Stupid stump

As the heading suggests, I’m in a very mature and rational mood 😛 Was heading home from work yesterday looking forward to jumping into a good session last night at the dojo, and thought – “My stump feels a bit funny, I’m sure there’s nothing wrong with the prosthesis though”. By the time I got home and walked out the car though, I knew it was happening again – much like the problems I was having with my leg last week, where I thought the skin had healed over the split in my skin, it was in fact splitting open again. I was actually pretty confident that it was on the mend, but I must have gotten ahead of myself; I should have kept the bandaids over the wound a little longer, but to be honest, it was probably the great little training session I did on Tuesday that started undoing all the good I’d achieved by taking it easy over the course of the last week and a half.

The bummer is that this throws my training regime completely up in the air, as it means I definitely won’t be able to train outside of class, and wholistically, I definitely won’t be able to grade before the end of the year. I know martial isn’t all about the grading, but I like to set goals and achieve them, and am a little bummed that I’ll be falling behind that target I thought I could achieve. Not that it’s really something I could have avoided as I didn’t know the wound hadn’t completely healed over, but still, it’s a bit disappointing.

Still, all the extra effort has not gone to waste by any means – all training is good training, after all – so I’ve now revised my goal to grade up by the end of Q1 2010, and will try to train hard and get myself to a level of expertise so I can grade again before the end of next year.

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Catching up on a few weeks’ worth of training

This one’s a bit belated, so apologies for the delay!

While I didn’t train last week (more on that later), I have been working hard in and around class the few weeks prior to that. Training during both of those weeks was really full-on… or if it wasn’t, I was working myself as hard as I could in class to get the most out of it. Since I’m keen to grade in December (or at least aim for it), I’ve been really conscious of getting my syllabus mastered to a reasonable degree of proficiency. Training has involved a lot of work on basics and fine-tuning form to continue pursuing perfect execution, form, power and focus. I’ve been trying hard to lower my stances and keep my strikes as solid as possible and maintaining proper form. We’ve been regularly working on kata, and I’m now at the point where I have the basic patterns and forms solidified in my head, and it’s now about execution, form, strength, all that good stuff. There were a few sticking points which Sensei has gone through with me that I hadn’t picked up on, but I’m confident I’m at the point where I can begin to dig deeper and execute the kata with a greater sense of skill and awareness.

We’ve also been going back to working on go-on and ippon kumite – as I’m gradually moving through my kyu grades, I’m now being expected to demonstrate a greater variety of techniques as part of my training. At first I was having trouble trying to pin down to what extent I can expand upon the usual/simple counter techniques I’ve been using, but in one of those lightbulb moments I’m prone to having, I’ve worked out that I can incorporate a lot of my basic combination drills and movements from kata into my responses. This has immediately opened up my available repertoire responses available to me through these drills, and I’m looking forward to continue working on them.

I’ve looked at time frames and will discuss the topic further with Sensei this week, but I have a feeling that should I intend to grade in December (and I do), I’ll need to be constantly revising my syllabus throughout the weeks in the lead up to grading. I started this last night by systematically going through my syllabus in the late evening to ensure I’m confident with all the techniques, and will be putting extra time aside to work on my kata, basic combinations and consider my options for ippon kumite. What’s new in this grading is the incorporation of bunkai into the exam, as well as the performance of an additional kata besides my grade-kata and kihon. The latter I’m not too fussed with as my gradings for my previous style saw everyone go through every kata in the lead-up to their grade kata, it’s just another step I have to be aware of.

So, it’ll likely be a busy couple of weeks, but I’m determined to make this grading and do well – I don’t want to simply scrape by, as I know I’m better than that.

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Training in the warm weather :)

Despite the fact it’s nearly the end of October, training this week was the first time in a while where it’s actually been warm enough in the evening to bring on a crazy sweat! We did some interesting things in class this week, and there are a few things I’ve picked up on that need considerable work if I’m to grade in December, which is my plan at this stage.

Stance was a very important part of Sensei’s training this week, both the correct form and working on strengthening our base. The exercise we did that really emphasised this was a two-person drill we did. The practitioner would move forward in stance, and in our case it was going through with zenkutsu-dachi, then with koukutsu-dachi. The trick with this drill was that we took our obi and handed it to our partner, who would either stand behind us (for zenkutsu-dachi) or in front of us (koukutsu-dachi); for the former, they would hold onto our obi with the middle of our belt around our waist and try and drag us back as we moved forward; for the latter, we would both be holding the obi and the partner would be applying resistance as we moved. In moving forwards or backwards in stance, the crucial point was that Sensei wanted us to plant our feet, drop our center of balance and move forward with perfect form (or as perfect as practical) despite the resistance from our training partner. The exercise taught us the importance of a strong stance, reminded us just how strong our stances can be, and gave the legs a workout too 🙂

For me, these exercises were a bit on the tricky side, especially going backwards doing koukutsu-dashi. Whilst moving using my real leg as my primary leg driving my body forward/backward, I didn’t have too much trouble overall – it hurt the muscles sometimes because it was great resistance training, but overall I was happy with how I was doing. When I was moving and it was meant to be the left leg propelling the body forward, this obviously got tricky since there isn’t a lot I can do with it in this case 😉 When doing zenkutsu-dachi I had to resort to using my right leg to propel me forwards (which, tbh is how I do it normally), and my training partner eased off on the resistance since there wasn’t a lot that could be done. However, when doing koukutsu-dachi, I surprised myself with using my brain for a change!

I’ve previously discussed some of my techniques for performing a good mawashi when pivoting on your fake leg, so I took those same principles of utilising the upper body and your torso to make up for leg movement and applied it to this scenario… and it worked! In fact, it worked so well that I threw my training partner off balance each time I performed the technique!!

So yeah, I was very chuffed with the outcome 🙂

Beyond the drills though, I’ve decided to spend more of my workouts/training between classes covering kata and my basics I’ll need to demonstrate for my next grading. While I have some of my combinations reasonably sorted, there are some that I am not happy with at all. I’m going to speak to Sensei next week to see what I need to work on in particular in the lead-up to the December grading, and will request for a bit more ippon kumite in class so I can work on a few more advanced techniques. I’ll also be demonstrating bunkai for my next grading, so I’ll need to spend time on that. Not that I’m expected to deliver an overtly complex explanation at this level, but that doesn’t mean I want to go at it half-arsed, I intend to put in dedicated effort as always.

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7th kyu get! :)

Coloured martial arts beltsOriginal image by chris ?, sourced from Wikimedia Commons

Had grading this morning – went very well (i.e. I passed my grading 😛 ). Got up early and did some stretching to get me ready for grading. Picked up Jyastin-kun on the way there, and got to class around 20mins to 9([am] – early start for a Saturday for yours truly!). Those of us grading for 7th kyu ended up being the most senior (aside from Sensei of course!) – there were a few white belts (including Jyastin-kun), one red and a couple of orange belts joining me for grading. After the usual warm up, we took our seats to let each group jump up and do their grading. We were the last ones up, though I was called up during the red belt’s grading to assist with ippon kumite.

Anywho, my grading. Good points: good kime, remembered everything, strong stances, good technique. Points to improve on: lengthen stances more and increase their finesse, much more focus for ippon and go-on kumite, and I fudged one of my stances during heian nidan. Overall I was happy with it, despite the fact that I can still see ways I could have improved my performance. It’ll give me some fundamentals to work on whilst learning my new syllabus next week 🙂

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Belated congrats to Black Belt Mama!

So, I was out of the loop during June and a little bit of July as well (click the links for the monthly roundups – not looking as healthy as my usual efforts!!), and this also means I’m also out of whack with what’s been happening in the martial arts blogs I regularly read during the week.

So, it left me feeling a little sheepish that I hadn’t dropped by Black Belt Mama’s blog to read up that she was successful in not only getting her 1st Dan in Okinawan Kenpo Karate, but she double-graded and also earned her 1st Dan in Okinawan Kenpo Kobudo as well. Crazy stuff, and really awesome to hear. She’s had to fight through ACL hell to get there, and I think it’s brill to read that she’s achieved her 1st Dan in both of those styles. I’d encourage you to check out the full post on her blog (click here), and I reckon I’ll have to think about the beer idea she had. Might come in handy for whenever I manage to progress that far 😀

Congrats BBM! Sorry it’s so belated! 😉

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