Tuesday, December 1, 2009

how things change

I have been reflecting on my training for some time. I was questioning my commitment to training in a martial art which emphasizes forms and patterns rather than live training.

The thought of learning more katas and other patterns didn't make me enthusiastic. Also, for me, there will never be proficiency, let alone efficiency or elegance in high kicks, spinning kicks and some other pretty stuff. I am tall and have long legs and my balance sucks, so to speak. I was really struggling with those kicks. And that illustrates a point. If something isn't working for me due to body type or lack of ability, then I'd rather just learn it on a basic level and concentrate on other techniques which I can do efficiently. Just talking from a self defence point of view here.

That aside, I've been doing between 7 and 9 individual classes most weeks, some days 2 or even 3 classes. That's pretty heavy so by the last class in one evening, the brain is full and the body empty!

Ok, so to cut a long story short, I told Kyoshi last night that I will not continue with my Karate training. I told him why. It upset me a bit because I hate endings of any sort. A friend later commented it was fair to be upset because I put emotion into the training so it's an emotional thing to end it, and that's OK. In any case, Kyoshi did laugh and say that I'm a bit unusual, liking all the "gung-ho" stuff (ie: PFS and BJJ), where a lot of people who come for Karate lessons, especially the women, prefer the orderly, no/low contact nature of this Karate school. And yes, that's right, I do like the live training with plenty of sparring, and close contact is fine (otherwise I wouldn't like grappling!).

As I said, I'd been mulling that over for a while. I'm not a believer in doing something for the sake of it, if my heart isn't in it. I'd rather not do it than do it half-heartedly and waste the instructor's time and my time. I'm glad for what I did learn in the time I trained, and what I learned about myself. I'm glad for the solid background in dojo etiquette and mutual respect. I'm glad for the other doors it opened for me, too. I have no regrets about my training. Only I came to a point where I wished to draw a line under it and move onto other things.

So while it was sad, now I'm relieved and I can put all my energy into what I like best - the gung-ho stuff :-)

The rest of last night was fun.

I thoroughly enjoyed a PFS class which was all (no-gi) grappling. Aside from learning a couple of new moves, we did a fair bit of rolling. One of the sweeps I learned in BJJ last week worked sweetly for me. Also, I caught myself using a hook on someone's leg to try and move him off me, which turned into another sweep. I didn't think, it just happened. I remember thinking WOW, how did that happen. As if the foot was self controlled, it hooked and propelled the guy's leg skywards. I've not been using hooks enough, so that was reason for happiness ;-) Right at the end, I wrapped up the last roll with a neat and tight triangle, after lots of positional changes. Something else to feel good about.

In the BJJ class, we worked on a transition from armbar from guard to sweep or from armbar to omoplata. Then another sweep where we attempt an armbar but they lean across.

The rest of the class was rolling. I ended up going non-stop for about 15 minutes. As usual, I was smashed by one of the big guys. I try my best to stay out from under him, but he still gets me every time.

I rolled with one of the newer guys and helped him a bit with escapes and sweeps until I choked him from guard. During a second roll with him later on, I again helped him a little. He did a lovely bridge and roll at one stage and I told him so. The I swept him and ended up in mount. I threated to wrap up one of his arms and while he defended, I took his other arm in a figure four.

I then had an excellent roll with one of our purple belts. He pointed out when I made on major mistake and gave me a chance to go back one step. I had turtled up and was going for a single but had my head outside. Put myself in a beautiful position for a rollover crucifix.... Duh. We went on for a bit and there were lots of positional changes. I made a slick changeover from something to a triangle once ("nice!"), but then he defended in a way that still makes me scratch my head. He somehow extended one of my arms with his foot??? During the roll, he didn't attack mostly, just defended, which gave me a chance to work my attack game. I (think) I ended up armbarring him.

Then my turn was with a big blue belt. I continued working on my new strategy of sprawl, head control, try to get the back. He turtled which I still have trouble with, but I succeeded in turning him over and getting his back. Couldn't sink the choke but maintained back control for a while. Then various things happened (which I can't recall) until I saw an opportunity for another triangle. I didn't have it in really tight, but he said he wanted to try some new defence so I waited. We had a laugh as he couldn't remember all of it. I don't know where it went from there but time was up soon after.

I know I managed several sweeps during the evening's assorted rolls, I escaped several bad positions and I saw and capitalized on several opportunities to attack. And recently I noticed that I can go from one attack to another, because I can see the opening and because I have the other attack in my head. I must be on the right track, and it feels great. It makes up for the frequent DUH moments when I go blank and don't know what to do or something I try results in a heroic failure that lands me in a really crappy position. I know that in the beginning sometimes I was hesitant to try things, because I was worried about failing and landing on the bottom. The difference is that now, if I end up on the bottom, I see that as an opportunity to work my escapes. And undoubtedly, I will have endless opportunities to practice escapes :-))

So that was my Monday evening.


  1. I can't think of many people who train in a TMA and BJJ. It seems that eventually, they all want to dedicate any training time they have to BJJ. ;)

  2. I'm glad your karate instructor was understanding and let you move on gracefully.

  3. Hi Slidey,

    Well, at first it was ok, because it was standup and groundwork and I think it's good to learn about both. However, in our PFS classes we also do standup, but with a view to skills development, rather than learning patterns.

    The school is great, has a nice crowd and good facilities. I really enjoyed my time there, and I will keep attending the PFS classes there.

    Even without a time clash between the Karate and BJJ classes, I would have eventually decided to save my energy for the BJJ classes. The bottom line is I'm addicted to BJJ where I lost my fire for Karate.

    Interestingly, the Sensei at the other Dojo (Karate school) has incorporated a lot of other stuff, including groundwork, into his Karate curriculum. They also do a lot of sparring as far as I can see. He is one of few people I know who trains in Karate and BJJ. But as you say, it's the exception.


    Yes, it made it much easier. I was glad he didn't get upset (mad or sad!). Some of the stuff I've read on forums about instructors going off their tree when they lose a student makes me so glad I'm dealing with good people here.

    I understand though that an instructor would be emotional, as he has put his time, hopes and energy into my training. He has invested part of himself and it's an emotional thing. Still, he needs to be mature enough to respect a student's decision and give his blessing.

    My next BJJ class is at lunchtime, and there will be no more guilt tripping about missing yet another Karate class ;-)