Archive for the ‘Bujinkan Training’ Category

New Year Training

by on Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Well, I  haven’t  put a word down since at least November, since we celebrated the holidays of 2013 in a big way this time. We traveled to Atlanta to see the new baby and celebrated with parties and friends, too many. And at the end of it all I joined a few training friends for a long seminar up in Minnesota. Since then I’ve been resting. Sleeping.

I rode with a friend, since I hate driving when I have no idea where I’m going, and I’ve never been to Minneapolis before. We shared stories of our youth and talked about plans for the future. When we arrived Saturday night, our trainer held court in his basement and refreshments were passed. There were others, a group of people who belong to the Minneapolis Dojo and we got to know each other a little bit. By the time we went to our hotel to check in, it was midnight. As I settled into bed, I called home, but Mike didn’t answer. It was early for him to be in bed, but I thought perhaps he was sleeping and surrendered to the dark myself.

I had slept hard, but woke late with stiff and sore shoulders from the hard hotel mattress. It was the coldest day in more than 15 years. The temperature that morning broke records across the midwest. It was -30 with wind chills at -50 to -60 degrees. I made myself ready, had one cup of coffee and a banana that I’d brought from home and tried to reach Mike, who wasn’t answering. On the way out the door, upset and not hungry, I forced myself to eat a tiny muffin. I was worried that Mike didn’t pick up my calls, I’d tried the home phone and his cell more than numerous times, every five minutes for over an hour to be more precise, and was about to call my neighbor to check on him. It was upsetting me.

Of course, he finally picked up his phone, as we’re walking out the door, and making us late. He’d been pissed off that I didn’t call him the moment we arrived the night before, and was punishing me. It worked, I was unnerved, and a bit freaked out. I felt unjustly ‘punished’. He’d made me upset, and so my head wasn’t exactly all wrapped around the idea of training that day. I think of it as his way of making his presence known, and to inform me, indirectly, that he was unhappy I gone and done something without him.

When we arrived at the dojo, the cold air followed us in with a cloud that clung to us and then snuck away, dissolving into the corner. The dojo was a heated garage, and thick frost coated the inside of the windows. We quickly changed into our Gi’s and class got underway immediately. I had no time for sullenness, and no time to process Mike’s reaction.

We began with some challenging rolls, ukeme and cartwheels, I felt injured right away due to my stiff shoulders. But we didn’t stop. Today was not a day for pussies. We trained hard through thirst and hunger, finally breaking for green tea (a tiny cup) and thin unsatisfying cookies at about 2pm, I could have eaten a big meal by then. I had begun to feel the effects of missing breakfast early that morning, but our focus was on the training and the day went by relatively quickly. Though I typed the day’s events into Marks phone on the way home, I couldn’t tell you everything we did. There was so much new information, and for the most part we didn’t follow forms, we were given instructions to be creative and let what ever happens take you in a new direction.

Near the end of the day, our trainer came over to help me with a wasa we were working on. I punched at him and he hit me hard. The shock of his strike hit me harder than the blow itself. Though my arm rang like a bell. And through my exhaustion I felt the tears well up. Even willing them away wasn’t working, but though the teacher saw it, he told me not to stop. He encouraged me to continue,  “You need to feel this.” So I came at him again, and he hit me hard in the arm again. We finished the form, but I was left with tears streaming down my face. And though I tried to shake it off, the tears waited, threatening to emerge again for the whole remaining two hours of the class. It was all I could do to hold myself together.

At the end of the day, he was right, I had needed to feel that. We talked, and he said that if I knew I would react that way it could come in handy in a situation where I was being attacked. I would need to learn how to move through the emotion, and react with out getting stuck there. Its something I think I can do.

Move through.

That’s the message, isn’t it? Because I’m still angry at Mike for punishing me the way he did in front of my friends. I never had a chance to move through.

 

Bujinkan, Month Eight

by on Thursday, November 28th, 2013

In light of the previous post, there is a brighter side to all this. I’m doing well at my new hobby/instrument/art. And have received positive confirmation of that fact too. A few of the visitors have complimented me on my skill after having heard that I’ve only been training since last March. That feels pretty good, at least I feel like I’m more comfortable with the forms.

Since I have earned bragging rights, and bruises, my instructor told me that he thinks I’m at a turning point in my training. He said, if you’ve never left the dojo and felt like crying, then you have never really trained. Well now I’m really training. Besides, they say that bruises are the medals of Bujinkan, and I’ve gotten plenty of those. He said too that I’ve come very far in a very short period of time. It was a compliment to my hard work. I don’t know how fast or slow it’s supposed to go, I’m training at a fast pace because I feel compelled to. I’m pressuring myself too, because I hate being the lowest man on the totem pole; the weakest link or runt of the pack.  So I push myself hard and practice. Just the way I am. I want to be revered.

Well, I’m not there…yet. But I’m done bragging for now.

“We’ll make you want to hit us.”

by on Thursday, November 28th, 2013

Things have not been the same at the dojo for a few weeks now. Around the beginning of the month, when the Quiet Samurai left for Antarctica,  we began to  increase the intensity of our training in hand to hand combat. In fact, it was at the bar where we had going away drinks for our friend that one of the instructors told me flat out, I needed to start hitting people harder in training. I resisted, of course, that has been one of the hardest things for me to learn how to do. I don’t like doing it. I don’t want to hurt anyone and it feels like it goes against my nature to punch someone in the face. The funny thing is, I don’t think I could hurt any of them if I tried.

So I went home that night and stewed on the idea, and it occurred to me that none of them hit me. In fact, several of them are super gentle with me. So how am I supposed to have any clue how hard to hit them when they treat me like a flower? At the next class I put it back in my teacher’s pocket, so to speak. I told him that he and the rest would have to be able to hit me too. A consensus was reached. We all needed to hit harder.

That was about two weeks ago. Intensity has been slowly building in class too, I’m trying harder, not sure if I’m succeeding. I don’t think hand to hand combat will ever be my thing. And this Monday I felt the truth of that hit home. We’ve had some really good classes lately. We’ve practiced a lot with the Bo Staff, I’m getting really comfortable with that. We also worked with a Jute, or short stick.  We had an 8th Don Black belt come down and train with us and even a couple from Sweden who have been training for twelve years. They were very good, very helpful, throwing out many insights to the art.

In fact, it was the night that they visited that I had my big wake up call. It was a big class, there were ten of us. Everyone was training hard, I came late and knew instantly that we were going at a higher level than  before. Mark was showing off harder wasa using more difficult moves. Things I’d never seen before. I was doing all right, I followed everything fine. The first thing I remember was practicing punching directly at  Uke’s face. (Uke is the name for your opponent, usually the one who ends up on the floor) The exercise was to have intention.

A couple newer members of the dojo, two guys I haven’t trained a lot with were all pumped up that night too. Apparently they never got the memo to train lightly with me. But that’s ok, this is what I’ve been working towards. One of them took several hard hits at my arm, finally after he hit a nerve and made a welt on my elbow, I had to take a break for a couple minutes. It pissed me off though, since he had been hitting me hard, I got mad and yelled at him that we were training, it wasn’t a real fight. He kept it up though and every time we were paired up he beat on me harder. His friend too, who I don’t think likes women very much, takes me down like he’s trying to make me quit altogether.

I guess that was the little light bulb in my head that put me over the edge. Between the two of them, my ninja sense told me that they would prefer I don’t come to class. They would like me to quit. I felt in my heart that ultimately, that was their intention. And, that was what made me really angry. I went home pissed off. I was angry and wanted to cry. And when I talked to Mike about it, he wanted to come to class and beat them up for me. Which made me angrier. For one thing, the point of my training is so that I can beat them up!!! The last thing I want is for someone to come out and protect the little woman who is unable to help herself. F*#^ that!

I never did cry. Well, except when I posted a comment on FB that I hated training and was trying not to cry, trying not to  be such a girl, and my instructor reached out to me. Then I cried a little. But besides that, all the frustration and anger makes me want to train harder. It makes me want to kick their puny little asses. (In and out of class.)  Ok, that’s probably not too healthy, but Josh E. said it best. That night, when I was still fishing my punches at him, he told me, “We’ll make you want to hit us.” And this from one of the guys who I feel friendship from. Something deep inside me is hurt by that comment, but I know with all my heart (and ninja sense) that he is trying to help advance my training.

Now I’m crying. Because I’ve finally found the bottom line. It’s right there, all wrapped up in what Josh said to me. Because I know what it’s like to want to hit someone you love. I know what it is to be so angry that you want to hurt that friend badly. For me, it’s the main reason I train. Because there is someone who I love, that I am that angry with.

You’re an asshole Bryan. I’m sick of you hurting my family, our family. Bujinkan is my therapy for dealing with my emotions for you, brother. I hate you. I love you. You make me want to hit you.

Green Belt (among other things)

by on Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

Training has been better than ever. On good days, I feel like I’ve really got it. I know the Sanshin, I know the kehon, and even remember their names. I still have bad days though, days when I have too much on my mind and can’t remember anything.

One night after training, in the dark parking lot, I got the word,  and the secret pass-code, to go buy a green belt. No test, no ceremony. Just like that. Mark said, “You’re good to go.”

I told him to make sure, check with the others if he had to. Get a consensus. I ordered the belt which cost a whopping $8 with shipping and it came the next day. When I went to class with it on, I was congratulated by everyone. But the coolest part about wearing my green belt was that I began to feel like I knew more. I began to act like I knew what I was doing in class, I had more confidence and respectively, the guys treated me like I knew a few things too.

I have a new favorite weapon! Kusari fundi. It’s a two foot length of chain with rectangular weights at either end. All in all it weighs about 5 pounds. The idea is that you get that thing swinging around wrap up their arm or neck, or just create space between you and an opponent. I love it! For one thing, it’s really scary, for another, it doesn’t take too much for it to hurt a lot.

Mike and I started sword training together. We’re studying the eishin ryu which is iajutsu.  We train the kamae and forms a couple times a week, and I told Mark and Josh that we were doing it. They have been adding more sword to our everyday training there as well. So my skills have been growing. Even though it feels sometimes like I’m not getting the words, the movement, the kata, I know that the more I practice, the better I’ll get and the easier it all becomes. And some days, I do know all the words and forms. It is coming.

I’ve been trying to stick around after class to get to know Josh and Mark a little better, I have a feeling they both have interesting stories to tell. Also, I have an ulterior agenda, I want to tell them that I have a real reason for being there and training. It’s not just that I’m a writer, and not just that it’s fun. More about that later. I talked with them about going out for beers after class. Monday night it’s always way too late for me to go out and Saturday it  seems like I’m so busy. So in an attempt to get control of that situation, I invited them all to our house for beer-jutsu and a bonfire.

Mike helped a lot, he was great (really got into the spirit of the thing) and we planned a great meal and fire in the pit outside. The weather, after weeks of rain and cold, cooperated and gave us a beautiful sunny day of about 50 degrees, low wind. Perfect weather for the fire. It turned out to be an awesome party, we had a great time too. Erika and Roy came, Diane and Lester, and even Jay and Cindy came with their girls. Mark, Josh, Bill and his wife and Josh E and his girlfriend were there. It was fun.

I’ve had a couple questions on my mind and have been waiting for an opportunity to ask Mark specifically, since he works with in the legal system (loosely). In class a few weeks ago, I had an epiphany. Mark was talking about knowing when to stop. Knowing when you have a person under control, and you’ve hit them perhaps you have a weapon like the hanbo, and they are down. Know when to stop and walk away. What I realized was that there is one person who if it came down to it, I’m not sure I would know when to stop. I imagined my rage coming to the surface and beating this person senselessly. This epiphany threw me though. In the middle of class, I nearly started to cry and it was all I could do to  bite my lip and stay focused. I’ve been thinking about it ever since too. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it, in fact.

You know who I’m talking about. He has been making himself known again and calling people in the family to express his anger and disappointment in us all.  Recently I have become more and more afraid that when Nana dies, which may be a long time away yet, he is going to come after us with his sour vengeance and hurt people. Namely mom, and quite likely me. If he ever finds out that I’m getting the pianos, I can’t imagine what he’ll be capable of. There has been talk of a restraining order. Something I don’t know much about.

Yesterday after training, I finally had an opportunity to  ask Mark the two things which have been burning me for answers. First question, did he know much about restraining orders? He did and gave me some suggestions which I will gladly follow thru on today. Second question had to do with meditation as a component of training. His advice was to incorporate it into your training, bring the calming forces with you to class and be aware of the anger, knowing it’s there is half the battle.

So now he must think I’m a total nutjob. I laid awake half the night last night trying to figure out how to explain to him that I needed them to know there were more serious reasons for my training but there isn’t ever time to explain. Given our time constraints, I probably came across as blurting out this really cryptic and crazy disjointed information. Then hurriedly went home to dinner. I imagine I left him wondering what to do with this crazy person at his dojo.

I guess I just wanted him (them) to know that they are really helping me. It is therapy for  me at so many levels which I haven’t even begun to explore yet…I know it helps. I feel so much stronger physically and emotionally. I don’t want the guys to think that I’m a loose cannon, or that my fears are unfounded. Above all, I’m not asking them to fix me. I just needed a support group. A place to express my own rage. In a way, and I have found them (if they’ll have me).

Walking the path

Bujinkan Update, September, month 6

by on Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Summer training is over for the most part, luckily my schedule allowed me to train three days a week through out August. Now that school has begun, I’m back to my regular teaching schedule. I have allowed myself Monday nights, however, something in my whole career that I have never done before. I end up arriving at training little late, of course, but I at least get it there.

The black belts have been great. Mark usually takes the role of instructor when he is there, playing ideas off Erik. Bujinkan is Erik’s canvas. He sees endless possibilities  and variations with the techniques and has a lot of fun being creative. Josh will take the role of instructor when no one else is available, but he is a very good teacher. He is also very fluid with ideas and variations, but he knows the language and can explain what the body is supposed to do better than the other two. I had the lucky opportunity to train with Josh privately only once and it was a valuable experience.

I get the sense that they get a kick out of me, shall I call them my Dojo Masters? For whatever reason, They like me,  and it gives them a better excuse to advance their own training. I’m the only dedicated white belt in the clan. Of course, not knowing what they were up to before I started Bujinkan with them, I could be imagining things. Mark especially, travels to train frequently. I have to beware of his Jedi mind tricks, I realized after Monday.He will direct the conversation in such a way that he soon has me revealing things about myself, things I would not normally share. So far the end result has been only light embarrassment on my part, but still. Twice now, I have spat out personal things which I would normally not share with anyone. Mental note to self to stop falling into his traps.

Other than that, training has been good. I can say that I have learned the Sanshin, and am really close to knowing all eight of the kehon happo plus one that we don’t consider a basic at our dojo. The names are (spell check won’t like me) ichimanji, hicho, jumanji, omote gyako, omote tski, ura gyako, musha dori and last, gansaki nage.  Musa dori is the one we don’t do. Saying that I can do them is one thing, of the eight I can only do the first three well.

Since my last Bujinkan update, I have purchased two more weapons and made two also. I made a Bo staff and a Hanbo, The staff is a 6 foot wooden rod, really fun to work with but not practical to carry around.  The hanbo is a shorter wooden rod, 3 feet long, and much more manageable. I made them from dowels I bought at Menard’s,  sanded and finished with wood oil. I like them both! We’ve trained with the hanbo quite a lot since July, using it to deflect an attacker, and using it against a sword. It’s the type of thing you could keep in your car and keep an attacker at bay.

I also purchased another bokken, several of us from the dojo ordered bokkens specially made  from a wood smith up north. I chose rain forest Blood-wood for mine. It is beautiful. It’s a lot heavier than my Cold Steel bokken, I’m still getting used to it, it makes my arm sore.

My favorite new weapon is an unlikely and scary looking little thing…I love it. It’s called a Kusari. It’s a 24 inch metal chain with 3 inch rectangular  weights on each end. It weighs a couple pounds, and when you swing it, well you can just imagine the damage that it could do. Josh G made them for us at his place of work ( which I will not reveal, not even under torture) and they are truly works of art. I like it because I can carry it in my purse if I need to, and it would easily create distance between me and an attacker. It would also inflict a fair amount of damage if it hit someone in the head. It is a very wicked thing. I’m looking forward to a class coming up this fall dedicated to kusari training, taught by one of the dojo masters in our area. I’m not going to miss that class!

So training has been going well, I hope my dojo masters think I’m progressing. I certainly feel like I am. I’ve become more comfortable with so much. And I really enjoy it enormously, though that has a lot to do with the company of men I’m in, they have been good to me. Too kind.  I’m at the point that they will need to be tougher on me for me to get the most of my training. Time to train harder.

 

Training Fest Part Two: Bujinkan

by on Sunday, July 7th, 2013

After standing in the hot sun for three hours shooting guns, I kind of wanted lunch. It was after one o’clock, and I hadn’t really eaten breakfast to begin with. Budo training took us to the Dojo, a two car garage that had been decorated in Japanese Dojo fashion, complete with padded floor and numerous bokens and swords of different sizes and types of wood hanging on racks on the dark yellow walls. Skipping lunch, I ate a handful of almonds and drank two bottles of water before changing to my Gi.

Training was already in progress.  Gabe, a trainer from southern WI was teaching class. Stephanie, a young student from my dojo and fellow white belt, partnered up with me. We had a hard time knowing what to do, but figured things out, none the less with no help from anyone. It was like a sauna in there, and that is about all I remember from the first hour. I was sweating so much that I thought something was wrong with me, and eventually took off my Gi to train in a tank top. Something I haven’t done since my first week training since we frequently work on lapel grabs, and defense from that kind of attack. But it was hot and we were all sweaty and I was soaked all the way through my belt.

However, I did remember that he would allow another black belt to show a technique. Then Gabe would expound on that move until eventually going back to the original idea and tell us to “play”. Next I partnered with a black belt, Eric, from another Dojo. He was very helpful, except he kept asking if I was OK after pinning me or throwing me to the ground. Of course I was fine,  and I apologized because I tend to make a lot of noise.  I also trained with Gail, we did techniques from kneeling positions on the floor for a while.

It is interesting to note that there is a trainer  who is missing both legs and an arm from some accident years ago, (I’m assuming he was in the Army or Air force but I don’t know for sure). He removes his prostheses to train and he is a black belt. He is also very good with guns. So the trainers at these events frequently do techniques that start from a kneeling position for his (and our) benefit.

After break, another trainer took over the class, and we switched partners again. I worked with a boy who is only 13, but quite good, and I trained with Gabe. We covered some interesting things during that session, how to defend yourself from two attackers and actually tangle them together and bring them to the floor. Josh E joined us for that comical technique.

One of the most valuable things happened at the end of the training. We all sat on the floor and discussed the training. We discussed what people had gotten out of it, and most importantly, how real the training is. The trainer (I can’t remember his name) made a point of explaining that this is real fighting technique. If any of us had a sword in our hands during a fight, we could be considered a lethal weapon. Then, he discussed something that had never occurred to me before. The fact is, that if someone were to attack you in a real live situation, they would be crazy enough to not care about hurting you or even killing you. People who are angry enough to attack a person, are crazy enough at that moment not to care about anything else.

The cool take home from that was, we are learning skills that enable us to throw off a crazy attacker . We are learning how to  distract them by doing something unexpected. He showed some examples, like when someone threw a punch at him, he stomped on the guys foot.  Or ducked under and behind him. I began to think of more possibilities.

His point was even more real to me because at the very end of weapons training, Josh E let me shoot his 40 caliber pistol. He loaded the magazine, which held around 16 bullets. I shot 4 but forgot to uncock it when I was done. I completely forgot that another bullet had automatically been chambered too and held the gun while waiting for Josh to  finish shooting mine. I kind of waved it around. This trainer, whose name I can’t remember, was standing at the other end of my waving weapon and began yelling at me. He drove his point home by discussing with Mark, who wasn’t at fault, about lack of supervision. I felt really bad, though I knew my finger had been nowhere near the trigger. Anyway, I will never forget to decock a gun or unchamber the bullet.  And I will never wave a gun around like that again. Point learned.

I am learning to be a lethal weapon.

Training Fest Part One: The Gun

by on Sunday, July 7th, 2013

Processing. Had an awesome day of training yesterday.  I learned so many new things, I don’t know how to begin this journal.

It was a special training weekend, an event held every summer by invitation only, at a dojo north of here. Five members of my dojo went to the event, along with 3 other trainers from cities around Wisconsin and members of their dojos. There were probably 25 people in all, it wasn’t a large gathering. Not like the training day in May at my dojo where there were nearly 50 attendees.

I left early Saturday morning and drove two hours to get there. Funny that I’ve lived in this state for 13+ years, and have never really been outside of Madison except to drive to Chicago or south. It was a beautiful, scenic drive. The countryside is very green this time of year, and that part of the state is alternately forested, and farmland. After crossing the Wisconsin river, the terrain grew  more hilly…mountainous by Wisconsin standards, and portions of  those hills had been blasted away to make way for the road.  The quiet country drive helped me prepare mentally for a long, information packed day of learning, and training.

The day began with introductions. I recognized many of the trainers from the May training day too…Now I can remember some of their names too. Introductions were also made to the weapons we were going to be firing. I was the only first time student to shooting guns, and I brought along the most valuable, and most formidable thing that I “inherited” from my dad after his death. His Sig Saur semi auto 45. I had never shot it before, or any gun for that matter, and have wanted to get more acquainted with the thing so that I could hold less fear around the object. Besides, it may come in handy if there is a zombie apocalypse.

The shooting “range” was smaller than I had imagined. At the farm where we trained, they had plowed up a big berm of earth to shoot into, but the area was really overgrown with weeds 3 to 7 feet tall. We flattened many of them, but one student pointed out that many of the weeds were highly toxic to touch and would create blistering burns on your skin that spread like a rash. As part of our ninja training, we avoided those for the most part, except for one poor girl who didn’t get the memo. She must have pushed it out of the way with her fingers, on both hands and her sandaled foot, welts began to form immediately.  The rest of the day  she remained bandaged and the welts spread, as predicted.

And I shot my gun. I’d been given a smaller weapon to try before shooting the 45, a 22 caliber pistol that was an easy loader, and didn’t have too much kick. I needed to break into this thing slowly. So I took my time, taking it all in, watching and absorbing, learning while others shot different weapons. At first I noticed how sensitive I was to the sound of the shots. One of the first guns to be fired was a 50 caliber, I’m not sure what to call it, shotgun, but more similar to a musket than a rifle…and when that thing fired, BOOM! Wow did I jump!  But I was really jumpy for approximately the first half hour. Every shot that was fired, I popped out of my skin a little. I guess I hadn’t realized how loud they were.

Then I let Mark, one of my dojo masters shoot my 45 first. Holy cow. It was the only 45 on the range, and the cartridges that flew out of it went eight feet or more into the air. People to the right of us jumped out of the way as he emptied the magazine. Six shots. My big weapon didn’t hold many bullets, but I soon learned that it didn’t need to.

Finally, I picked up the weapon.  The recoil and the explosive sound that it made, made me want to duck and cover. But I held fast, stuck my bravery to the ground through my feet and fired again, and again. After 4 shots, I turned to Mark, “I’m closing my eyes.” I realized I was shutting them at the last minute as a reflex, so he suggested that I breathe into it, like swinging the sword. Better, take it easy, know what to expect. From then on, it became less difficult. We stayed out on the firing range for 2 and a half hours, and the longer I stood there, the more I became desensitized to the firing. The less it bothered me, and the easier it got. In all, I fired 4 or 5 magazines from my gun, and by the end, Mark was wondering if I’d been kidding about being afraid of the thing earlier. I was a natural, and a really good shot.

Of course, I thought it was the gun, more than me. A gun like that makes shooting easy; makes it hard to miss the target. I still think that gun is a frightening thing, perhaps even more so. But now I’m not afraid of it.

 

 

Bujinkan, June

by on Monday, June 24th, 2013

Crazy crazy month, I haven’t been able to keep up with my training posts. So, the month in review went like this:

I attended a teaching exchange, and all day event and trained with 4 different instructors, their views and methods were really valuable. The first offered the idea that in today’s world, we don’t need this big kamea, take a smaller stance…awesome for me, but my teachers later said don’t’ do it. Erik said the big kamea is there for a reason, to help you find center and balance.  He stressed the point that we need to practice it that way so that when something comes up in the real world, your muscles remember how to balance. He made a good point, I’ll keep doing it this way.

The second instructor I don’t remember anymore, there were grappling moves, but it was hard to work, the room was very crowded. The third had us practice attacks from our knees. One of the instructors attending was in the war and his legs were amputated at the knee, I missed his instruction because he came later in the day, but it was still amazing to see him do Budo. I appreciated training with Kevin because he didn’t treat me like a girl, he pinned me to the floor like he meant it.

The third trainer worked on sword technique. I was able to borrow one and it was so cool. The trainer explained things quickly and moved through the exercises pretty fast, there wasn’t much time to absorb the techniques. On my way home, I called Mike and told him I wanted a bokken. Guess what I got for Mother’s day? A Cold Steel bokken! I’m sure I’m the only Mom in the state of WI that got a sword for mom’s day! It made me happy! So I’ve begun to get into the sword training part of Budo. I’ve been practicing handling the sword along with everything else.

My Sanshin has improved tremendously with practice, and this weekend, I even knew the 8 kihon. I trained with Erik and he was pointing out minor details in my form, like the direction of my toes, or the shape of the fist. I felt like it was much easier for a change. Things are clicking.

So, I’m sorry about the short list of my training progress, It’s been a very busy month. I’ll be updating more soon though, I’ve been attending class twice a week now that it’s summer, and there’s a big training weekend coming up after the 4th of July. Back again soon!

I Screamed

by on Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Training day nine. I’m making progress fast, it feels like, though my feet are still too slow. I’m beginning to see the basic kihon in some of the more advanced moves.

Since my last post, I’ve been to three more classes. My seventh class was just with the two Josh’s. “Little” Josh led at “Tall” Josh’s insistence. They are both black belts, “Little” Josh is more advance, and “Tall” is level two. I seriously wish I knew their last names, then I wouldn’t have to use these ridiculous identifying titles. So we practiced many different punches, hits and kicks on mats leaned against the wall. Josh led us through all of the fists, or hand positions, then of course we practiced the basic kihon again. I know I have the first one down now, but would like to work on the next two with Mike this week.

At my eighth class, Mark and “Little” Josh worked with me and another woman, Stephanie, who I assumed was a white belt too. Again, we trained the basic kihon, and just when class was going to get interesting, I had to leave early to prepare for a recital. I had been craving trying something different, and Mark even suggested that we try to keep it interesting…good idea. Not that I’m getting bored, this art is far from boring! I have memorized five of the sanshin and this week I worked on my kicks. I’d been having trouble in the sanshin keeping my balance after a kick and returning my kicking leg to ichimonji stance behind me again. Tuesday this week, I worked on that alone for a half hour…I have it now. I hope to impress my instructors with my progress.

Monday night the Kamath’s canceled again and I was able to go to my 9th class. The week night classes tend to have more students, and they are practicing harder combinations. I can’t wait till summer when I can free up Wed. night and attend those more often. The Saturday classes tend to be smaller, and since I am the lowest common denominator the black belts focus on my training. It’s good personal attention, and helps me see basic structure that I need to improve on.

This Monday night there were 8 or nine, a big group, and when I arrived, they were working on deflecting knife attacks. I felt like I was able to figure out the moves a little faster, though my feet still aren’t keeping up with my hands. Erik pointed this out to me several times, and much to my dismay, I wasn’t able to improve during class. A few of the moves involved ukemi, and I was proud of myself for being able to roll away and get to my feet quickly.

At the end of class, Bill was rating up a level in Green belt. He had to deflect attacks from each of us. We sat in a circle and one by one threw random attacks at him. I was last.  Erik asked if I wanted to, and someone, probably “Tall” Josh told me to go ahead, the encouragement was that Bill was obviously tired from deflecting 8 attacks in a row. So I stood and kicked my best boxing kick at him. He grabbed my foot, but neither my kick nor his response were very pretty, the class encouraged us to try again. This time I came at him with more force, I thought it was a pretty good kick. Bill caught my foot and quickly rotated my leg, actually flipping me. It happened so fast that I landed on my back. And I screamed. No it wasn’t a little yelp or a meager whimper, an actual full force, high pitched, girly scream emanated from my vocal chords. Bill passed his test.

I have been thinking about that moment, and what followed all week and can’t get it out of my head.  I felt ridiculous. I guess I was embarrassed too. My goal for the next class is to Not look so foolish. It’s a small goal, but I’m not even sure it’s going to be easily accomplished. This weekend is the all day teaching exchange. There will be 8 instructors teaching from 10 to 4pm, it will be good instruction for me, but they are all very advanced black belts. I guess I will look foolish no matter what. Hopefully I can learn something to take home.

In the mean time, I have set a goal for myself to go for a black belt too…First I want to get a Green belt by the time I’m 50. Black by age 55.  I feel like it’s do-able. Age is no restriction. Embarrassment should not be a factor, just no more screaming like a girl.

Training Day 6

by on Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Knowing that the more often I go to class, the more quickly I’ll absorb the information, I jumped at the opportunity last night when my 7pm family had to reschedule. I arrived  late to class, unfortunately there’s no way around that on weeknights, but I quickly inserted myself into the program. They were working on punches  and kick attacks. Since there were 8 of us, (It was the largest class I’ve been to) we formed two lines to kick at pads that 2 of the guys held.

Mark led the class and then we built on some moves that we were working on at the beginning. An avoid attack, lead with the shoulder and pivot to the side, and a move that would continue the motion of a kicker down to the floor. It was fun working with them again, and I felt like I picked up the moves pretty quickly even though some of the others had trouble grasping it at first.

Knowing the stances now also helped me incorporate these elements that I do know into the more advanced steps. As with anything, I know it will take time, I have to be patient with myself. Learning something this complex is a process, and though I am committed, I know there will be ups and downs. Today felt like an up day: )

The dynamics of the class are great. Everyone is very friendly and extremely helpful and patient. I may be giving in to my own self doubt though when I say I wasn’t sure if I should have been there last night. I’ll have to ask Mark and Erik if I drag the class down, I don’t want them to have to spend so much time explaining that it slows the process for the others. And though I thought most of them were assimilating the information as much as I was,  I still don’t want to be a burden. I know most of them are working at a higher level than I and so when we pair off, my partner usually has to help break down the moves for me. It motivates me to learn more quickly if nothing else.

I’m making friends too. Stephanie was asking about my writing and I told her a little about the conference and the agent pitches and my book. She thought the lawyer dynamic was interesting and it made her want to read it. (my first sale!) The most important thing is that I’m having fun learning something new.