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rick

my wife and i are praying about being a church planter. until then we're faithful in a local church and helping wherever He leads us. i love my family, writing, web design, reading, baseball, karate, and most of all, God.
rick has written 60 posts for CHUNKY ninja

back in the dojo

injuredthe last year has been difficult for me due to other areas of my life pulling attention away from my kenpo adventures.  last september i took a pastorate position an hour away from my home in addition to my regular full-time job.  it was a challenge to work about 80 hours a week and still stay focused on kenpo.

then i started dealing with some health issues that needed to be ironed out and it didn’t allow me to get in and “bang” the way i had become accustomed.  it also slowed down how much kenpo i could do without putting undo stress on myself.

i had surgery in july to fix the issues and recovery is still ongoing, but with clearance from my doctor, i was able to don the gi and belt and take to the mat.  so yesterday i was back in the dojo and working techniques.  it felt good.  rusty, but good.

i was amused to see the last three months off due to surgery and recovery didn’t clear my mind much, though.  i had plenty of opportunities to hear my instructor, Mr Jenkins, tell us what to do only to (re)discover my body hears, but does not obey.

“the jab comes in and you pat it down.  when the cross comes in, parry the punch while moving up the circle and follow it with a backfist with the other hand to the bicep.”

rhinoand like a stumbling rhino i don’t do anything remotely close to that.  it’s as if i had never used these long stick things hanging from my shoulders before.  i think they’re called arms.  i’d like to say their faulty, but i think it was my sub-processor that was having the problems.  it reminded me of my early days in kenpo when i was continually being told …

“no, your other left.”

*sigh*

my goal is to be that student that hears, anxiously absorbs, and repeats the given instruction.  but i think i inadvertently find myself being a source of amusement to my instructor.  that’s not my intent, but the result, nevertheless.  it does help in keeping a humble spirit while attempting to learn.

it makes me laugh to realize my pledge for my next rank includes the line, “… to learn the skills of a teacher which will enable me to teach my skills … ,”  but my skills, by my own opinion, are junked-up.  my skills.  MY skills.  HA!

edparkerthat’s why the pledge goes on to say, “… in the prescribed manner outlined by Mr Ed Parker.”  i just have to make sure to concentrate on how he taught and not how i learn.

i found the picture on the left and it just seemed to encapsulate how i think Mr Parker would look from heaven as he’s watching me attempt to learn his art — amused.

but i am learning.  i realize that.  it may take me longer to recognize my left from my right.  it might be some additional weeks before i understand what some terms mean not just in my mind, but my body’s reaction to the instruction.  it might take me months longer than most to attain my next belt.  but i persevere.  if anything, to prove to myself that i can do this.  i can learn.

it was a good night.  it felt like old times.  good to bang on my fellow students and to be banged on.  this morning wasn’t too bad.  a twinge here and there, but not enough to reach for the kenpo kandy.  i’m sure next week will be much different.

but i’m back!!

— chunky ninja

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plodding along in a wintery wonderland

ugly-snowmanit’s been a typical winter in north texas.  we’ve had the normal 50 degree temperature swings within just a day or two – only to have it shift back two days later.  two full rounds of ice (no snow) already and a chance of flurries tonight..  as they say in texas, ‘you don’t like the weather? well, wait five minutes and it will change’.

my kenpo has been plodding along, too.  between bouts of the sinus problems (thank you, cedar spores from hell) and others getting the flu, i’ve been on and off again with my workouts.  nothing steady since november and that can get frustrating.  but it is what it is and i haven’t given up.  so i have that going for me.  i find myself working on my techniques periodically in all sorts of strange areas.  btw … practicing any sudden movements in a running shower is not advisable. you have been warned.

surgeries are fun!in the next month or so i’ll be going under the knife.  i have a hisnea that needs repair.  you read that right … a hisnea.  since i’m all dude, it can’t be a hernia.  that would be the female version.  so i’m calling mine a hisnea.  either way, it needs repair and that will mean an additional 4-6 weeks away from kenpo.  quite possibly what i should do during that time is catch up on the written study portion that has been woefully neglected.  it’s so easy to concentrate on the physical end and let the mental aspect of kenpo slide to the side.  but i’ll be waylaid for a number of weeks and this should give me ample time to get caught up.

plodding-alongwhile i feel like i’m going slower in progress than my first couple of years in kenpo, i also know that the techniques i’m learning are more complicated.  i also have to keep in mind that i’m also working two full-time jobs and that, too, will take away some of my time and focus away from kenpo.  i wish it weren’t the case, but it is.  until someone who really loves me hits the lottery and tells me i can do whatever i want whenever i want, my time is what it is.  so i’ll just keep plodding along knowing that with time, even stretched, improvement will come and eventually i’ll see the progress.  patience is a virtue.

— chunky ninja

feeling a bit overwhelmed

drowningno matter what belt level i’ve ever been promoted to, a few weeks into it i get that feeling that i’m in over my head.  there’s so much to learn and often i try to do it all at once.  but that’s not what we’re supposed to do.  it’s what we want to do, but it’s impossible.  and the more i want to go forward and progress, the more i realize i still need to reflect and refresh what i already know.  the process is never-ending.

this recent belt promotion is no different.  i promoted to the rank of blue belt back in July and i’m over half way through learning my new techniques.  and while practicing them either in class or at KG, i see just how poorly i perform them.  i see how long it takes me to remember the sequence (and if i remember all the hits or not).  i see this pretty long form that i only know part of and know that i’ll have to learn it completely and be able to do it on the opposite side as well.  i see a whole new group of saying that i have to be able to learn and recite.  i feel a bit overwhelmed by it all.

IMG_0736then i remember i felt this way right after i got my yellow belt.  and orange.  and purple.  so this feeling isn’t new.  i’m still fascinated by how much there is to learn, how much i’ve already learned, and how much tweaking and perfecting everyone does … even the 7th and 8th degree black belts are always reviewing and seeing if there isn’t a better way.  that’s what makes this art so incredibly cool.  even after putting 20, 30, or 40+ years into it, we’re all still students.

woodencrossthen to add to this feeling of overwhelmed-ness, i recently accepted a pastoral position at a small church in crandall, tx.  i’ve been in and around ministry for 30 years (on and off).  but i’ve never been the ‘point man’ at a church.  it’s stretching me.  i’m being pulled in directions i’ve never been pulled before and being forced to trust more than i ever have.  it’s all good, but it keeps me a bit out of my comfort zone … kind of like when i have to spar.  i’m not comfortable on the mat even with all the protective gear.  i want to be at my best, but i’m not sure how it’s going to go when the bell rings and the fighting begins.

new experiences. new goals. new challenges. new tests. but with proper preparation, new achievements.  i just have to stay the course.  but i’m also reminded no matter what challenges i face in life, i can do all things through Christ.

— chunky ninja (and no, i’ve not told the congregation of my nickname yet)

if you can make it to blue …

eye-tagin kenpo i’m told the saying goes something like this, “if you can make it to blue, you can make it to black.”

i’m not sure how true that is, but i do know that i’ve got “black and blue” down pat.  just give me a good KG session or a typical kenpo class, or even a sparring session in mckinney and i can prove that black and blue comes very easy to me.

a few weeks ago we tested and i advanced from purple to blue.  it felt strange.  i remember the days not too long ago where i was “duped” into coming to class, stayed for a few weeks and then began to realize just how incredible those yellow belts were.  “someday,” i thought to myself, “i’ll be good enough to get my yellow belt.”  then i did and i began admiring the talented skills being demonstrated by those who had already attained their orange belt.

granted, it helped that we only had a couple of brown belts in class then a huge gap down to the orange.  so looking at the brown belts was like looking at someone other than my instructor who also had been in the art for ‘decades’.

now i’m at blue and beginning to work on my green.  i still feel like a newbie.  and i guess that’s the beauty of this art because i’ve heard the same thing from my own instructor (a 5th degree black) … “this is an ever learning art and we’re all students”.  i grow more amazed at this art with every class or KG session.

~~~~~~~~kelcy-pic02

my daughter recently left for college, but before she left for college i forced her to take a few weeks of kenpo just to gain some knowledge of self defense.  i wish she would have taken more, but i was thankful for the few weeks she did participate.

she ended her few weeks with some sparring and surprised herself more than anyone else.  she started so timid, but there’s a kelcy-pic04tiger under there waiting to pounce if you tick her off.  hopefully no one will.

~~~~~~~~~

and now some spiritual humor at the result of my daughter at a baptist college …

This was posted from FaceBook:
kelcy to her friends upon hearing someone trying to play music using an iphone – “when did God start playing music on a crappy iphone?”
kelcy – Was definitely not the music. It twas the akward surround sound buzzing

androidme – in reply on FB – He signed up with AT&T when the iPhone 3Gs came out. i’ve heard rumors He’s considering switching to android since they don’t have free will.

they didn’t get it.  i hope you did.

me – i later added – i could have taken it a step further and talked about how the “apple” caused man to sin and God redeemed us and didn’t want to have to go through that again with His phone. or that the “apple” industry was created by a man God bragged about (Job(s)). but that would have taken it even deeper.

kelcy-pic17

one of us is in pain and it’s NOT her.

here’s a picture taken with my baby girl at her last class:

– chunky ninja

happy 2nd bloggy birthday!

2nd-birthdayCHUNKY NINJA turns two today.  it’s been a fun two years of blogging and seeing just how goofy it is for an old, fat guy to try to learn a martial art.  i’m sure the blog has amused a few, but not near as many as those who have actually seen my version of the “art”. i’m sure somewhere up above Mr Parker is slowly shaking his head and saying to the angels, “that’s not quite how i had intended American Kenpo to look … bless his heart.”

so what’s happened during the two years?  well, let’s take a brief look …

when i started this blog i was preparing for my yellow belt test. just a couple of weeks before that yellow belt test the famed Kenpo Garage began.  my classmate and KG cohort, Vince, asked if i wanted/needed to do some extra work outs prepping for the belt test.  he was being kind because he knew i needed help.  probably more than even he could supply, but he was willing to take on the challenge and see if there was any hope for me.  he quickly discovered there wasn’t, but didn’t give up on me either.

Kenpo Garage in 108 degrees

Kenpo Garage in 108 degrees

i somehow earned my yellow belt it in spite of my deathly fear of having to spar.  when i finally tested my instructor toyed with me like i was a four-year old on the mat reminding me time and again that my hands were down (yes, i still remember the kicks to the head).  that was the first time i heard him say, “my feets loves hair.”  that’s funny if you’re watching it or hearing it.  but i was on the receiving end, though.  it’s funny now, but i felt completely silly then.

i’ve gone from bull-rushing everyone in sparring (ironic that i hate sparring and yet rush in to get my brains beat in) to learning to stay back, pace myself, and pick my spots.  my kicks were described as tragically sucking.  they’ve been upgraded to bad and now to “not pretty, but useful”.  trust me, those are improvements.

over the last 18 months i’ve met lots of great people involved in Kenpo including Mr John Sepulveda, Mr Tommy Burks, Mr Damien Wilson, Mr John Guzman, Ms Oscar Steele, and Mr Sam Bowley.  there are many more, but those were the ones that stand out in my mind as having taken some time to teach and help me learn this great art.

blue-beltand lastly, during the last two years i’ve proceeded from white belt to yellow to orange to purple and finally to blue (last night’s promotion).  each level challenges me both mentally and physically.  i haven’t lost much weight since i very first began kenpo, but where i’ve lost fat i’ve gained muscle.  i’m more solid with some fluffy (viking fat, as vince calls it).

with each class, i feel my age more and more.  i’m closing in on my 48th birthday.  having never done any martial art training before in my life and then starting at 45 i’d say i’m doing pretty good for myself.

if you’re new to my blog, let me encourage you to go back into the archives and pull out some random posts.  a couple of great blogs to read would be the kenpo garage and ketchup, please, both from September 2011.  yes, i was that bad. i’ve try to be realistic with myself and keep it lighthearted along the way.

i’m hoping the next year of chunky ninja’s obtuse corner of the interweb is still entertaining the masses while demonstrating a continual progression of improvement for those who never give up on a dream.

— chunky ninja

tickling toes and stiletto elbows

stiletto

i don’t know how he does it, but my instructor, mr jenkins, must have stiletto elbows. i was in class last night and he was having some fun teaching some extensions. obviously this was way past our pay grade, but when the boss man wants to teach us some cool stuff, we’re anxious to learn and try. i say try because i can assure you i don’t remember any of them (or won’t by the time this is published). and sometimes they weren’t true extensions, but merely grafted things that you could do at the end of techniques just for your own amusement.

[side note: i think it’s strange that as we’re learning our techniques we often hear, “you probably won’t be able to finish this technique because the assailant will already be on the ground.” so the extensions are for ??? people on PCP? the zombie apocalypse? an alien invasion (think ‘war of the worlds’, not mexico)?]

anyway, repeatedly he would add in a sharp downward elbow to the sternum. over and over. and then again. today, it hurts to take a deep breath. i swear i felt his elbow slip between a couple or ribs once when the hit was slightly to the left of my sternum. ugh. his elbows are very bony, pointy, and hard. and he uses them very well. so much so that i became more concerned with the elbow than the eye pokes he was adding (because i knew he wouldn’t actually poke my eye, but the elbow was coming regardless).

i remember at one point he said to the class, “let me show you this on a body. rick, c’mere for a moment.” in flash i was doing a step through punch only to be hit several times, spun around and now he’s behind me. i could see the rest of the class watching intently. i was on display for all of them to see. in their eyes i could see amazing wonder at how fluid and quickly he made his strikes. accurately, too. and then i heard him say (from behind me), “and then you arm contours up his spine and you shoot your forearm into the back of his head.” a split second later, his actions mirrored his words.

grimacewhen i was able to open my eyes i saw their faces again. each one had a painful grimace on their face as if they had just witnessed a bad car wreck. if it were just one face, i wouldn’t be so worried. but it was the entire class. and he wasn’t done yet and i just gritted my teeth and tried to keep from falling (unless that was his intent, but at this moment, it wasn’t).

“you keep the motion going and then we can reverse it. when coming back through we’ll claw the face before mmpphttrrrttss …” ok, i didn’t really catch the end of his sentence. next thing i remember it was over. just as quickly as it started, he finished. i’m on the ground and he’s saying, “thank you, rick.” just like larry tatum.

later in class he was demonstrating some extensions (or more grafted stuff) on a different technique. this one ended with some kicks. the one specific kick i remembered was a ball kick to my left ribs. unfortunately for me his kick was just below the ribs and then up and under the rib cage. i’m only half kidding when i say it felt like his toes tickled my left lung. sharp pain shot through and my eyes flashed WIDE open. the demonstration was done and i limped over to my KG buddy.

“i think he punctured my lung.”

vince smiled, “yeah, i saw that. it looked like it hurt. a lot.” then in a mocking tone came the famous larry tatum line again, “thank you, rick”. haha. very funny. not!

parker-tatum

in case you don’t know what is meant by this, you should take a moment to watch the “larry tatum thank you rick” video at the end of this blog. you’ll be able to appreciate the inside joke a bit more. rick gets pummeled repeatedly and at the end of each maneuver mr tatum is always thanking rick for helping him demonstrate. in fairness to mr tatum, he was once ‘rick’ to mr ed parker (that’s mr tatum getting kicked and hit by mr parker on the Black Belt cover).

i’m sure mr parker said, “thank you, larry” on more than one occasion and it’s a lesson mr tatum was happy to pass on to poor, crippled, rick.

so, yeah. you’re welcome. glad i could donate my body to the science of kenpo for the demonstration last night. and today its kenpo-kandy time. all day long.

— chunky ninja

p.s. for the fun of it, here’s the “thank you, rick” video …

a variety of quick notes

ninja-stari was at one of our local martial arts stores recently with one of my KG buddies.  he was there to look for a new gi for his wardrobe.  he’s got something like a dozen of them.  all different colors, for different reasons, and he seems surprised when we roll our eyes as he explains the differences between his formal gi, his smoking-jacket gi, or his beach gi.  so while he was looking around the shop  i was up near the front of the store looking at the interesting weapons they sell.

a guy and his buddies walk in the store and he’s sounding pretty brash.  he leads his buddies over to the case next to me where the ninja stars were behind the glass.  i overheard this conversation and then interjected …

one of his buddies: you ought to get some of these (pointing to the ninja stars).

man to his friends: every time i buy some of those, i end up losing them in the back yard.

me (interrupting): if you stick them in the dog a little better they’ll be harder to lose.

his buddies thought it was funny … for some reason, he didn’t though.  oh, well, it amused me.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

stupid thoughts sometimes cross my brain.  fortunately i’m getting old enough where i’m learning some self-control and the responses don’t always fly out of my mouth.  a couple of examples:

Taped Mouthwe’re nearing the end of a 3 hour class and my instructor/pastor has decided the last 45 minutes of this class will be devoted to cardio.  we’re nearly finished when he shouts to anyone who’s listening, “KEEP GOING.  YOU CAN REST WHEN YOU’RE DEAD!”  i immediately thought to myself, “i’m about to get some rest. won’t be long now!”

next example. i’m sitting in church and my pastor/instructor walks towards me while he’s giving his sermon.  using me as an example he hits me in the chest (i don’t even remember what the example was), as i saw the punch coming, in that brief instant i thought, “is he testing me?  am i supposed to parry this punch and counter with one back?”  i didn’t.  i might have paid for it with my life.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

i was at work the other day and went to heat up my lunch in our break room.  there was no one in there and so i got my soup put into the bowl, added the water, and put it in the microwave.  while i’m waiting i thought to myself, “why waste this time just standing around?”

kitchen-form

a virtual re-enactment

i proceed to start working on my Long 2 Form.  so i’m walking through the form and making sure my footwork is right, blocks and strikes are right, get the buckle after the kick lands, blah, blah, blah.  i get to the part where you shoot the forearm under the chin and the neck strike, spoon in hand, when Oscar walks in.  he’s fairly new in our area and is a transplant from Peru.

in accented english he said, “hi, rick,” before realizing this isn’t “normal” and literally jumped back completely startled.

“um, what are you doing?”  he said backing away slowly and i did my best to reassure him i’m not a weirdo.  i don’t think it worked.  he’s been avoiding me ever since.

— chunky ninja

. . . . . . . . (yes, that’s the title)

ee-flat-linethe blog title pretty much summed up last night’s class for me.  i got there early, stretched, went through a couple of forms and sets to help focus, and recited my sayings to further ingrain them in my mind.  you see, i’ve been preparing for a belt test … one that has been hinted at for a several weeks now.  i felt ready for whatever the class would bring.  BUT instead of a belt test, the test yesterday more resembled an electroencephalograph to which i flat-lined.

we started class with some cardio.  maybe that was my problem.  somehow i physically exhausted my brain.

then we moved on to some sparring (yea, my favorite [sarcasm freely inserted]).  i felt like i was doing pretty good.  mr jenkins made some comments that were positive and encouraging, as well as, interjecting some advice along the way.  it was a learning session, not a fight for your life (well, that’s how it looks when i do it) session.

then vince and i knocked gloves.  he said i was heavy legged.  he said i was heavy-handed.  he said i lacked control.  and on some of those accounts, i think he’s right.  in fairness though, he got in a great shot to my ribs that took my breath and landed a solid left hook to my noggin. (psst, i didn’t complain. matter of fact, i told him they were good shots.)

it’s possible that i fight him differently than i do the others in class.  either way, i do need to re-evaluate my thoughts, intents, and actions against him and every other opponent.  he even called me this morning to thank me for giving him a black eye.

eye-lashesi have this tendency to follow a fighter when they turn away.  it’s bad.  it’s dirty.  i shouldn’t do it.  and i’m going to make a conscience effort to quit doing that.  but on one of those where he turned his back and moved away, i followed and tapped him in the face when he turned towards me.  he said, “dude, i don’t know how you did it, but you pushed my eyelashes into my eye and now i have black eye.”  i blame the eyelashes, not my ridiculously bad sparring abilities.

in all seriousness, i did tell him that if i’m kicking too hard to stop the fight.  make me verbally acknowledge that i’m hearing what he’s saying.  otherwise if done while we’re still going at it my mouth may say, “ok” while brain doesn’t listen.  kinda like when you tell your kid to take out the trash while he’s in the middle of watching tv and you get the “ok, in a minute” response knowing full well it didn’t really register.

exhaustedby the time sparring was done, so was i.  between cardio to begin with and then sparring … i was physically exhausted.

then we went through some forms and sets.  all refresher stuff.  that means, in theory, i know the ones we were asked to do.  or so i thought.  brain-dead.  coördination set was the first one that i blanked on.  i’d get half way through and just forget where i was at.  my focus was gone.  i probably needed to be standing in the back sucking a gallon of gatorade.  instead, i’m out there looking like a walrus on skates and forcing my fellow purple belt to go through it over and over and over and over because my brain had checked out 20 minutes prior.  i felt so bad for him and completely embarrassed for myself.

“let’s work on some of your techniques,” mr jenkins announced.

rex-kwon-dothe technique line was fine as long as he called out which technique he wanted.  i performed them relatively well.  then he changed it up and announced a type of attack and told us we could do any techniques we wanted or improvise.  *sigh*  i can’t even begin to tell you how foolish i looked.  nothing i did looked like a complete technique, but they all ended up with the attacker on the ground.  i would start with a technique and then just grab and sling them to the ground.  not good.

i was talking to vince yesterday morning about the upcoming test that we all know is coming.  when i was about to test for purple i knew it was coming, but didn’t feel ready for it AT ALL.  i felt i needed another month or two.  i wasn’t comfortable.  i didn’t think i was ready for it, but he tested me anyway and i passed.

now for my blue belt test that is upcoming, i’ve felt ‘ready’ for the last three or four weeks.  BUT between the last two week’s classes, i’ve felt completely lost out on the mat and realize i’m not ready.  not by a long shot.  so now i’m hoping the test is at least another three or four weeks out so i can refocus on what i need to be doing.

humble

yes, please. may i have another?

it frustrates me when i deal with people who act as if they’re brain-dead.  last night, however, the EEG on me was __________________

maybe next time i’ll be a lot more understanding when others have their moments.  if not, then i hope someone reminds me of last night’s class.  i got a big, heaping dose of humility dumped over the top of my head.

time for me to get back to work.

— chunky ninja

ps … i lost 3.2 pounds during the workout … probably all to be regained today.

11,358 days

198211,358 days. i don’t know if that number is accurate, but it’s probably within 365 or so. it represents the number of days i went without being involved in a fight. that’s approximately 31 years.

three decades without a physical altercation. then came kenpo. i hadn’t planned on it. if you’ve read some of my very early posts, you can see i felt duped into it. but i’m here. i’ve been trying to learn kenpo karate for two-and-a-half years now. it’s not pretty. matter of fact, it’s downright ugly. i’m not good at this sparring thing either. i don’t like doing it, but i’m starting to get more comfortable on the mat even if my skill is only moderately improving.

our class has been working on various sparring drills. like the half-wit dog that you wonder how many beatings he’ll have to take before he learns his lesson, i don the gear and await my punishment. last night was a slice under my right eye. i knew it was coming. i knew exactly the attack: left jab, right cross. i knew i was supposed to pat the jab down and weave the cross, then counter the right cross with a left hook to the face. so jab, pat-down. cross, weave, oops! didn’t move in time. i was nicked under my right eye and the blood trickled.

every few minutes one of the other students in class would say, “hey, did you know your eye is bleeding?”

“um, yeah. i’m a slow, bumbling ox that can’t get out of the way of a known attack. thank you for noticing.” ugh.

at least i'm thinking about it.

at least i’m thinking about it.

but i’m thinking. sometimes in the office i’m thinking about sparring and how i would, could, or should counter an attack while sparring. i have great ideas. i have thought about various situations and how i would want to counter them while applying my own attack. and yet my body doesn’t react when i see it coming.

i’m a dinosaur. i think it takes 15-30 seconds for me to see the attack, and tell my hand to move. by that time, i’m bleeding.

so later during class i’m throwing the combinations. left jab, right cross. i know his counters. he’s going to pat-down the jab, move to my right and come across my jab with a hook. but since i’m inept at that, my instructor makes a change … instead of going over the arm, it’s now a shot to the arm, then a right hook to the liver. so now my job is to drop the elbow to block the ribs before the hook.

ridiculous. i looked absolutely ridiculous trying to get my elbow down in time to block the punch i know is coming. so it gets down there AFTER the shot and my KG buddy taps me with a left hook to my pumpkin for added effect. thanks, vince, for reminding me how slow i am.

i’m not good at this. i’m too slow. i’m too old. i’m too out of shape.

and yet i don’t quit. it’s like when you know you’re losing a grappling session, but you just won’t give up until you’ve tapped out. it’s like that. i don’t know how to just quit. so i continue pushing myself until i’m too exhausted to continue on.

allegedly, and i use that word very loosely, i’ve improved. my buddy and cohort no longer tells me my kicks suck. now they’re just not that good. believe it or not, that’s an improvement.

cheesecake-carnegie-deli

carnegie deli cheesecake … YUM!

i recently sparred my six-foot, 17-year-old athletic nephew with vince there to observe. his response after watching us? “dude, you’re getting better.” compliments don’t flow from him easily, so i take every one of them like a cherished piece of cheesecake from my favorite deli in NYC.

i’m careful not to let them go to my head. i realize that i’ll never be chuck norris, john sepulveda, david jenkins, or even vince siller. but i do want to be better than the idiot that thinks he can bully or victimize someone in my family if not me personally. i will want to show him how hard my elbow can hit his face or how painful my not-so-good kicks feel when his knee snaps backwards.

i’m working hard on developing the skills of a blue belt in kenpo. i know i can hit with power without trying (thanks to my “viking fat”). but i need to refine my abilities to not just be able to dish it out, but to defend myself. a charging bull can be dropped with a parry and a sword. defense is required.

a few minor tweaks last night for my techniques and now further refinement. i like the insight i receive from my instructor. i’m better for it. my movements, strikes, checks are all better for it. i can tell the difference. i can see the difference. and those that went through the technique line felt the difference.

i will not give up. and that itself is a victory.

— chunky ninja

its been awhile

the end of last year and the first quarter of 2013 has been busy.  it seems life never really slows down and just keeping up becomes a chore.  i’ve continued my trek towards becoming the next jackie chan — well, apart from being in shape, knocking the USA, and being able to perform anything that looks remotely close to karate.  so what does that leave?  comedy.  and if you’ve seen me on the mat, i’m sure your time would be filled with raucous laughter.

but i’ve been continuing my pursuit to learn the art of kenpo.  a couple of weeks ago i attended my first kenpo karate camp (or should i say, “kamp”?).  i was a bit intimidated.  i was not the lowest ranked belt there, but i did come in the bottom three and then about 25 brown and black belts.  my buddy vince was there, so i had someone to pair up when working techniques (more on that later).

akts-kenpo-campthe head of our association, mr john sepulveda, was in town.  this was my first chance to meet him and i was not disappointed in the least.  he completely lived up to the hype and then some.  i’m pretty much in awe of my own instructor and his abilities.  my instructor feels the same about mr sepulveda; with good reason.  the man knows his stuff.  but beyond that, he’s personable, likeable, and impressed me with his ability to captivate and teach.  i was impressed during lunch as he sat and ate with some of the lower belts and just told stories of his life in kenpo. it was very, very cool.  i didn’t say much.  i was too busy trying to make sure i didn’t make a complete fool of myself.  no need embarrassing myself or my instructor.

mr tommy burks was there as an instructor also.  mr burks is my instructor’s instructor.  i’ve had the opportunity to work with him a couple of times at his dojo.  he’s what some would call ‘nit-picky’.  truth be told, he just sees how some are sloppy with their art … even some of the upper ranks.  and it bothers him (as it bothered mr parker).  below is a story i’ve heard of mr parker sending out one of his black belts to teach at a karate seminar for upper belts:

the black belt asked him what they should teach and mr parker said, “start with the basics … work their stances”.

“but mr parker, this is a seminar with all black belts,” she replied.

“you’ll see what i mean when you get there,” said mr parker.  she did.  he was right.

well, mr burks is kind of like that.  and i like that about him.  sure it gets tiring working on the exact same thing for an hour, but at the end of that hour, you’ll be hard pressed to forget the lesson that has just been ingrained.

[L-R] mr sepulveda, myself, and mr burks

[L-R] mr sepulveda, myself, and mr burks

since i had last seen mr burks, he has been promoted to 8th degree black.  he seemed to be very relaxed and enjoying himself.  while he was teaching i noticed he was smiling at vince and i a couple of times while we worked our techniques.  (i told you my version of kenpo brings smiles and chuckles to people, even mr burks).  but my instructor, mr jenkins, said mr burks was impressed with his [mr jenkins] students (which means me!). it may be one of the coolest feelings to have your karate instructor be proud of your growth as a student.  i always tried to convey that to my players when i used to coach baseball.  now i’m on the flip side of it and i can’t begin to tell you how that makes me feel.  only those who’ve experienced it can understand.

i’m anxious for future camps.  i feel like i learned so much and yet it made me realize just how much more there is to learn.  the art seems endless which may explain why my instructor always considers himself a student.

mr hazelwood, a 5th degree from the colleyville school was the other instructor during the camp.  he had us working on several drills and then moving from those drills into techniques.  while i couldn’t attend the entire camp (missed the sunday portion), i was really impressed with the instructors and fellow students.

[L-R] mr sepulveda, mr burks, mr jenkins, mr waggoner, vince, myself

[L-R] mr sepulveda, mr burks, mr jenkins, mr waggoner, vince, myself

sunday after the final camp class completed, vince called to tell me some of the upper black belts were wondering where his “bruiser buddy” was and he told them i was at church.  for some reason, we earned some recognition because we were “banging on each other pretty good!”  so while i was watching all the black belts, it seems they were a bit surprised/impressed on what vince and i were doing (at our belt levels).  vince was told, “you guys were going at it pretty good” and “you guys were showing a lot of power”.  for vince and i, we weren’t doing anything different than we do at our school and KG.

after i heard what they had to say, i remembered mr burks smiles.  man, it just makes me feel good!  i first met him when i was a white belt.  so i have improved.

after my day at camp was over, i was toast.  in some of the hardest classes i’ve attended with my school, i come home drenched in sweat, physically wore out, and in desperate need of some kenpo kandy (ibuprofen or other pain ‘chillers’).  those are two hour classes.  my camp day was an all day even with seven hours of that same intensity.  i was sore for two days with meds in my system.  but it was so worth it.  i’m anxious for the next camp.

~ * ~ * ~

i’ve continued on with KG (kenpo garage for anyone new to this blog).  it’s something vince and i started nearly two years ago to supplement our thursday classes.  the extra workouts are also for two hours and we continue to work on our techniques, sets, and forms.  sometimes we’ll add some drills just to mix things up a bit.  while it started with just vince and i, we periodically see others join in.

i don’t have much more to add for now, but it had been a quarter of a year since i had given any updates.  this one was over due.

— chunky ninja

Read the old posts and see how this all started!