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aurik
Orange Belt
Orange Belt

Joined: 08 Nov 2016
Posts: 197
Location: Denver, CO
Styles: Shuri-Ryu, Uechi-Ryu

PostPosted: Mon Apr 05, 2021 9:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So Saturday we had another round of testing in the dojo -- testing sessions have gotten much smaller and more intimate than pre-COVID, but that's also because our CI is now doing multiple testing sessions over the course of a month (to reduce class size). At yesterday's testing, we had 3 candidates for yellow belt (including one junior yellow belt and one junior green belt), one candidate for purple belt (yonkyu), and two candidates for brown belt (nikyu). Zach was the purple belt candidate.

We made sure to get to the testing about 30 minutes early so Zach could warm up and work on his material. I walked through his two-person drills (kicking exercise and kyu kumite), and I watched the three forms he would need to do (sanchin, kanshu, and seichin). The only feedback I gave him was to make sure he gets his kicks up, because he sometimes gets lazy on those kicks. There are plenty of other things I could see to tweak, but I resisted the urge because last minute corrections are liable to make him overthink.

The yellow belt candidates struggled with their two-person drills (yakosoku kumite) and rank kata, but that's to be expected. The CI had to ask those candidates to perform their drills more than once because they kept making mistakes, but they were all able to get through. (And at yellow belt, the test board will generally forgive a LOT of mistakes). Zach was able to get through his kicking exercise without any major mistakes, and he performed pretty solid on his 3 katas. Since there was plenty of time left in the test, our CI gave Zach some corrections on his seichin (brown belt) kata. However, at the level he's at, he is not expected to have that kata perfected yet so it was mainly "You need to know this for your next rank so work on it".

After the instructors deliberated and discussed the candidates' scores, they asked all the students to line back up -- and the first name they announced was Zach's!

After the test, he got his feedback from his evaluator -- a) keep the elbows tucked when in sanchin, b) keep the wrists straight, c) when doing most strikes, perform the strike, hold it for a moment, and then pull back (Zach tends to make every strike a snap -- there are a couple exceptions, such as eye strikes, and backfist strikes), and d) tilt the hands slightly when doing the sanchin opening. These are all things that are basically OK at green belt ranks, but they want him to correct by the time he tests for sankyu (brown belt).

As always, here are the pictures of the proud kiddo



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5th kyu Shuri-Ryu, 4th kyu Judo, 2nd kyu Uechi-Ryu
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SLK59
Yellow Belt
Yellow Belt

Joined: 05 Nov 2020
Posts: 94
Location: USA
Styles: Shotokan Karate

PostPosted: Mon Apr 05, 2021 11:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Congratulations, Zach!
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Shotokan Karate of America (SKA), 2021-present
Japan Karate Association (JKA), 1974-1990, Sandan
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sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 15453
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Mon Apr 05, 2021 1:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Congrats, Zach; well deserved!!



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The Pred
Green Belt
Green Belt

Joined: 26 Jun 2003
Posts: 385

Styles: Goju Ryu

PostPosted: Mon Apr 05, 2021 4:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Congrats Zack

I'm digging the wooden name plates.

Ugh, getting a brain freeze what are they called again, I can't remember right now, lol
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SLK59
Yellow Belt
Yellow Belt

Joined: 05 Nov 2020
Posts: 94
Location: USA
Styles: Shotokan Karate

PostPosted: Mon Apr 05, 2021 5:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The wooden name plaques are called nafuda, and the rack in which they are hung is called a nafudakake.

Cheers,
Scott
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Shotokan Karate of America (SKA), 2021-present
Japan Karate Association (JKA), 1974-1990, Sandan
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The Pred
Green Belt
Green Belt

Joined: 26 Jun 2003
Posts: 385

Styles: Goju Ryu

PostPosted: Mon Apr 05, 2021 6:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SLK59 wrote:
The wooden name plaques are called nafuda, and the rack in which they are hung is called a nafudakake.

Cheers,
Scott


Thank you Scott !
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bushido_man96
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 28973
Location: Hays, KS
Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE

PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2021 8:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Congrats, Zack! Keep on trucking!
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http://www.sunyis.com/
www.aikidoofnorthwestkansas.com
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aurik
Orange Belt
Orange Belt

Joined: 08 Nov 2016
Posts: 197
Location: Denver, CO
Styles: Shuri-Ryu, Uechi-Ryu

PostPosted: Fri Apr 23, 2021 11:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So things are starting to return to a new normal in the dojo. This Tuesday I got my second (Moderna) COVID vaccine -- had a couple hours of fever and exhaustion the day after, but by Thursday I was feeling pretty good.

Thursday night we had a really good class. Started out with kicking against the bags -- I'm feeling really good about my front kicks and roundhouse kicks. My side kicks are REALLY good when they hit on target, but I have a hard time hitting where I want with my heel. My real weakness is my crescent kick (we do an outside-to-inside crescent). I can get the kick up high enough, but I have zero power in it. I mentioned that to the black belt I was working with and he suggested I work on twisting my hips more in the kick. I'll definitely start trying that in the future.

We then split into pairs and started working kata bunkai. He broke the dan-level students up, and had them start working on seisan and seiryu (required for shodan and nidan) bunkai. He then had all the kyu level students working on the first few sequences for kanshiwa (required for 8th-7th kyu) and kanshu (required for 5th-4th kyu) bunkai.

We had a couple of new students in the class, but I think it was a good exposure for them to see the applications of the kata. It was also VERY refreshing to do partner work again. As more and more of the students get vaccinated, we're going to start opening things up more and more. The challenge is that kids (under 16) still don't have an approved vaccine, but hopefully that will change soon.

Also, I've been doing a keto diet since the beginning of Lent, partially for me and partially to help support my wife (she is diabetic and doing the diet too). I've been tracking my progress daily and I just busted through a plateau. For a couple of weeks I'd been hovering at or around a number (I'm not gonna say it), but in the past few days I've dropped 5 pounds past that plateau, so I'm really happy about it.

I'm also trying to push myself on the conditioning. Kicks have always been challenging for me, due to my size. The good news is when I get my mass moving, I can put a LOT of force behind a kick (especially front kicks and roundhouse kicks). The problem is, getting that mass moving takes a lot of energy and a lot of oxygen. Yesterday I forced myself to work through the exhaustion during the kicking portion of class. Hopefully this will start paying off in the long run.

Again, thank you for all of the support, and I'll try to check in more often
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5th kyu Shuri-Ryu, 4th kyu Judo, 2nd kyu Uechi-Ryu
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aurik
Orange Belt
Orange Belt

Joined: 08 Nov 2016
Posts: 197
Location: Denver, CO
Styles: Shuri-Ryu, Uechi-Ryu

PostPosted: Mon May 10, 2021 10:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We started a new month at the dojo, and things are starting to get back to a new normal. Our CI has moved things around schedule-wise; Tuesday night is now an advanced students only class, run by his father for students working on shodan level material. He has moved all testings from Saturday to Friday, and he has re-introduced contact drills. That last part is my favorite.

So last Tuesday night our first advanced class, and it was a lot of fun. Our CI's father ran the class, and it was run very differently than usual. The pace was a lot faster in some ways, but slower in other ways -- after warmups, hojo undo, and sanchin, we broke up to do conditioning while the instructors (our CI's father and stepmom) brought us over in pairs to do individual sanchin work. I got a few small corrections, mainly on working on the scope of my circular bocks, and minor adjustments to where my hands should be at guard. Then we went on to work two-person drills.

I paired with our CI's younger brother (a 5th degree), and worked on our dan level kumite. It was very eye-opening experience. He is taller than me (6'4" maybe) and FAST. I was struggling to keep up, but holy cow was it fun. We then started working the takedown part of our dan kumite, and he sorta overwhelmed me with a lot of information on it. I remember most of it, but in all honesty I think I would done better if I could have just gotten some reps in on it.

We then also worked on a few of the kyu-level takedowns/throws -- it's been a LONG time since we've been able to work these, so I was very rusty on it.

The last part of class was kata -- we started out with seisan (required for shodan). It was a struggle for me to keep up for part of it, but I'm getting much better at it. Our CI then moved the other brown belt and me over to the back of the dojo, where we worked on seichin for awhile. Afterwards, we finished up and called it a day.

The rest of the week went in a similar fashion -- we spent quite a bit of time working on the two-person drills we haven't been able to do for the past year. On Thursday night, we were doing conditioning drills with a pair of brand new (adult) students; the new students were hesitant to actually hit us with any real force, so I asked Tom (a student who started right before I did) to demonstrate the leg conditioning drill with me. He has a pretty good kick, and it was kinda fun to work the drills at full power again.

With the contact drills returning, I'm REALLY enjoying going back to the dojo again. I mean, it was fun beforehand because our CI was letting us learn advanced material. However, when you haven't been able to make contact with your partner in over a year, it's VERY refreshing to feel resistance to your strikes, and also to feel that satisfying thump when you block or get blocked.

Until next time!
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5th kyu Shuri-Ryu, 4th kyu Judo, 2nd kyu Uechi-Ryu
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aurik
Orange Belt
Orange Belt

Joined: 08 Nov 2016
Posts: 197
Location: Denver, CO
Styles: Shuri-Ryu, Uechi-Ryu

PostPosted: Fri May 21, 2021 10:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Happy 20th Birthday, KF!

Today was a very good day for me. Over the past 2 weeks, we've been doing a lot more in the 2-person drills and the intensities have increased. The advanced classes on Tuesday have been very edifying, since we generally have most of the instructors and assistant instructors there.

Tonight I tested for (and passed) my test for nikyu. This is a bit of a transition test, moving from the pandemic requirements to the original requirements. In August we're going to be fully transitioned to the pre-COVID requirements, but brown belt ranks will be in a state of flux over the next year.

Tonight's test was both shorter and more difficult than my previous testing cycles. Part of the reason it was shorter was there were only a handful of people testing today (7 total, I think); today's testing was primarily for advanced kyu ranks and for students that couldn't make the testing the previous weeks.

I got there a bit early and went to the upstairs dojo where I warmed up with Tom (who started a few months before I did). We ran through dan kumite and kyu kumite a couple of times -- at a moderate intensity, but it was really good to get the blood moving. I then ran through my katas -- seisan and seichin. With the ~30lbs I've lost over the past month, I felt REALLY good attempting the jump for Seisan (which I previously avoided).

I felt REALLY good on the hojo undo, but Sanchin really kicked my butt. Normally in the advanced classes we do sanchin 1:1 with the instructor and they'll do osme light checking and maybe a strike or two. Today I got tested at 5 different points -- at the initial opening, right after each turn, after the first wa-uke, and at the closing sequence. My wife took a video of Kyoshi (our CI's father) testing me after the first turn here: https://i.imgur.com/LvT9DYl.mp4. After some of the pulls, I found myself getting unstable, and it was REALLY hard to get my balance back while he kept striking/pushing in various directions. Definitely something I need to work on between now and testing for ikkyu (~6 months assuming I continue to progress at the expected rate).

Next came our dan kumite drill -- this is something we've been working on quite a bit in class, and I'm starting to feel pretty good about it. We first performed it solo -- which I hadn't done in a couple of months. We then demonstrated it with our CI. I have a love/hate relationship to training with my CI. He makes you look REALLY good during a test. He does this by ratcheting up his intensity to a notch or two above where you're comfortable so you have to really be on your toes.

After Dan Kumite, we did our rank kata, first Seichin (for brown belt) and then Seisan (or parts of it, required for shodan). Normally we wouldn't start learning seisan until ikkyu, but the pandemic has really thrown things for a loop. We then ended the testing with our sparring combinations. For the most part I did pretty well with these, but towards the end I started getting winded so I was dropping my guard.

Several of the students made a number of glaring mental errors during testing -- fortunately I wasn't one of them (this time). Oh, I made mistakes aplenty but they weren't glaring enough to call me out on them. After the test, he made a point of telling the students WHY he calls people out when they make mistakes like that. He does that not because they make mistakes, but because of the mental breakdown that happens after the mistake. He talks about how if you are dealing with a bully or a situation in life and have a mental breakdown, it will end up badly for you. He says that by throwing a bit of extra stress at his students here it helps them learn to deal with it in a reasonably safe place.

In the end, all of us passed. The feedback I got from my evaluator (kyoshi) was mainly dropping my hands during the sparring drills. I told him that I was surprised he didn't mention me getting flustered and getting unbalanced during Sanchin -- he said that's normal at your rank, now you know what to expect at ikkyu and shodan testing.

Here are the pics with the shiny new stripe and diploma:


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5th kyu Shuri-Ryu, 4th kyu Judo, 2nd kyu Uechi-Ryu
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