Tag Archive | Martial Arts

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.

Sometimes Failure Means Success

I failed in nearly all my weights tonight – and Shawn, my trainer, said, “Good work.” He says that often when I fail. I’ve gotten used to it, but I sometimes struggle with the concept.

As a runner, volleyball player and martial artist, I’ve never trained to fail – only to win. Win the race, win the game, and at all costs, win the fight! To fail is to lose. So this is tough for me – to  embrace failing.

The gym is one of the few places where failure is good, where failure is the goal. In my case, I lift a certain weight until I fail, which means I can’t complete another rep with proper form. When I get stronger and it takes longer for me to fail, my weights are raised. Occasionally, like tonight with my bicep curls, I failed very quickly and my weights were lowered. (Ugh. I’m still not happy about that!)

As I write this, I realize the dojo is another place where failure can be a benefit. We fail often when we spar, we fail when we try new self-defense moves, we fail while we are learning new katas. I never thought of that as being OK – only as things I needed to work harder on, things to fix. But now, due to my trainer’s coaching, I’m seeing failure in the dojo with new eyes.

When I fail during sparring, hopefully I learn from what I did wrong and maybe next time I don’t get popped in the face. When I fail doing a throw – even when I break my toe in the process – I learn what I did wrong and work to fix it.

Sometimes I’m OK with my failure and even proud of it. But too many times still, I get frustrated and Shawn reminds me that failure can be good, and failing sometimes equals success. I don’t know if I’ll ever 100% appreciate failing, but I’m trying!

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!  🙂

Doesn’t that feel good?

Matt: How was class?

Me: My legs were shaking and I was out of breath.

Matt: Doesn’t that feel good??

Yep – it did feel good! First time in class in two weeks, and I made it through.

Fortunately, Renshi took pity on us and didn’t have us do circuits – I probably would have needed oxygen. We worked basics, kata, and a little bunkai. My legs were shaking from holding the horse stances, and I admit I wasn’t at my best, but I didn’t expect to be. I made it through both open hand and a 30-minute weapons class. Yea me!

Oh, I did have a little “whoops” tonight. My hands were so sweaty (seriously? why do hands sweat?!?) one of my tonfa went flying out of my hand. Good thing I was on the end and it flew away from everyone else!

Welcome back! Haha!

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?”