Thursday, August 24, 2006

A warning to future people wishing to comment on my kata

I just received this post from Anonymous on my Hangetsu kata video:

"That was awful. Sloppy. No power. Weak stance. ugh. You have a lot of work to do. "

I embrace correction. I will be the first to tell you that my karate is far from being what I aspire to become. I realize that I am only a hobbiest in the Martial arts, and not a full time artist. I can only dedicate a small portion of my time and energy towards this new lifestyle that I have interwoven with all of my other demands, and responsibilities. When I look at the reality of "who" I am, I can say honestly that I'm only a Mom who loves kata. Bruce Lee, and Jet Li have no competition here. Ha ha ha But you know what? I'm doing pretty darn good for a 42 year old who just started training 3 years ago, and I plan to be doing better than this when I reach my golden years.

Honestly, when a little grey=haired overweight mommy like me actually manages to get through the moves of Hangetsu without falling over, or forgetting any of them.. that's pretty awesome! Especially when I remember how it took me 6 months just to perform a knife hand strike properly, and even then, I wasn't doing it at the proper level. And did you SEE how fast that front snap kick was?? Holy Cow! It blurred in the camera.. it's BLURRED1 I can't even check on my technique because it's too fast a kick. Boo Ya! OSU! (*Does a happy dance*)

So.. if you wish to tell me that my kata sucks, That's fine. It's no surprise to me. However, in the future, you will have to make these comments with your identity available. I am warning all posters of comments that any "anonymous" comments will be deleted regardless of the content. So even if you praise my glorious hairstyle, If you do it anonymously, I will delete it.

I would rather that you support my efforts to train in martial arts, by offering an explanation as to how I can improve. Sure, tell me that my kata was awful.. What was awful about it? It was sloppy? Which part? All of it? How? What can I do to improve the sloppiness? Weak stance? Strange, it felt strong to me.. where is it weak? Where must I focus my energy to create a stronger stance? I have my feet turned inwards, and my knees in the right place, my butt is tucked in... it FEELS right. Help me to understand what it is that I can change to make that stance less weak. You took the time to comment on my kata, and I appreciate that.. please offer me a tidbit of knowledge as to improving it rather than trying to discourage me from continuing on my path ( discouraging me? Not possible! I've been through too much to be discouraged from climbing this Shotokan mountain.. get in the line up of people who have attempted to discourage me.)


[Mat] said...

To anonymous :

1- It's anonymous.
Please post an email adress where you can be reached.

2- What do you know, what's your background? etc.

3- Did you read the comments section of the video?

4- Gratuitous. Careful, karma's a bitch.

have a good day nonetheless, anonymous.

Ruth said...

I am not going to comment on the remarks made by 'anonymous', other than to say that one can tell a lot about a person from the feedback they give to others (and these remarks say a lot more about 'anonymous' than they do about you). What I am going to say is how astounded I am to hear you've only been training for 3 years. I've just scraped myself up of the floor! I've said it before, and I'm going to say it again only louder: YOU ARE AN ABSOLUTE INSPIRATION TO ME.

supergroup7 said...

Mat.. that number four statement had me laughing all day... What a truth you spoke!

Thanks for that one... ha ha.. It's not something that I could repeat though.. I'm a little shy of using those kind of words.. but it fits so well with that statement. Ha ha ha

supergroup7 said...

Yes, Ruth.. well.. 3 years and a few months.. to be honest. I started learning Karate in February 2003 at the age of 39 years old. After a lifetime of no exercise, or sports of any kind. I could not climb one flight of stairs without feeling dizzy, holding the wall, and panting to catch my breath.

I'm alot healthier now. My stamina has improved quite alot. For example, last night I just finished a 4 hour Kyokushin belt rank test. By halfway through, I was feeling my inner weakness, but I kept going by spirit alone. In the last 15 minutes of the test, during the sparring sessions, my body started to wilt to the point of having troubles standing. I nearly passed out twice.. but managed to pull my wits back about me. It felt like I was swimming through molasses when I attacked, or blocked.

Today, I'm so exhausted that I feel similar to one of those overtired babies that just lay there crying because they are sleepy, but they are too tired to fall asleep.

Me? An inspiration to others? That is a nice thought. It makes me smile to think that I have helped someone see goodness in their lives. Thank you.

Ruth said...

"Me? An inspiration to others? That is a nice thought. It makes me smile to think that I have helped someone see goodness in their lives. Thank you."

Yes you are and thank YOU!

So, aged 39 you felt really unfit? I'm intrigued. You see something that worries me (and maybe I should seek medical advice on this, but I'm not going to!) is that, at the age of 38 (and pretty unfit), I don't know how far to push myself - I don't want to over-do it and drop dead of a heart attack on the spot (I'm not being flippant or silly there, I'm being serious, if a little neurotic...?). What am I capable of at this age?

One thing I'd like to be able to achieve again is the splits. You see I could do the splits before having baby number 1. I can't now. Too stiff. Can one re-achieve that level of suppleness at my age? Basically, am I clapped out? (I mean lots of sports-people retire well before they're 38).

supergroup7 said...

"What am I capable of at this age? "

O.K... My words are NOT to be taken as medical advice.. they are only my own experiences.

I followed the advice of my first Sensei as to how to handle my training each time that I went to class. He told me to "listen to my body, it knows what it can do" and to "make sure that I take breaks when I need them".

Therefore, I would run laps until my breathing started getting too "harsh" like when you feel breathless and gasping like a fish in the air.. then I'd slow down and let everyone pass me, and bring my breathing back down to normal. I'd find that I couldn't do half of a lap before I'd need to walk the rest. With time, and consistency.. I was able to do a whole lap without being breathless. After awhile, not only was I doing the lap, but I was keeping up with the other students. ( Today I can run steady for a half hour without feeling tired, or breathless.)

When training, my Sensei would allow me to go down into seiza whenever my body felt dizzy... which was very often at first. I couldn't finish one kata without going into seiza. I felt like I spent more time on my knees than actually doing karate in those days. But I learned to appreciate that time in seiza.. I would train with my eyes. I'd WATCH what the others were doing, and ask myself what is important, and what could be enhanced.

I think that the most important thing for me was to do a little bit of exercise, but lots of times in the day. I really wanted to learn how to do kata, so I would practice the techniques at home inbetween all of my chores. You could find me holding stance while I ironed the laundry, practicing my knifehand as I cooked soup and waited for the water to boil.. or doing 5 push ups before I walk up the stairs. Little bites of exercise that I could handle. I believe that this consistency helped me immensely.

I also changed my diet, and cut down on the unhealthy foods that I ate. You know the kind that tastes so good, but has nothing of value in them. I drank more water, and ate less sugar, but feasted on fruits and vegtables. Within a few weeks I noticed a remarkable change in my stamina.

"You see I could do the splits before having baby number 1. I can't now."

I think that you can achieve greater flexibility by adding stretching to your regime. Everyone, and anyone can improve their flexibility regardless of age. However, I'd like to warn you that it may not be the same as before you gave birth to a baby. When we ladies carry a child our hips will spread, and change position. It is the effect of motherhood. Why don't you allow yourself the permission to try to improve your flexibility, and see what happens? You might surprise yourself at how close you can come to what you used to do, you might even exceed it, who knows?

"Basically, am I clapped out? (I mean lots of sports-people retire well before they're 38). "

No way! Sensei Gichin Funakoshi STARTED teaching the Japanese people about karate at the age of 68 years old. We wouldn't have Shotokan karate today if he had retired at 38.

It's all a matter of goals, and perspectives. Are you hoping to be the next Karate Champion of Britain? Then train for that.. it all depends on your will power to achieve that goal. Are you seeking better health, and to enjoy the art that you love? Then train for that... either way you are never too old to seek to reach high goals. Just remember to LISTEN to your body, it will tell you when it needs to slow down, do not be too prideful to respect it's silent hints. Start off slow and easy, and then build up to more and more.

In my opinion, dropping dead of a heart attack will happen more quickly to people who do not make any attempt to increase their cardio-vascular levels rather than someone who is doing exercise on a regular basis.

[Mat] said...

agreed to all.

baby steps. When we learn how to walk.

Or when we go back to learning how to walk. 3 years ago, my weight was way too high. took in gradually and I'm doing ok.

baby steps. get checked by a doctor. or, as I call her, the good doctor - a chiro. :) There are lots of ressources but as Supergroup said,

listen to your body.

blackbeltmama said...

Why are the rude ones always anonymous? It's amazing how brave someone can be from behind a computer monitor. On my local newspaper's site, I turned comments off completely because I had one commenter who was so rude and pathetic. I took away his audience and hope he went away for good. I think that because you're in the martial arts, people like to try to knock you down a notch or two. They don't understand that martial artists are not out there looking to kick people's butts. They're looking to improve themselves and learn a valuable skill. Chin up. I think your kata looked just fine.

Becky said...

We seem to have a lot in common. I started karate in January of 2003 at the age of 38. I think you're doing great.

Don't worry about those comments. People who post anonymously don't usually know what they're talking about. They just want to stir up trouble.

I think the kata looked good. Yeah, you may not have been quite as focused as you could have been, but you admited you had the camera battery on your mind. But your technique looked good anyway.

John Vesia said...

The person who approves of you today can condemn you tomorrow. Be immune to both criticism and approval. Only you can know how good you really are.

supergroup7 said...

Thank you, Black Belt Mama..

I believe that some people feel that the words that they place on the internet really don't count in any direction. They treat people like game pieces, and do not take responsibility for what they are saying.

That is why I'm insisting on some sort of Identification with that comment.. even if it's just a username like "bullfrog234".

supergroup7 said...

Hey... Thanks Becky!

I really didn't have a big "issue" with that comment.. I just wanted to warn people that I don't mind correction, I will tolerate criticism, but I will not have anonymous-ness. Ha ha ha

supergroup7 said...

"Only you can know how good you really are. "

John.. I am my worst critic.. I can see, and feel every one of my mistakes.. and then I'm aware that I'm making tons of mistakes that I haven't even become aware of..

From what I've noticed about myself, it is those moments when someone needs my help, and I can provide it that are times when I realize that I have gained in ability.

I cannot say that I am good at karate.. but I can say honestly that I enjoy it immensely. You don't have to be good at something to enjoy the action of doing it. Right?

John Vesia said...

People who bring joy to any activity are artists. That's irrespective of what you define as "good", or even the activity that you're performing. If I'm reading your statement correctly, "those moments when someone needs my help" is causing you to come full circle with your art.

frotoe said...

Mat's right- Karma's a bitch! YOu looked great Mireille.

lizzie said...

Good for you that you didn't let his or her comment bother you. Like you said, his comment doesn't help at all. It just discourages you.

supergroup7 said...

A very good friend, and wise Sensei taught me to "teach with knowledge, and not with derision."

When one offers correction to someone, they need to do it with a deep respect for that student's efforts to perform the art. It helps to find something that the student is doing correctly, and then to suggest something that would improve the performance. For example, looking at my own kata I would suggest to me ( as a student) "You have shown a good knowledge of the movements, now to improve the kata, you may want to look more closely at your cat stance. It has a "grraauuuuhhh.. Keep away from me!" feel to it. Like this.. see how you legs come in, and the knees almost connect?"

This is similar to the manner of how Mat, John, Colin, and Ruth have corrected me. They build people up, not tear them down. Not everyone will be perfect, but everyone can improve.

Sensei Michael said...

Personally, I'm quite impressed with seeing a hangetsu-dachi that powerful after 3 years of training.

Just as BBM said, anonymity and the internet don't mix.

supergroup7 said...

Thank you, Sensei Micheal.

Welcome to my blog! It's nice to see your presence here.

Stephen Irwin said...


Not so anonymous!

It takes some doing putting yourself up on the internet for scrutiny. One thing you learn about martial arts training is that you learn to not give two hoots about what anyone thinks....

Unless they have a name, are seriously good teachers and are trying to help of course!!

I wonder if Anonymous makes videos ;)

He/she/whatever turned up at my blog recently (yep, this Anonymous gets around) and posted something silly. I responded with a couple of my own counters, in text form of course.

Being a blogger is like being a good cartoonist. The pen truly is mightier than the sword.