On Flinching in Karate Class


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.


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.


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.


(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.


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.


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


On getting back to poetry writing

it’s been two years since i last wrote a poem or even attempted to write one. Now comes the hard part, recognizing which experiences to magnify, retelling it in a way that seems natural, and working out the works. Pretty much, most of my writs are conversational essays. Well in a way, pieces that were talked about with friends and later elaborated in text. Sort of self-expression but in a way that answers your needs.

1993 Battle Chess and more Chess

While I was having a shower, I thought about a lot of other things. Mostly it was my past:


When I was still a little boy then. I grew up with the battle chess. I still remember the huge pixelized characters fighting to the death. They had the lowly pawns in full battle gear; a shining grayish silver like those in the Cecon Vitamins advertisement. The pawns were equipped with a long spear that they use for attacking. The rook was just one big tower that looked like a pile of bricks and when captured or moves turns into the brick golem. One would imagine either a red brick or blue brick ‘thing’ from fantastic four that moves irritatingly slow. The knight carried a short sword with a four checkered shield for parrying. The bishop had a spear but with large blade on top. The queen had magic powers, while the king, an old and bearded guy who wears a gemmed fur coat and a scepter has a hidden dagger. Of course, as a young kid I didn’t find any difference between chess and checkers (dama and perdigama). All I thought chess was about was material superiority which later changed throughout the years. I could always turn back the time with the replay button which gave me a demigod status. Watching in delight the animations that take place, the king flattened by the rook, the king cornered by a bishop and sliced in a whirling tornado-like motion, and even the opposing queen seducing the king, Battle chess was surely a delight then. It was enough for a start.

When I had my nth birthday back when I was a kid, I was surprised to get a chess board. It was such a delight, at least now I don’t have to wait until physical education to play chess. I do think that it was strange to include Chess in P.E. classes; really, you don’t use physical exertion when playing chess except if you’re moving a 50 kilogram knight to capture a pawn. Hahaha. I remember back then in my hometown in _a_ _i__s. We still lived in a small subdivision; I used to bring my chess board around, walking through other villages as a young boy looking for an opponent to play with. Seriously, i walked around under the heat of the sun with only a few pesos in my pocket or sometimes even without anything with me except for my chess board; I would scour two or three subdivisions via the friendship route. I always kept three rules in mind when playing chess and that is first that I would never surrender no matter how bleak the circumstances are. Second, that I would always, always have a touch move rule, and lastly, a third rule which is I would never ever bet my money. One is that my parents forbid me to, while second, gambling can be addicting. Whenever I think about all these things, about how I would wander around villages with a chess board to play chess I would just laugh to myself. I don’t care what people think, and if they ask me why I laughed I just tell them I remembered a funny thought I just had.

On Haruki Murakami’s Dance, Dance, Dance

morningbathpost-murakami, gloc 9 rapper

I skipped merienda reading Murakami’s ‘Dance, Dance, Dance’ possibly a sequel to ‘a wild sheep chase’. And it is though he didn’t add number with the same title or the main character’s name; “No, of course not”, I thought to myself. Instead, he would name his books accordingly to what the story may be said is about. It’s the theme or more of the plot in big bold letters to catch attention. Now I’m eating butter bread as an appetizer before a large meal of fried chicken and chopseuy. Delicious.

Have any of you read or even have heard of Haruki Murakami? Well, I can say he writes brilliantly and is my favorite writer. I’m tempted to justify why I like him even though no one’s asking. And I do think of that a lot especially if someone comes up to me and asks why I like reading his works or why I do think he’s a great writer. So far, no one’s asking yet. But still it keeps bugging me. And as a writer myself I feel that somehow in a few years or so a professor critiquing my work would ask and I would be required to answer back in a most intellectual sense. Or to put it simply how to answer someone asking what the book is all about. I can go in great lengths to narrate what I just read or I could simply tell him what the whole book talks about, meaning what I thought the author intended. Somehow it all boils down on me that I do have to make a point of what I am saying. Please bear with me.

Well that’s enough introductions, I guess. Now I have to realign my thoughts about Murakami’s ‘Dance, Dance, Dance’. Observing the book’s cover art published under Vintage it had an all white background with the author’s name in bold ink, perhaps using the arial font. It has a half of its space for the illustration of a broken record piece as if torn apart and not cut in a straight line. Just above the illustration is the book’s title ‘Dance, Dance, Dance’ in red ink with the last ‘Dance’ word emphasized. This brings us to an earlier part of the book where the Sheepman tells the main character which I think was not even mentioned.  I’m not sure. But anyway, the sheepman tells him to keep on dancing no matter what happens. Pondering on this thought, I remember Gloc  9’s song about dancing. And it tells you to keep on dancing whatever life throws at you. It’s a catchy song, funny even and truth to his words. That’s why I like Gloc 9. So to put on simply, regardless of the plot the book tells you to live, no matter how pointless it may seem, just continue to live, live, live. As the Sheepman says, keep on dancing even if the record’s broken, just keep on dancing.

This is perhaps going to be a long essay about the book I just read. I always get those “hangovers”, the good kind, from the books that I’ve enjoyed reading. Usually they leave me spaced out and pondering on the words of wisdom that the book is filled with. Anyway, let’s move on to the next thing in mind. Murakami does make poetry out of what he writes. Now it’s really hard to explain especially what poetry is. All I can say is that I am a poet myself and understanding poetry is sort of similar to the experience I have reading Murakami’s works.

There’s this whole atmosphere that he writes about in the two books. There’s the larger part which is isolation. The character is isolated, not like a hermit or something, but more of a wallflower and somewhat…– But i’ll continue writing about it in another post.



You come to me as a goat
among flock of sheep. You
offer words I do not understand.
I neither welcomed you
Nor offered any words.


They scare us. I will not offer
Anything except what the  poets,
Juvenile writers of love want.
A forced smile for something
We do not want nor have
Any interest for, an awkward
Conversation where we tell you
“Profound! Profound! Profound!”
And pretend that all this is
Heart felt.

We are caught
in a mouse trap
offering no words for escape.

-Sukoshiyama, 20DEC12

A note to my younger self. It’s an expression every poet knows, that look from people with “do we have to comment?”

-using that look and comment, i tried to use the awkwardness as the persona of the poem.

the flower proverb II


the ruffling of
wet leaves, dews
dance on rain wept
petals, or on ground
-bore-earth. In her
they sought, in her
they found



i wrote this one for my mom who had remained a strong pillar in my life. I remembered the first time there was an earthquake in

_s __n_s. it wasn’t strong, but i noticed that i felt very nauseous and that the lights and water glasses were moving. We all laughed when i pointed it out until our mom held our hands up close and prayed aloud for us. That scene was only so short, yet she was filled with an unspeakable joy i could not comprehend as if her spirit had not been shaken by any possibility. This is her, how something so fragile as a flower could live under such a storm and be a symbol of hope, or solace. How mothers can be so reassuring. – So for a poem, i wrote instead an image. Hopefully, next time i would write without any explanations. The poem would finally speak for itself.



Half man, half tree:
Describe limbs with leaves (“no, not like Pinocchio”).
And when the reader reads, looks only at
One part: wood
(but not sees)
“We are men, not carved wood”

– Sukoshiyama, 2010

Again, just like my last post, this is not really inspiration, like the usual feeling that a poet waits for. It’s more of a response poem.  I just know that i was deeply moved by this commercial by the National geographic channel about a certain group of people, or a family who had warts that looked like the bark of trees. This is for them, and perhaps those people who grew up not understanding why they have this or that condition. BTW, i have ADHD, and that’s something I cannot hide. I think that this is also for them, for me, for us.