no matter what belt level i’ve ever been promoted to, a few weeks into it i get that feeling that i’m in over my head. there’s so much to learn and often i try to do it all at once. but that’s not what we’re supposed to do. it’s what we want to do, but it’s impossible. and the more i want to go forward and progress, the more i realize i still need to reflect and refresh what i already know. the process is never-ending.
this recent belt promotion is no different. i promoted to the rank of blue belt back in July and i’m over half way through learning my new techniques. and while practicing them either in class or at KG, i see just how poorly i perform them. i see how long it takes me to remember the sequence (and if i remember all the hits or not). i see this pretty long form that i only know part of and know that i’ll have to learn it completely and be able to do it on the opposite side as well. i see a whole new group of saying that i have to be able to learn and recite. i feel a bit overwhelmed by it all.
then i remember i felt this way right after i got my yellow belt. and orange. and purple. so this feeling isn’t new. i’m still fascinated by how much there is to learn, how much i’ve already learned, and how much tweaking and perfecting everyone does … even the 7th and 8th degree black belts are always reviewing and seeing if there isn’t a better way. that’s what makes this art so incredibly cool. even after putting 20, 30, or 40+ years into it, we’re all still students.
then to add to this feeling of overwhelmed-ness, i recently accepted a pastoral position at a small church in crandall, tx. i’ve been in and around ministry for 30 years (on and off). but i’ve never been the ‘point man’ at a church. it’s stretching me. i’m being pulled in directions i’ve never been pulled before and being forced to trust more than i ever have. it’s all good, but it keeps me a bit out of my comfort zone … kind of like when i have to spar. i’m not comfortable on the mat even with all the protective gear. i want to be at my best, but i’m not sure how it’s going to go when the bell rings and the fighting begins.
new experiences. new goals. new challenges. new tests. but with proper preparation, new achievements. i just have to stay the course. but i’m also reminded no matter what challenges i face in life, i can do all things through Christ.
— chunky ninja (and no, i’ve not told the congregation of my nickname yet)
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
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.
three decades without a physical altercation. then came kenpo. i hadn’t planned on it. if you’ve read some of my very early posts, you can see i felt duped into it. but i’m here. i’ve been trying to learn kenpo karate for two-and-a-half years now. it’s not pretty. matter of fact, it’s downright ugly. i’m not good at this sparring thing either. i don’t like doing it, but i’m starting to get more comfortable on the mat even if my skill is only moderately improving.
our class has been working on various sparring drills. like the half-wit dog that you wonder how many beatings he’ll have to take before he learns his lesson, i don the gear and await my punishment. last night was a slice under my right eye. i knew it was coming. i knew exactly the attack: left jab, right cross. i knew i was supposed to pat the jab down and weave the cross, then counter the right cross with a left hook to the face. so jab, pat-down. cross, weave, oops! didn’t move in time. i was nicked under my right eye and the blood trickled.
every few minutes one of the other students in class would say, “hey, did you know your eye is bleeding?”
“um, yeah. i’m a slow, bumbling ox that can’t get out of the way of a known attack. thank you for noticing.” ugh.
but i’m thinking. sometimes in the office i’m thinking about sparring and how i would, could, or should counter an attack while sparring. i have great ideas. i have thought about various situations and how i would want to counter them while applying my own attack. and yet my body doesn’t react when i see it coming.
i’m a dinosaur. i think it takes 15-30 seconds for me to see the attack, and tell my hand to move. by that time, i’m bleeding.
so later during class i’m throwing the combinations. left jab, right cross. i know his counters. he’s going to pat-down the jab, move to my right and come across my jab with a hook. but since i’m inept at that, my instructor makes a change … instead of going over the arm, it’s now a shot to the arm, then a right hook to the liver. so now my job is to drop the elbow to block the ribs before the hook.
ridiculous. i looked absolutely ridiculous trying to get my elbow down in time to block the punch i know is coming. so it gets down there AFTER the shot and my KG buddy taps me with a left hook to my pumpkin for added effect. thanks, vince, for reminding me how slow i am.
i’m not good at this. i’m too slow. i’m too old. i’m too out of shape.
and yet i don’t quit. it’s like when you know you’re losing a grappling session, but you just won’t give up until you’ve tapped out. it’s like that. i don’t know how to just quit. so i continue pushing myself until i’m too exhausted to continue on.
allegedly, and i use that word very loosely, i’ve improved. my buddy and cohort no longer tells me my kicks suck. now they’re just not that good. believe it or not, that’s an improvement.
i recently sparred my six-foot, 17-year-old athletic nephew with vince there to observe. his response after watching us? “dude, you’re getting better.” compliments don’t flow from him easily, so i take every one of them like a cherished piece of cheesecake from my favorite deli in NYC.
i’m careful not to let them go to my head. i realize that i’ll never be chuck norris, john sepulveda, david jenkins, or even vince siller. but i do want to be better than the idiot that thinks he can bully or victimize someone in my family if not me personally. i will want to show him how hard my elbow can hit his face or how painful my not-so-good kicks feel when his knee snaps backwards.
i’m working hard on developing the skills of a blue belt in kenpo. i know i can hit with power without trying (thanks to my “viking fat”). but i need to refine my abilities to not just be able to dish it out, but to defend myself. a charging bull can be dropped with a parry and a sword. defense is required.
a few minor tweaks last night for my techniques and now further refinement. i like the insight i receive from my instructor. i’m better for it. my movements, strikes, checks are all better for it. i can tell the difference. i can see the difference. and those that went through the technique line felt the difference.
i will not give up. and that itself is a victory.
— chunky ninja
i try to keep a balanced, accurate perspective of myself. it doesn’t always happen. in fact, it almost never happens. here are some examples …
my weight. it’s an ongoing battle of the bulge that i’ve fought my entire life. people have offered their unsolicited advice over all the decades of my life. then because i’ve not lost weight, or at least enough to match their expectations, i’m a failure.
it’s a horrible struggle for anyone that is trying to drop pounds. everyone is different and while some may lose weight faster, others (i include myself here) find it a lifelong labor of pain … both physically and emotionally.
but the truth is i have been working. i’ve been active my whole life. over the last two years, since i started kenpo karate, my workouts have entailed six hours of kenpo training per week, walking, bicycling, hiking, and a variety of other things keeping me very active.
i’m busy doing something almost every day. whether it’s climbing the stairs at work or bicycling 30 miles or playing disc golf, i’m busy. i’m active. and while the body shape is changing some, the scales just don’t respond the way i wish. i feel i might be in the best shape of my life (if you don’t look at the outside package). my doctor was very happy with my latest checkup. i’ve improved my health in every area except my hairline. its a great feeling when you leave the doctor’s office and he says, “whatever you’re doing is working great … keep it up!”
all the extra work i’ve done this summer and fall has been with one true goal in mind — improve my cardio. while i can’t go out and jog five miles, i have seen positive results.
my cardio is one of the areas i have felt weakest when it comes to sparring. not only am i not good at defending myself, i was quickly winded and my poor defense became even worse. improving my cardio should help my sparring which will also help my confidence level.
i may never be spartacus, but i’ve never liked being afraid. and that has always been the case when stepping on the mat to spar. so i push myself in sparring and learning this art to change my mindset. and sparring is a good barometer of improvement or not. i can say assuredly that i’ve vastly improved since i began this journey two years ago, but i’m just now seeing some small incremental steps in confidence. don’t worry, i won’t let it go to my head.
kenpo class and kg sessions always have me feeling young(er) at the beginning. it doesn’t last very long. as the workouts crank up, the wear on my body quickly feels every birthday multiplying exponentially on itself. before long i’m having to seriously push my body.
a good example was last thursday’s when we did cardio at the end instead of the start of class. i was looking at myself in the mirror and seeing how red my face was becoming. i remembered taking my blood pressure med that morning and decided not to pay attention to what i was seeing since it was only my lungs that were feeling the strain. had i felt anything else, i would have shut it down, but i want/need to push myself. so i did.
but without fail, the next morning after ANY of my workouts, has me moving slow. i feel every ache, pain, fatigue. every muscle and joint are screaming at me that i’m 47. they remind me how out-of-shape i am. but i press on.
i was thinking the other day about where i want to be at my half-century mark. that’s just 30 months away and it will arrive faster than i expect. i’d like to be closing in on my black belt. i’d like to be somewhere in the path of the three browns. and of course, i’d like to be skinny.
but today, i think i’ll just be content to be moving, learning, and practicing my kenpo.
— chunky ninja
in my last post i talked about being called VIKING FAT and how we had a belt test coming up soon. then that very night i tested for my purple belt. the minnesota vikings wear purple, but i wasn’t even thinking about that when i wrote the blog. someone else had called me viking fat and i was relaying that detail. i am not a viking’s fan. i refuse to disclose my NFL allegiance, but it isn’t the vikings.
on the tuesday night prior to my belt test, we met with our instructor. it was our whole KG group (ok, there’s only three of us, but it sounds bigger and more official when you call it a group). our instructor, Mr Jenkins, had said we were getting close to being ready to test and wanted to work with us a little bit. first he worked with john and vince (my KG cohorts) as they’re learning blue belt techniques and the appropriate forms and sets that come with it. i stood by and absorbed the knowledge being shown and taught.
then came my turn to show the techniques i’ve been working on. mr jenkins still had the blue belt techniques in mind and asked me to show him twin kimono. i smiled at john, who was going to dummy for me on the first technique, and started going through it. half way through i turned and smiled at my instructor and asked if he wanted me to finish this blue belt technique or do the purple belt ones instead. being the KG boys’ spotter (formerly called ‘dummy’) has given me immense benefits. i’m able to learn my techniques faster because i already know where the pain is being inflicted from all the months of practice with them. mr jenkins laughed and said i’d better do the purple techniques instead. so i went through them all.
vince told me after our session that i was rocking and rolling. “dude, you’re clicking on your kenpo. there was a time when your feet and hits weren’t always in sync. you could tell you were still learning and having to think about your moves. but tonight, something seemed to click in your brain and you were rocking through them. they all looked solid.” from vince, that’s a great comment. but he wasn’t done.
“you’re a big dude and can put a hurting on someone just because you’ve got a lot of back up mass [aka viking fat]. but when you’re kenpo started clicking it’s like …” he paused for a moment. “you used to hit like a semi-truck. but then your kenpo started clicking in your brain and now you’re rocking through them, it’s more like being hit by a freight train. you don’t even have to try for power, it’s already there.”
thursday’s class found me going through all the steps for testing. my short form 2 was a little sloppy in my opinion, but i guess it was good enough for promotion. stance set and coördination set were solid. i had my sayings and pledge down. the only thing left was the sparring.
i still hate sparring. but i have made conscious efforts to improve — and was told it showed. i’m trying not to charge in all the time. i’m working diligently on being patient and staying back. my defense still has a long way to go. i continually discuss how my reflexes seem slow, but there IS improvement. i worked combos and continued to pace myself and pick specific moments to move in or out. my wind was better and i rebounded from each sparring match quicker than i have in the past. the last fight i had was with my pastor. he made me work. i was able to land a few punches and kicks.
at the end of class i was told to kneel and was handed my purple belt. i had such a feeling of satisfaction for what i had accomplished and an awe of how much more there is still to learn. the longer i’m in this art, the more i appreciate the vastness of the knowledge and the beauty of its complexity.
now on to my blue belt techniques, form, set, pledge, and sayings. i’m anxious.
special thanks to vince, john, and especially to mr jenkins of whom i can proudly call my instructor, pastor, and friend.
— chunky ninja
i’ve been fat, well, almost all of my life. starting in fifth grade my mom quit her job to stay home after the birth of my youngest sister. i would come home from school to the smell of homemade cookies, cakes, etc. within a few months i was shopping for clothes at sears or montgomery wards and had been officially relegated to the ‘husky’ section for boys. ugh.
that was the beginning and my life has pretty much continued down that path for the last 30+ years. it’s always bothered me, but never enough to do all the work necessary to become skinny. don’t get me wrong, i still tried the occasional 2-week to 6-month diet and/or exercise routines, but never stuck with them. i used all sorts of things as excuses over the years, too. things like …
but now i’ve heard this latest description of me, it makes me want to embrace my chunky ninja self. viking fat. i like it. and no, i didn’t give myself that description. one of my KG cohorts did.
at first, being sensitive to my apparent fatness for the last third of a century, i asked for an explanation. so he ‘splained …
“dude, some people are what i call ‘powder puff’ fat. they’ve got the weight, but it’s all soft. no muscle there. you’re not powder puff. you’re like freaky strong in your arms and chest. you’re a big guy, but you’ve got a lot of muscle behind it. you’re like viking fat.”
then i thought of my perception of the vikings (not the football team) and visuals like Liam Neeson in Rob Roy, Mel Gibson in Braveheart, Russell Crowe in Gladiator, or Gerard Butler in 300. now before you quickly correct me, i’m well aware none of these characters were vikings, but they were all skilled warriors who fought with great passion and heart. so take these characters and add a horned helmet and a beard and that’s the image in my mind — kinda like the modern-day biker gang
truth be told, while i do like the ‘viking fat’ label (as opposed to powder puff, jelly soft, marshmallow, and fluffy), i don’t want to stay here. i’ve been more consistent at losing weight (or inches) than i have at any other time in my life. i know i could work harder at it and become obsessive about what i eat and how hard i’m working, but i also know that i’d quit pretty quickly if i did. it’s just how i’m wired. but i am making progress and that’s what matters.
i’ve continued working my kenpo 4-6 hours per week. i also find myself thinking about techniques or general concepts more and more even if i’m not physically practicing my techniques. all of this is leading up to an upcoming belt test. a few of us have been given a bit of warning that the test is coming soon. i’m guessing in the next month or so and i’m going to do whatever i can to be ready. fortunately, my instructor is the one who gave us the ‘heads-up’ which means he must think we’re close to ready, too. that always gives me a bit more confidence.
i’m continuing to ride my bike to also help prepare me for my ongoing kenpo life and to help get into better shape. i can say i’ve gone from a 2x shirt to a 1x. and i’ve gone down 2 inches in my waist. so while i still look like a big guy, i’m gradually getting smaller and it’s proportionate which would make it less noticeable if you’re just looking at me. but i know and can tell the difference in how i feel.
example: while i may still get winded sparring, it’s not nearly as fast and my recovery time is also quicker. (i’m still not a fan of sparring, but my instructor has started having us spar more and more.)
i don’t think i’ll ever be ‘skinny’. ever. but if i can reduce my overall size, have more wind, and make progress in this wonderful art, i will be satisfied. hopefully soon i’ll be tying a purple belt around my waist and begin working on a news set of techniques and katas.
for now, i’m embracing the term ‘viking fat’. where’s my helmet?
— chunky ninja
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
“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.
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
i was going for our departmental walk the other day. our small group goes for a 25 minute walk every work day. it’s our way of trying to be healthier along with just getting a break from the computer. sometimes the conversations will be about family, vacations, television. other days it turns towards work where we can problem solve in a different environment. there’s no set discussions. it’s a free for all.
before i get back to the topic from the first paragraph, i must divulge a touch of OCDness that i have. when we walk, there are form lines in the concrete. every 10 foot or so, another form line. there are also parking lines and directional arrows painted on the surface. for years, and i don’t know how or when it began, but i refuse to step on the “crack” or on any painted part. and you only thought i was mildly bizarre.
anyway, back to paragraph one about this strange little thing i do … when i’m out for our walks, i’ll see a crack coming up ahead of me or maybe a painted arrow for cars to know the direction, and i’ll automatically adjust my stride to make sure i won’t end up stepping on them. sometimes it’ll be so close that i find myself turning my foot ever so slightly just to make sure my toes don’t accidentally touch the crack. i do it without thought and have been for years. i do this so effortlessly that i have to MAKE myself actually step on a crack or paint. (and for the record, my mom’s already dead, so i’m not worried about her back.)
only recently have i started wondering if any other kenpoists (or any other version of martial artists) have, in the back of their minds, this control of body within the environment they may be placed. i don’t think others have my weird “don’t step on a crack” mentality, but just the concept of throwing a punch at full power and being able to stop the punch just prior to impact. another example, and my instructor is very good at this, is throwing a round house kick to someone’s head and stopping it just prior to contact, then slowly lowering it back to the ground.
while i don’t have that kind of control over my punches or my horrid kicks, i can, without thought, walk through our parking lot and avoid those stupid form lines and painted parking lot lines/arrows. it makes me think that someday i can have more control of my body whether it’s while sparring or teaching techniques to lower belts.
i’d like to think so … or it’s quite possible this is the kind of thing that will land me in a straight jacket someday.
— chunky ninja