Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Reward and Frustration

The only good thing about Tuesdays, is that they follow Mondays - which means I get to waffle on about what happened at class last night. Yey! Talking about karate, that's pretty much my second favourite thing...after practicing karate, of course. I think there's a very serious possibility that I'm becoming a karate bore! I'm sure people at work are sick of hearing all about my karate exploits. So I'll share them here instead. Chances are if you're here it's because you love hearing about martial arts too - so at least I know my audience gives a crap! LOL.

So, on with the waffle.

A bit of a mixed bag for the Cookie Family karate training experinence last night. A really good effort from Grace saw her being awarded the Student of the Week award (cue super pround Sempai Mummy moment!). There was quite a lot of messing around with the junior class last night - is the dark nights, a post Halloween/bonfire night sugar rush? I don't know. They just seem a little more hyper than usual. Grace managed to actually pay attention though and at least attempt to be doing what she was supposed to be doing.

As for the grown up contingent of the Cookie Family, not such a good showing. I definitely wouldn't be lined up for the Student of the week award (if there were one). For me..... it was more a case of this this week:

(Can I just take a moment to scream here? I'd written about 6 paragraphs of waffle which blogger has kindly neglected to save and then had a posting error. Now I have to rewrite it. We are not amused. >:( ).

On a positive note last night, I felt like my Kata was much improved after last weeks grilling. Much sharper and more focused and stronger. So, it wasn't all bad.

On the head-banging-inducing side of things... the intermediate taisabaki No.1 form still eludes me. I was somewhat better, I felt, with working my angles and stepping out more but I still always come to a point where I seem to hit a wall. It seems to work like this: I have a plan in my head about what block and counter I'm going to use against each strike. The impending strike comes. I block. I've used a different block than the one I had in my head and have ended up somewhere I wasn't expecting. I pause. That's it. Kiss of death. Once I've paused I can't seem to follow up with the counter because I'm not where I was expecting to be so it throws me. Then I have a total brain fart and my mind goes blank. Not good.

On the upside, clearly my muscle memory is beginning to develop - because I don't struggle getting some sort of block up for the strike, in fact I do that instinctively now which is great. So much so that when I had a couple of run-throughs of the second form for this taisabaki (avoid and counter) I found it hard NOT to block. On the downside, as it's instinct it's not really premeditated so I don't always know where to go with the counter.

This is a perfect illustration of the difference between myself and my DH in terms of the kind of karateka we are. When it comes to things that are prescribed - kata, forms with a fixed defense, pad drills with a fix pattern - I have no problems. My brain gets it and I can get on once I'm told what do to. When it comes to anything that involves thinking on my feet - forms with a free defense, kumite - then I lose the plot.

Kendo is completely the other way - he's much happier sparring and doing stuff that requires him to react and finds it more difficult with the stuff where he has to learn a set pattern and stick to it. Part of me wonders if it's a gender thing in terms of the block/counter response. Us girlie's (on the whole) are much less used to hitting and being hit then you boys. Growing up boys tend to have more rough-housing, fighting, wedgies, dead arms etc. Stopping themselves getting whacked and whacking back is programmed into those neural pathways at a much younger age and we all know it's much easier to learn stuff when you're a kid. It think I might just have to accept that my block and counter neurons are currently a bit rusty (if not non-existent) and it's going to take time to get them up to speed. More than anything I am frustrated with myself for not getting it.

So, acceptance of my lack of brain function in this area aside I need to think about a solution to this. Grading is coming up the first week of December and this is one of my requirements. I want to be ready.

One option I suppose is to make what doesn't work for me work for me by fitting it in with what I know best. That would mean setting up a fixed block and counter for each strike and sticking with it (having established that I'm much better with prescribed forms). I don't like that though, for two reasons.

1) I can't guarantee I won't suddenly whip out a completely different block when the strike comes and therefore end up with the same problem I've got now.

2) (and most importantly) Doing that feels like something of a cop out. It's taking something I have difficulty with and dragging it back into my comfort zone rather than using it as an opportunity to learn more. That's not what I want my karate to be about. I want it to be about learning more, growing more, experiencing more, understanding more (about myself and about things outside myself). If I don't push against the things that are hard for me I will never get past them and progress.

So, if I chose not to cop out and go with option 1, that leaves me with option 2 which I guess is to work harder. Strange how it always comes down to one thing: Practise more. Or maybe not strange at all?

Learning Zone, here I come!


**I'm sure I wrote loads more stuff than this in the first incarnation of this post. I guess readers should be thankful to Blogger for it's ineptitude forcing the condensed version of my waffle! See - a silver lining after all!


  1. Kids fidgety last night? Must be a mysterious virus - kids in our class last night were just the same! I see you're starting to notice the male/female differences in training preferences.....(it's not just me then!)I've just added a list of articles I've written about this very subject to my side bar.

  2. You won't believe it but the 'word verification' word I had to copy for my previous comment was 'satan'. Spooky for a post halloween/bonfire night post! Must explain why the kids were fidgety LOL

  3. LOL Sue. They say the Devil makes work for idle hands - clearly we should be giving them more kihon drills to do to keep those hands busy and those little brains focused!

  4. In general, I love sparring WAY more than kata. As my elder daughter says, "kata is a little too much like public speaking for me." I'm slow to learn the movements and, usually, instead of knowing the names of moves, I learn the moves in terms of bunkai. So, my mental sequence is usually in terms of "block the vertical punch, counter punch to their solar plexes" or "kick them in the stomach, they double over, I grab their hair..." If I don't know the bunkai for a move, it's not only ackward looking, odds are I won't even remember it the following week.

    I love sparring, though. Love, love, love it. My big problem with sparring is when my openent does something unexpected. Like, one time, I competed against someone who (down two points) decided "what the heck" and just waved her hands over her head like an orangatan. I actually dropped my hands and stared at her wondering what the heck she was doing and she scored a point. (humiliating.)

    Anway, my point is, I'm not totally sure it's a guy/girl thing. I THINK it has to do with how you handle conflict.