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aurik
KF Sempai
KF Sempai

Joined: 08 Nov 2016
Posts: 521
Location: Denver, CO
Styles: Shuri-Ryu, Uechi-Ryu

PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2023 10:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So it's been an extremely eventful last couple of weeks since I've checked in here. The prep cycle has been going extremely well. Aaron and I have been communicating pretty well and giving each other good critique on what we've been noticing in each other's technique. For example, we were performing bunkai, and there were a couple places where I noticed that Aaron wasn't chambering, so I pointed that out to him. I am feeling we are doing pretty well, but we definitely have opportunities for improvement.

Last week was a really interesting and intense week. Master James Thompson (10th dan Uechi-Ryu) came down from Michigan to run a seminar for us, and we had a number of people visiting from out of town. We had two people in from Florida, one from California, and in addition to Master Thompson, we had two others from Michigan (Mustafa and my CI's youngest brother). The seminar officially ran from Friday through Sunday, but Master Thompson also ran classes Wednesday and Thursday evening.

Thursday night, we were scheduled for our test prep class. Aaron was in Canada visiting family, so I partnered up with Eli, who is a junior black belt, and will be testing for his full shodan and nidan-sho (junior 2nd degree). We ran through Sanchin, Dan (Yakusoku) Kumite, and Seisan Bunkai, each of us giving minor corrections to the other.

After we finished our Seisan Bunkai, we noticed Hanshi Robb (9th degree, visiting from Califormia) watching us, and I walked up to him and introduced myself and Eli, and asked him if he noticed anything that we should work on. One of the thing that he noticed right away is that we both took time to give each other constructive feedback. He was hesitant to give us concrete feedback, because he is from a different organization (Okikukai), and they do things a little differently. He did give us two pointers though -- he told us that we were being very cognizant of our hand positions, but we should also take more care with what we're doing with out feet. He also mentioned one move in the final sequence of Seisan, where we step forward into a low stance (shiko-dachi), and move into a specific kamae. He talked about how we just '"eased into" that kamae, but there are specific applications for this kamae, and we should put some power and focus into this.

I then asked if he knew a couple of the people who I trained with in California. And he mentioned that he's known Dave since he was a brown belt. Dave is now an 8th degree -- so we're talking a REALLY long time. Small world!

Friday started out with Mrs Aurik leaving for the weekend on a "girls trip", and my 5pm class was rescheduled for 4:15 (to accomodate Master Thompson's seminar). The class went by quicker than I anticipated -- mainly because I'm used to a full hour for class. I felt that the class went pretty well, and then back home to get Zach fed -- I ordered two pizzas from Dominos, intending for these to be for dinner today and lunch tomorrow. (This point is important!). `Then back to the dojo at 7pm for an "instructors seminar". I won't cover what we learned in each seminar, but I'll talk about what we learned overall. That evening I probably had 3 slices of one of the pizzas, and planned on having the rest for lunch on Saturday.

The rest of the weekend's training went like this: Saturday morning training from 10a-11:15a. Then rushed back home to pick up Zach to get him to the kids' seminar from 11:30a-12:45p. When I got home for lunch on Saturday, I went into the fridge looking for the leftover pizza... and Zach ate *all* of it. And he's only 11!? I'm not sure if I am ready for a full-blown teenagers' appetite! We then had afternoon sessions, 3p-4:15 for me, and 4:30-5:45 for Zach. There was then a bbq over at my CI's house (more on that later). Sunday, Zach had a 10am-noon session, and then there was a 2p-4p adult session, followed by a sayonara dinner that evening.

Overall the seminar was excellent. From a personal level, I met karateka from a number of different schools and organizations. We had students from our organization (Kokusai Kyokai), Okikukai, and Kenyukai. While these are all Uechi-Ryu organizations, and we perform the same kata and hojo undo, some of the techniques and subtleties have diverged.

The seminar generally went like this -- we would work on a technique or a kata for a bit, and then Master Thompson would demonstrate something "new" about the technique. For example, one session he started out talking about Kanshiwa Bunkai (Kanshiwa being the first kata we learn for yellow belt ranks). The first sequence for Kanshiwa involves an attack coming in from the left. The defender pivots on the left foot off the line of attack, performs a left watari-uke, followed by a right seiken-tsuki to the attacker's floating ribs.

He then demonstrated how the exact same defense can be used against a wrist grab from the front. The person he picked to demonstrate was boggled by the whole concept at first, but ... the exact same circular-block/punch sequence works just fine on both a same-side and cross-side wrist grab.

There were so many little things that were covered during the course of the weekend - not necessarily game-changing, but little things that make you think about other things, and those things make connections in other things, and it helps you have a sequence of "a-ha" moments.

Another a-ha moment -- your opponent grabs your arm in both of his. When your arm is outstretched, you don't have a lot of power, but when you drop the arm a bit, pull it in closer to you, and then rotate in a circle, you are a lot stronger than your opponent. Oh, and this is straight out of our opening for Sanchin kata. Likewise, we also saw how in the closing sequence of our kata, the "right fist covered by left open hand" can be interpreted as grabbing your opponent in one hand, and pulling him into your fist. Oof...

Again, the weekend was full of these a-ha moments, and I hope I can remember many of them. By the end of the weekend, my entire body was pretty sore, but things are starting to feel closer to normal now.

Until next week!
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My Journey (So Far)
Shuri-Ryu 1996-1997 - Gokyu
Judo 1996-1997 - Yonkyu
Uechi-Ryu 2018-Present - Nidan
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sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 16454
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2023 11:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You've had some very productive weeks, haven't you?!

I like that your dojo has had many prominent Seniors to train with and such. Very important that Seniors be In-House within the network. Very valuable. We always sent out myself with other Seniors to every Shindokan dojo in the SKKA network leading up to our Hombu's Annual Testing Cycle in June/July.

Students getting to train with your Seniors give untapped effectiveness that Sensei's may not zero in all of the time or as distinctly as needed.

You're really enjoying your training and that to me means that you're in for the long haul. Hang in there and train hard.



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bushido_man96
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 30208
Location: Hays, KS
Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE, Police Krav Maga, SPEAR

PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2023 6:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That sounds like a very awesome week of training! Getting all those little things shaded in are just as important as learning new things. Glad you were able to have such a great week of training and learning.
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aurik
KF Sempai
KF Sempai

Joined: 08 Nov 2016
Posts: 521
Location: Denver, CO
Styles: Shuri-Ryu, Uechi-Ryu

PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2023 9:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another couple weeks down, and more progress towards the test date.

Aaron and I have been working really well on our yakusoku kumite drills and our bunkai. Since we also both attend the Tuesday evening advanced adult class, we have been using that time to also work on those drills, since the downstairs dojo has mats and enough overhead space to practice the sword attacks in the bunkai with actual shinai. Unfortunately Aaron and I are both of a height where not only do we need to use a shuto-uchi to "simulate" a sword swing in the upstairs dojo, but with the metal railings overhead, we have to be really careful where we stand up there that we don't smack a railing with our hands. And when it comes down to the test date, there is no real substitute for using an actual shinai to practicing timing and distancing. Because if your timing or distancing is off, you will most likely get whacked in the head with a shinai. It hurts, it's no fun, and you'll get marked down on it. All 3 bad things.

This week our CI is in Okinawa with his wife and two of our advanced kobudo students to celebrate Karate Day, and also to deal with some political issues in his Kobudo organization. That means on Tuesday night I pretty much had free reign to run class (with our CI's father, formerly-Kyoshi-now-Hanshi overseeing things). I started class out with the usual warmups, and then had the students pair up to perform hojo undo on their partners. As we would rotate students, I'd give students individual feedback, and when I noticed something that a lot of students needed improvement on, I'd demonstrate what I was seeing for the rest of the class to see, and then show what could be done better. For example, one of our techniques has the defender block an incoming attack and strike at an opponent's temple. Well, what happens if your opponent's temple is out of your reach -- you find a different suitable target (in this case, I had them use the floating ribs). I also talked about when you have a much larger/stronger opponent, you get out of the way as opposed to blocking it.

I then had the students split up to work on bunkai for their rank kata, making sure to give the ikkyus a chance to work on Seisan, since it is the hardest part of their Shodan test, and since they can't use shinai in the upstairs dojo. I had to tell several (lower-rank) kids to use shinai instead of bokken, "Why?" they asked me -- "If you mess up and get hit with a shinai, it'll sting and hurt a bit. Messing up with a bokken can end up with broken bones". "Good reason!".

On the other hand, I had to tell a pair of ikkyus to use shinai instead of "George" -- the foam-padded short bokken. "Why?" they asked. "Because if you mess up with a shinai, it'll hurt a bit and remind you not to mess up, and you will be using a full-length shinai on your test. Best to practice and get your distances down with the weapon you WILL be using."

Tuesday evening's class ran pretty wellalso. Ethan Sensei (my CI's younger brother) pretty much ran the class, and had us work on a few techniques our sensei isn't too fond of (not sure why). One of the things he had us work on was to slow down on our yakusoku kumite and focus on enunciating each of the techniques. It took quite a bit of thought to do this -- it was like decomposing a kata into its individual moves. Which is exactly how we are supposed to work each kata. He took one of the sequences and broke it down, and then showed us how if we completed the first technique, then we are already primed for the second technique. And if we complete the second technique properly, we are primed for the third technique. So if we do crisp, complete techniques at each step, the flow comes naturally.

I did get one good quote from Ethan though. "If my brother ever disagrees with something I tell you, listen to him. I will pass you on a test for my brother's karate. My brother might fail you for using my karate."
_________________
My Journey (So Far)
Shuri-Ryu 1996-1997 - Gokyu
Judo 1996-1997 - Yonkyu
Uechi-Ryu 2018-Present - Nidan
ABS Bladesmith 2021-Present - Apprentice
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sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 16454
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2023 3:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like you've had a very productive two weeks of training and teaching. You're very well rounded; becoming complete and balanced as both a student and a Sensei.

Aaron's maturing in both him and his techniques. Taking the training well and if he chooses, he too will be a formidable MAist across the board.

Train hard and well.



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bushido_man96
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 30208
Location: Hays, KS
Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE, Police Krav Maga, SPEAR

PostPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2023 1:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sensei8 wrote:
Sounds like you've had a very productive two weeks of training and teaching. You're very well rounded; becoming complete and balanced as both a student and a Sensei.

Aaron's maturing in both him and his techniques. Taking the training well and if he chooses, he too will be a formidable MAist across the board.

Train hard and well.


I agree here.

It sounds like you've got a good training partner there, which is fantastic.

One of my favorite adages: when one teaches, two learn.

Keep up the good work.
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http://www.sunyis.com/
www.aikidoofnorthwestkansas.com
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sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 16454
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2023 9:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

bushido_man96 wrote:
sensei8 wrote:
Sounds like you've had a very productive two weeks of training and teaching. You're very well rounded; becoming complete and balanced as both a student and a Sensei.

Aaron's maturing in both him and his techniques. Taking the training well and if he chooses, he too will be a formidable MAist across the board.

Train hard and well.


I agree here.

It sounds like you've got a good training partner there, which is fantastic.

One of my favorite adages: when one teaches, two learn.

Keep up the good work.

To the bold type above...

I just love that, Brian!! Perhaps, you can add that to your Signature.



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aurik
KF Sempai
KF Sempai

Joined: 08 Nov 2016
Posts: 521
Location: Denver, CO
Styles: Shuri-Ryu, Uechi-Ryu

PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2023 9:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

sensei8 wrote:
bushido_man96 wrote:
sensei8 wrote:
Sounds like you've had a very productive two weeks of training and teaching. You're very well rounded; becoming complete and balanced as both a student and a Sensei.

Aaron's maturing in both him and his techniques. Taking the training well and if he chooses, he too will be a formidable MAist across the board.

Train hard and well.


I agree here.

It sounds like you've got a good training partner there, which is fantastic.

One of my favorite adages: when one teaches, two learn.

Keep up the good work.

To the bold type above...

I just love that, Brian!! Perhaps, you can add that to your Signature.




My corollary on that is "the best way of improving your knowledge of something is to teach it to someone else". This very much applies when teaching karate, especially kata, because I have to be able to both think, talk, and demonstrate a kata all at the same time. It's REALLY hard.
_________________
My Journey (So Far)
Shuri-Ryu 1996-1997 - Gokyu
Judo 1996-1997 - Yonkyu
Uechi-Ryu 2018-Present - Nidan
ABS Bladesmith 2021-Present - Apprentice
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aurik
KF Sempai
KF Sempai

Joined: 08 Nov 2016
Posts: 521
Location: Denver, CO
Styles: Shuri-Ryu, Uechi-Ryu

PostPosted: Thu Nov 09, 2023 7:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So the test is officially scheduled for this coming Sunday. Our adult dan candidates will be testing in the morning from 10a-noon, and the youth candidates (under 15) will be testing from 2pm-4pm. In our organization, there is no hard minimum age for earning a junior black belt, but for all practicality, 10-11 is pretty much as young as you can go due to cumulative time in grade requirements and such. 15 is the hard minimum for an "adult" degree. Our requirements for a junior shodan and "full" shodan are the same, but the performance expectations are necessarily higher for a full shodan.

So this week has been mainly test prep, and will continue to be. Tuesday night I had my teaching class, which was more interesting than usual. There were a number of kids who dropped in to do a make-up test from last Friday. As a result, I had a lot of newer kids in the class. This means I had to slow down my tempo so they could keep up... and I had to announce all of the hojo undo and junbi undo techniques in both English and Japanese.

You know... after you've been announcing the techniques in only Japanese, you have to think for a second to think of the English translation. It gave me a good quiet chuckle about that. After we did the warmups and technique exercises, he kept the make-up testers and the ikkyus in the larger section of the dojo, and sent me with the rest of the students to the back section to work kata and a bit of tournament prep. So I would have a few small groups up to work on their kata -- I'd generally let each group pick their favorite kata, and whichever was most popular, I'd count off that kata for them. (We have a set cadence for doing group kata, which allows the instructor to keep them somewhat in step, and also provide mid-kata corrections). After each group, I'd give them some constructive feedback.

After each group went, I brought students up in pairs. I'd have them walk into the area as if they were doing a tournament (or testing), and have them perform the kata of their choice. After I made it all the way through, our CI sent me the ikkyus to perform their seisan kata as a practice for their test. Again, I gave each student some constructive feedback, mainly little things. One common suggestion I gave to each of them was to slow down "just a little", so they could better enunciate their techniques.

As the class wrapped up, our Sensei indicated that the people who just tested in-class would learn their results at their next usual class (mostly Wednesday evening). After he bowed everyone out, he then announced that Zach, Arrav, and Hayden all earned their advanced brown belts -- basically this indicates that they've re-tested for all of their kyu-level material, and are now qualified for testing. Zach had been worried about that, with the test right around the corner, but once our Sensei announced it, you could see him grinning from ear to ear.

On to Tuesday evening, we had a really light class (only 9 students). After our warmups, we started on some new kick defense drills, building off of techniques we work in some of our other drills. They all started with a left/right front kick sequence, and each defense started with step back/gedan barai uke, followed by a step back/mawashi-uke block that ends with you in a right shiko-dachi, and your right arm is parallel to the floor in front of you, with the opponent's achilles heel hooked at the junction of your wrist and forearm. From here, he showed us 3 different completion options. 1) finish the circular block, essentially throwing the leg back to your opponent's chest/shoulder. 2) lift your arm up to sanchin, letting his leg fall off to the side, then step in and do one-knuckle strikes to the kidney and neck (simultaneously). 3) (my favorite), turn your hand palm-up (forming a hook with your fingers in the process), and pull the opponent's leg past you to your right. As he passes you, clothesline him and/or apply a rear-naked choke.

Honestly, these types of drills are some of my favorite material to work on -- it builds on material we already know, but gives us new options to use. And our Sensei seems to have an infinite variety of material to present. He has said this several times, "Shodan is the beginning -- it's when you start learning the really good stuff". And this is what he means by that.

After that segment, a group of us worked on our dan kumite, then Aaron and I worked our bunkai to prep for our test. Class then ended with kata. Performing kata at the end of a class makes it really hard to do it well and with energy... but then when you're refreshed suddenly the kata seems to flow easy and with lots of power. It's one of those things that I tend to say - training through the struggles makes your karate so much better.

So we still have a couple more days of training before the test; tonight is our dedicated test prep class, tomorrow I'm teaching the youth advanced class (and will probably do test prep there), and Saturday will be our quarterly black belt training class.

I'm feeling really good about my test prep so far, and I think Zach is looking good too. I'll check back in here after the test on Sunday.

Until then!
_________________
My Journey (So Far)
Shuri-Ryu 1996-1997 - Gokyu
Judo 1996-1997 - Yonkyu
Uechi-Ryu 2018-Present - Nidan
ABS Bladesmith 2021-Present - Apprentice
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DarthPenguin
Pre-Black Belt
Pre-Black Belt

Joined: 03 Dec 2021
Posts: 908
Location: Glasgow, Scotland
Styles: Shotokan, Judo, BJJ

PostPosted: Fri Nov 10, 2023 3:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Best of luck with the test!

You've put the work in so now it's just about showing it off!
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