On Flinching in Karate Class

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Three weeks ago, was the first time after a very long while that I practiced Karate with our Shito Ryu Master. And the whole training part was a little less than an hour. I was just on my way home from work which is more than 14 kilometers away from home.  The security guards at our village’s gate pointed up towards the basketball gym and said, your friends are up there training.  And I thought really, at this day? It’s not even sunday. You see, I have this neighbor who presently works as a chief engineer in Taisho, a Japanese construction company. He’s presently 60 years old and has been retired from teaching karate for almost 25 years. He had spent time teaching Karate in Tokyo, not sure which university though, but he said he was part of a club. And just like the first Karate Kid, it just so happened that he taught karate to me 2-3 hours a week every sunday. So, seeing them practice Karate off sundays was unlikely but then i thought, it is a holiday after all. I remembered how he invited us to train with him last December of 2012, I could not come though but my sparring partner (and also best friend) was free. He has been taking extra lessons ever since. He has more free time than me. Since he only focuses on his thesis defense for the month of march. I’m sure that if he gets back to work we’ll pretty much have the same busy schedule.

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So, the first thing I did notice when I went up was how my sparring partner improved in two things. One was the ferocity of his punches which were all aimed at the head, second was his damnable footwork. Damnable in a good and positive sense, think of it as a healthy and friendly competition. Wow, a month and a half (6Ssundays plus 4 holidays a total of 10 days advanced than me). I praised him when I entered, but only after gaping my mouth. That was when he started to grow conscious and his attacks faltered. It looks like I distracted his concentration there. I hurriedly went home to change to join them in their last hour to train spar. I jumped right into the fray, which is my good point, the bad point was I don’t know enough ways to attack. Our master’s attack defense seems so formidable. I could remember all my punches being quickly deflected. And he gave me a combination of punches, kicks and some techniques when i get cornered. This time though, he rested first and I was left with my sparring partner, Isagani, I found myself flinching, though i tried to stop it, whether in trying to deflect his punches or having my punches connect with him. Now the problem was that when I sense that my punch is about to connect, I flinch again. Our master yelled at me, don’t Flinch a lot of times, monitoring my reactions, punches and kicks thrown.

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Thinking about the play spar after a five minute break, I recalled Sun Tzu’s note of wisdom. War is a battle of deceit not just strength. When weak, retreat. When strong, attack. Well i could not remember all of those techniques that flowed out of my head, but in a sense, i knew i could not yet win over Gani’s attacks, so I have to find a way to disrupt his combination. I did so by calming myself, since I get rather jumpy when i’m excited, like a dog who haven’t been outside for a long while. I get that, i calmed down and my hyper focus began to dissipate allowing me to sense his attacks better. I was able to time my kick as a feint quickly followed by a punch or two. I kpet doing that since I had a longer reach, and i was able to get a second from him allowing me to stop his attacks altogether. I was like “Wow, I actually did it.” Then our master praised my quick thinking, he saw through my feints and thinking. I actually stifled a laugh, but found that i couldn’t. I really did TRY to swallow a laugh or two…but couldn’t. Now talk about humility. That didn’t work much with my master. He knows how I tried to do it and ended up flinching. At least in when i control my hyperfocus, dropping it for that higher sense thing. I could somehow observe him more, and watch and time my defense. Also, i could not yet attack as often, so instead I opted for defense and really observed how he does his. At the end of the blog, i’m really going to have to summarize all the lessons that I learned.

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(from the artofmanliness – face it, isn;t there a greater sucker for one fights women?)

Even though i sucked in play sparring class, I was able to learn more than from the past lessons. Think of it as combining all the other lessons I learned in my classes before, to the amount of revelations I got during the 45-minute play spar were higher. Maybe, for one, i learnt how to be calmer in attacking. In being calm, you get to sense your surroundings better, you not only focus on a way to enter his attacks, you try to observe how you can deflect his attacks (I was thinking that since he was way beyond my level and also because our master was in that flow). Also, I learnt how to execute my attacks using feints. Although master taught me that I still have a lot to iprove with my legs, it was a good attempt to try to control my opponent with my feints. Still the reason it didn’t work on him was because my kicks were slow, also my punches were weak since I flinch. Now the tendency to flinch in a way does affect my punches. Especially when I connect, I still flinch because I’m afraid of hurting myself as well as hurting others. When I do flinch whenever I punch I end up pulling my fists restraining them in order to control the thrown punch. I tried to control this instinct, I tried to tell my master that I was aware that I am flinching but could not control it yet.  I do try to swallow this instinct to flee, perhaps doing so would help me have a better grasp of the battle situation. Perhaps if I do, I would be able to control my punches more and time my attacks with accuracy better.

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Reflecting on what I learned during this experience, I could summarize it in hopes that I could always remember them better. It is always advisable, at least to me, that in fighting, one has to calm down to better sense your opponents reactions. It also helps you to better time your attacks. In my experience calming down helps you clear your thoughts. It can also help you with overcoming fear. The breathing in and out deep method of Sanchin helped out a lot in maintaining control and regulated my reactions. I tried it a lot of times, when excitement gets the better of me, I waste a lot of movements, unlike when I’m calm, I tend to get my punches to connect accurately as I wait for openings in my sparring partner’s attacks.

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This blog entry may be more therapeutical rather than written to inform or entertain. Think of it as a diary on your learnings. Something like that. – Yeah, I’d like to thank the other martial arts blogs that I’ve read for the past few months. What really helped was the noting out the lessons learned as to having to relearn them after a few months of a consistent training hiatus. Don’t worry; this ain’t part of reasons dot com. Really, sometimes you find yourself getting into recurring situations for several months or even years. I’ll explain it in a different post though, perhaps as a Flinstones Chewables to keep the thought running before I build it up as a full blog post on my The Morning Bath Post. Anyway, I’m done for today.

Sukoshiyama, The Morning Bath Post

– 16 APR 13

* The Morning Bath Post – General informal essays, Flintstones Chewables – lines of thought for future blog entries (one to two short paragraphs), Poetry – simply posted as poetry and poetry analyses, Ooh…Crafty! – Essays on cosplay

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