Friday, February 20, 2009


Well, I finally got a look at the essay topics for my black belt. I knew I had to write three, but I could only remember two of the topics: What in your opinion, is a black belt? and What does karate mean to you? I couldn't remember the third topic for anything. So once I got a look, I figured I'd come talk about it here a bit, which should serve the dual purpose of grinding it into my memory a bit, and providing a written record in case it does slide out again.

The third question, being much of a kind with the previous two, is: What, in your opinion, is a sensei?

This could conceivably provide some serious overlap, since to my mind, one of the meanings of a black belt is that the wearer is a teacher. And since what karate means to me also has bearing on the meaning of a black belt, it would almost be easier to address all three questions in one giant essay. I wonder if Sensei would go for that?

So on to the pondering. I've been pondering the other two questions for nearly a year at this point. Time to let the hindbrain cook on the third one.

In other news, Sensei has the death flu that's roaming around town right now. Sensei D. and I taught class Tuesday, and I had it by myself Thursday, since Sensei D. is now down in New Orleans for Mardi Gras. Tuesday was very casual, with only two students. Last night, however, was pretty successful. I tried a couple of new drills garnered from my book on developing speed (Loren Christensen), and both were fairly well recieved. One drill was highly revealing, at least for my and my partner - and I suspect for the other pairs as well. The drill consists of circling one another as if fighting, up to and including fakes (which should be responded to as if in a fight), but no real thrown techniques. At random points, the designated person yells "Freeze!" and then "A" or "B" (each team as an A and B partner). The pair freezes, and then the designated person has 1 second to throw a technique to tap an open area. For me and my partner (Sensei's daughter), the opening for her was almost always a roundhouse to the chest - which is a kick she very rarely uses in an actual fight, and you could see the gears in her head turning as she noticed this. For me, I was nearly always slightly out of position. Never badly, but enough that I had to make an additional move to make a technique connect. Step forward, step sideways, turn - I was always just slightly off kilter or out of range for an effective technique. Which - duh! - of course I'm going to be slow on the attack if once I see an opening I have to both shift and throw the technique. I suspect it's my subconcious trying to slow the fight down, but its result is only to slow me down, not my opponent. Not exactly effective technique there.

Score! Something specific I can work on that should increase my effective speed. I'll have to tell Sensei about the drill when he gets better and comes back. I think he'll like this one.


wh44 said...

That's excellent with the drill! :)

You've probably looked it up already, but:

The Japanese word is an honorific mostly used for teachers, but may also be used for other professionals, such as doctors, lawyers and such.

The Japanese symbols for Sensei, 先生, are also have meaning in Chinese. They pronounced "xiansheng" (Mandarin) and in China it is an honorific approximately meaning "gentleman", perhaps "Master".

I think the etymology makes it an appropriate word: a Sensei in the martial arts sense is both a master of the art and, hopefully, a master of their students.

Michele said...

Cool drill. I think I am going to give it a try this week in class.

What is the title of the book by Loren Christensen?

CrimsonPhoenix said...

That sounds like an awesome drill! I may have to suggest it to one of my instructors. :)