Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!!!

210 Punches!

210 Front Kicks!

21 Yantsu Kata to bring in the New Year!

Completed!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Managing to train during the Holidays.. but minimally

Well.. What a test of inner resolve these past days have been!

I have managed to do some training in amongst the various Holiday happenings. I've had to be satisfied with little moments of training snatched between other things.

50 Back kicks, then time spent with my youngest son helping him with his new toy.

50 Front kicks, then time spent with my oldest son talking about relationships.

Tsuki ( Punching) sequence, then time spent doing the dishes.

Kata has been near impossible to perform due to the limited space caused by more people, and more activity in the house.

Even those short workouts have had various interruptions as the phone would ring, or someone would want to walk past me to get to the next room.

I have to admit that the only type of training that I've been able to do consistently has been my shin/arm/hand conditioning.

I've allowed myself to eat various treats during the holidays, so I hope that I haven't gained too much weight.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

What does Black Belt mean to me? Revisited

On October 5th, 2005 I wrote down a post of what Black Belt meant to me, I wrote:

"What does black belt mean to me? It means that I physically, verbally, and mentally express the attitudes of seeking, learning, being open to correction, humility, patience, perseverance, courage, obedience, justice, respect, courtesy, faithfulness, self-control, aggressiveness tempered with peacefulness, self-respect, respect for others, gratefulness, honesty, responsibility, willingness to teach, and share knowledge, and calmness when needed not only when one does karate in the dojo, but also when they live outside of the dojo. Attaining a black belt means that my Sensei sees that kind of quality in me. I've met a lot of black belts who do not live up to what I have seen in my First Shotokan Sensei, and what I believe a black belt represents.. but that is not important.. because the meaning of black belt has become what it is for me.. and THAT is what counts. "

It is 5 years later, and I am facing the same question, but now from a position of experience, and knowledge. I have achieved Black Belt status in one Art, and have had it revoked from me more quickly than it took to gain it. I have learned much from this experience.

My answer today is as follows:

"Black Belt" quality does not always exist in the minds, hearts, and spirits of those who are wearing this color around their waist. It is not just the ability to put forth one's skills that makes one a Black Belt, it is the reason that they do what they do that makes each action honorable, respectable, and admirable.

A student can have the inner strength, and foundation for Black Belt right from the first time that they cross the threshold of the Dojo door, but it is through their effort, their victory over their challenges, and the accumulation of experiences that they can reveal this reality to the world.

Other Black Belts can recognize the "right stuff" in each other, and we respond by rejoicing, and admiring the goodness that is present. Therefore, in my opinion, the worthiness of a Black Belt lies in the eyes of the one who presented it to you.

My Shotokan Black Belt was awarded to me by an Honored 8th Dan Master ( I am not allowed to speak the name of him, nor of the organization). However, I will treasure that recognition, because of that Master. He did not really know me as a student, as he had come from another city, and had to judge me solely by the effort I placed in that test. I am proud of that achievement.

Since then, I have been recognized by various honorable, wise, and experienced Martial Artists. It is a joy to hear their words of support, encouragement, and praise. I feel that I have represented my Kyokushin Sensei adequately for the time being.

My future Kyokushin Black Belt will be awarded to me by Sensei that have known me for many years. They know my strengths, my weaknesses, and have seen every step of my journey. I can guarantee that I will be tested to the limits of what I believe I can achieve, but I know for certain that if I earn the rank of Shodan, this recognition will not be taken from me.....ever.

I AM a Black Belt.. I only need to bring this fact to fruition.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Wonderful Sikaran Weekend Testing/Party

My Instructor friend, Guru Paul, invited me to join his Sikaran School for their Belt rank test this weekend.

What a wonderful, joyfilled, and positive experience!

Truly, I was allowed the honor, and benefit of watching experienced, talented, and skillful Sikaran Martial Artists as they demonstrated their patterns, and revealed the speed, and beauty of their Art. What ENERGY, and ability was displayed before me!

"Sikaran is a form of Filipino martial arts whose history dates back to the early 1500s before the Spaniards came. It is the art of foot-fighting where the farmers use their legs to drive the partners outside the designated line (pitak) which was drawn in rice fields about 25 square feet (2.3 m2).....

Sikaran utilizes only the feet as a rule for sport and for combat/self-defense, and this is what makes it distinct, the hands are never availed of in Sikaran. If they are utilized at all, it's only for defense. The player uses his legs 90% of the time and his hands 10%, and only for blocking or parrying blows. Violation of this injunction, especially in tournaments, is ground for disqualification."
taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sikaran

If you have a chance to catch a Sikaran tournament, I would highly recommend attending it! You will be able to appreciate how versatile, and creative a Martial Artist can be at using their kicks. The only way that I could even come close to describing this Art would be to picture the skill of Tae Kwon Do mixed with the fluidity of Capoeira. I saw it as a whirlwind of kicks; like two Tornadoes fighting for the same spot in a field.

Thank you to Guru Paul for inviting me. I truly enjoyed every moment, including the refreshments, and gift.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Completed 1st Kyu Brown Belt/Black Stripe Rank Test for Kyokushin

It took me two days to recuperate, but now I can post legibly.

On Friday night, Dec 11th, I completed my 1st Kyu Brown Belt/ Black Stripe Rank Test for Kyokushin.

Lessons that I learned:

a) These tests are exhausting. No matter how hard to train to be able to handle the test, you will still be brought to the point of no return. It just seems to take longer to get there if you train hard before the test. In a way, this revealed to me how far I have progressed in my path. When I tested for my White belt test, I could barely handle the first 30 minutes of the test. I was able to handle much, much more now that I have experience, and training.

b) Lots of practice may not always make you perfect, but it sure does help you keep on track when you are placed in a testing situation. I'm so glad that I had practiced at home as much as I had!

c) Visualization helps so much. Each night, before I fell asleep, I would visualize myself testing, and completing the test with confidence, and stamina. When it came time to perform, all seemed so familiar.

d) Nervousness doesn't seem to fade when you care about the results. However, you start to learn how to recognize the nerves, and get past it more easily.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Wow.. I haven't commented for SO long!

I do apologize for the lack of postings. Let me fill you in on some of the happenings:

A) Home: Christmas is coming! This makes for more preparation as I run around buying presents for a large family, and preparing for Christmas parties. It is more complicated to buy for older teenagers. Little children get exited over sparkly crayons, and an empty box.. older teens have more specific, and expensive desires.

B) Karate: All that I can feel right now is Gratitude.

I'm almost constantly ready to wipe away a tear at how much I appreciate the gift of my present Sensei. I look at what I can do now, and I know that these skills, and knowledge came from two things 1. my own personal effort and willingness, and 2. The quality, and consistency of my Sensei's teachings. I could not have achieved what I have gained just through having only one of these two aspects. No matter how good the Teacher, without a strong and willing student the lessons cannot be transferred. No matter how open a student, without a wise, and caring Sensei progress cannot happen. I realized that each Olympic athlete, hockey player, football player, etc. has risen to that status through the blended work of their own sweat, and through the support of their coach.

I am still working towards the possibility of testing for 1st Kyu Brown belt/Black Stripe. My every open leisure moment goes towards improving, correcting, and reviewing as there are many aspects in which I need to feel confidence. However, I am limited by how much my body will allow me to train before it starts to overdo, and weaken. I'm also trying to give it many rest periods so that it can strengthen. Time is going away quickly, and I know that I cannot cram for a test of this rank level. I can only bring to the floor what I have been working upon all of these years.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Halloween is coming

Just a little hello.

Working at Work.

Working at keeping a nice home for my family.

Working on improving my basics.

Working on balancing my demands so that I can find to rest.

Working at keeping healthy.

Working on my belt rank essay to hand in.

Halloween is around the corner, and I smile at the thought of how quickly this year is coming to an end.

I have been training in Karate for close to 7 years now. It feels like I've just started, but in a way, I can see how far I've come.

I'm tired, and my muscles are sore from the training that I've chosen to invest into myself. I also realized that since I have decided to make Karate a lifelong challenge, I will be sore, and tired quite frequently as long as I keep attempting to improve, and excel. It's just part of the Art.

Wishing you great health, and good training.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Just to let you know what's going on..

Hopefully testing for 1st Kyu, black stripe, in a few months.

Working on my essay, building up my conditioning, basics, self defense, and kata.

Balancing my work demands, and family needs.

No time left for anything much, and barely enough time to do the things that I must do.

I'll pop into my blog now and then, but it's going to be rare.

I wish you all well.. and if I don't come back before then, I wish you a Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Kyokushin Karate Hard or Soft?



This is Kancho Shokei Matsui performing the Sushiho kata of Kyokushin.

You can see the blend of hard/soft movements within the kata in his performance.

Kyokushin is Kyokushin.. It is hard to describe, it's not Shotokan, it's not Goju, it's Kyokushin.

I have noticed that the kata belt requirements as you rise up in belts seem to focus on building up one's ability to perform the Kanku kata.

We start with basic kata such as:

Kihon Sono Ichi, Ni, San
Shiho Tsuki Ichi, Ni, San
Taikyoku Sono Ichi, Ni, San
Taikyoku Sono Ichi, Ni, San Ura
Taikyoku Sono Ichi, Ni, San Tate
Pinan Sono Ichi, Ni, San, Shi, Go
Sokugi Taikyoku Sono Ichi, Ni, San, Yon
Juji Kata 45 degree, 90 degree

All of these kata help build up skills, turns, balance, body control, strength, and ability so that we can handle the more demanding kata:

Sanchin No Kata
Yanstu Kata
Tsuki No kata
Gekisai Dai, Gekisai Sho

But I can see all of them pointing towards learning the Kanku Kata. Each of the above kata contain parts, and pieces of the Kanku Kata. One of the main symbols of Kyokushin Karate is the Kanku sign:



That symbol derives from the opening move of the Kanku Kata seen below:



It does not appear that a Kyokushin Karate student becomes introduced to the softer kata of Sushiho, Seisan, etc until higher up in belt rank. The concepts contained in these kata are taught always, but the actual learning, and performance of these kata seems to be held until a student has achieved some experience under their belts.
( This is only my impression of what might be happening. Oh by the way, I was wrong when I told you how many kata that I've learned, I know 34 Kyokushin kata.)

It is true that to know one kata well is far better than to know 100 of them badly. However, I believe that the list of kata above are stepping stones towards learning one kata ( Kanku) very, very, very well. If I can learn the lessons that each of these other kata show me on their own, I can incorporate them into my efforts to learn the Main kata when I face it's challenges.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Answers for a friend..

My friend Lizzie asked me the following questions, so I'm answering as a post instead of a comment so that I'm not limited in the amount of characters that I can type:


1. Do you wear any special gear when you spar?

In Kyokushin, the most protection that we wear is shin pads, mouth guards, and groin protection.

2. Do you like sparing?

For me, it's not whether I like it or not, it's more that I feel that I need to spar to be able to understand the concepts of my Art. I embrace, look forwards to, and adore doing Kata, but sparring, I just consider it as a necessary part of learning.

3. Do you use focus mitts and free standing bags as part of your training?

Yes, at times, it depends on what Sensei wants us to focus upon.


4. What does your training consist of? In my old dojo, we would work on basics, kata, stances, transitions to different stances, and bunkai.

My training covers all that you worked upon, and more... too much to list actually. Here is a small sample of some of the additional information: Body conditioning, weapons, self defense knowledge, danger prevention, mental self-control, pressure points, joint locks, throws, break falls, etc. etc.


5. We had a set number of bunkai for every kata. Does your kata have set number?

Yes, and no. There is a certain amount of knowledge expected from us, but also, we are to work towards deeper understanding of each movement so the possibilities are endless.

6. Is this what your training consist of? Are there different things that you train in too?

Yes, Kyokushin focuses on something called the "Spirit of Osu". This concept is to bring ourselves to what we believe is our limit, and to push on beyond it. It is an inner willingness to keep going, and never give up. We also learn the concepts of the "Point and Circle" (the effectiveness of circular movement), Kuzushi ( Unbalancing your opponent), and "Happo Kawashi" ( Dodge and Parry in 8 directions)

7. What does your ground fighting consist of? I'm assuming that it will look like a MMA style of fight on the ground. That's how my old dojo taught me. With BJJ, there's isn't any striking involved.

I'm sorry, I just train. I haven't compared it with MMA or BJJ or any other style. All I know is that I'm on the ground, and there is someone on top of me trying to harm me, and I am learning how to stop them, and gain control of the situation. From what I am learning, I believe that my focus is to get off of the ground, and back onto my feet as soon as I can.


8. Do you work on any joint locks and chokes while on the ground or do you just work on striking?

I am learning various joint locks, holds, and chokes not only on the ground, but also standing up.

9. Do you work on different positions on the ground like mount, guard, side mount, and the back?

Yes.. I am learning all the different positions.

10. Do you practice any takedowns?

Yes, I am learning takedowns.

11. How come you chose Kyokushin over Shotokan? It sounds like that Kyokushin is a better style. I'm all for full contact. I disagree with a non contact style. One will develop more control if they are taught to hit a person. Plus, people need to learn how to react from getting hit. They'll either freeze and panic or get angry. Most people will panic if they get rocked. Probably, I'll freeze because I haven't been hit really hard while sparring. I've been hit in the face a couple times.

For about 3 years, I was cross-training in two styles at the same time. Shotokan and Kyokushin I found that within about one hour of training in Shotokan, my body would start to ache (Mostly the joints) but that I could train hard in Kyokushin for hours, and hours, and mostly I would be exhausted, but feel totally fine physically. I couldn't understand why this was happening because the stances/ kicks/ strikes in Kyokushin are similar, if not the exact same as in Shotokan. Then, after one grueling painful episode in Shotokan training, I realized that it was the sudden fast surging lunging forwards movements, and fast stops that was expected for a well executed technique that was putting pain into my joints. My knees, shoulders, and hips screamed out in pain during that Shotokan class, and I had to do something to be able to continue training. Kyokushin surges too.. but it's different... the movement flows with the body, and has a resolution.

12. Which kyu and belt are you in Kyokushin?

I am currently at 2nd Kyu in Kyokushin. Brown Belt.


13. How long have you been training in this art now?

In Kyokushin? or in Martial Arts? In Kyokushin, I have been training approximately 6 years. In Martial Arts, I have been training approximately 8 years.

14. What's your feelings about kata and how it applies in the real world. I know that you love kata. However, there are people out there say that kata is useless. My old Sensei taught me that kata taught how to move the body and do a certain techniques correctly. He said that kata teaches one to over emphasize techniques like pulling into chamber. Then when one has to use it, one can modify it shorten it because the memory is already there. However, one still needs to practice not over emphasizing the real techniques while doing the real thing.

I know that many people think that kata is useless, I disagree with them. Kata allows the mind to quieten, and be alert at the same time. Since it is a repetitive set of movements ( similar to a dance), kata allows the pathways of a certain movement to be imprinted into your nerves/mind/limbs. It is similar to how practicing scales can improve a musician's ability to flow with their instrument when improvising. I have experienced moments in sparring when my body would recognize a set of techniques, and implement it automatically without my having to "order" it to do so. Afterwards, I stood there wondering at how wonderfully well that worked, and realizing that if I had tried to "think" it out it wouldn't have worked at all. Kata, done well, is an awesome cardio work out. There have been studies done that show that an experienced Black belt performing a kata will increase their heart rate within the first three techniques, and by the end of one kata will have put in the same amount of effort as if they had been jogging up a steep incline carrying a backpack filled with weights. It all relies on knowing how to use one's body fully, efficiently, and effectively to gain the most out of one's kata. Kata allows your mind to explore the more dangerous, and detrimental applications of a movement such as tearing someone's eyes out. We cannot actually apply this on our training partners on a daily basis a) we would run out of partners willing to train with us b) we would leave a wake of blind people behind us.

15. What's your feelings about Bunkai and the application of kata? I know that Bunkai teaches one cool applications. However, I don't know if one can use that in real life.

Bunkai introduces concepts, and various applications. It is the first step towards understanding things like distance, timing, etc.

16. It's cool to practice it without resistance and moves in a set way, however what happens if your training partner resists or moves very differently? This is why I love BJJ. We spar all the time with full resistance. We need to learn how to apply the techniques and drills that we did on a non-resistant partner to a partner who's trying to submit too.

I have had my partner co-operate, and also resist. It's part of my training too.


17. How do you feel about MMA and UFC? I know that there is a lot of people who do MMA think that TMA is a bunch of crap.

I feel that each person can benefit from training in Martial Arts regardless of the style if they focus on building their character at the same time, and are willing to put in the physical effort needed to succeed, and excel in their chosen style. In my eyes, there is no mental, physical, or spiritual gain in using others for one's boosted ego. Mutual respect between people, and between Martial Art styles is not only necessary, but expected from people who train to learn to defend themselves. The more that we value the drops of sweat that fall from our heads as we train, the more we should respect seeing the same from others.


18. How did you feel when you started training in Kyokushin?

I was frightened. When I was a purple belt, my Shotokan Sensei was closing down one of the dojo that I was training at, and so my training schedule was being halved. I could not afford to pay to go to two dojo, and I knew about a Kyokushin dojo that taught for free. I approached my Shotokan Sensei and asked if I could have his permission to visit the Kyokushin dojo to train just so that I could keep my weight down through the extra exercise. His response was to open his eyes wide and mention that he has seen Kyokushin karate ka train in Japan, he explained the concept of Full Contact, and that maybe I might want to think twice about attending that dojo since I am mostly involved in Kata rather than sparring. ( To be honest, my Sensei was being kind and gentle to me. At that time, I was terrified of sparring. I would back away, cover my face, and squeak in fear each time my partner would surge at me with a strike in one step sparring.) I assured my Shotokan Sensei that I was only interested in conditioning exercises as I had already lost 30 pounds from the combination of diet and exercise, and from what I have seen, and read about this dojo that I trusted the Kyokushin Sensei.

I still remember my first Kyokushin class like it was yesterday. I arrived early with my Shotokan purple belt, a yellow belt ( just in case the Sensei wanted me to wear that color instead), and a white belt in my gear bag. I didn't know what would be expected of me. I was frightened of even the idea of full contact, and mind was playing out various scary scenarios of how bad an idea of showing up for this class might be. BUT this was my only answer at the time for keeping up my exercise regime that had brought me so far in my goals to lose weight. I found that my fears were unfounded, and that I'm glad that I didn't let them control what experiences I had in my life. I do not regret joining this Kyokushin dojo, in fact, I thank God for this gift in my life everyday.

19. Can you elaborate more about the differences between Bunkai and Oyo?

Bunkai (分解?), literally meaning "analysis" or "disassembly", is a term used in Japanese martial arts referring to the application of fighting techniques extracted from the moves of a "form" (kata).

Bunkai is usually performed with a partner or a group of partners which execute predefined attacks, and the student performing the kata responds with defenses, counterattacks, or other actions, based on a part of the kata. This allows the student in the middle to understand what the movements in kata are meant to accomplish. It may also illustrate how to improve technique by adjusting distances, time moves properly, and adapt a technique depending on the size of an opponent. Some kata have another layer of application that is taught using an Oyo Bunkai.

(Taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bunkai)

Or in other words.. Bunkai is more patterned and set, and Oyo is more fluid/changing/adapting looking at various possibilities. Oyo can change for each individual depending on their size, strengths, and weaknesses.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Summer Training 2009 addition

Does an hour of Dance Dance Revolution competition against my 10 year old son count as Karate training? OH my Gosh! that involves so much footwork, concentration, and much jumping. We both finished that competition tired, and sweaty. We both weren't too sure who won, but we got a great work out.

Oh.. here is the Kyokushin version of Heian Shodan/ Pyung Ahn Chodan / Pinan Sono Ichi done at my best effort for the amount of ability that I have achieved at this point in my training. I deeply wonder what Shihan Colin will think of my performance, as he has studied this kata in depth:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Kata captured on video

Summer does provide me with the chance to capture my kata on video so that I can keep an eye on the progress of my efforts. So, with no further delay, I would like to share with you my latest Kihon Sono Ichi Kata.

video

If you would like to see the older video of the same kata, you can find it here:

http://supergroup7shodan.blogspot.com/2007/07/on-vacation.html

It is from the year 2007.

Summer training 2009





Well.. that was my training for Sunday.

There was a tug of war between teams.. I'm in the front of the team on the left. We won. I couldn't believe how heavy that rope was just by itself, and then when we had to pull.. oh boy!

My son provided me with the service of shaving my face with a popsicle stick.

Then I sparred a variety of sized children on that inflatable joust game. The sticks themselves weighed 25 pounds, and one stood on a very unstable surface trying to swing them around. Each succeeding challenger made those sticks feel like they gained in weight incrementally. My son told me that the children were disappointed when I came down to have a drink of water. They all wanted to spar me again. One of the children had asked my son "Why is she so good at this?" Ha ha ha

I decided to go back up there, and face the kids again.

I think that I "fought" a good amount of time. I know that it came to the point where I had troubles bringing the stick around to deflect incoming hits.

It was quite an enjoyable picnic. It took me a day or two for my muscles to recuperate.. ha ha ha

Saturday, July 18, 2009

No time left for me

Summer holidays, and although I have more time at home due to karate classes being halted for vacation, I have less time for me to train as I have a house filled with needs/ desires/ and people.

I have had to "steal" time here and there for push ups, sit ups, kata, basics.. but it's a sporadic thing now and then.

Tuesday night I dedicated a good 2 hours to basics/ self defense / combinations/ conditioning. I needed to dodge the various people walking back and forth through the rooms, but I managed to accomplish my goals.

Last night, after 2 hours of yard work, I managed to get some weapons practice in with both Bo, and nunchuks

Today is dedicated to picnics, birthday parties, and movies. I managed to grab a good 40 minutes of training so far today( like I said, bits and pieces here and there)

I'll have to try to incorporate some training into the picnic games without looking too weird. Who knows.. there might be some time for kata after all is cleaned up, everyone has left, and I'm waiting for my husband to pick me up.

I know that I did do hundreds of squats at my daughter's Grade 6 farewell pizza/dance party as I picked up broken balloon pieces off of the dance floor. Also, blowing up the hundreds of balloons did exercise my lungs/ kiai.

Having a scheduled class helps standardize the work outs.. Although it is a nice change to have freedom, and fun, I can't wait until summer vacation ends, and we return to a rhythm of training.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A little note to keep in touch

Work has been going great.. but I have stopped training on my breaks.

I have applied for a supervisor position, and not everyone at work understands what a kata is, sparring drills, or even why I'm standing on the balls of my feet stretching upwards. After much thought, I had to evaluate what my goals are, and where I can apply myself.

Instead of training during my breaks, I focus on relaxing, calming down, breathing deeply, and building myself up for the upcoming stress of the next session of work. My goal now is to enhance my mental energy level.

I have decided instead to "steal" training time when I can from possible moments. Instead of expecting to have a full hour of devoted training, I snatch moments from the work day where there is opportunity.

Examples:

I take the stairs rather than the elevator, and run up if there is no one present. If there is no one in the bathroom, I'll send 10 quick roundhouse kicks for each leg, or do 20 quick push ups before leaving. When waiting at the bus stop, I'll stand in the one legged crane stance. I'll mentally do my kata, or remember rank requirements during those quiet waiting moments of the day. I'll do sit ups, back extensions, and conditioning as I watch t.v. with the kids. I push open doors with the ends of my five fingers, or with my knuckles to help condition them.

When we were at the hotel for my daughter's tournament, I woke up at 3 am, and went to the front lobby. After asking permission from the front desk, I took advantage of the large open area, and trained for an hour and a half focusing on basics, and kata (without kiai)

In my opinion, it is consistency that builds a skill into one's body. A little bit of training everyday would be worth alot more than lots of training once in awhile.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

My Daughter did her best

This past weekend, my 11 year old daughter competed in her second Taekwondo Tournament. She put forth her best effort, made new friends, learned new skills, and achieved 3rd place in Board Breaking, 1st place in Sparring for her division.

For the first time in her life she experienced the fun of sliding down water slides with her Dad, and sibling.

One of the most memorable moments that I had was when we were traveling to the Tournament. We had stopped the car at a park to allow the girls to play in the playground, and for my husband to take a break from the constant driving. As the girls were playing on the teeter totters suddenly I saw a huge cloud of brown smoke rising from the treeline. I sat up concerned to notice 9 black dots in the center of the cloud quickly approaching us. To my amazement I realized that we were witnessing a practice session of a group of jet pilots.



They flew past us in a diamond shape with their smoke on, made a huge circle, came around, and past right overhead again in a square one on top of the other. It was amazing!

You should have seen my daughters jumping up and down on the grass applauding the jets.

At the time, I thought that it was quite a positive omen for the upcoming tournament, and I smiled to myself.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Realizing inner solidity

Comparison is one way to help a child learns right from wrong, or what is good to eat, and what tastes bad. We actually develop this need to compare so that we can create our inner values, understand expectations, and get an idea of what our abilities are. We learn that we are faster than others at one activity, but struggle to do other activities. This develops a self image within us of "who we are".

You will hear people say things like "I'm bad at math", or "I'm good at running." The reason that they say this is because they are comparing themselves with others that they had seen doing the same action, and have decided that this is how they score in the scheme of things.

If there is one thing that I have learned through my experience in Karate is that comparison can be a two edged sword.

Yes, I needed to compare my efforts with others to see how I am progressing. I noticed that through the years my kicks have gained in speed, height, and power. I am now capable of doing things that I never would have dreamed possible as a white belt. Whenever I watch a new student struggling to cross the floor in front stance, I am often reminded of how I was in the same position only a short while ago. I can smile and remember all of the awkward, painful, uncomfortable sensations of learning basic stances, and trying to coordinate them with the techniques. When I look at more experienced Karate students achieving even greater things than I can hope to do at this moment, I am inspired to keep reaching, and learning.

However, comparison can kill your inner spirit if it is used in a negative way. It would be easy to convince yourself that you will never achieve anything as good as that person, so why even try. Or you may go to a tournament, and find that your assessment of your skills did not match the reality of the outcome. Too many people have allowed comparison to destroy their happiness, vision, and goals.

The honest reality is that we usually use the tool of comparison when we have no set objective standard in which to measure our attitude/skills, and we are uncertain about ourselves in a certain activity. Once we have acquired a base knowledge of what we need to achieve the rank that we desire, we should stop comparing. This is when we need to look at our own selves, our own strengths/weaknesses, in an objective way, and work towards building them both up.

This is where we tame our personal "ego", and allow our superior mind to control. Karate is all about improving physically, mentally, and spiritually. Learning to control, and tame the inner self, and to become solidified in our expectations without having a need to compare, and become "better" than others, or to become the "best" creates a happier person in the end.

If you would like to read more about comparing yourself to others, and learn some steps to stop doing this to yourself, feel free to visit:

Avoid the pitfall of comparing yourself to others

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

OOooo.. WOW!!!!! Now THAT"S a Roundhouse KICK!!!!



Wow.. Wow! WOW!!! I remember my Sensei telling me that all one needs to do is to watch a Master in Karate, and you will learn by their movement how it should be done. This video is all in Japanese, but I understood what the Master was saying just from watching the movements.

Look how close Kagawa sensei, 8th dan, JKS world technical director is to his opponent when he is doing his Jodan Mawashi Geri. HOLY!!!!! AND did you see him do the kick hitting the back of his opponent's head. I never would have thought that was possible, but just LOOK at him do it as easily as dishing out a piece of pie. I could watch this video all day long, and still marvel at it.

Now I can understand why it is so emphasized ( in some arts) to bring the knee around to the outside when executing a roundhouse kick. It will allow you to be closer to your opponent and still strike the Jodan target. If you bring your kicking knee to the front, the opponent's body gets in the way.

Quickly, watch this video before it is removed from youtube.. I'm saying this because it seems that all of the good videos are taken away far too soon.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

April 9th.. and struggling

How am I?

Both up and down.

Work: struggling, seeking balance.

Karate: struggling, seeking balance mentally/physically/spiritually

Home: struggling, seeking balance and peace

My daughter cut herself trying to open a can, and I spent 3 hours in a hospital waiting room so that she could get 6 stitches. It was a boring moment, and yet a deeply bonding one for us.

We've had a flu/cold run through the house, and each day is a guessing game as to who is going to stay home to take care of whom.

I have so many desires within me to improve on various aspects of my training, but I have to select what is most important as I have such limited free time at this point in my life.

My computer time has dwindled to 12 minutes once every 2 or 3 days. Even as I type, I look at the clock and realize that it is time to go to work.

Sorry.. that's as big a posting as it will get today.

Take care.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

What is respect? To me...

My friend Ruth asked: "...have you ever had to explain what respect was to group of kids. Yesterday I was asked to do this in my karate class. I think I only managed to confuse them. As someone I would consider to be very wise, I was wondering how you of gone about this? Many thanks"

Yes, the whole concept of respect is difficult to explain. I can understand how children could be confused by it. It's funny that you asked me this question, as a few moments before now, I had been sharing a story with my children about the lack of respect that I have noticed prevalent in the latest generation of elementary school students. It amazes me because I KNOW that positive values are being taught consistently in the school curriculum, so where are we failing our next generation? Why have I seen so many young people treating senior citizens, adults, others, and themselves with such lack of concern for respect, and honor? The only answer that I can find is to point to our entertainment industry that offers constant ridicule to those things that we value. When I was a child, I remember watching t.v. shows that showed a family struggling through tough times together, and through their love, and courage they came through. "Swiss family Robinson", "The Cosby Show", "Little House on the Prairie", "The Munsters", "My three sons", "The littlest Hobo", "Lassie", etc. etc. Today, I see so many shows that show ridicule towards authority, age, and experience. In these shows, the children are intelligent ie: the heroes, and adults are dumb, bumbling idiots. "Drake and Josh", "Kim Possible", "Sabrina, the teenage witch", etc.

Respect comes from "gratitude and intrinsic value".

I value myself, therefore I respect myself: I do what is good for me. I live up to good habits like being honest, being caring, being courageous, being hopeful, sleeping well, eating healthy, keeping clean, etc.

I value my family, therefore I respect them: I listen to my parents, I help around the house, I clean up after myself, I treat my brothers/sisters nicely.

I value my education, therefore I respect my teachers: I do my homework, I ask questions if I do not understand, I do my best at my work.

I value my Karate training, therefore I respect my Sensei, and karate partners: I follow dojo etiquette, I obey, and do my best at each exercise, I take care to work with my partner, I show humility, and self control.

I value my neighborhood, therefore I respect my neighbors: I speak to them politely, I take care of public property such as parks,transit,etc by avoiding littering, graffiti, damage. I pay attention to follow the traffic rules when I ride my bike, and keep safe from causing accidents.

I value my world, therefore I respect the environment: I learn to live green and reduce, reuse, and recycle. I care about others, and offer support to those who need it to make the world a better place.

This is what respect means to me.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Releasing daydreams, and embracing reality

I was awakened today to a reality that saddened me:

In the eyes of my workplace, I am no more than Phone#8136 There is a need for a physical body to sit for 8 hours in front of Phone#8136 and I fulfill that empty spot for the scheduled amount of time.

I was hoping for more than that to be honest. I was hoping that I could find some sort of value, and depth to what I was doing. I was hoping that my efforts would be witnessed, and supported, but the reality is different.

The personal value to my work is "how" I do what I do. I know that I will give my best because it is who I am, and that sacred area cannot be touched regardless to how others want to evaluate my efforts. It stays as truth regardless to what results occur.

I will strip away all desires, hopes, and dreams from this aspect of my life, and live moment by moment facing each challenge as it's own entity minute by minute. I will not worry about what might have been, or what is to come.

I will live the Kyokushin Way, and walk in reality. I am Phone#8136, and when I answer the call from someone needing assistance they will get the best quality that I can give to them in respect, and patience.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

You will be seeing a picture of me wearing my favorite color soon

Hello dear friends,

As promised to you 2 weeks ago, I am happy, proud, and honored to announce that I have earned the rank of 2nd kyu, Brown belt in Kyokushin Karate.


(I will insert a picture here as soon as I am able)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

An Inspiring gift of Kata

Sensei Michael Larkin provided me with this wondrous video of a team of Russian Kyokushin Women doing the Seiunchin Kata. I am so inspired by the power, beauty, and complexity of this performance, and I want to share it with you.




Thank you Sensei Larkin for this gift.

Monday, January 19, 2009

January 2008, and I feel proud of me

I just finished my Brown belt test. It extended over 3 days, and lasted approximately 8 hours long in total. Regardless of the results, I am proud of my effort.

I CAN CROW IN TRIUMPH! Why? I succeeded in holding a HANDSTAND for 2 minutes. (With my wonderful Sensei's support, and guidance!) Those who have followed my path through my blog these past years will know what a wondrous victory that was over my childhood past, over my inner terrors, and over myself.

I'm sorry that I do not have any pictures to provide to you of this event. I only have my memories of the experience, and I am going to gently treasure these quietly for awhile in the same manner that I have placed mementos of my children in a box in the basement.

I will share with you how my belt test affected me:

I walked around like a "Night of the Living Dead" zombie for 3 days at work, and at home. I even had the slow limping shuffle, and the empty non-responsive eyes. People would watch me walking to the cafeteria with a big grin on their faces. I gather that I looked humorous.. I don't know, I was pretty much out of it. I had no energy to worry about my pride, and what people were thinking. But now, I wonder, what WERE they thinking? My co-workers would have to call my name more than once to get my attention, and when I did respond it felt like I was dragging my mind out of a field of cotton. I found myself double checking, and triple checking my work to make sure that I did it correctly. Tasks that used to be automatic became slow, and careful. I kept my quality up, but it was SUCH a demand on every ounce of will power that I had. Were they thinking "Man! She's come to work stoned!!!"? Ha ha ha...

I fell asleep on the bus ride home, I fell asleep when I got home, I fell asleep again when it was bedtime. I woke up only long enough to respond to a question, and then I'd be back into a half asleep/half awake state.

My husband, and children have been lovingly nursing me with hugs, and little actions of caring. One made me my favorite tea, while the other placed a warm cover on me, and another brought me a bag of ice for my injuries. I was uplifted by their love, and the pride that shone in their eyes.

I'm more myself now... and I look back with awe at what I have become, and how far I have progressed. Was that me doing that? It must have been, it's "me" that is still feeling the pain from it.

Yes, I'm hurt in more than one place: Right hand/wrist, left/right outer thighs, and mostly left ankle. Those are the "Louder" pain areas that drown out the lesser painful areas over my body. Somehow, when I was throwing a lower roundhouse in my last sparring match, I didn't stretch out my instep properly, and managed to hyper extend that ankle some near the end of that time period. That moment was such a revelation of how important to adjust to the angle of my opponent's body when I send an attack, and to adjust to how the target moves to avoid it. Pain is SUCH a good teacher. My ankle's healing quickly, and I should be fine by the end of this week.

I can almost feel the question coming from the readers of "Did you pass?"

The answer that I can give you is that in MY eyes, I was victorious! I gave my best, I gave my all, and I had no more within me to put forth. Now, I cannot guarantee that this effort is going to meet the requirements of that level. BUT I know that I am not going to stop training. So, if I didn't pass, I will still show up at the dojo, and work towards improvement because I LOVE Karate. It will not lessen the pride that I feel at how I tested this week. It will mean that my next attempt to reach this level of rank will be easier because I will be even stronger, faster, and experienced.

If I did pass, I will place an announcement on this blog for you to read. Be patient, though. Test results are not always given quickly in my dojo.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

New Year.. New opportunities





I tell myself "Wake up!" as often my mind wants to wander among the negative experiences of the past, and to fear, or to look ahead with anxiety at the possibilities of the future.

But this does not need to be..

I know that I am more than a culmination of past mistakes.

Yes, I need to take responsibility for what I have done and not run away from them, but I can see them as moments to improve.

I can choose to see things in a positive way, and to use each experience in the same manner.

I can grow.

Our minds and bodies have been designed to meet challenges, and become stronger. Our spirit can do so also.

A tree seed can grow on the side of cliff, hanging out of that crack in the wall of rock defying gravity, and teaching us that there is no environment too harsh to stop life from continuing.

Nothing can stop a determined spirit from achieving.