Sunday, October 23, 2011

Formal Training Week 12

I can't believe I have actually been training at Equa Do for four months already. Yet, as you can see by the title of this post, that is most certainly the case. Last week was my second week learning to fight in a dobok, and I am pleased to say it was a good deal easier this week. But before I get to that, there are some other things I should perhaps mention.

My landlord Cindy, who struggles with alcoholism, lost her temper when we got home after the belt ceremony and in a drunken anger ripped some adaptive aids Chads mom had put up off the walls, complaining that it made the house look like crap. Obviously she was completely irrational, and when Chad's mom said as much she grew very upset and a screaming match erupted. What she said is not appropriate for this blog, but let's just say she revealed her true feelings about those with special needs. She hates them, because they don't fit into how she wants her world: perfect. Needless to say, we moved out. I had a quick meeting with Master Eric before class this week as a result. Cindy does know where Equa Do is located, since she drove me there a few times over the summer. I was concerned that she would show up there one night while we are having class and if Master Eric didn't know about the situation he could welcome her in as a student and inadvertently create a bad situation.
I met with Master Eric and he did not take the news well at all, stating that should she ever show up, he would reprimand her for what she put myself and Chad through and promptly throw her out. This reassured me, as did his acceptance of the fact that I view Sensei in a parental role. This is something Cindy was not able to ever accept, and at one point she had expressed a belief that if Master Eric knew, he would not condone such a relationship.Once he had me calm, he asked me to go take Spike for a walk outside while I waited for Sensei.

Sensei arrived shortly after the Tae Kwon Do class began, and was drafted into helping, so I didn't get as much time with him as I would have liked. Robbie arrived with Chad about ten minutes before class was supposed to start. This was the first time he had worn his complete dobok and belt, and I can tell you he looked good. But just as that thought crossed my mind it was time for class to begin.
There are three classes that meet during the 7:30-8:30 time slot on Thursdays, something that caused a bit of an issue once class had formally begun. All of the techniques used by martial artists require ample space, at least when you are first learning them, Fighting in close quarters is something that is only emphasized after someone has demonstrated true mastery of a technique. So, with that in mind, we moved a table and chairs aside in the waiting area at Equa Do and literally trained in the back corner.

We did our usual stretches and sixty half jumping jacks, which earned praise from Master Eric. Then Sensei brought over the foam blockers and I immediately knew what we were doing.Chad and I were going to be tested on our blocking. I found this very difficult to do when I was in such close quarters with Chad, but somehow we made it work. We did go beyond my initial training in this that I had done with Anthony, as Sensei worked with us not only on blocking unfriendly weapon blows, but how to take control of an opponent's weapon and then use it against them.

Chad continues to struggle with defending himself while still adequately protecting his body from auxiliary attacks. He brings his elbows too far out from his sides, and leaves his ribcage open. Sensei and I felt that he was having trouble grasping the types of consequences that can arise from making those types of mistakes in a real life encounter, so Sensei grabbed two of the training blades typically used in teaching the basics of knife combat. One was a standard knife, the other was a karambit. The karambit  is a small, curved, hand held blade, particularly effective when used for evisceration. In demonstrating with the blades exactly how devastating Chad's hesitancy and inability to multitask can be he really drove the point home.

Sensei may have had more planned for this training session, however, thanks to him teaching us about the use of the karambit there was not much time, and so we ended class by bowing out.

More soon,


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Formal Training Week 11

After the belt ceremony I mentioned in my last post, I still had class to attend. But before I did I spent a few minutes receiving congratulations from those who attended my belt ceremony and congratulating the others who had been promoted with me. I then took my dobok into the bathroom at Equa Do and changed into the bottoms, letting Sensei help me with the top and belt when I came out into the training area.

Chad chose not to change and doing so was not by any means required. I chose to change because fighting in a dobok is very different than fighting in street clothing. The pants to the uniform are specifically designed to be long enough to provide protection for the feet, and the sleeves to the top come about midway down my hand to offer concealment and protection. With so much fabric, it is necessary to adapt your fighting style otherwise you'll trip yourself up.

Once I was properly attired, and back in my chair, we moved into the training space for warmups. We did sixty modified jumping jacks, and our usual arm and wrist stretches. Then, just like the week before, we were told to move over by the upright training dummies for weapons work. We went through the same strikes and techniques we have been working with, so that Chad can improve his accuracy and so I can work on fighting with the weapon with the same fluidity both in and out of uniform.

Shortly before class ended, Sensei reviewed brush trap strike with me, as well as basic blocking. But class was cut short this week because of the formal belt ceremony, so that's why this post is so short. The belt ceremony was actually repeated in an abbreviated form at the end of the Hapkido session, so that Master Eric's son, who does photography, could take pictures of it to be posted on the Equa Do website.

More soon,


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Belt Ceremony

As some of you know if you read last week's blog post about training at Equa Do, my  white belt and dobok had arrived. I do have to write a post about this week's training session, I felt that the belt ceremony deserved it's own post.

Originally, as I posted last week, the belt ceremony was to take place at the conclusion of our Hapkido class. Meaning when I walked into Equa Do, I was nervous, but could find some comfort in the fact that I could work that nervousness out during class and be a little more calm and collected by the time the actual ceremony began.

Master Eric apparently had other ideas. As he wrapped up the Tae Kwon Do class that meets before I have Hapkido, I sort of was half listening. He finished his announcements, and I only vaguely registered him asking everyone in the class to wait. All of the sudden, I heard him ask for me and Chad, who was also being honored, to step forward. I quickly bowed in and came forward so I was standing with the members of the other class, and waited for instructions. All of the instructors at Equa Do, with the exception of Will and Anthony, were present. (Master Eric, Master Markus, Miss Linda,"Black Belt Chad", and Sensei)

Master Eric explained that I had recently tested for my white belt, and passed. He explained that what was about to occur was a promotion ceremony, which means I was being promoted from novice to white belt. He then asked me to come forward. He spoke to those assembled about how dedicated and talented I was, also noting that I was the first physically challenged student the school has had in quite awhile. He also acknowledged that I was the one to bring Chad in, and have him begin his training.

Master Eric then spoke about the significance of the white belt. He shared with us that a long time ago, martial artists only received one belt. The belt was white, but the more the person trained it would turn slowly black with dirt and blood. This then, is why black belts are so respected, because back then when you saw someone with a black belt it was from the stains on the fabric. Those with black belts had had enough experience that they were considered worthy to teach others. He also told us that a system of colored belts was implemented when people started blackening their belts artificially.

Following this, Master Eric tied my belt around me,knotting it tight enough to make me squeak. I went down the line of instructors, exchanging bows, handshakes and hugs with them. Chad went through the same process, and then joined me at the end of the line next to Sensei. Also honored was Terri, who earned her blue belt in Martial Arts for Women, and "Black Belt Chad" who had earned his second degree black belt. Master Eric called for all assembled to face those of us who had been promoted, and then had them bow to us, in a show of respect.

After we had received our requisite round of applause, I looked up at Sensei and asked if he was proud of me. I saw a slight shadow of anger flit over his face as he heard my question. He was clearly upset that I even needed confirmation of his pride. When I asked if he was okay, I got a slightly strangled yes. I looked up, only to see that he was crying! When I asked why, he answered: I'm so proud of you, little cub. So proud that you're my daughter and I get to be your daddy.

Following that it was time for class, so I used the bathroom to change into my dobok pants and then Sensei helped me with my top and belt.

Post about lesson to follow.