So much to do

If you're reading this, my apologies for not posting sooner. You may have guessed I'm a busy guy. Needless to say, I've passed the big goal and have my 3rd Degree Black Belt. Now I have my sights set on Japan. Watashi-wa Nihon-go ga sukoshi wakari-masu. I'd been looking at Iaido, but since I read Autumn Lightning by Dave Lowry I'm a changed man. Kenjutsu all the way!

I'll explain why but first a little Fighting Philosophy:
Kung Fu and other Chinese martial arts are very flowing, rapid striking arts with lots of circular movement.
Shotokan and other Japanese martial arts are very rigid and powerful. Linear arts with the 'one punch one kill' philosophy. Block and strike, done.
Kenpo combines these two philosophies, circular and linear. One punch should end the fight, but if it doesn't, I have a follow up. I stay standing and my stance is very important (as opposed to grappling on the ground, where the attacker's friends may easily kick me). I'm trained to defend against multiple attackers, in a modern setting, with modern weapons: clubs, knives, guns.

I want significantly different motion, but not a philosophy change.
Iaido is a beautiful, serious art based on the most efficient draw of the sword. But again it seems to be perry strike done. It goes so far as to include cleaning the blade after your strike. Where is the follow up? Where is the margin for error? What about multiple attackers?
For these reasons I will seek out Kenjutsu.



I passed my test! I'll be promoted to 3rd Degree Black Belt!


Official News

My whole team passed! Yay Black Belts! Jacob Passed! I'm so proud!

I still don't know when my test is. I'm avoiding potential knee problems by not biking. Wish me luck!


With the end in sight

Last group test was [Saturday]. My team passed the physical, and may be the first team to pass all at once, the first time. We certainly worked hard for it.

Before class I presented Ms. B___ with flowers, as thanks for being our leader. The other teachers pitched in. She was touched.

This birth to black belt was not without pain. Donald left, right at the end of the test, with a broken, bloody nose.

Blood, sweat, and tears.

We're all lucky it was at the end, not during the test. He'll be fine, he's broken his nose before. Mr. K___ set it.

It was a mass attack scene: everyone fighting everyone. We were all in control, though. I saw Donald on the ground, facing away from me. I gave him a kick from behind that sent him forward. Not hard, a push. I suspect he reached for the ground, and did not see Tim kicking at him. I saw the look of horror on Tim's face when the kick connected at a higher speed than he had expected. "I felt his nose break." Tim looked sick. I know just how he feels.

There was a mess, and a cleanup, and everyone is ok.

And, I think, everyone passed.

I have one more test to go. The big, scary test. Then I'll be a 3rd degree black belt.


When is my test?

As I prepared for this incredible Once In A Lifetime test, I never thought to ask what day it would be. I practiced everything, and was ready every day.
People seemed amazed that I didn't know when it would happen. I didn't have an answer to this quandary, nor an argument for why I shouldn't care.
So I asked. Twice.

In retrospect this was, of course, a mistake. As Mr. Kimbal told me, "you don't want to know." The anticipation will kill you.
I had the right answer, you see: be ready now. Be a 3rd already. It shouldn't matter when the test is, if I'm already a 3rd the teachers will undoubtedly see it in me. But now I have my argument for the people who ask. I don't know, I don't care, I should be ready every day.
Now I have an idea when the test is, but recognize where my practice is lacking. Will practice tonight.

Repetition is memorization. I am a 3rd, undoubtedly.


Step Exam


2 more test before 3rd Degree Black Belt.


Second Test

Little Jacob ran his best ever last weekend, and if he does that again Saturday, he'll pass the second test. The whole team is rooting for him.

I had the idea to split the team into pairs, and it worked wonderfully. All but one group caught on immediately. It was poetry. Now we're all working together!

I have two tests this week at the karate studio:
  • Saturday is the second test for 3rd black. There is a third test in five weeks, followed by the final test before Mr. White and other high level black belts on the board of directors. That is the wholly comprehensive test. Yes, they do mean EVERYTHING.
  • Thursday is a regular step exam. 6 techniques, stick work, and form 6.
Yesterday I ran all 14 techniques (8 for the test, 6 for the step exam). As a warmup, we did 460 straight punches, 138 front kicks, and 115 pushups!

Today I worked out:
25 pullups (sets of ten)
100 crunches, while cycling legs.
50 pushups
The Staff Set
Form 6


Practice for First Test

I crashed my bike Sunday, and have been limping since. This hasn't stopped me from doing 50 pushups every morning. Today I did 15 pullups, but the last three were ... less than acceptable. I certainly tried, though.
Today I practiced 64 techniques, including all the extension techniques.

Saturday's test starts with a jog. If that doesn't kill my leg, I should be fine for the rest of the exam.

Wish me luck!



Today I decided to do pullups until my arms fell off. I did five sets of ten. Then I did pushups.

50 pullups!
50 pushups



Day off workout

Yesterday's bike ride left me with a pain in my butt, but I still worked out today:

75 pushups
200 side crunches (100 each side)
10 pullups
weight work for biceps, shoulders.
7 pullups
50 pushups



Black Belt

One does not become a black belt by a single superhuman act. One becomes a black belt by performing an entirely human act every single day.



I Find Excitement in Strange Places

I don't know why I went up into the attic. But on the way down I found something amazing: a handhold!

Now I can do pullups every morning! Most people are not excited by this kind of discovery. I think most people would be happy to discover they could sleep for ten more minutes. I am not most people.

Today I did 10 pullups, and I'm very proud of myself. Yay!


Adjusting the Plan

Yesterday, after finishing my workout, I decided it was time to change gears. Yesterday I did an extra 25 pushups (after resting my arms) after my original 50. This morning I had to either do more or put them together.

I put them together and oh did it hurt. Then I added 25 to my crunches, bringing the total to 100. it hurt. a lot.

The new totals are 75 pushups, 100 crunches. This puts me about half way to my end goal. I still want to add some weight work, & pullups, to the routine.


Motivational Surprises

This morning I was not at all surprised at my lack of enthusiasm to work out, or to even get out of bed. It was too cold, I stayed up too late, the floor is cold, blah blah blah.

I hit the snooze one more time, pulled the blankets up, and tried to feel warm.

Notably warmer, but ever so reluctant, I begrudgingly dragged out of bed. The floor is not cold. the air is not that cold. i still don't want to do the pushups.

after standing around for a minute, i finally decide "pushups but no crunches" and get to work. Clearly I've missed a week but I push through it. Done. Stretch. Move on.

When I'm done I feel tightness in my abs. I'm bewildered at an overwhelming sensation to do crunches. Why? I could just go get on with my day... But no. There Must Be Crunches.

I didn't argue any further, I just did them. But I was surprised, to say the least, at my body's insistence that I do the crunches.


What did you practice today?

I've been sick for a week. Today's the first day I was really better. I practiced all the forms and about 32 techniques (about a quarter of the system). And kicks and punches on bags. It's my typical Sunday morning routine, and it lasts 2 hours.

Next month I'm staring the regular workout with the 'test candidates' on Saturday mornings. It's guided practice by Mr. Steve White, 8th degree black belt. I'm so psyched!


Brisk Walk

I jogged on Thursday at 15ºF, about a mile. And because I am crazy I wanted to go out and do it again.

So I did:
9:07am, 3 miles at 10ºF:
Mile 1: 8'43
Mile 2: 9'43
Mile 3: 10'00
Total: 28'27

The conditions: Packed snow over ice. I touched pavement exactly one time.


Twisted Twig

Last night we did Twisted Twig in class. This is one of those fun techniques where you jump up in the air and land on your attacker, multiple times. We had a blast!

Tonight I reinforced Monday's techniques to burn them in.



Today I worked on the details of a couple extensions that have been giving me trouble.

Locked Wing, Calming the Storm.
Gift of Destruction, Glancing Salute, Gift of Destiny.

I practiced them each (at least) five times to burn in the correct motion, then worked on drawing a distinction between Gift of Destruction and Glancing Salute, pinpointing the similar moment and identifying the differences. I said the name of the techniques out loud to help the memorization process.

Tomorrow, check out my post on Dreams with Deadlines.


6am Sunday

There is only one reason why I woke up at 6am on a Sunday:

To Practice Kenpo

Thirty minutes of forms to warm up. Sixty minutes of techniques (awesome!) then thirty minutes of bag work.

What a great workout! It was nice to have the rest of the day to lounge around.


Techniques with my Aunt

My aunt and I ran techniques on new years day: 30 or so. Then we ran form 5.