Monday, 16 May 2011

First Bo Session

Yesterday was our long awaited first Kobu-jutsu class. We began work on the first 13 week module of the syllabus with Bo Staff. I’ve been looking forward to beginning weapons training for a long time so I was really keen to get started.

I was a little jittery at the beginning of class, not nervous so much, just anticipatory (is that even a word?) and unsure of what to expect. My Bo felt completely unnatural and unwieldy in my hand (like I could easily do some serious damage to myself, and others!).

Never one to let us off lightly Shihan had us straight into things after as soon as we’d bowed in (even that was a learning curve!). We worked on a couple of openings with the Bo (first on our own, then with a partner). Kendo and I partnered each other which I think is really useful for us at this stage especially when it comes to practicing at home. Once we’d work the first two openings for a while we moved onto getting to grips with the angles of attack. It was a lot to take in… set your start position, make your opening, attack on the first angle (diagonal), switch your hands around, make your second opening, attack on the second angle (the other diagonal), reset your hands.

I was all fingers and thumbs and Bo for a while trying to get the hand positioning right but after a lot of repetitions the first couple started to sink in then we moved onto the next two angles (thrust), then one to the next two (over head and upper cut), then the next two (rounds). They follow a similar pattern to the Taisabaki patterns we do in our karate syllabus so it felt somewhat familiar in that sense. We covered the first 8 angles (angle 8….blimey! It involves a sweep with the Bo held practically full length out…. how there wasn’t a hospitalisation incident I don’t know! LOL). Once we’d mastered the mawate (who knew turning could be so complicated!) we moved on to putting all 8 angles together in one stretch.

As there were quite a lot of us Shihan had us take turns going down the length of the dojo floor in groups of three and two so we could all get some practice completing all 8 angle strikes without turning in the middle. A couple of years ago I’d probably have died on the spot at the prospect of doing that but my karate training has certainly paid off in that regard. I’d just rather have at it and get the practice in rather than worry how I look and if I’m going to make a bollocks up. Better to get any errors corrected by Shihan now than unpick them later, for sure!

We covered a lot in an hour and a half but it seemed to be over before I knew it. I’m a little achey this morning, but not as much as I expected to be. Mostly its in my Lats (which are muscles you don’t often use strenuously I suppose… unless you’re flinging a 6ft Bo around!). Next week we’ll be covering the next 4 angles (there are 12 in total) so I’d better make sure I get some practice in this week. I really hope the weather’s dry so we can get outside in the garden. Hopefully it won’t frighten the chickens too much!

So much more to learn on the Bo, it’s really exciting to get started. The Bo syllabus we’re going to be working from encompasses Japanese and Okinawan Bo work but will also incorporate some English long staff work (think Robin Hood and Little John). It should be a really interesting ride.

We received copies of the whole Kubo-jutsu syllabus last night along with details of the grades and ranks. It works somewhat differently to our karate syllabus. Each weapon will be taught in a 13 week module. After every module we’ll be graded to see if we’ve learnt enough to be awarded a kyu rank. The weapons are split into 3 sections with 3 weapons in each (wooden weapons (Bo, Jo and Tonfa), sword (Iaido, Kenjutsu, Daito) and special weapons (Sai, Nunchuku and Kama) and after each group of 3 modules (a block) we’ll tested for and awarded a Rank. One you’ve past the first rank you’ll be able to wear a Hakama, Keokogi and Obi. I’m pretty excited about that but I suspect my bank balance will not be seeing as we’ll have to buy two of them and they don’t come cheap! Yikes. Ah well, the price you pay for your (martial) art I suppose.

Right, time to go. I’ve got a lot of mental Bo swinging to get done!


Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Walk Softly and Carry a Big Stick.

A kid in a sweet shop. A pig in poop. A chocoholic in a Cadburys factory.

I'm as excited as all those things. I'm excited because very very soon (in 11 days time in fact, not that I'm counting or anything) my karate existance is about to expand.... to include on of these:

Yup. That's a big ol' Bo staff. I'm about to be let loose wielding a 6ft pole. I'm not sure if the world is quite ready for that, but I am :)

Shihan has decided to begin Kobudo training (well, technically it will be Kobujutsu, in the same way that our karate is karate jutsu, as it will be something of an amalgamation of styles). I've been looking forward to starting training with weapons but was expecting to have to wait a lot longer, and then to only get a few seminars in. As it is there'll be a full grading syllabus with a variety of weapons.

Did I mention I'm excited?

Bo staff is the weapon we're set to begin with and the Bo section will run for 3 months. The weapons are split into "types" so following on from Bo there'll be training with Jo Staffs then Tonfa (for the "sticks Section"). Later on there'll be training in Sai, Nunchuku, Kamas, Sword (fighting training and Iaido) and later on from that (at Shodan level) some scary looking things including a nine section whip (yowser)and a Naginata (ouch).

Weapons training opens up a whole new level of martial arts theory and practice and I can't wait to get my teeth into it. We've got Bo Staffs on order and I'm mulling over making a nice carry case (any excuse to get the sewing machine out). Roll on 15th May I say :) Can't wait.


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Maira Gall