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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

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. . . . . . . . (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.

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

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

weather or not

the kenpo garage is still a “no-go” for this week.  slowly its returning to its usable [read: tolerably usable] shape, but there is still much to do.  unfortunately, none of the stuff that clutters it is my own.  my daughter, the marine, has been working 60-80 hour weeks and hasn’t had time to really start going through and finding places to hide her stuff.  then there’s the washer and dryer that are in the middle of the KG and not in the middle of craig’s list.  but, in time, it will be back to the KG i need in my life. [side note: need a washer and dryer? contact me!]

it’s easy for me to come up with excuses.  i’ve done it all my life.  food’s too good.  working out is too hard.  trying to do the right thing with both at the same time takes too much discipline.

but i am determined to learn this art.  i often need to give myself a kick in the behind to do what needs to be done.  i let little things like a house that you can’t hardly walk in to prevent me from eating right.  instead, for the last four or five weeks, i’ve been eating a lot of take out.  then i start feeling bad about it and use ice cream to push down those pangs of guilt.

i’m still walking daily.  i’m still running the stairs at work (even though i don’t tweet it all the time).  and i’m still attending my kenpo classes.  it seems, right now, i’m half way in.  and looking at it like that, i’m ready to give myself a good swift kick in the pants.  unfortunately for me, my kicks still suck and it hardly motivates me.

so what DOES motivate me?  cooler weather.  i pushed myself hard during the heat of the summer.  this past summer wasn’t just hot, it was borderline ridiculous.  months with temperatures over 100.  weeks with temperatures in the 107+ area.  several days where it was 112-114.  evening temperatures that would drop into the upper 80’s before skyrocketing back up the next day.  there were even a few days where the temperature never dipped below 90 AT NIGHT!  the folks up north would be dropping over like snowmen in a microwave.

but over the last three weeks or so, cooler temperatures have returned.  i’m LOVING it.  we haven’t turned on the heat in the house yet and i’m not sure when i’ll be ready to.  even my beautiful mrs has gotten used to the cooler temperatures.  what does this have to do with kenpo?  well, nothing other than the fact i should be able to focus more on my training without the fear of dropping dead from heat stroke.  i just have to do it.

this coming thursday will mark one year of my martial arts training.  45 years of nothing and now one year of kenpo.  it’s been a fun ride.  i’m enjoying all i’m learning and have a great desire to continue on.  eventually, i’d like to start teaching it, but that’s years down the road.  so today, on a nice cool day, i’m going to go for a good walk, watch some kenpo videos on youtube, then go through my techniques and forms.  time to move into year two with a fresh, rejuvenated approach … work it!

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

funny story (to me, anyway) on the way home from picking up my daughter last night after the high school football team.  no, she’s not a linebacker.  she’s in the color guard.  if you had asked me ten years ago which of my kids would have been on the football field on friday nights i would have gotten it wrong. my son, the six-foot, 230 pound, kid-with-the-golden-arm, opted to stay in baseball only and it’s my daughter (the youngest of the bunch) that is out there marching every friday.

anyway … my son and i picked her up from school and she says, “daddy, i think i’m having growing pains.”

without even blinking my son looks back at her and says, “it’s pronounced, GROIN.”  he cracks me up.

— chunky ninja

bob and weave

i’ve never been a boxer.  i haven’t been in a fight since i was 13.  that doesn’t mean i don’t appreciate a good fight.  as a kid i grew up watching muhammed ali and sugar ray leonard.  they were flashy and quick, talked the talk and backed it up.

"i think i broke his hand with my face, mick"

i loved the rocky movies.  there’s just something very cool about the underdog coming out and letting it all fly.  in the first movie, rocky used his face to block apollo creed’s punches.  he lost that fight.  in the third movie, creed trains rocky to beat clubber lang.  he teaches rocky to move his body, move his head, move his feet … bob and weave.

in my kenpo classes we’ve been working on combinations that also include moving my feet and ducking punches … to bob and weave.  i love working with focus pads even if i’m not sure what to do with my feet.

but for the last two weeks (actually slightly longer) my mind has been on a different kind of bob and weave.  it’s been the bob and weave required to get from the front door and then make a path through my house.

my daughter and granddaughter moved in with us.  their three bedroom apartment got crammed into our modest sized house.  suddenly our house seemed drastically tiny.  the kenpo garage is slammed with boxes, furniture, book cases, a washer and dryer, bags of clothes, and storage stuff.

the path it took to get through the room

on the inside of the house we started re-arranging rooms.  have you ever done a full move inside your own home?  we did.  it’s ridiculously frustrating.  as each room was emptied the contents were pulled into the living room while we did drywall repairs and painted the walls.  we’d finish one room and then move on to the next.

and with the dropping spot being the living room, it took tremendous amounts of bobbing and weaving just to get from the front door to the back. our home looked like a scary scene from the show “hoarders”.

my mind, my focus, has been on the disaster of my house rather than on kenpo.  my bob and weave only helped make my trek through my home instead of learning how to survive a fight.

fortunately, we’re nearing the end and i can re-focus on what i’ve been missing … kenpo.  the garage is still a wreck, but soon it will return as the kenpo garage.  i can hardly wait.

— chunky ninja

incrementally better, or maybe not, but probably

KENPO time

every class i attend i can see some improvement on skills i’ve already been working on.  then we’ll get some instruction on something i’ve never done before and i can’t seem to wrap my brain around it.  on tuesday we spent quite a bit of time working sparring combinations and drills.  then we moved into some non-technique-specific moves that required me to parry, cross-step, stance change all while striking in various places and keeping appropriate checks in place.  even typing that out i was having difficulty.  i think this weekend i’m going to practice chewing gum and walking at the same time [someone pick me up when i fall down, please].

we found out on tuesday we are moving back to one class per week (still two hours).  that simply means more Kenpo Garage time (with my instructor’s blessing).  several of us from class will continue our tuesday workouts, but move it from the dojo to my garage.  we don’t want to let up on working and improving.  we’re even going to invest in some real pads, mats, and i’m fully cleaning out the garage to make it more user-friendly for us.

i can tell a good class when i come away with some aches and pains.  i don’t want serious pains like my current finger injury, but i do want to know that i worked.  that’s what i had after tuesday with sufficient bruises and tender areas.  this morning my leg muscles were sore from a full night of kicking drills in thursday’s class.

i can assure your safety if i need to do a spinning-back-crescent-kick.  you’ll have nothing to fear.  when i’m done i’ll even lay right down for you to start stomping and kicking.  not intentionally, of course, but it’s just the way i end up — lightly tapping you and then falling straight to the ground.  and my kick is so weak all it will do is tick you off.

i’m beginning to think if i ever have to use my kenpo, i’ll be better off not trying to kick at all.  i’ll be more apt to stay on my feet and let my deadly elbows do some damage.

it's just a snack, brother

we ended the night with about a half hour of stomach and core work.  i’ve worked on my core for over 45 years.  trust me, you don’t get this kind of body by pushing the plate away.  i pride myself on my one sit-up per day routine … half in the morning and the other half at night.  so when my instructor decides we’re going to do some stomach work, i cringe.  and i know why he does it at the end of our workouts instead of at the beginning, too … he’s sadistic.  actually, it’s harder.  i realize that.  because we’re already tired, the work is harder and probably more beneficial.  but that doesn’t mean i have to like it or him at that moment.

what i did notice, though, was as weak as my three-time-hernia-operated stomach is, there is some strength improvement.  i can do more crunches, leg lifts, dying cockroaches, and other routines than i could before.  by jove, i think i’m on to something … working out is making me stronger!

not 13, but she scares me

so while my kicks are just as horribly bad as ever, there is improvement in technique.  while i’m still in shape, which round is a shape, i’m discovering strength i didn’t know i was developing.  and while i remain uncoördinated, with all the sparring training we’ve done, i may actually be able to defend myself against 13-year-old girls now.  trust me, though, i’ll still try to talk myself out of the fight first.

— chunky ninja

ketchup, please

it’s been a bit since my last post. i’ve been pretty busy trying to get over a stupid head cold that rolled in with the fall allergy season. it happens every year. the cooler air comes in and whips up some dried, decaying leaves that fell during the most recent, ridiculously hot summer. then my sinuses go into overdrive before pushing the gunk down into my lungs and giving me a monster cough that lasts a couple of weeks. it’s north texas, otherwise known as, the allergy capital of the U.S.

the one thing i noticed while hacking the last ten days was i can never remember the old saying. do you “feed a fever and starve a cold”? or do you “starve a fever and feed a cold”?

my approach is to feed a fever, feed a cold, feed a sprained finger, and even feed a stubbed toe. heck, i’ve been known to feed a hair cut if i felt it necessary. all that to say the last several weeks of brutal workouts that would crush normal folks, are now null and void. with my ultra slow metabolism, combined with nyquil and my inability to remember a stupid saying, i regained some weight. i’m still below my starting weight, but i lose pounds so slowly that the three i regained is like a five-week setback. ugh.

i missed two classes and one kenpo garage. but i’m starting to get my karate legs back under me and am ready to get back to my normal routines.

at the last kenpo garage i discovered that i’m NOT a weeble (though i do have their delightful, playful shape). again, vince (dude!) was helping me with my kicks. in super slow motion i was pivoting for a rear-leg, front snap kick. pivot my left foot, raise my right leg, hold it chambered, extend it and hold it, pull it back to chamber, set it back down.

on one of the stupid “holds” where my right leg was fully extended (and drooping towards the floor), i lost my balance. no big deal. i’ve always had good balance and reflexes. i quickly shifted my left foot to regain my balance, but i was too close to the heavy-bag stand in my garage. i stumbled over the stand, quickly bringing my right leg down and behind me to catch myself, only my top-heavy chunky ninja gut had already built up too much momentum.

my butt hit the floor and my head hit a ladder on the side of the garage. i didn’t hurt anything more than my pride. embarrassed, i quickly got up and looked at vince. his one word response said everything.

“seriously?”

ahh, it’s a new and fascinating art that i’m learning … how to humiliate myself every time i put on my gi which i DID blame for the loss of balance, though. i don’t have enough padding in my garage to cushion my feet so we work out in our sneakers. when i would lift my foot to chamber, the gi pant leg would catch on my heel and pull. that pull was what make me “out of balance”. i’m sticking to that story. seriously.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

i was driving my car the other day. i have a tendency to work on my sayings and creeds while behind the wheel. at my yellow belt test i was able to rattle all seven sayings and my creed in rapid succession without any assistance or “can-you-give-me-the-first-word” cheats. that just proved to myself that this practice time is beneficial. i do this often and sometimes forget who’s in the car with me. this time it was my beautiful mrs.

i was half way through my orange belt pledge when my wife turned and asked me what i was saying. she thought i was talking to her and then found out that i was running through my kenpo stuff.

“i thought you were saying something important.”

i finished the latter half of my pledge and then quickly dipped my head just a smidge and added, “amen.”

“OH, you were praying,” she said to me sarcastically. i think she actually smiled.

i hadn’t given any updates in awhile, so now you can consider yourself ketchuped.

— chunky ninja

the kenpo garage

in the kenpo garage, there is no climate control; just a fan precariously setting on a dusty, old soloflex machine in the corner.  i bought the used soloflex from a friend knowing the bands had lost some of their elasticity and never got around to using it.  but it’s still out there taunting me.

“hey, do you remember me?  you got me so you could get in shape.  BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!”

the two car garage hasn’t been used for it’s original purpose in nearly five years.  years ago after my parents passed away, their belongings were moved from a storage shelter to my place.  the two car garage was packed from wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling.  it took us months to go through it all and decide what really needed to be kept.  shortly after we finished that process my daughter, her husband, and my granddaughter moved in with us.  the garage had long since lost it’s identity and became a storage/junk container.  add another grandchild living with us and some more junk.  then my son’s van engine went out and the old block (cherry picker and all) took up residence in the garage.  it looked sad.

then one day my kids got a place of their own!  four people moved out of the house.  we got a new engine and the old one was given in trade.  a little bit of cleaning and de-cluttering and i finally had some room out there again.  not much, but enough to work out and potentially use my heavy bag.

when the belt tests were coming up this past july some of us wanted to do some extra work to try and prepare.  i volunteered my partially cleaned up garage.  during july we had only ONE day where the high temperature didn’t break 100.  that was on the first and it still reached 99.  i had originally named it the sweat box, but the name has been officially changed.

sunday night the door was opened, the fan cranked to high, and the Kenpo Garage was in use for a couple of hours.  aside from myself, vince is the only other consistent member.  i’ve had others stop by, and they’re always welcome, but sometimes life just doesn’t make time for our hobbies.  it helps that vince is a belt level above mine and he knows what i NEED to learn.  so true to course, we went through my forms as a warm up.  we then proceeded to all of our techniques (28 for me and 44 for him).  and lastly we spent a lot of time on my weakest part of this art … my kicks.

i’ve said all along they were weak.  i’ve said all along that my kicking looked goofy.  so this weekend we spent a lot of time going through my kicks.  what he discovered was exactly what i already knew.

i started working on the kicking set.  after he finished giggling and pointing he said, “dude, your kicks suck.”

thanks, vince.  while tact may not be his best asset, i really do value the honesty behind it.  fortunately for me, vince is a good friend and good friends can tell you the truth.  and a really good friend will do what they can to help you.  i may not ever be a great kicker, but there is room for improvement and we spent a lot of time working on that.

my favorite little drill he had me doing was standing facing an old grill that’s just a bit taller than my waist.  feet spread shoulder-width apart.  i’d do a deep squat and come up with a crescent kick over the grill.  after just a few i could feel the leg muscles starting to whine.  but with the flames whipping up from the white-hot coals i didn’t dare get lazy on swinging the leg over.  i had no desire to become grilled chicken.  the hotter the coals got, the higher i kicked.

i’m just kidding … we didn’t light the grill, but i’m sure it would have given me greater “encouragement” to kick higher.  i only hit the grill once (stupid handle).  we did a bunch of other kicking drills and i’ve definitely got my work cut out for me.  i don’t mind work as long as i can see improvement.  the next person i want to see improvement will be my instructor.

tonight’s kenpo night and i’m looking forward to it.  i always do.  my finger is still jacked up and i can’t make a fist.  i probably should get to a doctor and have them x-ray it.  but my free time has had a strangle hold and it will be sometime later this week before i can make my way to the doc.

so maybe tonight we’ll work on kicking.  who knows … maybe i’ve improved.

— chunky ninja

walmart bill and other thoughts

before i get into the blog below, let me encourage you, my extraordinary readers, to subscribe to this site by entering your email address on the right, and confirming the email that will be sent to you.  it’s free, hopefully entertaining enough to justify the subscription, and i promise not to bombard you with 17 posts per day.  it’s usually just one or two per week.  now onto today’s scatter shooting …

i spent last night in the “kenpo garage” … it used to be the sweat box, but the new name sounded cooler.  i just wish the garage was.  these 100+ degree days in texas can be brutal.  the garage is always about 5-10 degrees warmer.  sweating is not a chore.  it comes as natural as breathing.  we had four last night and spent a good chunk of time working with one of our newest white belts (same body shape as me, so he was sweating, too!).  he’s coming along great.  but watching him reminds me of me and forces me to re-think all that i’m doing.  posture is important and my belly (my excuse) always had me leaning forward for all my techniques.  i’m watching ‘skinny sumo’, our newest white belt, leaning on everything and it’s reminding me over and over to watch my own posture.  i used to be HORRIBLE with the leaning.  now i’m just bad.  so improvement, eh?

speaking of ‘skinny sumo’, aka pastor chris (notice how everyone now has a name … they can all thank ME for starting it), we may have pin-pointed why last thursday’s class was so hard.  seems there was a facebook trail that went something like this:

Chis’s Wife:  I did zumba and i’m so tired now.
Wife’s Friend:  what’s zumba?
Chris:  you wouldn’t be able to do it … it’s an even harder workout than kenpo.

chris was being sarcastic when he replied, but we’re now thinking that our instructor, who is on facebook, read that and got to thinking, “hmm … i’ll show them what a hard workout is!”  part of the reason we got this impression was in church on sunday morning.  our instructor (also my pastor) plays lead guitar in our worship band.  [side note: he’s very, VERY good and loves to play classic rock and blues, even in church]  chris plays our drums.  after the praise team was done playing mr jenkins pointed out that chris has lost 20 pounds in the last four weeks … and then said, “probably from all the zumba.”

A-HA!!  i tell you, if we weren’t at church, AND if my finger wasn’t probably broken, i might have just punched chris square in the face.  just kidding.  but still … just goes to show we better watch what we make public knowledge.

a thought i had about my kicks and knee checks this weekend was prompted by a self-realization from last thursday’s kenpo class.  i was helping the white belts with attacking mace and i have always had a tendency to land my kicking foot (post kick) in the middle of my opponents feet instead of near the inside knee so i can check his lead leg.  i think it’s because i’m doing more of a thrusting kick instead of a snapping kick and letting the leg come back so i can set it down.  so instead of thrust it should chamber, snap, pull it back, set it where it’s supposed to go.  i get so hyper sometimes that i’m lunging and leaning.  practice, practice, practice … only practice the right way now.

a thought i had about mr jenkins.  he’s kind like superman.  he comes in, explains what to do, shows us what to do, then can’t figure out why all of us “jimmy olsens” can’t do what he does.  duh … HE’S SUPERMAN and we’re not!  🙂

my kicks are horrible.  but hopefully not forever.  vince, the orange belt who comes over to the kenpo garage on weekends, is going to start helping me with my kicks. he’s got about 8 years of taekwondo before he moved to kenpo and his kicks look fantastic.  i realize it’s a very weak part of my skill set and i’m hoping to improve.  time will tell.

my ugly toe 5 days after jamming it

i’m still so sore and banged up.  hoping for the pain to subside before i add to the growing list. a week ago saturday i twisted an ankle with a knife edge kick.  vince asked me, “how the crap did you do that!?”  i don’t know.  these are the type of things that happen to old, fat guys that are trying something they might should have started a couple of decades ago.  but i did.  i still wince a bit when i pivot quickly.  then there’s the potentially broken index finger on my right hand. the whole first two knuckles are swollen and i can barely move it (making a fist is out of the question).  my toe (picture on the left) is 5 days after the injury.  the swelling has gone down considerably.  this happened last thursday after a full hour of cardio.  my legs felt like they weighed a ton and i couldn’t perform scraping hoof without seeing if i could dig up some carpet padding in the process.  then there is the general soreness in all my muscles still from last thursday.  i’m thinking i’ll be just about better (muscles) tomorrow … in time for my next class.

and now to walmart bill, as he’s affectionately known in our dojo.  to know bill is to love bill, and to want a different partner than bill.  he’s over 70 and is a brown belt.  from my limited interactions with bill (he was out of class for several months with a torn up knee), he’s a nice, old guy who did martial arts for years before discovering kenpo.  he loves kenpo.  mr jenkins calls him a missionary for kenpo.  he’s always trying to bring other people in.  most often it doesn’t work out too well.

a few years ago he was working out in class and went pale.  mr jenkins noticed and asked him if he was feeling ok.   after sitting for a few minutes and then saying he was feeling better he started again.  mr jenkins noticed his color was getting worse and sent him to the hospital.  bill had had a heart attack.  but bill doesn’t like to quit, so he wasn’t going to.  bill has hard-headed syndrome.  it’s not generally dangerous unless combined with “i-drink-way-too-much” disorder and/or “i’m-an-arrogant-jerk” complex.  fortunately for us, bill is just hard-headed.

when he’s in class he’s notorious for moving at a moderate speed for someone his age, but doesn’t hold back his power very well.  my first class that i got to meet him we were doing a drill where we block a punch, pass the arm to the other side, and then move into a wrist lock.  nice and slow.  easy does it.  nope.  not bill.  i made contact, passed it over and applied the lock.  he stopped me and said, “you don’t want to hammer them, just meet with the block and pass it over.”  i thought that’s what i did.  so he decides to show me what to do.  when he met with the block he crushed my forearm and gave it a bruise lasting for several days.  i thought to myself, “what the heck, you just hit me three times harder than i was doing!?”  that’s bill.

now, here’s how he got the nickname “walmart bill”.  one day after class he was talking to mr jenkins and mentioned that he likes to park in the back corners of walmart, in the areas that aren’t lit too well.  then he likes to limp and shuffle across the parking lot all the way to the door.  with his elderly look and his gimpy walking, he said, “i’m hoping someone will jump me and i can use my kenpo techniques!”  he was serious. there are a couple dozen other stories, but i haven’t known him long enough to have all the details down.  suffice it to say he’s quite a character.

don’t forget to subscribe on the left and confirm your subscription when the email arrives.

one more thing and then i’ll leave you alone.  below is a youtube video on dance of death.  i LOVE this guy’s commentary.  i hope you enjoy it, too.

— chunky ninja

Read the old posts and see how this all started!