Monday, 28 November 2011

Playing Uke

Yesterday was Black Belt grading day at the Isami Ryu dojo. Not mine (thankfully! LOL).

Two of my fellow karateka were grading, Keith for his Shodan and Sensei Chrissy (who I assist in the Little Dragon's class) for her 3rd Dan.

I was invited to attend and participate (as uke) in the grading and it was an amazing experience. Particulary pertinent to me as it was my first experience of a black belt grading and it was great to see an example of what I will be facing then the time comes for mine.

It was a tough experience for sure. Over an hour and a half of fitness/stamina training including all sorts of hideous things like tricep dips (yuk!) and wide arm push ups and planks (hate those... but actually managed to hold them for the alloted time so was quite proud of myself!) and sit ups of a million incarnations and pad drills and kick drills and combinations (both familiar ones and ones set by instructors from other clubs which weren't at all familiar). And that was just the beginning!

I was seriously flagging at a few points but managed to keep hydrated and fuelled (with the help of some carb-gels... BEST. INVENTION. EVER! LOL) and completed everything that was asked of me.

The rest of the grading is something of a blur! When DH asked me later what we'd done I would talk through bits and kept forgetting stuff and ten minutes later would be like... oh, yeah and we also did......X, Y, Z.  There was randori work (starting back to back and remaining on your knees while you attempt to pin your opponents shoulders), the candidates doing escapes from various grabs. Some Aiki-Jitsu work involving lots of continuation of movements and some lovely elbow locks/arm bars (my left arm is extremely sore this morning from being somewhat hyper-extended in the excitement of an arm bar! LOL).

There was more pad work based on one of the non-club combinations given by the panel members (which I really enjoyed, even though it was hard work remembering the combination (very strange getting to do a headbutt, we don't ordinarily use them in our style). Then there was a huge amount of taisabaki (forms based on a set array of attack/angles). I ended up in the role of uke for a considerable number of those (which probably explains why every inch of my body is vying for the "most painful appendage award" this morning.)

Thankfully after making it through all of that us non-grading participants got to sit down for a while with the candidates did kata and their presentations. I don't think I've ever been so glad of a sit down and a banana snack as I was at the moment. Keith gave an excellent presentation on Kata Bassai Dai including a really interesting take on the bunkai for the kata. Chrissy presented Kata Hangetsu with excellent bunkai and a really well thought out weapons section with Sai versus 4 other attacking weapons (Jo, Bo, Sword and Tonfa). They certainly set the bar high in terms of presenation work. I've already got my thinking cap on over what I might do for my required presentation!

Keith and Chrissy both performed amazingly and accordingly they were both successfully awarded their grades. They certainly did us proud.

In terms of the learning curve for me I was very pleased that I managed to keep up with all of the fitness requirements. That tells me at least that even at this point my fitness is good enough to make it through such a long stint of fitness testing.  I have plenty of time to work on improving my fitness which can only get better. As to whether I would have been able to function enough to perform kata and a presenation to a coherent standard? I think I might have been hard pressed to form a coherent sentance yesterday, never mind present and then face questions from a panel.  Definitely an incentive to improve your fitness if nothing else!


1 comment:

  1. Hi Marie, you're starting to sound like a black belt in the making, how far away are you from grading for shodan? My eldest son grades for his black belt this Sunday, I think he'll be okay he's looking sharp and crisp with his techniques. He's taking it all in his stride (he's 18) but I'll be a nervous wreck all day wondering what's happening (were not allowed to watch)!