Growing Up On The Mat

Saturday by Rieshy

Some nights our dojo's schedule means that it's just my 7 year old son and me taking classes.  This means he does his karate class and then sits and waits for my two adult classes to be over.  He's good about waiting, though sometimes he hears more gory chitchat about the best ways to dislocate random body parts than the average boy his age.  The other night my last karate class was an unusually small group, all of us jujitsu enthusiasts, so our sensei asked our jujitsu coach to lead the work.

I learned several lessons, not all of which were actually part of the drill-work.
  1. Kimura's are fun, and working them from the bottom is a great tool.  If your partner is a StrongFirst Kettle Bell instructor who is at least six inches taller than you- forget about trying for a Kimura because except for during drill-work, it's not going to happen.
  2. When rolling to get the mount and your partner weighs considerably more- always remember where your kneecap is, and where you would like it to remain.  Seriously, this was an injury-free aha, during a moment of sloppy technique, where I realized just how badly things could and would go if I didn't learn to pay closer attention and apply leverage properly.  
  3. Play is work and my youngest child is growing up.  This takes more explaining.  When class ended I realized my 7 year old had sidled up next to our sensei and was sitting on the mat watching the class intently.  We had time for some free rolling so I invited my son to roll with me before I rolled with the other adults.  He leaped at the chance and we started rolling, complete with my verbal encouragements and occasional sound effects, just like we do when we play grapple at home.  After a moment he leaned close as he worked for an arm-bar and whispered, with a glance to the other groups of working students, "Mom, please don't make noises, you're kinda embarrassing me." As his request was politely and rather vulnerably made I complied.  It made me a little sad for how seriously he takes himself, but at the same time I felt like I got to know my youngest a little better.  I think I may have a budding fellow enthusiast.  And our "playing" at jujitsu at home?  - It's all important work to someone growing up on the mat.


The Basics

Monday by Rieshy

I'm a habitual questioner.  For instance, I sometimes question why I love to run.  I'm not fast, I'm not efficient, I don't run races or with friends, I don't run impressive, brag-worthy mileage and I don't have cute running clothes.  When it comes right down to it I just run because it makes me feel 7 years old to have the wind whip past my face- and because no one talks to me when I run.   It's been a frustrating couple of months because I sprained my toe and have desperately missed my runs.

The sprained toe?  That leads nicely to my real topic.  My other loves are knitting and martial arts.  I did not sprain my toe knitting; I sprained it trying to do a spinning hook-kick.  My body turned, my foot rotated but my toe stayed put.  Ouch.  Turf-toe.

So why do I love martial arts?  Goju Shorei Karate and Jujitsu particularly?  I'm not young or naturally talented, I'm not Olympics or UFC bound.  I'm not ever going to be a Worlds anything but I love martial arts.  I love it with enough passion to not terribly mind a hyperextended elbow or the current huge bruise I'm sporting above my left eyebrow.   I love it enough that I hope I get to tap out for at least another 40 years.

But why?  And does knowing the why matter?  I've been pondering both these questions for a year or so and have finally come to some conclusions and happily none of the reasons include insanity or a higher than normal propensity towards violence.

To the Why of martial arts love:

For the sheer joy of movement.
For the sheer joy of doing something hard.
For the sheer joy of learning.

Knowing the why does matter, because of weeks like last week:

Weeks when I go to class with a sore toe that makes me feel clumsy.  Weeks when I go to the class and am asked to do a move that I know, that my sensei has spent endless time and energy covering and teaching, yet my body rebels and refuses to execute.  Weeks when I forget the sequence of a simple kata in front of everyone.  Weeks when I fail to stripe for testing and I feel like I've let my sensei down.  Weeks when I feel deflicted and awkward and every second of my 48 years.

Because I know why I love martial arts, weeks of failure don't steal my joy.  They don't make me quit.    Looking back on last week's failures, I still had a blast;  I moved through the air, I worked and failed but I worked hard, and I learned.

All in all it was a great week and the whys give me tenacity and determination.

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Secret Lives Of Children

Saturday by Rieshy

One of the joys of teenaged children is the solving of family mysteries.  Who broke your antique cookie jar ten years ago might be confessed during a family dinner as your teens choke on their green beans with laughter.

 I was given a rag doll when I was two.  Forty five years has not been kind to it, yet it is the only childhood toy that I truly loved and when I look at it I feel cozy inside.  Think Jessie Doll feelings of attachment.

Evidently when my children look at it they see a crazed murdering figure that may or may not come to life at any moment.

My youngest daughter once told me that she liked it too so I gave it to her and told her she could play with it at anytime.  Yesterday it was revealed to me that she only told me that she liked it because at the time she was afraid it had heard us discussing it.  She was trying to flatter and appease it so it wouldn't exact horrific revenge.

Doll appeasement, and at great price because I was so excited that she actually liked it that for a time I placed it lovingly on her bed.

My 8 year old son heard our conversation and revealed that he and his younger brother both find it, "really freaky, especially the way it sits high up on the bookshelf and looks around," furthermore he confessed, with a nervous head-twitch towards my bedroom door, it is why neither of them like to go into my bedroom.

Ah, another mystery cleared.  I had noticed the mad dash my two youngest always use when they have to fetch something from that side of the house.

So- young mothers, one day probably at a holiday dinner, you will discover how and why your son really cut his hand (perhaps while making carrot puppets with a butcher knife) or how that the garage trash can "spontaneously" caught fire (spontaneous- meaning tennis-can cannons)  Most importantly, if you want your kids to stay out of your bedroom; buy a doll.

I submit to you a lovely photo of "Boopie".  Freaky?  I think not. 



Monday by Rieshy

For reasons that I cannot presently remember I decided to cut back to 2 cups of coffee a day.

Today was the day.  I tried to relish my first cup, to truly be, "present in the moment" as I sipped my (nectar of the gods) french roast.  I burned my tongue.  Seriously?  I haven't burned my tongue since I first began drinking coffee at the ripe old age of 5.  My children call me Asbestos Woman.

That's been the high point of my day.  I am also out of chocolate and didn't have time to go running.  So I decided to go outside and breathe while my boys took a break in their fort.

I saw.

Not exactly the authorized storage facility for those tools.

 Is any child's play place complete without a rusty can o'nails handy?

I headed back inside so my head could explode in quiet.  Luckily I turned to take a couple more shots.

My kids helped me plant this tree when it was small enough to fit in my car's back seat.

Happy mistreater of tools that they are, I love that they have the time and place and imagination to build in fresh air.  

I made tea, my head didn't explode, they cleaned up the tools, my 13 yo scouted for loose nails.
Sometimes it's all about where you point your camera.


Unintended Consequences

Tuesday by Rieshy

With the exception of a hiking trip, Fall Break at my house this year is not very sexy; it's yard winterizing,  less limited movie/computer time and slightly more festive food, and pumpkin carving.

It's also paper writing time.

Is there anything more fun than writing research papers over fall break? What about teaching children how to write research papers?

Actually,  I love research papers... if only a pesky moral base initially inculcated by my upbringing and then later internalized hadn't interfered I would have loved running a business writing other people's research papers.  I even think teaching my own children how to do a research paper could be fun.  Except it's usually not.

They may attempt a smile (or not) but I'm not feeling the joy.

Winterizing the yard- what's not to love?  Wind, slight rain, mud, that earthy autumn smell, sweat and sore hamstrings. Some of us felt the joy. My 6 yo in begged me for all of us to work together in the yard again this morning.    I got to say, "You will have to wait until tomorrow to work in the yard."  My 19 yo (piano performance major and thus hand-selfprotective) had fun working with her little brother digging up bushes, plus the bonus of enjoying a joyous adrenaline rush when said 6 yo missed her hand by an inch while chopping at a stubborn root ball.  Give a 6 yo a pick axe...

Personally, life is fun.  Even the nitty gritty paper writing.  Having a week "off" is fun- even if it is a lot of work.  Long ago I learned that well-rested, well-fed, and underworked children get bored and fight.  Whereas well-rested, well-fed, and tired-from-work children appreciate life.

But in the end it boils down to deciding to love life.  I can't make my children love life; I can't even make them be happy but they can look around and see concrete things that they know they accomplished or learned and feel competent.  It's a step.

At the very least they can look forward to the relaxation of starting back to school... and my yard looks tons better.




Thursday by Rieshy

I dropped my two middle children off on a 4 day hiking trip this morning.  My in-car farewell was a general, "Don't break anything by being stupid." Which was followed by a short, extremely pointed, and child specific:  "Don't jump off anything high!"- actually this was repeated 3 full times a little louder each time and, "Don't lord it over your brother."

I'm sure my children heard, "Blah, blah, blah, blah... we are here."

Hopefully, even through all their hyper-ness and excitement they also heard the subtext of, "I love you and will (eventually) miss you both terribly."

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Green Summer Past

Wednesday by Rieshy

My last time here I was bemoaning the Boot.  I tore my gastrocnemius muscle (which sounds really gross and intestines related but isn't) and spent the entire summer decked out in a sweaty hot black ortho boot.  It was one busy boot.  Our summer was a whirlwind of activity partially because of this young beautiful Swiss woman living with us for the summer.

Among other things we drove 19 hours to and from Colorado to visit one of my sisters, have fun with Grandparents and share the scenery with our visitor.  It was amazing and I did NOT GET ONE PICTURE. Not one.

Did you know you can hike in the Rocky Mountains in an ortho boot?  Many, many miles in fact.

Did you know you can belt-test for Goju-Shorei Karate in an ortho boot?  If you have awesome Sensei like I do you can.  Hardest test ever.

Then to end summer with a bang my 18 year old broke her jaw... in 3 places (along with 10 stitches and some wicked road rash) while trying out long-boarding.

Did you know you can't do anything with your mouth wired shut?  Really- not much of anything at all.

The moral of the summer to a western tune: Momma's, don't let your babies grow up to be long-boarders.

Summer's over, school is a whole quarter in, the boot's long gone, the jaw's unwired, and I'm back.


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