Sunday, October 30, 2011


Sensei and I spent most of Saturday at a pressure point seminar given by Will Higginbotham. This is the second time we've gone (he apparently does one in this area every year around Halloween), and as it was last year, it was really interesting. This year's seminar was a bit more focused than last year's, primarily because we had half-a-dozen police officers attending, and Sensei Higginbotham concentrated heavily on things they would find practical: control grips, come-alongs, ways to safely intervene in a third-party assault - that sort of thing. (Several wrist and finger-locks, Bill!}

I find pressure points fascinating, but they remind me of my father's description of neuroanatomy. You need a certain (large) amount of base knowledge to sink in before you can start putting things into a framework that makes sense. Right now these seminars feel like standing in a rainstorm with a teaspoon trying to collect the water. I come away with a few specific things that work (or not to do), and a broader fact or two, and try to remember them without having much of a knowledge structure to hang them on. I know the structure exists, but I haven't got it straight in my head yet, so things don't stick all that well. But each time, a little more makes sense, and I trust that one day, if I keep working on it, it will start fitting together sensibly.

It turned out to be a good thing that I was scheduled to conduct the choir instead of sing this Sunday, though, as I turned out to be the victim of choice when it was time to practice peeling off a guy who's trying to choke someone. So I got choked, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, by about eight people, several times each. My neck is still feeling it today, though not too badly.

The conducting went pretty well - especially for my first time ever. The choir was very kind to me, and paid excellent attention. If I'm going to do this again, I need to work on keeping my beat pattern while also giving cues, though. I know how to sketch time, and I know how to do entrances and cut-offs, but I tend to lose my pattern (though fortunately not my beat) when trying to combine the two. This might have something to do with it having been 23 years since my one semester of conducting class. (If you ever read this Constance, THANK YOU for being so stringent that most of what you taught has stuck. It saved my butt.) We're currently auditioning candidates for a new organist/choir director, and with any luck we should get one before Advent.

I'm also supposed to be playing my first full church service on the 13th of November. This is our Kirkin' of the Tartans service, with bagpipes and drums, in addition to the organ. I'm nervous (it's a lot of music), but I think it's mostly in hand - except possibly for the bagpipe bit. The piper said something to our priest about organ music to play with the pipes, but hasn't provided any - and if she doesn't get it to me within the next 2-3 days, there's no way I'm playing it. My biggest failing as an organist at this point is the sheer amount of time it takes me to get new pieces under my fingers. E.g., I should play this service fine, but it's been two months of prep work to get here.

For tonight, I'm working on Halloween costumes. Sewing for Robbie's costume (Colonel Mustang from Full Metal Alchemist), and somewhat more engineering like stuff for Aaron's (the Xenomorph monster from Alien). My children don't believe in easy Halloween costumes. Actually, if they keep this up, I'm going to have to teach them how to sew, so they can do these themselves.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Monday, October 17, 2011

Blog note

Pictures from our home tournament, the Southern Indiana Open can be found here.

There's quite a few of them. I think the photographer was on a personal mission to get at least half-a-dozen shots of every competitor there.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

New Kata!

I'm not going to be able to say that too many more times. It's a little sad, but I'm getting close to the end of the Isshinryu set of kata. As a style we don't have all that many - eight empty hand kata (Seisan, Seiuchin, Naihanchi, Wansu, Chinto, Kusanku, Sunsu, and Sanchin), and six weapons kata (Tokemine no Kun, Urashi Bo, Shishi no Kun no Dai, Kusanku Sai, Chatanyara no Sai, Higa no Tuifa - aka Hamahiga). There are also two unofficial two person katas, bo-bo, and bo-sai.

As of right now, I have two of the official kata left to learn, Shishi and Hamahiga. I know that Shishi is part of what I learn at nidan (not least because Sensei started teaching it to me on Thursday). I suspect I'll also learn Hamahiga in here somewhere - which should be interesting, since I've never even seen Sensei bring tonfa to class. But I'm feeling a little sad that I'm getting so close to the end of my kata set. I love deepening kata I already know, learning more applications, more bunkai, other ways of looking at things - but I also love digging into new kata, and there's just not that much more to go!

On the plus side, Shishi looks like it will take me a while. It's the longest Isshinryu kata by a fair margin. It's about twice as long as Urashi, which is itself a fairly long kata. It's got a lot of familiar moves, but also several new sequences and different strikes than the other two bo kata. If I'm seeing it correctly, it shouldn't be as prone to leaking into the other kata as Urashi was for Tokemine (they share several very similar sequences).

As part of the effort to deepen my other kata, I'm currently working on mirror-image Seisan. It wasn't as difficult to figure out as I had feared. It took about 2-3 good working sessions, and the left-right switch clicked. I still have to watch the first 5-6 moves carefully to make sure I'm not doing it the normal way, but once I make the first turn, all is good. I'm hoping to find a partner to do the Lennox Legacy team kata with, since I think a pair of us acting as mirrors for each other would look very cool. Maybe I can talk Robbie into it, since he's planning on coming and competing this year (kata only).

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

About that announcement...

(Photo description: close up of my nidan certificate, newly arrived from Okinawa.)

I'll also note that it's a nice validation of my growing Japanese skills that I can actually read about 30% of this certificate, including my name, rank, and date of issuance.

I haven't been on-line a lot lately, because my computer is having issues. We managed to do a defrag last night, and have been trying to do a full virus check, which is giving us problems for unknown reasons, but we'll get there. At least it's telling us we can't do stuff in about half the time it was before.