Thursday, December 20, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Strengths: I feel that my blog's strengths lie in my honesty and my hard work regarding my training. Writing about what you know is the best way to write, at least in my eyes. I do not toot my own horn, but look at my path with open eyes and use my blog as a way to further my progress in the martial arts.
Weaknesses: My writing could use a little polishing, especially the grammar. I tend not to pay attention to many of the rules, but part of me doesn't really care about that as long as I can get my point across. But I know that there are grammar Nazis out there....you know who you are. Another weakness is my tendency not to post in this blog as often as I post in my other one, which is a very different vein of topic. Maybe there's a way to combine the two so that I post more often? However, I keep them separate for a reason since the other blog has nothing to do with MA. Something to consider. There is also this aversion to writing about specific MA topics since I do not feel qualified to do so. That comes with time put into training and learning. I've started reading more about MA and also google many styles to learn more about them as well to see how they can further my knowledge in the style I've learned.
Opportunities: Commenting on other martial arts blogs usually results in the authors checking out your blog. I've started doing that more often, and not just to get them to come over to my house. I'm also a part of the Convocation of Combat Arts Forum, which does the same thing. I've also told my dojo mates about my blog. Getting out into my community isn't as important as getting it out to the blogosphere since I talk to my friends in the dojo all the time. What I want here is to talk to other martial artists everywhere.
Threats: I tend to be a shy gal, which prevents me from speaking up the way I want to speak up. That is something I've worked on for a long time. Speaking my mind is much easier these days since I'm not opposed to any confrontation that may result from my opinions. There's also the tendency for me not to go into any topic where I may "talk out of my behind" instead of learning the facts.
Phew, that wasn't so bad. I'll move onto the next part some other day.
I learned Naihanchin today! I love it! It's such a cool kata, and apparently Sensei has been teaching it to the upper belts in the later classes. It didn't take me long to learn, though, since it's very repetitious. I love the side stepping and the cobra-like punches. Now I have two new katas in my arsenal of learning. Love the kata....
I'm also loving the "Living the Martial Way" book. I just may do a review from my point of view when I'm finished with it. It has propelled my thinking into a whole other realm, which has had amazing results in my training. I feel so much more grounded and capable. It's a wonderful thing. My hesitation is almost non-existent now when I'm grabbed. Finally...
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Saturday, December 1, 2007
I've been chosen again to do the promote three meme, which I haven't done! My next mission is to go over to toplist so that I can see who I deem worthy....hee, hee, hee. Thanks, John!
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Kenpo is going very well. So far it has decreased my hesitancy. I know the last entry talked about that, but since then it has gotten much better. That will only dissipate with practice. Now to find more people to practice with in the self-defense arena. Doing them without another body is an option, too. Just look in the mirror...
That's pretty much it. Although I have been reading "Living the Martial Way" by Forrest Morgan. Very, very interesting and inspiring. The more I read the more I nod my head in agreement.
Friday, November 16, 2007
I was able to teach class the other day, the whole class time. It's getting easier and easier and my discomfort with being the "leader" is slowly waning. There is so much more I want to become proficient with before I dive into sensei-dom. I'm so not ready for that and am not being pushed, which is good. I just reached shodan and want to sit with it and practice, practice, practice. I've begun to feel what the inside of kata can be like, and it's such an amazing thing. I am also starting to feel so incredibly humbled by teaching, and I think that's a good thing to recognize. Ah, it never, ever ends!
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Monday, November 12, 2007
I'm off to the Burlington Kempo class tonight. It will be nice to train again in a new place, and the "old" place is feeling just grande. I did a lot of martial arts activity last week and hope I can keep up the pace every week. It helps with the outward stresses of our move looming closer and closer. I've decided to do the elliptical trainer since it allows me to listen to music and exercise and sweat. Kabox is okay, but my body isn't really into it right now. On the elliptical I can zone out and just be in myself, which is something I really need right now. What I really need to focus on is keeping that sense of serenity as I do self-defense techniques. Just be internal as I go external. This is difficult, and I plan on working it until I can't stand it, or at least until I reach mushin...
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Saturday, November 3, 2007
Friday, November 2, 2007
For today I would like to continue talking about blocking. In our system we have four primary blocks that we begin with : agay (spelled wrong since I do not have my book in front of me), soto, uchi and gedan barai. They are called the hachi ban uki (also spelled wrong, my deepest apologies!) and we do them over and over and over with heavy emphasis on mushimi, or heavy rubbing. Mushimi is incredibly important in our system and if the upper belts are caught not utilizing it at every turn we do push-ups. But, hey, who's complaining about buff arms....not me. Mushimi is especially important in a self-defense situation where sticking (literally) to your opponent places them off balance and allows you to always maintain balance and hara connection. Mushimi begins with the block. With the upper rising block, agay, the arm is energized and mushimi allows you to uproot the uke, at which point you can continue to push the arm back and wrap it or just keep it off to the side. The same goes for the lower blocks, but in this case the uke becomes off-balance towards the tori. There is also the kage uke (hook block), the mountain block, the snake block and a block where you place your hands together, palms facing you, as if you were making a bird shadow and press outwards against an attack. My favorites are the snake block, which is performed to the outside of the punch and allows you to then mushimi down the arm and grab the wrist, and the kage uke.
With blocking we are taught to perform soft, not hard. With this softness I find that it is easier to place the uke off balance, much like an aikido move uses the uke's energy against them. I do not know much about aikido and have only done a little, but from what I've seen our blocks are very similar to aikido moves. The softness also allows the tori to maintain flow, which to me is a much more efficient way of moving against an attack. If I defend hard my energy goes right to my upper body and I lose hara connection. Once this happens the techniques are no longer going to work the way you want them to. With hara connection and mushimi you are insured against losing connection with the uke and will have a much easier time with stun, rip/tear and project. This is how we defend. We block and stun, rip/tear with a combination and then project the uke to the ground or away from us. The projection of course comes with more than a few years of practice and I'm still battling with it. I will most likely always be battling with projection. But, that's for another post!!!
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Anyway, I'm still pretty excited about doing the Kempo class once a week. Today's class just re-affirmed my need to practice self-defense. Damn hesitation! It happens to me too often and there are moments when I just want to run from the dojo screaming. But those are the moments I also cherish the most due to the learning that can be gleaned from such frustration . That's when I bring my focus down to my feet, bring myself back down to the ground and then to my center. In today's class frustration was not present, which was a very good thing due to my relatively fragile mental state (no, that statement is NOT an over-dramatization of how I'm feeling. I am not a drama queen!) We did mostly self-defense and then kata, ever kata. Kata felt pretty shaky, though. I need to practice them every day....I strive for daily practice, even if it's only kicks and punches. There isn't much room in my house for kata. Let me rephrase that, there is NO room in my house for kata. Perhaps if I were to do them Tai Chi slow, which is actually a wonderful training technique and really gets the hara into action. So, I have no idea where I'm going with this post, but just bear with me...
What I'm now learning as a shodan: be patient, be pro-active, just &*^%$ relax and let it all flow. This I was able to see most in the kempo dojo. Most of the other kohai blocked so incredibly hard and stiff, one in particular really pounded my forearm (can we say human makiwara?). It got me thinking about the way blocks should be performed. Hard blocks seem to be more appropriate if you intend them to be strikes as well, especially in zing e (that is a completely phonetic spelling. I'll have to look up how to spell that style...), which is so violent. All attacks. It's great! Anyway, I'm finding that a softer block will gain you so much more time (were talking split seconds...) to pull off a combo of some sort, especially if the uke is placed off-balance. Then there's the trick of blocking above and striking with the feet at the same time. This I need to practice over and over since it would be such an invaluable technique for me in that I barely reach 5'. Sensei does this beautifully and every time I think, "Man, I have to get that down!"
So, there you have it for today. Rambliness....
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Friday, October 19, 2007
Yesterday in class sensei had me working the pads with 12 oz. gloves. Hard! Mostly because I'm so lacking in cardiovascular strength right now. So, I've decided to pursue heavy bag training on a regular basis. It's so frustrating for me to run out of breath after five strikes and five kicks. It takes so much cardiovascular focus when boxing like that. You can have all the technique in the world, all the right moves from hara, but if you can't breathe...well, it's difficult. My work schedule gives me a little more "breathing" room starting next week so I will be able to hop over to the dojo (which also includes a gym) to train on the bag at least three days a week. I have a bag at home, but I can only use it outdoors right now so weather is an issue, and if you've ever been to Vermont our weather is never predictable. Anyway, I've also started a weight regimen, too. What we do to stay healthy, hmm?
I'm hoping this Monday to check out a kenpo class in Burlington. A good friend of mine is a shodan in that dojo and he is always doing amazing things. I have no idea what it's like, so I guess it's time for a little google.
One aspect that is lacking in my dojo is weapons training. We only have bo right now, and two sword forms. What I really want to learn is sai. I guess I will have to search out a weapons teacher. Yeah, in all my free time!
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Friday, October 5, 2007
Off for a weekend of fall activities. Vermont is so incredible this time of year with the changing leaves, and the yummy apples!!! I plan on having lots of fun. Plus, it's supposed to be in the 80's. Weird weather...
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Friday, September 28, 2007
Here I am, all sweaty and proud. I had just put on my black belt. Yay me!!! I honestly can't believe that it's all over, but am so glad that I did it. The test was fantastic...
Okay, here are the youtube links for my vids:
Thursday, September 27, 2007
A note about my shodan paper. I know that there were errors, it wasn't the final copy. I made some changes and corrections before I handed it in. I just wanted you to see what it was all about, but a hearty thank you for those of you who gave me great suggestions!!
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Well, here's the completed shodan paper for tomorrow night. We were to pick a topic to write about, and I chose ego and self-esteem and how they relate to the martial arts.
The butterflies have landed....I'm nervous, but I'm ready. I'll post as soon as I can about how the test went. Yay!!!
We know the warrior by his presence and the healing he automatically gives to everyone he meets. ~ Erle Montaigue
“There are many people who, even when studying the Way of the Martial Arts, think that these skills will not be useful in real situations. In fact, the true Way of the Martial Arts is to train so that these skills are useful at any time, and to teach these skills so that they will be useful in all things.” Miyamoto Musashi, “The Book of Five Rings”
When we meet someone else who does Karate differently than we do, we seem to have a knee jerk reaction and immediately begin attempting to dominate the other person instead of listening to what they have to say and thinking about it with due consideration. Rob Redmond, 24 Fighting Chickens blog
Ego, Self Esteem and the Martial Arts
What do you think of when someone asks you about the martial arts? If you were to ask a person who does not do martial arts, they might mention Chuck Norris, Steven Segal or even Jackie Chan. All of those men encompass what is known, in my eyes, as the “movie martial arts”. The egos involved tend to be inflated and evolved to the point where the practitioners may feel as if they are indestructible. This, however, is only my opinion. The martial arts you see in movies are very far removed from what the actual martial arts represent. Ego and self-esteem play a very large role in the evolution of a martial artist, and I write about those two aspects of our personality because they have played a very important role in my martial arts practice and my growth as a person involved in the martial arts. All of the opinions expressed in this paper are my own, and they are far from being the norm with all karateka. The three quotes at the top speak to me about ego and self esteem and how they pertain to the martial arts and I will touch on all of them within this paper.
How does the ego pertain to martial arts and where, exactly, does self-esteem fit in? When talking about the ego you need to look into how a person reacts to having gained a significant amount of knowledge in martial arts technique. Martial arts provide a very powerful source of self-protection and can therefore lead to a very powerful increase in a person’s ego. This is not necessarily a hindrance, if the ego evolves slowly and does not gain control. The opposite of that is an ego which becomes so inflated that the martial arts practitioner feels as if he or she “know it all” and proceed to show this knowledge off to all who will watch. Self-esteem, on the other hand, can only increase in such a way as to compliment the ego. When you feel confident about yourself, your ego will inevitably grow stronger since you have more confidence in yourself and what you know. That being said, what happens to the self-esteem if the ego takes over? Does it become weaker in the sense that the person has now “become” the ego? This is a very interesting question, and I feel that if the ego becomes too strong, then self-esteem becomes weaker. Ego is a very strong trait, and can quickly take over all other personality traits if left unchecked. To be all ego is to be weak, which is not something karatekas want to be. Self-esteem is a much stronger trait to have, a much more reliable source of courage. Courage with too much ego becomes carelessness.
The first quote at the beginning of this paper is first for a reason. To me it represents the humbleness the martial arts can bring to all those who practice it. Being a healer requires a great deal of self-confidence and self-esteem. If you do not have those aspects of your character in a solid place within yourself you cannot provide healing to others. When training in the martial arts a certain amount of healing happens within you, which slowly builds a solid sense of self-esteem. Too have too much ego in this sense would not only be detrimental to yourself, but also to those around you who recognize your healing capabilities. Being a massage therapist gives me a unique perspective into this idea. There are many massage therapists who allow their egos to become too strong, which degrade their healing capabilities. Receiving a massage from someone who’s ego has become too inflated is not a pleasant experience and you often leave the session feeling more stressed than when you felt at the beginning. Ego must be contained; self-esteem must be stronger than ego. The martial artist who has strong self-esteem is capable of great healing and great martial arts. To me it’s all about allowing this to happen within yourself and not letting your ego get the best of you. There will always be someone stronger, faster, and more capable of striking from hara. It’s a wise thing to remember.
Miyamoto Musashi’s quote touches on believing and trusting in your techniques. This has been the toughest battle for me throughout my eight years of training. Trusting in yourself and the believing that the techniques you know will work boosts self-esteem in amazing ways. To not trust the technique means you are not trusting in yourself. This can be the “death” of a karateka’s self-esteem. The more you fail at performing, the more you mistrust what you know, both about yourself and your techniques.
I put in the last quote because I’ve seen this happen in our own dojo. There are often times when Sensei Bottomms teaches us one thing and either after class or during application of what was just taught others from another dojo interject what they feel is the “right” way to do the technique. This bothers me to no end. When entering another’s dojo, their “way” is to be respected and learned, not critiqued and criticized. That is not respectful and is purely coming from ego’s point of view. A dissolving of the ego must occur when entering the dojo, whether it is where you train or not. If you do not agree with the Sensei, speak with them after class, not during the time he or she is teaching. In my eyes there is nothing ruder than someone who speaks out against what Sensei teaches. Everyone has the capacity to learn, no matter how much training they have had. Having respect for other’s teachings shows not only humbleness, but a strong sense of self (self-esteem). To not respect someone else’s teachings shows only the ego is present, one that is far too large to allow for any further learning.
When I think of self-esteem and how it relates to the martial arts the picture inside of my head is of an elderly Asian man slowly performing kata with a serene smile on his face. He is sure in his stances; sure of how the moves work. You realize that the serene smile also goes much deeper than what you see on his face. I also think of this same man with his students, with the same serene look on his face, allowing himself to learn from his students as he teaches them all he knows about martial arts. The most important part of my learning thus far has been how to control the ego and allow your self-esteem to rule your inner battle. There is a never-ending battle between ego and self-esteem, the trick is to find that delicate balance where they both work together. I work towards finding and honing that serene smile on my face, and have already learned from those that I have taught. I feel that my ego is in check, and I am so grateful that Koro Ken has taught me to believe in myself and to trust what I know. I have never learned so much about myself as I have while being a martial artist and I look forward to learning for the rest of my life.
Friday, September 21, 2007
Thursday, September 20, 2007
I stayed for the kids shiai. Those shiais are always great to be a part of. I love hearing all the kiais and seeing those little people so focused. My nephew was testing for his San Kyu (he's 8) and did an amazing job of Seunchin. Apparently he had awoken that morning with butterflies and felt the stress of it all day long. Right after he was done he burst into tears of relief, literally sobbed against Sensei Bottomms. It was so amazing to see him release like that. I was so proud of him. He is truly a karateka in the making and I hope he sticks with it. His focus is so sharp and his body just knows what to do.
I will not be in class again until next Tuesday, which means practicing in my yard on the grass. I love doing that. So much to do, and so much time to do it.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
This makes me think of self-sabotage. Is there some part of me that doesn't feel I'm really worthy of going the next step in my martial arts? Am I afraid to? That's entirely possible. Yes, I do feel afraid, but I feel ready for this. I'm ready to dive into the unkown and make it known, make it my own.
I'll have to talk more about this in another post. This afternoon is a very busy karate afternoon. I soon am off for the shodan pre-test, which is an hour and a half. Then the kid's shiai followed by the adult kyu shiai. I planned ahead and only did one massage today. It was very nice to spend the morning doing family time. I'll just have to watch out for metal backhoe thingys from now on.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
So why write all of that? Because I do karate for the history, for the building of the foundation. It started with a movie, and whenever I see that movie I laugh at how stiff the actors look doing karate, how staged it looks. To me karate means training, it means being true to yourself, it means pushing yourself, it means trusting yourself. Never have I felt so sure of who I am, and of what I am capable of accomplishing. The trust is the biggest part of this. When you trust your teacher and your fellow dojo mates the learning is compounded by that trust. It's fun, it's easy, and it's harder. When you trust the moves they flow better. When you don't trust the moves they don't work very well.
The hardest part of becoming a martial artist (at least for me) is believing that you are a martial artist. When I started it was to learn fancy moves, not necessarily to learn about me. I thought I had already done that in massage school (at that time I was only a year into my massage career. Massage school was very intense and you do learn a lot about yourself and your boundaries.) However, as the years of training slipped by I stared to realize that karate wasn't just about the moves; it was also about internal growth. The training was also applicable to my massage career, and to my relationships (not just paramours, but family, friends, etc.) Once you give into the flow of things, everything else just fits into place, it really does.
Whew, I think I just started my Shodan paper. One more week to go. I will be glad when it's all over. My brain has been so full of everything I must know, but my body knows it better than my brain does and I trust it to get me through. It's not just about the color of the belt for me anymore, it's about taking one more step closer to myself and closer to moving from hara. I am a martial artist, I will always be a martial artist.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
The shiai is two weeks away. Next Wednesday we have a shodan pre-test for an hour and a half with Sensei Morallo. Then I will most likely participate in the kyu shiai that same afternoon. Practice, practice and more practice. I feel very good about this.
For every belt test we have had to write a paper about what we have learned at each stage of testing. For the shodan test we have to delve a bit deeper. I've begun thinking about what I will write and what books I will refer to that have deepened my practice. I will have to start it soon so that time doesn't get away with me.
Class was very low key today. I taught most of it and just had everyone do the katas and bunkai that they have been working on for shiai. It sounds like Thursday will be a bit more energetic...
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Friday, August 31, 2007
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Today Sensei Bottomms told the class that this year is the year of martial arts courtesy in our dojo. We will be paying close attention to rank in the dojo and the higher belts will each be given a lower belt to work with. I think that's such a great idea, and the courtesy, too. Our dojo is very traditional and respect within the dojo is very important. It also transfers to life outside the dojo as well, and if we are ever in other dojos. It's just about respect for each other overall and I really, really dig that.
I've been really focusing on hara work lately, and it seems to be paying off. I found this beautiful crane Qi Gong form on youtube and will do my best to do it every day. My life right now really needs a little slowness, a little focus. The massage business is crazy, the martial arts is tough, and when I go home I need those few breaths to just slow down and be present for my family. Balance has been tough to find, and hubby is feeling a little frustrated with how much my mind has been on MA lately. But that's the way it is, that's how I live, and it will always be that way. The trick is not to let the MA get in the way, but to be present within my life. I'm getting there, but it's been a small battle. Time to change battle to something else.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Today class was great. Everyone was moving together and the energy was alive. There were lots of push-ups in-between kata, along with a few sit-ups. Myself and another I Kyu went through our upper kata as well. To sweat is to perservere I say. The other I Kyu will be testing for Shodan next Wednesday since he will be leaving for his first year of college three days later, and I will be going. Who knows, maybe that will be my testing time as well. I need to wear my gi, anything is possible. I asked this I Kyu today how long he had been training (he started while I was on hiatus) and he said two years! Talk about belt skipping...that made me a little annoyed, but I guess sometimes there are those who just fly through. But still, he has much to learn even though he is ready for this test. Although by the look of his face I'm not sure he feels the same. We shall see. All I know is that I am very glad that it has taken me 7 years to reach this point. Of course I had some time off to have a baby, but it's been a wonderful ride and I hope to continue for as long as I live!
I recently found out that our upper katas are based off of the Shito Ryu katas - Bassai Dai, Shisochin, Sanseru, Lun Wane Kune (although I'm not sure which kata that one is derived from). Today Sensei said that Lun Wane Kune is a "20 year kata", meaning that it takes at least 20 years to fully understand the kata. I'm already 6 years into it...
Thursday, August 9, 2007
There are so many nuances to kata that you are always perfecting. First you learn the moves in the kata, then you become comfortable with those moves, then you practice over and over. After the kata becomes known completely by your body you go into the small things, like a solid chamber hand, low stances, low kicks, etc. Last night in class we worked Sanchin kata, which is pretty difficult in regards to stance. First you must be in the sanchin stance and root down into the ground. Then you must spiral your energy upwards, contract you lats, spiral your arms. It's a hard way to stand. Then you must breathe easy and focus each strike as though it were a full strike. So much to learn! Anyway, I love kata. You are fighting yourself and you lose when you lose your focus.
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
This weekend I decided to train on the heavybag and it went very well. There's a great feeling hitting something relatively solid. What I need to do is train on it more often, but it's outside and that requires good weather, which in Vermont can be fleeting. I also strung up a rope from the house to my husband's studio so that I could do the duck and weave thing. I've been having a difficult time getting my body to do that during sparring and it was high time to kick it into gear. Then I ran through the higher kata - Shisochin, Sanseru and Flight of the Striking Tiger - in the grass. It was great to practice outside in the sunshine. My son joined me from time to time and had a blast kicking the heavybag.
Today in class we had some newbies and it was fun to go back to the very beginning. It can be very humbling, especially when you're so caught up in the black belt training. I'll also get to go to class tomorrow night, which I never get to do. It's a different group of people, so a change of pace will be good. Sensei said we will be doing full-contact kumite soon, and I ordered sparring gear since I will need it for Shiai. We have never really done much full-contact in our dojo. There was this incident many years ago when a student from another dojo landed a punch to the face of a student in our dojo, resulting in a broken cheekbone. Ever since then Sensei has been very hesitant to do too much of that. It's a good thing and a bad thing. Most of our sparring is slow-flow and moderate speed kumite, but not so hard to where we have needed gear. That's why I have never owned any. It should be a very interesting experience. But, it's so important to relax first. That's why Sensei has us do slow-flow all the time. It's not gentle by any means, but it forces you to relax and not be so hard in your punches. A very challenging drill indeed.
Thursday, August 2, 2007
I gave Sensei a massage today, which he really needed. It's a little hard for me to do that since it brings into play a dual relationship, which can only work if both parties are comfortable. This is not so hard for me that I will not help him feel better, it just takes me a few minutes to relax into it. But, it was a great session. I wanted to remark to all the other martial artist out there how massage therapy can benefit your practice. Not only does it relax the body, but it allows you to sense where in you body you have pain, or potential pain. My main form of massage is deep tissue/Myofascial Release, which significantly reduces chronic pain anywhere in the muscular body. Once a month is sufficient and if you try this you will be surprised how much more fluidly your muscles move, which of course makes it easier to throw any waza from hara. Okay, off the soap box.
There is four more weeks until my shodan shiai. I'm a little concerned about not knowing all the bunkai and do not know how I'm going to fit in extra practice. I do not know the bunkai for the last four kata and have a rusty recollection of at least three kata and a very good recollection of everything else since that is what we work the most. I'm confident that it will all fall into place by the time I need it to. Positive thinking!!! It really works people!
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
I'm also feeling a little scared about sparring with other's I don't know at the shodan shiai. Master Morallo brings black belts with him from his dojo to the test, people whom I've never met, and they will try to hurt you. Yikes. That's making me a little nervous seeing as my hands practically refused to stay up today. But that is today. I will not be working on the day of my test so that I will be rested and well-fed. Yes, well-fed is a good thing and sometimes it doesn't always happen and I go to class with not much energy. Again, balance....
Thursday, July 26, 2007
There is an Ni Kyu in my class that is very challenging on many levels. When I'm teaching class, he completely disregards rank and speaks out of line. At first I just let him, but then I had a talk with Sensei and asked him if it was okay to have him do push-ups for speaking out of line while I'm teaching. "Of course!" , he said. This young man is also a challenge for Sensei. Today this Ni Kyu and I did kata together and he did not follow my lead, so I had a talk with him about feeling what the other person beside him was doing, how important it is to have the patience to move as one. There is a lot of anger to his movements, a lot of aggression, and it wears on one's nerves. This is the best thing for him to be doing. Respect and honor are so important in our "outside" lives. I'm sure that eventually he'll grow into that, and if not, so be it.
Class was a sweaty one today, but I felt so much better and not at all sloppy. When the weather is hot and humid we work extra hard. It's good for the spirit!
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
So, is it normal to think about karate all the time? I think that in the situation where you are testing for Shodan, yes, though there are times I need to tell my brain to take a break. I go over and over kata and bunkai and visualize sparring. Guess you could say I'm slightly obsessed! As soon as it's all over I can relax. This is so big, so much larger than most of what I've done in my life. Of course giving birth trumps anything, but Shodan test comes in second. It's exciting. It makes me feel so proud of myself. Our "code" in the dojo is to love, respect, care for, take responsiblity for yourself first in order to have peace within yourself. It's a great way to live.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Well, it's been a great weekend. I took a break from training (at least physically. I'm always mentally training) since the cold I got last week kicked my ass on Friday when I did a Kabox class. I had to stop after half an hour because my body just quit on me. It was very frustrating. All last week I worked through the cold and pushed, but I think I pushed a little too far. It will happen and you just have to accept it and move on.
I also spent time this weekend designing the tattoo I will be getting after the Shodan Shiai. A few years ago I got four of the Five Rings (from the "Book of Five Rings" by Miyamoto Musashi. A great read!), earth, water, fire and wind, tattooed onto the outer sides of my ankles and inner wrists. I waited on the kanji for the emptiness, which is the final chapter, for when I received my black belt. I've decided to put it on the back of my neck and have a traditional oriental dragon and tiger on either side. I already have a dragon covering my left shoulder, along with some other tattoes. You can't just have one...Anyway, right of passage and all of that.
I'm looking forward to more sparring this week along with bunkai. There are still some upper bunkai that I do not know, and I'm getting a little nervous....
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Today I did a little slow-flow Kumite with another dojo mate and it was really great. That is exactly what it sounds like. Slow, flowing punches and kicks, making sure you keep your hands up (I got a good shot to the mouth, but no fat lip...darn) and your elbows in. That is an area where I need more practice, too, but at least now my adrenaline dump isn't as severe as it used to be and I stay relatively relaxed. There are times when we both escalated and Sensei Bottomms had us stop and then he and I would go and then I would go again with the other person. Man, my lungs need more of that so I'm not sucking wind at the Shodan Shiai. Sparring is a major part of that shiai and I really want to be in shape. At least I have an extra week now to train since the test has been moved to August 29. Phew.
I still feel ready to test. I'm so freaking excited!!! I figured out that I've had my brown belt for 6 years and for the past four years I've been training for black belt. The first time I was supposed to go I sprained my ankle, the second time I got pregnant. Now it's my time!
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Anyway, training has resumed. Today was kehones and kata and push-ups, of course. I'm now up to sixty a day and going strong. One hundred is my goal since that's what we will have to do at the end of the black belt shiai. I must also become more comfortable in horse stance since there is a 100% chance that I will have to hold it for five minutes or longer at some point during the testing. Maybe more than a few times, it's anyones guess. Master Morallo is not a kind tester, and we like it that way. If it's not a difficult test for both body and spirit it's not worth the time. I say that now...at least there will be two other people going with me (one woman and one man). To do a test alone...well, I guess that would be a character builder, now wouldn't it.
I do have to say that it's a bit strange just writing about my martial arts. There haven't been any chances to really talk about it with anyone without it sounding incredibly obsessive. But those who train know what life with martial arts in it is like. You bring what you learn out into the world, into your work, into your family. It's not just exercise anymore...
Thursday's class will be sparring. I've gotten so much more comfortable with it over the past few months. Usually I just try to throw combos, but now I'm thinking more along the lines of how can I get this person to do what I want so that I can land a hit. It's not one point sparring, but back and forth. Good stuff.
Check out "Fight Girls" on Oxygen. It's about this group of women vying for spots on the American Muay Thai team. Very cool. Master Toddy is the man!
Thursday, July 12, 2007
You know, I wasn't going to keep up with this blog since I already have another one. But, this is all about my martial arts, which I don't do in the other one specifically. Anyway, I'm finding that I need a place to put my worries, my excitement, that are all for martial arts, specifically martial artists who are also mothers. That poses such a challenge, at least for me. Where to find the time to go to the dojo, how to practice with your two year old running around you. It certainly makes you appreciate the times you go...
Today was the first day I felt confident that I was ready for the shodan shiai. In class I just felt to strong with all my material. I have all the kata down with just a little tweaking here and there, the kehones are strong (just have to go through all the Japanese names a few more times...). The only thing I'm concerned about are the bunkai for all the kata. I have never been taught the bunkai for the last three kata, but I've decided not to worry too much about it. What is important is that I have the older bunkai down cold. One of my challenges in my martial arts path has been to trust my self-defense techniques, more like trusting that they will work. There's been a certain timidity about those moves, mostly because I don't want to hurt my dojo mates. But, if you trust yourself you won't hurt others. If you focus you won't hurt others. There is so much going on all at the same time, it's amazing!!!
Okay, it's taken my two days to write this, mostly because I haven't had a chunk of time to just write. So, I send this off into space...