Sunday, September 17, 2006

Road trip with Supergroup7 Day 4

I woke up thrilled about what was waiting for me today.. I nearly bounced out of my room with my Bo staff in hand, and my gear in the other. You couldn't have tied me down.

We met at the University, and I was ready. Sensei Colin had warned me that I would be guiding the class this morning, and I had prepared myself. I knew that there wasn't much that I could offer these Martial artists that had over 20 years of experience to my few years that they hadn't already seen, but I KNEW that they haven't seen it from me.. so I rose to the challenge. With a smile, I entered the dojo. My smile instantly fled, and I nearly fell back into Sensei Colin ( who was walking behind me) The room was FULL of other martial artists. There was about 24 people in there already. I instantly thought "Oh no! I have to teach them too???" but my spirit rose to the occasion, and I answered my question "Sure I do, and I can.. 2 people or 20? What's the difference?"

So I turned to Sensei Colin and said "So... I am teaching these people also?"

He laughed and said "No.. no.. this is an Aikido class.. There is the Sensei.. over there.. He is teaching.. I was just testing you.."

I was both relieved, and in a way, disappointed.. ha ha ha. I looked forwards to the Aikido class. My first one.. ever. What an experience! Again, it was my Kyokushin training that pulled me through. I recognized some of the ideas that were presented to me, and I muddled through as best as I could. The students were so welcoming. They all knew what they were doing, and how to help me achieve similar results. I gained a deep respect for how intricate, and detailed the art of Aikido is.. how just a little shift in one direction can cause such an intense reaction in your opponent. I appreciated the way that the Sensei could make his demonstration partner go back, forwards, sideways, even upside down, and look like he wasn't DOING anything at all. I started understanding where the pain should be in my arm when performing the exercise, and where I wanted to send my opponent.

Sifu Tim, and Sensei Colin were indispensible to me.. they'd quickly explain the concept in terms that I was familiar with like "just do something like an inside block, with back stance".. and Boom.. I was in the proper frame of movement.. I just had to adjust this or that a little.

Here are some pictures of Sensei Colin, Sifu Tim, my husband, and myself at the end of our time together:

After Aikido class, Sifu Tim, my husband, and I went out for lunch together again, and quickly went over to the next event.

What an unbelievably fantastic facility we attended! It was astounding to see all of the resources that the students of this dojo had access to! The Sensei was warm, and welcoming.. He gave us a tour of the dojo, and shared stories of the past, and goals of the future. It warmed my heart to see how so many people flooded Sensei Colin with joyful greetings. The Sensei kindly allowed my husband, and I to train with his class. He gave us permission to bow, and pull out of class should we get tired. I gratefully accepted this gift, but deep within my heart I thought " I am Kyokushin! I have the Spirit of "Osu".. there is nothing that you can send my way that I haven't already experienced, and surpassed. Do your worst!"

Class started, and I followed every exercise with full power, and stance.. as is my habit. The only time that I had difficulty was when we did a strange kicking combination that I had never experienced before. Somehow my kicking foot would end up as the lead leg instead of as the back leg, and when I finished the combination I'd have the wrong foot forwards. I kept struggling to do the combination properly, and it took quite alot of repetitions before I smoothly GOT it. When I got it, I was happilly sailing through the air with my jumping double kick.

Then, something unusual happened. Sensei sent the lower kyus to go get water while the rest of us stood still in line. I quietly thought to myself "Ah .. yes.. of course.. they aren't as used to training.. this is good." I did some deep breathing to calm my body, and I set myself for more effort. Sensei sent the higher kyus to go get some water. I thought "Hmm.... that's different.. Will Black belts be next? What do I do? We've only started training.. I'm not used to drinking water at this point. Ah well.. when in Rome.."

Yes.. the Black belts were next to get water. I ran to the fountain, took a few sips, and then ran back into place.. ready for more training. It was announced that we would do Kata! I couldn't help but sparkle. Oh YES! Kata! I know.. I know.. I'm certifiably silly about kata.

The main problem was that this dojo does slightly different kata than what I know. My husband and I were encouraged to do our own versions. We did our kata, and seemed to always end before everyone else in the dojo... except for my Hangetsu. It took me double the time than them to perform my Hangetsu.

We were instructed to get our weapons, and line up. Everyone else had 4 different weapons.. I only had my little Canadian Maple Bo staff. We were called up to do our kata. I did the only one that I know: Chion kata. Over and over again, as the others did their different kata, I kept to my simple basic kata, and performed it. It was all that I had to offer, and it was the best that I had. What more can one ask?

Then it was time for sparring. I watched the students putting on layer after layer of protection on their bodies, and I was daunted by this. It was so foreign to me... and unusual. Foot pads, shin pads, knee pads, chest pads, forearm pads, gloves, head gear, and mouth guards. I asked the Sensei what the rules were for sparring, and for some reason, they seemed quite complicated to me. Now.. I know that in Kyokushin I train my heart, and body for a firm unshaken spirit, but suddenly everything seemed too overwhelming for me. My spirit was shaken, and I backed away from the challenge of sparring with this club. I sat on the sidelines with my husband, and watched the kyu level students fight, and I was totally taken aback. None of the sparring movements seemed familiar to me.. until I saw the black belts fight. Suddenly things looked normal again. I grabbed Sifu Tim's sleeve, tugged it and said "THERE! That's what I'm used to.. that is what sparring looks like to me.." Now, I was disappointed in myself. I had been wanting to spar with Sensei Colin for a long time, and here was my opportunity, and I had chickened out.

After the class ended, and the other students came in for the next class, I went up to Sensei Colin with shining eyes, and said "It looks like I will not be able to spar with you before we leave.." He gave me one of those "One minute" hand gestures, and went to talk with others for awhile. He returned, and then gracefully motioned for me to go before him.. like how a man gestures to a lady for a dance.

"Right here? Right now?" I asked him totally shocked. We were surrounded by students getting ready for class.

He smiled, and bowed at me. I bowed back, and got into fighting stance.. the whole time I thought.. "Oh boy.. oh boy.. oh boy.. oh boy... I'm in trouble... calm down.. you can handle this.. Oh boy.. oh boy.. "

Sensei Colin came at me like a Cyclone with booster rockets. I instantly went into my ALL-where feeling, and just reacted. I couldn't tell you exactly what I did, or what he did, but one of the things that I remember was hearing a gasp of sound come from the crowd of students, and a comment of something like "WOAH! Slow down... you are going to crash into someone.." I could barely see Sensei Colin's feet, and hands coming at me. I knew that he had sent a kick my way, but it wasn't until it had already hit, and was gone before I realized that I was struck. Normally, in Kyokushin, I would stop my forward attack movement in respect to the fact that I was just struck, and that the Sempai/ Sensei had used control. I remembered my glasses being struck. Since I wear a strap on my glasses the force of the blow just sent them to the side. I just grabbed the glasses, put them back into place, and kept fighting. Yes, I realize that they are a hazzard, but they are what I wear all the time, everyday.. they are like prosthetic limbs, and I need to work with them. If ever I have to fight to defend myself, these glasses will be on my face (like it or not).

At one point, Sensei Colin sent a punch to my face, and just held it there. I reacted quite strongly to the punch by holding it and saying "You can't punch to the head, it's not allowed!" Looking back at that moment, I laugh at how silly I was being: Here was a Shodan telling a Yondan that he isn't allowed to punch to her face in his home dojo. It was my Kyokushin training that had kicked in.. we aren't supposed to do any hand strikes to the head, only kicks. It wasn't until later on that I realized what I had done, and had said to him. To Sensei Colin's honor, and credit, he apologized to me.. can you believe that? He apologized to me, and refrained from hand strikes to the head after that.

The sparring session ended quickly. I was so happy. I had sparred Sensei Colin, and I could go home feeling satisfied that I did my best.

We were able to meet Sensei Keith Yates, and have our picture taken with him.

Afterwards we all met at a restaurant for supper, drinks, and farewells. I was so positive that I was going to end up in streams of tears when we said goodbye. I kept telling myself that it isn't over yet.. we are still waiting for our supper. It isn't over yet, we are still sharing stories. It isn't over yet. The tears didn't fall. Sifu Tim went home with his friend, and I told myself that it wasn't over yet. But as things go, it finally was over, and I stood outside in the parking lot looking at Sensei Colin's smiling face, and knowing that he was heading to the total opposite side of the earth, and that this is a very big globe. I didn't want to cry. Martial artists aren't supposed to cry.. right?

I saw in Sensei Colin's eyes the secure promise that one day we will meet again, and I believed him. The threat of tears stopped within me. I found myself looking forwards to our next encounter. I will have had more training experience on my belt, and maybe.. just maybe.. I might be more of a challenge to him when we spar.


Anonymous said...


Glad you had a good time in Dallas. It was my pleasure to meet you and Arney. You sacrificed a lot to come there I am sure. Thank you form being my student for a day. I hope Arney still has all of his inner parts still in one piece.

Sifu Tim

gentletiger said...

Dear Supergroup7, I thank you for your endearing writing- I get a real sense of your humble attitude and strong spirit with your descriptions. It lifts me as I feel I struggle with so much ego and macho and overbearing attitudes that I see in martial arts. I also am a mom and strive for the dedication you have in your training.

supergroup7 said...

It was a joy to meet you also, Sifu Tim, and to be your student.

Arnie is recuperated fully, and now all he has is the memory of the experience. HA HA... His eyes still twirl when he tells about that lesson.

As for our personal sacrifice to attend this event: I will not try to make it look less than it was, but I can say that it was worth it.

supergroup7 said...

Thank you for your kind words, Gentletiger.

As with anything in our world, we can use it for good, or to create more darkness. Although karate is mostly taught with the principles of humility, and respect for others, I have seen many instances where the very same precepts have been warped to feed one's ego, and to oppress others. Yet, the same can be seen in any human activity: I've seen good values twisted in politics, volunteer work, religion, etc. etc.

I applaud and encourage you with your struggle to become honest, dedicated, and humble as this is the path of Karate Do. Do not let the behaviour of others turn you away from your goals. Good for you, dear fellow Mom.. be the kind of karate ka that you choose to be, and want to be. Keep fighting the good fight! You may not see me, but I'm walking on the same path.

Colin Wee said...

Don't forget the house husbands amongst us.