Tag Archive | Karate

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!

 

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!

Prepping for Black Belt Class

Tomorrow is Saturday and Saturday means Black Belt Class. At the crack of dawn. 8:00. In the MORNING! Crazy.

I have never been a morning person. Ever. It’s hard enough to get my brain going early in the morning (and usually I don’t even try), much less get my body moving. I’m not coherent before mid-morning.

So how does a girl who rarely makes it to work before 8:30/8:45ish manage to attend an 8 am class? I bet my boss is wondering the same thing! I don’t think she reads my blogs so this will stay just between us.  😉

It’s all in the prep! Before I go to bed I will choose what I’m wearing for class, as well as what I’m wearing for the commute. I’ll lay out exactly what goes on my body after my shower and pack everything else in my gym bag.

Sadly, even this plan isn’t fail proof, as one time I got to the dojo and didn’t have my gi, but Hanshi was kind enough to lend me one of his. I was hoping for some 9th Degree Black Belt mojo in that borrowed gi but that morning I learned the mojo is in the person, not the cotton. 🙂

I’ll put my gym bag, weapons and water jug at the top of the stairs so I don’t leave without them. I really am that muzzy in the morning! If I didn’t put things where I’d trip over them, they’d be left behind. Tonight I’ll pack a couple of snacks for the morning and put protein powder in the shaker. Blended protein shakes take an extra 5 minutes, which is asking a bit much of me in the morning so I’ll have the not-so-tasty shaken shake.

Before I go to bed I’ll set my usual 3 alarms – 1 with music, 2 with annoying tones. Speaking of annoying tones, it might be time to change those up; I’m becoming immune to them. And then I will attempt to go to bed earlier than my normal 11:30 pm and please, please, please beg the sleep fairy to visit.

Tomorrow, when all 3 alarms have gone off and I’ve hit all the Snooze buttons too many times, I’ll drag my butt out of bed, take a shower so I can be clean before I get all sweaty, pop some Aleve and slurp a protein shake on the way to the dojo. I’ll be Little Miss Sunshine when I arrive, and all the other students will be joyous to see me! Well, maybe “joyous” is a bit too enthusiastic, but hey – a girl can hope, right?

Now that I read all that, it seems like a LOT of work just to over-exert myself at some crazy-early hour! But it’s two months to my next Black Belt Test and I need the extra workout. Just to make sure I get there, I’ve got some incentives. After class I’ll reward myself with a pedi and a massage on Sunday. And maybe a nap. Most likely a nap!

Pick, Pick, Pick

My knee is nudged forward into a better stance.

The Shodan candidate does her self-defense move again after being reminded she forgot the chop to the neck.

Kicks are tweaked to be stronger, faster, higher. 

Arms are moved ever-so-slightly into the correct position.

‘Tis the season for nit-picking! With the next black belt test just a few weeks away, we know our material. We’ve done it enough times that we can do things without stopping to think about what comes next.

Now it’s a matter of working on the nuances, those things that make our performance even better. They’re teensy little things, maybe even trivial to some, but it’s the tiny little things that show the difference in ranks. This is where the true understanding of what we’re doing shows. This is what makes the difference between dance moves and a good understanding of our art.

Now, instead of Kyoshi teaching us new material or walking us through moves, he is fine-tuning us. Reminding us of those little things, making corrections when he sees errors, and running us through things we’re not sure of.

Sometimes it feels like we’re being corrected on the most minuscule things. And sometimes it feels like we’re just beginners and starting over. But this is all part of the learning process, and just the fact that we’re at the stage of being nit-picked is a good thing! After all, it means we have achieved a certain level of knowledge and are on our way to more. 

For now it’s pick, pick, pick. All to make us better, and all done with love, of course!  😉