Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Last night, we pulled on our headgear and pads, put in our mouthpieces, and sparred. My first bout was with a fellow yellow-belt. I'm 5'10", 177 lbs. He's about 6'2", and pretty muscular. When we've done grappling and fighting up from the ground, he's always been a tough opponent, and last night was no different. He had so much of a reach, height, and weight advantage, and he's starting to learn how to capitalize on that, but our match went well, and I gave as good as I got, and maybe even a little better...

I ripped off one kick to his left thigh, and I think my foot pad had slipped out of place. I tagged him good, but my right ankle is in a lot of pain, today. Hopefully, it's just a sprain. There's not been any great swelling or discoloration, so I'll give my body some time to deal with it, before I go running to the doctor for X-rays. Anyway, I gave a good showing for that match.

The second match, I got my ass kicked. There's a younger black-belt in class, and again, he's a big guy: Maybe 6'4", and all arms and legs. I threw a punch, which he blocked, but I turned it over and nailed him in the face with a back-fist. Oh, baby... It was ON!! It was like fighting a spider... All arms and legs, and he wasn't doing much to pull his punches and kicks. I got in a few good shots, and he was telegraphing his kicks, so at one point, when he went to throw one, I grabbed his foot and he stumbled, losing his balance, but he recovered too quickly for me to move in and capitalize on it. He ripped off a kick to my head that had me seeing stars and little birdies for a moment, but he never knocked me down, and again, I feel that I made a good showing, even though he beat me soundly. At the end, I said, "Well, we proved one thing; I sure know how to take a punch!" Everyone cracked up...

One thing I really need to work on, is keeping my hands up. I always start out pretty good, but as the round wears on, I start dropping my hands. Not good... I ate a lot more shots than I should have. Ah well... I'll get better with time and practice. What I lack in technique, I make up for in toughness, heart, and speed. I'd sure like to get hit a lot less, though! ;-)

Anyway, I really enjoyed it. :-)

Monday, May 10, 2010


At my heaviest, back in December of '09, I weighed 187 lbs. At 5'10," I didn't look bad, and I'm pretty muscular, but I was developing some softness around my middle that I was dissatisfied with. Since starting karate again, quitting soft drinks and junk food, and eating five small meals each day instead of three large meals, I've lost a total of thirteen pounds. I'm getting back to my fighting weight, and the really great thing, is that it has felt effortless. I'd like to be back to 165-170. That's when I felt my lightest and strongest, but it's been several years since I was that light.

The tendinitis in my elbows seems to be slowly healing. I have good days and bad days, but lately, it seems that there are more good days than bad. I've felt good enough that I'm considering getting back into lifting weights again. If/when I do, I'm going to take it very slowly, and work very lightly for a couple of weeks, until I'm sure that I'm not causing myself any damage or setbacks.

Finally, the biggest problem; the thing I am most dissatisfied with, and my biggest regret: Smoking. I've cut down significantly, but it's time to quit. I may not succeed. Lord knows, I've tried and fallen flat on my face so many times, but I really do have to try. In the past, I've tried Zyban, Chantix, Nicorette, cold turkey, etc. Smoking is just out of phase with who I am, physically and spiritually. It's time for it to go. I'm ready to be done with it. I have three packs left, and when those are gone, I'm quitting.

The only constant in life is change. Right now, all of them seem good and positive.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Enthusiasm and Focus

I just got through reading one of blogs I'm following: Just A Thought.

(It's a great blog...) Anyway, the topic of discussion was how contagious enthusiasm is.

My classes are on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Monday nights are the hardest, because after working all day, I'm usually just not "feeling it," but I leave that behind, when I enter the dojo. No matter how tired I am, whatever else I have going on in my life, the second I hit the doors of the dojo, all of it falls away. This not only gives me a break from the strain of everyday living, but even if I'm totally exhausted before class, by the time the class is over, I'm drenched in sweat and I feel GREAT!

The converse is also true: We have a young brown-belt in our class that has been taking karate since he was a young boy. I don't know if he's just bored or just has a lack of energy, or what... His lack of enthusiasm is a real bummer, and it drags the level of the class down. It's like everything he does is just half-hearted. Honestly, I try not to look at him much, and instead, focus on myself and what I'm doing, and look to others in class, who are giving their all, for inspiration... Last Monday evening, we worked on fighting up from the ground, and for the first time, he showed some real enthusiasm, speed, and focus. I inwardly cheered for him... Everyone was enthusiastic and focused, and because of this, it was an awesome class!

When I first started out, getting this 41-year old body to cooperate, was like trying to push a truck... Every class left me aching, tired, and shook my faith in myself. That's all changed, now. I've dropped ten pounds, and the tougher and more demanding a class is, my only thought is, BRING IT ON!! I look forward to each class, feel myself growing stronger, leaner, more flexible, faster, and more coordinated, and I now have unshakable faith that I will see this through to black-belt and beyond.

I'm glad that the majority of pupils in my dojo are focused and enthusiastic. I know that this is gratifying to our Sensei. I've taught various classes on a variety of topics, especially during my years in the Army. When students just sit back and act like they are there under duress, and act like they have no enthusiasm or interest, it makes it difficult for me to teach with fire and enthusiasm. When I find a student that is interested, engaged, and enthusiastic, it fires me up, too. I find that I want to teach that student as much as I possibly can, because s/he is a willing recipient. The whole teacher/student relationship becomes something that is mutually beneficial and mutually inspiring. Knowing this, I do my best to extrapolate that to being a student in my dojo.

And far from being mindless cheerleading, or like a Jack Russell terrier overloaded on espresso, it just means giving absolutely 100%. By giving every bit of effort I can; by giving 100%, my own sense of honor is satisfied. When class is over, a great peace blooms within me. My conscience is clear, my spirit feels cleansed, and the other knots in my life that previously seemed so complicated, seem to suddenly unravel and the road through all of it emerges straight and shining before me.

And finally, if, by my own focus and enthusiasm, I can inspire others and somehow elevate the level of the class, then that's just the cherry on top.


Monday, May 3, 2010


I've finally got the Seiuchin Kata memorized. I was comparing it to the Seisan Kata, and noticed that the Seiuchin Kata is actually quite a bit shorter than the Seisan Kata, and yet, seems a lot more complex. I'm sure that as I practice it, there will come a great deal more refinement in my technique. At Saturday's class, I ran through it over and over again...

Speaking of Saturday's class, belt testing was being conducted. One brown-belt was testing for black-belt, and another brown-belt was testing for brown-belt with black stripe. I hope they did well... The weather was really nasty, and my daughter was complaining that she was hungry, so we left before testing was concluded. I think a girl from the kids' class was testing for her yellow-belt, too.

Couple of bizarre dreams, last night. Still pondering what they might mean...

First day back to work after a week of scuba diving in Cozumel, Mexico. What a great vacation! I'm tanned, mosquito-bit, and relaxed...