Seeing how other martial artists get their kicks (or throws or joint locks or….)

rei

On the weekend I was privileged to attend a training day run by the state’s branch of the IBF (International Budo Federation). These days are held about twice a year and during my time training I have heard of them but never ended up attending for various reasons. Having no such reason not to attend, I made my debut this time.

Wow!! So many martial artists under one roof!! There were a few karateka from our network (probably less than 10 all up) who I knew, a few other karateka who I recognised from tournaments but mostly people I had never met.

To be honest I really had no idea what to expect or what I would get out of it. There were a host of high level instructors leading the sessions throughout the day. I had not heard of any of them; some of the styles they taught were completely unfamiliar to me also. I have only moved in a very small and sheltered pond and only for about 2 or so years when it comes to martial arts, so I guess this is hardly surprising. There were no sessions being run by anyone in our dojo or even in our network this time, which pretty much ensured there was noone teaching traditional Okinawan or Japanese Karate of any sort. That’s ok though I train in Okinawan or Japanese Karate most days of the week anyway……change is as good as a holiday! So with an open and empty mind, ready and eager to learn and try out some new things, I started my day.

I don’t know what my fascination is with being on the ground but I was certainly drawn straight to the matted area, enticed by the prospect of learning some ground drills from a highly experienced Kosen Judo Master. In no time I was getting into it with one of my training buddies and we were flipping each other, putting on chokes and seeing who could be on top the most and who needed to tap out first. Good sweaty fun to warm up with.

Next I tried some JuJitsu, with an equally adept and effective instructor. We did some break fall practise to warm up. I have thankfully not completely forgotten how to do this so this part was familiar at least. After that we moved into some drills which felt a little like slightly unfamiliar bunkai, which employed a lot of wrist escapes / joint locks / throws and submissions. I struggled to get all the steps flowing through in the time allowed but I started to get a feel for using the techniques rather than speed and strength to get my partner into a vulnerable position.

Next came a quick photo and lunch break before jumping in to some more sessions. I decided to try out Tae Kwon Do next. There are a couple of women in our dojo who have trained either TKD or Muay Thai, and when I have had the pleasure of doing kumite with them I have noticed they employ their kicks a lot differently to me; way more confidently and often with desirable effects (desirable for them at least!!)! I don’t necessarily think that trying to mix in a TKD or MT style of kicking will help my game per se BUT I figure that understanding their game might help me play mine better. The TKD session was only an hour, but the drills we practised actually helped me understand a little of the tactical use of kicks, use of timing and distancing to achieve accurate targeting….. and who knows perhaps one day I will be able make use of some of the strategies that were taught. It certainly gave me a better understanding of what was going on with my training buddies and some ideas for getting out the way of their kicks.

Some tough decisions had to be made in choosing my final session for the day. I could either do more Judo (tempting as it was fun!!), learn some Kenpo / Hapkido or try out some kobudo. Since I brought my nan chaku (which have been sadly neglected in favour of my Bo and mostly my general karate training in the lead up to the tournament and grading), I decided to join the Michaelangelo brigade. I need not have brought my own, since foam chaku were provided as needed (where were they the first time I picked up a set a week after I had broken my toe!!!???). We warmed up with some basic techniques (some familiar and some less so…..all rusty!!). The drills we learned after this were basic nanchaku strikes and blocks / resets combined with kicks which was interesting. We finished up with some target practise (I did swap to foam chaku at that point) on balloons. I am not sure if the purpose of the exercise was to pop them / deflate them or just tap them but it was still fun to actually get to aim at something without worrying about hurting anyone.

And all too soon the day was over and I was heading home my mind buzzing with new ideas and my body feeling the effects of using a whole lot of muscles which were not accustomed to being used the way they were. It was good to see what some other martial artists get up to and it was highly enjoyable to get a taste of it in a relaxed and supportive environment. I will definitely check out more of these events in future.

 

 

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Purple Haze

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7th May 2016.

How can six months have gone by already since the last grading? Yet I knew it would go quickly; life seems to do that these days. I feel like I have come a long way since I reflected: “It’s not easy being green”, and I will admit that it became easier being green as I ventured further into the “Purple Haze”, and further along the path to 4th kyu. However, I have always maintained that when you are becoming comfortable somewhere, it’s time to take a step outside that comfort zone. This has kept me motivated and determined.

I am now a week off grading. I know the syllabus backwards. I have practised everything….a lot. I haven’t missed a class. (No, not even one). I have written copious notes on absolutely everything we have covered in class, and have gone back and re read them. I feel like I take my study of Karate way more seriously than I ever took my University Studies. Perhaps this is because it’s so much bigger than just one part of my life.

I do feel ready, or at least much readier than I dared to dream I would ever be, when I contemplated the “mountain” before me back in November. I know I am not perfect, but I know I can do everything I need to be able to do. This is somewhat of a pleasant surprise, as I remember thinking something along the lines of: “How am I ever going to be able to do all this?”, when looking at things like Empi (A sequence of elbow strikes / blocks), various airborne kicks, and new strikes, and kata.

I may have doubted myself, but noone else seemed to doubt me, not for a minute. When the people around you, the people you care about, believe in you and care about you, you start to let yourself believe in yourself. I feel so proud that I will be going to my first panel grading flanked by the very same 5 people I graded to green belt with in November. We have all helped each other out, and supported each other along the journey, picked each other up off the floor, and dusted each other off when that was needed, (sometimes even literally). The fact that noone from “team green” has quit, is probably at least partly a testament to the fact that they are all determined, but, I believe, also due to that support and positive, caring atmosphere.

My Facebook feed which gives me a daily “memories” reminder, today told me today that I had posted a year ago about dojo kun. At that time I was preparing to grade for the first time at my home dojo, and they had just welcomed me to the club even though I hadn’t officially joined and was still “just” cross training (and cross grading) there.

When I look at that post and look back over the year, I can see how “green” (not in belt) I was; how naive and oblivious to things that now seem obvious and second nature. I really didn’t know that it was (let alone why it was), not the done thing for kyu ranks to cross train or cross grade. I only really found that out after the fact! I didn’t really even consider any implications that my doing so might have had on anyone teaching me, so wrapped up was I in sorting everything into little boxes in my head. I didn’t realise how much my concept of the dojo kun, or indeed of myself, would change in the space of a year.

It took some special people to make all this happen, and it also took me, to let those special people in, and let it happen. Although I feel like I have left some of the haze behind me, and travelled a little further down the road, I still have a lot of distance to cover. It’s good to know that I will have excellent company for the journey.

14th May 2016

Wow! What a day it has been. Congratulations everyone. A bit sad that Team Green is no longer but happy to be on the next part of the road with you all. Osu.