I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it again. Karate training for me always seems to be a "Two steps forward, three steps back" kind of a process. Just when I think I'm getting somewhere I seem to lose the plot and end up feeling like I know less than I started with.
It's not always like that though - for every day of stepping back there are also those training days where I actually feel like I'm getting somewhere. The "Two Steps Forwards" days. Thankfully this weeks training (Sunday and Monday) have felt like forward stepping days :)
I couldn't believe just how much I'd missed my Sunday training sessions. We've only missed 2 weeks (one for Halloween and last week for the seminar, so that wasn't really missing a session, only missing my usual session) but it really felt good to get back to business as usual. The Sunday class is a completely different experience than the Monday session. It's adults only and a much smaller class so we get to cover much more stuff at a much more concentrated level and pace. We spent a lot of time on the Intermediate Taisabaki forms which have been plaguing me so of late. My practice has clearly paid off though because I was much more confident with my blocks and counters and managed practically the whole session without making a balls up of it! I did end up with a little Kata homework to take home with me (making sure I'm using both hands in my blocks consistently) but I had plenty of opportunity to work on that on Monday.
Monday's class is much busier and has a much wider age range which makes for a totally different training vibe. We were drilled on our Tagioko Katas again (Shodan and Nidan) but this time concentrating on stances and kick (for Nidan). What I discovered is that my Zenkutsu dachi (long forward stance) often isn't wide enough. I really need to work on my foot positioning in my kata, especially after turning. We took turns doing the kata and holding each stance and strike while our partner checked the stability of our stances. There was much correcting of position and shuffling about but I think most of us got there in the end. I'm really enjoying this indepth kata study. It's forcing me to think of every element of my kata (stance, block, strike, hips, pace, focus) and even though we're running over this stuff on the lower kyu kata I'm finding myself almost automatically applying it to the higher level kata I need. It shows that basics pay I guess.
The last portion of Monday's class was a bit of a marathon sparring session. There was a pretty big group of us paired up for kumite (around 17) and as there was an odd number one group at the end of the row went 2 on 1. My sparring is the area where I
sometimes often struggle to see progress in myself but I really felt a improvement this week. What I love about getting to spar against everyone in the class is that there are some rounds where you're the higher kyu and are "teaching" your opponent and then others where you're the lower kyu and are the one doing the learning. It's great to be able to take what you've learnt and pass it on to others. I managed to get a few good strikes in against the higher kyu grades I was sparring against which felt great. In the 2 on 1 I even managed to nab the purple belt who was attacking me as a shield against my other opponent which was fab (we'd done some work on shields a few weeks ago so at least I know something about that stuck in my head!). My final bout was again Ciaran (2nd kyu). He's taken far too much joy in giving me a pasting the past 12 months and I finally felt like I held my own a little. I managed to get quite a few strikes to land on him and didn't fall for the moves he usually gets me with. Sorry to ruin your fun Ciaran!
I really noticed a massive improvement in the sparring of lower kyu grades in the class when I was paired with them too. I saw all things I know they've worked on over the last few weeks being implemented and a really marked improvement in their techniques and forms. I was really quite proud of all of them. We all rocked!
So, all in all a much more positive karate week than I've had of late, which is probably clearly evident by the tone of my post - I think I've been a bit doom and gloom around here the last few weeks!
Fingers crossed I can continue with the improvement next week..... I'd like a little reprieve from the suckage before I reach my "Three Steps Back" days! I know they're coming, but I'm praying they'll wait until after grading to arrive!! LOL.