Friday, November 30, 2007
Well, it's Friday evening. There are three boards and one haydite fewer at the dojo, two candles have been punched out (second shot each time), seven katas performed with one mistake (missed a stab in Simple Sai because I was getting freaked about my sais catching on my sleeves), and I have a new brown belt sitting in my dojo bag.
I think I have the answer to my frustrating kata performance. Oddly enough it was Rob, who hasn't taken karate in a decade, and not either of the judging black belts who managed to define the problem. Sensei and Sensei Don could only tell me that the empty-hand kata lacked power compared to the weapon katas, and especially compared to kumite and breaking. Rob says I look like a bad CGI, where the arms and legs have been pegged onto a stationary torso. Even when I turn or bend or leap, I apparently hinge at hips and shoulders, but nowhere in between. Given my blocky torso, he said I resembled a can of vegetables with arms and legs. The posture in question is very correct (proper singing posture, would look entirely proper on a Victorian lady), but it never moves. Why this is, or why I do move through the torso for weapons, I don't know, but at least I now have something I can actually work on. The odd thing is that I have been trying specifically to add hip power to my punches for several months now, but apparently whatever I've been doing either isn't right, or hasn't taken.
Kumite went really, really well. I fought three of the other purple belts (the fourth was video-taping), and pretty much cleaned up the floor, which is unusual for me. Generally my mind runs ahead and I miss opportunities, or get locked up because I'm over-analyzing. This time my mind was directly on business, and I chased everybody out of the ring at least once. The extra fitness work really paid off too. I was drenched, but not at all worn out by the end.
Breaking also went really well. Sensei held to his threat, and added two breaks to my requirements, so instead of just a punching break (single board) and a hammer fist (haydite), I had to break two other boards. I opted for a chop and a side kick. Everything broke on the first shot except the kick, where I went high and off-center - I've gotten so much more flexible that I seriously underestimated my most comfortable height! I readjusted the board up about six inches, and got a clean easy break on the second try. The haydite was also a little nerve-wracking. I've never done a hand break on a haydite before, nor ever broken from a kneeling position before, so it was learn-as-you-go time. However, it broke cleanly on the first shot (yay? That would have hurt to miss.), and my positioning was off only barely - I have a scraped spot on my wrist that will have a bruise tomorrow.
All my freaking out about the candle-punching seems to have paid off - or rather, I suppose, all the practice I did because I was freaked out. I put the candle out first try with my right, but barely tapped the candle and had to do it again, whereas the first punch with the left failed to put it out. Second time was the charm for both, though.
Self-defense went smoothly. I did the six presets, which all went pretty well, especially for not having been able to practice them on an actual person for the last month. I did one more, just for good measure, my favorite double-lapel grab/break, which quite unexpectedly tossed Sensei's daughter onto her back several feet away. Normally it only twists her around sideways.
Overall, I'm fairly pleased. I'm going to take the sleeves on my new gi (not worn yet), back to forearm because I don't want a repeat of the sleeve catching thing. I am very pleased at having an actual useable description of what's going wrong with my kata, so I can start working on fixing it.