“got any new war wounds?” asks J, a second-degree black belt who i sparred with a couple days ago. she is smiling. i guess we both are. when you practice jumping, kicking, and punching 4 to 5 times a week, getting hurt is a regular thing. it’s one of those things everyone at the dojang has in common and you know without asking. of course, sometimes it’s fun to compare.
i talked for a moment about my toe. don’t know if it’s broken, but it’s something. healing slowly, i guess. i rolled it under my foot when pivoting for a spin hook kick…last week? and it’s been swollen and well, sorta rigid. probably fractured it. like my left hand middle finger, not long ago.
i didn’t mention my damaged/compressed/whatever nerves in my left arm and neck, because she said “new,” and i’ve had the nerve thing for a few months now. i made a neurologist’s appointment, but on thinking further, i canceled it. what can they do? in that school of medicine, surgery is a cure (i think my doctor said “rerouting the nerves,” and that’s not an option right now. so i’m living with the weird fire and numbness that is always somewhat at play in my arm and hand and back/neck nowadays. holding out hope that it clears up on its own, or that a chiropractor can help a little.
i told her the little story about my imaginary bout of appendicitis. which turned out to be severely sore muscles localized asymmetrically in the lower right quadrant of my torso. right about where your appendix is. really worked those muscles hard due to a heavy concentration of (right leg) jumping reverse turning kicks as well as (right leg) spin hook kicks. you’ll do this in martial arts: isolate and work muscle groups to a degree you never have before. it’s strengthening those muscles, along with developing balance, flexibility, and confidence in your motion, that allows you to pull off kicks you never could before.
so, yeah. both kicks i’ve been drilling hard on require a serious amount of torque in the core muscles; the abs. especially that jumping reverse turning kick, where you do a quick jump in place, and rotate 180 degrees in the air before extending your leg in a back kick in the direction you had been facing. to thrust that leg out hard and extend with speed, while you whip your upper body counter-weight-like in the opposite direction calls on your abs to really flex hard. and when you combine both those kicks in a week of intense drilling? i mean, i laugh now at the fact that i was nearly certain i’d be going to the operating room, the ache was so strong in my side. but it was an odd place to have such an acute pain. that will teach me to favor one side too much in reps.
i didn’t mention my left wrist, either, which i woke up feeling was weirdly tweaked the other day. as if i had fallen on it and hurt the joint. maybe i slept on it very stressfully. that’s possible.
J showed me a deep dark bruise on her leg from sparring drills, where she had got her axe kick over someone’s guard, and then caught their round kick in her calf. she also pointed to her shoulder and said she had caught my hopping side kick when we sparred, surprised that it was so high, for a side kick. (she’s taller than me by a few inches). i was too…i had been meaning to hit her hogu (chest/rib protecter). i talked about how i used that kick, what i found it good for, and she noted that she’d have to practice it more, work it in to her own repertoire more.
we had fun sparring. we agreed on that. an especially funny part was how we both do jumping reverse turning kicks regularly (not everyone can or wants to do this kick) and we both know its a kick i’ve been focusing a lot on lately (i chose it for my Chodanbo breaking technique and i’m breaking (wood) in the upcoming Kids Fest demo with it) so there were a couple times when we were facing off like an old west showdown gun draw, ready to fly into motion, but also waiting for the other person to do it so we could move before we got kicked. she did fire one off at me, i jumped out of the way in time. i think i was anticipating it. don’t know. must have been.
and then she asked me “why did you just stand there and let me kick you at the end?” she was talking about a couple roundhouse kicks that i don’t really even remember being hit with. “you’re like kicking a wall,” she said.
“i don’t know…” i answered, searching my memory. why the hell was i?
i think sometimes i do this because i’m scanning for an opening, waiting to strike, and if someone kicks me, i try not to let it distract me and keep waiting, but that’s silly because when someone kicks you, there will be an opening. maybe i have to be ready to change my plans quicker. maybe i was looking for an opening, or considering my next kick, and instead of just reacting to their action, i stayed locked on my goal and since the kick could be ignored, i did. more of that “being able to take a hit” pride that i sometimes have. there’s a gap between olympic point sparring (avoid getting hit, even if it’s a feather touch in the scoring area) and just training to fight (being able to take a hit and not let it jar or distract you, making your guard absorb most of the brunt, and waiting for a good opening to hammer someone with power). and truth be told, i’m much more in the actual training to fight camp. but i’d also like to combine those two methods more. in time, in time.
and with lots of practice. lots more, that is. we had a brief talk on ways to be ready to react faster, on some new strategies we might be able to implement in training to help this. personally, i just think you have to do things over and over and over, so your body can become used to seeing them and living through reacting to them.
anyway, sparring with J is fun. i have a lot of respect for her form and technique. she has some of the best eye on posture and stance and technique at the school. her stuff always looks good, and she’s a good one to ask for help on anything you’re fuzzy on. and i feel good that i dodged one of her kicks as well as tagged her with one of my own, despite anything else. she’s 2nd Dan, after all.
if you recall about a year ago, i wrote on one of the black belts telling me to become aware of my body and to relax, as i was tensing up a lot. it was not J that first time, but she was the second to bring it to my attention back then.
we’ve covered a lot of ground since then! pretty amazing.
which is a good segue into a brief look back. it’s actually a year and a couple days, now, that i’ve been training at USTC. so much has happened, and so much of it doesn’t fit so well into a prosaic telling. but i will say that it’s been an amazing journey, and it keeps getting better.
i can’t yet do the sideways split that i set for a goal last year, but i’m still pushing at it! and i’ve gotten a lot lower to the floor than i began, that’s for sure. so the goal is june 2012, then! onward.
reading back over some of the early posts i wrote after coming back to training really give me some gratitude. and a feeling of accomplishment. i forget how slow things moved the first few months, half year, back to training. i forgot that i couldn’t even do 30 situps in one shot! sort of embarrassing. i do remember how painful it was to push through the wall of lung capacity (which can always increase, but class used to be searing pain in my lungs each time, even with my inhaler). i do, also, remember how stiff and tense i was for a while. i’m glad i wrote about these unpleasant things, as our minds tend to de-emphasize those scenes as we go forward. but it’s important to remember where we’ve come from.
there’s always more progress to make, of course. always new challenges.
and here i am now at Chodanbo. highest color belt rank. pretty wild. last stretch before i enter that association of black belts. i don’t plan to stop there, but i don’t really think too far ahead much. i’ve got plenty of things to focus on in the now. training is like that! before march, i’ll be doing a lot of drilling on all i’ve learned, some reports to write, and many techniques to polish, as well as korean language/commands to get down before the black belt test.
and i don’t have much more to say on that angle. it’s an important time, and i’m excited about what’s ahead, and where i am. i felt i should write publicly on it to note it, and mark the time. i’ve written a bunch more on the test itself, and related things in my private writings. but it’s one of those things that is sweeter and…more real when you just do it, live it, and seems to only grow more distant and unreal when you write it out in a place like this.
still working with the CDT (core demo team) twice a week, aside from my regular workouts. that’s some fun stuff. we did korea night, which i’ve written a little bit about. we’re drilling now for a Kids Fest thing, where we put on two shows for a mostly-children audience. and there will be more after that. always the name of the game is upping the game, and that’s the part i focus on. honing my Jumping Reverse Turning kick, cuz that’s the one i’ll be doing on stage to break wood. it’s a hell of a kick. powerful for sure. and blind. wherein with a bunch of jumping spinning kicks, you have a split second to keep your eye on your target before you kick it, this one is purely muscle memory. there’s really no time to eye your target, as you are spinning in the air, and your feet are off the ground. you have to get a feel for nailing your target height-wise as well as side-to-side—and while facing the opposite way. it’s fun!
always still working on my Tornado Roundhouse, too. been months, but that one’s gonna take a long time to get comfortable with, i can tell. it’s a doozy. but the power in these two kicks is off the chain. once in a while, as you practice over and over, you’ll get it just right (almost by accident!) and connect just where and when you should and you’ll feel all that momentum and torque clicking perfectly and your foot will drive into your target with an amazing amount of force, and will feel perfect. no strain from overextension, no off-target stress on your joint, no out of balance dilution of power. little morsels of bliss, those moments. and you keep on going, kick after kick, knowing that those moments will come more and more only if you don’t give up. to me, this process feels a lot like whittling. in there…in that space where your body, mind and the target meet, there is this perfectly formed action. and your practice is the knife that whittles away the incorrect shapes and gestures your body makes as it learns to find that form, that beautiful shape that was conceived so long ago by the masters in the East.
been doing other things, too. thinking more and more on a new iteration of WRECKINGBOY music. want to meld some really heavy, powerful sound to the “gentle” voice that i have recently been told my singing voice is. some mixture of melody, poetry, and earth-pounding percussion and guitar. that’s simmering. too much on my plate to give energy to it beyond the slow cook right now. but i’m feeling it down the road.
also some good developments happening, potentially, with my little circle of bros at Digital Stoneworks. maybe there’ll be more news on that soon. time will tell.
meanwhile, as is often the case, i have the girls here. and it’s time to give them lunch so i must go.