Monday, March 26, 2007

K goes Purple

Congratulations to K, who passed her purple belt (san-kyu) test this last Friday.

She did great, though she was so nervous I was wondering if we had any Valium around, which surprises me. I've seen K do her prior tests and while she's usually nervous, this is the first time I was really worried it was going to screw her up. It did once - on her first kata (Seisan), she forgot a turn and ended up facing the wrong way 'round. She's known that kata for about three years now, and I've never seen her make a major mistake in it before. After that she managed to settle down and concentrate better though - which is good, because you're only allowed one major mistake in kata. Sensei scolded her for stopping and restarting the kata because that automatically counts as a major mistake. If she had continued all the way through, then it would be up to his discretion as to whether to count the missed turn as major or minor.

Her test did serve to make me pretty confidant for mine on Friday, though. He didn't ask her for anything I'm not sure of, and I'm a lot more experienced in bo (her weakest point) than she is, being specifically interested in weapons. Unless I have a serious performance screw-up, I shouldn't have a problem.

My specific weak points are all things Sensei will start ragging on me for after the test, rather than before. I'm too slow. I don't put enough power behind my strikes, specifically in kata. I overthink in kumite. And something he only started commenting on in the last month, I don't use my hands for attack in kumite - which I'm finding amusing. A year ago, I was being scolded for being primarily a boxer, and not using my feet, so I started concentrating on my kicks. Apparently I've been successful to the point where my hands are now seriously lagging. Plus I tend to underestimate my reach with tsuki waza (hand/punching techniques). I know how far my kicks reach, but I seem to think my arms are about six inches shorter than they actually are.

So - lots of stuff to work on for brown, but I'm ready for purple - as long as I don't get so nervous I screw up.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Respect & Denial

This summer we had a new guy come to two classes at the dojo. He was only really new to being on the floor, since he was the father of two of our students and watched class regularly. While he seemed to enjoy class, he ended up dropping out after those two classes for one very specific reason: he couldn't bring himself to hit a woman.

This isn't the first time I've run into a guy that feels this way and it always bothers me. That it bothers me seems to puzzle the guys, since they view it as symptomatic of their deep respect for women. They would never hit any woman, under any circumstances, and that's good, isn't it?

Except that it doesn't seem very respectful to me. It's a blanket rule. One that covers all circumstances for all time, even when the rule is detrimental to the ones it's supposed to show respect for. That Mr. P doesn't go about hitting women as a general rule is good, but to specifically refuse to hit women in an enviroment where the women are learning to protect themselves from people who do hit women, doesn't respect women that I can see. It's refusing to help women become more capable. It seems to go hand in hand with the fact that Mrs. P would never remotely consider joining our class, not even for the one-off self-defense class, nor do I think her spouse would approve of her doing so. Protecting Mrs. P is Mr. P's job; she's not supposed to protect herself. And that hardly seems respectful of Mrs. P's abilities, does it?

Saturday, March 03, 2007

It's New! It's Yellow! It's a Belt!

Robbie passed his test today! After a few heart-stopping moments, he made it through, and is now a brand-spanking new yellow belt. Rob took some pictures, but hasn't downloaded them yet. If he does, I'll edit and add them to the post.

He did great on his katas. No missed steps, lots of power, and a much better Seisan stance than he had even a few weeks ago. He needs to lower his targeting (It looked like he was fighting someone two feet taller than him.), stop cocking his wrist, and bring his off hand back to his belt after his strike, but other than that, they looked really good.

The heart-stoppers came with matters of etiquette rather than with the test itself. He couldn't manage to hold still while his compatriot tested for her orange belt, he kept bopping around by the window. He couldn't keep quiet when Sensei would make a comment - he had to argue every point (like saying he could see with peripheral vision when Sensei asked him to look where he was kicking). Plus, he called Sensei by his first name once during the test - oops! Sensei had to speak pretty sternly to him about three times during the test to get him back on track. I feel a little guilty about the first name thing. I call Sensei by his first name (by his request) everywhere but in class, and Robbie's picked it up from me.

I was so damned nervous during this test. I don't expect I'll be half that tense at my own test - after all, I can control my behavior. All I could do during Robbie's test was a combination of significant looks, and attempting to develop telepathy through sheer willpower.