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!

Mirrors, Mirrors on the Wall…

Mirrors, Mirrors on the Wall

How the heck do I use you??

 

The hombu has some really nice mirrors. They’re great for making sure my obi is tied evenly and my “Suck it up Cupcake” headband is on straight. They’re even great for checking to see how red my face is during a workout.

But as a workout tool, I’m having mixed results.

For 6+ years I learned without mirrors, except for my visits to the hombu. Dodgeball courts don’t normally have mirrors. We mostly learned things by feel – stances, blocks, strikes were corrected and we learned what feels right, as opposed to what looks right.

Occasionally I could use a window with a darkened hallway behind it as a mirror. But for the most part, we learned kata by following behind Kyoshi while he was leading, and then he would have to turn around and show us any intricate moves he was doing that we couldn’t see.

I wished we had mirrors in the dodgeball court. I thought it would be easier to learn moves with them, and for some things, I still believe that. I like ghosting an opponent, using my reflection in the mirror to see where my punches and blocks might land. I like checking my stances in the mirror, seeing if my feet and hips are in the correct position. And I like being able to see what my training partner is doing when one of us is learning self-defense techniques.

Mirrors can also be useful when learning kata. I can see what Kyoshi or another student is doing even if they aren’t in front of me. But recently I was learning Chinto and trying to follow Kyoshi using both Real Kyoshi and Mirror Kyoshi, and the mirrors were really distracting! I wasn’t sure which Kyoshi I should watch. My mistake was in going back and forth between the two. I was so confused I waffled between frustration and laughter.

Me: “I always thought it would be great to have mirrors. But now that I have them, I don’t know how to use them!”

Kyoshi: “They’re messing you up, aren’t they?”

They were! I didn’t know where to look. It was funny and not funny at the same time.

But wait! I may have figured it out! If I’m a total rookie on a new kata, trying to match my movements to the figure in the mirror throws me off. I need to go back to the way I learned for 6+ years and follow Real Kyoshi. But if I know the kata a little bit, I can follow Mirror Kyoshi because the mirrors are just a prompt to the movements.

Familiar Kata = Mirror

New Kata = No Mirror

 I’ll give that a try.  Do you use mirrors? Do you find them helpful or distracting?

Heard on the Mat…Oh NO!

Kyoshi bowed the class in then called me up to lead warm-ups. As I took my place in front of the class, a 7-year old girl piped up.

“Oh NO! You make me so…”
<pause while she screwed up her face and searched for the correct word>
TiReD!” she whined.

Just another proud moment in my martial arts career! 😀

Hai!

You know you’re a martial artist when…

You’re in new hire orientation and the presenter asks, “Make sense?”

And you answer, “Hai!”

Then quickly look around to see if anyone notices you don’t remember simple English words.

Kicking Khakis

I settled into my friend’s truck for a long day of driving.

Me: I’m wearing sweats because they’re comfortable. I’ll change into my good clothes when we get there.

Him: Not me! I’ll take my khakis any day. I can get off a really good front snap kick in them!

Freedom to Learn

I had a good class last night! Not because I was buzzing from an energy drink and a chocolate-frosted brownie, even though I was. (Ugh. What was I thinking??)

I had a good class because in a flash of brilliance, I realized I don’t test for at least 3 years!!! I admit I’m relieved at not dealing with my freaky test anxiety for awhile, but that’s not what I’m excited about. I’m excited because now I can just enjoy learning!

There’s a freedom in being in a post-test phase. I can focus on the lesson without worrying that I need to work on my test material. Or being afraid that my brain might lose something important if I try to stuff something new in there. Or wishing Kyoshi would only teach test material until the test was over.

I know I shouldn’t think this way even pre-test, but I can’t help it. It’s how I’m built. If I have to perform at a test, and it is a performance, I want to focus all my energy on getting ready for that test. The closer we get to the test date, the less I want to stray from test material.

But now, instead of thinking “How does this help me at the test?” I can embrace new ideas. I can play with them, think about them, see what works or doesn’t work for me.

It’s very freeing to realize I can just learn without worrying about performing! I can spend these next few years gaining a better understanding of the things I’ve been learning the past 6 years.

It’s freeing. It’s luxurious. It’s exhilarating! And I’m really excited about this time ahead of me!

I Whooshed!!

I whooshed my bo tonight! I’m SO excited!

At first I wasn’t sure I heard a whoosh, but I did it again and then I knew. I’d finally done it! And not just once. I did it several times. For real. It wasn’t just my imagination. Some of the other students heard it too! 😉

I’ve had the toughest time getting my bo to whoosh. Everyone around me has been whooshing for a long time, but I was only able to get a slight whisper. The only whooshes I’d made were me saying Whoosh. 😀 I’ve been trying for 2 years!

Honestly, I’d given up on ever hearing a real whoosh from my bo, so tonight was really fun for me. Hooray for those little breakthroughs, even if they take 2 years to happen. It was worth the wait!

 

Nidan Test Tonight!

Tonight is our annual USKK Black Belt Test and I’m up for Nidan in Okinawan Karate.

Am I ready? Nope!

Am I surprised? Nope! As I’ve said before, I’ve rarely been 100% for ANY of my tests. It’s usually circumstances (workload mostly!) more than anything else. Sometimes nerves are a contributing factor but usually it’s physical issues and most often it’s exhaustion.

I know my material. I’m not worried about that. I’ve gone over it many, many times and it’s in my head. I may forget a thing or two like I did last time, but I’ll just keep going and kiah really loud.  😉

My challenge this time? I’ve been fighting exhaustion – mental and physical – for a couple of weeks and can’t seem to catch up with myself. And the last 2-3 days I’ve been fighting a slight stomach bug. It’s probably partly due to my exhaustion level, but the cause doesn’t really matter. The test is tonight, and I’ll be there.

Tonight is when I hope the Nidan candidates don’t have to stay on the floor the whole time with the Shodan candidates. 🙂 I’d rather not do all the basics up and down the floor, along with the random push-ups if someone forgets something or “just because.” You never know how it’s going to go, since it changes from test to test.

Whatever happens, I’ll be there. And I’ll be giving what Kyoshi always asks us to give. 100% of whatever I’ve got. It might be 100% of 80%, or 100% of 50%, but I’ll give it all! Maybe the energy drink before the test will give me a little more oomph? Let’s hope so!

 

 

 

Dirty, Filthy Obi

What is the dirtiest thing in my karate bag? Hands down, it HAS to be my obi (belt), and in particular, the kanji end of my belt!

Black BeltEvery time I get dressed I grab the end of the belt that has my name on it, hold it against my waist, and drop the rest of the belt on the locker room floor. Then as I wrap my gi around my waist again and again, the end of the obi draaags across the floor before the end flicks up and I knot it.

I’ve done this twice a week for 6 years, the last 2 with my black belt, and it took until last week for me to actually realize what I was doing. GROSS!!

How many germs live on that obi? Since we don’t wash our obi I guess the germs will just stay. Or maybe my karate mojo is terrifying to germs and they’ve all fled? Ha!

I toyed with the idea of spraying my obi with antibacterial stuff or with Lysol but I think I’ll wait until after my black belt test – just in case it makes bleach spots or something.  🙂

Has anyone else cleaned their obi? What did you use?

Belly Full of Fat

90 minutes of karate on a belly full of fat. Blurgh.

I knew I should have eaten a salad at lunch but a burger sounded just too good. We went to a Mom & Pop burger place that I’ve heard about for years, but never tried.

Burger with bacon, jack cheese and Cajun sauce. Side of onion rings. Order of deep fried pickles. I don’t think I’ve had that much fried food in one sitting in 20+ years! But let me just say this: It was fabulous! These people know how to fry things perfectly. PERFECTLY! Crispy, perfectly browned, and not greasy at all. I’m a former food and beverage manager, a pretty good cook, and a really good eater so trust me when I say it was perfect. I wouldn’t lie to you!

Well guess what? I know this will surprise you. It wasn’t the best meal before a workout! I paid for it in class tonight! I knew it wasn’t going to be my best night when I was warming up and it didn’t get better as class wore on. I felt like I was sweating grease out of my pores and my stomach was lurching. I’m proud to say I made it through class – both open hand and weapons. At times I had my doubts, and at times it wasn’t pretty, but I made it! 

When it was all said and done I told Kyoshi I should probably kiss his feet for not running us up and down the floor during basics. I got lucky because tonight wasn’t a cardio class. Tonight was a bit more stationary, as we moved right into self-defense drills. All I can say to that is Thank Goodness!! If it had been a cardio class I’m pretty sure I would have had a problem.  🙂

So lesson learned? Yes, I think so. Next time skip either the fried pickles or the fried onion rings. Hahaha!! Maybe I didn’t learn my lesson well enough? Nah, I think I did. Heavy, fried foods may be delish but that belly full of fat isn’t good fuel for a workout!

Let’s hope this isn’t a lesson I soon forget, but put enough tasty food in front of me and who knows what’ll happen.  🙂

Oh, and what did I have for dinner? Fried chicken and tater tots!! OK, just kidding. That doesn’t even sound good. I had a little deli turkey, a few grape tomatoes, and a banana to offset the cramps in my legs. Maybe I am learning!