Here we are already in November. I can't believe how fast the weeks are flying by. Another Tuesday, which means another post-Monday class debriefing.
Last night was a tough class for me. Not particulary physically tough (although my legs are feeling it somewhat from plenty of stance practice) but mentally tough.
If I had to sum my karate experience last night up in one word: FRUSTRATION.
Shihan drilled us on our lower kyu kata (Tagioko Shodan, Nidan and Sandan in particular) for about an hour, really focusing on our stances, blocks and attacks. There was a lot to take in at once. Concentrating on how your hips are placed (off for the blocks, square for the strikes), on maintaining stance (not bobbing up and down, particulary with kicks), on making sure you look before turning. I got a particular grilling over these and there seemed to be much shouting of "Marie - square your hips up", "Marie - lengthen your stance out", "Marie - bend your front knee more". There was very good reason I know why Shihan chose to pick on me so much. He's got me teaching the newbies in the kids class the first of these kata and in order for me to teach it, he needs to know that I've got it down perfectly. I know this, so ultimately I don't really mind being picked up on things (I'd much rather be picked up on this stuff now than still be doing stuff wrong several belts (and a whole lot of muscle memory) down the line and have to unpick it then. I know this, but that didn't stop my petulant "inner brat" feeling a little put out by it. LOL. I guess it doesn't matter how old we get, there's always that part of us that doesn't like being called out for doing something wrong. It whisks you straight back to primary school and pretty much makes you want to crawl under a table and hide. I managed to resist the urge though and took it on the chin. I'm reminded again of Jesse's quote I mentioned in my previous post:
"......sucking at something is a gift. It’s nothing but free information from nature, and the message reads: “Practise more”.
I'll certainly be giving these areas of my kata my full attention in future!
The last half hour of the class saw the continuation of me embracing the art of suckage! Myself and my fellow karateka Jon (he of the extraordinarily bony forearms!) were paired up to work on the Taisabaki requirements for our next gradings. For us these are a series of 12 attacks:
1. LEFT HAND SIDE ROUND ATTACK TO HEAD (OR MIDRIFF FOR GERI)
2. RIGHT HAND SIDE ROUND ATTACK TO HEAD (OR MIDRIFF FOR GERI)
3. LEFT HAND SIDE THRUST ATTACK TO CHEST
4. RIGHT HAND SIDE THRUST ATTACK TO CHEST
5. CENTRE LINE ATTACK FROM LEFT HAND SIDE
6. CENTRE LINE ATTACK FROM RIGHT HAND SIDE
7. LOW STRIKE FROM LEFT HAND SIDE
8. LOW STRIKE FROM RIGHT HAND SIDE
9. CROSS STRIKE FROM LEFT HAND SIDE
10. CROSS STRIKE FROM RIGHT HAND SIDE
11. INSIDE DOUBLE STRIKE
12. OUTSIDE DOUBLE STRIKE
For red belt the response to these attacks is Block and Counter. For Purple (Jon's next belt) it's Avoid and Counter.
Kendo and I have practiced this a few times at home but clearly last night I was having a total brain fart when it came to this section. I just couldn't seem to get a handle on it at all. Jon pointed out what I'm doing wrong (which wasn't a big surprise to me) which is I'm not working the angles enough when I'm blocking. I need to be stepping out more with my blocks. It ties in with a lotus footwork pattern that seen in our previous Kata (Koke Ho) and I know I should be implementing it but I seem to really be struggling to get out of the linear mindset of our previous Taisabaki form (which is a ten step linear form so you just work forwards and backwards). Shihan suggested one way to help get into this habit is to practice working a higher requirement Taisabaki - the same 12 strikes but the responses must be kicks. This really forces you to make space between yourself and your opponent so you can open up enough of a gap to get your kicks in. I will definitely have to try that. I need to get it into my head that I need to move more. Work the angle, look for the possible rotations. Don't just stand in the line of the strike!! Grrrrrrrrr. I'm so frustrated with myself over this. I'm angry with myself for not "getting it" when I know what needs to be done.
For the moment. I'm embracing the Mastering of the Art of Suckage. I will own the suckage! It's mine and it will only force me to become a better martial artist in the long run. I hope!!