Sunday, December 31, 2006

Mommy with a mummy toe

Well.. my healing toe must be ahead of schedule. The whole nail has dropped off today. What a new start to a New Year! So.. I'm walking around with bandages on my left big toe.. therefore the title of this posting "Mommy with a mummy toe."

Hopefully the toe will be in full recovery ahead of schedule. Just goes to show that you can't believe everything that you read on the internet. I was informed that this kind of damage done to a toe nail would take up to 18 months to heal. I'm only on my second month now.. and things are healing quickly.

I've decided to heal another aspect of my life. Since I grew up in an alcoholic home, New Year's Eve has always been an awful day for me. Negative memories from my childhood creep out of the darkness of my subconscious and haunt me with awful depression. Up until now I have coped by hiding myself away in my bedroom and running away from any "festivities" claiming that I was sleepy or such. BUT this year, I claim my own right to enjoy myself. The past is just that.. it's past. I cannot change what my parents chose to do when I was a child, but I can darn well choose how I want THIS New Year to be, and I'm chosing to enjoy myself.

I'm claiming this holiday to be a time of renewal: a time of love, and support: and a time of hope, and joy.

My kids nearly fainted when they heard that I was going to "party" with them and stay up until midnight this year. They have never had that happen before in their lives. So this is a first for my family.

Ah... onwards and upwards. Only good things can come from this kind of thing.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Karate night before Christmas

My husband Arnie, and I wrote this little Karate parody of the classic
poem "Twas the night before Christmas".

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the dojo
Not a student was training, they were holding their hands low
Their shoes were all lined up by the wall with care
Knowing that soon Sensei would be there.
With their Gi (s) on sharp, and their obi (s) on tight,
They had just settled their minds for an oncoming fight.
When from the changeroom there arose such a clatter,
I sprang up from seiza to see what was the matter.
Over the mats I ran like a flash,
ran past the kicking bags, knocking over the stacks.
The sound of the intake of breath, and the row
of the students rushing past each other to know.
When what my astonished eyes did see
but the bare-footed feet of our Sensei indeed.
Such a stong presence, so fierce and so quick
I knew in a moment that Sensei was “ticked”.
More rapid than shurikens his commands they came.
He Kiai’d, and pointed, and called out by name,
“Now, Green belts, Now Blue belts, Now Yellow, and stripes
On Blacks, On Browns, On Purples and whites!
One hundred Manmakers from wall to wall
Now Dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”
Huffing and puffing like little freight trains
Sweat pouring off them like Hurricane rain
Back and forth the students went running
Sensei said “We’re not here for the sunning!”
Then in a twinkling I heard Sensei say
“Quit the prancing, and pawing. That’s it.... Yame!”
As I drew in deep breaths, the room spinning ‘round
With an “Osu” of response, Sensei said “To the ground!”
He was dressed all in white with black belt on his waist
He said “Let’s do push ups! Let’s pick up the pace!!!”
His eyes- how they twinkled! His dimples how merry!
But our cheeks were like roses, flushed red like cherries.
His face showed no visible sign of fatigue
While the students knew that they were way out of their league
Each push up he did with much grace and power
While his students looked more like fallen down towers.
He turned over and started to do Fifty crunches,
the students were moaning and groaning in bunches.
He was lean, and mean, a fighting machine,
and I knew in a twist he could tear out a spleen.
A wink of his eye, and a twist of his head,
soon gave me to know I had more training to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
with his shinai, he helped students not shirk,
and laying a finger under their nose
he said “This is the technique, here’s how it goes..”
He called for line up, and gave the commands
and we bowed, and “Osu’d”, and then we shook hands.
I heard him exclaim ere he walked out of sight.
“Make sure you train hard each and every night.”

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Christmas wrecks chaos on my training

I love the holidays. I really do not have a grinchy attitude towards them, but I have to admit that they do cause alot of troubles when it comes to keeping up my training.

I have so many school concerts to attend, why this week alone my Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday night is dedicated towards my children's year end Holiday performances. So no training on those days, I'll be sitting in a crowd of parents and watching my little ones sing their hearts out. When you add in the fact that the dojo will be closed on Christmas day, and New Years day, plus all of the parties that I need to attend in the coming weeks.. There goes most of my training time. I'll only have 1 class this week, and hopefully 3 next week. For someone who is used to training almost every day.. this is quite a big withdrawal. Yes.. I could try to train at home.. but the seven foot Christmas tree in the center of my living room takes up even more of my limited space.

Now.. Some people may say "What? What's wrong with that? You should take a break from your karate. You are obsessing too much about training." They don't understand. My body doesn't understand about holidays. The muscles, tendons, and ligaments get stiff and sore when I do not train them at least once every second day. I just can't explain to them about school concerts, and such. I did meet a ballerina that understood what I meant by this.. she nodded her head wisely and agreed that it is difficult to meet the physical requirements of your body during the holidays.

Also, the feasting during the holidays is detrimental to my personal conviction to live by controlled food consumption. When you go to a party the host usually offers you more than what you can eat, and they encourage you to go for seconds. There is always an excuse for over-eating: Easter "Go ahead.. Easter only comes once a year." Summer holidays "Let loose, you'll burn it off anyway.. you're on vacation. Relax." Thanksgiving "It's Thanksgiving.. you are supposed to overeat." Christmas "Oh.. cookies have no calories on Christmas, come on.. just one more." New Year's " Start the year right... you can start your diet tomorrow."
Birthdays "Aw... it's your birthday.. that only happens once a year.. live it up!"

So... combine the fact that there are less opportunities to train, and more opportunities to eat.. and pressure to eat alot.. Oh boy.. not a good thing for someone like me that is working towards keeping her conditioning.

Am I alone in feeling this frustration during the holidays?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Fighting without fighting

I've read that the ultimate karate is to be able to vanquish your enemy without fighting. I would like to share with you a true story of how my children achieved this phenomenal achievement just a few days ago.

My three youngest children were walking home from school. My 9, and 10 year old daughters were walking ahead of my son who dawdled by looking at the snow on the bushes, and skipping around happilly in the snow. My little 7 year old son bent over to pick up a snow block that was laying on the ground of the sidewalk. He didn't realize that he had done this directly in front of a sporadic school bully who happened to be non-chalantly swinging a stick at the time. The bully decided to strike my son on the small of the back.

My son stood up in shock and pain calling out "Hey! That hurts!" My 9 year old daughter, and 10 year old daughter stopped walking when they heard this, and turned around to see the bully say "Yah? that hurts? What about this?" as the bully swung the stick over and over striking my son over a dozen times.

At first, all 3 of my children froze at their first experience of such violence and brutality, but then my 10 year old daughter unfroze.. she rushed in yelling "Stop this! It's wrong!" and had the bully disarmed within seconds. She tossed the stick far away, and started pulling my son into a safer distance. The bully started striking at my 10 year old attempting to get to my son. My 9 year old daughter ( who trains more frequently in karate) came in between the bully and her siblings. She put on her fiercest face, and commanded the bully to "stop, and go away" in a very loud kiai voice. Now.. this bully was a good head and a half taller than my girl, but that made no difference to my daughter. The bully decided that my 9 year old would make as good a target as the others, and proceeded to try to strike her. My daughter went into defensive stance, and managed to block and thwart all of the bullies attempts to harm her. Quickly the bully became frustrated that the 10 year old was getting my son to safety, and that the 9 year old was successfully avoiding her strikes. The bully spit out swear words, and made a strong attempt to push my 9 year old daughter down onto the ground. My daughter set her stance even more strongly to absorb the shove.. and felt... nothing. The bully had put all of her strength into this attack, and my daughter was taken by surprise that there was no strength in it. Looking back in retrospect, my daughter admits that her next reaction was not the most appropriate, but she just couldn't help herself. She burst out laughing at how patheticly weak this bully's attack was for all the scary noise the bully was making. At this moment, my daughter realized that it would have been easy for her to hurt the bully quite badly if she wanted to... but then she remembered her Sensei teaching her that karate is to be respected for the damage that it can do, and that you should focus on getting away from a fight as soon as you can, if you can.

The bully stopped in shock at my daughter's laughter. She pulled away, retrieved her stick, and walked away sending some swear words into the air in futility.

The whole scene took less than a minute to happen. My daughters supported their younger brother with their arms around his shoulders as they walked him home. The winter parka, and ski pants had protected him from any bruises or injury.

I had taught my children that silence is the bully's helper, and if something bad happens to my children that they have to sound an alarm by telling an adult. When my children arrived home, they instantly told me all the details of what happened, and the names of some other children that witnessed the event. We contacted the school, and each one of my children went into the principal's office to give their account of the event. The school pulled in the bully, and handled the discipline quickly and efficiently.

I'm very proud of how my children had handled the whole situation.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Warning: this next posting has a gross factor

Ah.. the experiences of training in martial arts:

Throughout class, my young partner looked down at my left foot with compassion in his eyes and asked me if my dark toe was hurting me. I had to explain to him that I had injured the toe a few weeks ago during seminar, and although it looked pretty hurt, it didn't hurt me at all. I assured him that it just felt strange, like I had a second toe over the first one.. and that I would just need to be gentle with that foot.

Everything went normal during class, until it was time for kata. I surged into my cross-footed stance ( x stance/ Kosa dachi) at the kiai point, and I felt a pop down there on my big toe. I'm guessing that the force of the stance, and the position of the toes was too much for my injured big toenail, and it just burst like a blister. Instantly I looked down to see that there was blood, and water streaming out of my toe onto the floor leaving a fair sized puddle around my foot with my toenail standing straight up in the air. I collapsed into a seated position, and applied pressure onto the toenail to lower the amount of liquid seeping out, and I huddled around the mess so that no one would accidently move into it as they continued their kata. I did this silently... The black belts near me kept on doing their kata, but adjusted their position so that they gave me room. I could see them casting quick concerned glances in my direction to see if I was o.k.

The kata ended quickly. I unfolded to reveal the mess on the floor. I'm telling you.. the warp speed response that I had from the other people. Within seconds I had 6 people offer me bandages, antiseptic cleanser, paper towels (wet and dry) I had made sure that I had wiped up the blood colored water off of the ground before I took care of my foot. One person brought me a full out first aid kit. My little compassionate young partner was at my side with deep concern in his eyes asking me if it hurt yet. Well.. of course that brought a smile to my lips, and I said "Oh no.. it isn't hurting, it just released some extra stuff so now it's clean, and even better.." O.K... so I stretched the truth a little. My toe was sharply stinging like it had been stung by a scorpion but my little friend didn't need to know that. The whole dojo surrounded me with caring concern. Although it was a nice feeling, I really needed the space to just take care of my foot. You know what? It's like they all felt that need, and now that they could see that I was o.k., they backed away, and went on with finishing class.

Within a few minutes I was sporting a nice white bandage on my toe, and I was lightly limping my way out of the dojo to go and get changed.

I'm going to lose the whole nail on that toe.. Will it stay gone? Am I going to have a "bald" big toe on my left foot?