Tag Archive | Kenpo

Getting My Story Out First

Hanshi has a saying around our dojo: “It’s whoever gets their story out first.”

If you get your story out first, you can tell it your way and that becomes Truth. If someone else gets their story out first – even if it’s really your story – then that becomes Truth. So with that in mind, here I am – getting my story out first.  😉

I always think it’s odd when someone gets their black belt and then walks away from karate. That said, I just got my Shodan in Kobujitsu (Weapons) in May. And after way too much thought, angst, deliberation, and uncertainty, I’ve decided to take a break from my karate training. Am I walking away permanently? I don’t know. But in some ways I feel I’ve become one of “those” people.

I know Shodan is just the beginning of the journey and there is no end to things to be discovered. And truthfully, I really enjoy weapons and would love to spend more time studying them. So why, when admittedly I think it’s dumb, am I walking away?

If someone else tells my story, it might sound like one of these:

1) I travel a lot for work.

Incorrect. It’s been over a year since I visited our NY office.

 2) I work too much.

My fatigue says that’s true, and often it’s tough to get to classes. But again, incorrect.

 3) I’m injured…again.

True, but once more, incorrect. Tomorrow I see the podiatrist who says he can fix my lingering foot issue, but only if I take a break from karate. Someone who spent 7 years running full tilt at hurdles, racing with a knot the size of a golf ball on their knee, and wiping out on an irregular basis isn’t really afraid of working through yet another injury.

So what’s my Truth?

Simple. It’s time to give back. I’ve spent the last 8+ years focusing on myself, spending my time and energy on martial arts and my achievements. But lately, I’ve been convicted of selfishness. Nobody’s world will change if I learn another set or kata or whatever. Nobody besides me benefits from me earning a higher rank.

In a world that seems more uncertain each day, I need to do my part to make a difference. I’ve recently connected with two charitable organizations, and I’m devoting my time, my writing and my kitchen skills to those.

That’s my Truth.

I don’t know where these opportunities will take me. I don’t know if I’m taking a temporary or permanent break from karate. But what I do know is I need to do this. I need to do my part. So in a way, maybe I’m being selfish still, but if that’s so, I hope someone else benefits from it.

Martial arts thoughts and blog posts lurk in my head. How my brain and body handle this hiatus is yet to be seen. So don’t go away. I’m not. And maybe I’ll manage to write more often!  🙂

Kata — All The Way Home

Sometimes it’s a good thing I have a long drive home after class. Especially on nights like tonight, when Renshi was teaching me a new kata. Goju Shiho Ich is a long one (I probably didn’t spell it correctly!), and so far I’m only about halfway into it. I’m OK with waiting to learn the second half, though, because I’m still trying to get the first half down!

Over the years, I’ve found that if I learn something in class and don’t run through it in my mind until much later, I’ll probably forget quite a bit of it. The hour drive home after class gives me plenty of time to go through the movements in my head. It helps me work things out and get the pieces in place. Sometimes it helps me remember nuances or tweaks that were made during class. And it always solidifies the new movements in my head.

Tonight I practiced the new kata all the way home, going over it again and again and again in my mind. I haven’t physically done it too many times, so I may have mixed some things up, and I could only get so far because I need some more prompting. But with that extra “practice” I’m farther along than I would be if I had left class and driven home thinking about something else!

Sloppy

Sloppy. That’s the best word to describe how my karate feels these days. I look down and I’m wearing a black belt, but it doesn’t feel like my performance is at a black belt level. If there was a “Sloppy” rank in our system, I’d probably have it! 

Seems like I can’t hold a good stance for long, don’t kick high enough or hard enough, and sometimes forget the kata or self-defense moves. Tonight was one of those nights. My kicks weren’t snappy, I mixed up moves in our mid-level kata, AND my timing just felt off. Awesome.

I know that’s to be expected with my extended absence and my rehab work, but it’s still frustrating. I’m afraid of falling into bad habits that I’ll have to replace or break later. I’ve lost some ground and I’m fighting to regain it, but it’s not very fun. My mind’s ready to be back at it on a black belt level, yet my body’s being a slow poke in coming to the same decision.

I know there’s only one way to fix Sloppy – work, work, work! Workouts take more mental concentration than they did before I broke my toe, since now I’m having to compensate for the injury. And I’m gasping for breath more often. 😉 I need to pay really close attention to my techniques, slowing them down when necessary so I don’t keep this Sloppy rank forever, or even worse – trade it for a Bad Habit rank.

I think the timing will come back. I’m pretty sure the stances and kicks will improve. And hopefully, not too long from now, I won’t check to see if I really am wearing a black belt!

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?”

Let’s Do This!

Let’s Do This!

I just heard the ref on tonight’s MMA fight say that, and I’m sure he was talking to me. OK, he was probably talking to the fighters, but it was applicable to me, too!

I’ve made my decision and I’m going for it – I’ve returned to karate! I now realize questioning my return was due in part to sleep deprivation and also in part due to a mood change because I wasn’t exercising. It’s amazing how those two factors can have such an impact on one’s mental condition.

Slowly, both those issues are being resolved. I’m now able to get more sleep, and that’s making a big difference. I’ve also committed to working out more, both inside and outside the dojo. I’ve noticed the more I work out, the better I feel – both physically and emotionally. The activity is chasing away my mini-depression, and I’m really grateful for that! People around me are probably relieved, since I’m getting back to my usual charming self.  😉

My toe still doesn’t bend much and I lost a lot of cardio conditioning while I was out. But those are just excuses to be overcome, and the only way to do it is to work hard and work often. I’m rewarding myself for every workout that is 30 minutes or more. It’s a silly little thing, but it’s working so I’ll keep doing it.

I know I’ve got a fight ahead of me. My biggest challenge is a stubborn, hard-headed, excuse-filled girl. But I know her well, and I’m pretty sure I can turn the tables on her and use those characteristics to succeed.

Well, wish me luck. Let’s Do This!

My Crossroad

I’m at a crossroad. One direction is working hard and getting back in shape. The other direction is lethargy, and probably never working out again.

It’s been 8 weeks since I broke my big toe. 8 weeks without working out. 8 weeks of lost conditioning, lost muscle tone, lost reflexes.

CrossroadIn the last week or so I’ve noticed lethargy has set in like a heavy fog, and it scares me. I really feel I’m at the point of a major decision.

Do I get off the couch, work hard, sweat, strain my muscles and fight to get back in shape again?

Or do I stay on the sidelines, making excuses, and let my body settle?

It’s a life-altering decision, and a scary one. The choice I make now may be the last of its kind. Before now, I would have said it wasn’t even a choice. Of course I’d be back full strength! Of course I’d work as hard as I could, put in the extra effort to make a comeback! Why wouldn’t I?

But now, lethargy has snuck in. All these weeks it’s been quietly feeding on my frustration and lack of physical fitness, and now it’s attacking my mental fitness.

I’m tired. Seems like I’m always tired. I’m busy. But I’m always busy. There are a million excuses I can use to sit back and let lethargy take over. The question is, will I do it? Will I just take my black belt and melt back into the couch? Well? Will I?

The struggle is harder than I could have imagined! If I don’t go back to karate, I’ll have lots of free time. If I do return to karate, a battle awaits me. So in my head, I’m struggling with the decision, yet still marveling that I could even think about not going back.

Inertia is a powerful force. I know the longer I “wait” to be in good enough shape to workout, the harder it will be to get started. Rationally, I know the benefits to returning far outweigh the benefits of continuing to sit on the sidelines. Rationally.

Emotionally, I waffle on whether I can do it or not. Do I have the will to make it happen? Do I have the mental strength to fight myself, to drive myself, to endure the struggles of making a comeback?

There’s my crossroad. Which way do I go?

Realizing I’m Not Superwoman

It’s a hard realization to come to – that I’m not Superwoman after all.

All these years I thought I was tough. That I could do anything, push through any injury by sheer force of will. Mind over muscle, so to speak.

And then I broke my toe. Not just any toe, but the big toe on my right foot. And not just broke, but BROKE. As in “snapped sideways, busted open, looking like it got caught in a lawnmower, requiring surgery and a pin to set it properly” broken.

Broken toe set with a pin

Believe it or not, I didn’t request the pink bandage – the nurse chose it. It’s perfect!

It didn’t really hurt when I broke it, and it didn’t hurt much after the surgery. Superwoman doesn’t feel pain, right? So I didn’t think too much of trying to work out less than 2 weeks after my surgery, even though I was still in a boot with a big bandage protecting the stitch and protruding pin. 

I took the boot off and hobbled around a bit. I settled into a kiba dachi to do basics with the class. I even used a yoga mat so my feet wouldn’t slip! I twirled my new bo around; the temptation was just too much for me to pass up. I did maybe half of the 90 minute class. I was a little sore when I finished, but I had a broken toe so I wasn’t surprised.

And then… Then I discovered I’m not Superwoman, and what a disappointment that was! Much to my irritation, the next afternoon my foot and ankle puffed up and the pain kicked in. I spent the weekend on the couch watching movies and drooling from painkillers. Talk about a wake-up call.

It was difficult, but I had to come to terms with a few things:

1) I had a serious injury and I needed to heal before I worked out again.

2) Sometimes mind over muscle fails. That Bible verse, “The spirit is willing, but the body is weak” is sometimes true, whether you like it or not.

3) And the worst realization of all…I’m really NOT Superwoman, darn it!

Honestly, I didn’t like any of those revelations, but there they were and I couldn’t ignore them. I’m not a superhero, and I had to heal. It was back to the sidelines for me. I still attended classes, but instead of working out I watched or helped teach.

Yesterday, almost 5 weeks post-surgery I did another Superwoman check because, of course, I’m still not convinced she doesn’t live in me somewhere. This time I went slower, with the memory of last time’s pain and some monitoring by my instructor to keep me in check. I did a very modified workout. Stretching and crunches, basics in a standing position, a little bit of “tai chi” self defense, and some no-step weapons kata.

Mentally it made me feel like Superwoman. Physically, I didn’t have her power and speed, but I did OK and I made it through today with minimal pain. I’m now lounging on the couch, but this time no drooling, no ice pack, no hydrocodone. I’m calling that a success!

I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m not Superwoman. Actually, that’s not true — I’m a work in progress. But if I can’t be her, she can be my role model, right? And while I’m waiting for my toe to heal, I’ll do my best to remember that I have to go at Michele’s pace instead of the pace of a lady in a blue leotard and boots. That’s contrary to my personality, so I expect I’ll need several reminders. But if I behave myself and remember who I am, eventually I’ll be back up to speed and acting like I’m the real Superwoman!