Martial Arts Blogs A Journey to Shodan: May 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Secret

Sunday’s class was exactly what I needed to get myself back on track after missing so many classes due to injury – two hours devoted to working on my own kata. Besides a temporary mental block where I’d combined Yodan and Godan I’m feeling really good about where I’m at. I’m really focusing on keeping each kata top of mind so my days of drawing blanks in class stay behind me.

Kiba Dachi is present in many Kata and I’ve been working hard on my posture, making sure my knees aren’t falling in, and keeping my hips in the proper position. I also try to be aware of the proper foot placement every time I move; both feet should be facing forward. While this sounds simple enough, it has never felt quite right; my ankles have always felt a bit more strain than I think they should.

On Sunday however, came a revelation that with practice will finally have me feeling completely comfortable in my Kiba Dachi. The secret lies not just in your feet facing forward, but how they face forward and exactly which part of them should be facing forward. One very important detail I was missing. It was seriously a slap myself on the forehead “NOW it makes sense” moment. I really wish I’d clued in to this a lot sooner, however, I guess it is all part of my Karate journey – I can’t learn everything at once now can I?

On that note, I'll refrain from revealing what the secret actually is and leave it to individual students to discover as part of their own journey. I'm just thankful it has now been passed on to me.

Monday, May 2, 2011

What I've been missing.

Well, the day finally came! With my rib almost healed I returned to the Dojo for a two hour class on Sunday. I had planned to wait it out a few more days and go back to class on Tuesday, however, after watching a grading on Friday night I was inspired and realized just how much I've been missing over the past seven weeks.

The majority of my time was spent practicing Bunkai which was great, it's the thing I am most worried about for my Shodan grading. Kata, basics, combinations and kicks I can practice on my own, but - I believe I've mentioned this before - I have a tough time remembering things (hence my Notebook) and the thought of having to be creative enough to develop, and then remember Bunkai for six different Kata is enough to make me slightly nauseous.

After about an hour of Bunkai, Sensei Barry transitioned us into one-step sparring. I suddenly found myself standing alone with a line of five students who had been instructed to each take a turn and attack chudan, and for each individual attack I had to think of a unique block or series of blocks and strikes. I blanked! Sensing my distress, Sensei Barry gave me some sage advice - draw from your Kata. Immediately I thought back to a comment from Doug on my Form vs. Function post in March. Draw from your Kata, practice it slowly and figure out what works. So rather than being stressed about being put on the spot, I slowed down and blocked the punches. Not everything I tried worked flawlessly, but then when it came time for the others to take a turn, theirs weren't perfect either - we're all there to learn and learn from each other as well.

I'm so glad I went back a couple days early, it was a fantastic class.