Martial Arts Blogs A Journey to Shodan: September 2010

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ignoring the voices.

Some nights I need a little motivation to get me to the Dojo. After 10-hour work days, I often arrive home and would love nothing more than to lie on the couch and close my eyes 'just for a minute'.  There begins the struggle to ignore the voice in my head: "If I don't go tonight, for sure I will go on Thursday", or "I've been going a lot lately, I deserve a night off."  Surely I'm not alone in this experience.
Sometimes that voice gets the better of me, and when it does, I spend the rest of the evening feeling guilty and wishing I had gone after all.

If I had listened to that voice last night, I wouldn't have been reminded how to avoid a narrow stance while stepping through a shuto. I also wouldn't have had the opportunity to help Daniel Bunkai Jion and Empi in preparation for his Shodan grading in December.

When I do manage to ignore that voice, I'm always glad I did.
I'm seeing a pattern here though – voices in my head disrupting my focus during Kata, and trying to talk me out of going to the Dojo...someone is trying to sabotage me. Who would do that?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

There once were three raccoons...

..because of their mischievous nature, these poor raccoons were blamed for something they didn't do, as a dog sat unnoticed under the car eating the missing wieners.
But, you see what you see.

Not following? Well I'm sorry, but you missed a stellar class this evening.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bring the darkness with you.

I talk a lot about Kata in my blog, and the reason is that I know it gives me a fair share of trouble. Rare is the class that I leave on a high note after doing Kata.

My body doesn't seem to have too much trouble with kicks or punches, and I think I do a good job of letting it take over through basics. I am able to maintain focus and make my way through without over-thinking everything – I dare say I feel somewhat relaxed with these elements.

Kata is different. I am so busy thinking 'don't lean on the next kick', and 'don't fall into another Kata', that I only go through the motions to reach the end. I don't put feeling into what I am doing. Perhaps this is because I'm not confident enough to really put emotion into it – throwing a lot of emotion into a Kata that is sure to be full of that would just look silly. Bassai Godan anyone? "But she looked like she really meant it...."

The most helpful piece of advice I have received regarding this obstacle, is to put on my Kata mask and bring the darkness with me. Not so much literally (although it helps for the purposes of a good demonstration, and makes for a class people wish they hadn't missed), but more figuratively. With my mask on I can transform myself into someone truly ready to kick ass. In the darkness I don't have to feel self-conscious and worry about making mistakes, I can do the Kata full of emotion, purpose and forward momentum.
The trick is to remember to bring my mask with me, and to mentally turn off the lights before each Kata. Tune everyone out and not care what they think, because they make mistakes too. 

Imagine how great it would look, if everyone did Kata with their masks on.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I'm in control...kind of.

One of the many things I enjoy about Karate is that by nature, it is an individual sport. I have a choice in how far I take my training, and how fast or slow I progress. If I choose to stay late and continue training after class has ended I personally benefit. If for some reason I choose to not give 100%, I am the only one affected by my actions.

For a sport that I love so much, sadly there are some things about it that do not appeal to me, and ‘performing’ in front of a group tops the list, in fact, I feel so strongly about it, that it takes the top five places on that list. My friends would find this ironic, because I am someone who has spent a great deal of time on stage performing: acting, improvising and singing. After a few minutes, the audience disappears and it’s just me out there, but for reasons I cannot explain, Karate is different. When asked to stand in front of the class and ‘perform’, I unravel. I really do not like all eyes on me, watching my every move. Maybe the belt I wear puts pressure on me to prove that I have earned my rank, or maybe it is that I don’t want to let my instructors down because they have spent so much time working with me; if I make mistakes it appears that I haven’t been paying attention or taken my training seriously.  
One thing I do know:
On the spot + Karen = a performance I surely will not be proud of.
Stop looking at me and I'll do just fine. Really. I will.

Perhaps over time this will change, but so far, no such luck. It is part of who I am.
It's actually a wonder I've made it through any promotions at all with such a thorn in my side.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Mistakes are the most important part of learning.

Kata is something I need to practice more often, and tonight was certainly confirmation of that.

I still find myself thinking too much, and being too critical of myself during the kata – the second I start to think "shoot, my toes pointed up on that sidekick" BAM, I've lost my focus and I immediately mess up. In turn, I am frustrated with myself for making a mistake, and there is simply no recovering from that, as I find myself standing on the sidelines watching a yellow belt complete the kata that I couldn't - which is a very humbling experience indeed.

I've mentioned this many times in my previous posts: supposedly the day will come when I stop thinking and my body will take over and get me through the kata thoughtlessly. Tonight wasn't that night. Repetition is the key for me to learn something inside and out, so if I only do Heian Godan once a month, I cannot reasonably expect my body to know what to do. I know exactly how it will play out: my mind will take over and think "It's been a long time since I've done this one. How does it end? I hope I don't mess this up..." It will be over before I even start.
Tip of the night: Practice all of my kata. Often.

If mistakes are the most important part of learning... well, I did many very important things this evening.