Monday, April 30, 2007

Various and Sundry

Well, I survived my teaching stint - people are still coming to Tuesday classes, so at least I didn't crash and burn. Sensei now has a day job - working at the same plant as my husband! So now they're apparently gossiping about me during the day. It's interesting hearing what each of them chooses to tell me about what they talked about, often very different. It was interesting teaching, but I'm rather glad to be a full-on student again.

Our last two green belts became purple this last Friday (Congratulations J and I!). Sensei asked me to sit with him and act as a judge (or at least a vaguely apprentice judge-like being). I surprised myself by actually catching something in a kata that he missed - normally I'm not the best observer of such things. Rob will tease me about it sometimes. If we both saw a car accident and somebody asked us what happened, I'd say "The red car came from that-away (vague wave), and smashed into the white car." Rob would say "The red Corvette came around the corner from Broadway, I think it was about 20 over the speed limit, hit the right front bumper on the Escort and spun it into the railing."

More doctor things this week. I had a wondrous outbreak of Shingles about two weeks ago, which fortunately got cut short by a timely steroid injection and a course of anti-virals. My purse looked like a fricking pharmacy. While my PCP had me in hand, she made me go get a new cholesterol test since I'm overdue. I've been watching my diet reasonably well for the last year (Okay, I'm waaay overdue), and I was sort of hoping the Metformin would help lower my levels, since high cholesterol is one of the side effects of insulin-resistance. No such luck. My cholesterol is up about 30 points. So I have another appointment this week, and I'm thinking she's likely to stick me an a statin. Or possibly thyroxin, depending on what she thinks the low thyroid is doing in the mess that is my metabolism.

My I add (whine warning), that it's completely unfair that Rob eats the same diet I do, only with more meat and butter and cream, and his cholesterol is 120 points lower than mine? Erg.

I did get some amusement out of the answering machine message. The lab tech called with the gross results (I don't get a breakdown until the office visit), and included the generic advice. "You should watch your diet and increase your exercise." I just started laughing. Increase my exercise to what? Monday it's an hour of intense cardiovascular (I'm loving the TurboKick, btw). Tuesday it's an hour of weights, an hour of yoga, and 90 minutes of karate. Wednesday is Turbokick again. Thursday is weights and yoga. Friday is Turbokick and karate. Weekends I take off from formal exercise, unless I do the Sunday karate class. Adding it up, that's ten hours of exercise a week minimum! I'm losing weight only slowly, but damn I'm in good shape. I'm the only person I know with six-pack abs on a pot-belly - you can see the muscle lines in the fat.

In more cheery news, we took our first family camping trip. Both boys enjoyed the camping, with only very minor complaints of boredom (Mommy forgot to pack the coloring books), and both held up well on the hikes. The surprise eager camper was Nicky. We were expecting scrambling over rockfalls and up and down canyon trails (Clifty Falls state park, IN) to be hard on short, twisted Basset legs, but he went snaking up and down pretty much everything, with only an occassional boost for really high rocks. He wasn't even sore or noticeably tired afterwards (unlike everyone else) - and this is a dog who sometimes limps after walking to school and back! With such a success on the first outing, we'll undoubtedly be camping some more this summer.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Oh, My

Well, Sensei doesn't seem to be in danger of leaving town, but I get to teach class for a while anyway. Due to job scheduling problems, it looks like Tuesdays are mine for at least the next month, maybe two. Tonight was the first night, with a full set of students since everyone was expecting Sensei. I'll know it didn't go well if nobody shows up next Tuesday!

The book I ordered (Speed Training for Martial Arts) showed up Monday, and I can already tell it's going to be a big help. It has a ton of training drills, both partnered and individual, for every imaginable aspect of speed (reaction time, technique selection, peripheral vision, and technique speed, just to hit the first three chapters). I used two of the drills in tonight's class and liked both of them, though I will probably choose differently if the same set of students shows up next week. Some students just should not be handed props! The first drill involved throwing various visually different balls at one student where each kind of ball was associated with a different technique. (E.g. the big ball is kicks, the purple ball is blocks, the tennis ball is hand strikes), and having them hit each ball with an appropriate technique. We split into groups of three, a tosser, a target and a ball chaser. The drill was great, but one team devolved into a rules-free game of ball tag any time they weren't being sat upon.

Other than that minor quibble, I was pretty happy with how class went. There's so much I feel I need to be learning about teaching, though. I not only need the drills and ideas from lessons that differ from Sensei's (not because his aren't good, but because I can't/don't teach like he does), but I feel like I need to research teaching itself. Like how to deal with a bright, motivated, but severely ADHD kid (who's also suffering from the onset of puberty - joy). On the good side, I do think there are a number of things I can plan lessons around that won't duplicate Sensei's classes, but will still be interesting and useful, so at least I've got that for a starting point.

But wouldn't you know that I finally get over feeling like an imposter with no right to the gi, and now I get to start feeling like an imposter with no right to be standing in front of the class?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Well that was Simple

Had my first class as a purple belt last night. Sensei took me aside for over 20 minutes and taught me Simple Sai - the first of the required new katas for my brown-belt test. It's aptly named. I have the moves down in my brain pretty clearly today, and can do them well enough to be certain of what I'm trying to do, even if my sai work is pretty pathetic still. So now it's a matter of getting smooth and strong with the weapon, rather than learning the kata itself.

I'm the first person in class to learn the kata, for the straightforward reason that I'm the only one with my own sais thus far. Rob got me a complete set of Isshinryu weaponry (except for a bo, which I already had) for my birthday last year. This year I'm just getting the book on speed and a new gi - well those and a purple belt, but I don't think Sensei remembers when my birthday is, so I doubt that was deliberate. It feels good to get the sais out and really start using them at last. Now I just have to stop stabbing myself in the forearm when doing a swooping close.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


My test Friday went fine, and I'm now a bonafide purple belt (san-kyu). Sensei asked me after the test, but before the award of the belt, how I thought I'd done. I answered "Solidly," and he said that was an accurrate description. I didn't miss anything, I didn't make any significant errors, no brain farts, or anything like that.

Unfortunately, "Solid" would also be a good description of what I did wrong. My techniques are good and I have the knowledge I need, but I'm completely lacking in zip. In kumite I'm forever seeing the opening a split second too late to do anything about it - or the technique gets launched, but doesn't get there in time. The only technique I throw with enough pop to surprise anyone is my front-snap kick. I can absolutely pile-drive anybody with my side-thrust - but it's almost invariably too slow to get through. Even my katas show the effects - my husband commented that they looked strong but leaden. The only place it didn't seem to affect me was in self-defense (Ironically the area I was most worried about, but where I did best.) I opted to do the four pre-planned self-defense sequences, and they were smooth, fast and confidant - Sensei had nothing critical to say at all, which is pretty unusual.

I talked to my Dad about this, and he was unsurprised. He mentioned that in his gymnastic days (he was nationally ranked in college), his biggest downfall was a lack of explosive power, which he attributes to a lack of fast-twitch muscle. Now everybody has some fast-twitch and some slow-twitch muscle, but someone with a lot of fast-twitch is going to find it easy to do explosive techniques and be generally quick while having problems with endurance, while somebody with lots of slow-twitch is going to have the opposite - an easy time with endurance work, and difficulties with speed.

So, taking it as a given that I'm going to have to work hard to get decent speed, the question becomes - what do I work hard at? I've ordered a book on speed-training in martial arts, and I'm poking around on the web to see what I can find. I've got some time at least. We have a six-month minimum time-in-rank for purple, so it's at least October before I'm even eligeable to test for brown, and probably more like December or next January. Now I just need to figure out how to train between now and then. The knowledge is easy, and there are only two required new katas (Simple Sai and Chinto), plus I'll probably ask for Tokomine No Kun, just to have something new to work on with bo (I've known Tsu Yoi Bo since orange), so that's not a problem. It's just the dratted speed thing.

Suggestions more than welcome!