Thursday, November 27, 2008

Training plans

Balance is always important in martial arts. One of the main reasons is that you don't want to be kicking someone and fall flat on your bum or on your face because you can't maintain your balance or control your kick. Many of your higher forms require incredible control and balance. There is a part of Jin Do that requires a Ap Cha Nut Gi (jumping front snap kick). I had attempted this on one of the occasions I had to practice with Mr. Brown before I left my old school...and I fell flat on my rear!! You talk about undignified!! I didn't have my foot planted properly, so I fell. Part of that was for inexperience, part of it was due to lack of balance.

I have a new tool in my training arsenal that I HOPE will help me in the long run. It's a Wii Fit. I read BBM's blog and decided to go out and look for one the night I read it. It sat in the house for a week before I set it up, but now that it's been set up, I am using it. I have been working on the balance games. I had the silly thing set up backwards first of all, but my husband finally decided to correct it and now all is well. It's not as bad as it was the day before yesterday! I did find out that Master G was correct in telling me that I need to use my hips! I really, REALLY found out how much when I did the 'slalom skiing'.

I haven't tried much of the yoga yet. I have done a trunk twist with my virtual trainer and I've got issues with the Wii as far as what it says my weight is, but I'll suck it up and deal with it. I have other things on my mind, like correcting my balance. So far, I'm "unbalanced". I DID, however, find that I can do a couple of serious aerobic exercises for about 15 minutes and I'm winded. This is something I will definitely work on. I AM going to get into better shape.

Tomorrow I'm packing the kids up (as long as it's not raining!!) and heading out to the local high school. We're going to put the track to good use. I want to start walking a mile...and I'll time it. Once I have a time for my walk, then I can start working on cutting that time down. At some point I need to start running. There's nothing that says I have to LIKE running...but I'll be running. If I get to the point where I can run a quarter of a mile in 2-3 minutes, it'll say something for me. My goal is to run a quarter mile by the end about a month ending in "y"? That's one of four months. I won't say exactly WHICH month it is, but I'm going to work on it. I definitely feel like I'm facing the correct path. I'm not fully engaged on that path, but I'm facing it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Goal setting and wish lists

I created a wish list that I think is a good start to making me a better martial artist. Yes, I'd dearly love to be able to have a heavy bag so that I can practice kicking and punching but that's out of the question in the apartment. Management would have a kitten if we put a heavy bag out on the patio, sooo...I'll make do with other things.

I'm working on my attitude and rearranging my goals. My first and foremost goal is to stop focusing on my belting. I'll get the belt whenever I get the belt. If I start worrying about "when am I going to test" instead of learning the material I need to know, I won't do well at all and they will laugh me out of creation. For that matter, *I* would laugh myself out of creation!!! December, for me, just got a LOT busier since I have a concert on the 16th that I HAVE to attend (oldest child), and
my manager and director decided that they're having our department dinner on the 18th, so I won't be in class at all that week. Then the week after is Christmas. I HOPE we're going to be in class on the 22nd because I want to go.

My Christmas martial arts goal/wish list is as follows:

****TO DO MY BEST****

1. To learn my terminology for my karate class by my birthday (6 months, 1 week)
2. To learn Nahainchi Ee Dan and be able to execute it properly by March.
3. To learn my one-steps and Ho Sin Sul properly.
4. To learn to run and like it...or at least, just to run.
5. To learn NOT to focus on how heavy I am (yes, I'm heavy, but I'm working on it!).
6. To NOT stress out over "not working at the level I think I should be working at." It's not about anything but improving.
7. To learn the bunkai of the forms and be able to answer an examiner quickly and efficiently when questioned.
8. To learn to perform a form backwards. I know it can be done. I don't want to "over think" it, but I need to learn it because it will be a useful thing to know.

I have so many other things in my head that I want to do but I'll work on that a little at a time. I really need to print this out and keep it where I can see it at all times.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sad news in the martial arts world...

This was an email I received today:

Folks -

It was announced in the paper today that Joe Hyams passed away last week at the age of 85. Mr Hyams was known for work as a Hollywood columnist and celebrity biographer. For us in the Martial Arts, he was the author of "Zen in the Martial Arts" and co-author of Chuck Norris' book, "The Secret of Inner Strength: My Story."

Both books have continued in print for more than 25 years. They are available in bookstores and used copies often turn up at Half Price Books. Both are recommended reading!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Thursday's class

Thursday night's class was most fun and challenging. Master M had us do what she called a "DQ Sundae". Basically, she started us off with a technique and we then had to one by one, add on another technique. It was a matter of listening and remembering. She demonstrated each technique as we called it out. That was fun. It started out with an Aneseo Pahkaro Mahkee (spelling, sorry!), followed by a low side kick in kemah Jahsee (horse riding stance), then a torrida (spinning), it was a back fist. I am still learning the terminology, so I don't have it all yet. It was a Kap Kwon, I think! I offered a Jang Kwon (palm-heel strike) ending in a front stance. I'm not looking at my notes at present, so I don't have all the techniques our line offered up memorized. It was a lesson in putting together the various techniques and think of the flow and how they interacted with the previous and the next technique. I have to admit to being disconnected. I was concentrating on doing the technique and making sure I did it correctly (which can be improved, I'm sure!). I didn't really think of the application at that point, but I've since been thinking about how they worked together. I can see in my mind how a torrida kap kwon can work to pop someone upside the head (I believe it's a temple strike), then with my offering (jang kwon), it's a blow to the ribs to further incapacitate the opponent. I think there may have been another kick there...I forgot what Mr. L offered (a spinning inside/outside crescent kick, maybe??). One of the other Mr. L's offered up a round house, I think. I forgot (again, not looking at my book), what the last technique was.

We were in two lines and the second line offered up a high block, jumping front snap kick, something that landed in a cross legged stance, reinforced middle block (I THINK). It ended with a jumping front snap kick with the REAR leg (need to work on those...I think too much and an opponent would see it coming a mile away!), ending in a cat stance with a plier/pincer grip?

When it came to forms work, I actually remembered Keecho Hyung Il Bu, Ee Bu and Sam Bu!!!! I think I spaced out on Bassai, so that means I need more work on it...and Naihanchi Cho Dan I think I had!! It really pays to practice. I'm going to get myself back into the habit of reviewing forms, starting with my basic forms and working up. I really need to stop THINKING and actually start doing. I will get there. Nothing happens overnight, no matter how impatient I am.

Mr. L gave me a few pointers on my high 'x' blocks. I can see the application and the benefit of doing it the way he showed me--there's a 'divot' on your wrist that you can lock your other wrist bone into...and it's more stable than the way I had been doing it. One minor tweak learned and committed to memory (we hope!).

Friday, November 14, 2008

Funakoshi excerpt

Training Precepts

by Master Gichin Funakoshi
From Karate-Do Nyomon

"Since karate is a martial art, you must practice with the utmost seriousness from the very beginning."

"Try to do exactly as you are taught without complaining or quibbling."

"When you are learning a new technique, practice it
wholeheartedly until you truly understand it."

"Don't pretend to be a great master and don't try to show off your strength."

"Remember that you must always have a deep regard for courtesy, and you must be respectful and obedient toward your seniors."

"You must ignore the bad and adopt the good."

"Think of everyday life as karate training."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Important thoughts

How long to earn a black belt?

How long does it take to earn a black belt? The answer is illustrated in the parable of the boy and the Karate master.

A young boy traveled across Korea to the school of a famous master. When he arrived at the school he was given an audience by the master.

"What do you wish from me?" the master asked.

"I wish to be your student and become a black belt. How long must I study?" the boy replied.

'"At least 10 years." the master answered.

"Ten years!" the boy exclaimed. "What if I studied twice as hard as all your other students?"

"Twenty years!" replied the master.

"Twenty years! What if I practice day and night with all my effort?" asked the boy.

"Thirty years!" was the master's reply.

"Why is it that each time I say I will work harder, you tell me that it will take longer?" the boy asked.

The master answered, "The answer is clear. When one eye is fixed upon your destination, there is only one eye left with which to find the Way.'"

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A treat

I had to go back and find the pictures from my black belt test and post them here. I'm actually really proud of this accomplishment.

(Note--I goofed up on my labelling of some of the forms. I can go back in at some point and edit titles, but not tonight.

Mantra, Day 2

I like the fact that I have a good memory and that people come to me for questions to be answered.

Monday, November 10, 2008

New day, new mantra, Thank you ML!!

I'm trying something new in the way of my workouts and whatnot. I am going to start every day telling myself one thing I really like about myself. No more "Negative Nellie" for me. I've got a piece I wrote last June that I am going to re-type and share at some point. I was advised that it doesn't sound at all like what I've been saying lately. I really needed that advice and I am going to take it.

I got up this morning and looked at myself. Then I told myself, I like the fact that I'm caring and I listen to people.

I'll be repeating that to myself during the day. I AM capable of being a good martial artist. I wouldn't have a black belt if I didn't earn it somehow.
I earned it. Thousands of hours of sweat. I will earn my second Dan. I don't know when right now and frankly, after spending the weekend talking to a friend, I don't think I need to worry about the when. I need to worry about getting myself together, to getting what I need to accomplish done. I'm fine with who I am as long as I focus on the here and now and not the When.

A little positive reinforcement goes a LONG way!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Review of 11/6 class

Thursday's class was a kicking class. It wasn't all kicking, but that was our primary drill after the initial warm ups. Master G has the class bow in (and I STILL need to work on the opening commands for class!!), then someone led the warm up. That was interesting...we did a "downward facing dog" pose (My friend, Ram calls it 'up dog/down dog' but it's all the same thing). Then we did some further stretches--It was a lunge, and to get an extra deep stretch of your hip flexors, you can put your back knee on the floor. The thing I've noticed on that is that you need to keep your back straight and you never, EVER want to have your front knee go past your toes!

We did a few line drills with us doing Aneso Phakeso Mahkee (inside/outside block) and Phakeso Ahn Uro Mahkee (outside/inside block). We did Ha Dan Mahkee (low block) and Sang Dan Mahkee (high block). Then we did some other things, including Jang Kwan (palm heel strike), a side stance with a center punch I think it's Sa Ko Rip Chaseh--no, that's the stance. The actual side stance with a center punch is a Hwang Jin Kong Kyuk.

We practiced Aneseo Phakeso Cha Gi (inside/outside kick) and Phakeso Ahn Uro Cha Gi (outside/inside kick) with partners as well. The goal there is to remember what you're hitting with. You've got two things you can use--either the ball of the foot (the bahl, I think) and the side of the foot. You have more control with the ball of your foot as you go to hit because it's a wider surface. The blade is used as a firm quick 'snap', if my memory is serving me right.

When that was finished, we went to the other room and worked with our Wavemasters and BOB. We practiced our Ho Sin Sul from the "backside", that is, not trying to escape an opponent. You practice like this to get a feel for what the Ho Sin sul should be like. It also gives you a stationery opponent to work with. I think I made it up to #6. It wasn't until I was messing around with Ram at work yesterday that one of them (the bear hug) really made sense to me. I think I just needed the live body to perform it on. It's interesting because it's very much like Pyung Ahn Sam Dan ("Superman form") toward the end. There's an elbow/punch combination there that resembles Sam Dan very much. I think I'll get the hubby out tomorrow and work with him on it. I need to keep practicing my Ho Sin Sul. I need to learn it. I need to learn everything. Lots of things to learn!!!!

I also talked to Master G after class and told him my fears. He said not to fixate too much on the date next year for my test. It's not going to do me any good because I may psych myself out of properly training if I am obsessing over a date. What I need to do is to practice and learn. And keep learning. I don't know Naihanchi Ee Dan yet, so that's something that needs to be learned. I also need to master all the Ho Sin Sul AND the one-steps. I have to make up 6 one-steps of my own. I have to learn the Korean because it IS taught this way. I have to learn the bunkai. I also need to learn something else...I think he mentioned bushido, but I could be mstaken. He's going to get me some information that will help me out with my journey.

I think I'm back on that journey toward black belt. If I was smart, I'd sit down now and write out what it means to me to be a black belt. I should go review my essay I wrote for my first dan. I think I'll do that...

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Exercise musings

I think I need to learn NOT to walk when I'm angry. It is beneficial, yes, but at the same time, it *hurts* because I don't temper my stride. I have a tendency to literally pound the pavement. As a result, I do injury to myself.
Case in point...I was so stressed out yesterday that when I went walking, I walked with a hard stride. Not necessarily a good stride. I know it wasn't fast. It was just hard. My right foot now feels like it's "locked up". The instep is painful and stiff. Not what I want, especially since I want to go walking again. I have set myself a goal (almost typed "goad"!) of at least 3 miles a week, walking.
I may skip the walk today. I'm not sure. I haven't made my plans yet. I don't go to lunch until 11:30 and it's 10:15 now. If I go, I have to get out to my car and get my things.

When I walked yesterday, I met two ladies who were out running. I'm assuming they have a route planned out. They ran past me as I was heading out, then I met them coming back...and they ran past me at a fast walk! That's when I felt like I was too slow. I tried to speed up to keep up with them and wasn't able to. They're in *much* better shape than I am and it showed.

I really need to stop comparing myself to other people, but I really have a hard time stopping myself from doing it. It's like comparing apples to oranges. Both are fruit, both can be sweet, but that's where the resemblance ends. One's got a rough outer skin, one's edible from the get-go. It's the same with people. No two people are alike. I know this but haven't managed to keep it in my head. It's the same with martial arts. I know that I'm not expected to keep up with the people who are higher ranked than me. They may have a different outlook on training, etc. I shouldn't look at what they're doing and say "I have to keep up with xyz..." It just isn't going to be possible!! I am me. I'm not in superb shape. I am coming off a long (7 month) hiatus where I haven't done much.
(This is changing, I'm not just sitting here bitching about it!)

I didn't do any push ups yesterday, so today is a bonus day--I get to do *4* of them! Hooray! I'm going to see if my son wants to do push ups with me. That way it'll be something we can do together. I need to do some crunches too to start working my abs. If I can find where hubby hid my bo, I'll be able to get it out and use it for ab work. I found an exercise on that is a good abs-shaper. It uses either a broom handle or something along those lines. You hold it at shoulder level with your arms up across the back of it (think an old picture of a "milk maid" or something like that). Then you perform a trunk twist. The most effective way to do this is to sit down and twist. You can use a towel while you're sitting on the floor and you can do this while you're watching television if you're a television sort of person. I may have to start doing this on my nights that I'm off from karate. It'll help build up my obliques and abs and maybe, just MAYBE, I'll wind up with a shape other than round!!

Monday, November 03, 2008


Training consisted of my two push ups and a walk. I felt really good about it. When I got in, I felt like I had just accomplished a lot. Granted, that walk wasn't the fastest thing, but it was a welcome change from sitting on the couch, doing nothing. I enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment after the walk. I wasn't walking for speed, but just for enjoyment. If I do this, plus eat right and drink plenty of water, I'll be able to lose some weight.

I emailed my best friend and told him I was in panic mode. He hasn't answered me back about getting together for coffee yet, but he knows why I'm panicking. I've talked a little bit to my hubby, but he doesn't quite 'get' it. He knows I'm worried about my weight, but he's not a martial artist, so he doesn't understand the pressure I'm feeling. I wanted to talk to my friend to hash out some thoughts. I don't know if Master G reads my blogs (I know some of the other people at the dojang *might* read them), but I have to sit down and talk to someone about my concerns and fears. Fear is natural. If you're without fear, you're either very confident of your abilities (ha, not me!) or just faking it very well. Me? I am so scared, it's not funny. I have a lot of work to do to 'tweak' my forms. I have to learn a whole new range of one steps. I have to learn bunkai. I have to learn Korean. There's a whole new set of things to learn.
I have to learn to keep a training log that is cohesive and makes sense.


I have these quotes in my signature when I send emails. They make sense to me, even more so now.

He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still.
~Lao Tzu      
Given enough time, any man may master the physical. With enough knowledge, any man may become wise. It is the true warrior who can master both...and surpass the result.~~Tien Tai

Mental fitness

I read Ms. M's black belt test account today and my first thought was, "HOLY!!!
That's a tough test!!" I've only participated in two tests, but man! She's in excellent condition and from what her test sounded like, it was brutal! She had to be completely wiped out by the end of it.

I told her the other night that I want to be her when I grow up. I really want to get into better shape physically because it'll make me feel better mentally.
Part of being a black belt is attitude. If you don't have a good attitude, you won't be a good black belt. You have to be mentally fit as well as physically fit.

I'm determined that by the time I make Ee Dan, I'll have truly earned it. I don't want to have my achievements held up to me as "you're my success story. I took a (fill in the blanks) person and made her into a black belt." Unfortunately, that was how my Cho Dan was presented to me in May. I wasn't given credit for working my butt off to earn it. I was told that I'm only a success story.
Well, guess what? I am NOT just that "fat person who is a black belt". I am in a league of elite martial artsts. I will reach that bar that has been set for me by the Ee Dans, Sam Dans, Sa Dans and Oh Dans. I will make it. I may fall into a small heap as I reach for it, but I will make it. Just need to work on my mental fitness. I need to be able to fail and learn from that failure.

There's a lot to be said for the people who undertake tests like Ms. M's. It shows just exactly how hard you have to work. It's not a "gimme". Anyone who thinks a belt test is that should really go read her blog. I have nothing but intense admiration for her.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Sunday Fitness

I went out today and got myself two new pairs of shoes, so I'm set for walking. I bought one pair to wear as "everyday" shoes and one pair for strictly walking. We shall see how this works for me. I'm going to be walking quite a bit.

I looked at my push up requirements again for my fitness test. I made a mistake. I need to do 32 push ups, rather than the 38 I had posted that I was supposed to do. I looked at the requirements for someone 30-39 years of age, rather than 40-49. OOPS! I guess I'm trying to fool myself that I'm not as old as I am?
I am still working on trying to do a correct, "guy" push up. I did my two today. It's hard to do, especially as I have a tendency to sag down at the belly!
I'm going to work on that. I bet that if I work on holding my stomach in, I'll get a bonus of strengthening my abs.

I have to work on the crunches. I don't do them the way the people at BTK do. They do more of a Pilates-style crunch, where they are straight legged and fold up to the middle. I do my crunches with my feet flat on the floor, pulling my shoulders off the floor toward my knees. I don't know if it's right or wrong, but for now, I'm going to keep doing my crunches with my feet flat on the floor. I'll do that until I get my core muscles built up.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

New challenges

I'm challenging myself to do new things. I did two 'guy' push ups this morning. Not a lot, but it was a start. I usually do pushups on my knees, so the 'guy' push ups I did is a good thing. I have a tendency to "sink" down in the middle and lead with my belly, so that's something to work on. Proper form is everything. It makes a difference, not only in push ups, but in kicks, punches, etc.

I have a book from BTK that gives my requirements for fitness for my next test. Now that I'm serious about it, here's what I have to look forward to:

Crunches, push ups, kicking and run/jog: all need to be done at the pre-test AND the test.
As a 43 year old woman, at the rank of black belt, I must be able to do 38 'right angle' push ups. I'd like to have this accomplished by December. I do my push ups on my knees, but by March, I want to do them all in the proper form...hence the "guy" push up goal.

Crunches: My requirement is 34. The requirement for men in the same age group as me is 42, so I think I'm going to push for somewhere in between.

Kicks: I have to be able to perform a turning hook kick and a hop hook kick three times on each leg at a HIGH level. I'm sure that I'll also have to do a turning side kick plus a jumping round kick. High level means that I should be able to kick at a range from the shoulders to the top of the head. (need to get the excess fat off because I can't kick if I'm fighting myself to get the foot up!)

Run/Jog: For my age and rank, I have to run a mile in 10 minutes. I'm working on that now. Ten minutes? Yep...I'll work on it. I SHOULD be able to accomplish that by March.

I've got a few other ideas in mind, such as creating a training log. I don't know how many of my instructors read my blog, but I think that setting these goals is an acceptable one. From a fitness standpoint, the fitter I am, the happier I am and the better I perform.