different patterns we started matches way to late.  The style of tournament we are practicing now is more international.  There is a three point system which really emphasizes kicks to the head for three points.  The matches are 12 points and three minutes long.  They feel like forever.  To prepare for this style we added a huge amount of kicks to our repertoire.  I normally love kicks, but I'd forgotten how exhausting they are.  That's a lot muscle to energize over and over again, but against a shorter opponent I do way better than I thought, if I can regularly take shots with my legs.

Only one match and it was against Todd who always wins, but I got him 12 to 5 due to kicks.  Whoop.  

I immediately went home and gobbled ibuprofen to get ahead of the worst of the pain.  I guess this what we do in our 50s.  Ugh.  More stretching for sure.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Post Tournament Review

There is so much to talk about, but I'm not sure how much I can put into a cohesive story.  Of course, I'm not sure how much I write is cohesive, hah!

I decided fairly late into the process to go to tournament with my Sensei and Todd.  Normally I would have planned ahead by a couple more weeks and Sensei would have better numbers for the organizers.  Then we would have probably planned our weekend better, but such is life.  

We ended up leaving at 5 am, driving three and half hours and walking into registration at the last minute.  We were still dressing up when the first staging was occurring.  Thankfully there was around two hundred competitors so the little kids took up most of the first hour.  

The tourney was in a high school gym and the floor space was broken into 6 "rings".  The entire time I was there, except for the final grand champion fights, every ring was in use.  Totally a 6 ring circus and incredibly well organized.  

I registered for four events.   Black belt kata (men's open), Black Belt kata (men over 45), Kumite black belt men open and Kumite black belt men over 35 heavy weight.  

For my first kata I got an 8.5 which didn't place me due to the amount of competitors.  My second kata, which I thought was great was an average of 8.4 I think.  Still not good enough to place.  

We had to wait around a bit for Kumite so Reed and I thought we'd warm up during which he punched me in the mouth while we were moving fast.  No damage, but I thought I was going to go into competition with Kim Kardashian lips for a minute, hah!

Our open group of men turned out to be the friendliest folks.  We got chatting and laughing, but when it was fight time everyone was very serious.  I liked that vibe quite a bit.  It relaxed the atmosphere.  Todd told me later that the low color belts had a lot of testosterone.  We didn't seem to have it in our crowd.  

I honestly felt that I wouldn't be competitive due to the lack of experience in the last fifteen years, but to my surprise I won my first two matches.  I lost the third and figured it was no big deal.  I had my equipment off and got surprised when they called me again.  The single elimination thing really threw me off.  So I got another match in and lost that one and was finally out.  However out of a group of 12 guys I ended up fourth!  What the heck!?  
Micheal and Me.  Not elegant.

Mr. Rice and Me.  This is the one that ended my reign.

The next kumite was black belt men over 35 and and heavy weight.  We all asked what the weight cut off was and they said it was our preference.  What?  Finally an old timer said that the cut off was 175 lb.  Well we definitely all met and exceeded that.  

My first and only match was with Eric, the guy that ended up as grand champion.  It wasn't much of a contest.  I did a 0-3.  I felt that I got one point, but the judge was a AAUW guy and sorting out the action was so weird.  He never stopped us and both Eric and I got confused because we would reset and he would say "I didn't say yame."  So we'd launch as fast we could and the first person would get the point.  Sigh.
Eric and me.

My Sensei, Reed ended up in the grand champion round so we stayed pretty late.  We stopped for dinner on the way back and I ended up getting home at 9.  A long day.  

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Long Reach

I know that I'm taller than most folks, but I never considered myself "tall".  So the emphasis for sparring this week was all about reach.  It turns out that I've got a big advantage in my class group anyway.  For the first time in sparring I'm getting decent points!  I'm not necessarily winning all the time, but way more than ever before.  

This revelation coincides with my decision to go to tournament this weekend.  Sensei and Todd decided to go, and I didn't really have a reason not to other than it's a very long day.  We need to drive three hours to get there and have a long day and then drive three hours back. Urgh.

The unfortunately side-effect to all this activity in sparring is that I'm fairly mangled this morning.  Learning to throw a punch from far away has made my right shoulder tender.  Warmup drills caught my small toes on my good foot making them uncomfortably sprained.  A side kick at Todd smashed my good foot into his knee, bruising and bursting the top of the foot.  My pinky must have caught a gi or something as it's swelled up this morning.  I'm going to be getting some ibuprofen in me soonest.

Toe news - I finally went back to the podiatrist about my bad big toe.  The joint is filling in which explains the lack of mobility and pain.  I'm supposed to work on it until such point that the pain is intolerable or constant and then it's time for a fusion.  It's not what I expected though.  A lattice across the top and a screw through the side.  The good part about this, other than the recovery period, is that I would gain 40% mobility and an absence of pain!  Winner.   So I guess it's something to look forward to?

My prep for tournament is buying a few things.  I needed to buy a new jock protector and new gloves.  The new protector is so nice in comparison to years past.  It comes in nice compression shorts and has a little pocket to hold the protector.  Super nice.  

Friday, February 07, 2020

Fight Night Fight Prep

It appears that Sensei is keeping to the plan where we use the entirety of Wednesdays to prep for sparring.  

The first forty minutes are warming up and then a specific lesson.  This time it was defense of counter punch.  Basically blocking with front or back hand and then reposting.  Very energic.  As usual, I thought I was going to be out of shape, but the excitement kept me going throughout.

I got two matches in.  My first was with a new yellow belt who beat me three to two and one against Daniel who beat me three to one.  Not my best work, but this was nice because we used coaches.  So we stop after a point and the coach would tell you that what you were doing wrong.  I wasn't fully committing kicks or punches!  So that was a big help.  I also tried using some strategy by moving to the weak side of my oppenent, but that went poorly as he knew what I was doing.  Sigh.  Even though there was two more losses under my belt it was nice to hear what I needed to improve on.  Next week!

A nice acknowledgement from Sensei.  He pointed out that point sparring is vastly different from self-defense and shouldn't be considered in the same boat, but still great to do.  Bunkai and application are the focus for self-defense.  Intriguing.  I wished that we had the standard matches where we could try to use any of our moves.  Maybe if we had more days to practice.

As a result my bad big toe is acting up pretty badly, so much so, that I've made an appointment with my foot doctor.  Time to get it sorted.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Tourney Bound?

Hey All.  I went back at it last night.  "It" meaning I went for the two hours since my cold has passed and my regular level of fitness has returned.  That level isn't great, but since I wasn't getting thrown or swept I didn't wear myself out getting up over and over again.

First Hour
The work of the moment in class is tournament prep.  March has four tourneys so refinement on kata and sparring practice is the focus in class.  I haven't been to a tourney in years so I'm hoping to get at least one.  So we spent some time on figuring out what kata's I should choose.  I need two.  I ended up picking Wando and Ni Pai Po.  There both part of my last test.  I could remember the pattern, but a lot of the fine detail was left to be desired.  

Second Hour
The class was mostly devoted to refining the two kata.  I ended up working with Olivia most of the evening and had to eat a lot of crow when we worked together.  Comparing against Olivia and Daniel is brutal.  They are way beyond where I'm at.  

I'm feeling an extreme amount of soreness as a result of trying hard for two hours.  My general fitness is still coming back slowly.  I'll now ruin that by going on vacation Mexico for a week.  At least I'll walk quite a bit in the evenings.  

Friday, January 17, 2020

New Year, Into The Deep End

Hey Tater Tots!

It was time to pull off the proverbial bandage and jump into the deep end of the pool.  Although I was feeling pretty out of shape I decided to go to both hours of class on Wednesday night.  The temperature was cold in Reed's garage so movement was the only way to keep warm.  

First hour
Reed assigned Mia to me.  I was to go over the first two katas Kyoku sho and ni dan, their bunkai and then Oyo.  Thankfully they are very active and I got warm quick.  Half of it was probably due to me being out of shape so mild exertion was fairly stressful.  We did that for the whole hour.  

Second hour
Wednesday is traditionally the time we have sparring practice, but it's the first thing to go by the wayside if someone is prepping for exams.  Since we had a moment to breath in schedule, as it were, it was time to get back to sparring prep.  

Before we started Reed pulled Olivia and me aside to review our four Goju-Ryu kata.  We practiced that for about 15-20 minutes.  Then it was sparring drills for another 20 minutes.  Then it was only to the good stuff.

Unfortunately I got the short end of the straw so I only got one fight and it was with Mark.  He, as a rule, is not very aggressive in a match, but for whatever reason he was extremely cagey.  I didn't have any openings to try something interesting (wheel kick) and had to fall back on rushing in.  The final score was 3-1 and I got two cautions for contact.  Not my best work.  

I'm missing a conference when I go on vacation next week.  Which is a bummer.  I've never been able to make one.  Competition season is now warming up and sometime in March is the first one.  I wonder if I can make one for once.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

2019 Wrap Up And Review

What a year.  I got my Ni Dan in September, had my 53rd birthday in October, which weirdly signaled my realization of my age, and over the course of the year I lost twenty pounds and have kept it off due to diet.  

In the end of the year, when I should be learning a bunch of Goju-Ryu stuff, I ended up getting waylaid by life.  

At work we started a massive project that meant 10 to 12 hour days, my wife and me started putting a bathroom in the basement (where I'm doing 99% of the work) and as the year started winding up my Mother started going down hill.

As I've mentioned my Mother in past posts, the horror of dementia finally came to a head last month when my Mom got a cold, but previous to that she started experiencing difficulty swallowing.  At a certain point she no longer took water and was able to wave off assistance.  She'd put into her medical requests to take no further assistance so she went down hill in about two days.  My wife was able to get there and hold her hand as she passed away and I was able to get there two days later.  The sense of normal sadness was replaced with relief for her and us.

On the flight home I was surrounded by sick people sneezing and guess what  - I got sick for the last week.  I haven't had that much difficulty throwing off a cold in ages.  So I missed another week of karate as a result.

Last night I finally went back with some sense of concern that I might not be ready to do the whole two hours.  I spent the first hour teaching Kyle Ni Pi Po so I wasn't worn out, but decided to go home early and hit the hay early.  

On a side note I got Sensei a karate clock for his garage.  It was nice to be back and get the laughs and get moving.   

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...