Saturday, February 18, 2012

Formal Training Week 30

This was a very difficult week for me. Without any clear reason I had experienced at least one panic episode daily and they were severe and difficult to control. When I entered Equa Do, somewhere I usually feel very safe, I was set off and immediately began to panic, thinking that all of those who were there and were instructors had alterior motives. I was terrified that if I did not live up to their expectations I would lose their affection, which is something I am relying on more and more as I prepare to go away to school next fall. I even went so far as to ask Sensei to remove me from the list of students enrolled at Equa Do and take me home. The panic was so overwhelming I was also suicidal and as a result was very difficult to calm. I ended up panicking for all but the last few minutes of my class time, but Master Eric understood and allowed me to train for a full hour anyway.
Rather than work on Hapkido however, Master Eric asked me to try something new. He began showing me the first few movements in a form of Tai Chi. It is rare that students be allowed to train in multiple arts at a time, and in fact when I first began coming to Equa Do Master Eric said I would have to wait til I had a good solid mastery of Hapkido before I began a second style.

The form of Tai Chi I am working on is called Synergy Tai Chi Qigong. It combines techniques from several other types of Tai Chi into a simple yet effective form of movement and meditation. Though in the sequence I am learning there are 24 movements I have only so far learned the first 3. This particular style of Tai Chi is designed for maximum health benefit, particularly to those with illnesses or conditions that limit them. It also provides a way for the older generations to become involved in martial arts which has heretofore been considered a youthful pursuit.
The first movements were difficult to master but I eventually got the hang of it. I am grateful for Master Eric's seemingly endless patience. I ended up learning not only part of the art of Tai Chi itself but also some of its guiding principles. Tai Chi focuses on fostering beneficial use and balance of ki energy, or life force, within the body. We focused on deep breathing and learning to sense and transfer our ki.
Then Master Eric revealed he had a surprise for me. Grandmaster Moore, who created Synergy Tai Chi Qigong, will be giving a seminar in Joliet on March 31st and April 1st and has asked that I attend in order to receive my apprentice instructor certification. Not only is he waiving the requirement that instructor candidates hold a black belt in another style prior to attempting certification but he and others were coming together to provide the seminar experience to me at no cost. Sensei has been given the same gift. I am excited and awed and cannot wait to attend.


Formal Training Week 29

This week was a little bit different as Sensei decided we would combine with the Women's Self Defense course for the evening. We warmed up seperately and in our own ways. Since Sensei and I finished first, we did some sparring until Heidi and Athena were ready to join us.

We covered the proper way to hold a knife, the ten point strike, and defenses both armed and unarmed. This lesson was difficult because Heidi and Athena, while they have undeniable talent, learn much slower than I anticipated. Since I was helping Sensei show them the ropes so to speak, and I had been given feedback as to teaching too slow the last time I had given instruction to others, I stepped it up. What I should have done was start out slow and adjust my pace as necessary.

When I didn't do that and one of the other instructors stepped in it hurt my pride a bit. However, I understand why Tony made the choice he did. The details of the rest of the lesson are fairly fuzzy in my mind, probably as a coping mechanism for how poorly I performed. That said, Sensei and I agree we will not be combining classes again any time soon, and when we do we will judge the skill levels of those joining us a little more thoroughly and err on the side of caution.

More soon.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Formal Training Week 28

The most recent week of my training was quite eventful. I was more than ready to train after a long day at college, and a pleasant dinner at the Italian restaurant next to Equa Do with Sensei and Erin. For quite some time now, because Sensei discovered I learn most things through instinct and teach myself, he has been allowing me to dictate what we work on during training sessions, taking the knowledge I gained on my own even further.

I had been having trouble lately with spatial awareness and found myself getting into more traffic jams in the hallways at school. So therefore I asked to work on sparring with multiple opponents, and Sensei agreed. I was able to best Sensei and Tony by using my improved mobility due to my chair, and went on to unarmed flow of combat drills after that.

Near the end of the evening I asked to practice blindfighting again and was attacked by both Tony and Sensei once more. I allowed myself to use the fact that there were two of them to my advantage, sending one flying into the other so that they got tangled up and had to regroup before attacking again. Finally I showed what I had been learning to Heidi, a brown belt, and was able to strike her jaw when she underestimated me, freeing my hands from her grapple and winning the match.

I have come so far in such a short time.

More soon,


Formal Training Week 27

This week's training was nowhere near as eventful as the weeks prior, but I made a promise when I began this blog to recap each week of my training, however short that recap may be.

Erin rejoined class this week, though her return was not altogether positive. She is a slow learner, which is not so much a problem, but she is also resistant to correction. This frustrates both Sensei and myself, although we care for her and love her very much. She constantly thinks she understands more than she does and ends up teching others incorrectly. I have been allowed to help instruct because I learn fast and couple that speed with proficiency.

This week was thus occupied with trying to teach Erin flow of combat, with basic weaponry, as well as four point blocking. She continually lost focus however, and insisted on meditating rather than training, so Sensei and I worked on speed and accuracy drills instead, with Anthony helping out where he could.

All in all, I was glad the night went quickly so I could get home and vent my frustrations.

More soon,


Formal Training Week 26

This week marked the beginning of my spring semester at school, and as such, a return to my usual habit of only attending formal class once a week. The end of the week prior had been quite eventful as I was hospitalized following class at Equa Do, but that is a story for another time and post.

When I arrived at Equa Do from school, the class prior to mine was finishing up, and I was very nervous. Why? It was BELT CEREMONY DAY. When Master Eric started the belt ceremony, there were a few novices receiving belts, then a white to yellow belt promotion, and then my name was spoken. I bowed in and approached the front of the training space where Master Eric waited. He spoke to everyone about the incredible amount of hours I put in to training when I am not at the school, as well as several papers I had written for the use of Equa Do. This demonstration of knowledge led to him granting me my first double promotion. Achieving a double promotion is very difficult and it is something that can only be done three times per martial artist, as any more would throw the student's credibility into doubt. First my white belt was retired, and I was handed a yellow belt, before that was taken from me as well and I was promoted to orange belt. At the end of the ceremony as two students received their red-black belts, we were all bowed to and then class continued as normal.

During my illness the week prior, I had been sexually assaulted by a doctor from whom I sought treatment. Repressed guilt over the fact that I had, in my mind, allowed it to happen, made training very difficult as I felt I no longer deserved training if I could not use it when necessary.I refused to train and it took both Sensei and Master Eric to calm me down, and remind me that I had not immediately been suspicious because a) we have always been taught to trust doctors, and b) pain and nausea clouded my judgement. I did what I could once I understood that something was very wrong and for that I deserved to be commended not punished.

We did a little bit of basic weapon work and unarmed combat but left soon after as I could not handle anymore.

More soon,


Formal Training Week 25 Part 2

I still insisted on going to class on the last Thursday of winter break, despite feeling quite ill. I had not kept food down in several days, but as this is not uncommon with my panic disorder and the reaction to the extremely cold weather thanks to having Cerebral Palsy, I thought nothing of it.

There was a huge snowstorm this night, so there wasnt really much of a plan as far as class went. I had Erin stop at Loew's on the way to the school, and using some of my holiday money, bought a few pine boards of the proper dimension for board breaks.

When we got to Equa Do we did a bit of sparring, and worked on using sticks, as well as knife and cane. Then near the end of class I set out to break as many of those boards as I could. Sensei broke a board, simply cause he hadn't in a while, I broke four, one after another, and Erin even accomplished her first board break. Three of my four breaks were captured on video, (thank goodness for cell phones) and I will post links to them once they have been added to the Equa Do website.

More soon,


Formal Training Week 25 Part 1

I had the following week off from school as well, and spent it with Sensei and Erin again as it was my last week of winter holiday. This meant, of course, that I would be going to class on Tuesday again.

The original plan was to teach the same lesson I had taught a week prior, except this time, my students would be the novices and low belts. However, Anthony finally returned to the school following an extended absence and with Sensei not in control of the lesson plan anymore, the idea was pushed to the side. This hurt a little, but I was secretly glad, as I was not feeling well at all. Shortly after arriving at Equa Do both Sensei and I vomited our entire meals.

So, rather than teach I was allowed to demonstrate my skills in knife fighting for Anthony, as I had asked to be included in the same class as the ablebodied students rather than relegated to a corner. Anthony was impressed and took what Sensei had taught me a step further, teaching me to apply the same techniques to the use of a simple ballpoint pen. His reasoning was simple. I am more likely to have a pen available to me at any given time rather than a knife.

Unfortunately, due to feeling so ill, I don't remember much else from this lesson with the exception of perhaps a bit of brush trap strike so I will end this here.

Much love,


Formal Training Week 24 Part 2

In addition to attending the able bodied Hapkido class over winter break, I still had my usual class with Sensei and Erin on Thursday. I was still having panic issues but this time they came from a different source. I had been staying at Erins with Sensei the last couple of days in a mini vacation of sorts. This provided a huge mental boost, as I am happier among my surrogate family than anywhere else, including, sad as this sounds with my own fiancee. I was now panicking because I did not want to go home.

Be that as it may, Sensei convinced me that training would help ease the anxiety and after our usual warmups I practically begged for something new to learn, as I have become bored with using class time to mindlessly beat out strike repetitions when I can do that just as well sitting at home. In response, Sensei said it was time for me to begin learning to fight without the use of the senses that are most crucial to my survival. Therefore, we began work on blindfighting.

A dishtowel was tied over my eyes as a makeshift blindfold and I sparred, simple as that. Though the exercise started out with only Sensei attacking me, he soon stepped back and allowed the other instructors present (which is to say, all of them) to work with me. Why? To teach me to account for different fighting styles, and also learn to identify the instructor working with me on sense alone. Believe it or not the lesson was very successful, and I continue to enjoy testing my prowess through blindfighting when Sensei runs out of lesson ideas.

More in a sec,


Formal Training Week 24 Part 1

This week, I was able to attend both days of Combat Hapkido lessons due to a break from school. Each night of class I attended will be a seperate blog entry. I had a very rough day panic wise on Tuesday and so Sensei felt I needed a boost to my confidence. As a result, I not only went to Equa Do but I was asked to assist in teaching that night.

All of the students regardless of belt level warmed up together, under Brandon's instruction as he has recently become Cho Dan Bo. We were asked to do jumping jacks but not given a specific number as Sensei usually does with me. The able bodied classes are often given this type of open ended instruction so to speak, and I went along with it, as it was a nice challenge. The end result? 110 jumping jacks. Stretches were done as was a review of basic strikes and blocks. I thought Brandon did a fantastic job with this, though I helped out by keeping an eye out for students who were having trouble and offering gentle correction where I could.

After that Sensei asked the upper belts (purple and up) to grab a folding chair and meet him and myself in a corner of the dojang for a special lesson. Essentially I taught the wheelchair lesson that I posted on this blog previously, without some of the mobility component. In place of that I instructed the students in standing after initially engaging their opponent in the chair.

Master Eric came over once I had taught the basics and added that he wanted them utilizing pressure points as well. Therefore I allowed him to teach that section of my lesson, since I have not done much with pressure points thus far. However, there is a tradition of sorts at Equa Do that whoever is instructing that night tends to get to be the one new techniques are demonstrated on. As I was the one teaching Master Eric decided to hold to that and use me to show where various pressure points were on the head and neck. Unfortunately he forgot about the cerebral palsy that I have having a weird reaction to the use of pressure points and not only did his demo hurt more than intended, but it caused spasms to radiate down my spine. When they didn't go away as quickly as expected I let Sensei know and he and Master Eric gave me some Advil and water.

Once I had recovered, I decided that since we were almost at the end of class, and I was teaching upper belts, I could allow some sparring practice that incorporated the techniques I had just taught. Other than a few minor bruises from some miscalculations, this section of class was very successful and as such the night ended on a very positive note.

More soon,