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Mentally Practicing

My hands were full, and just before the hotel elevator doors closed a young man slipped through. Because I’d flown into town, I had switched purses and wasn’t carrying my usual array of knives. Even if I had been, they wouldn’t have been easily accessible with full hands.

My thoughts: I could front kick him. Probably wouldn’t drop anything. Do I need to close in first? Ah! This is why Kyoshi had us practice standing sidekicks. Take out the knee. Kick the head.

 

The MAT therapist seated behind me cradled my head and moved it in various directions to assess my mobility and strength.

Me to the MAT therapist, “This feels like how they teach us to snap necks!” To which he paused, then asked, “They really teach you that?”

 

I’ve been off the mat for the last year. While I couldn’t run through all my kata without hesitation, and I’d most likely get my self-defense sets mixed up, I’m comforted to know that the important things have stuck with me.

The lessons, drills, and self-defense conversations from my 8 years of training have given me a different mindset than I had before I started training. I’m able to connect the dots – what does the lesson have to do with real life? I didn’t see it in the beginning, but I remember some of my early times when the light bulb would go on.

Now I notice that more and more I think with a self-protection mindset. I’m making an extra effort to pay attention to my surroundings and to the people within my sphere. And I’m running through the appropriate scenarios from the lessons and practicing in my head what I would do if challenged.

Even though I’m not physically practicing martial arts, I’m mentally practicing them so I can be ready if the time comes when I need the skills.

Move over, June Cleaver… It’s a new era!

I’m off work today in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. I haven’t been off on MLK Day since I was a kid in school, so kudos to my employer! I’m off work, but it’s been a busy day.

I went to the shooting range first thing to work on my aim. Which isn’t the best, which is why I was at the range. I thought I did OK (meaning I hit the target) but my aim is off and I pull to the left a bit. I sent a photo of my target to a friend who replied, “Was this with a shotgun?” OK, yeah, it does look like a shotgun did the damage!

BobNext up was the nail salon! I’d trashed my nails more than usual this past week shopping, cleaning the garage and chasing the dog, and my nails needed a total re-do. I certainly hope this isn’t a weekly habit; gel manicures aren’t cheap! But I do love how my nails look when they’re fresh. My nail tech commented, “This is the only girly thing you do, isn’t it? Get your nails done.” Hmmm… Sorta.

After a quick run to the grocery store, I came home to bake cookies. Tomorrow is my baby’s 24th birthday! He loves Oreos, so I baked some Cookies & Cream Cookies for him. (I’ll post that recipe later this week when I’m not shooting, kicking, or baking.) I might have taste-tested the Oreos along the way. And thus ended my domesticity for the day. Happy Birthday to The Pretty One! Cherish your kids – they grow up way too fast.

Cookies & Cream Cookies

I’ll be ending my day at the dojo. Tonight is Weapons class, and I’m ready to see what I drop on myself this week. That’s not a joke. I’m such a klutz lately! =D

Well, this is as “girly” as I get. Nails and baking. But I would also argue that the shooting and martial arts are girly too. At least these days they are!

I know very few women (OK, none) who wear their pearls to vacuum and whose big goal of the day is to have the perfect dinner on the table when their breadwinner husband comes home from work. I do know quite a few women who are the breadwinners, who enjoy martial arts as much as a manicure, and shooting a pistol as much as playing in the kitchen.

This is a new era. Many of us have chosen to embrace our “girly” side. ALL of our “girly” sides, including the pedicures and the pistols. Personally? I was never the pearls and vacuum type. Move over, June Cleaver. This is a new era, and it fits me well!

Bows and Curtsies

Saturday afternoon I was at the pre-black belt test workout. The focus was self-defense, so we worked our sets for close to 2 hours.

At one point Hanshi (9th degree, head of our system and my karate grand-daddy) stopped to watch one of my sets.

Hanshi: That looked good!

Me: Thank you, Sir. And I curtsied. Curtsied!

Hanshi: Don’t curtsy when I compliment you!

Me: Sorry, Sir. Thank you, Sir! And I bowed, just like I was supposed to.  😉

 

What does Nidan look like?

Defense Sets at Black Belt Test

Sets with Sensei Dave, my fantastic uke for my black belt test.

One year ago I tested for my Shodan rank. If all goes well, I will test for Nidan in another year.

Through kyu ranks to Shodan, there is a lot of material to learn and memorize: basics, drills, self-defense sets and kata. With so much to learn in four short years, I couldn’t say I was a master of any of it. I was just putting the building blocks in place. With my Shodan rank earned, I am still not a master of anything – except putting my gi on correctly, and there are days I’m not so sure I’ve mastered that!

The path from Shodan to Nidan is different from the path to Shodan.

The requirements to Shodan are laid out very clearly. The path to Nidan? Not so much, as far as I was concerned. I wasn’t really sure what Nidan looked like, and that made me a bit uncomfortable. When I’m uncomfortable, frustration isn’t too far behind – and that’s never pretty. I can’t hit a target I can’t see, and can’t chase a goal when I don’t know what it is.

I spent my first four years learning 10+ kata and eight sets, one after another. To advance to Nidan, I have to demonstrate two additional kata and one more self-defense set. That’s not a lot of material to learn in two years, so obviously memorizing kata and adding to my repertoire is not the point. So what is it?

It took me a while (longer than it should have, I’m sure!) but I’ve come to realize the time between Shodan and Nidan requires a shift in thinking.  My path is no longer about memorizing material. It’s about what I can do with the material I’ve already learned.

With relatively little new material to pick-up, I have time to really focus on my basics. To make them crisper, faster, and smoother. To work towards mastering them.

I can explore what I’ve learned so far, looking at things with a more experienced eye.

I’m learning what my go-to moves are and what works – or doesn’t work – for me.

I’m learning what I would really do at the end of a self-defense move, as opposed to what has been scripted for me.

So what does Nidan look like? It looks like a better Shodan.

How different will I look as a Nidan? I really don’t know. I’m sure I will not have mastered all my material. That’s a longer journey than this short two years. But I will be on my way, now that I have a better understanding of my goal and what to focus on to get there.

Stress Relief

After a long, rough day at work I went downstairs and kicked Susana, defended against Renshi’s punches, and worked the bo.

 

I forgot about my stressful day, wore myself out, and slept like a babe. Ahh…

 

Miss Morning Person goes to Saturday Morning Karate

An encore post from Colahan’s Martial Arts, January 22, 2011

5:45 am – The alarms are going off already? Crap. What meetings do I have today? Do I have to be in at 8 or is 8:30 acceptable?

5:46 am – Wait – it’s Saturday; no meetings today. Good! But I am going to the hombu, and classes start at 8.

7:14 am – If this car in front of me doesn’t move it, I’m going to be late. Goody – now that I can pass, they decided to drive over the speed limit.

7:50 am – “Good Morning, Michele!!”  Yippie. Sensei’s wide awake. This does not bode well for the workout.

8:03 am – A young Gumby is leading warm-ups. Hope we stretch!

8:12 am – Drills up and down the floor, and Miss Morning Person is not even awake yet.

8:36 am – What am I – crazy???

8:50 am – Kata, self-defense, kata, self-defense…

9:09 am – How many more minutes in this class? I can hardly hold my arms up.

9:25 am – I’m done. Brown/Black Belt class is almost over.

9:58 am – Watching jujitsu and wishing I was doing the class too. Paying attention and learning a couple things from my seat in the Peanut Gallery.

10:30 am – Family open class. This time Miss Morning Person’s leading warm-ups; we stretch.

10:35 am – 50 more crunches, 40 more push-ups.

10:50 am – More kata. Kata is deceptive – looks not-so-bad, but is quite the cardio event.

11:15 am – Self defense with Lauren and laughing because she has the funniest hiccups I’ve ever heard!

11:30 am—Gearing up for sparring. I have lots of padding because I have lots of me, so it takes awhile.

12:00 – Ruben beats me up. What is he – 7? 9? He’s a little gizmo – full of pep.

12:16 pm – Sparring class over. I survived intact.

1:15 pm – Lunch with friends. Conversation about karate and life.

4:00 pm – At the gym, sitting in the hot tub and thinking to myself, “Yeah, this has been a good day! When can I do it again?”