CHUNKY 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.
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.
and 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
i was at one of our local martial arts stores recently with one of my KG buddies. he was there to look for a new gi for his wardrobe. he’s got something like a dozen of them. all different colors, for different reasons, and he seems surprised when we roll our eyes as he explains the differences between his formal gi, his smoking-jacket gi, or his beach gi. so while he was looking around the shop i was up near the front of the store looking at the interesting weapons they sell.
a guy and his buddies walk in the store and he’s sounding pretty brash. he leads his buddies over to the case next to me where the ninja stars were behind the glass. i overheard this conversation and then interjected …
one of his buddies: you ought to get some of these (pointing to the ninja stars).
man to his friends: every time i buy some of those, i end up losing them in the back yard.
me (interrupting): if you stick them in the dog a little better they’ll be harder to lose.
his buddies thought it was funny … for some reason, he didn’t though. oh, well, it amused me.
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stupid thoughts sometimes cross my brain. fortunately i’m getting old enough where i’m learning some self-control and the responses don’t always fly out of my mouth. a couple of examples:
we’re nearing the end of a 3 hour class and my instructor/pastor has decided the last 45 minutes of this class will be devoted to cardio. we’re nearly finished when he shouts to anyone who’s listening, “KEEP GOING. YOU CAN REST WHEN YOU’RE DEAD!” i immediately thought to myself, “i’m about to get some rest. won’t be long now!”
next example. i’m sitting in church and my pastor/instructor walks towards me while he’s giving his sermon. using me as an example he hits me in the chest (i don’t even remember what the example was), as i saw the punch coming, in that brief instant i thought, “is he testing me? am i supposed to parry this punch and counter with one back?” i didn’t. i might have paid for it with my life.
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i was at work the other day and went to heat up my lunch in our break room. there was no one in there and so i got my soup put into the bowl, added the water, and put it in the microwave. while i’m waiting i thought to myself, “why waste this time just standing around?”
i proceed to start working on my Long 2 Form. so i’m walking through the form and making sure my footwork is right, blocks and strikes are right, get the buckle after the kick lands, blah, blah, blah. i get to the part where you shoot the forearm under the chin and the neck strike, spoon in hand, when Oscar walks in. he’s fairly new in our area and is a transplant from Peru.
in accented english he said, “hi, rick,” before realizing this isn’t “normal” and literally jumped back completely startled.
“um, what are you doing?” he said backing away slowly and i did my best to reassure him i’m not a weirdo. i don’t think it worked. he’s been avoiding me ever since.
— chunky ninja
the 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.
i 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.
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.
the 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.
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.