belt test

This category contains 11 posts

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.


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.


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

JUST a coincidence

in my last post i talked about being called VIKING FAT and how we had a belt test coming up soon. then that very night i tested for my purple belt. the minnesota vikings wear purple, but i wasn’t even thinking about that when i wrote the blog. someone else had called me viking fat and i was relaying that detail. i am not a viking’s fan. i refuse to disclose my NFL allegiance, but it isn’t the vikings.

on the tuesday night prior to my belt test, we met with our instructor. it was our whole KG group (ok, there’s only three of us, but it sounds bigger and more official when you call it a group). our instructor, Mr Jenkins, had said we were getting close to being ready to test and wanted to work with us a little bit. first he worked with john and vince (my KG cohorts) as they’re learning blue belt techniques and the appropriate forms and sets that come with it. i stood by and absorbed the knowledge being shown and taught.

then came my turn to show the techniques i’ve been working on. mr jenkins still had the blue belt techniques in mind and asked me to show him twin kimono. i smiled at john, who was going to dummy for me on the first technique, and started going through it. half way through i turned and smiled at my instructor and asked if he wanted me to finish this blue belt technique or do the purple belt ones instead. being the KG boys’ spotter (formerly called ‘dummy’) has given me immense benefits. i’m able to learn my techniques faster because i already know where the pain is being inflicted from all the months of practice with them. mr jenkins laughed and said i’d better do the purple techniques instead. so i went through them all.

mr jenkins, me, vince. my other KG bud, john, is missing from this photo.

vince told me after our session that i was rocking and rolling. “dude, you’re clicking on your kenpo. there was a time when your feet and hits weren’t always in sync. you could tell you were still learning and having to think about your moves. but tonight, something seemed to click in your brain and you were rocking through them. they all looked solid.” from vince, that’s a great comment. but he wasn’t done.

“you’re a big dude and can put a hurting on someone just because you’ve got a lot of back up mass [aka viking fat]. but when you’re kenpo started clicking it’s like …” he paused for a moment. “you used to hit like a semi-truck. but then your kenpo started clicking in your brain and now you’re rocking through them, it’s more like being hit by a freight train. you don’t even have to try for power, it’s already there.”

thursday’s class found me going through all the steps for testing. my short form 2 was a little sloppy in my opinion, but i guess it was good enough for promotion. stance set and coördination set were solid. i had my sayings and pledge down. the only thing left was the sparring.

i still hate sparring. but i have made conscious efforts to improve — and was told it showed. i’m trying not to charge in all the time. i’m working diligently on being patient and staying back. my defense still has a long way to go. i continually discuss how my reflexes seem slow, but there IS improvement. i worked combos and continued to pace myself and pick specific moments to move in or out. my wind was better and i rebounded from each sparring match quicker than i have in the past. the last fight i had was with my pastor. he made me work. i was able to land a few punches and kicks.

at the end of class i was told to kneel and was handed my purple belt. i had such a feeling of satisfaction for what i had accomplished and an awe of how much more there is still to learn. the longer i’m in this art, the more i appreciate the vastness of the knowledge and the beauty of its complexity.

PURPLE, baby!!

now on to my blue belt techniques, form, set, pledge, and sayings. i’m anxious.

special thanks to vince, john, and especially to mr jenkins of whom i can proudly call my instructor, pastor, and friend.

— chunky ninja

viking fat

yes, i said, “viking fat.”


i’ve been fat, well, almost all of my life.  starting in fifth grade my mom quit her job to stay home after the birth of my youngest sister.  i would come home from school to the smell of homemade cookies, cakes, etc.  within a few months i was shopping for clothes at sears or montgomery wards and had been officially relegated to the ‘husky’ section for boys.  ugh.

that was the beginning and my life has pretty much continued down that path for the last 30+ years.  it’s always bothered me, but never enough to do all the work necessary to become skinny. don’t get me wrong, i still tried the occasional 2-week to 6-month diet and/or exercise routines, but never stuck with them.  i used all sorts of things as excuses over the years, too.  things like …

i hated the ‘husky’ section

  • it’s too hard to work out all the time
  • i like food too much
  • i don’t have enough time
  • it’s too hot to do any exercise
  • it’s boring to work out by yourself
  • it’s too cold to do any exercise
  • i just don’t feel like it
  • i would if it didn’t feel so much  like work
  • the weathers too perfect to do any exercise
  • i’d have to work out too much to make up for that gallon of ice cream i just ate
  • if i ever needed to, i could last for years on chemo because of my fat

but now i’ve heard this latest description of me, it makes me want to embrace my chunky ninja self.  viking fat.  i like it.  and no, i didn’t give myself that description.  one of my KG cohorts did.

at first, being sensitive to my apparent fatness for the last third of a century, i asked for an explanation.  so he ‘splained …

“dude, some people are what i call ‘powder puff’ fat.  they’ve got the weight, but it’s all soft.  no muscle there.  you’re not powder puff.  you’re like freaky strong in your arms and chest.  you’re a big guy, but you’ve got a lot of muscle behind it.  you’re like viking fat.”

then i thought of my perception of the vikings (not the football team) and visuals like Liam Neeson in Rob Roy, Mel Gibson in Braveheart, Russell Crowe in Gladiator, or Gerard Butler in 300.  now before you quickly correct me, i’m well aware none of these characters were vikings, but they were all skilled warriors who fought with great passion and heart.  so take these characters and add a horned helmet and a beard and that’s the image in my mind — kinda like the modern-day biker gang

the inside of my cranium

truth be told, while i do like the ‘viking fat’ label (as opposed to powder puff, jelly soft, marshmallow, and fluffy), i don’t want to stay here.  i’ve been more consistent at losing weight (or inches) than i have at any other time in my life.  i know i could work harder at it and become obsessive about what i eat and how hard i’m working, but i also know that i’d quit pretty quickly if i did.  it’s just how i’m wired.  but i am making progress and that’s what matters.

i’ve continued working my kenpo 4-6 hours per week. i also find myself thinking about techniques or general concepts more and more even if i’m not physically practicing my techniques.  all of this is leading up to an upcoming belt test.  a few of us have been given a bit of warning that the test is coming soon.  i’m guessing in the next month or so and i’m going to do whatever i can to be ready.  fortunately, my instructor is the one who gave us the ‘heads-up’ which means he must think we’re close to ready, too.  that always gives me a bit more confidence.

i’m continuing to ride my bike to also help prepare me for my ongoing kenpo life and to help get into better shape.  i can say i’ve gone from a 2x shirt to a 1x.  and i’ve gone down 2 inches in my waist.  so while i still look like a big guy, i’m gradually getting smaller and it’s proportionate which would make it less noticeable if you’re just looking at me.  but i know and can tell the difference in how i feel.

example: while i may still get winded sparring, it’s not nearly as fast and my recovery time is also quicker. (i’m still not a fan of sparring, but my instructor has started having us spar more and more.)

i don’t think i’ll ever be ‘skinny’.  ever.  but if i can reduce my overall size, have more wind, and make progress in this wonderful art, i will be satisfied.  hopefully soon i’ll be tying a purple belt around my waist and begin working on a news set of techniques and katas.

for now, i’m embracing the term ‘viking fat’.  where’s my helmet?

— chunky ninja

happy bloggy birthday!

it’s been one year … officially.  it’s been one year since this blog began.  the chunky ninja blog turns one today. so happy bloggy birthday to the chunky ninja site!

during this last year you’ve shared my path from white to yellow to orange and now working on purple.  you’ve read how bad my kicks are and how ridiculously silly i am at sparring.  hopefully you’ve been amused at various classroom narratives from my own unique perspective.  you’ve seen glimpses into my relationships with my friends and family.  many of you were encouraging when my son passed away 11 months ago.  we’ve been through a lot over the last year here at the chunky ninja blog stop.

in this past year we’ve had over 1,100 visits.  that’s not much, but then again, i’m not advertising or doing anything extra to get word out.  partly because i’m often as embarrassed of my writing as i am of my “proficiency” in kenpo.  though i know both are improving.

there aren’t many that have actually subscribed to this site, but those who visit return often to see if anything is new.

Kenpo Garage in 108 degrees

a year ago i started kenpo garage and have documented much of my awkward bumblings over the months.  these are my extra work outs away from class.  it was just vince (dude, your kicks suck) in the beginning, but john (it’s all good, bro) joined a few months later.  we get together a couple of times a week aside from our class just to help learn and tweak our techniques.  each session is about two hours long.  sometimes the techniques seem brutal and other times the weather does.  but we haven’t quit and i can personally attest to the extra workouts helping me improve.

during the last year i wrote 43 blogs and have had people from 28 different countries stop in for a visit.  that means my blog is internationally known!  ok, that’s a stretch, but it’s technically true.

since no one is jumping up to stop me, i’m assuming you all want to have some more boring details.  so here are some stats!

  • as i’ve already mentioned the site had 43 blogs in the first year.  not quite one per week, but close on average.
  • over 30,000 words have been written with an average of 704 words per blog.
  • 106 pictures have been used during the last year.  most are found on the al-gore-created world-wide web and used ninja-like (if asked to be removed, i will gladly comply).
  • busiest month was last july with 10 blogs then august with 7.
  • leanest month was a tie between january, february, and march with 1 each.
  • chunky ninja twitter was set up at the same time and had 281 tweets during the last year and dovetails with this site.

my favorite blog(s):

i was really torn on this.  there are two blogs that i really, really liked.  the first is Ketchup Please from september of last year. the other was Woolly Bully from february ’12.  if you missed these, i would recommend them for their amusement quality.  they did, after all, make me giggle.


my favorite quote:

i had several that stood out to me, but the one that seems to epitomize my learning process comes from Mid-Month Review Is Late published in december ’11:

Mr Bowley was very gracious and complementary.  he even maintained a straight face when i told him, “but i AM trying” when i was in serious battle [sparring] against his nine-year-old, junior green belt, daughter.

to close this blog post, i want to say a thank you to all who have stumbled across this blog and have been faithful readers.  this site is for my own enjoyment and historical tracking of my foolish adventures into American Kenpo. the fact that you continue to come back confirms its either entertaining or you’re just a sick, sadistic individual who enjoys watching me hurt myself in a wide variety of ways.  🙂

also a special thank you to my instructor and pastor, Mr David Jenkins; my friend and sparring “nemesis”, Mr Sam Bowley; my KG cohorts, Vince and John; and to my beautiful wife who is an extraordinary fighter in her own right with her sarcastic jabs and witty punches.

— chunky ninja

i love me some orange!

yesterday was the day!  we thought the testing might be pushed out another week due to some unforeseen circumstances, but NO.  it happened.  my two Kenpo Garage cohorts, vince and john tested.  they were going for their purple belts.  then trevor and i tested for our orange belt.  the best part … we all passed.

the last week and a half i’ve been battling allergies.  wednesday it got bad enough that i went to the doc only to find out that i might have strep and definitely had a large, squishy measure of bronchitis.  it was time to heavily medicate.  and he did.  inhalers, cough meds with codeine (yum!), and four little antibiotic pills that, according to my doctor, “should kill anything you have”.  the nurse had told him she thought i might have strep.  he looked and said, “maybe, but you definitely have a lot of wheezing and congestion.  i’ll give you something that will knock that out and will take care of any potential strep.”  good enough for me.

the KG crew with our instructor

before i left his office, i was also given a shot with two other meds to help “jump start” the healing process.  the nurse asked which cheek i wanted to flash her, stabbed the needle, and waited for the blood.  no blood, no band-aid.  i half-thought to tell her i’m a karate guy and we’re all about control, so i was holding my blood inside and refusing to let it leak.   as i’ve gotten older, though, i’ve stopped going out of my way to look like an idiot so i kept that comment to myself.

last week i went through my kicking set for my instructor.  he was pleased and had only one minor tweak for me to make.  the biggest surprise came from my friend vince (dude, you’re kicks suck), who said (and i quote), “dude, you did ok.  you could tell what each of your kicks were.”

MAN, i about passed out.  it was a pseudo-compliment about my kicks – FROM VINCE of all people.  in fairness to me, and because this is my own blog and i can say what i want, i’ve worked my tail off to improve my kicking techniques.  they are in no-way-shape-or-form great, but they are better.  i still can’t back kick higher than your knee caps, but i’ll make sure you hurt when i’m done.

Vince “dude, your kicks suck” Siller – Purple Belt

so back to last night.  i’m there early.  i let my instructor know that i have bronchitis and will be hacking up a lung (probably the left one) during the evening, but i’ll go as far as i can.  with one of the guys who was supposed to test potentially missing class, we all figured no test.  well, he showed up.  and we were greatly surprised when he separated us and started making us go through the techniques.  vince rocked through his.  because of his years in taekwondo and his OCD, he learns very quickly and has very good control.  so when he’d throw a knee to the face and stop it just before making contact, it was scary good.

John “its all good, bro” Grant – Purple Belt

while vince is the KG’s “overachiever”, john is the normal one of our group (if there is such a thing).  he did very well on his techniques.  it was really cool to see how some of the “tweaks” we’ve helped in the last few KG sessions have really helped him.  it showed and he did very well.  he should be proud of his test and his accomplishment.

then there’s the comic relief from the KG … that would be me.  i don’t intend to be the comic relief. but watching me, the old, bald, fat guy, trying to learn this art, always ends up being comical.  i felt i did ok through my techniques.  there are things i could have done a bit better and i definitely need to work on my cover-outs, but all in all, i felt pretty comfortable.

(L-R) Trevor, CN, John, Vince, (instructor) David Jenkins

one technique that threw me off just a tad was Dance of Death.  trevor, my session partner, stepped through with his punch instead of a rear cross punch.  i didn’t hesitate, blocked the punch, made the groin strike, then cross stepped in so my kick would be to the right spot and i wouldn’t end up with his leg coming up between mine.  i’m sure i could have been smoother, but his doing the attack wrong didn’t stop me from the result.

then came the sparring.  i think i did better than i have in any of our sessions.  and i owe a LOT OF THANKS to Mr Bowley, of Bowley Kenpo Karate in McKinney.  his invites to come and spar with his class once a month has really benefited me.  we don’t do a lot of sparring in our classes partly because we can get a little rough.  it’s not good advertising when an ambulance has to show up to a karate school every few weeks.  (no, that’s never happened, but i’m just saying we do make contact.)

anyway, i thought i did pretty good. the three responses that i heard or noticed are below:

  • vince’s: “dude, you charge in like a bull.  you rush in all the time.  i’m making contact with you and it’s not slowing you down.  i’m gonna have to light you up a bit to slow you down.  this is supposed to be light contact, but light contact doesn’t stop you.”
  • john’s: “i can really tell you’ve improved a lot.  you’re a LOT better than even the last time i saw you spar.  if you could see yourself on video, you’d see how much you’ve improved.  you’re making good blocks and good shots.  i think i’m gonna have to try and go with you to this sparring practice you’ve been going to because it’s really paying off for you.”
  • my instructor’s:  we’ve been working on setting up our opponents for fake kicks.  seeing how they’ll respond with a repeated style of attack and when we see that they’ve gotten used to it, fake and use something else to our advantage.  i did this against one of my opponents (honestly, i can’t remember which one).  i threw a front snap kick a couple of times and noticed that he’d drop his right hand to block.  then i shot the the fake front snap kick and about the time his right hand dropped, i swiveled and turned it into a round house kick instead.  i heard my instructor yell, “nice kick!  that’s the way to fake him!”
  • CN with my instructor/pastor

    also, when sparring with my instructor, he came at me with the same attack three times.  i knew he was trying to set me up.  he had already hit me with it before where he baited me with his left and hit me with a right.  this time i saw the set up, and after the third left jab, i immediately blocked the right and stepped in with my own left jab.  i didn’t make contact, but he immediately started laughing because he saw that i was starting to catch on.  that made me feel good.  i’m a slow learner, but i AM learning.

all in all, i felt i did well in earning my orange belt — even with my bronchitis.  i’ve worked hard and it’s nice to see this work recognized.  my instructor doesn’t just give out belts.  there are some that have been stuck at a belt for a couple of years.  you get out of it what you put into it.  i may have started this just a year and a half ago, but i’ve come along way and i’ve got SO much further to go.

One becomes great when he comes to the realization that what he knows is very little.

i realize that i don’t know SQUAT!  and that means i’m on my way.  one thing i do know is when i showed up to class yesterday i was a yellow belt.  when i left it was orange.

— chunky ninja

getting closer

my instructor is out of town this week, but we’re having class anyway with one of the upper belts running it.  i try to never miss and tonight will be no exception.  i’ll be there.  i have to be there.  i have to continue preparing.  there is a belt test looming on my horizon.  and i’m nervous.

when i took my yellow belt test i felt, foolishly in hindsight, overly ready.  i feel just the opposite for the upcoming orange belt test.  i’ve worked and worked on my techniques.  i’ve worked and worked on my forms and even the dad-blasted kicking set (pattern is not a problem, but my kicks are).  i’m working on my sayings, but have the creed down.  and i’m still nervous.

i will add to all of this that part of my nervousness is the sparring for my belt.  i hate fighting.  so why am i doing this?  why bother taking kenpo at all if i hate to fight?  because i enjoy learning how to defend myself.  i know, i know.  sparring will help me better defend myself AND it gives me a barometer of how i’m improving.  i still don’t like it.  honestly, do i have to like it to do it?  i don’t like going to the dentist, but i do because it’s good for me.  and in this case, i don’t like to fight, but sparring will be good for me.

fortunately, or not-so-much (as the case may be), i get to do some sparring this weekend with my instructor/twitter-friend, mr. bowley.  i’m always thankful that he’ll let me come work out with his group.  he’s given me very good pointers that have been beneficial.  he’s patient, works well with his students and also with the lunkheads that drive 60 miles just to prove they drop their hands all the time.  but he also has a black belt coming to this class.

and i feel the pressure mounting.  you would think that being a buffoon for 46 years would make me feel comfortable with humiliation, but there’s just something about appearing foolish that still bothers me.  trust me, i’ve seen my fighting (video from last sparring session) and it’s just downright embarrassing. and i’m sure i’ll have a full course of humiliation at the hands of the 14 year olds as well as mr. bowley and his black belt invitee.

but i’ll be there with a smile, will do my best, and most importantly, i’ll have my ears wide open to absorb every bit of advice, insight, and instruction mr. bowley and the visiting black belt will have for me.  my thinking right now is deflect the attack and absorb the knowledge.

i have to remind myself of a saying my instructor says often:

“if it were easy, everyone would be doing this.”

of course he also says things like, “keep your hands up or you’ll end up on the floor and girls will laugh at you.”  i have the feeling they’d be laughing for one reason or another.  my wife does anyway.

always the counter-encourager she either giggles, rolls her eyes, or throws out off-the-wall comments regarding my attempts at this art.  just the other day while i was getting ready for class she texted me to remind me that my “costume” was in the dryer.  funny, i couldn’t find my cape.

— chunky ninja
(this post wasn’t my funniest, i know.  so to help make sure you don’t feel cheated, the clip below is of my last sparring adventure.)

so.not.ready (.com)

two weeks ago three in our class were told we would be belt testing sometime before the end of april.  i’m one of those three.  i’m so not ready.  when it came time for the yellow belt test, i was probably over confident.  this time is the opposite.

i’ve had a lot on my plate over the two or three months.  it doesn’t seem to be slowing down even though i’ve already dropped some items from my “to do” list.  for the most part i’ve continued to do the kenpo garage.  there have been a few times that i’ve missed or someone has cancelled out, but we’ve been pretty consistent.

don’t get me wrong, i’ve improved.  i know i have.  thanks to the tremendous patience of john and vince.  we’ve all worked hard at doing some fine tuning of our techniques and with the added pads, we’re practicing a lot closer to full power than ever before.  it gives us a better understanding of how the “victim” will react.

the two major points for me will be the sayings and the kicking set.  ok … really, the kicking set more than anything else.  my kicks are still horrid.  i’m beginning to believe my kicks will always be bad.  but i have to somehow make them good enough to pass.  i want my orange belt.  i will continue working towards it.  like the yellow, i don’t want it given to me. i want to earn it.

tonight is kenpo.  i’ll be there early.  i’ll work hard.  i’ll practice my kicking set before class and hopefully get a chance to work on it during class as well.  i fear failure and that will drive me.

i’m also going to print out my sayings and go over them daily until they’re locked inside my head.  i can appreciate the detail and schooling of this great art.  but are the sayings vital?  since i’ve coached sports for a long time, i know the answer already.  it’s one that i don’t want to admit because it will be more work for me.

i don’t think my instructor would have told us to prepare if he didn’t already think we were close to promotion.  so do i understand that i’m but a beginner at this new and fascinating art which will direct me to greater obligations and responsibilities.  to honor my obligations and responsibilities, i pledge to serve my instructor, fellow students, and fellow man(kind).

i do want to improve.  and while some things about my future may impede my expeditious plans to attain my black belt, i’m not planning on quitting.  but right now while my life is in a small bit of an upheaval, i’d take a whole mess of easy.

a fortnight ago i was told to prepare.  i want to be like neo (from the Matrix) and just have it imported into my thick noggin’. it’s not going to happen, though.  it’s gonna require a lot of sweat.  i’m not a fan of sweat.

— chunky ninja

they call me mellow yellow

we had a big night at kenpo last night.  TEST night.  we had four (counting yours truly) testing for belts.  i kinda knew something might be up when i got a text from mr jenkins to make sure to wear the tops to our gi’s (we’ve been going with just a school t-shirt during the wicked summer months).  in the back of my mind i knew we had a test coming up, but i also thought maybe mr burks (my instructor’s instructor) might be in town.  when i walked in my pastor looked like he was wearing his kenpo version of his “sunday’s best”.  i got the jitters.

mr jenkins, vince, nick

we went through our normal warm-ups before the testing began.  mr jenkins mixed it up so that no one person was out there for their whole test at one given time.  i’ve never been to a testing before.  ever.  so maybe that’s how it’s done when you have multiple students.  or maybe it was just how it was done last night.  either way it was a great experience.  my buddy, vince, got to go first.  he had to perform the kicking set.  he looked incredible and i’m glad i’m not on the receiving end of any of those kicks.

mr jenkins, john, nick

when it came time for john to do his techniques he donned a foot guard because i had literally crushed his left foot the last time we had to spar (he put his foot under my “crunching forward step”).  being that he had been out of class the last two weeks he looked very good.  techniques were all crisp.

mr jenkins, andrew, nick

andrew did great with his sayings.  vince, john, and andrew were all testing for their orange belt and did well.  then it was my turn.

i knew my sayings.  i rattled off all seven of my sayings … probably faster than i wanted.  i was nervous and i’m sure i was doing everything faster than i should.  from what i’ve been told, that’s common.  my short form was not caught on video, but i’m hoping it looked better than the video posted on this site.  i’ve been working hard on it for the last few weeks in preparation for the test.

mr jenkins, trevor, nick

when it came time for me to do my techniques, mr jenkins looked for a volunteer to dummy for me.  trevor quickly volunteered, bless his heart.  trevor is about 14 and looks like he weighs about 70 pounds dripping wet.  i didn’t intend to throw that kid all over the dojo, it just kinda happened.  my instructor asked for a different volunteer after a few techniques and andrew jumped in.  we went from a 70 pound volunteer to a 100 pound volunteer.  the difference is andrew likes to run.  instead of standing there and dummying, he likes to get out of dodge!  i felt like i was chasing him the whole time.  ok, that’s not entirely true.  he didn’t really start running until i accidentally landed a back knuckle while performing “intellectual departure”.  so i guess i can understand his reluctance after that.  [sorry andrew!]

the last thing we all had to do was spar with nick.  nick is our resident brown belt who also fought (since retired) professional MMA.  there are a thousand things in life i can think that would be smarter than fighting nick, but it was part of our test.  i want to personally thank nick for not killing me when he had so many opportunities.  he even let me land a kick to his ribs.  his control is incredible and he could have seriously hurt us at any point.  he was like a dad teaching his kids to fight by tussling with them.

mr jenkins, nick, me

we all waited in silence until mr jenkins and the two other upper ranks discussed whatever it was they needed to discuss.  when they came back in we were all given some pointers and then our belts.  as part of the belt ceremony we had to receive our kick.  mr jenkins went one by one to each of us and kicked us in the stomach.  i was last.  i forgot to “hyahhh!!”, but it was done.  i was now a yellow belt.  woo-hoo!!

“they call me mellow yellow
quite rightly
they call me mellow yellow
quite rightly”

when the testing was done i was paired up with “walmart bill” (i’ll explain more about bill in a later blog) and was instructed on two of the orange belt techniques i need to learn.  there seems to be more pain involved in the receiver at this level.  i think i’m going to like this level … a lot.

so i get home and i’m talking a mile a minute to anyone who will listen.  i mentioned to my wife that the last part of acquiring the new belt was to stand in a training horse position and get kicked by mr jenkins to the stomach.

she replied, “did you kick him back?”

mr jenkins, nick, john, vince, andrew, me, trevor

“no, dear.  i’m pretty sure that would have ended up having my belt forcefully taken back.”  i know she was joking, but she always seems to enjoy it when i come home with bruises and tell her that mr jenkins beat me.  she’s trouble waiting to happen.

i added photos from the other guys who were promoted, including trevor who earned his yellow stripe (probably for volunteering to let me beat on him and toss him around class).  way to go, trevor!

— chunky ninja

Read the old posts and see how this all started!