22 October, 2012

Post Grading Feelings and Plans

I apologize to followers of my blog.  You may have been wondering what happened to me.  I have mentioned in the past that I have been preparing for a grading for my 4th degree black belt.  I have been concentrating on my essay and working my partner and solo forms with some intensity.  I will probably post some of my essay notes/discoveries/points in the near future.

The grading was this past weekend and I did my shtick.  Regardless of outcome, I am glad to have done it and I look forward to hearing the results.  I think I presented an accurate representation of my skills and abilities, despite a terribly rough neck injury I got the day before.  So I think this was a success, at least for me personally.  I will be disappointed if I don't make it, but I think the journey was more important that anything else.  In many ways, I have been training carefully and with mindfulness for at least the last three years, and I think that the effort comes through, despite any mistakes.  A favourite saying I have now: Training will never let you down!  As Musashi said: The way is in the training.  Somethings just make more sense with more experience.

At any rate, I wanted to give a quick post on my feelings and what I want to work on.  Some things I was glad about, while others were less than stellar.

For the bad news first, I got caught with a roundhouse to the head, just above my eye.  It wasn't hard, but that was more luck than skill I suspect.  Later, another roundhouse kick got my head again, on the same side.  The head examiner stated that this was a mental problem, not a physical one, on my part.  I wince to think that this is how I will be remembered in my grading.  And while I felt quite upset with myself for such a large gap in my defense, I can't say anyone got the better of me despite it.  And it has since given me resolve to improve, with a definite and clear goal of what I need to improve.  I have to track down this gap - suki - and where it comes from.  Then tear down the foundation and rebuild it into a strength.  This coincides with my efforts and research into a different sparring posture (meotode - the old way of holding the hands) and hopefully will provide some additional insights.

I also had some trouble with a partner form we hadn't worked much but were called upon to perform.  It went well enough, but we had to do it twice because I mixed up a punching and kneeing combination.  We also increase our intensity a bit, which I think helped the form as well as our concentration.  Ironically I thought I had the form reasonably well before this...Lesson learned!  Training is the medicine, as usual!

The good news - I dodged two 'attacks' from other people doing their own forms.  One was a jo form I was walking around behind - the jo swung up, but I knew it was coming so I was able to dodge around and avoid injury.  The second was a grader next to me whose height and size, along with the particular form, meant he would invade my space (in particular my head, with his fist).  I caught this movement from my peripheral, recognized the form, and moved in time with the technique to avoid it.  Both of these were seen by the audience (and fellow dojo members and graders) and the examiners, and I hope this shows a better presence of mind than my lapse above.

On the side of so-so my iai embu was limited in space, since so many others were up for iai as well.  I believe I did a good job on all the parts I was worried about, but since my breadth is limited to seitei and a few koryu, I had to improvise a few forms out of seitei to make them with a koryu twist.  I am sure it was unrecognizable to anyone with a keen eye.  But we didn't have much time, and I didn't have to do many forms.  As a result I didn't have to do my less favoured iai forms, so I felt okay about that.  All in all, it wasn't the big deal I thought it would be.

So overall I have no idea of the outcome.  I hope the training shows through.  But despite this I am more interested in improving my new found faults.

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