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Mr Bowley

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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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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.

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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

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

seriously, i mean it seriously

DISCLAIMER: this is a serious post and one i feel might be overdue.  so if you’re anticipating funny, be prepared for disappointment (much like watching dane cook). you have been warned.

dane cook, the most unfunniest man i’ve ever heard

i really love the art of kenpo.  i started with it very late in life compared to most with any type of martial art experience. almost every fellow kenpoist i have spoken with started in their teens or twenties with some sort of martial art.  they may be somewhat new to kenpo, but they have taekwondo, jujitsu, karate, or something.  not me.  i waited until i was incredibly out of shape (still am) and in my mid 40’s.  i’m a rare breed.  kind of like being the last dodo bird.

i was discussing with my beautiful mrs over the weekend that it’s quite possible many don’t think i take kenpo seriously because of this blog.  truth is i really do take it seriously in spite of myself.  this site is to poke fun at me, not the art.

i have a very high and deep respect for the art of american kenpo.  my amazement of the enormity of insight and development by mr ed parker grows daily.  those that have followed in his footsteps and specifically those that have an innate ability to teach the art well deserve every bit of my respect.

my instructor, who doubles as my pastor, mr jenkins is one of the finest people i’ve ever had the honor of meeting.  i cannot overstate enough how much he has meant to me personally.  i hold him in such high regard for his integrity, spiritual walk, and vast knowledge of martial arts that i think it makes him uncomfortable when i speak of him to others.  i almost started this paragraph reversing the order: “my pastor, who doubles as my instructor”.

i’ve been a christian for over thirty years.  my faith is very important and an integral part of my life.  i will never shy away from discussing my personal belief in the merciful, loving work of the cross and the impact Jesus Christ has made and continues to make in my life.  in my years of being a christian, mr jenkins is, by far, the best at exemplifying a genuine godly life.  he walks the walk.  he talks the talk.  he’s the real deal.  he was my pastor long before he became my kenpo instructor (though he did try to get me started a decade ago).

mr jenkins showing me a technique

my opinion of him in a spiritual sense is as deep and genuine within martial arts.  he grew up in one of the hardest areas of dallas.  fighting was a way of life.  in his teens he began to do training in boxing.  later he moved into a filipino art (name is unknown to me) and eventually earned a black belt.  he switched to taekwondo and earned a 2nd degree black in that art before discovering kenpo.  he holds a 5th degree in kenpo.  he’s been doing martial arts for over forty years and i have heard it said that mr burks (his instructor) referred to mr jenkins as the best fighter he’s ever seen.  he is extremely humble and has a tremendous ability to teach.  i could not have found someone better to learn from than mr jenkins and i’m indebted to him in so very many ways.

it was through mr jenkins that i met his instructor, mr tommy burks.  i’ve only had the opportunity to work out with mr burks a couple of times, but the wealth of his knowledge is astounding. he’s a 7th degree and is highly regarded in kenpo circles.  i’m always hoping he’ll make a surprise visit to our class to impart some of his knowledge.  one story i’ve been told of him goes something like this:

at a kenpo demo a particularly well known multiple degreed black belt performed a technique on mr burks.  it was harder than it needed to be.  some higher ranks like to “show off” even more than they like to teach and this was the case at mr burks expense.  it wasn’t appreciated and mr burks said to the gentleman, “if you hit me like that again, i’ll park your rear on this mat. do you understand me?”  he did understand and backed off.  butchering people to prove you know something is not effective teaching.

over the last 18 months that i’ve started this journey i’ve had the privilege of “hanging out” with a great group of people that have become my friends.  other than the rare one or two people, every fellow kenpoist has been encouraging, understanding, and done what they can to help me learn.  i cannot begin to express my gratitude because saying thank you really isn’t enough.  but i will still say thank you to those in order of belt level without specificity.

mr sam bowley

to mr john guzman and mr damian wilson, whom i met in mckinney for sparring, thank you for your input.  since i know as much about fighting as an ant does about brain surgery, your help was greatly beneficial.  i really think i understand the concepts you both laid out.  your pointers after sparring with me are incredibly helpful.  now that i have your advice, i need to learn how to incorporate them.  i do realize that i need to let time be the measurement to my skill and experience. i truly appreciated the extra time after class that you both (along with mr bowley) took to talk, share, and teach.  going the extra mile is admirable and you all did that without hesitance.

to mr sam bowley, of bowley kenpo karate, my deepest and sincerest thank you for giving me the opportunity to come and work out with your group once a month.  you’ve given me pointers every time i’ve been there.  while my body doesn’t show it, i really am listening and trying to apply your instruction.  and as much as i hate sparring i always do everything i can to make it to mckinney when i can.  you’ve demonstrated skill, knowledge, ability to teach, and one of the most important things to me, your friendship.  thank you.

to my KG compadres, vince and john.  you two know me best in regards to my innermost thoughts and feelings on kenpo and my inability to make my body follow my mind’s commands.  you’ve listened, shared, worked out, and befriended me.  i can’t begin to tell you how important our extra workout sessions outside of class have benefited.  while we are all peers in the classroom, i do value your knowledge.  i love that you guys are one belt level ahead of me and so what i’m learning, you just passed.  i have a lot of fun learning with you guys and i hope i push you as much as you push me.

the KG crew with our instructor

specifically to vince, thanks for pushing me.  you do.  i mention you often in my blogs and use you as a version of comic relief.  you’re blunt, straight to the point, and sometimes it’s difficult to hear those things (i.e. “dude, your kicks suck”).  i wouldn’t want you to be any other way.  it’s that honesty, sometimes brutally so, that i admire.  we live in a world where most try to sugar coat things so much that the truth isn’t really heard.  without you being there to push me and being honest about my skill (or lack thereof), i’d never have made it this far.  do not change.  keep pushing.  keep telling me the truth just like you have been.  we’ve been doing this for 18 months together and my admiration of your skill and insight grows.

to john, thank you for always reminding me that i’m not the only old guy on the mat that is learning this.  your friendship and generosity are immeasurable.  you can’t understand how much it means to me every time you remind me that i’ve improved or that you struggled learning something and then it finally clicked.  i’m following the path you’ve already been down and that is encouraging to me.  it let’s me know that i can do this.  you inspire me.

in future blog posts, i hope that everyone realizes that while i may poke fun and use self-deprecating humor, it really has nothing to do with this fantastic art of kenpo.  this site is fully designed to make fun of me and the painful yet humorous way i’m learning.

i love doing this art.  i love working with the great people within this art.  i have a deep respect for those that have built carefully on the foundation work for what mr parker envisioned.  and some day, Lord willing, i’ll pass on whatever i learn to others with the same humility and friendliness everyone has expressed towards me.

— chunky ninja

flailing wings

it’s the second saturday of the month and that means sparring time. my friend and fellow kenpoist, mr bowley, invited me up again to work out with his students. this time i took my KG buddy, vince. my sister went along, too, but her reason was so she could watch the 10 year olds kick my derriere. what she REALLY said was, “hanging out with my big brother will be nice, but getting to watch kids kick your butt is a bonus.” family. gotta love them.

flailing wings is my “kenpo explanation” for what i call sparring. its generally quickly followed by the techniques: snapping skull and leaking eyeballs. i’m doing the flailing and they’re making me do the other two. i like to think i’ve improved over the last few months and am told by most that its noticeable (i hate you vince). but i’m sure my abilities against the upper belts still brings much laughter to their day. (you’re welcome gentlemen. i do what i can for your amusement.)

but i did not give up. i did not quit. and while i hate sparring, i always come away from these sessions feeling proud of what i was able to learn and do. i can tell a difference from one month to the next and for me, that means i’m learning. i never want to quit learning.

mr bowley’s instructor, mr wilson, came to today’s session. it was an honor to meet mr wilson (black belt). though truth be told my initial response when it was announced he had just pulled up in front of mr bowley’s dojo, was to groan inwardly and sneak back into my car.

he was just another upper belt person to kick my, and i’ll use the official term here, rotundus butticus. and he did. but honestly, we talked a lot after sparring class was over and he’s one of the nicest kenpoists i’ve met. mr bowley hangs with a very good group — mr gonzalez (black belt) last month then mr wilson this month.

between last month and this month i did my best sponge impression. BESIDES soaking in the punches and kicks, i tried to soak in the knowledge that they freely offered. it’s one thing when upper belts have the knowledge. it’s an entirely different aspect when they have the skill to articulate their knowledge in a way that’s understandable and applicable to what i’m trying to learn. these guys are the future old guys of kenpo and they serve their wisdom with a humble friendliness that just made me want to push myself harder. so a special thank you to all three of them.

so now i’m home and my muscles are more tired than my mind. sometimes that’s not saying much, but today it really is. i’m ready to hit the shower, do some light stretching, then take an 8 hour power nap. since it’s mother’s day weekend, i’ll probably have to limit that to an hour or so.

i hate sparring. i’m not sure i’ll ever like it. but i am getting better and i’m glad i went.

— 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

new year, old man

the year is still young and yet i feel old.  i just finished a sparring class with Mr Sam Bowley of Bowley Kenpo Karate in McKinney, TX.  i appreciate his control and mercy as much as my own instructor’s.  without those, i would have come home broken, bloodied, and bruised.

my nephew went and got some video of Mr Bowley and myself.  i’m amused and yet frightened by how often i drop my hands and use my face to stop his punches.  my gosh, i better learn before i get involved in a real confrontation.  i’m pretty sure in a real deal on the street i won’t have time to put in my cup or mouth guard.  i’ve got to learn some defense.

the scary part is that i think i’ve improved over last month when i visited his saturday sparring class. Mr Bowley is a fine instructor and, like last time, gave me some pointers during and after the class.  he’s fully aware of my novice abilities as i demonstrated them on both occasions.

our classes so far this year are still on thursdays only.  but i’ve continued to workout most tuesdays and sunday evenings with a couple of guys from class.  i’d love to earn my orange belt by summer.  but if it takes another full year, i’m ok with that, too.  for me it’s all about personal improvement.  if i can tell that i’ve improved, then i’m going to continue to give everything i have.

most golfers cringe when someone gets thrown into their foursome and they’re told, “yeah, i’ve only been doing this for a few months.”  but almost every kenpoist i’ve met has been very generous with their time, patience, and stories of when they first started.  those are part of the reasons i’ve wanted to continue.  will i ever make it to black belt?  maybe. maybe not.  it’s definitely a goal of mine.  but they have made me feel at home in my learning process and for that i’m hugely indebted and forever grateful.

while i may be becoming an old man (depending on where you’re at in your own aging journey), it’s a new year and my approach isn’t going to change.  my commitment level is the same or greater than it was last year.

now if i could just improve my kicks so my buddy could throw me a partial kudos, i’d be a happy camper.

— chunky ninja

the mid-month review is late

lateness.  it seems to be a chunky ninja theme … tardiness.  honestly, i’m on time for all the things that really get me jazzed.  it’s that other stuff … you know, the necessities, the routine, the mundane, the b-o-r-i-n-g that dull me into that insane clock chaser hoping to regain just a few minutes so i’m only fashionably late.

it’s been awhile since my last update and i figured if i didn’t do this now, it might be 2012 before i got another out.  and i don’t know about you, but that’s too long. the reality of the statement above is true.

“hello, my name is chunky ninja, and i am a perpetual procrastinator.”

“hi, chunky.”

but i have (and always have) very valid excuses.  or varied valid excuses.  either way, it sums up to: “excuses”.

for the last six weeks or so, we’ve been renovating the house.  it’s been one thing after another.  every room has been painted except one.  my daughter moved back in with us two months ago which started the slow-moving transformation.  then we decided to get new carpet.  and working around the carpet layer’s schedule (we’re easy like that) caused us even more headache and chaos since rooms were all in disarray and stayed that way until THIS week.  the carpet is in!  it looks great.  now to try and get everything back to where it belongs AND still manage to get more stuff out of the garage.  if i’ve not been at work, i’ve been at home in chaos and i don’t do well with clutter.  i tend to fall into shutdown mode, or at the very least, lets-not-go-home-right-now mode.  and all of this is why i’ve been negligent in updating this site.  so now it’s time to recap some stuff so you don’t feel like you wasted 10 minutes of your life reading this drivel.

earlier this month i was able to work out with Mr Bowley of Bowley Kenpo Karate in north texas.  they were having a sparring class and i had nothing better to do then to let a bunch of 12 and 13 year olds kick my butt.  so i went up.  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 against his nine-year-old, junior green belt, daughter.  yes, it was sad for the CN, but i’m encouraged by how much joy and confidence i instilled in his younger class.

now that i type that i realized, ALL of his class was younger.  even Mr Bowley.  i was the old man on the mat.  i think Mr Bowley feels a great deal of empathy for my own instructor.

in all seriousness, Mr Bowley has some great students who are blessed with a good instructor.  i really was honored to spend some time sparring with them and hope to do it again in the future.  we don’t do much sparring in our school and i enjoyed the experience.  it gave me a good barometer of where i’m at and how far i still need to go (it’s a long way).

we’ve continued our once a week classes with Mr Jenkins and i only missed one with an upper respiratory infection.  i hate colds and i’ve had a couple of doozies this year.  this one made me miss one week’s class and three Kenpo Garage sessions.

speaking of the kenpo garage, we have been meeting in a fellow student’s garage and will continue until mine is usable again which i hope will be soon.  not because i’m not thankful to john for offering a place where we can work out, but because i hate making others go out of their way for me.  i started this and i’ll be keeping it open for anyone to show up and work out … but this way i’m the only one that is under obligation.

we now have carpet (some of the old) for the garage and will be getting some very thick padding to go underneath.  fortunately i know a carpet layer from church who also has his own dojo … he’ll know just what i’m looking for and can help me get it installed.  so soon.  and i can hardly wait.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

we’ve got a new student in class on thursdays.  he’s actually new to us, but not new to kenpo.  his name is dave and he’s a first degree black belt.  i’m kind glad he’s there.  i like having both upper belts there to help, but also someone who’s been trained under in different association.  it’s interesting seeing how the techniques are taught slightly different from place to place.  he’s learning Mr Jenkins version now, but it’s good to see other ways of doing things.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

i’ve done really well this last year keeping a new year’s resolution.  it’s the first one i’ve ever actually kept all year.  it was small, but i kept it.  i’ve got a couple for next year that i think are doable.  i’m not going to say what they are right now, but i’m going to try and be as determined about those as i was with the one i’ve now kept for a full year.  and if you think about commitments or me in general, say a little prayer for me.  much obliged.

until next post (which hopefully won’t be so far off), i’m done with my scatter-shooting of thoughts.  thanks for spending your last ten minutes with me.

— chunky ninja

Read the old posts and see how this all started!