stevenpiziks: (Default)
Staff meeting after school today, which means I got home late. It was almost immediately time for karate. We worked on fine-tuning kick technique. I'm left-footed, which means I always suck whenever we do something at first--the instructors always start on the right foot.  I have a really hard time doing whatever it is, and then the instructor shouts, "Switch feet!"  Bam!  I can do the technique perfectly.  Aran, another lefty, goes through much the same thing.

Read on my Kindle while Mackie had his class, then went home for supper, after which it was much paper grading.  I didn't grade any papers over spring break, and tonight I had to get caught up.  Many, many, many assignments to grade and record.  Yeesh.

But that's done now.
stevenpiziks: (karate)
Wednesday was karate testing again.  It was Mackie's first one!  He was very excited.  We arrived very early at the do-jang--traffic flowed far better than expected--and he spent the time running around and around and around.  All three of us ran through our forms as well.  Other students arrived and wamed up, too.

At 5:30 we had the white and yellow belt test.  Maksim was the youngest in the white belts.  I have a hard time watching my children do any kind of performing--I don't know why--and I didn't want to watch Maksim's test.  But I knew that wouldn't do at all.  When the test began, I took Aran by the elbow (he was muttering to himself in the area of the do-jang set aside for little kids) and brought him to the very front row of seats.

"We have to watch Maksim test," I said.  And we did.

Maksim did very well, including on his forms.  He did have a tendency to lose concentration and once the controller had to tell him to get back in line, but he's still very little and the testers gave him the leeway.

Once the test ended, Mackie came running over to give me a hug, and then it was time for the orange belt test.  This meant we had time for supper.  The do-jang had brought in pizza and stuff to sell for a charity fundraiser, so that's what we had.  Mackie ate two pieces of pizza, a piece of watermelon, a bag of chips, a juice box, and a cookie.  When he was done, he asked for more and got another piece of pizza, an orange, and another juice box.  Sheesh!

Then it was time for the green belts to test.  Aran and I were testing to advance to second degree greens.  Most everything went very well, as it should have--Aran and I skipped the last test, so we'd spent twice as long on this level's techniques.  I did mess up on one of the self-defense techniques, but that didn't seem to be a problem.

The next day I checked the do-jang's bulletin board.  Students who don't quite pass are listed (by number), along with the technique they need to re-test on before promotion.  None of us was on it.  We're good!  :)
stevenpiziks: (karate)
Saturday was my first karate tournament.  Go me!

It was a very small one, which just included people from the three PKSA schools in the area.  I only signed up for sparring, though many events were available--breaking, forms, star throwing, loudest shout (for kids).

The event was divided up by belt rank, which meant I didn't have to be there until 11:00.  I drove down to Riverview and, after a little searching, found the do-jang.  Checked in and explored a little.

The red belt competitions were going on, so I watched them.  Several rings were laid out in the do-jang, and I saw the final bits of combat.

At last the green belts began.  Forms were first.  Then it was breaking.  I helped out by holding boards for other people.  And then the fighting began.

I wasn't nervous like I thought I'd be.  It was actually pretty fun.  I fought only twice in my belt rank and overall came in second place.  Yay!

I hung around a little bit afterward to see the other events.  The power breaking was pretty fun.  It's breaking stacks of patio bricks.  You call how many you think you can break, try to break them, and whoever gets the closest to what they call, wins, though the more you break in general, the more points you get.  The winner called eleven bricks and broke nine of them.

Grabbed some pizza at the refreshment stand in the lobby and headed home with my second place trophy.  I think I'll put it on my desk at school to strike fear into the hearts of my students.
stevenpiziks: (karate)
Today Aran and I went back to karate for the first time in a week.  Last week was hectic with various meetings, and to top it off, there was construction on eastbound 94, which is the route home from both AALC and from the karate school.  The highway was not driveable, and we had to drive through town to get home, adding fifteen minutes to the drive.  I couldn't bear the thought of driving that long home from picking the boys up from school and then doing it =again= on the way home from karate class, so we simply didn't go.

The highway is fully open now, though, and today we went back.  We did a lot of falling practice today.  It was pretty fun, and a nice break from the endless forms and kicks.  It was also a good workout, and I enjoyed it very much.


Sep. 13th, 2008 01:12 pm
stevenpiziks: (karate)
Yesterday evening was tournament practice.  Class runs for 90 minutes instead of 45, and we go over breaking, forms, and sparring.  I'm not planning to compete with breaking and forms--no interest.  Sparring though . . . sparring is fun.  It's also exhausting, which is why it's always the last half hour of class, so I had to wade through the first hour.  (Maybe next week I'll show up late.)

This time for the sparring practice, the instructor put us in two lines and first person in each line became opponents.  We fought until the instructor blew his whistle, whereupon the next two rotated into place to fight.  It was great fun.  All the adults were red belts--three ranks higher than me--but I didn't care.  I kept getting matched up with a woman, though, who consistently held back, which was a little annoying.  (I knew she was holding back because when she got matched up with someone else, her fighting suddenly became a lot more intense.)  The bouts go fast and furious, and even after ten or fifteen seconds, you're left panting and sweaty. 

I've learned that while front kicks are easy and fast, they're almost useless in sparring because they're so simple to block.  Side kicks are a little better because you can kick higher, but they're risky because of the threat of being knocked off balance.  Back kicks, spinning back kicks, and wheel kicks are the most useful for two reasons.  Turning your back (but not your head) on your opponent is a defensive maneuver that still allows you to strike.  And the spinning motions look really cool.  Seriously.  The flurry of movement is a little confusing to your opponent, which makes it harder to block or dodge the kick.

One of the guys in the class and I have an unwritten understanding that we don't hold back, that we pound on each other at full strength.  We both like it that way.  You're not supposed to do this in sparring--you're supposed to use just enough power to penetrate your opponent's defenses and score a point.  We ignore this when we fight each other, and we both have bruises to prove it.  It's great fun!

Got home and had to peel my dobak off to shower.

stevenpiziks: (karate)
Back from the weekend trip.  And it all started with the karate booth.

As I said earlier, I'd volunteered to work at the karate school's booth at the Ypsilanti Heritage Festival from noon to three.  I put on my dobak, drove down to the festival, and wandered in to find the booth.

Oh!  It wasn't set up yet.  Various school-type people were there, doing set-uppy stuff.  Glad I hadn't brought Aran or Mackie along, I set about helping.

The booth, which was brand new, had two flaws.  The instructions were for a completely different model of booth, and two important pieces were missing.  We were not happy.

We packed up the offending euiqpment up as best we could and set on the grassy area behind us.  Then we set up our tables in the scorching August sun while one of the teachers dashed off to see if he could buy another booth at a nearby department store.  (The bad booth would be returned later.)

We handed out flyers, answered questions, and basically shilled the school.  I put on sunscreen--the sun was hot and brutal.

Eventually, the new booth arrived.  It was a different brand, had all the pieces, and was easy to set up.  Shade!  We finished the setup just in time for me to leave.

New Kicks

Jul. 16th, 2008 11:46 am
stevenpiziks: (Default)
Last night in karate class we reinforced back hook kicks and spinning back kicks.  We also learned how to do a jump back kick.  You start in a horse-riding stance, then jump straight up, spin halfway around in mid-air, and kick with your heel.  The plus side is that this kick generates serious power, and I kept knocking the bag over.  The minus side is that it's hard to learn, and I fell twice while figuring it out.  Good thing we have floor mats.  But I got it down finally.


Jun. 19th, 2008 12:39 am
stevenpiziks: (Default)
Apparently I overdid the hook kicks last week.  My left knee has been stiff and a little sore lately.  The soreness comes and goes, the stiffness hangs around until I take ibuprofin.  It's =bad=.  Today I went to the doctor about it.  She examined it and said there's really nothing much to do except avoid stressing it and take anti-inflammatories.  She prescribed one.
This evening, though, I ended up hobbling around on a crutch for a while because my knee was so stiff.  Yeesh!  I can't do karate, and I don't like that.  I need the practice.
stevenpiziks: (Default)
Wednesday was the best part of summer break--the beginning!

Kala took the boys in to school, and I slept in.  Then I took a long bike ride, as I like to do in the mornings before it gets hot.  The air smells fine, the temperature is balmy, and far back where I ride, there's no traffic.  Everything is green, and I feel like I can go on forever.

Then I did very little of anything.  Some puttering around on-line, some video gaming, a bit of writing.

And then Fortis called.  Aran was throwing up and someone needed to go get him.  Kala went.  So much for a day without boys.  It was half a day instead.

That evening I went to karate class.  I got my green belt and we practiced a whole lot of targeted kicking.  Hook kicks, especially.  Regular hook kicks.  Back hook kicks.  Spinning back hook kicks.  (To do a hook kick, you stand on one leg, bring the other leg up level with the ground, and bend your knee, creating a sort of sweeping motioni.  The idea is to thwack someone with the bottom of your foot.)  Toward the end of class, we had what I call a Mr. Miyagi Moment.  The instructor took us outside and put us with a partner.  The partner held a paper cup of water on the palm of his hand at chest level.  The idea was to knock the cup off your partner's hand without touching your partner and, incidentally, get water on the people practicing next to you.  It was fun.  I was surprised that even though I'm now the lowest-ranked student in the class (as the newest green belt), I was better at it than many of the second- or third degree greens.  Go me!  :)

And today, my knees were all stiff from the hooks.  Ow!
stevenpiziks: (Default)
Now that the karate show is over, sparring classes have started up again.  Last night, I showed up with my expensive new sparring gear in tow.  Soft, squishy helmet: check.  Soft, squishy hand guards: check.  Soft, squishy foot guards: check.  Hard, solid chest guard that would leave a Roman centurian envious: check.  Mouth guard that makes you drool if you don't suck it in constantly: check.
There was a mix of kids, teens, and adults.  As an second-rank orange belt, I was the lowest-ranked adult student there, and was paired with a green belt.  Tang Tsoo Do karate is known mostly for its kicking and less so for its punching, so all the drills we did were kicking.  My partner and I kicked back and forth--roundhouse kick, spinning back kick, side kick, wheel kick.  We worked on dodging and footwork.
This was my first time, so I watched everything carefully.  I had more stamina than my partner, but he had both rank and experience on me.
The last ten minutes of class were for actual sparring.  The instructor called each set of partners up and we fought for one minute.  I decided to play to lose--not only was it my first time, my partner was far more experienced than I--which meant I went on the offense and ignored defense.  I knew I probably wouldn't be able to stop him from hitting me, but in getting close enough to hit me, he would get close enough for me to hit =him=, and I wanted to see if I penetrate his guard.  If I could do that once or twice, I'd be happy.
The only hits that count are on the chest and on the sides of the torso.  Kicks to the head also count, but not punches.  (The danger of kicking your opponent in the head is that it's easy to lose your balance, and I didn't try, though I do have the flexibility for it.)
We bowed, and the instructor called for the fight to begin.  It went pretty fast, and both of us were far more aggressive than the kids who had fought before us.  At one point the instructor warned the kids to back away from the area.  "These are two big men," he said, "and you don't want to get in the way if something goes wrong."  I did manage to connect with a roundhouse kick once, and another time I snaked a hand in, jerked one of his wrists down to expose his chest, and punched him with the other (a sneaky, but legal, move I learned in an earlier class).  Go me!
Meanwhile, I was taking a fair number of kicks.  My partner was very good with a spinning back kick, and it was hard to block it in time.  One time I tried to dodge one of these right when he mistimed slightly, and he cracked me a good one on the upper right leg, which has no padding.  Oh, it hurt!  I didn't notice it until after the fight was over and we were sitting down, but once I did--yeek!  No bruise, but it's stiff and sore.
The above sounds extremely adversarial, but it really wasn't.  We =were= fighting and we =were= fighting as hard we knew how, but there wasn't any animosity behind it.  Most of the time we were grinning through our mouth guards.  Afterward, my partner gave me a few bits of advice to help in the future.
For a few seconds I considered that it was rather . . . unfair?  Difficult?  Harsh?  that I was partnered with someone so much better than I was.  But then I realized that it was to my advantage.  If I'm used to fighting someone who's =better= than I am, it'll force me to learn faster, and when I fight someone of an equal rank, I'll be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is.
And today my leg is in some fairly serious pain.  I went on a long bike ride to stretch it out--ow ow ow ow ow--which helped, but it's gonna be sore for a bit.

Karate Show

May. 3rd, 2008 09:40 pm
stevenpiziks: (Default)
Friday I returned to school and had the usual slightly-frantic day you always get when you come back from being absent.  Got home and got stuff together for the karate show.
The students at the karate school have been rehearsing for a show, and Friday was the big day.  It's the karate version of a dance recital, but probably more exciting.  Because of my teaching background, I had been tapped to be the announcer.
To tell the truth, I was dreading the whole thing.  I'm decent enough on stage, but I don't look forward to it much, especially under these conditions.  It was a show full of kids under ten, and it was going to be chaotic and probably filled with mistakes and difficulty.  I know the audience was expecting this, but it didn't make me feel much better.  The school had also rented a middle school auditorium for the performance, but we didn't have access to it until just that day, meaning none of us had any idea what the space was like.  We hadn't even done a full run-through of the show, and even though I was supposed to be the announcer, I only had a vague idea of what was going on.  I had written a partial script, but was going to be winging a large part of it, and I hate winging it.
Aran, on the other hand, was looking forward to the entire thing with great enthusiasm.  So I kept all my reservations to myself.
My mother and my in-laws were going to be coming, but Aran and I had to be at the auditorium rather earlier, so we left soon after Aran got home from school and before my mother arrived.  Drove over to the school and found various karate schoolers unloading equipment for set-up.  We got mats laid down on the floor, and I got a clip-on mike so I could run sound checks.  I also worked out the light board so we could get some decent lighting on the stage.  I also assembled the kids and gave them a lecture on backstage safety.
"Do you have a background in theater?" one of the instructors asked, noticing that I knew my way around an auditorium.
"I have a degree in it," I told her.
"Oh!  If I had known that, I would have tapped you a lot earlier."
"That's why I kept my mouth shut," I said with a wide smile.
We did a quick run-through of the cues, got the kids set up, ran the music through the amplifier, and chewed our nails.  Eventually, it was time, and the show began.
I announced from backstage as a disembodied voice, partly because I didn't have the material memorized and partly because I didn't want to stroll on and off stage every few seconds.  I introduced the school, gave the "no cell phones or flash photography" rule, and the kids went into the show.  They went through various forms, acrobatic moves, board breaking, and weapons demonstrations.  Some of the adults demonstrated self-defense in some skits.  One of the black belt instructors broke a stack of six patio bricks.  It went mostly smoothly, really, and the audience was appreciative.  Aran loved it.
Afterward, we got all our family together.  Aran's birthday is in a few days, and he got presents from my in-laws--a stack of Goosebumps books, which he loves.  My in-laws headed off, and the rest of us went to a late supper with my mother.  At supper, Aran got more presents from Grandma Penny--the Mario Kart game and a much-needed new remote, both for the Wii.  We monopolized the table for quite some time, really.  Aran got a small birthday parade with his free sundae, which also precipitated dessert orders for Sasha and Maksim.  It was a good dinner out.
At last it was time to go home.  Arrived at nearly 10:00.  Mackie was wiped!  So was I.

Karate Kamp

Apr. 3rd, 2008 09:39 am
stevenpiziks: (Default)
Easter came extremely early this year, and many schools intelligently decided to disconnect spring break from it.  Unfortunately, not =all= schools did, meaning spring break is being spread around.  Meaning I had one spring break, the boys had another.  Meaning there's very little work for substitute teachers, since all the subs are available but fewer schools are in session on any give day.

At any rate, the boys are on spring break next week, but I'm not.  This limits what the boys can do, since doing anything special would have to be something that 1) Kala can supervise by herself during the day and/or 2) won't interfere with my weird work and sleep schedule.  Unfortunately, this would relegate the boys mostly to watching TV and playing video games for most of the week.

Enter the karate school.

The school is running a day camp next week for kids on spring break.  It's not free, but it's fairly inexpensive.  I had it in mind for Aran and Maksim, since they're the most difficult to keep occupied.  I brought the idea up to Kala, and she thought it was a great idea.  But I wondered how the two boys would react.  I talked to Aran first.

ME: Hey, Aran.  The karate school is putting on a day camp next week during spring break.  They'll have activities and games and all sorts of things to do.

ARAN:  Oh.  That sounds great.

MAKSIM (overhearing): They are?  Can I go?  I want to go!  Can I?  Please?

Okay, that was easier than I thought.

An added benefit is that if Kala gets a sub job, she can still do it.  Sasha won't be going to the camp, but he's old enough to stay home by himself.
stevenpiziks: (Default)
Today I cornered the instructor after class (which was, no surprise, more forms).  I told her I needed to know what was up with equipment, since I'd been put off so many times, and the tournament is Saturday and what do I do now?
She got an "oh crap" look on her face and apologized.  The dojang can order equipment for someone, but it wouldn't arrive in time.  She said maybe I could borrow some from a fellow student at the tournament.  Someone would be sure to loan me some.  She also gave me a list of what I would need.
I wasn't wild about the idea of paying an entry fee and showing up on the off chance someone would be able to loan me what I needed.  I also knew that I'd need a mouth guard, and I doubted anyone would be up to loaning me one of those.  I left class, went home, and got on the computer.
The advantages of having a black belt in Google-Fu.
I found a site that sold what I needed, measured my hands, head, feet, and chest to make sure the sizes would be accurate, and ordered it by second-day delivery.  Everything should arrive by Thursday or Friday.  There.
See, this is one of the many reasons I wouldn't at all mind living in the middle of nowhere.  As long as I had a cell modem or cable modem or satellite modem, who needs a city?
I thought about not ordering it at all and skipping the tournament, but then went ahead anyway.  I'll need the equipment eventually, and the next LAMP tournament will likely be out of state.  This one's less than an hour's drive away, so I don't want to miss the chance.
stevenpiziks: (Default)
A karate tournament is coming up.  It's this coming Saturday, and the instructors at the school are encouraging everyone to participate.  And here's I get snarly.
The tournament has events in forms, breaking, and sparring.  Forms are a set of pre-determined fight moves, done as if you're fighting a small army of invisible enemies.  They get more complicated the higher your belt rank.  Breaking is breaking boards or bricks and looking as cool as possible while you do it.  It's way more than just stacking up some boards and crashing through them--it's half choreography and showmanship.  Sparring is fighting an opponent one-on-one.  You don't try to hurt anyone--you get points for touching them on the chest or stomach.
I'm a self-directed learner.  At least once a month, the instructor will ask a class, "Who wants to be a black belt one day?"  I don't raise my hand.  I don't care if I become a black belt or not.  Belt rank isn't important to me except as a marker to remind me what I've learned.  For me, the belt rank isn't the goal; skill and fitness are.  If get a black belt, that's fine.  If I don't, that's fine, too.  I don't need a belt to say how much karate I know.
When it comes to tournaments, I have no interest in being judged.  I'm well aware of how good my forms are and where my weaknesses are and don't need to hear it from a judge.  I'm not at all interested in breaking boards right now.  I can do it in a number of fascinating ways, and I have a good sense of theatrics already.  I don't need a judge to tell me that, either.
What I don't know is how I'd stack up in a fight.  That I can't do on my own.  I want to spar and see how I'd do against someone else.  That's the =only= event that interests me at a tournament.
For the last two weeks at class, the instructors have been emphasizing tournament preparation, but it's all been forms and breaking.  I don't give a shit about that.  But when I ask about sparring, they always say, "Oh yeah--we'll do that at the next adult class.  Come then."  I go to the adult class, and what do we get?  Forms and breaking.
Last Friday evening, when I went to the adult class, it was breaking the entire class period.  One of the instructors loves to talk.  And talk and talk and talk.  Karate isn't something you can learn by listening.  You have to learn it by doing, but he felt the need to explain everything in great detail three or four times before letting anyone do anything.  I finally broke in with a question, and when he answered it, I said, "Great!  Can I try it now?"  And got looks of relief from my classmates.
But I thought half the class would be breaking and half would be sparring.  Nope.  It was all breaking.  I mentioned this to one of the other instructors.
"Oh!" he said.  "There's a special Saturday class from ten to noon tomorrow.  Come to that and we'll get you set up."
Okay.  This I did.  I showed up at ten.  And the class was filled with children, with only two adults who both outranked me by two belts.  Well, I thought, I can probably spar with the adults anyway.  I'll lose, but it'll be a good challenge.
We lined up, and the instructor announced that we were going to work on forms for tournament.
I left.
On Monday, I'm going to go in and have a conversation with one of the instructors and tell him exactly what's going on.  I'm very upset about all this, really.
stevenpiziks: (Default)
I only went to karate once last week.  Too busy after Monday, and on Friday I wasn't going to drive again even at gunpoint.  This morning, I gritted my teeth and got on the treadmill.  Like many people, I always gain some weight in the winter.  Karate had helped me keep it under control, but lately life has interfered too much.  I was hoping the weather would stay clear enough that I could continue riding my bike.  I'd rather bike for two hours than run for twenty minutes, frankly.  But no dice with the current weather.  So it was back to the torture device.

I jogged for forty minutes while watching a TORCHWOOD episode, then showered and announced to the boys that it was time to shovel snow.  More excercise!  Even the little electric snow broom takes energy to use, and in any case, the electric cord isn't long enough to let it clear the entire driveway, so the half close to the street needs to be done by hand.

So I'm exercised out for the day.
stevenpiziks: (Default)
This week is turning out horrifyingly busy, and it's only Wednesday.

MONDAY: Mackie arrived home with no good behavior stickers and he was on red on the traffic light, meaning he misbehaved badly all day.  He lost video games in addition to TV and I pointed out that if he didn't come home with an excellent behavior score tomorrow, he'd lose his bicycle.  Sasha and Aran behaved fine.  The "one kid" trend continues.  No restaurant for the boys this week.

Meanwhile, the new laptop arrived.  I've observed before that getting a new computer is liking moving to a new house.  Getting a new laptop is like buying a cottage.  I spent the afternoon setting it up, loading software, and transferring files.  I was using a flash drive for this, and when I was copying music files over (using the media player program), the computer informed me that it wouldn't actually copy the files into the laptop, it would only play them from the flash drive.  Spent some time unsnarling that and getting the stupid computer to download licenses to play some of the content.  Microsoft, of course, won't talk to its website to download said music licenses via Firefox--you have to use Internet Explorer.  I'd already set up Firefox as my default browser, however, and didn't feel like going through the whole thing of resetting and/or figuring out how to tell Media Player to use IE instead of Firefox, so I can't play all my music, but I can play most of it.

There was a break in there to go to karate class, too.  Since Aran and I are second-degree orange belts, we started learning the form for second-degree orange belts.  It's one of the harder ones.  The moves are tricky and many of them are brand new.

One move involves "the evil ducky."  Really.  It's hard to explain in writing.

I couldn't get the computer to connect to the wireless hookup properly.  It connects, but the datastream is too narrow for netsurfing, and I can't figure out why.  It may be a problem with the modem.  I'll have to call the cable company next week.

Got to bed way too late and totally failed to fall asleep.
stevenpiziks: (Default)
I went to the Friday evening adult class again tonight.  It was taught by the same soft-spoken Indian man.  He looks a little like Ghandi, to tell the truth, and going through class with him is like being tortured.  And I love it.  After a series of warmups that left all of us sweating and breathing hard, we ran through a series of self-defense moves.  I was the lowest-ranked student in the class--everyone else was ranked green belt or higher--which meant I had to work harder to keep up.  They already knew how to do wheel kicks and spinning back kicks, and I had to learn them on the fly, in addition to learning how to defend myself against them.
I have a much easier time defending myself against kicks than punches.  I'm left-handed, and I tend to use the wrong hand for defense as a result.  I'm also left-footed, which puts me at a disadvantage when the teacher shows us a new kick, because we always start with the right foot.  It's like learning to write a new letter with your off-hand.  Then we switch feet and my coordination abruptly improves, often to the teacher's surprise, since the rest of the class invariably gets =worse= with their left feet.
We learned scissor blocks (which are great fun and look massively cool), a block-and-punch combination which stymied me for a long time, a dodge-and-kick combination, and a complicated dodge-front kick-back-kick combination which could put an opponent in the hospital.
I love fighting in class.  I love blocking kicks and brushing aside punches (when it works) and delivering a "crippling" kick to my partner.  When I mention to some of my friends that I love this aspect of karate, they often give me a startled look.  "You're so . . . pacifistic."  That remark startles =me=.  I don't regard myself as pacifistic.  I don't fight if I can avoid it--I'm not a fan of pain, either giving or receiving--but when I do something, I do it to =win.=  If I'm fighting (either physically or verbally), I fight as hard and fast as I can, with all the weapons at my disposal, and I don't see any point in holding back.
Anyway, my dobak was soaked with sweat by the end of class.  Again!  I got home, took a hot shower and a handful of ibuprofin, but I'm achy.  Ow ow ow ow ow.
stevenpiziks: (Default)
Last night I went to the adults-only karate class.  Because it was the day after testing, the class was very small--only three people.  We had a white belt, an orange belt (me), and a green belt.  The class was taught by what was almost a stereotype of the karate master: a little old man with a soft voice.  Except this little old man was from India, and he tried to kill all of us.
"Now we will try fifteen roundhouse kicks," he would say in a heavy Indian accent.  "Begin!"  And when that was over, he would say, "Now with the other leg."
At one point we were reviewing outside-inside kicks. For this kick, you straighten your leg, sweep it outward a little, bring it up as high as you can, bring it back toward the middle (so that your leg is now, theoretically, positioned like a chorus-line dancer's), and then bring it down =hard=, connecting the target with your heel.  The object is to slam your opponent's collarbone into his pelvis.
"There is no block or defense against this kick," the instructor said in his soft Indian accent.  "If someone uses this kick against you, get the hell out of the way."
All three of us were panting and sweating by the end of the class.  The little old man instructor, who was doing all the exercises along with us, didn't even raise an eyebrow.  He paused once to get a drink of water in the hour-long session, but that was it.
I need to go this class more often.
stevenpiziks: (Default)

Today was another round of karate testing.  Aran and I have orange belts, and at that level, those who pass add a green stripe to their belts.  (Those who already have a green stripe test to become green belts.)

By now the test routine is becoming . . . routine.  We know what to expect. First is the always the test of general moves.  In our case, it was low knife hand block, palm punch, elbow/hand punch combination, back kick, and two sparring combinations.  Next it was the form, which is a series of moves performed in a specific pattern like a choreographed fight with imaginary opponents.  Then it was self-defense moves.  Then it was oral Q&A about various karate terms.  Then we were done.

I actually don't like the tests.  I always know what I'm doing, but I still don't like the tests.  I'd rather be in an actual fight than deal with the tests, to tell the truth.  The tests don't bother Aran in the slightest.  He just blows right through.  We find out later if we passed, but I'm sure we both did.  The instructors don't allow you to take the test if it's not 90% certain that you can pass anyway.
stevenpiziks: (Default)

Today at karate class we practiced side jump kicks, which involve leaping straight up and lashing out sideways with one foot.  They generate tremendous force, and most of the time, I knocked the punching bag over. This slowed the practice--jump, kick, knock the bag over, stop, walk around the bag, haul it upright, get back in line.

After a while, the instructor switched us to flying side kicks.  This is one of the flashier martial arts moves.  You leap sideways toward the bag and lash out with your foremost foot.  WHACK!  Your target takes considerable damage and you look massively cool in the process.  I was gearing up to try it when the instructor took me aside.

"Adults," she said, "aren't allowed to perform this kick."

"Oh?  Why not?" I asked, a little startled.

"Too great a chance for injury.  You can really hurt your knee.  The official policy is that adults aren't supposed to do this kick.  Of course, the instructor can't always see what everyone is doing all the time."

Ah.  I had been inducted into the karate underground, the secret society consisting of forbidden moves and secret forms.  If I was caught or injured, the karate school would disavow any and all knowledge of my presence.

Flying side kicks are great fun, but for a full-grown adult male, they =always= knock the bag over.  Many of the kids were able to knock them over, or at least seriously rock them.


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