Saturday, September 10, 2011

Technique 1: Ju Go Waza

Shane Higashi drives me nuts sometimes.  He's divided the class up into young people and old people.  Which would be fine if the person running the young class was good.  But instead they're doing all this nonsense that has very little to do with karate and it's getting me upset.

There is a pernicious, kumite-centric thread in the class that leaves me feeling really frustrated.  These younglings don't know anything.  Kumite is exciting and fun, sure.  But they've structured the class entirely around it and I find it ironic.  I find it ironic that Sensei should indulge them in this kumite focus when he knows what we all should be working on.  More on that in a moment.

They're doing plyometrics and circuit training and my legs are killing me with DOMS.  It's all this athletic karate, sport karate.  It isn't even fitness karate anymore.  Situps are token, stretching is cursory, pushups optional.  It's just jump, step, bounce.  You know, the way that samurai used to move, bouncing around like idiots.  The way judoka move, raising their center of balance.  The way boxers move.  Where did all this bouncing in karate come from, anyways?

Are they really going to bounce around at a bus station or a schoolyard?  Bouncing around makes it easier to grab a leg, sweep a foot, lift someone?  Do we bounce around in kata?  It's just crap.  Crap codified by tournament karate, where you aren't allowed to grab a leg, lift someone, or throw someone.  I try to imagine what a judoka would do to the people in our class if our sparring was combined with their randori.

So my ankle, feet, calves, quads, hams, and hips are killing me and I say to myself: I can do plyo at home, I come here to do karate.  So I excuse myself from the young class and go downstairs to where Sensei is working with the fogeys.  He's taking them them through ridiculous nonsense like situps, pushups, kihon, kata, and bunkai.  You know, the silly stuff that won't ever help you in kumite.  He gets a manual out and takes us ('us' meaning me) through the black belt requirements and he's on me when I get 2 out of the 40 things he mentions wrong.  And I'm thinking to myself:  I shouldn't get them wrong, I've been taking karate longer than almost all the younglings up there put together.  But how many of them know half of these things off by heart, including that black belt?  Why does Sensei indulge them in all this sparring when the rest of their karate is so suspect?

My wonder and frustration at the man was reinforced later on, after my class, when Sensei asked me to work with another brown belt.  He isn't very good and doesn't know how to fall.  He has no clue as to Ju Go Waza, whereas I had to look some of them up.  So it wasn't as easy as it could have been.  We get to number 15, the one I could never see working in real life and Sensei does it.  It works.  It works so well and the technique is so simple and fluid that I wondered why I thought it couldn't work.  So I do it, admittedly badly, and Sensei is all over me.  Getting impatient like I should know this.  And I'm of a mind at certain points to look at the old man and say:  Why should I know this?  We never practice this.  Where else can I find someone willing to be thrown to the ground repeatedly than here?  If we don't do it here, in class, where else would we get a chance to practice it?

I realize that old people should be free to be impatient with young people - they're running out of time, and everything they know seems obvious to them.  But there's no magic to Sensei making a move work that I couldn't even imagine working. The man practiced this stuff a million times more than me.  He lived in O'Sensei's house for Christ's sake - days spent practicing for hours and hours on end.  I won't get that opportunity.  So the least we can do when we come to the dojo is actually spend this precious time working on what matters.

Maybe I should just say this to him rather than venting here.

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