Friday, June 3 was my two year “Karateversary.” I would have been training with the folks going to the USA Karate Nationals but before I was invited to participate in that, I’d already arranged my visit to Faraway Dojo.
I visit Faraway Dojo bimonthly. It takes a couple of hours to get there when there’s traffic, half the time when the roads aren’t jugged up. Last time I was there, Faraway Sensei went over bunkai (interpretation) for Bassai Dai kata (one of our forms) with partners. We continued that during the first hour. This was hands-on learning with partners, and I loved every minute of practicing these crippling moves (gently and without hurting each other of course). Later on, I spent half an hour writing it all down. I spent a good bit of Saturday morning refining and practicing Bassai Dai, and I think my time at Faraway Dojo has made a difference.
The second hour was spent on bo. I have only picked up a bo maybe six times in my life. But here’s the interesting thing – I didn’t have much difficulty following along with the bo kata. I’ve learned two new advanced katas since the last time I was at Faraway Dojo – the day after I earned my green belt. I was making connections right and left, and I found that a good bit of what I’d learned empty hand translated well to the weapon. We finished up with a drill where we had partners and clacked our weapons together. I learned quickly not to visually track the weapons, but to see my partner as a whole and respond accordingly.
The time flew by. It was a great way to spend a “karateversary!”
Wednesday 6/8/16 was the last day of two academic years with College Dojo. At the start of the 2014-2015 academic year, I asked College Sensei if I could work out with his class in order to solidify my basics and get in shape for an upcoming tournament. I ended up staying for quite some time. Last Spring, the black belt who assisted College Sensei with the class retired. In February, the brown belt assistant moved away. This left me as Sempai. Getting a little more authority in College Dojo was a major motivation for me to test for my green belt a couple of months ago.
The last day of every quarter, College Dojo holds its own belt test. Usually College Sensei has me working out with everyone as a kind of practice run for me. This time he decided I could be of more use as an assistant. I didn’t do much, but what I did saved him some time. For one thing, he didn’t have to come up with a fiendish combination of techniques and stances for me to do 🙂 I did a couple of little tiny tasks. The biggest thing I did was console a young lady.
This young lady was supposed to test today. Unfortunately, on her way to the dojo, she fell. She came hobbling into the dojo late. I was able to quietly console her and give her information about the upcoming belt test at my Home Dojo later this month. After this I was very, very glad that I wasn’t working out with the rest of the class!
I was, however, needed to spar with a young man who has dumped me on my can a few times. The rest of the candidates were too low in rank and I am also the best match for his height. I had been quietly warming up off to the side, so I was ready for the match. He acquitted himself well and I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t get thrown even once. I barely had time to shed knuckle pads and mouth guard before I had to hustle to the front of the dojo.
Presenting newly-promoted karateka their new belts is an honor usually reserved for black belts. For four quarters now, the honor of presenting the new belts at College Dojo has been mine. I have wonderful memories of being presented with my new belts, and I feel incredibly honored filling the same role as some of my favorite black belts.
One thing I must get used to is college students are in transition. I said some goodbyes. I “grew up” with a few of the colored belts (students who continued beyond earning their two quarters of credit). These “siblings” of mine slowly filtered out of Karate over the course of this year, and now the highest-ranked among them (as of today only one rank my junior) is moving away. I’m sad about this, but maybe some of the newer students will stay on awhile. Time will tell.
September 26 seems to be a long time to wait…