Growing Up On The Mat

June 27, 2015 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

June 22, 2015 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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