Saturday, August 22, 2015

Karate, 8/20/15 (Belt Demo)

Thursday I tested for yellow belt in karate. Students from three schools gathered at the Hammond dojo to do their belt demos, 15 of us in all. I was one of 3 white belts testing for yellow. I had to perform heian shodan, hand kihon, foot kihon, and three-step sparring. The way they grade in this organization is "A", "B", or "Fail". I received an "A" and was promoted to yellow belt, which is 8th kyu in this system. I'm just getting started, but they allow you to test relatively frequently, and sometimes you can double-test if you're ready. My instructor thought I might get to double test this time, but there were no yellow belts testing for orange so I didn't get to. No big deal, the work continues.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Judo, 8/19/15

We had a short judo class because a couple of girls were testing for their green belts at the end of class. For our rank group, we did all yellow and orange belt throws. At the end of class, we had 2 rounds of ground randori.

First round: I went against a yellow belt that's normally pretty spry. I was able to use some things I learned from some Ryan Hall DVDs I recently watched. I felt good about this roll, and felt I dominated 80% of the time.

Second round: I went against a guy that outweighs me by 55 pounds. He has a reputation in our club for going a little harder than what's called for in randori, so I wasn't looking forward to it. He just crushed me most of the time, but for 30-45 seconds, I was able to use spider guard to keep him off me. I'm about to watch Stephan Kesting's Spider Guard Masterclass DVDs, so I'll be better equipped to deal with these big lunks!

It was interesting to watch the young ladies do their green belt demos. I should be doing mine in the next 2-3 months. There is a LOT of material covered!  No to take anything away from the girls that tested, but after seeing that demo, I feel pretty good about my technique for when I test myself.

One thing I struggle with is this: If I'm a green belt, should I still be getting dominated by a yellow belt (2 ranks below me) even if he does outweigh me by 50+ pounds?  I think my technique is better while drilling, but randori is a different story. In this particular case, I'm pretty sure he does BJJ as well, so that might account for some of the trouble. In any case, I don't want to only be able to deal with people my size or smaller, so I'm about to really focus on holding my own against much larger guys. Especially since we have 3 of them in our club!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Karate, 8/17/15

Had a make-up lesson Monday night; we worked on nothing but the test material, since I'll be testing for yellow belt tomorrow night, and possibly (hopefully) orange belt.
I guess I'm feeling best about the katas, and worst about the 3-step sparring. I haven't practiced it much, and when I have, my distance is off.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Judo, 8/12/15

Last night our rank group worked on orange belt counters. We only got to about 80% of them though.  I did ok, but I need way more reps. We were running a little behind, so we didn't do a whole class lesson. There were two rounds of randori:

The first round was hop randori, with about 30 seconds of ground randori after the throw. I went against a shorter white belt with a wrestling background. Again, the different body type is tripping me out, but we both did ok. I did get a nice butterfly-ish sweep on him, but it wasn't from butterfly guard. I felt like I did okay keeping my wall up and not letting him pass my guard (much).

For the second round, I went against the same yellow belt from Monday night. I find, especially with him, I'm trying not to play a strong closed guard any more, because I know it works well. I'm trying to explore some other things, and found myself playing a little spider guard with him. It's not a guard I ever do, and I only know one attack from it right now. When I went for the triangle, it was awkward and he saw it coming and escaped. I'm becoming more comfortable opening my guard though. I swept him twice again (and he swept me once). In the end, I got him in S-Mount, and he tapped to my ummmmmmm......"efficient use of gravity" on his chest.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Judo, 8/10/15

Last night our rank group worked on all orange belt ground work. One or two things were new to me, but I felt comfortable with most of it.

For the whole class lesson, we worked on an armbar setup from uke being in turtle.

I rolled twice:

First, with a tall yellow belt. I was feeling really good last night, and felt like I was just "on". In retrospect, I felt like I was a swarm of bees attacking him as he was drowning. I was just having a good night, flowing well from one attack to the next, maintaining good position, etc. I got two good sweeps, and a nice, effortless kata gatame choke - which I credit to the Ryan Hall video on arm triangles I watched over the weekend!

My next roll was with a black belt. I didn't feel as "on" then. I did get a good choke when he started from turtle. But he was alternately letting me play, and dominating.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Judo, 8/5/15

Judo tonight was pretty good...

For the first part of class, I had to demo all the yellow belt material (throws, counters, combos, sweeps & other misc mat work, pins, chokes, arm bars, and escapes) for one of the senior black belts, for him to report back to the head instructor on my performance. So I felt a little pressure. My buddy who's closer to my size wasn't there tonight (my throws look beautiful on him) so I had to demo on a tall, lanky guy. So I don't feel like my performance tonight was my best. Monday may have been my best. In any case, I got through all the material with only a few pointers from our coach, and feel like it was adequate for a yellow belt demo. Not my best, but maybe 75-80% of my best to date, for those techniques.

For the whole class lesson we worked on deashi harai, moving forward and back. I feel like I'm getting my deashi groove back finally. Those went well.

Finally, we did hop randori. I went 2 rounds:

First round with tall lanky guy. We did ok, he's a cool guy and always fun to work with. We both got some smooth throws in.

Second round with the strong yellow belt I was apparently trying to keep my distance from last week. This time I did seoi otoshi right out of the gate, dropping to where he was standing, and yeah, it was much easier. He's a super guy as well, and I always learn something from losing to him. I did get an okay gedan ate on him tonight.

I find maybe the thing I'm struggling with most, with my return to judo, is getting used to the idea that people come in lots of shapes and sizes, haha!  I've found that doing aikido with different sized folks doesn't seem as disparate as doing judo with a variety of body types. Aikido calls for an adjustment here or there when you have to go under a short uke's arm or something, but my mind short circuits when I go from tall, lanky uke, to short n' stout uke.

I'm curious what our coach for tonight had to say to sensei about my pseudo-demo, but I'm not anxious over it. I did my best, it was what it was, and is now in the past. Wish I would have done a little better, but I'm not ashamed either.

Ah well; Kano said the way to get better at judo is to keep going to class. Onward!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Judo, 8/3/15

For our rank group, we went through all yellow belt throws, combos, and counters. Mine were all feeling really good. The ippon seoi nage to osoto gari combo felt a little awkward when done statically, but it works great when uke "floats around" to defend the ippon seoi nage.

For the whole class lesson we did more seoi otoshi, and then a wrong-sided variation. Note: sometimes the wrong sided one works better with only a 90 degree (or so) turn.

Next we did standing randori. I went three rounds.

First round: against a white belt roughly my size. We normally work together well, and are roughly equally skilled.

Second round: Short bulldozer yellow belt that dominated me on the ground last week wanted more. So he made sure to partner up with me this time. We were only supposed to be doing standing randori, but he was insisting on newaza when we went to the ground. I went with it. This time I had him playing defense a lot more than last time. I did tap to being crushed once, but I got an arm bar on him, recovered guard twice, and did a right nice job of playing defense with an open guard this time, if I do say so myself. I've always gravitated to a closed guard if I can get it, but I'm learning I need to adjust my tactics for different types of partners. At one point, I even shoved him away with my feet, far enough to allow me to do a "technical get up", which I never thought I'd use in randori!

Third round: against another heavy weight yellow belt, but a more technical one.  He stayed pretty far away from me and kept leaning in. Normally, I'd go for a hip or shoulder throw if my opponent is leaning in, but in this case, I was scared I'd just pull him on top of me. After talking with him later, I realized I was trying to do all my techniques while staying away from him, too. Next time I'm gonna try harder to take his space with my throws. I did get his back once, but this guy is un-choke-able. He just stood up and I went for a ride.

Good fun, hard work!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Karate Homework, 8/2/15

Last night I decided to start focusing more on the testing material, until I test later this month. To that end, here's what I did:

Stance progression:  10 times each side

Heian Shodan: Three times

Heian Nidan (all of it): Three times

Yellow belt hand technique demo: three times

Yellow belt kicking demo: three times

Yellow belt three-step sparring: once, with my imaginary friend

Orange belt hand technique demo: three times

Orange belt kicking demo: one time, but I'm confused and have reached out to my teacher for clarification.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Karate, 8/1/15

After stretching and going through kihon, we took another look at my heian shodan. Here are the tweaks my instructor suggested this time:

  • My wrist is bent on my rising blocks. I need to straighten it out.
  • I'm still fighting old muscle memory when it comes to my hip direction during blocks. Need more work on that.
  • My back stance is still all jacked up! I don't know why it's so elusive to me, but I'll keep at it. 

Earlier this week, my instructor said he wanted me to test for yellow belt later this month. During class yesterday, he suggested I test for orange on the same night.  I'm pretty confident in the yellow belt material, but nervous about the orange belt stuff. 

He showed me the 3-step sparring stuff I'll need for yellow belt, and the basics demo I need for Orange. In a couple of weeks, he'll show me the 3-step I need for orange. He also showed me the rest of heian nidan. I really like the kata but the second half is totally new to me.

I have a lot of work to do in the next couple of weeks! 

Karate Homework, 7/31/15

Stance progression:  10 times each side

Rising block: 10 times each side, front stance

Down block: 10 times each side, front stance

Front kicks: 10 times each side, front stance

Side kicks: 10 times each side, holding wall

Back kicks: 10 times each side, holding wall

Roundhouse kick (over back of a chair): 10 times each side, holding wall

Heian Shodan: Three times

Heian Nidan (First half): Three times

Yellow belt hand technique demo: three times

Yellow belt kicking demo: three times