This category contains 4 posts

. . . . . . . . (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.


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.


jack of all trades

there’s an old saying: jack of all trades and master of none. i have in NO WAY mastered anything. heck, i even have problems putting on my underwear in the morning (one leg into each of the holes, duh!). but at last night’s Kenpo Garage, we had a couple of white belts from our kenpo class show up. my sister was one of them and she’s been to a half-dozen classes. my 16-year-old nephew was the other and he’s been to one class.

but there i was teaching them some of the basics. foundational stuff. things like proper stance, practicing techniques slow and correct, and how to dummy when someone is doing a technique on them. ok, i have mastered the art of being a dummy. but that’s about it.

while teaching and watching, it reminded me that i was just like them 19 months ago. anxious, clumsy, and eager to learn. only i was probably a lot more awkward than them. yes, i was that goofy. but like john (one of my KG cohorts) and i told them, “we all start there.”

no one is immune to the bafoon-ery of being a first time practitioner of a martial art. some will grasp it quick and look like a pro their second class. but the vast majority will take months or years before things start to ‘click’. i’d like to get mine down to years, but right now i’m on the decade-and-a-half plan.

martial artist: a person who has achieved a proficiency and skill in any of several arts of combat and self-defense (as karate and judo) that are widely practiced as sport.

nineteen months, 44 techniques (haven’t tested for the latest 16 of those, though), a couple of sets, and now learning my third form. so here i am, nearly 47 and trying to become a martial artist. unfortunately for me, my “art” still has a lot of glue and macaroni. i’m not quite a picasso with my hands or feet yet. but i am getting there.

hours before KG my sister went out to eat lunch with my wife and i right after church. when we got home from the restaurant we stood in the driveway and talked about how our pastor/instructor has said repeatedly that he’s always more concerned with the white and yellow belts because they lack control. that was the topic. i’ve known for quite a while that i had very little control, but i’ve also noticed over the last three or four months that i’m developing it. i know, i’m as stunned as you, but it’s true!

anyway, we’re talking and my wife is standing there listening. as i’m trying to explain what i mean by control to my sister, i did one of the stupidest things i’ve ever done in my life. i demonstrated.

i can hear you now, “no, rick, please tell me you didn’t … ” i could tell you that, but i’d be lying. i did it. here’s how it went. i’m explaining how our instructor can throw a crescent kick to the side of someone’s head and stop it a fraction of an inch from someone’s head and then slowly lower it back down. (i’m always scared and impressed when he does it to me.) then i started saying that as we learn control, we should be able to do the same thing with our punches. we should be developing the body control to be able to show power with our moves and yet be able to avoid injuring the other person. (yes, you upper belts are going to LOVE correcting me on this, but it’s how i understand it as of right now.)

my wife is politely standing and listening to all of this because she really has no interest in anything related to kenpo. since i can’t kick high enough (or with enough control) to stop a fraction from someone’s head i threw a punch. at my wife.

let me just interject that i have never and would never, ever hit my wife. i find violence against women both abhorrent and indefensible. i was in full “teaching” mode and just wasn’t thinking the whole thing through. now back to my story.

i snapped my arm out to full extension and my fist … stopped micro-clicks from her chin. she didn’t flinch because she’s thinking the whole time, “my husband loves me and would never hit me.” and i just wasn’t thinking. honestly. i was teaching and felt i had enough control to do that. and i did! but i’ll never do it again.

in hind sight, it was a very foolish and dangerous thing to do. i am learning control. and while i’ve noticed it in all of our KG sessions where we’re showing full power, but without crushing each other, this was my wife. even now i feel a huge weight of guilt for even putting her in that situation. what if i had been off? there wouldn’t have been enough apologies to save the day or my face.

so in the middle of a lesson, i learned a lesson. maybe when i’m a black belt (if i ever make it there) i might consider myself to have enough control, but then it would be to a student with a mouth guard and who is prepared, not to my wife.

i’m so thankful to God that He kept me from doing something so ridiculously stupid and kept me at just moderately stupid. talking to my beautiful mrs well after the fact she never even gave it a thought. she just assumed i had enough control to demonstrate the concept.

yeah, i’m still a “macaroni type” of martial artist. and fortunately for me i did have the control or my wife would make sure i’d be eating dinner through a straw for the next several months.

— chunky ninja

hello, i’m with the IRS

if i were to pick up the phone and hear the person at the other end say, “hello, i’m with the IRS,” it would cause me quite a bit of anxiety.  i’ve not skipped out on my taxes. matter of fact, i always file early and haven’t had to pay in several years.  i’ve been getting money back the last several years, hence the early filings.  BUT the kind folks at the Internal Revenue Service have been known to disrupt lives and cause deep despair … even among those who have been paying their fair share.

steve martin in the movie, little shop of horrors

“mr queary, you’re going to need a root canal and a crown.”  that’s another phrase that would cause me great angst.  i’m sure the people who opt to go to dental school are thinking to themselves, “i can help people and make a reasonably good salary.”  but i tend to think they’re sadists who only want to inflict pain on the masses.  just knowing i have a dental appointment coming up causes me to get this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.  i’ve always hated going to the dentist.  i’ve had tons of mouth work done already, so you would think i would be use to it, but nope.  not one iota.  i loathe dental appointments.

“@chunky_ninja: we’re sparring on saturday. if your schedule will allow it, you are more than welcome to join us.”  i have a friend that lives about an hour away.  he runs a kenpo school and he has sparring classes twice a month.  one is a wednesday and there is no way i could ever make that, but my saturdays are always flexible if i have advanced notice.  so once a month i get that tweet from Mr Bowley and the hair on the back of my neck stands up.

don’t get me wrong here, i’m very thankful that he’s always welcoming me to attend.  i’m always grateful for the opportunity (like this last saturday) to learn at the end of his foot or fist.  he’s always gracious to extend the invite and then merciful when i don the spar gear and take the mat against him.  every class i’ve attended, he’s given me pointers.  i like to think i’m actually incorporating what he suggests, but only time will tell.  and that’s why i go.  i need to know whether i’m improving at the art of kenpo or not.  is my self-defense getting any better or do i still need to hire body guards?

but that feeling i would get if the IRS called; that feeling i would get at the thought of another root canal; it’s the exact same feeling i get when i see that monthly tweet from @SBowley (Bowley Kenpo Karate).

i’ve shared my apprehensions and thoughts with Mr Bowley.  none of this comes as a surprise to him, so this blog is not going to shock him.  i’ve also repeatedly told him i’m thankful he continues to invite me.  i don’t turn down the invites.  i’ve been going up there since november and have only missed one of the saturday sparring sessions. while i don’t like going, i need to go.  and so i do.

but the night before each sparring classes i can assure you is not restful for me.  i toss and turn all night long.  i’m already thinking about what happened last time, what i might expect the next day, what can i do that’s different, and how will i respond with the various attacks.

i’ve talked to several of my fellow kenpoists about my “phobia” and they almost all look at me like i’m some sort of goofy nutcase.  we’re all wearing pads.  we’re all using some self-control (some more than others).  and of course, “dude, you’re in karate, what did you expect!?”

yet i find myself once a month going into this sense of dread.  we have a guy in our class that tends to back away when going through a technique line.  so when you go to do the technique on him, you have to chase him a bit to complete it.  he said once, and the rest of us use his quote all the time now, “let’s get this over with.”  THAT is how i feel every time i make that hour drive.

Mr Jenkins about 30 years ago

maybe someday it won’t seem so troubling to me.  we don’t spar that much in our school which is what prompted my friend, Mr Bowley, to invite me to participate.  every school does things differently.   ultimately i want to improve at kenpo.  my instructor is fantastic.  i’m thankful every class for the great instruction from Mr Jenkins.  with teaching from Mr Jenkins and the help of Mr Bowley, i hope to eventually be able to hold my own if someone tries to attack me, my family, or my friends.

special shout out to fellow orange belt, James, who nailed me with some solid head shots this past weekend.  your hands are fast young man, but don’t judge how well you did by my inability to stop you.  that would be unwise.  😉

— chunky ninja

not just weird, but strangely weird

i’m strange.  i know that.  i have these weird little quirks that pop into my head that just aren’t normal for other people.  and that’s one of the things i like most about myself.

i was going for our departmental walk the other day.  our small group goes for a 25 minute walk every work day.  it’s our way of trying to be healthier along with just getting a break from the computer.  sometimes the conversations will be about family, vacations, television.  other days it turns towards work where we can problem solve in a different environment.  there’s no set discussions.  it’s a free for all.

before i get back to the topic from the first paragraph, i must divulge a touch of OCDness that i have.  when we walk, there are form lines in the concrete.  every 10 foot or so, another form line.  there are also parking lines and directional arrows painted on the surface.  for years, and i don’t know how or when it began, but i refuse to step on the “crack” or on any painted part. and you only thought i was mildly bizarre.

anyway, back to paragraph one about this strange little thing i do … when i’m out for our walks, i’ll see a crack coming up ahead of me or maybe a painted arrow for cars to know the direction, and i’ll automatically adjust my stride to make sure i won’t end up stepping on them.  sometimes it’ll be so close that i find myself turning my foot ever so slightly just to make sure my toes don’t accidentally touch the crack.  i do it without thought and have been for years.  i do this so effortlessly that i have to MAKE myself actually step on a crack or paint.  (and for the record, my mom’s already dead, so i’m not worried about her back.)

only recently have i started wondering if any other kenpoists (or any other version of martial artists) have, in the back of their minds, this control of body within the environment they may be placed.  i don’t think others have my weird “don’t step on a crack” mentality, but just the concept of throwing a punch at full power and being able to stop the punch just prior to impact.  another example, and my instructor is very good at this, is throwing a round house kick to someone’s head and stopping it just prior to contact, then slowly lowering it back to the ground.

while i don’t have that kind of control over my punches or my horrid kicks, i can, without thought, walk through our parking lot and avoid those stupid form lines and painted parking lot lines/arrows.  it makes me think that someday i can have more control of my body whether it’s while sparring or teaching techniques to lower belts.

i’d like to think so … or it’s quite possible this is the kind of thing that will land me in a straight jacket someday.

— chunky ninja

Read the old posts and see how this all started!