Sunday, December 15, 2013

My Blog has slowed down greatly, but let me explain

When I started training in Karate everything was shocking, alien, and new.  From how one enters the room, to how one stands, to how one reacts, etc.  It really is a totally different culture with unique expectations, and experiences, and I wanted to document the progress of understanding Martial Arts  from white belt to black not only for myself but also for my various internet friends who have supported me throughout the years that I had met on various Martial Arts forums.  This was the reason that this blog existed.  Also, whenever a friend and I had questions about philosophy, technique, or patterns, I would post my answer on the blog.  I wanted to share those family moments that I had enjoyed when my husband, and children trained with me, and reveal the positive effects of Karate training.  I was a stay at home Mom with some personal time in my day to dedicate to reaching out to the virtual community.

However, now that I have been living as an established Black belt, and my ability to participate on Martial Arts forums has been restricted due to work, family, and training, I find that I'm having more and more difficulty contributing to the Blog.  It's not that I have learned "everything", and so there is no more progress.  It's the opposite.. I've learned that there is so much that I do not know; layers of information that cannot be put into words, but must be felt in action in order to understand.  It's the difference between knowing what a good chocolate cake should look, and taste like, and being able to bake one.  My knowledge is now part of the energy of my movement, and even videos or pictures cannot do that justice. 

I have also found the answer within myself that I have read in Sensei Gichin Funakoshi's Autobiography wherein he refers to all "karate" being the same.. that there is no difference in styles, or schools.  I used to be confused about that idea especially as I would watch someone fight in a tournament, and I could almost pin point that the manner in which they fought showed off a certain philosophy.  However, that is tournament fighting, and not "karate".  ( Wow.. I'm sure that I have opened a bag of snakes with that sentence!)  Let me explain...  Tournament fighting has rules, referees, time limits, space limits, etc.  There is a space there where one can use various techniques, and applications, but karate is survival where one faces a severe deciding moment in life and the result is never a trophy.  As Sensei Gichin Funakoshi said "When two tigers fight, one is certain to be maimed, and one to die."  When one is faced with this situation, all revolves around the thought that one wants to be the one to walk away from the confrontation alive.

I met a wonderful Kyokushin student just a month ago who came from Rwanda, and who had lived through the violence, and chaos of the Hutu/ Tutsi conflict in 1994. It was his experience of watching a Kyokushin Black Belt successfully defend the village from imminent death from a group of killers that spurred him into wanting to gain these skills in his life.  I also met another courageous woman over 40 years old facing the tough training of Kyokushin, and doing her best despite all of the complications, and demands that this new experience is challenging her to overcome.  Her main enemy is herself as she struggles to survive as a student in a situation that reminds her that she isn't 20 years old anymore, and that each exercise is only possible if she relies on her will power rather than her body.  For me, this is karate.. and style or school doesn't matter.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Slow but sure

This year has been one of challenges.  However, it is in finding the strength to seek answers to problems that one develops and grows.  Perhaps that is why nature gives us more challenges as we age, it could be to help us to grow.

I've been limited as to my "off class" training time, and yet, now more than ever I have felt that my training needed to be boosted.  There is only so much that I can grasp mentally, I know that my body needs to feel the movements, and strengthen with confidence in order to apply the movements, but that comes with practice.

Balance with the various demands of everyday living needs to be there also because it does me no good to improve on my Karate, and watch my home life, or work life disintegrate... or to have an immaculate home, but find myself out of shape and unable to enjoy it.

I have found that there is no easy answer.  I have to flow with the demands of the day. Today I will meet the obvious needs of the house and family, and attempt to include some training at the end of the day ( if the weather is kind enough to stay sunny).

But isn't that what Karate is about?  We have to balance expansion, and contraction. We give, and take, sometimes putting force out, and sometimes deflecting and letting the force go.  I think that the key is consistency.  We keep all of the elements in mind as we chose which path we will take at this moment. As long as we keep working towards our goals, slowly but surely we will achieve them.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

How could I forget? 2013 tradition completed

In January, at the very first class of my dojo, my students and I completed my New Year's tradition:

We did:

213 middle punches
213 front kicks
13 Kihon Sono Ichi

This was a wonderful moment for me.  I don't know how they felt about it,  but I was happy to share this experience with them.  The whole class was dedicated towards this effort, and there was something unifying by having each student count out a set of 10.

Maybe something positive happens in the human psyche when a group works on a repetitive task as a unit, such as rowing a boat, or hauling a log, or moving together in synchronicity.  I know that I appreciate good team kata performances where each member precisely hits the same mark/technique as the other.  To realize and understand the complexity involved to achieve this feat brings even more admiration.

I love watching this following video of Russian Women performing Seienchin to music.  Although, I found that having to keep to the beat of the music tending to change the "feel" of the technique presented so that it had more of a dance look to it, I did see that they were also capable of showing the fullness of the movements.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

New Year.. New opportunities... New Goals

Last Year's Goals were as follows:

a) I want to focus on improving my Saiha Kata, and Seienchin Kata.

b) To help cope with the increasing sensations of stiffness, and pain in my knees/elbows/ankles/wrists I have started taking Ginger supplements in my diet. It is my goal to find other ways to support my body so that I can continue to train into my golden years. I'm hoping that by next New Year's I will see an improvement due to the aide of the Ginger.

c) Review: I would like to work towards rewriting my notes, and creating a more complete library of the information that I need to know, want to know, and even added on extras of Martial Arts information that just interests me. 


Well, I did work on my Saiha, and Seienchin Kata for the year, and improved my knowledge of them.  Applications of the various movements started to make sense, and I feel far more confident in hitting the "spot"on each movement.

I found that increasing my consumption of Ginger did not improve my situation.  However, through the guidance of my Sensei, I did remove MSG, and Glucose-Fructose ( High Fructose Corn Syrup) additives from my diet.  I noticed that I started losing weight ( 12 pounds) without any other diet change, and much of my stiffness has cleared up.

I did not have the time to work on my library of information. That is a big chore, and it involves too much dedication to dig through everything right now.  Family, work, and training is foremost.

New Years Goals for 2013

a)  This year I have been working one of history's classic Kata:  Naihanchi ( Naifanchi) or also known as Tekki.  It is my goal to improve my performance of this Kata, and learn from it's lessons.  Sensei Gichin Funakoshi has said that he spent 10 years working on it, I'm willing to put forth my little efforts.
"So important was the Naifuanchi kata to old-style karate that Kentsu Yabu, the martial arts instructor at the Okinawa Prefectural Teacher's School, often told his students "Kata wa Naifuanchi ni hajimari, Naifuanchi ni owaru" (Kata begins and ends with Naifuanchi) (Gima et al, 1986)." website

b)  I have been neglecting the internet Martial Arts forums due to all of my various life challenges from work, home, and hobby.  So, I thought that I would return and visit various places now and then to reconnect. I may only have a few minutes to offer.. but I will make a strong attempt to add this into my life because I find that it helps me expand my knowledge, and thinking as I train.