Saturday, December 17, 2005

Wax on, wax off

I had a wonderful karate class this afternoon, the final segment of which was devoted to freestyle sparring.
Today, I didn't get as caught up in thinking about what my opponent was about to do. Rather, I allowed myself to react more to what was being done. As a result I didn't take as many hits and scored a few points of my own.
But Sensei pointed out that I move in a linear style, rather than attack from different angles. He compared me to a Redcoat, a British soldier during the American Revolution: Advance inexorably forward, stand tall and unflinching, and be peppered by potshots.
If I were 6 foot 3 and 250 pounds, perhaps I'd be formidable in this approach (at least for a few seconds). But at 5 foot 7 and 142 pounds, it ain't gonna work.
A very close friend of mine once told me that we manifest ourselves in everything we do, from the way we play chess to the way we cook dinner to the way we practice karate.
Taken to its logical conclusion, I would say that in my case, linear thinking leads to linear sparring in karate.
Just one more thing I need to work on. Where to begin?


Meanwhile ...
After class, I felt physically as if I had run into a brick wall and could go no farther. All I wanted to do was go home and take a nap (which I did, having gotten up about a half-hour ago).
Yes, the class was pretty intense, but I've had even tougher classes and have felt full of energy after them.
Fatigue is a symptom of high calcium levels in the blood, one of the calling cards of my parathyroid cancer. Other symptoms include depression, lack of appetite and forgetfulness.
Yet those are also symptomatic of a score of other conditions. So, I'm never quite sure what my body is trying to tell me.
I think the lesson in linear thinking may apply here, too.


g said...

I was just wondering how you were paired for sparring. Is it by age, by size, by ability, or at random?

And there appears to be a critique afterwards, which is not just a review of the "score" but includes insights about style.

If you dropped your "linear style" would that mean you would necessarily "attack from different directions?"

That is, was sensei suggesting attack from different directions,

or was he suggesting that you drop your linear style, and then see what kind of attack would follow.

Is there any way for you to check your calcium levels without going in to the lab?

greenbean said...

Take it easy Mike and listen to your body.Take care;-)

Michael said...

Hi g,

Good questions.
As a mid-level student, I'm paired with random sparring partners. One minute I could be facing a white belt, the next minute a sandan (third-degree black belt). I'm on the small side, so most of my opponents are bigger than I.
In terms of modifying my linear style, I think Sensei wants me to learn how to use different approaches to meet given situations. I think dropping the linear way would be a big mistake, and I believe he would agree.
Rather, what I must learn is when to use it and when to try something else.
When we do drills, I am much better at "mixing up" my approach between linear movement and methods that vary the angle of attack, and also the level (e.g., crouching, half-front facing, etc.) from which the attack and defense are made.
In sparring, I revert to a single way of attacking and defending mostly out of fear. And also thinking too much.
However, I'm acutely aware of this and hope to be able to address it as a result.
As for the calcium levels, they can be checked only by blood test, though I've gotten pretty good at sensing when my calcium levels may be elevated. Comes with the turf, I suppose.

Hello Greenbean,
Yes, we get into trouble when we don't listen to our bodies. I've paid for that stubbornness any number of times.

anu said...

WoW i loved reading your dojo experiences. I could even visualise well was your description.

I admire you for continuing martial arts inspite and despite the health challenges you are facing.

I am so inspired that i am going to look out for a teacher here in Bombay.

:-)huge grin

Michael said...

Thanks, Anu!
I'm very glad I've made karate a part of my life. One of the best things I've ever done, in fact.
I hope you find a great teacher! I'm sure you will.

passion said...

You are such an inspiration Michael! Fight cancer and training hard .... you are so staunch!

Michael said...

Thanks, Passioncity. I'm very grateful to friends and family for helping me in this adventure.

reallynotimportant said...

"I'm never quite sure what my body is trying to tell me.
I think the lesson in linear thinking may apply here, too.

It might not be trying to tell you anything. Sometimes the body just does it's own thing. Sometimes if you want to know what your body is trying to tell you the best thing you can do is 'guess' or intuit. A lot can depend on your level of Awareness.

Take what you can from your current situation. Zen Buddhism makes a lot of sense when you are facing the real issues of life and death. For anything less, well it is just dressing up as a monk. IMHO :-)

Michael said...

Interesting points, RNI. I would say, though, that Zen, from what little I know of it, is all about Life and Death.

Zen Unbound said...

Trackback. This post is cited in Blogmandu, Roundup for Dec 12-18, 2005.