Sunday, April 1, 2012

II

Well, I'm officially a nidan candidate. Got the word Thursday from Sensei after class. And yes, I'm terrified.

I had seen quite a few black belt tests by the time I was preparing for my own shodan grading, so I kinda knew what to expect three years ago. But as I've only seen two other nidan gradings ever - including training partner Ed's test last July (where he hobbled out with a broken finger and a broken toe) - I have much less of a visual reference to go on. Plus, Ed's test was during the grading of about 25 of my under belts and my duties for the day included getting them situated for their tests, which means I only saw his exam in bits and pieces. I don't even know the order of events, sadly.

Three years ago, I also had Ed and my son, Squirrel, to drill and train with because they were prepping to grade, too. This time, it looks like I will be on my own, which truly bites.

The area I need the most work in, I think, is "think on the fly" self-defense - you know the "What would you do if an attacker did THIS?"-type stuff. I dread that with a passion because the scenarios that work so well in my head don't seem to translate very effectively in real time. Really, I'd just rather run the heck away, but I don't think that will be an acceptable solution on grading day. Ed - who is shorter but has bigger hands and rarely gives me anything - offered to drill scenarios with me, which I am grateful for. But then he told me he has been instructed to forget we are friends and "put it on me" during grading kumite, meaning he and the others I'll have to fight - at least six other guys who are all fourth dan and above - will be trying to rip my head off. Just. Great.

I asked my Sensei if there was anything I should be focusing on to prep for the grading. He told me the test would be hard but to "just keep moving forward." What to do with such vague info is a good question.

But move forward, I must. Here goes nothing...

16 comments:

  1. That's great, Felicia! Congrats!

    I agree that's it's nice - comforting - to have others preparing for the same thing you are. Being on your own is scary! I thought I was going to have a brown belt to work with and help me prepare for my test (she wasn't testing, but still...). She stopped coming to class during the last three months. Disheartening? Absolutely!

    For my test, I was dreading the "What if someone came up and did THIS!" The freestyle self defense where you can't prepare and just have to react made me nervous! It ended up that I did better on the freestyle than the scenarios I had set up myself.

    When you're at class, it might help to just tell someone to grab you punch/kick at you with whatever - and see how you react. Before, I would have frozen on the spot, panicked. I think what helped me the most was just having been put in those scenarios so many times until I stopped freezing and started reacting. It doesn't have to be pretty or fancy. I relied on knees and elbows for most of my freestyle self defense. Go with what you're most comfortable with. I'm not very confident with many joint locks yet, so I didn't try to use them during that time.

    My instructors have a phrase that's become a defining theme for me. I think it fits well here. "Stop thinking and just let your training take over."

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    1. Thanks for the great advice, Ariel. My instructor says "Don't think - just do!" all the time. He has dubbed me Neo - after the guy in "The Matrix" - and he calls me by my nickname when I pause to think a senario through before doing (he says it is almost like he can see the wheels turning in my head). Then I hear "You might as well just lay on the ground, Neo, because you'd be dead by now." Our instructors must be related, LOL...

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  2. Congratulations! Ganbatte!

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    1. Thanks, Rick. It's been mentioned before, but now there is a date attached which makes it more real. If I'm this nervous now, I fully expect to be a basket case by the time the date rolls around. Hope I am able to type about it after...

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  3. If you are having trouble with randori type sparring or a "What if an attacker does this?" type stuff, you may want to consider practicing using Miller's one step drill. It allows you to go slow, look at things one step at a time, and really figure out what works and what doesn't. That will help you see which habits or tendencies you have that you may need to modify to be more effective.

    Just a thought. I'm sure you'll do great!

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    1. Hi, SGS. I really like that drill and use it when training, but when the attack comes, I freeze and end up relying on the same sweep/throw to get my uke on the ground (where my instructors want all the techniques to end). It is awful, because by now, all my training partners know what I'm going to do and are able to counter. I think you are right - I just need to do it to death: over and over and over again. I'm on it :-)

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    1. Thanks, Mr. James. I might need more than luck, though! I've already been warned: It will fully be hunting season come grading day.

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    2. Yes, I do understand but one thought ... Sensei would not have invited you to the event if you were not ready.

      Go for it and let the cards deal as they will.

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    1. Thanks, Michele. The thought of it is still making me really nervous (and a little light-headed), though. Yikes...

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  6. This arrived via email from Jack:

    My Senpai just completed his Nidan test. We're not sure, but we think he might have either bruised or cracked a rib during kumite. But we are a Kyokushin Karate school and all us guys are psychopaths anyhow.

    As far as the improv self defense goes, the only advice I can give you is DONT STOP. It doesn't matter as much WHAT you do, so long as you DO SOMETHING to defend yourself. Story time:

    When I trained in Combat Hapkido (a self defense oriented style) we would train to defend against weapons frequently. During my brown belt test I was pitted against one student with a training bat and another with a training knife. They flanked me, so I softened my vision to see them both and when the guy with the bat stepped in and took a horizontal, "Babe Ruth", type swing, I had already gotten inside the arch and wrapped my arm around both of his and positioned his body between me and the knife guy. Two palm strikes to the face (stopped before I struck him, of course) and a takedown later, I was holding the bat and forced the knife student to back down.

    I tell you all this to illustrate the point that we never trained for multiple armed attackers. The only thing that saw me through the exercise was letting my training take over and not stopping just because I had an unfamiliar scenario.

    Best of luck on your test!!!

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  7. Bruised or cracked rib? OMG - I seriously got sweaty palms when I read that. Meditation is helping me learn to stay in "the now" and let go of the thought process that often trips me up. Ironically, I tell my track athletes all the time to "trust your training" and just let go/go with it. Someday, I'm sure I will learn to follow my own advice, LOL...

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  8. Hey Felicia you have so much fighting spirit you'll probably just be able to blow your opponents over LOL. Seriously though I think you'll sail through it, that's not to say it won't be tough but you wouldn't want it any other way. All the best to you. How imminent is the test?

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  9. End of May, Sue - about five weeks away. All my sparring matches are nidan (training partner Ed) and higher (up to 8th dan - my Sensei's sensei) and all are amazing fighters. Only one is my height (hurray!) but he is much heavier, lighter on his feet and moves like a cat (boo for me). They all are just much better fighters who hit harder and are flat out faster dudes - all eight of them. So the fighting will be another tough part - but it will also be the last part. If I survive, I will hopefully be able to celebrate from the ER, LOL...

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  10. I dont really know how they grade kumite in your dojo, but if it is anything like mine then all you need to concern yourself with is showing good technique and above all showing good spirit!

    Osu!

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