Thursday, August 07, 2008

First Impressions

Yesterday was our first class in our new dojo space. Good timing since it turned out to be an intermittantly stormy day - it would have been cancelled for certain if we'd still been outside.

We're renting space from a Jazzercise studio. This has a lot of pluses. First and nicest is having a decent floor again. After months of linoleum, and then grass at the park, it's lovely to be on a floor that's meant to be bounced around on. Grass has its advantages, I will admit, but day in and day out, there's a lot you can't really do outside - particularly in white gis! The floor at the new place is a textured tile with some give. It's not as nice and cushy as the foam floors, but it's miles and miles above slick-as-glass linoleum over concrete. Though we may have to start mopping it ourselves before class, as it's pretty darned filthy.

Other good things - we have a hanging bag again. Last night was the first time I've kicked or punched a bag since December. It's amazing how much a bag will tell you about your kicks, and I've missed that kind of completely personality-free feedback. Sensei may or may not see if your kick was off-center, but if the bag starts rotating, you were off. It's like the snap of your gi. If you hear it, you know your speed was good. If you don't, you didn't have good recoil. I swear that my uwagi (gi top) won't snap, but my kicks snap every time, so it's not the gi, it's my punches.

We also have a closet to call our very own, where we can leave the communal gear. Plus we're allowed to use the Jazzercise equipment, including balance balls, weights and steps. All-in-all it's a fairly sweet set-up. They are charging more than ideal, so Sensei is having to charge us more than he would like, at least until we add some more students. It's still barely half what the old place was charging, though, some I'm not about to complain. If we can pick up five or six new students, Sensei will be able to drop his prices to where he wants them.

Towards this end, he wants to hold a women's self-defense seminar in a month or two, advertising among the Jazzercise participants. I think it's a great idea, and apparently so does the Jazzercise lady. He wants me and T to be there specifically, as he feels that having women demonstrators will make it all seem more possible to women who aren't used to the idea of hitting others. Less intimidating. I hope it works. Based on my Turbokick class, I'm not sure I count as "not intimidating". I'm not exactly small, and the most common first impression word I'm getting these days is "strong". (My blog photo is a couple years out of date at this point. Subtract seventeen pounds and add a noticeable amount more muscle.) If I can, I'd like Rob to come be the mock attacker for the class. Rob is enough bigger than I am (6'4" to my 5'8"), that the size differential looks real - someone his size might attack someone my size. Sensei, for all his skill, is not a big guy - two inches shorter than me, in fact. I'm a little afraid that if we are the demonstration pair the reaction is likely to be skeptical, since in real life situations, people rarely choose victims bigger than they are unless weapons are involved.

All that is fairly peripheral, though. I don't seriously think a little skepticism is going to ruin a self-defense seminar if we run it well. Towards that end, I'm going to be rereading The Gift of Fear, which is chock-full of good information, and doing some other research. I do want us to be actually useful, not just a marketing ploy. And that means giving the women who come some real information. After all, anything physical we show them is likely to be forgotten in a few months, but solid tactical information is more likely to stick.


Martial Arts Mom said...

I came to your blog late for the party. Why did you need to find a new dojo? (Interesting post btw)

Perpetual Beginner said...

martial arts mom - for the last three years we had been a sub-group within a larger school, which was mainly a taekwondo dojang. They had a great space, though they charged a lot and did some things my sensei disagreed with, like charging for belt tests. This last fall they started building a new space, bigger and purpose-built for martial arts. It was supposed to be finished in early Febuary.

Things pretty well went badly from there. Around Thanksgiving they hiked their prices (a lot). Then just after New Years, they were booted out of their old space, before the new one was ready. (According to the dojang owner's information it was because the lease owner had found a new renter - but the space is still empty eight months later.) We stayed as a group at that point, first finding a workout space at a local club (good floors, bad part of town), and then in the party room of a bar (better area of town, linoleum-covered concrete floor). We stayed several more months, but at that point we were losing students, the floor was actually causing injuries, and we still weren't in the new space. Plus some other stuff I don't think is appropriate public airing. So we left and started working out on our own in the park while Sensei looked for a new space for us.

As it's turned out, we're now in a new space before the taekwondo folk are - their new space still isn't ready.

Martial Arts Mom said...

Ah, I get it. I probably would have been able to figure that all out if I went back in your archives, but I wouldn't have known where to start, so thanks for saving my sanity. I know it's not very honorable, but it has to make you feel good that the TKD group is still not in their new space. LOL

Becky said...

That's great that you finally found a new place to work out.

I declare I didn't think Rob was that tall.

Perpetual Beginner said...

He slouches badly.

Or I suppose, he slouches very well indeed, since when laid out flat on a chiropractor's table he actually measures 6'6", but 6'4" is as straight as we've ever gotten him to stand upright.

bill said...

Glad you got your new place!

Yeah, I noticed Rob slouches badly. Probably from a lifetime of hitting his head on low doors. Unfortunately it's likely to come back and bite him some day.

Elizabeth McClung said...

I like when you talk about the intimate nature of your martial art, the snap of the gi, the rotation of the bag. It has the self critical professionalism that I miss hearing in myself; to be part of a sport of discipline and to contantly push yourself, but also reflect on what is not working. I dislike very much those who are satisfied, for whom it doesn't matter if the bag rotates a little. Who have no need to push themselves because after all, don't they know it all already (this is generally the attitute).

I would like to read about you pushed to your physical limits and then going through the basic tests, seeing what has fallen apart or amazingly, what remains true at the core. Maybe you have written on this already.

Perpetual Beginner said...

I've not written much about my limit pushing in martial arts, Elizabeth. I should write more about it, and probably will in the future, since this year is both the work-up to my black belt, and the work up to the World Tournament in the spring.

I too love the self-critical nature of sport. I love having a completely objective standard I can judge against: the candle goes out, or it doesn't; the gi snaps or not; Bob (the kick dummy) falls over or doesn't. The bag and my gi aren't going to go easy on me to make me feel better, or dock me points because it didn't look pretty.