Saturday, February 12, 2011
But that may be a good thing...
At the dojo we've just shifted into high gear in prepping for the World Tournament (late May). Every Thursday night is now a fight night, no exceptions. Tuesdays may or may not, depending on who's there, and what they feel like, but Thursdays, always. We're also using a lot more continuous fighting - like running barrels, where one person has to fight the rest of the class in sequence. We're especially low on students this year (we usually run about twelve people total in the dojo, but right now we have eight if everyone is there - including the teachers!), which means barrels aren't nearly the endurance test they have been in years past. To make the problem worse, Sensei is not sparring because his knee hasn't been healing from his ACL tear the way it should, and Sensei D is also not sparring for reasons unknown - he has a number of medical problems, but tends not to talk about them much. Suffice it to say that standing next to an exploding propane tank tends to leave one with significant permanent medical issues.
So, up until last night, the lower belts were getting a pretty good workout on fight nights - five fights running is pretty good when all of your opponents are your size and skill level or more - but our teenaged brown belt and I really only had each other who were any kind of challenge. Well, last night Sensei's daughter - seventeen, a purple belt (one level down from brown), and with some of the fastest feet I've ever seen - joined us for class, and will evidently be joining us with some regularity up until World's. Woohoo!
I could probably pose for a publicity shot for a battered women's shelter right now. I've got deep muscle bruises on my right bicep and triceps, and left quad, and less prominent bruises on both shins, my left lower ribs, left hip, left bicep, and mid-chest. Oh - and somebody tagged me on the nose, just short of hard enough for black eyes (thank goodness), but hard enough to leave a mark and a sore spot. But I was grinning all the way home, and felt absolutely great. Mostly because I gave as good as I got, and possibly more. It's been a long time since we had a fight night that actually had me tired by the end. It's still not the training I'd like to have - in which one hits the end of the last fight, bows out, and then drops to the floor for about ten minutes before you can move again - but it's so, so much better than just having one or two all-out battles in the whole night. Now if we can just get the two sensei back into the game, we'll be golden.
And yes - most of the people in my life think I'm deeply weird for loving karate and particularly sparring as much as I do. But I'm not in love with pain, I'm in love with the challenge. I'm not a particularly fast or coordinated person. Plus I over think which slows me down even more. Karate is hard for me in a way few things are, and I relish that. To have gotten good enough to give a pair of young, fit, fast teenagers a run for their money is thoroughly exhilarating.
The other half of the beatings is not mine. Our previously mentioned teen brown belt is ready to test for black. Very ready to test for black. There's only one problem - he has some required breaking to do before he is allowed to test, and there's a couple that he can't seem to get through for the life of him. Hammer fists, chops, kicks - all of those are no problem - but ask him to punch through a board, and you can see him tense up all over. His punching slows way down, and he bounces off the surface every time. Put a towel over the board, and he goes through it. Take the towel off and he bounces off again. The same thing happens when he tries to break a concrete block with a stomp - he visibly tenses up, and a block that he could probably break just by jumping on it with one foot, goes nowhere. It's frustrating watching him, and it's got to be about ten times more frustrating being him. We've tried working him up to it, but in the end there's not much to do but to keep trying, hoping that one of these days he figures out he really can do it, and relaxes enough to let it happen.
In the fitness/weight loss arena, I seem to have temporarily plateaued at 194. OTOH, my endurance is excellent - I was worked, sweaty and bruised, but not even breathing hard by the end of my barrel last night - and my weight training continues to go well. Though I might have done better to do my weight training before karate yesterday, as doing lunges with a bruised quadriceps is just about as much fun as you might expect. Something I'll keep in mind in future weeks.
I will also say that these kinds of fight nights are excellent motivation, since the more muscle I develop, and the more weight I lose, the faster and stronger I'll be, and the fewer bruises I should get. I'd much rather dish them out than take them!