Friday, September 30, 2011

36 Days and Counting

Yep - THE tournament - the Diamond Valley Classic - is only five short weeks away. Seems like an eternity from now, but at the same time, It seems like it is just around the corner, too.

I've been flowing my kata daily and working on my point sparring, but I'm getting nervous - like knees shaky and stomach in knots nervous - every time I think about it. I know everything will be fine once we get up there and get going, but still...

Our students are working hard, too. Prepping for kata presentation - y'know, the name/style/senei/form "speech" - always trips them up a little, especially the shy ones. Only a few are nervous about kumite, though. Not sure if that is good or bad!

The bottom line is this: for each of us - from training partner Ed and me, down through the few who are competing for the first time ever - it will be what it will be. I think you learn a little about yourself each and every time you compete. It takes lots of guts to even step into the ring in the first place - even if it isn't "real" (can't tell you how many times I've heard THAT particular argument).

Our students only compete three times a year max. We go to this particular tournament because it is just the right size (not too small, not too big), fairly well judged, not too far away or expensive and it allows our young karateka to step out of their Goju worlds and see other martial artists present different styles of kata and kumite. But the truth of it is that I'd rather the first punch they see coming at them from an unknown assailant (without first announcing what side it will be coming from and what type of attack they'll need to defend against) be in the nice, controlled setting of a ring with five judges - and while they are decked out in dipped foam gear from head to toe. If they freeze or make a mistake there, the consequences won't be that severe. Can't say the same for an attack on the street. No freezing allowed...

Plus, they genuinely enjoy themselves. Many of them don't get a chance to get out of town much - even to a little town in upstate, NY. We pack the Salvation Army's 12-passenger van and lead a caravan of karate vehicles full of karate enthusiasts, parents and friends up to watch, compete and enjoy the day. "The world is much larger than your view of it" is what they hear us say at the end of most of our classes, but they get to really experience it that first Saturday in November, which is kind of nice. The community cooler will be full of water, sports drinks and healthy snacks and the parents help make sure all the kids get to their rings (and to the bathrooms, LOL) throughout day, so the understanding of our little group as a ryu - a family - comes through without us having to say a word.

We also tell them that the trophies are not what the day's competition is all about, but keeping their chi high and doing their best are. They get it, compete well (especially when they don't even place) and have loads of fun in the process.

Herkimer here we come :-)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The "P" Word

Ummm...that'd be "promotions" folks. Yep - grading was discussed vaguely in class this week. I was simply told to "prepare to look ahead towards the next level."

What that means is this: be ready for anything. Training partner Ed's nidan grading was mentioned then happened without him being told "tomorrow is the day." So sharpening, tightening and refining wasn't really an "OK - I've got to do THIS to prepare" sort of thing as it was for our shodan grading (we knew about that one for a year) - it just happened.

But truthfully, I don't believe there ever really is a date when the info you've learned and the skills you've acquired are "done" like cookies in the oven. A little less time won't make them a totally incohesive mess; neither will a little more time burn them to a crisp.

I had always envisioned my heart thudding like a drum and an overwhelming OMG! pause when I got the word, but none of that happened. I just sort of filed it away to think about later - after the Diamond Valley Classic tournament upstate in early November (six short weeks away!). What actually went through my mind was "That's cool - but I wonder if we're going to have time to spar tonight?" Grand championship on the brain, I guess :-).

So, no date or anything has been announced, just a slight mention that nidan maybe somewhere on the horizon. It was mentioned, we trained and now I can just continue to do the same and not have to really think about it. It is what it is.

In my head, I hear my senseis channeling a wine commercial from back in the day: "We will grade no karateka before it's time."

Or was that its (possessive) time? Ha - time will most certainly tell, that's for sure.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Food for Thought

Maybe it was reading Samurai Girl Sahara's recent post or the book I'm reviewing about fighting, but violence has been on my mind quite a bit lately. I'm in somebody's dojo or gym six days a week and still I feel somewhat unprepared emotionally for a real, live violent confrontation. My belief is that I'll be able to flip that switch I have to, but can you ever truly prepare for that?

This morning, I found this quote on a new FaceBook page I "liked" yesterday:
“Let the first act of every morning be to make the following resolve for the day: I shall not fear anyone on Earth. I shall fear only God. I shall not bear ill will toward anyone. I shall not submit to injustice from anyone. I shall conquer untruth by truth. And in resisting untruth, I shall put up with all suffering.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

I know Gandhi was not about fisticuffs at all so violence is not even mentioned, but I think it fits somehow. It certainly set my train of thought in a new direction, that's for sure.