Thursday, September 28, 2006

Karate humor

Not much practice in the middle of the week, but I'm in a real good mood, so I'll share my latest favorite funny karate vid.

Don't be fooled by the intensity displayed by the fellow in the next video...


Time works things out...

I skipped my Wednesday night bonus yesterday. My wife called me at work around 4, asking me if it was indeed all right if she had to stay a bit late. As I told in my "soothing" post, that Wednesday night bonus is simply that, a bonus. Sure, one I would usually like to use as much as possible and on most other times, I would have probably sounded annoyed on the phone, trying to convince her not to stay late, but get this, she had a good reason not to be at home on time: she was meeting her boss for her 6 month evaluation...

She called me a bit later at home, all excited, and right then and there, I think I fell in love. With another woman. A woman I've never met... HER BOSS!!! She told my wife she was working too hard and that she should not be forgetting about her children and... HER HUSBAND!!! :D

My wife had in mind of asking for a company provided laptop so she could log in to work from home after 8pm, i.e. when Matty goes to bed. Her boss offered her a laptop before she ever asked for it! HOW SWEET! Now I will have to enforce some rules so she doesn't stay up until 1am, but at least she should always be home on time. :) I can't tell you how much little needless stress this will take off my shoulders.

And you know what, she did make it on time for me to get to that Wednesday night bonus if I had wanted to. Thing was, I had already told Matty that he would come with daddy give a ride to his big brother to karate. He was so looking forward to it that I just couldn't tell him he now had to stay home while me and his brother left for karate. He came with us, walked to school were we dropped Andrew... It was cool, him holding my hand... Life was (and still is) pretty good... :)

We did have some tiny bad news yesterday. Andrew's instructor told us after his class that he would merge the two hours and starting next week, there would be class only at 6pm, for one hour. They had something like 5-6 students in the first hour and maybe 6-7 in the second hour and I agree it makes more sense to have a bigger one hour class than two very sparse class, even if that means there will be students from about any level. To me, I doubt this will change much, as I'd guess there will still be room for me to practice one corner of the gymnasium, but this means Andrew will not get his half hour of bo practice on Wednesday's anymore. I'm not sure he minds for now though. He told me he didn't feel like going to practice yesterday, although he wanted to go to class and I'm thinking that when he'll want to up the tempo a bit, I'll pay him some private bo sessions...


Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Picture this...

4:15pm I leave work
5:08pm After I'd picked up Andrew at school and Matty at the daycare, we get home, me and the boys. Matty asked about what we'd eat the moment I picked him up at daycare. Spaghetti was on the menu so I set water to boil on the stove and meat sauce to warm up in the microwave.
6:00pm Done with eating dinner, I think about giving a call to my wife still at work, about me having a karate class at 8pm. Simply asked "you remember about my karate class, right?" to which she replied "yeah, at 8" to which I specified "please get home for 7:40 at the latest".
6:05pm After having cleaned the table, we set forth to work on Andrew's homeworks and lessons.
6:25pm Homeworks done, I sit down to read in the living room while Matty watches TV and Andrew plays with a friend upstairs.
6:50pm I think about giving a tiny call to my wife, simple reminder that maybe she should think about packing it in and coming home. Her commute back home is a solid 40 minutes, without taking into account any possible delays. She tells me she's turning everything off and leaving.
7:03pm Dawning on me that she usually calls me from the road when she's left, letting me know she's about 30 minutes from home, and she's still not called me, I feel worried. Did she decide not to call me since we just talked, or has she still not left? Unsure, I call her again and sure enough, she answers on the first ring. I said only two words as she answered: "OH PLEASE!!!" to which she replied sheepishly: "I'm leaving right now"...
7:46pm She turns into our driveway. I'm right in the doorway, shoes and coat on, ready to walk out the minute she walks in. The Dojo is 10-15 minutes from our house, due to many, many red lights on the way. I'm not a happy camper, in fact I was pretty much angry at that point...

There's an back story to this. She's notorious for being late, or at the very last minute. This is a new job she's started only 6 months ago and she seems to enjoy it very much and because of it, she puts in many hours in the week. She usually leaves home for work when the kids get up (around 6:30am) and get back home after 6:30pm, and even, if I don't tell her I need her home for 6:30pm, it's a stretch.

Her previous job was a shitty one in which she worked a manual job while she's been trained as an engineer. Many months during the year she was there were on the night shift. She doesn't seem to mind putting in the hours now and seeing how she seems to be happy in what she does, I don't mind them too much either. Sure, that kind of schedule means I take care of waking, dressing and feeding the boys in the morning, in addition to driving them to the daycare/school. I pick them up afterward, get dinner ready (pretty much simply warm up something cooked beforehand), get the homeworks done for one, give the bath to the other.

I can't really complain, I know at least one who's probably much more busy than I am (hi supergroup7 and your many kids ;) ) and complaining, I am not. It's just that I'm really getting back to looking forward to my one weeknight karate class, you know, the more you practice, the more you want to practice. The Wednesday night bonus is just that, a bonus. It's free practice more than anything else and I could miss it, giving a ride to Andrew with Matty and not practice myself in case she'd get home late. The Friday night that is usually Andrew's second night in the week, and where I sometimes stay for some free practice, that one too I can do without. But the Monday night is one I don't want to give up as it's a class where I learn new stuff...

I was seriously pissed off when I left home for The Dojo last night. Some, mostly uninitiated people who think karate is only force brute and hitting stuff, would say it's not a good idea to go to a karate class in a foul mood. It works the other way around with me. Practicing karate frees my mind of everyday problems. We worked on our advanced self defense techniques. I'd worked them mostly under the guidance of my Saturday morning instructor, André, and practicing them with our regular Monday instructor, Jonathan, seemed to make them completely different. Lots of work to do, but it also helped me see them with new eyes.

The hour seemed to go by like 15 minutes. Not much sweat but a whole lot of brain food. I got out of there a renewed man, soothed from earlier petty angriness I had on my mind...

Sure we had a good talk back at home, but I wasn't angry or pissed off anymore. I simply asked her what time she thought she would have left if I had not called her at 7:03. She said she had no excuses, didn't see time fly. I believe her, she's like that...

I'm not asking for much, just the Monday night. I asked her to set some popup reminders in outlook, write yellow stickie postit notes all around her computer monitor to remind her of the limit time to leave. She said she would try her best. I know she felt bad about it, but she feels pressure. She just wants to be the best at her job and I can appreciate that...

Thanks for reading me, I feel much better now...


Monday, September 25, 2006

Getting the groove back

Saturday's traditional class was a bit uneventful. We worked mostly on Sushi No Kon Sho again, this I was almost leading the class with it. My rendition of it is far from perfect, but I at least know the sequence of strikes and blocks from start to finish. I'm sure it helped that I was able to practice it midweek last week.

We ended the class with a little exercise our instructor sometimes has us do. It involves one person staying at one end, and a lineup of people on the other end, maybe 10 feet away. First person on the lineup goes forward, does a forward roll and when he/she goes up, the people that was alone attacks him/her for a predetermined self defense technique. It can be a bit disorienting to do the forward roll then get up and be attacked, but it also helps with working our self defense techniques.

We also did some work on our latest kata, Cat 2 in my case. I got a bit of my groove back on that one, but that was not where I felt I needed the most work.

After our little dinner, our bo class came. Our instructor watched me do my kata first and immediately saw that I was having trouble with my transitions between strikes, hence the groove thing. He said that he thought my strikes were strong and quick and made with a purpose, but I had to make the kata move more fluidly. Even though I'm not a big fan of pure baton twirling, I see that some spinning is not entirely wasted and makes for some good transition between section of strikes. As a reminder of what my bo kata looks here's a repost of it. The angle is not very good as my father filmed it from up in the stands, but at least you have an idea about what I mean.

See, even the first spin, right after the start, is giving me fits right now. So this Saturday, I worked mostly on spins and figure 8. One way, then the other way. I was already feeling much better with it by the end of class.

Andrew worked on trying to bring the kata into sections, meaning you have a few strikes, then a big kiai and a mini pause. The way he does his kata right now, he's more like just on one rythm with little explosion. He is also trying to get back in the groove and this might have something to do with it. Again as a reminder, here's a rendition of his kata in one of his last competition.

I should get to put the Quebec Open competition to DVD at some point soon and I will post his two kata in here. Unfortunately there were nobody to film me at that competition, so I only have my trophy to remind me of my performance. ;)


Friday, September 22, 2006

Horse stance report

I'd kinda stopped working on my work stance at work. Didn't do any of it over the Summer. When I got back to it a couple weeks ago, I found that my good old online countdown timer I used in the past had been removed. Bummer...

I went on a search and found one really neat one at You can use it as a stopwatch or a countdown timer or even download it to use it offline as a flash file.

I started doing 90 seconds of fairly low horse stance a couple weeks ago to maybe 2 minutes with the last 60 seconds at a perfect 90 degree angle. Set 2:30 on the timer yesterday but for some reason, gave up with 60 seconds left, lack of will I guess...

I wasn't too happy with that and I set 3 minutes on the timer today and I held it. The last 45 second was pretty much a 90 degree angle, not so much because I wanted too but because I felt just so close to dropping to the floor. Legs were shaking madly by the end of it, but I'm happy I held it.

I don't do it every day and will probably start using my free weights in the basement at home to do squats at one point this Fall, but I wanted to started doing some horse stance sessions to get back in the mood...

At one point, I'll use the clock as a stopwatch and will set it so small I can't read the numbers and I'll try to hold it as long as I can, but that's not for now...


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Three section staff kata and more

I recently commented about my fear of the three section staff but only remembered today that a blogger I read regularly had just recently posted a kata with that weapon.

His name is Clint Leeung. He is from Montreal and from his profile, has been studying and training in martial arts for over 32 years. He has been competing at a very high level for many years, especially is such highly regarded circuits like the NASKA circuit, the NBL circuit, and the WSKF circuit.

He has title his kata a "kung fu three section staff kata" and I sense a bit of chinese (wushu?) influence in this one. Let's take a look at it:

After watching it, I sense that this kind of weapon has a couple of use. First it could definitely be useful to keep an attacker at bay, as you can swing it with a lot of amplitude. But then, you can also use it in short distance, because of the sectional side of it. Kind of interesting, if still a bit scary weapon to me, :)

He's also posted a video of his bo staff kata, with which I understood he did most of his competing in the last year:

I like it very, very much, but I'm biased toward the bo. It's got some spin, some strikes, very good strikes and speed. It's almost a shame we can't hear him kiai though. I like feeling the power in a bo staff kata.

Clint has posted some comments he has received about his two kata on his blog. You can read them here. I agree with what he says, now that I've read the comments. I honestly don't feel good enough with my technique to be any kind of critique to one of his kata...

Anyway, I doubt I'll ever get to his level, but he gives me something to look up to. And he scores bonus points for training with these forms inside his house...


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Wednesday night special

Wednesday nights are my training nights with Andrew. Let me explain how this works. Our karate school runs many (maybe as many as 15 or so) of these "satellite" schools in the area. These are simply karate classes that happen in the gymnasium of regular schools, after school hours, where kids can get karate lessons. Some of these satellite schools are offered to towns which are maybe a 30 minutes or longer drive one way to the dojo, and were started in order to give a chance to more kids to practice our style. One thing though, these satellite schools are only in effect during school season.

We live maybe 10-15 minutes from the dojo and attend most of our classes there but during school season, Andrew used to take one of his two weekly hours at the local satellite class. Sure, that satellite class was not put together to help out with transportation, but maybe more as a way to have more rooms in a dojo that would be overcrowded. And while doing that, they allowed us, and some other kids, to have the same karate classes they would have at the dojo, but only 2-3 minutes from their homes. I mean, Andrew could walk to that school...

At one point last Winter, I asked his instructor if I could borrow a corner of the big gymnasium so I could practice with my bo. You'll agree that a gymnasium is a much better place to practice than inside any house with regular height ceilings. He agreed and off I went. After a couple of weeks, Andrew asked me if he could bring his bo, but I didn't want to, as his class is a traditional class and not all other kids practice the bo. One thing I thought was to ask his instructor if we could come half an hour before the start of his class, while the beginners class is going. Again, we would only take a corner of the big gymnasium. His instructor agreed and since then, we've been regulars at the Wednesday nights for an hour and a half.

Tonight marked the start of the Fall season at the local satellite school so off we went. I supervised Andrew's half hour of bo, as he practiced to get back to where he was back in May.

For the last hour, I did many things. Some open bo work, some work on sushi no kon sho, which I was again able to do by myself from start to finish (yay!). I actually enjoyed sushi more than my open form. I need to get back in the groove with my open bo moves. I feel a bit out of it. I guess it will come back at some point. I also did some self traditional kata work including all the kata I know. The neat thing about this time at the gym is that while it's not really an hour of class for me, Andrew's instructor, whom we've known for three years now, is always around. I won't really go to him if he's with the kids, as I don't want to take his time away from them, but sometimes, walking for a group of kids to another group of kids, he'll see me doing something and he'll tell me about a thing or two to correct. He did that with some strikes in sushi tonight and also in the ending move of the cat 1 kata. I'm very grateful for these little tidbits of advice. I mean, everything I can get in will make me better...

Finally, I wanted to share with you this pictureI found today. It's from February 2003, as they were about to give Andrew his first medal ever in his first competition ever. He was barely 6 back then and an orange belt...

He's the third kid in the row and while the quality is not very good, I couldn't help but smile remembering that first competition. He presented a blocking form that day, his highest "kata" he knew at the time. Actually, it's not really a kata, simply a blocking form, as the name implies. I remember him being amazingly shy to go to the judges and simply name his name and the form he would do. How he's grown since then...

The neatest thing was how he did in kumite. The kid right next to him (the blond one looking toward the camera) is the son of a coworker of mine and, even though we didn't know it at the time, he would grow to be his big rival in kumite. They faced each other quite a few times in the couple years that followed. Andrew held his own most times and although I think he lost a very close fight that day, we were cheering him on as if he were Rocky boxing in Russia...


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The ways of the bo

I've titled this post very similarly to an excellent post recently made by oniyagi on his blog. I say similarly because you can see the tiny "s" added to the word "way" from his post to mine. That's because I've been learning many ways to handle the bo in the last year.

First way was in our competition bo class. These classes, taken after Andrew had picked the bo as his weapon of choice and I simply tagged along, became very interesting to me, very quickly. In open bo competition, you could pretty much make your kata as you go along. Bo movemement is very fast, although still very crisp. There's some spinning of the bo, which some people might refer to as "baton twirling". I don't care much for how other people call it as I have fun practicing it. As weird as this may sound, it relaxes me to handle the bo, toss it in the air and pick it back up. I do have some spins incorporated into my bo kata, but I also try to keep all strikes as meaningful as possible. This kind of bo kata is pretty much the most "artistic" I've ever been in my life.

Then came a first sort of more traditional bo handling in my learning of Sushi no kon sho. There's no spinning in that kata, lots of blocks followed with strikes, some who don't look so much powerful but more precise, and some other which are powerful downward strikes. Some differences about hand placement during these powerful strikes are still giving me trouble while doing this kata. While your hands are placed each to a third of the tips of the bo when you bring the bo over your head to strike, you slide your right hand down a bit as you strike downward. That way, with your left hand being the lower one, your right hand will end about a forearm's length from your left. Will need to practice that to perfect it.

Finally, a third way, even more traditional, is the kobudo way. We'd brushed that kind of bo handling back in May and we practiced it again for the whole hour of yesterday's class. Man that was interesting, confusing at first, but very interesting. We spent some time perfecting the strikes, yeah, yet again, as there are, again, some basic differences. Whereas you never really reverse your hands with either the open style or the first traditional style I'd practiced, now we were asked to reverse them on the bo to be able to do strike both right and left handed, both times going downward. I mean, in open style, we often have strikes where the left hand is the forward hand, but these are usually strikes where you're going upward. We finished the class with a few sparring type techniques where you were first asked to block, then disarm and finally strike the attacker.

I found that class to be absolutely great but the most exciting part of the night was actually right after the class itself had ended. The instructor that gave us class yesterday was not our regular Monday night instructor, although he usually assists on those Monday night classes. Right after the class ended, four of us discussed with him of how interesting that kind of class was and he told us that he's been taking classes of kobudo weapon handling with the idea being to eventually offer some of these classes at our school. He then demonstrated some of the bo kata done in this very traditional way, even doing our pinan 1 kata with a bo. I told him that if they needed to build a list of names of people interested, they could put my name down right now. I would be very interested in a class like that.

He added that not only the bo would be part of that kind of class, but also the sai, the tonfa, the kama, and even the sansetsukon (or three sectional staff). That last one scares me to death to be honest with you. :)


Saturday, September 16, 2006

A bo, a sandwich and some Gatorade...

Today marked the start of our bo classes on Saturdays. With an 11:15 traditional class for both Andrew and I, in separate rooms, and a new time of 1:15 pm for the bo class, this meant we had to bring our lunch, as we only had an hour in between the two classes. That bo class used to be at 2:15 and we had time to get back home, eat something without being on a timer and come back to the school for the bo class, but now, since it takes about 15 minutes to go back and forth from the school, I thought we were better off with a sandwich.

We made the best of it and sat down in the lounge they have at the school. It's a neat little room they have set in between the women's and men's dressing rooms where there's a big screen TV hooked up to a DVD player. Playing today was Lilo and Stitch 2, a cute movie I'd not seen yet. I also used some of that one hour to do my three pinan kata very slowly, paying good attention to my every moves...

As I said, the day started off with a traditional class. Looking back at it, one could say I didn't get much done, but I was very happy with the class. We started out with our usual warmup/cardio session that included much abs work which I know I need. That was painful but in a good way, if that makes any sense. We then did our three blocking forms, well three for anybody under balck belt, with the third a few more times while the black belts did the fourth and fifth blocking forms. As they names implies, the blocking forms are just forms of blocks, no strikes. These are the first forms we learn, before we go on to the pinan series. We then all did our highest kata once. For me, that was Cat two.

From there, four of us went to work on Sushi No Kon Sho, the traditional bo kata that is needed to test for the black belt. We had done it from beginning to end last week but none of us was able to make it to the end today. Our instructor guided us through it and we worked on that for the rest of the class. I'm quite happy about how it went today because once our instructor showed us the end, I was able to do it a few times by myself. It's not a pretty rendition, but I can make it to the end and for now, that's an accomplishment.

Then came lunch with Andrew and while it wasn't much, to sit with him, watch TV while we ate a sandwich and drank some very blue Gatorade, I couldn't help but be happy. I mean, that was simply cool. Sometimes I didn't even watch the TV screen, I just watched him. I love my sons. :)

Then came the bo class. I think I've explained before, but this is an open style kind of bo class, where we practice stuff that's usually more suited to compete. We learned a kata designed by our instructor last Fall so technically, judges don't what we really intend to do. Traditional and open styles of weapons usually compete in the same competitions, one against another. Even different weapons compete against one another. I'm the only adult taking this class and in today's class, there was me and four other kids, including Andrew. At the start of the clas, our instructor each gave us the choice of either making up a new kata with him, as a class, or each work to improve and change our existing kata. I let Andrew decide for the two of us. I liked that we have a kata, that I feel good about it, that he looks to be at ease with it, but would have been okay with learning a new one made from scratch. Knowing that Andrew isn't a big "trier" of new stuff, I almost knew beforehand how he would go, and he asked to keep on working on his kata and improve it as we go. By "improve it" or "change it", I literally mean that. We started practicing that bo together last September. By December, we sort of knew our kata. We really learned it in January and entered our first competition in February. After that, Andrew started taking private bo classes and that's when our instructor started telling us about little things we could do differently and from the first competition to the second, we had added a little extra strike or two, then before the third, another one, and at the Quebec Open, we had a slightly different kata from the one we started with in January. That's what we will do this time again, maybe make the kata longer, with a few more strikes here or there.

About today's class, after we'd done our kata once in front of him, our instructor told us what he wanted us to work on this Fall. We know the kata, well today was rough but we'd not done it in a couple months, so this will come back to us, but he wants us to work on the precision of it all. Our stances for one, he wants me to correct how I'm often kind of leaning forward when I do my strikes. I agree with him and I know this is something I need to work on in traditional stuff, when doing some punches in some kata. He also wants us to work on hand placement on the bo. See when doing rapid strikes, your hands should be place both and one third of the bo. When you do a basic figure 8, your hands go to the middle. We have some figure 8 in our kata, but they are often followed by strikes, which means I need to bring my hands back to third-third-third. We spent most of the class working on that today. This will require some more work... It was a good back to basics kind of class, with our instructor leaving us with a comment that we would try to start working our kata next week.

I learned that the first competition of the season for our group of schools will be on October 15. Competitions are always on Sundays and I'm kind of tempted to enter us in it. As you can see in the list of competitions for 2005-06 (sorry for the French, looks like they have not updated their English listing yet), there are 6 competitions in all during the season. Last year, we did the last three. The fourth one on the list, the Lévision Open, is our "home" competition, as it is organised by our school. That one's a given as is the Quebec Open. The NDL Open was the one we had the least fun at, mostly because it looked to be a bit too big for what they seemed able to handle. On the other hand, the Quebec Open, which was HUGE, ran smoothly. Right now, I'm thinking we might make 6 of them, taking the 2nd and 4th off, but this all remains to be seen...

Oh, and when I told you I was happy with how my learning of Sushi no kon sho went, I was even able to do it again, this time way later in the afternoon, in the backyard of our house, with no outside help, as if anybody could have helped me there anyway ;)


Thursday, September 14, 2006

Chocolate anyone?

They do this thing every Fall season at our karate school where you can sell chocolate. They don't force anyone, really, I have never heard even a hint of somebody from the school saying something about "hey, you know, you do compete a lot and maybe you should sell some chocolate so we can improve the school's equipment" as I've heard in other sports. When I was young and playing hockey, selling stuff was mandatory. Everybody had to do it.

The idea is pretty simple. Pick up a bag of 22 bars, sell them at $3 a piece, bring back the money and get a $10 gift certificate you can use for equipment sold by the school, like bo, kama, kicks, punches, head gear, euqipment bag and the likes. I'm sure the school is making a tiny bit of profit on top of that $10 and I would guess they use it to indeed improve the training facilities, like that nice cushiony carpet they put in place for one half of the first floor.

Anyway, I had never done that in that past, meaning with the karate school. I guess I had psychological scars from my youth of going to ask my uncles and aunts if they would buy chocolate, and/or walking in the neighborhood, door to door, asking neighboors I didn't always knew, if they wanted to support me.

Seeing how every once in a while, a coworker would come around with something to sell for one of his kids, I thought "hey what the heck, I could be that guy, bring the chocolate to work and hopefully see it sell by itself". I picked up a bag on Monday, right after my class. I wanted to see how many my mom would buy yesterday when she came visiting us, so I waited until today to bring it to work. I had 11 bars left in my bag after my mom bought 9 of them (yeah, Andrew and Matthew are their only two grandchildren and they tend to be a bit enthusiastic about anything they do ;) ). Well, what do you know, got in to work at 7:45, day starts at 8 and by 8:05, all 11 bars were sold with me offering them to maybe 7 persons. One of them is a lady from sales around here and she almost giggled uncontrollably at the sight of chocolate. She bought two rightaway, saying something along the lines of "I'll go tell the others at the other end of the corridor" and bang, another lady from finance was at my desk within 30 seconds, buying 3, one for her two for her boss. I tell ya, it was pure frenzy. People came to me until about 10 am asking me if it was right that I had chocolate for sale. Seeing how so many people seemed to want some, I'll pick up at least one, if not two bags this weekend and I've told everyone I'd have some more on Monday :) That lady from sales has already presold two bars...

Anyway, two more bags would make it $30 toward the purchase of Andrew's custom designed bo. They are a bit costly, at $75 per, but they are hand decorated and amazingly light. I had mine done last Spring. This is what it looks like (click the thumbnail to see bigger):

It's not exactly the same, but I used that picture to tell them what I wanted. I will have to sit down with Andrew and see what colors he would like...


PS to blackbeltmama: I'll post something about our kata lingo soon. I'm only resarching some of it a bit more.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Less is more

It was a good class on Monday evening. One of two hours in the week truly dedicated to "advanced" students, it was indeed that with eight people in the class, five brown belts (all 3rd kyu) and three black belts.
Reason why I say less is more is that eight people is a perfect class size. In last week's class that resulted in my rant, we were something like 18 or so people. It wasn't really the fact that the class was an "intermediate/advanced" one, but more the sheer number of people that did us in. When it is that crowded, it doesn't always take much for a class to derail...

Back to this week's class, we started it with some work on our more advanced kata. Sure, work is always needed on our first few kata, like the pinan (#1 to #3) and kata like Circle of the Tiger or Statue of the Crane, but the more advanced kata like the two Cat kata sometimes have even more little things that need to be looked at. Being only eight in the room yesterday, and all of us starting with Cat 1 as the first kata of our evening, it allowed our instructor to see us more and correct. He pointed out to me some problems with my kokutsu stance. The kata starts with a bow, then to a quick horse stance, then to kokutsu facing to the left. I had never realized it, but when going to my kokutsu stance, instead of keeping a width of about twice shoulder width, I had a tendency to bring in my left foot a little too much, sometimes as much as 8 inches. This sometimes even cause me to raise my left heel and made it look more like a cat stance. I was happy to get that corrected and pointed out to me. I will pay attention to that in the future. Less is more in that case meant more instructor time for each student...

I know Cat 1 and Cat 2, but there also exists a Cat 3, that I will need to learn for my black belt test. People were asked to keep doing their highest kata when a kata they didn't have was called, so I did Cat 2 quite a few times, as the higher belts did cat 3 and Lin Wan Kune, which from what little I know, is an adaptation of a shotokan kata that we only learn at the black belt level.

Once done with the kata, we paired to work on self-defense moves against a variety of attacks. What I liked is that our instructor made it into an almost bunkai interpretation of Cat 1. That was neat. One strike we often call hammer to the head within the kata was also presented as a possible use of a sankyo wrist lock and we got to work on that which I liked since sankyo is one of my favourite wrist lock and one I often try to find a way to apply. We also saw that turning in another way, we could use kote gaeshi to control the attacker.

I was paired with one of the three black belts for these techniques which was really nice as I got to see what it is when moves come in naturally, nothing forced. Sometimes, less is more applies to much more than the number of students in a class. Less tension in your shoulders, fists, hips, body overall, means more, better reaction. I am still way too stiff. Will need to work on that.


Monday, September 11, 2006

Saturday sushi

Was my first Saturday session back and I was kind of looking forward to it. As I said, I'm a bit out of shape, or should I say, not as in shape as I was maybe 3 months ago. Our Saturday morning instructor is a very intense 57 years young 4th dan who just loves to make us sweat and by seeing how many students come to his classes, I'd say there's a need for this kind of classes among the members of our school.

Anyway, after a solid cardio warmup that included among other things some pop corn jumps, we went through our KC's, from #1 to #20. A good back to basics quick session that I felt was very productive.

Once that was done, we broke down into small groups and three of us who passed our 3rd kyu together back in December got to work on Sushi no kon sho, the traditional bo kata that is required to test for the black belt. I'd never done it to the end, often doing bits and pieces of it but right from the start this week, I had the feeling we could probably do it all. Not that it was fluid of anything, but we still got to do the first section our instructor showed us, maybe 2/3 of the kata, without really having to ask for his help. He then showed us the last third and we were able to redo it by ourselves. I will probably need a lot of practice with it before it looks nice and everything, and I might not even be able to do it again right this moment if you asked me to, but it felt good to have been able to do it from start to finish.

Since we had about 10 minutes left in the class, all of us three decided to move aside and work on our most advanced self defence techniques, the last group of 12 out of 36. All three of us did quite well with these and we were able to run them in a little under 10 minutes with little goofups.

Andrew had to skip his coming back to training this week. He was supposed to start again on Friday evening and come with me on Saturday morning, as we've done for a few years now, but I first cancelled Friday when, after picking him up from school we got home and he had some solid fever, some 39C. He still had glazy eyes on Saturday morning so I decided to have him skip that session too. He will make them up at some point this Fall. He was even supposed to have a two game soccer tourney on Saturday. We had made the decison to also keep him out of that, given that the weather was very rainy and very cold, but they ended cancelling the whole thing.

With his soccer season officially over, I have my Monday evenings free again so I will switch my karate schedule to Mondays for the second hour of the week, in addition to my traditional Saturday morning hour. Open bo classes should start soon, maybe in a couple of weeks or less, and these will be on Saturday afternoon, only an hour after the end of our traditional class. This means we'll have to bring sandwiches to the the Dojo and eat there, me and my boy.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Never too young to start, kind of...

I said I didn't practice much with my bo last Summer, but I still got it out a few times. One of these times, what was my surprise to see this little thing come out of the back door and walk toward me. 30 months old and ready to rule the world with his bo, ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to (drum roll please....)

Matty the Terror!!!

(click it, it should open in a new window. I tried to embed but failed miserably yet still wanted to share it with the world, without putting kiddo on youtube ;) )

Sorry for all the giggling, that's mommy being oh so proud of her little boy. He actually surprised me. He actually looks like he almost knows what he's doing. One thing's for sure, he's much, much better at it his first time than I was my firt few times trying to spin it :)

As I said, he's only 2 and a half years old and we will not start him up before he's at least four, in one of the initiation class or our school that is only 45 minutes long and sometimes more play than actual martial arts. Andrew started in that kind of class when he was two months shy of being 5 years old. Matty, like most little brothers, sometimes says he will do everything his big brother does (I will play soccer and football and do karate), and at some other times, none of the things his brother does (no, no, no, I don't wanna). I'm hopeful that he will follow our path. We'll see...


Not where I thought I'd hurt

First class back went well. It was kind of good to me that our instructor made it into a back to basics class, focusing on some KC that are part our pinan 2 kata, working on snapping the wrist at the end of blocks to make them more like a strike than simply a block.

More than anything though, it's not physically that I'm hurting, more mentally. My head is spinning. So much stuff I tried to remember, so much stuff I know I need to work on. I felt stiff with my strikes, kind of inadequate in most of my moves. I will work on it, don't worry, but still it's in my head for the day, nagging me...

It was good to be back practicing although there was one thing I found kind of annoying. There was kind of a silliness in the air, a goofiness if you will. Granted, it was the first or second week back in the Fall schedule and many people had not seen each other in a while but once the class starts, you'd expect adults to act like adults and practice seriously. Not saying they didn't at all, but I felt like it could have been better. Still, I did my thing and was able to work on some things I needed to work on, or remind myself that I still have so many things to work on, depending on the angle you wanna look at it... ;)

Finally, a note to self: GET A HAIRCUT!!! Not that my hair are very long, but I just hate having even only a inch of loose hair to the back of my head and sweating in it, gah, just hate it.


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

I dread tomorrow morning, afternoon, evening...

Good day to all of my (silently counting in his head) four readers! :)

I'm back, after a slow karate summer. Thanks to many other family activities, and sort of a lack of will, I took it easy on my karate training this Summer. Among other things, I have put on a few pounds, pounds that I will hopefully be able to shed in the next few weeks as I resume my training toward this coveted black belt.

If you've read some posts in here, you already know that my son Andrew's commitment to two other sports, namely football and soccer, kind of forced me to try and catch an hour here and there, sometimes doing three in a week, at other times, going a couple weeks without a class. Yeah, I could have practiced harder by myself, but after a pretty intense spring season, I felt like taking it easy and I mean, I never stopped completely. At least not until the last couple of weeks, after our annual subscription ran out. I then decided that we would indeed sign up for another full year, but only starting during the week of the labord day Monday because Andrew had his last soccer game on that day. Well, that day has come and gone and tonight will be my session back.

Yeah, I dread waking up tomorrow morning and taking that first walk out of bed... In a good way though. :) I need to sweat a bit, work those muscles, get back in the karate groove...

No confirmed date for it, but the first competition of our group of schools (Studios Unis d'Auto-Défense) is usually in early October, so this could be coming quite fast. Andrew has been competing for quite a few years now, but he's never done any of the Fall competitions. In the past he would always start competing in a season after Christmas. Me, I only started last February, so no need to say I've also never done one this early in a season. There are 6 local competitions in the season, culminating with the prestigious Quebec Open. I intend for us to do as many as we can, at least 5, maybe all 6 of them. The Lévis one in February and the Quebec Open are two that I want us to go to for sure.

Many things will have to be worked on in the coming weeks, months, (heck years!), on top of my overal fitness. In the last few weeks of Summer, I felt less and less at ease with most of my kata, especially the last two, Cat 1 and Cat 2. This was possibly from a lack of practice so I'd expect this to come back on its own. I also know that all my self-defense techniques against club attacks need work. I need to work closer to my attacker with those. Can't wait to pick up my bo again and seriously with it. I did some work with it in the backyard (will even have a video of Matthew, our 2.5 year old martial artists to show you) but it seemed like weather was never good enough to work on my competition form. It was always either too windy, or too hot, or rainy, or... Also needed will be some work on the one tradition bo form needed for the black belt, Sushi no kon sho. And on top of it all, become more fluid on most my movements. And to top it all, the main reason why I started this blog in the first place, I need to work on my horse stance.... sigh...

Darn it, there's still a lot of work left. It's true when they say it's a journey...