2015-07-07

Belated Karate Update: Competing, Injuries, Harry Potter, Gradings

It's been months since I last posted and I've experienced much. In short (and not in order), I competed in two competitions, got three injuries (two karate related), volunteered 11 hours for a 24 hour Harry Potter themed karate marathon which was awesome, and had my first belt grading resulting in receiving my yellow belt.


Competing

I competed for both kata and sparring twice as a white belt. I didn't place in either competition, but learned a lot.

Competition 1: There was no separate division for 35+ adults, so I competed with people who were much younger and much more experienced (orange belts, etc.). It was wonderful seeing some of them do the same kata I did, but much more polished and impressive. As a note, in competitions we are supposed to be judged based on our own belt level and so it shouldn't matter what belts the other people have.

Even though my school had taught me the procedures for competing, I was still very nervous about making a mistake in etiquette. My goal, which I met, was pretty low -- to not forget my kata part way through. ;)  Unfortunately, during sparring I kicked my partner in the chin. She was okay (thankfully!), but in doing so I damaged my toe which still hurts on and off even four months later. Ouchies.

I stayed until the end watching the black belts compete which was epic. My already high respect for Sensei grew as I watched his dedication, focus, and skill during the competition. It was wonderful showing support for the members of my club.

Competition 2: Whereas my first competition was after having done karate for less than two months, for this competition I had already done my grading and felt much more comfortable with the white belt kata. Although this time I was in a 35+ division, I was very intimidated to be competing against brown belts. Also, the reputation of the person I sparred against was known to me which added to my nervousness as well. 

I had really hoped I would win a medal at this competition especially as I thought it would be my best chance being that I was as 'senior' a white belt as possible seeing that I had already had my grading. Although I didn't place this time, I was happy that I had no injuries and I was happy to share in the successes of my fellow members.

Reflection: I'm not sure if it's a good idea to spar with my lack of skill. I think since I started karate last January, I've only sparred about 5 times (not including the competitions) which didn't seem nearly enough to prevent injury on account of not enough experience adjusting for the different heights of opponents on top of them moving/bouncing. Even during my second competition I punched my partner in the jaw. She was okay, thankfully. Later she hit me surprisingly hard on my head. Not that it hurt, but I was surprised enough she may have gotten another point on me -- a good lesson to really roll with the punches. 


Injuries

So far I've had two karate related injuries and there's a lesson here as both times it was because I made a mistake. The first was during sparring practice where I blocked a kick and jammed a thumb. This was due to my thumb not being held hard enough against my fist. The second was when I kicked too high, didn't have my toes back, and hit my partner's chin (yikes). This was in the last week of February and both injuries still hurt from time to time. It seems I heal a lot slower now than I did 20 years ago.

I also injured myself outside of karate turning an ankle. It took about two months to heal, but with the flexibility of karate (and the philosophy of working with your limitations) I only missed class for about a week and a half and was able to revise my techniques as needed.

Reflection: Practice proper technique and don't hit outside of our allowable zones. And more specifically you need to -consistently- practice proper technique at all times as during sparring when the adrenaline hits, you will end up falling back to however your normally practice. Practicing sloppy means fighting sloppy with a higher risk of injuries. Also, karate is very forgiving for working within people's limitations, injuries or other limitations.


Harry Potter Themed Mega-Training

This was a 24 hour (including sleepover) mega-training session for kids and it blew my mind in how it exceeded expectations. I mean the kids were sorted into the four houses, got to play quidditch, make magic wands, learn a wand kata, as well as a wand fighting self-defense kata, potions class, and more. It was amazing and the kids loved it. Heck, the adults loved it too with many of us making our own magic wands. It was also so very well organized and I felt I learned a lot as well. I just can't say enough good things about this event.

A picture of my daughter during the spell casting kata lesson
along with one of the wands that the kids made.

Grading

Although I succeeded and earned my yellow belt, I also didn't do as well in the grading as I expected. In addition to attending my own grading, weeks before that I also watched a black belt grading that was unique in that one person went for his Shodan, another for her Nidan, and another for her Sandan (1st, 2nd, 3rd degree black belts respectively). It was so very interesting to see the differences, at least during the public portion, for each grading and also to see people at that level of skill and mastery. It also brought tears to my eyes, especially during a continuous sparring test as the crowd cheered along with those who were sparring the person being tested. 

Reflection: Through my time as a white belt culminating in my grading I learned how much I underestimated how much time is needed to do well (even when judged at the level of a white belt as of course it will take years to truly master anything if I ever do). I remember being happy when less than two months in I had learned all the white belt moves and then thought I'd be ready for my grading soon. It's embarrassing, but I should have realized it takes so much longer to fine tune and improve techniques than to learn the basic movements. It's like how I know how to play the flute...but I have never mastered having a wonderful tone when I play -- flute playing, like karate, is so much more than learning the finger patterns/movements and can take a lifetime to master and even then there is always improvement to be made.

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Why no posts in the past few months? Life got busy, and then I fell into a procrastination trap. Perhaps you've experienced this one? It's where enough time goes by that I think I have so many posts to catch up on and I must do all those first before I can get to the current update/content. And then not feeling like making many posts, I procrastinate longer. Oops! The only way out is to rid oneself of the need to do everything in order and just do a post.

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