Thursday, November 29, 2007


I'm afraid to unleash that inner "stuff" (for lack of a better word) in self-defense situations. I mean the practice version, not the real thing. There's this definite fear of letting go in order to let it go, if you know what I mean. That's where the hesitation comes from. I just figured this out today. That's all we did in class, along with slow-flow, and at some point I unfocused my eyes and the moves went so much smoother. It's that fear that prevents me from attacking to my fullest extent. Maybe I'm afraid that if I let it go I won't be able to control the movements and will hurt someone. That results in hesitation as well. This is something to work on and work through, at least now I know where it comes from.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

It's been a while

The other blog has had more attention as of late. Training has been going well, I just need to make, and find, more time to do it. I have definitely slacked off in the cardiovascular department and am feeling it. There has to be time somewhere, even if I have to get up really early, which I despise. But, it can be made into a habit as can anything.

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


This is what is inside my head: train every day. This is what I strive for and have yet to achieve. I'm finding it difficult to train every day due to life being right in front of me all the time. Sensei wants to have private training sessins with me. He says he needs a focus and would like to do that with one or two students outside of the regular class days. I'm excitied! This would mean more training, more days of following my path the way I want to follow it. There is such a large part of me that would love to go off and just do karate for a few months, maybe a year. However, I have a family that needs my attention, too, and I love to give them my attention. This is where the paths cross, where the hardest challenges lie. My husband can be very supportive of my training, yet there is a breaking point. The trick is to not reach that point, which only places unecessary strain on our relationship. I am not going to give up my life for training, I want my life to include training. There is definitely a place for both to exist, and I'm getting better at melding the two.

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

No impressions, please.

I really need to stop thinking that this blog is for waxing poetic about martial arts, mostly because I do not have enough years under my belt to do so. This is about my training and how it's affecting me on the inside and outside. When I read other blogs about martial arts topics I think, "Why don't I try that?" Then I realize that this is not what I'm about. I read the topics, not write about them. Those topics give me something to think about and then perhaps write about once they have percolated through my brain. An example is "the great kata debate". I'm on the yay side of kata, and I'm beginning to realize just how important it is to my MA training. The kempo class I've started is very, very interesting, but I'm so much more in love with the style that I do. There are so many wonderful aspects to it, like how it uses spiraling energy in every move. The effectiveness of blocks and strikes seems to triple when utilizing this type of spiraling movement. And it's very subtle. I also like the point and circle aspect of koro ken. We are always encouraged to move to the outside of our opponent instead of staying center. This knocks the uke off-balance so nicely! But the kata...I love kata. It's such a great moving meditation, a battle with the inner self. I'm learning a new kata, sekuran lin bloom, and it's amazing. There are no repetitions in this kata. All of our other kata have some repetition, but not this one. It's beautiful to watch. Some day I'll film it to show to you all. There are other kata for black belts, but I'm just not there yet. Right now the path is leading me to self-defense and becoming comfortable with it, to have mushin and no hesitation. When I'm comfortable with self-defense that's when I'll pursue opening my own dojo and having my own students. Mind you, I'm not looking to open a McDojo, just a space where I can share my knowledge because it's very important to me to carry on in this style and teach it to others. Karate rocks!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Why blog?

My sensei asked me the other day why I blog. I guess the answer is, at least for the martial arts aspect, a place to put my thoughts on favorite topics and also to expand on areas where I feel my martial arts is lacking. It's also nice to get a little validation, even if it's from strangers. The anonymity allows for a freer writing space because I don't really care about being judged by people I don't know. Constructive criticism is a good thing and I can handle it much better in writing than I can face to face. Anyway, I'm beginning to fade in the NaBloPoMo in my MA blog since my "other" life has come to the fore with more issues. Nothing serious, just a need to write about that more often.

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

Fighting in a circle

I used to fear fighting in the middle of a circle of people. These days, however, it's much more exciting and I see it for the challenge that it can bring to martial arts training. In our circle we do not defend fast, even is the attacker is going fast. The trick is to be calm and relaxed and control the adrenaline dump. In today's class I had a wonderful time inside the circle and felt pretty relaxed and confident. Certain aspects, like really connecting from hara and blending, are beginning to find a home within my body. Blending with the uke is the toughest for me to connect with because nine times out of ten the uke is much taller than me and I immediately go up to their level instead of using my short stature to my advantage. It's what my body wants to do right away. That has been a tough battle and continues to this day. However, with today's class I was beginning to "get it", at least in my brain. Now all I have to do is repeat it ad infinitum in order for my body to go there as well, right away. One other battle is hesitation at the onset of the attack and again the more I practice self-defense the less that will occur. I need to go back to the training I was doing before the shodan test. It all sort of fell away once the test was over, but I really need to be training at that level all the time. My mind is there, but my body has definitely been slacking lately. I also was unable to go to the kempo class this past Monday, but am hopeful that they will see me this coming Monday.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Anatomy Trains and martial arts

Anatomy Trains? What the heck is that? Well, this weekend I've been attending a bodywork class of the same name and it's an introduction into a form of bodywork known as Kinesis Myofascial Integration. Huh? Let's begin by talking about fascia. Fascia is this thin connective tissue that covers organs, muscles. It's found in the brain, it's found everywhere. It basically connects the entire body (muscles, organs, etc.) underneath the skin like a wet suit and when injury or bad postural habits affects this system many dysfunctions can occur within the structure as a whole. Anatomy Trains are a series of fascial meridians throughout the body. They cover the front and back of the body, both sides, spirally and in the arms. There are a few more but we haven't covered them yet, so stay tuned. So, how does this in any way pertain to the martial arts? Because of how we move in the martial arts. Each of these meridian affects the way we move and when there is dysfunction we do not move in efficient ways. Have you ever experienced a stiff neck, pain in the lower back, headaches? Well, those pains are most likely due to fascial restrictions, which in turn affect the muscles, nerves, circulation, you name it. IT'S ALL CONNECTED! Getting proper bodywork to release those restrictions in the fascia will open up a whole new world of movement in your martial arts practice. Until we learn to move in ways that don't cause habitual restrictions in our tissues we cannot move efficiently therefore cannot put our best behind each punch, each kick. We put what we have available to us into our practice, which can be good enough. But wouldn't it be so much better to move freer? Personally I have not gone through the series of KMI sessions. KMI is Rolfing focusing on the Anatomy Trains. KMI views the body by seeing where the restrictions are along those Anatomy Trains. It is an incredibly efficient bodywork system and I highly recommend it to any martial artist wanting their body discomforts to stop. Of course after the 12 sessions you must own your new "you", change your habits and make new, better ways of moving. The thing is, when all of the Anatomy Trains are moving in concert with each other you get a beautifully functioning body.

Friday, November 2, 2007

NaBloPoMo, oh no!

Well, I've joined forces with BBM and some other MA bloggers to write every day for a month. However, I will be cheating since I also have another blog that will be included as well. So, let's say every other day will most likely be a MA blog. Sorry, I'm cheating!!!

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

Martial Arts Ramblin' On

So my last post sounded so disjointed to me and I apologize for the rambliness of it all. Thing is, I had to put my dearest doggie friend to sleep yesterday. She was 13 and her health over the past week just tanked, leaving me an emotional wreck. She was a special dog and I miss her incredibly. So if my writing seems a little lifeless, that is why.

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....