Martial Arts Blogs A Journey to Shodan: October 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Stop being so nice.

Well, it's official, I'm too nice.

I've written in the past about the Karate Mask, but have a really hard time walking the walk on this one. I'm totally focused as I bow in to begin my Kata, but soon after the first move the mask falls off; I do the Kata fine, with some form of rhythm and good technique, but the emotional, mental and physical intent all seem to slip away. By the time I'm done, I am left wondering where it went and it is very frustrating. This is also true of my basics. I enjoy what I'm doing and it shows, but just last week I was told (in a nice way) to stop being so nice.

To combat this kindness, I have recently started envisioning someone standing in front of me while I execute my punches and kicks – not naming any names, as it varies depending on how my day went :).  Wow, what a world of difference this has made, or at least it sure feels that way. I'm no longer looking in some general forward direction, I'm actually focusing on the space directly in front of me and hitting with intent, right to the chest or face. I know, I should have been doing this all along, but I guess I've just been too nice until now. This is all part of what the Karate Mask should be – just let go, bury the enjoyment of doing something you love, and for that small moment in time, become a more aggressive and determined version of yourself. Don't just hit, HIT – and hurt the person! I need to start walking the walk on this point, so come grading day it feels more natural to me.

Hmmm, who will I punch in the face tomorrow?

Hangetsu Update:
I've finally got the pattern down and am no longer intimidated by that darned stance, so last night I was focused on tweaking everything in-between – including the tension and breathing. I'm still not loving it, but I am finally seeing progress. I never thought I'd be writing THAT in this blog.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The flickering light.

I've made no secret that Hangetsu is my least favourite Kata – in fact, it falls to the bottom of the list like a very heavy brick. Something happened tonight however, that may have... dare I say it... started to change my opinion. (gasp).

It dawned on me that I've been approaching Hangetsu all wrong, and the best way I can describe this is that I feel like I've been practicing it in the dark. I've been worrying too much about how everything looks instead of how it feels.

There is something to be said about skillful instruction, and how one simple phrase or idea can make a world of difference to a technique that has been dogging me for months. In particular it is the stance – and when Sensei pointed out the importance of the heels in this technique, slowly, very slowly the lights began to flicker.

Where once I was so frustrated that, despite my best efforts, my knees and toes were pointing in the wrong direction, and obsessing about how I hate the way the stance looks, it now became crystal clear that I must lead with my heels, and a subtle 'gripping' of my heels once I'm settled in the stance will help it fall into place.

Tonight, the lights flickered for a brief moment in time and it just stared to feel a whole lot better. I'm optimistic.