Martial Arts Blogs A Journey to Shodan: April 2010

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Well, it's been almost a week since my grading and I haven't found the time to actually sit down and capture the experience here.

The short version: I passed!
The long version: Where to begin...well, I went in feeling I was as prepared as I could have been; I really put in the time and practiced on my own - a lot.

The grading itself lasted about 1.5 hours and started with quite a number of elements I have not practiced in - lets see - 10 years! After receiving my Brown Belt oh so many years ago, I took a loooooooong break. When I finally arrived at Olson's, I immediately went to work catching up on lost time, but basics in full stance have not been touched on - until the test. Not fair - but they warned us to expect the unexpected, and I was definitely not expecting that. I fumbled through and breathed a sigh of relief when that portion of the grading was over.
Sensies 1. Karen 0.

My basics were half decent, but of course I messed up here and there. What can you do? I wasn't anticipating perfection - I did my best and I'm happy with my effort.

As it turns out, I only had to do two Katas out of the nine I had been practicing, but I'm glad I had them ready, I didn't want to be caught off guard and mess up on Heian Sandan or anything crazy like that.

When all was said and done, I think I did OK. Of course there are things I know I still need to work on, but that will always be the case.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Don't overthink, just do.

I don't usually go to class on Monday nights, but with my grading coming up on Friday, I thought I should get in as much training as possible - and with the way I felt about my stances this evening, it's a good thing I went. I clearly need to keep working on those.

That darned open stance has been a thorn in my side since day one at Olson's, it just feels wrong, so tonight, with some help, I finally go it feeling... well, not quite so wrong. With each move made, there is so much to think about: are my feet pointing in the right direction? is my stance rooted, too wide or too narrow? are my shoulders relaxed? The more I focus on one thing, the more the rest of it falls apart. Sheesh.

Something to remember: use your hips to open your stance, NOT your feet. Easier said than done, but again, with enough practice I'll stop over-thinking every single movement and just do it. I look forward to that day.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Take it with you when you leave.

Tonight was dedicated to Kata, and it is interesting that it took almost a full hour to go through four Kata plus the 'bonus' (Taikyoku Sandan) for good measure. I enjoy the details, and there were plenty pointed out this evening: posture, balance, timing, stances. Come to think of it, I'm sure I've heard all of this somewhere before... hmmm.

Tonight's lesson learned:
Heian Godan - take that Oi Zuki with you when you leave, and load it!

Again with the little things, I'm starting to see a pattern.

It's the little things.

Once upon a time I learned a series of Kata named the Heian Katas. Sometime after that, I'm not sure when it happened, small portions of each slowly left my memory, one by one, until somewhere within each Kata lies an area of uncertainty. This grey area prevents my body from doing the Kata with confidence, as I think three steps ahead wondering if I'm going to mess up once I reach that point of uncertainty. When you lose focus and think too much, you'll always run into trouble; my most recent class confirmed that.

What did I learn? or should I say - what was I reminded of? Mostly little things.
Heian Sandan - don't bend your wrists.
Heian Nidan - relax your shoulders and DON'T bring your feet together for the yoko geri.

Losing focus on all these important little things is a direct result of the areas of uncertainty. Regardless of how frustrated I felt after that class, it has pushed me to become more invested in what I should already know. So now, with my slightly obsessive personality, I have been repeating the patterns in my mind - on the bus, at work, as I try to fall asleep at night - and jumping into each Kata at every opportunity which includes the grocery store aisle when nobody is looking. I should be at the point where my body does the Kata, not my head, and I'm not quite there. However, with this recent reality check, I'm actually getting there, and I look forward to the day that I can post, without hesitation, that I know what lies at the end of Heian Nidan - a gedan barai, age uke - NOT two shuto ukes! Yes, it has happened - more than once.

Practice. And the little things will fall into place.