Has it really been almost a month since I last blogged anything karate related? Wow. Time is flying by here. The start of the academic year is always a manic time for me. A whirlwind of data entry, timetabling, student ID cards and endless student enquiries.
Despite the tornedo of student related activity, long days and late finishes, I've still (thankfully) managed to keep up with 2 karate classes a week (three if you were to count acting as Sempai for Grace's class). I still doing it, and still loving it.
We've had a change to our school's grading process recently (mostly due to the fact that student numbers are increasing). Previously Shihan has been doing gradings on a kind of ad hoc basis but this month it was a set grading day and all students who were set to grade were given a slip inviting them to the session.
Myself, Kendo and Grace were all due for grading so after dropping Ewan off at his Nanny and Grandad's on Sunday we trooped off the the grading session as a karate family. Kendo and I were set to grade to 5th Kyo-Ho (green belt, blue tip) and Grace was grading for her much coveted 6th Kyu rank (green belt).
It was a tough old session of kihon, kata and kumite. My fine on my basics so trotted through them ok. Helping at the junior class is really improving my basic blocks and strikes I think because I have to be very conscious of how I'm doing them when I've got a collection of white belts copying what I'm doing! I don't want to pass on any bad habits! Eek!
One of the requirements was our basic taisabaki (a 10 step linear taisabaki with a range of strikes and blocks). The green and blue belts were called in to assist with this for the younger grades (they do 3 step, 5 step, or 7 step out of the same drill depending on their level) which gave us an opportunity for practice before we were tested on our own 10 step. We practice this quite a lot both in class and at home so it's pretty ingrained in my muscle memory now so I wasn't too worried about that part.
Then came the kata. As there were so many students grading things started with the lower grades on the first kata and took them up to their requirement for grading. I was really proud of Grace, her kata wasn't perfect but she nailed most of the turns and blocks. I just wish she would have more confidence that she knows what she should be doing and wouldn't get caught up watching some of the other kids who aren't doing it right!! LOL. The green belts and above were only required to complete from our orange belt katas onwards. Oh dear. We did get a bit of a dressing down by Shihan because our "strong" Tagioko Sandan kata was, well.... a bit pathetic to be honest. We had to do a couple more run throughs before he was satisfied with the pace and let us carry on with the rest of the required kata. To grade to 5th Kyo-Ho the required kate is Gekasai Nidan. Out of a row of 5 students I was the only one to Kiai. I pretty much cacked myself that I'd done it in the wrong place but I was right (phew!). I did however have to conclude that my Kiai's are still a bit rubbish. I sound like I'm about 10 years old. I must work on them more.
When we'd finished the required 5th Kyo-Ho kata Shihan asked Kendo and the other green belt testing with us to sit down and left myself, Jon (blue belt) and Cairan (brown belt) up for the next kata (Koke Ho - which is the required blue belt kata). At this point I was starting to suspect Shihan might be looking to see if I was ready to grade to blue belt (no pressure then! *GULP*). I managed to get through the kata pretty well (much practice had been done at home, thankfully) and then had to get geared up for some kumite.
The higher grades were again drafted in for kumite against the people grading for lower grades. I was paired early on with a lady who had come to the grading for her first class (there were other students there who weren't grading, just refreshing on their basics). Stupidly thinking I would be able to take it easy....that'll teach me. I should have suspected something was afoot when she asked before bowing if it was okay to use kicks as well as punches. Yup, you guess it.....ex-kick boxer!. She pretty much handed me my arse on a plate. Good job we can laugh about it! I got to spar with some of the little ones from the junior class which is always fab. I love sparring my guys!
Then the higher grades got their turn for kumite. All I can say is Oh My! I somehow managed to be paired up with Shihan for my first bout (I'm still not entirely sure how I let that happen!) and he wasn't anywhere near as nice to me as he usually is. There were a couple of moments there when I seriously considered employing the Armadillo defense (that'd be rolling into a ball shouting "please don't hit me, please don't hit me"!). In the end though I was brave and held my own (of a fashion) through a bout with Shihan and then another tricky bout with fellow student Jon.
Phew. It was finally done with.
The new gradings are given out at the end. I was so proud of the kids from the junior class - especially some of the guys getting their first gradings who I've been working with for the last couple of weeks in class. I had a bit of a proud teacher moment there! *sniff* Then I had a very proud Mummy moment when Grace was awared her green belt (she's so chuffed with it, I can't tell you). Kendo was awarded his 5th Kyo-Ho (blue tip on his green belt) and then Shihan awarded me my BLUE BELT! Hurrah. Double grading again. I came over all embarrassed when I went to collect my belt but then I did get to revel in the 30 seconds where I'd managed to catch up with Jon....before he was awarded his Red belt and went back to being the person I aspire to catch. LOL.
All in all, a really good grading for the Cookie family.
Now the work begins learning new kata and a whole new set of taisabaki and strikes and blocks.
Kata Saifa is the next kata for me which is already giving me sleepless nights! I'm chipping away at learning the first half of the kata (before you start with the hammer fist strikes for those of you who know the kata). Hopefully I'll have that committed to memory for Sunday so I can crack on with the other half.
TTFN. I promise to try to not leave it so long between posts next time (student pestering permitting!!).