Thursday, November 24, 2005

Countdown!! 2.....

I have been receiving so much support from people concerning my upcoming black belt test. People that I didn't think would be interested are inquiring as to how I'm coping with the anxiety of the upcoming test. Wow.. Not too many people really worried about me when I was going for the lower kyu ranks.. ha ha ha. I was far less ready for those tests.. especially my white belt test. It's nice to get their emails of encouragement, and to have people stop me to wish me the best. Wow.. the outpouring of concern is wonderful. I feel like a Queen walking amoung the population right now. One of the parents of my dojo found out that I was testing for black, and the look in her eyes just shifted to one of deep awe. Oh gosh.. awe? Sometimes I think that it's just a daydream, really, and that I'll wake up in a couple of days and realize that truth.

Thinking back to those first days of training when I saw brown belt as an impossibility for me to achieve. I remember watching the brown belts go up front of class, and do so many things that I just couldn't see myself accomplishing within my lifetime: Kumite, the more difficult kata like Kanku Dai, and combinations... I was having troubles keeping my front knee bent, and holding stance for longer than 2 seconds. Oooo.. the burning in my thigh muscles just demanded that I pull out of stance, the pain in my ankles, in my knees, in my hips.. they all screamed for me to get out of stance.

I would go home, and start practicing just holding front stance. My husband came into the room, and watch me with a smile as I would go down into stance for about 3 breaths, and then stand right back up breathing hard to cope with the pain. "What's your problem?" he asked me with a grin "You're just standing up.. gee.. what's so hard about that?"

'O.K..." I said, "It's harder than it looks.. here.. you get into front stance, and see how long you last." I placed him in proper stance.. he didn't last any longer than me. His eyes widened in acknowledgement, and realization of just how difficult standing up can become.

As I progressed in the art I learned that Back stance hurts alot more than front stance.. HA HA HA HA Then I learned about the pain that can be achieved by going into Side stance. Phenomenal!

But my kata became stronger, and more stable.. my legs started to strengthen. Now I would turn on one of my favorite CD's, and hold stance through the song. Holding Front stance for 3 minutes, and 23 seconds, Holding Back stance for 2 minutes, and 40 seconds.. The whole time I'd sing along with the song, and focus on my breathing, even harmonizing.. anything to keep my mind off of the pain in my legs.

I build up in ability. I decided that I was ready for the real challenge. I washed the dishes holding side stance the whole time that I stood in front of the sink. Each sink load of dishes took about 5 minutes to wash. I would do a sink load once every hour holding stance each time. In a family the size of ours.. that's alot of dishes!

Then I started doing my ironing standing on one leg to improve my balance.

All of this personal training had an effect.. I was able to hold stance with confidence... but then the cramping started.

By the time I achieved my green belt, my muscles would cramp during class. I looked for reasons, explanations, interventions. My legs, and feet would cease in awful cramps as I tried to do kata... or hold stance. I remember how severe the cramps would be. In fact, my left leg cramped up really tight, and lost all power to hold my weight as I was doing Heian Yondan for my belt test in front of the judging table. I had to stop for a second, and place down my right leg to keep me standing, wait for the cramp to let go, and then continue my kata. I still passed that test in spite of this major mistake.

It wasn't until this September that I realized what it was that I was doing to encourage cramping in my muscles. I would often have a treat of Pepsi, and taco chips. It was my favorite bad habit. During the summer of this year.. I had decided to stop drinking, or eating anything with caffeine in it because of the reading that I had done about the negative effects that caffeine has on your body system. To my joy, I noticed that my muscle cramps had disappeared over the summer. I didn't realize the link to caffeine at that point though. However, when September rolled around, and the stress of my upcoming black belt test loomed over me, I fell back into my comfort food... pepsi, and taco chips. Within a month the cramps came back. AH! After some indepth study I learned that one of the effects of caffeine on your body is to strengthen muscle contractions. That is why the Olympic committee lists caffeine up there with steriods as a drug that isn't allowed in competition.

Now, I have been steering away from caffeine and my cramping has dissipated. I'm back to suffering from stance "normally".. ha ha ha


lizzie said...

When I first started karate, my zenkutsu dachi was horrible. I could hold it for about a min. My balance wasn't good either when I was in the stance. When I was training by myself I would fall over when switching between zenkutsu dachi and kokutsu dachi because of my balance was so bad.

supergroup7 said...

Yes... balance is something that is really hard to do at first.. but with time, effort, and consistency you can build up your abilities. I think that this will help us in the future when we are older, because we will be able to catch ourselves more easilly should we be slip, or lose balance as we walk.

That will lower the chance of a broken hip, or such.

lizzie said...

I have a long ways about worring about getting older and falling. But yes, karate really does help us with out balance.