Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Challenge: 18.00-19.50

The BC gang were here again. Great people. I didn't go backwards as much against Eric as I did last time but I still couldn't get my hips to where they needed to be to change the embusen consistently. It always felt like I just couldn't trust myself to move when he committed so I was fidgeting instead of moving decisively and explosively. Which is particularly strange cause he was really tired and all those muscles he has make it really hard to conceal his initiative. I had the time but I didn't trust myself.

It is sooooo slippery, isn't it? Zaha says you have to build enlightenment upon enlightenment. They are few and far between. I had only one real moment of insight. One moment when I was across from James that I was calm enough, sure enough, to actually look at him. I was looking at his eyes and...And for a brief moment, the briefest of moments, I looked into his heart.

I could see his wariness, his deliberation. A flicker of inner light, a spark and my body moved on it's own. My glove touched his nose.

Objectively I know I reacted to a flinch of his eyes or something. But it was more than just that. His whole body changed, the temperature in the room changed. I knew he was coming and I intercepted him just as his body began to obey his mind.

For one moment in 20 hours of training, I entered a green belt with 20 years less training than me. Kenji Ushiro does it every time he stands before some one, regardless of who they
are, how big they are, how good they are.

And I want to feel it again. But it's sooooo slippery.

Technique 3: empty hand, open mind.

Don't be predictable. If you aren't going to try new things in class, where will you? Certain things we should attempt and try to accomplish against every opponent.  Most require control of ma and embusen. They include...
1) foot sweep off balance (crescent step)/deep enter to hip throw/choke
2) gentle yoko to kidney or knee/neko front kick to head (feint) torso/roundhouse to head (feint) rib/kidney
3) muay thai push kick/oblique kick/morote push off balance
4) pull punch off balance/juji uke + yoko empi/kage zuki
5) uchi uke (breathe out) + Tai Sabaki + empi/knee
6) soto uke (breathe in) to arm pin/clinch/pull punch off balance
7) jodan uke (breathe in) + push up off balance/shiko zuki to hip throw
8) gedan barai (in or out) to oshi zuki/to uchi uke/sukui uke (catch kick)/naiwan to uraken
9) tora kuchi (Seisan, Bassai, Rohai)
10) shiko zuki
11) oi zuki
12) cross step kosa dachi sabaki mawari uchi
13) kick the punch, punch the kick

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Challenge: 15.00-18.00

Incredible day, incredible class.  Learned a lot.  First thing I learned is, my endurance is very bad for a 30 year old. I'm getting impatient with myself and these half measures.

The second thing I learned was, I still feel the urge to move backward. It's easy to fight people smaller and slower than you and invite then in and enter them. But Sensei invited these three students from BC to train. Salt of the earth - the lady was a Kindergarten teacher! The one guy, Eric, was big. Big and intense. And when he came, I could feel my spirit retreat. I couldn't enter. I was afraid. I'm not even close to solving the riddle...

The third thing I learned was how important it was to be able to roll. I sometimes feel that tinge of resentment at how happy people feel throwing me and watching me roll safely away when I absolutely can't do the same to them. But it is so essential for people to feel technique work, see it work. That's really important. That is the spark, the seed that encourages the hard work of cultivation. If I can be that seed, I will. I'll learn by watching and teaching:-)

And the final thing I learned was how blessed I was when one of the finest martial teachers in the world moved into my neighborhood. My sensei is a good and beautiful man. Kind and giving. A man of depthless ability. He thanked me for staying behind and working with the visiting students, and drove me home. We joked and talked and I suggested that we record him doing the Bunkai. He shrugged almost as if to say that no one would be interested in that. But I saw the look on the visitors faces as he moved and taught them. It was the same look I held on my face, the same look that I always have in those moments when I realize how easy it would have been never to have met him. It was awe. It was seeing the mountain top, the place where karate can take us. It was seeing how beautiful karate can be, how simple karate wants to be, how complicated we all make it.

We were working on hen shu ho and he was giving us pointers. It's so strange the dichotomy between Kata and Bunkai. You might do all sorts of things in Kata that you don't understand, but the Bunkai makes immediate sense even if you can't execute it at all. Sensei did a million little things that turned a good movement into a flawless one, a movement with no openings. He does something that makes so much sense, that you wonder why you couldn't have figured it out yourself. You scratch your head trying to figure out how he did what he did and he smiles and does it again. There are so few people in the world who fill me with wonder, and I see one of them three times a week.

Three hours that felt like thirty minutes. So much to learn. We need to record Sensei. His understanding is too valuable to be stored in just one place.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Challenge: 13.00-15.00

Didn't feel it at all today. Finger still swollen, foot still tender. Plodding around during kihon, too much extra movement, no economy, no balance.

Starting to realize something important. I'm a good teacher. I could easily teach a self-defense class without focusing on the fitness stuff. It isn't that I don't think it is important, it is just that you can run and jump and sweat anywhere. But you can only really practice goshin jutsu at the dojo. Knowing this, I have to be even more keen about getting my body where it needs to be - to fight the urge to neglect its importance.

Learned some things in Kumite that I should work on every time out. More than anything have to look to move forward - defeat myself. NO STEPPING BACKWARDS!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Challenge: 12.33-13.00

40 minutes of Seisan. Talking it out trying to internalize some of the variants of the first sequence. It has to be a feeling, a motor pattern rather than a deliberation. It must take a lot of repetitions. Also it has to be practiced with the danger, the sensitivity to range. Really anything can be put on the end of your forearm. Seiken, uraken, hiraken, shuto, teisho...doesn't really matter. The feeling guides the motion, the target determines the tool. I think I'll spend the rest of the month studying Seisan and see what I can find.

Finger isn't as painful, but my legs are wrecked. Couldn't go to the dojo today.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Challenge: 12.00-12.33

Morning Kata - 20 minutes.  My finger is swollen up like a sausage.  My back feels better and my toe is manageable.

Sanchin work.  Tension and stance work more than posture and breathing. Tried to execute the turn smoothly and powerfully.  Tried to even out the morote uke and the tora kuchi.  It can feel great at times, like nothing at all.

With some Chinto, I practised in the Onaga philosophy adding to the stopped movements, finishing the sentence.  For example, the osae and soto uke point in the kata.  Spin to pull and push one opponent into the other. Or of course the juji uke to spinning jodan ushiro and dropping yoko empi.

If I should ever feel my body in a kata position, I hope something will come out of me to finish the sentence.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Challenge: 10.00-12.00

Didn't do Kata once today. Glad I did some this morning. Kumite drills. Nicole wanted everyone to be intense. She doesn't seem to understand that intensity only comes when you fight for something. People who don't know what they're fighting for have no reason to fight hard. You have to introduce stakes.

Still feel heavy on my feet. I think it's a combination of things. Can't control my hips and COG. I feel as though I weigh 190 and my legs can only comfortably move 165. I should weigh 170 and my legs should be able to move 200 comfortably.

I'm not seeing with my spirit. My sense of ma is growing but my sen is blind. My go no sen is weak and undependable. I have a good sense of when tori commits but I'm late. Good and bad.

My back is killing me and I stubbed my toe. I jammed my finger, the middle one (as always), making a bad fist. Some successes to be sure but none that I'll remember as long as my swollen fist.

12 hours in and I feel old.

The Challenge: 9.60-10.00

Ten hours down, 990 to go. Just do what you've done a hundred more times :-}

Morning karate.  Have to focus on internalizing simple things.  Footwork, stance and posture.  Today did Seisan without the punches and blocks.  Just feeling my muscles, my breathing and my hips.  Changing levels, intentional and unintentional.  Fighting and embracing the habitual routine.

PC coordination is strange.  Push down and your abs tighten but differently than if you'd just flexed your stomach.  Should shiko dachi be accompanied by an upward tilt of the hips?

Seisan dachi should be about sinking the PC, not flexing the glutes, to get the angle.  Likewise chokusen gets the angle by twisting the hips not locking the glutes.

Trying to coordinate punching extension, shoulder low, tenshin, bringing the hip around and staying low when moving from shiko to seisan.  Kagi zuki fits into here but I'm not sure how.

Gosh.  The secrets of karate really rest in doing things that you've done thousands of times better than the other guy.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Challenge: 7.60-9.60

A day and a half off and I feel a lot better. Much decreased soreness. Sensei had me practice my rolls with James. Then he absolutely killed us. I have to learn the new black belt Kata.

My mind wanders in the Kata especially when I'm tired. I fall back into the habitual performance. I really have to focus on a few choice things and slowly build up the execution. First balance then footwork then stance then breathing, fist, hip and shoulder. Only then should I start to worry about what the extended movements are, the contingent movements, and the remaining attackers.

Sure, sharp and sound. Every step should be surefooted - establishing balance, sharp-footed - done swiftly and precisely, and sound-footed - improve rather than weaken your position in relation to the opponent.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Challenge: 5.10-7.60

My second yudansha clinic. Started with Ryusan...pretty. Kosa Dachi work as a prelude to Rohai-dai.
Nb. 1. Kosa uke - drive from opposite hip.
2. Descend into empi.
3. Stance for kyusei kamae.
4. Neko ashi: foot ready.
5. Cross deeply behind on spin.
6. Not heito, kiri.
7. Kiri, hikite, nukite - one beat.
8. Hip in pivot!!!
9. Turn of the hips in chokusen drives the knee over the toe.
10. Haishu.

Hen-shu-ho combines sabaki with uke.
1. Sabaki forward and upward. Feel for the moment when tori fights you forward.
2. Drive the forearm directly into tori's head and pivot. Consider control of the head generally.
3. Sabaki pivot. Empi, sinking. Feet inside (feet outside and you fall). Step outside with turn & hypersupination.
4. Sabaki shift left. Yoko geri with toes into joint.
5. Sabaki shift right. Block second punch and kick in one beat.
6. Sabaki pivot. Control wrist and shoulder. Drive yoko geri into hip.
7. Age-haishu. Shuto and nukite in same beat.
8. Age to soto. Punch to floating rib.
9. Sabaki forward left. Mawari. Step on foot .Armbar. Slice tendon with Shuto.
10. Block, uppercut under arm to collar, pulldown.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Challenge: 2.60-5.10

2 hours of Saturday karate. Moran went a little easy on us. My legs were killing before class. My abs were sore as hell, luckily we didn't do any ab work.

Did some Chinto work, some Bassai and Nage no Kata. Most sucked but at least I had a sense of what I was doing wrong.

Take it easy for yudansha clinic tomorrow.

The Challenge: 2.00-2.60

36 minutes of unpleasantness. The jog lasted 19 minutes. Consider some tempo work. The abdominal stuff is discouraging. Need a lot of work there. Won't go to karate today...class and yudansha clinic on the weekend.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Mind 3 : Mindset for Kumite

Where should your mind be at?  Your focus?  What do you see and what do you perceive?  The rhythm.
At ma-ai do you enter or retreat? Sen alone, naked sen, is uncertain. It is like walking into a darkened room. You can't see what lies ahead. Taking the initiative should always be in response to something you've felt. Sen must be directed at Suki even if the suki was an illusion.
Relax your muscles. Still your mind when in motion; let it flow when still. Step cautiously and precisely. Center your hips and let them lead your movement. Attack with your defense, defend with your attack. Commit to your response...never attack or defend half-heartedly. Keep things simple. Don't overthink it. Move smoothly and swiftly staying low. Harmonize with the beat. Then enter during the off beats. Strive to make tori uncomfortable.

Build the body that does not run away. Never forget that karate is go no sen. You should invite attack and repel them. Stopping attack is more important than scoring. Once the UPA has been negated properly, scoring should be easy. Only when you have confidence that you can control strong attacks can you have the clarity to intercept intention. In training, let tori strike. Encourage their offense. Dare them to enter. Then close the door. Lose the need to win. Turn them strongly with your block. The strike is an afterthought.

The challenge: 0-2.00

So looks like I'm entering the Bogu Cup in August.  I'll pick a kata and start jogging again.  Katie and Nicole are serious as a heart attack...I'm going to have to push a little to even catch up.

Between now and next Friday, I'll start with jogging and skipping.  30 to 40 minutes to start.  Have to get my cardio up.  Cycle between cardio work, leg work, core work and plyo work. 1 week at a time.

1 week at a time is the key.  Also have to watch for injury and overtraining.  Taper towards the tourney.  Add in some Nishimura work into the plyo routine.  Need to develop those sporting karate classes from what I train.  Looks like I'll be the petri dish for my dojo.

I wonder where I'll be 1,000 hours from now.

And I have to not fear the riddle of Kenji Ushiro and Keishiro Shiroma...