Archive for the ‘Karate’ Category

Second Degree

So… I took my belt test for my nidan (second degree black belt) last weekend. I passed. I have proof. See?

New belt (extremely stiff) with fancy red stripes

Not a bad picture, for being pretty much exhausted. Fortunately by this time my face had managed to fade back to normal from bright, flaming red.

For those who are particularly interested, here’s what I had to do:


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Back to life

I’m not dead, nor have I disappeared. Mark and I in fact returned from our honeymoon last Saturday, and we’re working on getting back into real life. Some stuff I should blog about in more detail:

  • the kitchen remodel
  • the wedding
  • both of these things together

And I do promise I will talk about them in great detail, with pictures! Probably soon to be followed with needing to talk about the yard, which is our next major house project. But first I need a chunk of time with my camera and my computer both in the same place.

In other news, the reason we came back from our honeymoon at Nags Head on Saturday instead of waiting until Sunday is that I’ve started teaching a women’s-only karate class on Sundays, and this past weekend was the first class. We have a large Muslim population of students at our school, and the moms, older sisters, etc., can’t take a class with men or boys there. As one of the only two female black belts at the school right now, I was nominated to teach. I’m kind of nervous about this, because I know I do some things quite differently from the way the owner of the school does, but as has been pointed out, he can’t come to this class, so how will he ever know? And the other big black belts keep assuring me that I have a legitimate black belt in this style, whether I do everything exactly the same or not, so I need to be more confident in my opinions when asked for them. I never used to have this problem, but taking what ended up being an 8-year break from actual training and finding things had changed since then has been kind of disconcerting.

Anyway, for this class we now have some big curtains to cover all the windows along the front of the school, and I lock the door when it seems like everyone has arrived. There was only one woman at the first class, but it turned out that was because it was the day after the end of Ramadan, and most other people who had intended to come had forgot about it. I should have more students this coming weekend.

Speaking of the end of Ramadan, our sensei can now eat again, and as a result he seems to have decided to try to kill us on Tuesday. Why, yes, a high cardio class after I’ve been gone for most of month is just what I needed! In my defense, though, I wasn’t the only one. There was one point in the class where I got dizzy first (probably due to dehydration), and then another student had to sit down right after me. His comment? “Two down! Let’s see if I can get the other three of you! … No, no, just kidding, everyone get some water.” I go back again tonight; I wonder what we’ll do this time.

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Perhaps just because we are entering tournament season, or perhaps because the Talented Trio hadn’t been in class for nearly 2 months, (they do have their own dojo where they teach, but they have been away from Sensei’s watchful perfectionist eye,) Sensei has become very enthusiastic about exhausting drills this week, as if he had been saving it up for their return. The rest of us just get to “profit” by virtue of being in the same class at the same time.

To be honest, it wasn’t bad on Tuesday, because I don’t mind basics drills, especially when the basics being drilled are really short segments of kata that I need to work on anyway. But last night was sparring night. I have been trying, really I have, to at least overcome demonstrating my extreme dislike of sparring and just do it, since it is part of class and so on. I think I was even at least partially succeeding last night. Unfortunately one of the drills he came up with involved a throw. Again, not so bad when we were just working with partners. But then we got in a line and each had to serve, one after another, as the person to get thrown by whoever was facing the head of the line. I made it through probably 15 throws before I finally hit the floor weird and landed on the wrong shoulder. The bad shoulder. Which of course immediately reacted to its contact with the floor at that angle by popping out of joint and then back in again. Grrrr.

Fortunately, it didn’t get stuck out of joint for any time at all, so I only have to suffer minor soreness for a day or so. But every time something like this happens, I get irritated all over again at my shoulder, because it reminds me once again that I will never be able to use that arm fully and there really will be things that I can’t do, even though, most of the time, it seems like there’s no reason I can’t. (Archery! Why did it have to eliminate archery? It was the one projectile martial art I had been looking forward to learning, ever. I suppose there’s still always atlatl.)

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I mentioned last week that my sensei has started teaching me a new kata from a different style, but that it was very hard for me to find any information about it, due to some linguistic barriers. Fortunately, last night he started teaching me a second kata from the same style, with a much less ambiguously pronounced name, and that has led to some clarification.

First of all, the style these kata come from is Shito-ryu (not Shiteryu, as my ears thought the heard originally.) Wikipedia offers this rundown of the basic history of the style. It is another Okinawan style (as those with more karate knowledge can probably tell from the name) and the founder, Kenwa Mabuni, was a contemporary of Gichin Funakoshi, the founder of Shotokan. Though most Okinawan styles are closely related, this article lists Shotokan’s close cousin Shorin-ryu as being the more direct ancestor of Shito-ryu. An interesting analysis of the combination of styles behind it:

Shito-ryu is a combination style, which attempts to unite the diverse roots of karate. On one hand, Shito-ryu has the physical strength and long powerful stances of Shuri-te derived styles, such as Shorin Ryu and Shotokan (松涛館), on the other hand Shito-ryu has circular and eight-directional movements, breathing power, hard and soft characteristics of Naha-te and Tomari-te (泊手) styles, such as Goju-ryu (剛柔流).


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The past week and a bit at karate has been interesting. It started two Fridays ago, when I was strangely the only student in class. (Maybe it was spring break? Or people were just lazy? Who knows.) After I warmed up, sensei had me start working intensively on Empi, my latest kata. I had to learned Empi before, way back in high school, but it was probably one of the later kata I learned, because I only vaguely remembered it. Anyway, at this point, I was past the relearning/remembering stage, and into the part that sensei refers to as, “Now you know it, so now we can fix it.”

I like Empi, I really do. It’s a fun kata, a pretty one, with lots of low stances and interesting implied wrist bends. Of course, all those low stances do get a little tiring, but I felt like I was getting better. The only bad part is the jump near the end of the kata. Now, I’m the first to admit that I am not a big flying and jumping technique person. I like to have at least one foot on the ground, thank you very much. I’ll throw kicks as high as you might like, but I don’t want to have to jump to do it. So I cannot even begin to count the number of times in the past month or so that I have heard the phrase, “Pick your knees up!” It’s easier said than done, I assure you. But it’s pretty much the only part of the kata I felt like I was having to learn how to do from scratch, so I figured I’d get better.

Then came the end of class, when sensei suddenly declared in the last ten minutes that he was going to start teaching me a new kata, from a different style. And it is indeed very cool, and probably more suited to the way I naturally move, and I like it, but my excitement about it is somewhat tainted by the suspicion that he decided to teach it to me because he became convinced that I would never be able to do the jump in Empi correctly and we should just give up.

Another strange thing about this new kata is that neither the kata nor the style appear to be mentioned with any kind of regularity on all the internet, so I don’t even have a way to confirm the name of the kata or what it’s supposed to look like. As far as I can tell, transliterating from Arabic-accented Anglicized Japanese, the kata is called Sinchin (which does not conform to Japanese pronunciation rules, but I’m also told that it is definitely not Sanshin, because that’s a different kata altogether), and the style is Shiteryu.

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Tournament Pictures

Slightly belated, due to the other news, but I did finally get my pictures from the karate tournament downloaded.

First, the good one of me with my ever so fancy trophy. Please feel free to ooh and aah. You know you wish you had one in your living room. Do click to enlarge so you can get the full effect.

Dana with trophy

The second one is one that Mark took while I was actually doing my kata. The blur effect is completely due to how super-fast I am, and has nothing at all to do with the fact that he had turned the flash off, which increased the exposure time. I swear.


In other photography news, it is surprisingly hard to take pictures of a lunar eclipse with a regular camera. I hope you all went outside and saw it with your own eyes instead.

I’m off to DC tomorrow for a conference, so hopefully I will come back with fabulous tales of fun and excitement, but I shan’t be blogging again until next week.

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One of a Kind

… or it could turn out that I would be the only person competing in the Women’s Traditional Kata (18-34) division, and I therefore automatically win. Yes. How anticlimactic.

As it turned out, actually competing in the tournament was the shortest part of my day. I arrived at the community center where we were hosting the tournament at 8am, after getting lost only briefly. (It was behind the elementary school, which is why the road appeared to end before the numbers ever got high enough for the center’s street address. Of course.) I met with my scorekeeping partner and tried to explain in more detail how things would work. Then we all milled around in the usual beginning of a tournament confusion for about half an hour or so before things got called to some semblance of order.

The opening ceremony was pretty good. A kung fu group from Charlotte did a demonstration with some weapons forms and a lion dance; one of the visiting black belts did an excellent kama kata; my sensei did a choreographed fight demo with the younger brother of the Super Siblings; and then all three of the Siblings did their team kata, (though without the bunkai section afterward, because the floor was wood instead of mats, and who really wants to hurl themselves dramatically onto a hard floor?) And the person singing the national anthem only almost forgot her place in the middle, but managed to save it.

Then we scorekeepers went to our tables, and the real fun began. This was not the most organized tournament. I’m not really sure how it ended up being this way, but basically what happened was the announcer told the kids which ring to report to by age. Fine, great, no problem. But then that meant that we ended up with every single kid of that age, of all ranks, crowded into the very small area around our ring, and the expectation was that they’d all sit there until every event for their age was done. How many events?


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