Archive for the ‘Kata’ Category

Attitude = outcome.

January 17, 2012 Leave a comment

As I left judo practice last night, I thought to myself, “Practice was OK.” The more I thought about it, the more I began to think that I actually had a bad night. When I left training tonight, however, I thought, “Tonight was a really good night.” So what determines whether I have a good or bad practice? Well, I make that determination.

Last night I went to judo on auto pilot. I’ve gone to practice six billion times feeling tired or not in the judo mindset. At times, I’ve gone in with a combination of both. Within in minutes of stepping on the mat, I make myself snap out of it and all I have for the next two to three hours. At practice last night, I don’t think I pushed myself. I had a good first hour of class, and then when randori came around, I went back to auto pilot. My fighting spirit had checked out and I just let it go. When it came time for mat work, I knew I was sucking, but I didn’t rally so that I sucked less. By the time I got home, I was pretty disappointed in myself.

When I left work tonight to head to jiu jitsu and Kata, I was definitely on auto-pilot. Then I remembered how unsatisfied I was with the night before. Tuesday is rough for me since BJJ and Kata are so mentally taxing. But I reminded myself that Tuesday is my night to really challenge myself and learn. I found myself walking a strange line of feeling relaxed and excited to work hard. From an outsiders perspective, it might have looked like I did not have great BJJ or Kata practices. I didn’t pick anything up immediately and had to do extra reps of every technique just to get an inkling of the basic mechanics. Still, I left feeling satisfied with the night and looking forward to my next class. I know this is because I remained engaged.

Learning is not a passive action. I can’t expect to progress if I don’t offer more than the bare minimum. Although I might not have mastered any technique tonight, I have a lot of reflecting to do and some mechanical questions to work through. This is significantly more than last night, when I left just feeling blank and out of sorts. As I move forward with both my social work and grappling practices, I must remember that my work has to come with right attitude. Otherwise, I’ll get stuck on auto-pilot.


Haikuesday 10.11.11

October 11, 2011 6 comments

Kata demo done

I’m so glad I didn’t puke

Now let’s step it up

Categories: Judo, Kata, poetry, Promotions

All that hype.

October 4, 2011 4 comments

So, I did not perform my kata demonstration last night. I realized as I was warming up that my new injury really hurts. Not just in the nagging, inconvenient way. It hurts in the sense that on Sunday, I almost cried and last night, I almost cried. I almost went through with it anyway, but thankfully my training partner has considerably more sense than I do and pointed out that the demonstration did not have  to happen that night. What good could come of exacerbating my injury? I still have to do a couple more tournaments before I’m officially promoted, so changing the date of my kata demo is really OK.

Of course, logically, I understand all that. But my irrational side feels so dejected. I just wanted to get it over with and move on to the next thing. But now, I must be patient with myself. I genuinely suck at patience.

I’m back to the drawing board yet again with judo. I feel like I keep doing something wrong in terms of my training and its impact on my body. Times like last night make me wonder if I need to take off one whole month completely, but that doesn’t feel like the right answer. I keep telling myself that I need to slow down, but truthfully, I don’t even know what I mean by that. What I do know is that whatever happens, I have to remember that I’m grateful that judo is in my life, no matter what it throws at me. It teaches me more than I probably want to know. Most of lessons come from the tremendous people I train with who thankfully have sense. I don’t know how I’d get through times like these without them.

Everything is fine.

October 2, 2011 7 comments

Whenever I have a bad day, I really try not to complain. On days like today, however, where everything seems to be going wrong before noon, I do feel pretty irritated. Actually, it’s more like a confused, overwhelmed feeling of “What the f***?”

Last night, I had a debilitating headache which threw me off a little  this morning. I discovered my laptop will not turn on. I accidentally got on an express train while heading to judo practice so I missed kettlebells class. I realized that I only managed to put in one contact lens.  An injury I acquired on Friday became so painful that I had to stop what I was doing completely and I had to do my best to not cry or throw a complete fit.

Mornings like these, I try to keep things in perspective. Such little occurrences are by no means the worst things that have happened to me. Also, realistically, more terrible things will happen in my life and this morning will seem like joke. Clearly, the contact lens and missing KB class are not epic tragedies. Even my laptop not working is not the worse thing since I don’t have any major assignments on there right now, and I can use computers at school. My internet connection in my apartment is entirely unreliable anyway. The injury is pretty upsetting since I’m scheduled to perform my kata demonstration tomorrow and I prefer to be calm and clear-headed while I do it.

When a series of tiny things contribute to a “bad day”, I often go back to the phrase “everything happens for a reason.” Truthfully, I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason. I think all the things that happen in our lives and in this world occur at random and chaotic intervals. We simply don’t have control over them. It’s up to us to assign reason and meaning to our experiences and come out better for them.

Whatever. I only have to take 18 falls tomorrow night. No big deal when you really think about it.

I can’t believe I’m saying this…

August 31, 2011 Leave a comment

I’m really going to miss Tuesday nights. School is about to start, so I won’t be able to fit in Tuesday night’s BJJ and Kata classes. (Well, not unless I want sub-par grades. Sacrifices, sacrifices).  Kata and jiu jitsu are two things I used to love to hate. I started taking classes in these two practices solely to make me a better judoka. While I would go to BJJ other nights during the week, these classes were sandwiched between kettlebells and judo, which are mega fun for me. Going through an hour and half of jiu jitsu followed by an hour and a half of Kata, however, felt more like taking my vitamins and eating all my vegetables. Yes, they are good for me, but they are more funner things I could be doing.

My attitude has changed in the last few weeks. It could be the bigger class sizes make for a more intense practice. It could be that I realize I’m learning and progressing a little in both BJJ and Kata. It could be that I’m getting a little more confident. I think, though, that what I’ve grown to appreciate about BJJ and Kata is that they really make me think. I have to slow myself down and stay calm.  BJJ matches are long. I can relax and figure out my next move during training. I have the time to work on a basic technique or experiment with something new. Kata requires you and your partner to obtain a sense of timing and be able to help and correct each other without words or obvious movements. You have to remain calm in order to that.  While I do exert a lot of focus during judo practice, I have the benefit of getting a four year head start as a kid. Some things for me are instinctual because of that base. So during judo, most of the time my body is running the show and my brain is along for the ride. I like experiencing the opposite with BJJ and Kata.

I’m sad that I’ll have to slow down my BJJ and Kata practice since I’m gaining momentum in both. At the same time, I think this charge has formed a sense of commitment to these two practices for me. I entered BJJ class with my only goal being to suck less at mat work. Promotions and competition seemed like a joke. Now, I can see myself maybe next summer entering a local BJJ competition. I would even like to compete in Kata at some point down the line. For me, I know I care about something if I want to push myself and be tested.

Maybe I like eating all my vegetables more than I thought.



Terrible Tuesdays and Weary Wednesdays: When judo breaks your brain and (almost) breaks your spirit.

July 7, 2011 1 comment

Tuesday night Kata class is one of my favorite ways to torture test myself. My club has a Kata requirement for promotions to advanced belts, your browns and your blacks, but I began attending Kata class last summer when I was a mere orange belt because I thought it might improve my form and also make me a more balanced judoka. A big reason that I love judo is that I really love to smash people, so I thought Kata would make me slow down and learn to appreciate judo in its pure, technical form. And I didn’t want to have to cram for my promotional demonstration when it came time because it seems pretty stressful.  I figured if I become familiar with Kata, it won’t seem like a total enemy.

But slowing down is freaking hard. Kata is not aiming for speed and muscle memory. It’s timing, form, give and take, and a lot of ceremony. Since you work with a partner, it also demands that you and your partner develop a silent channel of communication.  I find Kata extremely difficult for a few reasons. Mostly, it’s the concentration that’s required–the balance of engaging your mind to follow each set correctly and demonstrate perfect form while remaining relaxed. Right now, that seems impossible for me. Sometimes, I let my inexperience get the better of me. I can’t stay relaxed enough as I learn new sets and then I have to fight frustration as I screw up the same technique three, four, five times in a row.  Occasionally, I have to leave the mat for a minute to pull myself together. It’s a pretty terrible feeling–going from the start of class, being ready to learn and feeling comfortable about things and then suddenly feeling like I’m either going to cry or punch a wall. Kata isn’t typically physically taxing, but the mental endurance is almost unbearable for me.

So this week, I went to Kata on Tuesday and had my typical night of mental exhaustion. Then on Wednesday, I went to a regular judo practice and went through almost the same thing all over again. This was extra frustrating because I expect leave Kata (and BJJ) feeling relatively terrible about myself, but I absolutely hate feeling that way during regular practice since it’s one of the things I love most in this world. And actually, it was a really good class. My assistant coach ran practice, and she drilled the hell out of us. There was no sitting around. We worked, and we worked hard. The intensity level was really high, and I always love that. However, my hip is not 100% recovered yet, and I was starting to feel it. I was, for the one billionth time, faced with the dilemma of wanting to push myself, because I should be pushing myself, and knowing that I should not exacerbate my injury. Because that is stupid. I can’t quite pinpoint what it was, but I did reach that point last night where I thought I was going to either cry or punch a wall. And judo is not my job, but I don’t consider that reaction very professional. I hate that I continue to struggle with being short-sighted when it comes to judo.

However, I know I will be at practice again tonight. As the big guy says, “It is not important to be better than someone else, but to be better than yesterday.”


Categories: Challenges, Injuries, Judo, Kata

On Competition and Promotions

June 26, 2011 1 comment

Recently, I was working with one of my clubmates on the Kata set she needs for her next promotion. I mentioned before that it was pretty rough for me. Two of the five sets I’ve had almost no experience with, and while I went to Kata class regularly last summer, I didn’t go at all during the school year. After we went through the sets, my coach commented that it was good I was getting the Kata practice in since I’ll be up for my brown belt in the fall. I didn’t really offer much of a response at the time since my brain was slightly broken, but later on I kind of freaked out about it.

It’s funny to me that the thought of getting my brown belt is intimidating because my reaction is totally hypocritical.  There are a few other green belts at my club, but they have been green belts forever and are completely ready for their brown belt (in my opinion, at least). Our club has a Kata requirement for promotions for brown belt and above and it’s up to you to put the work in if you really want your promotion. These guys are totally dragging their feet to meet the Kata requirement. They are not excited to get their brown belts. Why? The expectation bar that gets raised as you move from “novice” to “advanced”.  The pressure! (Also, some people just really do not want to learn Kata, but that’s a whole other post.)

I’ve officially been a green belt since December 2010. Last summer before I got my green belt, but knew it was on its way, I thought it was possible that I could be a brown belt within a year of getting my green.  I also thought I was going to still train a ton and compete all of the time during the school year. Ha. The reality of grad school combined with a few stupid injuries in the fall and winter crushed that idea. So since the fall, I’ve only competed four times. My first tournament, I fought one match, which I lost, and then had to pull out of the tournament because I injured my shoulder blade and had to go to the hospital. My second tournament, there were no novice girls for me to fight, so I fought against a third-degree brown belt. I lost two and surprisingly won one match. I fought her again under the same circumstances in May and lost all my matches to her. In March, I had my only tournament where I fought all my matches against novice girls. I lost two and won one, which I was OK with since I had barely been training leading up to the tournament.

The point that I’m trying to reach is that I barely have any experience competing at my current level. To me, competition is the best way to see where you stand in your practice.  When you’re training, you often work with the same people over and over again. You get to know their style and technique and they get to know yours. You don’t often surprise each other. Also, for women judoka, it can be hard if you don’t have other women to train with. Don’t get me wrong; the men at my club are great training partners and I learn so much from them. But women and men move very differently and have different strengths and weaknesses. I do have other women to work with, but there are only a handful of us and we know each other’s games pretty well by now.  So the best way for me to test my progress is to compete against people whose style and technique are completely unfamiliar to me. That way I can see how well I can work my game and how I problem-solve in a new situations. But I feel like I haven’t been able to test myself nearly enough in this respect. The thought of moving from green to brown without much competition experience at my own level seems like a bad move for me.

I trust my coach’s judgment, but I still have a fear of wearing a belt that I can’t live up to. There is so much to learn in judo, and since I’m not exactly a natural, I really have to put in the work just to scrape by.  I know that I want to keep advancing in judo and when I feel more prepared, I know that I would be excited to test for my brown belt. I remember when I was kid and my dad got promoted to brown. I was just so impressed and completely in awe of him. I realized that my dad was really committed to judo; that he was going to keep moving forward and that his hard work was starting to pay off. For me, brown seemed a million miles away and I wondered when I would get that level.

I know that my two biggest fears are snakes and failure. I can’t believe that I’m considering adding “brown belt” to that list.