With the myriad of complications that have been taking up my time this year, it is still surprising that “people” are the biggest complication of the lot.
I made a decision earlier this year. A fairly radical decision tis true. The decision was based on a very personal time of reflection, not lightly made, and one that was built upon some quite intense experiences this year.
Am slightly surprised therefore that someone has taken offence.
As my Sensei has said on numerous occassions; “karate is a journey, not a race”. For some of us this journey takes a little longer than others, wrong turns have been made and our own personal SatNav needs a little tweaking to get us back on the road.
One person’s decision on their readiness for a new grade is not a reflection on another’s. It is up to each of us, when the question is asked, to answer if we are prepared internally for that next step. I’m not.
As I said in a previous post, which far better puts across my feelings, than this slightly rambling post;
“I need to stop chasing the next belt for the next few years and practise on becoming a black belt rather than just wearing one“
I made that decision for myself. I ask that question of my students. Each of us can only make that decision for ourselves individually and not for someone else… and that has to be respected if nothing else.
Yesterday, Sunday, was a mixed day for me, flicking between feeling sick to my stomach, angry at chances lost, quiet, melancholic, happy for others, and more darkly somewhat self-pitying.
…and I hate myself for that.
I’ve been reading Gichin Funakoshi’s books lately; namely ‘The essence of karate’ and ‘The twenty guiding principles of karate’ and have found myself wanting. I think I’ve been so focused, recently, on the next grade that I’ve forgotten what it entails.
The colour of your belt is not a right based on how long you’ve been practising the art, but the culmination and growth of understanding of the principles underpinning it. This has been proved by a colleague who has just reached that next level and his karate, which is far better than mine, proves the point.
Time is not the measure, understanding and application is.
I think it’s time to get back to basics for me. This isn’t a throwing-dummies-out-the-proverbial-pram moment, the karate training will go on. However I think I need to stop chasing the next belt for the next few years and practise on becoming a black belt rather than just wearing one.
Sometimes having the wind taken from your sails, metaphorically at least, is the best thing if not a little hard on you at the time…. time, at least, will tell if that’s true or not.
I am looking at a blank screen, an amusing cartoon picture of myself smiling like the idiot I am, Black Stone Cherry playing in the background, an overused backspace key whimpering on my keyboard and a headful of nothing which is successfully making an appearance on this blog.
This post started off life as some form of apology for the sometimes teasing, sometimes sarcastic comments I tend to come out with, morphed to an amusing story about double glazing salesmen, light-hearted texts and then double-backed to the perils of playing with words. Somewhere in the middle of all of that it became a little darker and whinier…. and I now find myself gravitating that way again!
I really should stop trying to write a blog post when I really don’t know what I want to write and begin to just splurge on the page, the results are somewhat more navel gazing than I am comfortable with.
If I’m honest I think, deep down, I’m still a little scared about the whole Cancer thing even though I put the whole happy face on (as ugly an image as that is), and the upcoming visit to the quacks in July for the latest prognosis. Also, this post has also got an awful lot of sentences beginning with “I”, which is both very lazy and a little “me me me”.
I’m (there I go again) also worrying about my next grading, whether my karate is sufficient for the task or whether I can actually *make* the next grading. As I said “dark thoughts indeed” and not something I am overly comfortable with.
I think I need to change the track…. in all senses of the word.
Keeping your guard up is almost one of the first things you learn in karate. I probably extend this further than was originally anticipated although the physical aspect of this seems to escape me as Sensei readjusts mine yet again…. and again.
Despite the very few, who however good your guard is just seem to poke, punch and jab at your vulnerable areas, the guard remains and protects. Letting it drop shows how scared you really are, and that’s just not the done thing.. not that I ever admitted to being the smartest biscuit in the barrel.
.oO( I am not entirely sure what type of biscuit I would be if I had to choose one, but there is unanimous consensus that the Chocolate Hobnob is the undisputed king of biccies! )
Advancing a stage seems to bring with it a host of new experiences, things to overcome and a whole world of unique pain. Sitting down, standing up, lying down, strike a stance, perform a kata, slouch on the floor… all are accompanied by some part of your body wanting to gain your attention in as startling a way as possible.
…but the guard remains.
“When the tides of life turn against you and the current upsets your boat, don’t waste those tears on what might have been, just lie on your back and float.”
It’s wet and muggy today, and the end to another long karate weekend. Come a grading weekend I never seem to be out of the Gi much, what with karate on a Saturday morning and Grading on Sunday afternoon, there’s precious little for anything else apart from hitting the sack.
Celebrating an engagement, at least for a little while, was a nice exclamation point to the week and breather before the weekend in white pyjamas began …although once the crazy gang arrived it gave me the chance to slip away quietly.
Grading is a full on exercise and the mugginess just acts to put you under that extra bit of pressure; it’s hard to give 100% when the very air you breath seems to be be doing everything it can to not reach your lungs.
Unfortunately all this makes for a ‘flat’ kumite session, everyone’s just too shattered to put up much of a fight.. I even had to practically chase one potential red belt around the dojo to get him to spar me. I’m really not that scary!
However what makes your day is seeing a little 6 year old girl giving it her all to achieve that next belt. Despite the mugginess, despite always seeming to be the smallest in the room, despite the tears of frustration when she ‘perceives’ she can’t do quite what is asked of her, and repeating this at least 5-6 times a week, still doesn’t give up and puts everything she has to gain that next milestone…
Kinda makes you a little embarrassed at the navel gazing you let yourself indulge in every so often. Thankfully nobody was looking too closely at me as she ran up to get her shiny new red built and certificate, I do have a reputation to maintain… or at least I like to think I have one.
Well done Georgie!
Beer, pizza, mindless violence, hyper-active kids, cider, karate, mad dashes across Northamptonshire, troubleshooting wireless access points, kung-fu in a film with karate in the title, pill popping, weak-ass shower switching between nut-shrivellingly-cold and skin-searingly-hot, missing a birthday party, talking-about-love-n-life, kiddies roller disco party, tea, more tea, COFFEE, fighting, laughing, Iron Maiden, bruises, yoda, young love, old friends, full english breakfast, kids up till 3am, Jackie Chan overload, grading, teasing, expectations, throwing up, winding down, blogging, snoozing…
How was your weekend?
As is usual for this time of year I have drunk and eaten far too much. Obviously it’s everybody else’s fault though, I mean if they feel the need to provide me with a quarter ton of confectionery delights then it’s only polite to consume them.
Of course the descent into consumption hell means a heck of a climb back out.. and this year, if all goes well, is an important one and one I need to be at my top form for.
That's me that is
So the coming New Years bash will be something of a blow-out as I plan to drop a fair number of kilos and hit the weights in an aggressive manner come 2011, or at least that’s the plan.
So until then, I bid you a very Happy New Year / Blianadh Bha Ur.
As mentioned in a previous blog post the sparring that’s required to progress within karate can be brutal, but is something you feel cheated out of when not given a pasting around the dojo. Personally, when in these sparring sessions with my Sensei, I only have two milestones on which I try and judge my progress;
- To try and block more kicks and punches than actually land.
- To make sensei sweat, at least just a little bit, for all the blood he’s about to extract from my tortured body.
Unfortunately after a little while you tend to lose count of how many punches and kicks you *have* blocked as the ones you *didn’t* take up slightly more of your attention… or start to make you lose attention… and consciousness! However I do think I saw a hint of a bead of sweat on Sensei’s forehead after our bout, just a hint mind.
I shall take some solace in the fact that his hands and feet must have been slightly irritated from all the repeated impacts on the facial bum-fluff I call a beard.
Update: Sometimes writing in the dead of night makes for piss poor prose and something that maybe could have been written a little better. The last couple of paragraphs took an eternity to write and even then I wasn’t entirely convinced that what I had written put over what I was trying to…
Next time, wait until a more ‘godly’ hour…
I’ve been away in sunnier climes these past three weeks, and that will be my standing excuse for the lack of any postings on this site recently – you may find that I’m able to make these excuses on an as-required basis throughout this blog; the only constant being my inability to get the wordsmithing juices flowing at a constant rate… that or a mind numbingly boring life!
…actually I fear it’s a combination of the two!
Anyhoo, beginning of a new week and my first senior karate class has just been completed and I’ve received my first black mark on my belt. Of course ‘completed’ is a subjective term; survived is another one that could be used just as well.
Karate is something that you need to keep plugging away at every week, so even a small time away and you feel horribly uncoordinated. Arms, legs and various other appendages were waggled during the class, sometimes even when they were supposed to!
..oh and the black mark? Just an indication of some progress in my karate – so a good thing! Quite how I got it, given the unwieldy state of my moves yesterday, is somewhat beyond me; there’s a *lot* of things that need improving, kicks being chief among them. I think I may need to impart some of my hard earned cash (‘hard earned’ also being another of those subjective terms) into purchasing one of those mechanical devices for improving ones flexibility.
That's it... a bit more!
Onwards and upwards as I keep saying… and outwards, possibly, as well.
A split lip, loud ringing in the ears, seeing double for a while, some very sore ribs and a wonderful sense of achievement… all the ingredients of a successful grading!
It would seem I was a little premature in my moping last week and needn’t have worried quite as much as I did. Yep, this does mean that I have actually completed at least one of my new years resolutions and graded two belts this year!
It probably seems a strange state of affairs, especially when seen by those who don’t do martial arts, that progress and a sense of achievement is only gained after a beating.. and let’s be clear, I was battered senseless last night, but it’s the way in which you pick yourself up and keep going forward that differentiates between a white belt and a black belt. Or at least that’s what Sensei says as he delivers another blow!
The other differentiator is having a group of friends behind you, cheering you on, and picking you up when you do hit a low point. Special thanks to Libby, Sarah and Ed, who always seem to make that little extra effort to gee you up and tell you, when required, to stop being an arse (not that Libby would ever use the “a” word… Sarah on the other hand would probably use something stronger and involve a back-fist to the stomach somewhere in the conversation… but you get the picture).
As Epicurus once noted;
“It is not so much our friends’ help that helps us as the confident knowledge that they will help us.”