Today was and good day and today was not a good day.
I slept longer than usual, but got up feeling unusually un-refreshed, and kind of “old”. I had some niggling aches and pains bothering me and I felt a bit run down. I got ready to ride to karate training and had my usual battles to get Mr 6 out the door. My bike brakes have gone wonky and are still rubbing on my wheel; I can’t work out how to fix them. This makes hills difficult (especially when pushing Mr 6, and since we are potentially going to be late and I am not sure how many extra push ups I can do today, this is more of a problem than usual). My husband, who was meant to sort my bike out yesterday, evidently hasn’t….(I am to remind him to fix them….again….apparently). I don’t get angry. There is no time and it isn’t worth the effort.
We are not late, in fact we are earlier than Sensei (dai Ichi), and when he arrives and lets us in to the dojo, we get changed and ready. We start with circuit training (this time brought to us by the kata Geki Sai dai Ni), and I try my best, but because my brain feels kind of foggy, I can’t nut out some of the drills to the point that would allow me to do them fast enough to build up a sweat, (this is despite being familiar with the kata). This is frustrating but I endeavour to be patient with myself. I want to build up a sweat because I am pretty sure that will help me snap out of this micro-funk I seem to be in today.
The class moves on to some individual and partner based drills based on the kata Geki Sai dai Ichi this time. It isn’t rocket science, but again, I struggle more than I should. At one point Sensei asks us to try to “think less” about it and be more free form. That makes it easier, but perhaps not enough. It’s really hard for me not to think at the best of times, and I still catch myself trying to plan what technique(s) I am going to throw next, because now they are out of the normally drilled sequence! At least the blocking side of the drill becomes more instinctive and flowing for me though, so that is a win.
We do some more partner drills (rotational pre-arranged sparring) and I get the hang of it on one side and then struggle with my “other” side; I am still clunky and slower than I should be, but, “patience”, I think again, and just keep plugging away (especially in the shadow position).
Following this we do jiyu kumite (free sparring). This is also rotational, which, in theory, should mean I get to go up against everyone. For some reason though, I don’t. I keep ending up with someone I intensely dislike sparring with; the proverbial bad penny. There are 7 of us including Sensei dai Ichi (who I don’t get to spar with today….possibly just as well as I suspect I will be swept off my feet given what we have been working on, and given what I observe happening to others when they’re sparring with him….I don’t feel like landing on my bum today…..I am just not in the mood). I think we do 6 rounds (and one observation round) and I have to fight said person 3 frigging times! Normally I enjoy sparring immensely, and one of the other rounds (when I get to spar with a visiting sensei), I really have fun and just make the most of it; I am not sure if this is because I feel safer and less reserved or that I am just happy to spar with anyone but the other person in question!
To expand on why I dislike sparring with this person could take a whole blog post but in a nut shell I don’t like it because:
(a) the person is easy to read, predictable and therefore there are few (overt) learning opportunities for me,
(b) the person relies on brute strength and does not try and pull their techniques, hence ends up hurting me most times,
(c) the person alternates between whinging that my techniques don’t hurt them and whinging that I need to pull it back.
(d) In short I don’t feel this person respects me (or my body), though I really do try to respect them.
End of rant.
After the 7 rounds Sensei takes a vote on what we would like to do next. I actually don’t mind (as long as I don’t have to spar with that person…..again!!). Kata wins.
I don’t have to spar with my “favourite” sparring partner, but we have to share the same end of the dojo to practise Geki Sai dai Ni while the others are practising Saifa. I want to practice Saifa too but evidently that isn’t what Sensei has in mind for me today…..”trust the process”, I think……”3 years one kata”, I think…..so I keep dutifully polishing. It’s not like I have been restricting myself to one kata much lately…..perhaps this is penance for cross training…. and cross grading (which hasn’t been so much as mentioned by Sensei dai Ichi, for whatever reason, since it actually eventuated) 🙂
Anyway, it turns out my “favourite” sparring partner is feeling a bit worse for wear by this stage, so it’s mostly me practising by myself, obviously after I have checked they are ok (and not about to keel over into the path of my oncoming Geki Sai = attack and smash). The person said they copped a punch in the nose (hardly surprising given where their guard isn’t; even I got them in the nose a few times, but I just touched, and they assure me I am not the one responsible for the mild “concussion”). I also notice they are bleeding from a toe (and thanks to their kicks I now have my gi in bleach….again). I feel sorry for the person and I feel a good deal of empathy for them, since I am also a bit injured and bruised, and also having a bit of a rough day. Once dealt with though, I regroup, refocus, put this to the side and move on with my “polishing”.
Sensei comes over after a bit to see if we have any questions (and I do because I haven’t been actively practising this version / style of the kata recently…..I need to). One of the questions was about direction of stepping at the end of the kata. In the context of having this question answered, I get a bit of a history refresher on the development of the kata and the intentions behind it, which lights up a few bulbs in my brain about similar material covered recently and noted recently in other styles / dojo. I also ask him to give me some pointers on my mawashi uke (circular block) which feel like they are “a bit dodgy” I say. He gives me some tips and after a bit of work on my part they are apparently “less dodgy” (not the word he uses but I will leave it at that), which I will take as “ok…. and “go and work on it, in the mirror….again….and again…..and again…..” I hear Sensei suggest my “favourite” sparring partner do weights training to build on their “strength” (ie their strength)…..(“Heaven forbid!”, I think, just a little too loudly….(ooops)…… “they should try and hit me any harder!!!”)…..I fleetingly wonder what aspect(s) I should be aiming to build on, but I am not enlightened, and I don’t ask…..today may not be the best day for me to hear the answer. 🙂
After some step by step bunkai on Saifa (my “favourite” sparring partner is asked to be the uke so I do end up getting to do a really slow Saifa with the others, in the end, and get to refresh my memory), it is the end of class.
I have made it through by the skin of my attitude!
My husband has stopped past to say hello, and, unsuccessfully, tries to fix my bike. I ride home, up hill, pushing through soreness, brain drain, and the dodgy brakes and pushing the 6 year old and his bike and I am thankful that my husband at least took the bag in the car.
We get home, make and eat lunch. After lunch I go to the bedroom to get my phone. I sit on the bed…. I lie on the bed….. It’s comfy, and I am so cognitively and physically drained, that I switch off…. everything…., clear my mind, and just be. I know I had missed having our usual meditation (albeit short) at the end of class but my body, my whole being, obviously feels it too, so keenly, it just goes there! I emerge feeling, at least a little, renewed.
Today I learned that I really can do it if I decide to do it.Today I learned how to learn deeper lessons even from people within whom you see little potential for more superficial learning. Today I learned to be more humble, to suck it up and get on with it. Today I learned to respect the needs of my body.
Today was somewhat of an uphill battle (literally and figuratively). Today I nearly hit the wall but didn’t. Today was and good day and today was not a good day. It was not a good day because I didn’t feel my best but it was a good day because I tried my best despite this.
Today is nearly over. Tomorrow is another day.