Tuesday, June 27, 2006

you don't have these for adults, by any chance?

Last Thursday was Andrew's last day of school. Done is third grade, my oh my does he grow up fast...

With me and my wife both working, and no vacation in sight for at least four more weeks, we had to find a place to "station" Andrew but that was all planned out ahead of time. For the third Summer in the last four years, he will be going to a karate day camp organized by our karate school. They do two hours of karate everyday, split in two sessions. The first hour is traditional class in which they work on their traditional forms, self-defense techniques, kenpo combinations and such and the second hour is always dedicated to some less traditional stuff, things they don't usually work on in their classes. We're talking about open forms and kicks, weapons (he's tried nunchucks, bo, and kamas in the past) or even a full hour of sparring in gears and all.

The afternoon is dedicated to the cool outside the class stuff, where they have all great activities like swimming, rollerblading, movie going when it's raining, all kinds of cool things that kids like.

The first year he went there, he was barely 6 and while he said enjoyed the camp, we figured it was more for the afternoon stuff that the morning stuff. At the time, he was only brushing the surface of what he could do in martial arts but then as the years went by, we came to hear him talk a bit more about the karate part of the day until yesterday where he told me about learning to make a butterfly kick followed by a combination of strikes typical of an open type form. Was way cool to hear him talk about it like that. I asked him if he'd like to do an open form in competition one day and his answer, while not a resolute "heck yeah" was not an absolute no either, a bit similar to what he answered me whe I first talked to him about competing with his bo. Now look at him, he's done 4 bo competitions and he wants more... :)

Hearing him talking about his day, and me knowing about the cool stuff they do is what makes me want to ask them: "you don't have these camps for adults, by any chance?"


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

almost forgot, huge congrats go to...

...Michel, Philippe, Carl, Isabelle and Hugues, all fellow adult students at my shcool who passed their black belt Saturday June 10th.

These are guys, and a gal, that I take class with very often. Some of them I see less often, but we do practice together every once in a while and man let me tell ya all, they did impress me the last couple of months. Ever since they learned that they had passed their first kyu, and thus were going to test for the black, they really turned the heat on. Way to go guys, good show!!!

I remember when I passed my 3rd kyu, we were told that the usual time between 3rd kyu and a possible black belt test was at least 18 months. Twelve months to 2nd kyu and the 1st kyu about a month or two before the black belt test (they also call the 1st kyu test the black belt pre-test as it pretty much decides if you are ready or not to test). Well, that 3rd kyu test of mine was 6 months ago. Hard to believe somebody could think I'd be ready to test for the black belt in 12 months from now but seeing them test for the black belt makes me believe I could achieve it someday.

Honestly, it's not a race for me. Not that I'd deliberately delay a testing, but if our instructors say I'm not ready, well, it'll go to whenever it is they say I'm ready. We are a good group of 3rd kyu and even some 2nd kyu now who are practicing together regularly. I know I still have tons to learn before it's time for the big test, but I also know I'm learning a little bit more every time I go to the dojo. I also know that me getting a black belt would be a big motivator for my son, and that alone makes me want to push myself until I'm there and beyond...


going when you can, not when you want

Well, crazy Summer season is still going on and it's just as the title says, I'm going to class whenever I can, not always when I'd best want to. After finding a babysitter to take care of Matty on Thursdays, I decided starting last week to try to catch the Thursday night class that goes from 6 to 7. This means I have to drop Andrew to his football practice at abotu 5:50 so I can make it to the dojo. The nice thing is that the football field and the dojo are no more than 5 minutes apart, pending red lights and traffic. Anyway, I was able to make it for the first time last week but I don't have much to say about that class, other than I worked some more on Sushi no kon sho. Had to redo the start, as I had forgotten long bits of it, doh.

Last Saturday, my usually cherished two hours in a row were a no go for me. Andrew had a soccer tournament going all weekend long, as well as a football game on Saturday afternoon. We went to soccer in the morning and football in the afternoon, him missing a soccer game to go to football.

I just got back from a rare Wednesday night class, a class I was able to attend since Andrew's soccer coach didn't schedule a practice for tonight. Weehee!!! :) We did something we don't do very often tonight: sparring. Worked on some basics at about half to three quarter speed. Was nice to get some work on that.

I will go to class again tomorrow, making it back to back days of classes for the first time in a long while, then it'll go to, well, I don't know when, since again I won't be able to make the Saturday morning class since Andrew's football schedule is switching to Saturday morning, and after that, I have to go to the airport to pick up my wife who's coming home from a week long business trip to Chicago. Yeah, you read right, I'm Mr Mom this week. A good thing my mother in law is giving me a (very big) hand in watching over Matty whenever Andrew has some activity because I think I would have gone stir crazy without her...

Until later, take care, keep practicing...


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Still alive...

...and kicking :)

My life outside the dojo has just been really busy, as you probably know, and the life inside the dojo about as uneventful as the outside one is busy, so there wasn't much to report.

We worked on basics Saturday of last week, mostly self-defense techniques, K.C. and a little bit of kata work so not much new to talk about. I did get to learn all the 12 self-defense techniques in the 3rd group of techniques, the most advanced group. Will now have to work on them with attacks coming from either side.

The toughest part of that Saturday was going to see Andrew's football game which was played in a windy/rainy/sucky kind of weather. It was cold, cold, cold. It was Andrew's first football game ever and he said he had lots of fun, despite the weather.

Other than the very sunny Monday evening, the week was a rough one with very bad weather and rain on Tuesday and Thursday and some strong winds (yet thankfully no rain) on Wednesday. Rough in the sense that Andrew's got soccer games or soccer/football practices from Monday through Thursday and I attend to every one of his practice and games. Bad weather combined with some coworkers already carrying germs means yours truly caught a cold. Must have started on Wednesday but it really kicked in on Thursday and got worst through the weekend.

Anyway, fast forward to Saturday morning, another rainy/windy/cold/crappy weather kind of a day. I tell ya, I didn't look forward to sweat for 2 hours only to go in the pouring rain and the godawful wind for another 90 minutes. They must have heard me since the phone rang at about 9:15, just as I was contemplating skipping karate class in order to save myself for the afternoon in the rain. It was one Andrew's football coach calling to tell him that all games for the day had been cancelled. I tell ya, the weather was bad because one of the first thing they told us in the first preseason meeting was that it would play no matter was, unless there was lightning.

I went from "I don't feel like going" to "oh I'll go for an hour" to "oh what the heck, I'll do the full two hours" and I'm sure glad I went. It was one of those morning where you don't feel like going but once there, you get into it and it goes well and you forget that the weather is crap, that you're busy as heck and all that. We worked on self defense techniques again and I'm happy that I now know all them 12 last techniques and they are coming out better and better from one week to another. We also worked on self-defense techniques against attacks with a stick (we call it a club). We have 15 of those and you need to know them when you test for your 3rd kyu, so obviously I know them, but it had been a little while since I'd worked on them with a training partner and it felt good to work on them a bit Saturday. We finished that first hour by working on something quite special, techniques against a knife attack. These are not required even to test for your black belt, they are usually practiced by black belts, although as you see, they sometimes will have the higher underbelts practice them. It was pretty neat. Against a knife, you kind of have to go on the attack sometimes, for example, block the arm at the elbow while it's still going down on a downard stab kind of motion. What I mean is that if you let the blow come on a regular hook punch, you may block it just fine and avoid a strike to the face, but against a knife, if you wait, the blade might still cut you, and cut you bad.

The second hour consisted of some kata work, then 45 minutes of work on sushi no kon sho, the traditional bo kata that is required to test for the black belt. As you know, Andrew and I have been taking bo classes, but they are open style bo classes. There are some fundamental differences between traditional bo strikes and open style bo strikes. I had worked on sushi no kon sho a little in the past but most of the time it was while the creative bo classes were still going on so it was tougher for me to concentrate on one style or another. This time around, I've kinda stopped training with my bo for the Summer, even though I'll certainly take it outside once the weather permits it, so it was easier for me to really set my mind to sushi and try to learn it. 45 minutes non stop on one thing is a good period of time and our instructor taught it to three of us in little increment, so much so that I'd say we got about 2/3 or the kata almost memorized. Notice I said memorized, it's nowhere near a perfect execution, but I'm happy with that, especially that our instructor said we'd get back to it regularly over the Summer session.


Friday, June 02, 2006

flip gone bad, a video

After the crazy flips I linked to yesterday, I thought I'd share one of my favorite video clip ever. Man I get back to it about once a month, it's too darn funny...

This is what happens when you're too cocky for your own good


Thursday, June 01, 2006

our training ground, our dojo

Seeing Mat making himself a mini-dojo in his basement, I was reminded of this video I saw the other day. The video is of a young gentleman from Quebec City named Jean-François Robitaille, his website can be found at www.jeffrobitaille.net. He's from our group of school although he trains at the Quebec City one, maybe 25-30 minutes away from me.

He has won numerous big competition and he's very impressive, very acrobatic. In fact, he won the title of world champion in synchro/team forms with a kid who studies at my school, Mathieu Mercier, who's just as impressive. I call him a kid because well, I still see him as a kid ;) but he's a grown man... Mathieu has given class to Andrew a few times in the past, and he's the main teacher of acrobatics and creative/open forms at our school. You can see them both in this picture. Mathieu is the one on his knee and Jeff is the one standing behind him. You can see a video of one of their performances here. Warning, this movie is a good size one (10mb or about) and this is not your usual traditional karate. It's got more acrobatics in it, lots more crazy jumping kicks. You've been warned ;)

Well, and what is the connection between these guys and our dojo, the place where Andrew and I train? Well, there's another video from Jeff's website, a osrt of compilation of Jeff working on his jumps and such. That was shot at the Lévis dojo, that's where we train :) You can find the video here (same warning about size of the video applies to this one). Every scene shown where Jeff is making his crazy spinning jump kicks from in a room with mirrors are from our dojo. The scene where he appears on a stage comes from a show at Paris Bercy, where he took part in a three country demonstration with Daniel Sterling, an American and a Frenchman whom I don't know.

I wanted to share with you all what it looks like at our dojo. The blue mat you see there was put in last Summer. It's about two inches thick like your usual blue mat but the finish is more like a carpet and it stays there all the time, meaning you can make throws, sweeps and takedowns without worrying about your landing, or at least it minimizes the effect that a hard floor could have on you...


disclaimer: all videos and pictures shown in this post are the property of www.jeffrobitaille.net.