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.
the end of last year and the first quarter of 2013 has been busy. it seems life never really slows down and just keeping up becomes a chore. i’ve continued my trek towards becoming the next jackie chan — well, apart from being in shape, knocking the USA, and being able to perform anything that looks remotely close to karate. so what does that leave? comedy. and if you’ve seen me on the mat, i’m sure your time would be filled with raucous laughter.
but i’ve been continuing my pursuit to learn the art of kenpo. a couple of weeks ago i attended my first kenpo karate camp (or should i say, “kamp”?). i was a bit intimidated. i was not the lowest ranked belt there, but i did come in the bottom three and then about 25 brown and black belts. my buddy vince was there, so i had someone to pair up when working techniques (more on that later).
the head of our association, mr john sepulveda, was in town. this was my first chance to meet him and i was not disappointed in the least. he completely lived up to the hype and then some. i’m pretty much in awe of my own instructor and his abilities. my instructor feels the same about mr sepulveda; with good reason. the man knows his stuff. but beyond that, he’s personable, likeable, and impressed me with his ability to captivate and teach. i was impressed during lunch as he sat and ate with some of the lower belts and just told stories of his life in kenpo. it was very, very cool. i didn’t say much. i was too busy trying to make sure i didn’t make a complete fool of myself. no need embarrassing myself or my instructor.
mr tommy burks was there as an instructor also. mr burks is my instructor’s instructor. i’ve had the opportunity to work with him a couple of times at his dojo. he’s what some would call ‘nit-picky’. truth be told, he just sees how some are sloppy with their art … even some of the upper ranks. and it bothers him (as it bothered mr parker). below is a story i’ve heard of mr parker sending out one of his black belts to teach at a karate seminar for upper belts:
the black belt asked him what they should teach and mr parker said, “start with the basics … work their stances”.
“but mr parker, this is a seminar with all black belts,” she replied.
“you’ll see what i mean when you get there,” said mr parker. she did. he was right.
well, mr burks is kind of like that. and i like that about him. sure it gets tiring working on the exact same thing for an hour, but at the end of that hour, you’ll be hard pressed to forget the lesson that has just been ingrained.since i had last seen mr burks, he has been promoted to 8th degree black. he seemed to be very relaxed and enjoying himself. while he was teaching i noticed he was smiling at vince and i a couple of times while we worked our techniques. (i told you my version of kenpo brings smiles and chuckles to people, even mr burks). but my instructor, mr jenkins, said mr burks was impressed with his [mr jenkins] students (which means me!). it may be one of the coolest feelings to have your karate instructor be proud of your growth as a student. i always tried to convey that to my players when i used to coach baseball. now i’m on the flip side of it and i can’t begin to tell you how that makes me feel. only those who’ve experienced it can understand.
i’m anxious for future camps. i feel like i learned so much and yet it made me realize just how much more there is to learn. the art seems endless which may explain why my instructor always considers himself a student.
mr hazelwood, a 5th degree from the colleyville school was the other instructor during the camp. he had us working on several drills and then moving from those drills into techniques. while i couldn’t attend the entire camp (missed the sunday portion), i was really impressed with the instructors and fellow students.sunday after the final camp class completed, vince called to tell me some of the upper black belts were wondering where his “bruiser buddy” was and he told them i was at church. for some reason, we earned some recognition because we were “banging on each other pretty good!” so while i was watching all the black belts, it seems they were a bit surprised/impressed on what vince and i were doing (at our belt levels). vince was told, “you guys were going at it pretty good” and “you guys were showing a lot of power”. for vince and i, we weren’t doing anything different than we do at our school and KG.
after i heard what they had to say, i remembered mr burks smiles. man, it just makes me feel good! i first met him when i was a white belt. so i have improved.
after my day at camp was over, i was toast. in some of the hardest classes i’ve attended with my school, i come home drenched in sweat, physically wore out, and in desperate need of some kenpo kandy (ibuprofen or other pain ‘chillers’). those are two hour classes. my camp day was an all day even with seven hours of that same intensity. i was sore for two days with meds in my system. but it was so worth it. i’m anxious for the next camp.
~ * ~ * ~
i’ve continued on with KG (kenpo garage for anyone new to this blog). it’s something vince and i started nearly two years ago to supplement our thursday classes. the extra workouts are also for two hours and we continue to work on our techniques, sets, and forms. sometimes we’ll add some drills just to mix things up a bit. while it started with just vince and i, we periodically see others join in.
i don’t have much more to add for now, but it had been a quarter of a year since i had given any updates. this one was over due.
— 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
it’s easy to get into a rut. we often times don’t see it coming. we’re just going as fast as we can and somehow we lose focus on the direction we’re headed. it doesn’t have to be a big distraction either. next thing you know, you’re being thrown and left dazed as to how you got there.
maybe it’s like texting and driving and BAM you hit the curb. or in this case, you’re busy with life, putting out proverbial fire after fire, and you have life slam into you. maybe.
it’s easy for it to happen. but how do you get there? how long will you stay there? how will you get out? lots of good questions and looking at them, i’m not sure i have any good answers.
i have a lot going on in my life. kenpo is one of them and is a pretty big part of it. i was “duped” into class initially and discovered that i liked it. i liked it enough that i’ve stayed with it for the last 18 months and i have NO intention of quitting (for those that thought i might after getting this far into the blog).
i have a wife, five kids, three grandkids, one dog, and a yard full of fleas. i have a couple of fantasy baseball leagues that have captivated me for nearly 15 years. in the midst of all that, i’m being drawn deeper into my faith with a calling to become a church planter.
and as life goes we all face those challenges that come up from time to time. the most recent one for me was an A/C unit that gave up the ghost early last week. as if finances weren’t difficult enough, now that. i’m hugely fortunate to have a very good friend in the industry who has been a blessing to my wife and i. [shout out to JOHN! you da’ man!]
sometimes we face challenges and we’d rather skip right over them than to face them. we all have them. i have my share and then some. for now i only want little challenges. i want to move from jogging on the treadmill to a leisurely walk on it. at least for now.
am i where i want to be physically? no. have i done all i can to drop my weight? no. do i work on my kenpo as much as i could? no. i’ve managed to drop a couple of inches from my waistline from the start, but the scale says i haven’t moved much. so i’m re-shaping. i’m ok with that. and i’m also to a point (right now) where if someone were to try and “fire me up” about getting serious, i’d tell him or her to take a hike.
i may not be where i want to be, but i’m not in any mindset to be pushed or even to push myself more than i have over the last 18 months. it’s hard to change course from what you’ve been doing for 45 years. not impossible, but pretty close. i think it’s the incremental steps that lead to ultimate change and i’ve been taking incremental steps.
while i have some that want to push me harder now, i kinda like where i’m at and i don’t have the desire to push. so i guess i’m in a rut. give me my routine. give me the same amount of challenges. but don’t take me to the place where you can see if i’ll break. i don’t want to be broken. i just want to learn.
i’m rambling. i feel like i’m in a rut. and i’m ok with it. i’m still moving forward. maybe not as fast as others wish, but they’re not me. i am. i don’t want to be sometimes, but the fact is still the same. so give me some challenges. toughen me up. but don’t bother seeing if i can break because i have no desire to find out where that point is. and THAT indicates my weakness.
now, give me some time to shake myself out of this rut and you’ll get an entirely different response. but for now, here i am. tonight will be Kenpo Garage … and i am looking forward to it. it is, after all, part of my routine.
— chunky ninja
i’ve been told all my life that hard work will pay off. i’ve been working hard and then i hit last night. or should i say, last night hit me. honestly, it was the hardest kenpo workout i’ve had in the last several months. i got home, took a shower and crawled into bed. i was ALREADY sore and knew it would be worse in the morning if i didn’t take some kenpo candy before dozing off. so i did.
today, i woke up physically tired. my muscles all feel like they got pummeled. they’re not sore as much as just tired. i’m not sure why yesterday seemed so freakin’ hard, but it did. but i like to push myself to my limits. and it helps tremendously that i’m not doing the pushing. someone else is. my instructor does a great job of pushing, motivating, driving us to go further than we thought possible. he turned 60 this year and is great shape. i can only hope to be in a quarter of the shape he’s in by the time i’m 60. and that is coming fast … only 13 years away.
looking back at last night i can’t see anything that should have made it so hard for me other than ME being so incredibly out of shape. we went through our typical warm up and then started working punches and kicking combos. for an hour. left right left right combos with kicks added in followed by right left punches. after 40 minutes straight, my entire core ached. all of my stomach and lower back muscles were screaming to just drop to the floor. but i didn’t. i kept going. i continued until Mr Jenkins switched up things.
finally we moved on to techniques. for the first part of our technique work i was asked to help some of our brand new white belts learn the first couple of techniques. i demoed the delayed sword for them. i was so drenched in sweat that when they grabbed my shirt it was like a sponge being wrung out. pretty gross. finally i got to learn my next two techniques for my new belt (working on purple techniques). my two KG buddies are a belt ahead of me, so i’ve been their ‘dummy’ for several months. it was fun to actually do the techniques instead of having them done to me.
class finally ended and i went to get my stuff out of my gym bag. whether it was exhaustion, extreme hunger, maybe not enough fluids, whatever it was, i nearly passed out. i was bending over to get my keys and phone from the bag. things went dim, sounds were muffled. i stood up and placed my hand on the wall to brace myself and took deep breaths. as soon as things were normal, i quickly grabbed my stuff then went and sat down for about 15 minutes. it was weird. i haven’t felt like that in 20 years and that was my stupidity in the midst of heat exhaustion. no problems since i left the dojo last night, but it was still strange. fortunately i have a doctor’s appointment for a physical next week and i can mention it to him.
all i know is in spite of my extreme muscle fatigue, i slept GREAT. i could have and would have slept a lot longer had my ADDness not kicked in … or the fact that i still had to get up and go to work. oh, well. tomorrow is another day and i’ll be driving north to spar with of my fellow kenpoists.
i want to get better at kenpo. i want to get better at sparring (which i still hate and will probably always hate). and i want to lose weight. there are days i don’t think any of those things are going to happen. but without me pushing myself it will definitely never happen. i have to believe that hard work WILL, eventually, pay off. and so i’ll keep pushing.
— chunky ninja
i was a ball of energy. it used to drive my parents crazy. i was always moving. non-stop. i can remember being a young kid i’d even wiggle my leg until i dozed off. i’d sleep for a few hours, jump up, grab a t-shirt and shorts and back out the door. when it was long past dark my mom would be on the front porch calling out my name for me to come home. then i’d repeat the process. that was my childhood. i was always on the go.
if i wasn’t riding my bike all over the place, i was playing football or baseball with the kids from the neighborhood. during the summer, from sun-up to sun-down and beyond, i was on the move.
in my teens i traded in the bike for the car. but everything else remained the same. always going somewhere, always playing some sort of sport, always moving. couldn’t and wouldn’t stand still. no moss growing on my feet!
in my twenties i gave up my freedom for money. you needed a job to get the money to pay for the car to take out the girlfriend. the vicious cycle had begun. we called it being grown up. as the years went by, the energy level started drifting away. time has a way of doing that. eroding bit by bit until you look back at the last decade and wonder how it passed so fast.
the thirties went nearly as quick. i had moved from playing baseball to coaching. i was still on the go and still very active. i was never one of those coaches that would stand on the side and just bark out instructions. i was teaching. i was out there showing. doing. when it came time for batting practice, i would throw until my arm would ache. then two days later, do the same thing. then two days later, the same thing again. it’s no wonder my right shoulder is a mass of mush. i never gave it time to heal because there was always another practice to run, more batting to do, more teaching. the teams i coached played nearly year round. we took December and January off. then started everything up again. three, four, sometimes five times a week.
my forties hit and so did the massive weight gain. i had slowed, but my love for sugar didn’t. at 42 i topped 300 pounds. i broke out in a sweat just changing my mind. i started walking, moving again, watching what i was eating (some). the weight started coming off. slowly. but i noticed the older i got, the less energy i had. and then 18 months ago i was “tricked” into trying kenpo. my weight loss has leveled off. i could push harder, but i’m tired. i work out three times a week. and after each one, i feel it for the next two or three days. i’m almost 47 and i’m realizing my energy level is a quarter of what it once was. it is intensely frustrating at times and then there are days like these.
today i just want to say, “i’m tired. it’s not that i’m unable to do it. it’s not that it’s beyond my ability. i just don’t feel like doing it [fill in the blank to whatever “it” is]. so back off, find someone else, or just do it yourself. but today, my answer for you is ‘no’. instead of saying, “no moss”, i’m saying, “no mas”.”
but like that twenty-something kid who woke up one day realizing he had traded in his youth for responsibility, i’ll do what needs to be done. not because i want to, but because i need to. we don’t get the luxury of coasting just because we’re tired. and it’s because we’re tired that we DO need to keep pushing ourselves. and so today, i’ll push. tomorrow is KG and i’ll push again. thursday is class and i’ll push. then saturday will be sparring day in McKinney and i’ll push. then the next week will start all over again on sunday with another KG session.
i’m pushing because the alternative is to quit. and i hate quitters.
— chunky ninja