I mangled my thumb :P

In the spirit of rampant enthusiasm, after getting home from work and starting my workout tonight, I began my usual exercises on the punching bag. It’s been a while since I’d worked on my backfists, so after some kicks and punches I thought I’d give it a whirl. Two weeks ago I got a bit enthusiastic with practicing knifehand strikes on the bag and had a great amount of success, so I figured some backfists would be good practice. Looks like I got too enthusiastic, and my form was a bit sloppy, as I now have a bruised thumb from the whipping action at the end of the strike due to not completely closing/forming my fist on impact.

A year or two back I found that backfists were a great way to demonstrate the effectiveness of a whipping-motion in a hand-strike, and this was emphasised more-so by starting off with open hand and using the clenching motion of forming a fist towards the end to dramatically increase the final intensity of the strike. I got the idea from reading up on the principles behind a 1-inch punch, whereupon you use every ability of your muscles (including the expansion and contraction of the fist upon impact) to deliver the greatest amount of dynamic impact possible within such a short space. I’ve also read up since then that you can apply similar theory to many other strikes in karate, but obviously you get to this stage with time and practice. Anywho, as nice as the theory was, if in practice your form isn’t accurate (or consistent), there are obviously going to be consequences, as I found out tonight!

Ah well, another lesson learned πŸ˜› Mind, it’s nothing serious, but I ended up stopping my workout and put an icepack on it as preventative action, then nearly gave myself a freezer burn on another part of my thumb while doing so πŸ˜› If this is what I managed to do to myself on the punching bag, I’m afraid of what I would have done once I started handling the weights. Methinks I’m having a clumsy night.

It also doesn’t help that the enthusiasm with which I attacked the bag tonight was in part inspired by watching Rapid Fire last night (see my previous post), so I’ll try and re-focus my attention on getting my kata correct so I can show off some solid form in class this week. Speaking of class, it looks like I may be roping Jyastin-kun back into training, as he’s coming along with me this week to see what he thinks of where I’m currently doing karate. We’ll see how it goes, hopefully he gets a kick out of jumping back into karate after a couple of years off.

Well, with that all done, I’m off to watch some kata on YouTube!

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I heart Rapid Fire

Last night I watched the supremely awesome Rapid Fire, starring the late Brandon Lee. Now, let’s get this straight – Rapid Fire isn’t an example of some kind of crazy, mold-breaking martial arts flick that re-set the stage for Hollywood live-action martial arts movies (you can probably attribute that to The Matrix, which introduced Hollywood to the concept of *shock* kung fu, choreographed by HK talent no less [it also liberally “borrowed” from more movies than you can poke a stick at, but that’s another story]). Nope, this is a piece of 1992 wrapped up in cliche after cliche, but it still wins at life.

The movie sees our hero (and Art major) Brandon Lee running around a college campus with super-champ Dustin Nguyen following Brandon surviving some tanks at Tienanmen Square. Brandon then attends a party at a trendy warehouse where a Taiwanese drug trafficker gets shot by an American mafia hitman; Brandon sees it, everyone brings out uzis and shoots out all the glass they can see, Brandon does some biffo, drives his motorbike through the warehouse (also through lots of glass), and gets picked up by the cops. Given the mafia connection, he’s taken as a witness with the “feds”, corruption and more awesome biffo ensue as Art student Brandon beats the snot out of more whiteshirts, whereupon he gets taken in by a tough-talking police detective guy who says “damnit!” and in extreme situations, “God damnit!”, an awful lot. He also meets a female detective, and as per the rules of all Hollywood martial arts flicks of this era, they shag. There’s also a shootout at a mafia headquarters/restaurant in there, and more biffo in a Chinatown laundry where the chief drug trafficker gets taken down in yet another shodown. Cue the credits, rpelete with wiggly-wiggly guitar, and possibly some saxophone.

In short, utter win πŸ™‚

What stands out in this one is that Lee is actually not too bad on screen (as opposed to Showdown in Little Tokyo, which is a hilarious mess), the fighting choreography by Jeff Imada and Brandon Lee is actually very tight and snappy, and the whole production isn’t too overblown with silly acting and stupid inconsistencies. Wifey also reckons Brandon Lee is a bit of alright, and since he spends reasonable portions of the movie without his shirt on, it meant that we could watch it together without her falling asleep πŸ˜›

Rapid Fire won’t win any crazy awards for anything in particular, but it does make for an enjoyable 90 minutes of awesome crazy era between 1988 and 1993 where cheap martial arts flicks ruled the video shelves at your local, and every now again you stumbled upon a winner.

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Okinawan kobudo

I’ve wanted to learn Okinawan kobudo for years now – last year I got into weapons training at my current school, which emphasised some aspects of traditional Japanese weapons, but in a system fused with other stick-fighting techniques to emphasise a practical approach to the syllabus.

Anywho, weapons classes ended at the end of last year, and I’ve been contemplating going the full Okinawan Kobudo route, either later this year or next year, depending on the whole time/money/availability of classes thing. I was reading up on a few things today that have really inspired me to start looking into it though – Hanshi Heilman’s guest blog on BBM “There Are No Stances in Kobudo”, BBM’s recent post “A Comedy of Errors, Form of Weapons”, and Matt’s recent blog on Ikigai “Holding a Bo – So Simple It’s Complicated”.

So yeah, it’s on my “to-do” list. Mind, it probably doesn’t help that I’ve been watching the original TMNT cartoon from the 80s of late. Y’know, the one where they say “Cowabunga” and stuff? It’s awesome. What’s even more awesome is that Wifey’s the one who bought it for me πŸ™‚

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Training roundup and grading

Had training again last night – went really well. We covered the usual gear – basic warm-ups (including the new hip strengthening exercise we learned the other week at the seminar), basic drills (which I’m getting the hang of now), kata and kata applications. I thought I was going well with my kata, but last night I had a mental blank getting the sequencing correct on the second-to-last part of Heian Nidan where you finish up your four shutos and move to your central line of blocks/strikes/kicks. I’m going to study some of Kanazawa’s kata videos and make time over the next couple of weeks to hone my technique.

There’s a grading next month, and I’m not sure if I’m ready to grade yet – I’ve decided that I’ll continue to practice hard and see how I go, and talk to Sensei about it and get his thoughts on the matter. I found that particularly during 2008 I wasn’t applying myself anywhere near enough in class to achieve more frequent gradings (not that karate is only about gradings, but for someone like me who tends to be very goal-oriented, they’re a great stimulus to progress with gusto), and I decided at the start of this year that I’d put more focus into my training. Whatever happens, I’ll post updates on the blog.

The other thing we did last night was kata applications, via 2-person continuous kata drills. This was really cool, and will no doubt help me when it comes time to apply bunkai to my grading. I’m still having trouble looking outside the most obvious application for bunkai though, but I think what we’ve been doing the last couple of weeks is gradually removing the pre-conceived notions of how each technique could be applied.

In fact, this whole discussion encouraged me to check if bunkai is on the list for grading – I just checked the website, and it looks like I don’t do it until the grading after this one. Sanbon (or Sambon, depending on which romanisation you take for Japanese phoenetics) tsuki is on the list though, along with geri (kicking) combination techniques, neither of which I’ve done a lot of in class so far this year. With all this taken into consideration, I’ll definitely have a chat with Sensei and gauge his thoughts on where I’m at. I also think I’m going to have to start training my basic drills and kata between classes for at least the next few weeks if I’m going to attempt a grading next month.

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Bemusing Wifey

I’m not sure if I’m the only who gets into this habit, but I thought I’d share. Between classes, I’m prone to wandering around the house doing karate. A punch here, a kick there, that kind of thing. Unfortunately (and often exacerbated when I miss a week’s training), I often get a little too enthusiastic. Case in point – say I’ve just washed up in the bathroom, and instead of being sensible and going to bed, I start doing standing punches or shuto. Or I’m walking through the kitchen to get something to drink. 5 minutes later and I’ve done a handful of punches, shuto and blocks.

We have a long corridor in our house, which I often walk up and down doing maegeri’s and yokogeri’s πŸ˜› Then there’s the dining room area in our lounge that’s generally empty – perfect for practicing crescent kicks, as demonstrated last night when I was closing the house up to go to bed, and spent 5 minutes kicking the air. I suspect that some of the hairline fractures I’ve seen in some of the old floor tiles in our house probably haven’t been helped by me randomly doing stuff around the house either.

What often makes this worse is after I’ve watched an awesome piece of martial artistry on TV or at the movies. Take Sunday night just gone for example – watched a really good Bruce Lee doco on cable (one I hadn’t seen before either, which was ace because I think I’m beginning to exhaust them!), and so I got inspired by its awesomeness. Wifey was in the bedroom in an attempt to go to sleep when she heard the dulcet tones of her husband’s spontoneity in the corridor —

[starts a run-up] dom-dom-domdomdomdomdom [brief silence due to jumping] … [landing] DOM-domdomdomdom-dom-dom

Wifey: What are you doing?
Me: Just getting ready for bed…

[starts a run-up] dom-dom-domdomdomdomdom [brief silence due to jumping] … [landing] DOM-domdomdomdom-dom-dom

πŸ˜€

I’m hoping that I’m not the only one out there to spontaneous bursts of karate in the house (my instructor says he’s a bit guilty of it, though I’m not sure if he’s as bad as me and runs up and down the corridor doing jumping side kicks :P), but thought I’d share it anyhows. I think Wifey’s caught between bemusement and frustration, depending on what time of day/night I get inspired to do stupid things like this πŸ˜›

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