Big sigh

Have you ever done something when you’re having loads of free time, and totally loved it, but then, tried it again, but without the free time, and been none-too-excited about it?

We just started up karate classes again after a month break. I have since started school, right? Now, more than ever, I am exhausted in the late evenings, getting into bed as early as possible, sometimes even at 6:40pm. Yet karate class is assisting the juniors at 6pm, and attending my own class at 7pm. If I attend the other classes throughout the week, they go even later. But I need loads of hours to move forward in my official training and belt levels (which I want to do).

So, I guess I need to sit down in the next few days, and figure out how many hours of what I need, and how quickly (or slowly) I can and want to make them all happen. Otherwise, without the specifics and the goals set up, I might get a little too tired to do any of it, especially with school happening right now. I do love this all. But I need to be rested enough to be able to enjoy it fully. Otherwise, the teacher and German within me will tear apart the instructors and assistants and other adults mentally, and be annoyed throughout all the classes for a plethora of reasons. I really don’t want to be that way. Alas, I shall make my plan and get some sleep!

Because I want to beast at karate. Seriously.

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Moving on up

I guess you could say my credits finally transferred fully today. You see, I started out in the adult division this sprint as a yellow belt, not white. But I hadn’t done any adult division before this year – only junior division. But I had gotten to the top belt level in the junior division, red belt.

Nowadays, they offer a dual credit, where junior students who are close to the age limit for juniors can take the tests for the adult belts, alongside their junior belt tests. That way, when they reach the adult age group, they don’t have to begin again at white, but just can continue. That was not a thing when I was a kid, however.

Nonetheless, the instructor started me off with the second belt level, yellow. I did all the classes (and then some) and participated in and helped with the tournament, and then took the belt test and moved up a level, to orange.

But then, the instructor asked if I would be comfortable, if given approval by the head of the whole organization, moving up a few belt levels at the upcoming belt test. I was, and I told her so.

A few days later, she told me that I not only would be able to move over a few levels, but that I would be passing through another three levels (four total), and would be testing to receive my brown belt (the one just below black).

I was excited, but knew a lot of work would be needed in order to pass the test – I definitely did not know the katas.

However, these past several days, I have learned them.

Tonight, I performed them, as well as the original kata I created this morning while on a break at school.

And no onlookers would have known that I learned them all in under a week, with only a total of about two hours of practice.

All in all, I did an excellent job on the test as a whole, which is exactly what I had wanted to do. Still room for improvement on site-ups speed and katas. All the test, however, is golden.

And I am officially a brown belt in American Karate now, which is very, very cool.

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Saturday night

I didn’t go right to sleep when I got home. I stressed a little, ate sufficient food, tidied a little further, then chatted for over three hours with a friend on the phone. At one point, she asked me how karate was going, and I ended up pulling myself off the floor and pulling out the videos of the katas I have to do this coming Monday. I mostly knew the steps of one, and the beginning of the other, from watching the videos and stepping through Thursday night after testing in class for the other stuff. Today and this week have been so exhausting, though, I had already forgotten about needing to learn the katas this weekend. But I got up and got to work.

She stayed with me on the phone as I did it, and she even commented that she felt like she understood exactly what I was doing, just by listening to me. Hearing me work through out loud each part and combination and re-doing and adding and remembering and learning and breathing and exclaiming thoughts, she was right there with me in my mind as I figured it all out and worked through everything. Sure, she knows next to nothing about karate. But she knows dance and she knows choreography, so she understands the process. I think it was actually a lot of unexpected fun for the both of us.

Anyway, I think I know the two katas now. I just have to focus tomorrow on the details of the various steps and movements, and then go through for nit-picking improvements with the instructor before actually performing them Monday evening.

And, of course, I have to make up my own and perform that, too…

On that note, though I stayed up way late doing all of that, I shall sleep now. I have much to do tomorrow, aside from all of this, already.

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Going brown

Tonight was the first half of my brown belt test for American Karate.

I did, really, quite well. I hit well over the maximums on everything except sit-ups – because 76 sit-ups in two minutes, keeping the hands on the head is not easy, so I only got 60. We only needed 40 push-ups for maximums points. I got 62, and all with quite good form and pacing. We needed over 100 kicks in each category for max points… I had 118 as my lowest count. On some exercises, I even surpassed the kid who has been actively training for this for years. That was very surprising for me. And I surpassed my own scores in everything, from the time I had done a run-through of the test just for fun, months ago. I had no knowledge of my being in a path to take the test a year and a half sooner than expected. Not until three weeks ago, anyway.

I still need to learn the katas. I only was just exposed to two of them last week for the first time, though, I know the third one already. Then I also have to make my own kata, and perform it. I’m confident that that one will be rather easy for me, actually. So, I need to learn the two katas, really.

Otherwise, I will do everything else required for the test this coming Thursday night at class: running and a boatload of techniques. Then, we’ll practice the katas after that, and I’ll perform the katas, probably, one day next week.

Looking forward with gratitude to it all! Thank you, God and the Universe. I am grateful and delighted, and I am just the right kind of nervous. 😉

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Karate

In the tournament today, my age and belt level had only three women, so, the black belts set us up to spar one another, with one girl having a sort of bye. So, I was put against the one girl who had shown up specifically because her instructor wanted her to spar me. The winner of our match was to spar the other girl next.

I was that person.

I won that match, too.

It was very cool.

However, the videographer for my matches totally blew it with the videos. He shook the camera terribly at all the important moments, without clear reason. So, the videos are near-useless for evaluating how I did from an outside perspective. (And he was the same one who did an amazing job last time on the video’s angle and stability! We will be discussing this, he and I. 😛 )

Nonetheless, I felt comfortable regarding the matches today. Though the advice is to jump into it as soon as the head judge says to go, throwing a kick or strike before the opponent has a chance to move or think, I didn’t really like doing that last tournament. It actually was much more stressful for me, and I was near-panicked at the risk involved.

I had seen how the upper belts, black especially, had tended to take their time in attacking one another. It was easy and casual to watch, though still exciting and filled with bated breath when they sparred. The action moments were frequent and awesome, but no one was in a hurry to dive into them as soon as the head judge said to go.

I was amazed by this. I immediately wondered at why I hadn’t done it myself. Then I remembered that the fast-hitting people always beat me in tournaments as a kid. So, I had taken a page out of their books. Those books apparently come from many instructors in the organization. However, not everyone does as he says. And, besides, that approach just isn’t my style.

In sparring in class this session, I took on seeing how it felt to be chill in my own skin in the ring, fully comfortable in patience and intention. When the head judge said to go, I prepared myself fully to receive an attack, but usually never had one. In those first moments, I learned much about the opponent in front of me, and I used it to my advantage. I watched how the person moved, reacted to blocks, dropped guards for certain movements. I didn’t wait long, but long enough to have an idea to use. And then I used that idea. And I usually destroyed.

Today was just the same. I watched my opponents in the eyes. I saw where they looked on my body, while keeping an eye on the tension changes in their own bodies. There was always a bit of a rise and a clench just before a move was made… and the eyes told me exactly where she had set her target. It was a mostly easy block, followed by a bit if pummeling from me. That is, of course, when I hadn’t already attacked her. Because, as a friend said upon seeing the videos this evening, I was on the offense (though the videos were messy, they were still clear enough to notice). Though I waited those precious moments at the beginning, or throughout as I planned my next moves and sought my own opportunities for points, I was still the one managing the ring.

And that was, surprisingly, not a surprising feeling for me. Frankly, it felt natural, as though it were where and how I always belonged: being in charge, running the show.

It was really, really cool.

I still have much, much room for improvement, of course, but attitude is everything in things like this, and my mind seems to have found its place beautifully.

Thank you, God and Universe. I a extremely grateful for all that was today. Happy Christmas in July and Kakigoori Day and, now, Titanic Day!!

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Comfort

In karate tonight, there was a real adult-only class that followed the mixed (Aka kids) class. We began sparring for the session. As usual, I was extremely nervous. Even as I was, in a way, destroying my opponents in matches, I was dealing with those nerves, with that fear, allowing and releasing that sense of panic that always comes up for me around sparring.

The instructor even commented on how I had been so worried before, and yet see how far I had come… I told her that just because no one else noticed didn’t mean I had no fear or stress around the sparring…, as is the case with most anything in life. Just because we can’t see something on the outside, doesn’t mean it isn’t there on the inside for someone. As we put on our gear to spar, I had noticed the distinct reeling of my heart, panicked at what was potentially to come.

And, tonight, one of those things did come. The assistant instructor hit me hard in the center of the face. Though we wear helmets, his glove and hand hit the face cage so hard, it rattled everything, and it knocked me back a couple paces. No, my head didn’t jolt backward – I keep myself braced enough to avoid that -, but it shook me. And it frightened me. Just the sound from a hard hit on the helmet, from the inside, is jarring. The physical sensation addition of the hit itself just adds to the whole experience. When it happened tonight, I had to wait a few moments before I could return to the ring to continue. I was a tad dizzy, but only from the shock, not from any physical damage. I communicated that it had been too hard (he asked immediately, likely knowing, and I confirmed), and that I needed just a few moments to gather myself before continuing. And they allowed it easily. And everything was okay. I had I remind myself that I was safe and that everything was okay, including that I’d been hit so, and I put myself back in the ring before I fully felt like I wanted to be there. I knew I wouldn’t want to go back ever, if I didn’t just breathe and go back then. So, I went back in. I was nervous, and focusing on calming myself more than on sparring to win. I don’t remember the outcome of that match in particular, but I do remember that achieving the calm I sought was the best thing I could have done for myself. And I am grateful to have reached it, and to have been able not only t continue with other matches, but to do them calmly and stellarly. At the end of the night, I was clear that I had had a wonderful, fun, and free-feeling time… sparring. Which is awesome. 🙂

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Day 1

Today, I had my first splits stretching session. A friend of mine works in stretching, aerials, and acrobatics, and she is now working with me. I am extremely excited about it. My flexibility has always been mediocre, even as a teenager, and I have been actively pursuing improving it lately. Just over two years ago, I began a 30-day stretch challenge. At the end of it, I took the stretches from it that I had found most valuable for me, and I now do them every day, usually at night before bed. With two years of just that, I have immense differences in my flexibility. I can put my head to my knees, and with my legs and back straight. I can hold my feet straight in front of me with my hands, back straight. And all of those are with minimal warm-up. I can just do them. I never was able to do any of them in the past, even as a kid.

So, now, we are approaching my other true desires: splits and head kicks. I want to be able, on any given day and at any given time, to drop into the splits and also to do a kick to the head of someone around my height (especially when preceded immediately by a kick to the chest [aka double kick that rises]).

We went through a lot today, and it was stressful how hard most of it was for me. However, I love that I am pursuing this and also that I get to do it with someone I love. We took progress photos for me, both to see where I stand compared to two years ago (had a photo on that Day 1, too) and to have a starting point to reference down the road. I have my tasks for every morning (after my regular workout) this week, and then we shall meet again next Tuesday for progress and to do whatever she has planned for my next steps.

I’m cautiously optimistic and delighted. And I can hardly wait!

Plus, I’m excited to get to spend more time with her. 🙂

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Feel it

Yes, it is feeling uncomfortable in just the right, exciting way. I have trusted the feelings and pulls in a certain direction, and it has been wonderfully terrifying so far, and in many, many ways. I started karate again, because I wanted to be more like Hanna, from the Amazon series. She is utterly bada**, and has major skills on the battlefield, so to speak, and I wanted to train myself for many of those skills (but just have zero desire actually to destroy people). But it was through a series of other minor events that I ended up re-finding karate. I reached out to the head of the organization, and now, only a few months later, I seem to be fully involved in it, and not just by doing karate.

I have become an unofficial official photographer for the organization now, as well as copy-editor/copywriter, and I Love them both. Plus, I’ve been practicing for upper level belt tests, because I’m going Goggins, as I call it, and am planning for the hardest stuff, and doing more training and preparation and effort than is necessary, normal, or, even, reasonable. And I’m loving that, too.

I see where I can step up my game, and I am working toward making those improvements happen effectively. And I am delighted.

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Volun-cheering

Today was awesome, yet stressful, but both in very good ways.

First, I had an awesome time volunteering with my gym at sunrise for the Bayou City Tri Series 2021 Sylvan Beach Paralympic Triathlon. We had the honor of physically and verbally assisting paratriathletes in their transitions, as they worked toward earning points to be part of Team USA. I think we all look forward to the next such opportunity – it was a blessing and a blast for us all. ❤🤗🙏 💪👊🏻

And it brought me to tears multiple times, it was such an honor to be a part of it all.

It also brought back memories of my many sports volunteering days, and had me wondering yet again if I don’t want to find actual work in that world, somehow… There was a lot that, unfortunately, had not been sorted out properly for the event as a whole – there were other races happening this morning, too. Our little crew took it upon ourselves just to go ahead and handle many of those things, making a tremendous difference for all athletes that were out there racing today. And I enjoyed doing even that stuff.

From there, after the sun was well over the horizon but not all that far up, I headed to a karate tournament that was nearby. It was my first one in roughly 18 years, and my first one ever in the adult division. I was absolutely nervous, but I had all day to get even more so, since my division wasn’t until mid-afternoon. But I had volunteered to take photos, and so I got to enjoy working with that throughout all the kids’ sparring all morning and midday.

I did take a good couple minutes at one point in a private room with myself to talk and make noise and jump and move, fully on my own. And I did give myself close to a minute to go ahead and experience all the pent-up emotion that had been building all day, just a short while before my category was going to be up. (Aka I cried brief tears of stress and anxiety, and let a lot go with them as they lightly tripped out of my eyes.)

I had someone record my match for me, and he did so well enough. It turns out that I actually did better than I had thought I’d done at the actual time of the match. After watching the matches of the adults at the end, the highest ranked individuals, I have been able to see styles of everyone, and how much comfort makes a difference in a match. When someone is comfortable, he or she almost always does very well. When someone is uncomfortable, he or she usually does not very well. That isn’t to say win versus lose – I mean doing well, sparring well, technique-ing well (both attack and defense). Yes, that usually also results in winning, if those are all done well. But it isn’t about winning to me these days, so much as it is about doing well. Winning when doing well, however, just adds to the fun and joy of it all.

I have some specifics on which I want to work – reacting with a point-earning move to being blocked, practicing different point-earning trio combinations, and backward spinning kicks (one would have created a beautiful point today, but I had neither confidence nor comfort in it, so didn’t even consider it – only the video afterward showed me the opportunity [I’d spun and everything, but didn’t even try to hit her with the foot]). Now, just to find the partner to work with me, and the place to do it.

Oh, and this was one of the very few times that I 1)didn’t lose a match at a tournament, and 2)didn’t cry after the match. Good start in my eyes, even just for those two facts! ;P

So, yeah… today was a really great-for-me day, all of its stresses included.

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Progress

I ironed my patches onto my uniform. I feel accomplished, yet also not. I have to sew all around the edges of them tomorrow, using the machine, and I’m more than a touch nervous about that. However, the patches look reasonably straight so far, and I am glad that that step is finally finished. I had intended to do both today, but the first one took so long, figuring out how to line them up properly and make them stay in place so I could try it on, and then adjusting over and over again, and then finally trusting it enough and the pins enough to flip it over an iron it down… It took much too long. But it is finished, and for that I am grateful. 🙂

Thank you, God.

Post-a-day 2021