Thursday, January 26, 2006

I'm in Combat magazine.

To my joy, I have been included in the panel of 6 students that have been interviewed by Sensei Stuart Anslow of Great Britain. My answers have been published in the "Combat Panel" section of Combat magazine.

You can download this section at:

Sunday, January 15, 2006

I guess I just like kicking alot

When we arrived to our dojo this week, we found out that Sensei had car troubles, and wasn't coming to class. Our lead belt was going to take over.

As we were warming up, Sempai asked us " Is there anything in particular that you would like to work on in this class? Anything that you'd like to develop? Is there a kata you'd like to work on? or a technique?"

We waited in silence for a few seconds as we stretched.. then I put up my hand.

I suggested "I'd like to work on my kicks, Sempai."

The students around me did a sudden intact of breath, and I saw wide eyes all around me.

"Ah" said Sempai teasingly "That's a good idea.. 5,000 kicks would make the class go by quickly.."

I blinked in confusion " I just find that it's more difficult to do a good kick because I have to balance on one leg when I do the technique.. but when I punch
I have both feet on the ground."

"Aha!" jumped Sempai on my answer "You want to do balance exercises. I can provide that. 5,000 kicks balancing on one leg.. that sounds wonderful. Any more suggestions Mireille? This is shaping up to be a great class."

All of the black, and brown belts started laughing.

My husband chuckled, and said to me in one of those LOUD whispers "Honey.. I think that I'd quit talking now.."

This brought even more laughter from the class. Since it was all in good fun, I didn't mind.. but I did wonder what class was going to be like now that I had opened my big mouth.

So class happened.. but it wasn't as bad as all that.

Sure.. we worked on our roundhouse kick, and front kick, but it wasn't that awful. Sempai just helped us work on fixing those little details that smooth out the kick, and helps you maintain your support foot.

Sempai noticed a definate difference in our kicks by the end of class. Many of us had become aware of what we were doing with our support foot, and using it more effectively.

Sempai called us into kata formation, and then said "Since a certain new Shodan black belt wants to work on her kicks, I decided that the class will do a
kick with each move of the kata."

All of the students of the dojo teasingly grumbled about how they were going to repay me for my suggestion after class. I put my hand up and asked Sempai if I could be dismissed from class a good 5 minutes before everyone else so that I can have a head start of running away from them... or could he please shoot me now.

"Shooting is too quick a punishment" called out one of the brown belts "We need something more long lasting."

I just turned and gave him a pretend "frightened" look which made everyone chuckle.

We did our kata.. and I found it FUN. Adding a kick to each move was challenging mentally, and physically. I had to adjust my weight with each move. It changed
the feel of the kata, and the rhythm. It seemed that the other students had fun too. At least their faces were smiling at the end of class.

One of the more experienced black belts came up to me and said "Well.. I never thought that I'd ever see it happen.. that a student would request to do work on
their kicks during class! In the 15 years that I've been training, I've never seen it happen before.. until now.. until you. You are something else!"

All that I could do is blush.

I think that my husband is going to invest into some duct tape for his loud mouthed wife.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

I'm far from the top...

One of my favorite things to do when I have a few moments of freedom from my responsibilities as a mother, and martial artist is to surf the net, and learn about various things (mainly karate based information)

I stumbled across this biography of Sensei Gichin Funakoshi, and found an interesting challenge in it.

"Gichin Funakoshi was a humble man. He preached and practiced an essential humility. He did not preach the humility of virtue, but a basic humility of a man who is rooted in the true perspective of things, full of life and awareness. He lived at peace with himself and with his fellow men.

Whenever the name of Gichin Funakoshi is mentioned, it brings to mind the parable of "A Man of Tao ( Do ) and a Little Man". As it is told, a student once asked, "What is the difference between a man of Tao and a little man?" The sensei replies, "It is simple. When the little man receives his first dan (degree or rank), he can hardly wait to run home and shout at the top of his voice to tell everyone that he has obtained his first dan. Upon receiving his second dan, he will climb to the rooftops and shout to the people. Upon receiving his third dan, he will jump in his automobile and parade through town blowing the horn, telling one and all about his third dan".

The sensei continues, "When the man of Tao receives his first dan, he will bow his head in gratitude. Upon receiving his second dan, he will bow his head and his shoulders. Upon receiving his third dan, he will bow at the waist and quietly walk alongside the wall so that people will not see him or notice him".

Funakoshi was a man of Tao. He placed no emphasis whatsoever on competitions, record breaking or championships. He placed emphasis on individual self-perfection. He believed in the common decency and respect that one human being owes another. He was the master of masters. "

Oh gosh.. what was the first thing that I did when I achieved Shodan? I contacted as many of my friends, and family as soon as I could to share my joy. I didn't just bow my head in gratitude. I remember laying there on my bed unable to sleep with a big smile on my face thinking "Unbelievable! I'm a Black belt." In my defense, I didn't contact others to brag, or boast, but more to allow them to join me in a deep important moment of my life.

Hopefully, by the time I achieve Nidan, I will accept that rank change with just a bow, and a willingness to accept anonimity because I am MORE than my belt rank.