Martial Arts Blogs A Journey to Shodan: February 2011

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Signature.

When I first came back to Karate I was very unsure of myself, and rightfully so. I’d missed many years, and memories of what I’d learned in the past had all but faded. Relearning everything was difficult and Kata was certainly no exception; I used to know what I was doing, but now I was watching other students for queues on what came next. I soon learned that relying on other people was risky, because although everyone looked much more confident than I, they are human and make mistakes too. I wasn’t improving by following others.

Once I had learned all my Kata with a certain amount of confidence, I fell back into a similar pattern. When the class was asked to do Kata as a group, I would try to keep up, and finish with everyone; I didn’t want to finish last and have everyone watching me. My form was suffering. By trying to keep up, I was cheating my stances, shortening my blocks and not completing one move before moving on to the next. I needed to slow down, regardless of what everyone else was doing. I’ve come to learn that it isn’t a race.

Every kata is mine. Mine to learn and mine to interpret. Where I might pause after a sequence, others may continue right through. I might rip through the first five or six moves and then slow down, it all depends on where I think my attacker may be coming from. No longer does a pause in my kata mean ‘Crap, what’s next? Where was I? What kata am I doing???’ Although admittedly, that is exactly what it has meant in the past. Now, it’s my signature.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

It’s a Cha, Cha, Cha. Not a slow dance.

I was fortunate enough to have some one-on-one time on Tuesday during and after class. Sometimes all it takes is a few minutes of that to finally ‘get’ something.

Lesson number one – stances. They can be frustrating to master and a bit uncomfortable to hold, but I really enjoy the challenge. Kiba Dachi, in my opinion, is the most uncomfortable stance of all, if you’re doing it right. I endeavor to always practice with the below points in mind so it will become easier with time, but at this point, I cannot hold this stance for very long. As a matter of fact, I am in a proper Kiba Dachi as I write this one sentence, and feel like I just can’t type fast enough – I’m ready to collapse.

One trick I learned was to practice by standing against a wall for posture:
  • If your back and shoulders aren’t touching the wall, you’re not in the correct stance.
  • If your quads aren’t burning, you’re not in the correct stance.
  • If your inner thighs aren’t tightened to tilt your hips forward, you guessed it, not in the correct stance.
Final Tip: When in a proper Kiba Dachi, simply shift either of your feet 90 degrees outwards and...voila, you're in a nice Kokutsu Dachi! Amazing.

    Lesson number two – basics. I continued to work on my own after class ended, at which time my conscience stopped by with some pointers and kicked me into gear. Basics at my level are about three things:
    1.     Technique
    2.     Speed
    3.     Momentum
    It is time for me to build on my skills by adding speed and momentum to the technique. No more rhythmic ‘slow dancing’ through the moves, making them look all pretty – hit ‘em, chase ‘em down! If I do it correctly, I should have extra momentum after my final technique and will need a few extra steps to bring myself to a stop – like a little cha, cha, cha at the end. After practicing this for only a few minutes, I was winded.
    Note to self: step up your conditioning!

    When you receive something of value, you should find a safe place to put it. This blog serves as my safe place. With so much valuable information being passed on to me, I know I could never rely on my memory to recall it when needed. How else could I possibly hope to remember it all?