Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Sometimes they just don't get it...

I've had this interesting exchange today over at justathought. People who have no experience in the martial arts cannot begin to "get" just what it is that keeps those of us who do in the martial arts. With the last comment I wanted to write back, but it just wasn't worth my time, or the author's for that matter. It's very difficult for some of our closest family/friends to understand why it means so much to us. Yes there are those out there who sacrifice too much for the martial arts and that can be very detrimental to their lives. There's this special balance that needs to happen. I may be exaggerating, but it's the truth. To me martial arts is about growth both physically and mentally. There are times where it doesn't fit and times when it's all that fits. I don't consider myself a disciple but a practitioner. Disciples give up their lives for what they practice, I don't. If that were the only way for me to be a martial artist I would let it go because that's not the way I want it to be. John Vesia just did a great post about this very subject. Devotee? Not me.

Seminar and Go Dan

So the black belt seminar went very well. It was all the black belts (and a few invited browns) under Sensei Morallo, Sensei Moe (pronounced moya) and Sensei Bottomms. Huge class!!! We took up the entire dojo. Mostly we worked kihones and focused on working the obliques and serratus anterior in our movements and not so much the hips. Keep a solid horse stance and move from hara, like a whip. Lots of tenken stepping and a bit of kote nage, which I really loved. Need to practice more of that. Then a bit of grappling, which is very new to me. We've only done a LITTLE here and there in our dojo, but that's not what our dojo does. The Rutland dojo has aikijutsu, which is really quite amazing. Maybe someday, in all my spare time, hee, hee, hee.

Then came the Go Dan test. Sensei believed that he was only going to be showing us kata, however Sensei Morallo had a different plan. Sensei Bottoms proceeded to do at least half an hour straight of ippons, with the uke being all of his belts that had attended the seminar. It was amazing. He just had mushin, pure and flowing. Truly an amazing martial artist.

The next seminar will be on fighting and I'm looking forward to that. However, I may be pregnant at the time (cross your fingers!!!) and will have to be happy with observation.

Overall training is going very well and I've found myself a groove, finally... I'm going to look into taking a Ba Gua class in Burlington. I'm not feeling it with Kempo. The sensei is great, as are the students, but I don't have the excitement around it, which is important to me. Plus I'm headed in the internal direction anyway and this is a good place to start. We shall see.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


I had such a difficult time teaching yesterday, but Sensei was standing behind me the whole time, which made me nervous! I'm not sure why since he's been there plenty of time before. We had four new men in class, one of which had a lot of experience in martial arts (but I got the impression he had been out of it for a while). It just didn't feel good teaching. There was a great feeling of insecurity, which I have had before but have been able to work through it. Not so yesterday. It left me feeling slightly bruised in the ego, which isn't a bad thing to have happen. Not that I have an immense ego it's just good every once in a while to have it bruised. There's much to learn from that. Luckily Sensei is a very perceptive man and didn't make me suffer for long, though he could have. But then we proceeded to have a "mini Shugyo" so to speak and he ran us into the ground. Or rather kicked us into the ground. We did kicking up and down the floor for what seemed hours, days. We did push-ups over and over (I had to ice my elbows last night. Not good!). It was GREAT! When in the moment like that it's so intense, but it's wonderful because it forces you to focus. Good for the soul, good for the karate-ka. However, the newbies didn't participate in all that we did, but got to see what was in store for them if they chose to be in it for the long haul.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Three questions and a demonstration

Charles James Sensei is asking fellow martial artists to answer the following questions. I highly recommend checking it out. Plus he has a wonderful MA blog along with a wealth of MA knowledge.

1. Why do you practice karate?
I originally began karate with the mindset of learning how to defend myself. However, my practice has now developed into learning more about myself and about how I can move my body while performing kata and ippons. Karate training provides a platform for me to stand on while I practice moving and breathing. It has become so important to my everyday life and how I move through that life, both physically and mentally.

2. Which of the three forms of practice do you feel fits your viewpoint (jutsu, do, or supo-tsu)?
Do definitely fits my viewpoint. There are so many levels to karate training and the deepest ones are learned through do, at least for me. I find that by practicing karate-do I am able to access much more inside myself and then translate that energy outwardly in my kata and ippon training. I am much more comfortable with kata than I am with self-defense techniqes, so the fact that my training focuses more on do helps me immensely with that discomfort and allows me to really believe in myself and what I am able to do.

3. Do you practice a combination of the three? If yes, which?
I would say that I practice a combination of jutsu and do. There is a definite feeling of warrior training in my practice and I like how that makes me feel, but the do tempers that energy by making me work slower and with more meaning. I have no desire to practice supo-tsu. That seems a little empty to me, personally speaking. I have no problem with karate as sport, just not for myself.

Today a few members of the dojo went with sensei to an elementary/middle school to put on a karate demonstration. I could not believe how nervous I was to show youngsters of a variety of ages what we do! When I was called to perform a kata by myself my nerves almost got the best of me and my brain became way too involved in what I was doing. Of course I did the kata Siekuran Lin Bloom, which I haven't had all that much practice with (say two months worth of time into this kata). It's amazing what a change of scenery will do to your training - different floor, different lighting, different direction. I've always had a hard time performing in front of lots of people, and karate has tempered that, but today it was as if I had never done it before. Very strange and interesting. I'll have to let that sink in a bit. It was a great demonstration, though. The kids were so excited and laughed and seemed to really enjoy what they were seeing. One of my fellow shodans, Chris, teaches the phys. ed. class there and she had been doing Asian studies for the month. So, she decided that it would be extra wonderful to have them see karate in action! My favorite part was when sensei had all the kids line up to do some simple forms and he asked a girl to switch to her left foot to which she replied, "I have a hard time remembering which is which!" I believe she was around 5-6 years old. It was so cute. There are many times when I have a hard time remembering which is which, too...

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


Time for a little fluff after a heavy post. These pictures were taken by my dear dojo mate, Kitt.

In the first picture we are in the middle of Lin Wane Kune. The paper on the mirror says "indomitable spirit".

This kata would be seiyunchin.

More Lin Wane Kune

Here I am demonstrating eagle claw to the throat. Very informally I might add...the first was a really good grab to the throat of the man on the right (white gi).

Now what do I do?

A head butt, of course! This wasn't the actual progression, but, hey, it's my blog!

Well, there you have it. Happy Koro Ken land.

Sensei will be testing for his Go Dan on January 26, it's official. It should be very interesting. I'll have some more pictures then.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


Okay, I've really been stalling about writing an entry. However, I haven't been able to make the time until now, holidays and all. They were good, but I'm glad they are over. Anyway, there is so much in my brain right now having to do with training and where I want to be in it all. One thing is about what to do when your sensei has the blues...I'm not sure what is going on, but he has seemed a little off lately, but we all get that way and I'm not judging him in the least. He's the most balanced man I know, at least most of the time. However, it can affect training. I know that when I'm feeling off and not so great my training takes a nose dive and I find it incredibly hard to concentrate. This isn't new, I think I'm just noticing it more these days. I know that he's about to go for Go Dan in a few weeks, where he will be involved in a community exhibition. No rough stuff. It sounds like the higher you go, the more you receive the upper dan for what you provide to the community, and he has done so much in that area. Great man.
Great teacher. Period.

I mentioned writing about tolerance and balance and that post is still working it's way to the front of my brain. I've been faced a lot lately with having to be tolerant and having to balance my life. An example is the choice I've made to put off testing for Ni Dan, which was planned for this September, in order to have another baby. Originally when my husband and I talked about it I wanted to wait for the shiai, but after mulling it over realized that it was a little too selfish of me. Plus I want our children to be no more than four years apart. This was a big decision for me since I've put so much into my training. However, it has taken time away from my family and I need to change that because family is first. My husband mentioned that he wishes I were as passionate about him as I am about karate. Hmmm...interesting. It's been so difficult to find that balance since karate is always on my mind; how to train more, how to make this self-defense technique work without muscling it, how to bring hara to the forefront of my training. It's always there. Often before I go to sleep I go over kata or self-defense techniques in my head. When I give a massage I go over kata, which isn't necessarily the right time but, hey, sometimes my mind wanders. I also practice stance work and hara work while I give a massage. So much has changed in my martial arts training over the past year and it has excited me beyond anything that I've ever experienced. It's so important to me. When I do become pregnant I plan on training until my body is so big that I'm ready to pop. The last time I stopped training early in the pregnancy and ended up taking two years off. That will not happen this time. Karate is different for me now, it means so much more to me than it did four years ago. Plus I want to experience what it's like training very pregnant. Of course no kumite or throws, but there's so much more to do. I won't be bored.

Well, guess that turned out to be a post about balance. There's so much more to it, though, and I most likely spend more energy thinking about it than is necessary. All I know is karate makes my life complete and without it I would be very sad indeed. It's molded me into this person I always wanted to be: compassionate, humble, excited, happy, strong in both body and mind.

Here's a little promote three meme: go right now and check out kuanti mama . She's a rad chick. There aren't many posts, but there's definite possibility. I've found similar themes to my posts, which made this blog appealing. Someone to relate to, another female warrior.