Tag Archive | training

Now What?

We finally did it. We earned our black belts! See? There we are – Phil, Renshi Colahan, me and Peterbilt (Paul). Woo WOO!! Look at us! 

New Shodans after the USKK Test

Phil Mosher, Renshi Mike Colahan, Michele Jarchow & Paul (Peterbilt) Castro after the 2012 USKK Black Belt Test

Aside from “Congratulations,” the thing I heard most after my test was, “Now what?” People wanted to know if I was finished. Would I return to karate? Was there anything left to accomplish?

Well, as it turns out, there’s a LOT more to learn! Our system trains in three different martial arts. In addition to Okinawan Karate, we offer Jujitsu and Kobujitsu (weapons) programs, and students can earn black belts in all three of the arts.

I’ve achieved my Shodan, my first degree black belt, in Okinawan Kenpo. In our system, there are 10 levels of black belt. I will not achieve the top ranks because I started so late, but I can move forward. By returning to class following the test, I began my journey to Nidan, my second degree black belt. That’ll take a couple of years of finesse, focus and practice, but I’m looking forward to deeper study of this art!

I’m also excited about returning to jujitsu. I used to go fairly regularly and earned my blue belt (the lowest rank in our system), but have not participated lately. To be honest, I’ve been rather clumsy recently, and the only way I should have been training in jujitsu was after being wrapped securely in bubble wrap! Now that our Shodan test has passed, I’m looking forward to once again hitting the mat (get it?) and working on those joint locks.

Colahan Martial Arts Shodan Certificates

One more thing I’m excited about is learning weapons!It took a while for me to become interested in them. Renshi Colahan said it would improve our open hand techniques and that was appealing to me, but I didn’t want to take on so much new material as I was closing in on the black belt test. I also didn’t know how I would fit it in, since the beginner class at the hombu is taught at the same time as our club classes. Lucky for us, Renshi has started teaching weapons once a week at the club, and I’m really excited about that. So far I’ve had a 30 minute class, and I’m hooked! I can’t wait to get out on the floor and learn some more!

So now that I’ve earned my Shodan, is there more for me? Is there something to draw me back to the dojo? The answer is a resounding Yes! Not only do I have more to learn in Okinawan Kenpo, but I also have the opportunity to learn more jujitsu and discover the art of Kobujitsu (weapons). The opportunities may not be quite endless, but they are plentiful, and I’m excited to be moving forward – starting now!!

Whirlwind Weekend in Texas

Twelve hours in the Ninja Bus. 38 hours in Bryan, TX. Twelve more hours in the bus.

Energy drinks, stinky beef jerky, a DDD BBQ joint, numerous truck stops, missing our turn in Waco, almost getting stuck in the DQ bathroom, spastic noise I can’t call music, laughing til we cried, discovering I still have a “safety stripe” on my black belt, and always feeling safe because I travel with “bodyguards.”

Desperate measures to avoid the beef jerky stink.

We looked for armadillos on the roadside, but the only ones we saw were fuzzy replicas at the truck stop. I watched for Walker, Texas Ranger to ride by on his horse but he didn’t show. Even better, I got a lesson in knife defense from a real-life county investigator.

I discovered greens, ate smoked bologna and mysterious boudin balls for the first time. I had alligator, not for the first time. In case you’re wondering, it tastes like chicken. I passed on the pork skins, but devoured brisket and strawberry banana cake.

I reconnected with old friends and made new ones. Including a volunteer at the military museum who wouldn’t stop following me.

Working Hanshi Baker’s Finger Lock Flow.

I worked a finger lock flow, practiced increasing my reach, reviewed bunkai, and tried new things. I saw a well-respected martial artist honored by many who love him. I learned on the mat alongside the masters of our art. I felt privileged. I was privileged.

It was a whirlwind of a weekend, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat!

Betting My Life

Originally posted July 3, 2010 on Colahan’s Martial Arts.  

Woman must not depend upon the protection of man, but must be taught to protect herself. 

~Susan B. Anthony

I know women (and men, too) who won’t try karate because they don’t want to get bruises. Or they don’t want to fight.

When someone tells me they don’t want to fight, my response is, “I don’t either!” I’m not looking for a fight. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t enjoy a fight. But here’s the thing…

It’s not about the fight. It’s about getting away – ALIVE!!

If I find myself in an unfortunate situation and have to defend myself or protect someone, I stand a pretty good chance of doing so. Yes, they might get in the first punch or two. It’s a good bet they’ll surprise me. But after the surprise wears off, then what?

Then the “surprise” is on them!

I think I can honestly say that after that first punch, my training will kick in. I will hear Sensei’s voice in my head saying, “Do something!” And the repetition of practicing techniques again and again and again will take over. I will fight. I will not cower or give in. I will use the tools I’ve been given, and I WILL defend myself – all so I can get away and get to safety.

Yes, I get bruises. But honestly, I get as many bruises from working around the house as I do from karate. And those karate bruises? I’m proud of them – strange as that sounds – because it means I’ve been working hard. I’ve been challenging myself, learning how to defend myself.

 I’m betting my life that I can protect myself. Aren’t you doing the same?