My world

Baby I love you,

More than you can know,

Even when it snows,

I know times are tough,

And life is feeling rough,

But with you and me,

Together we are meant to be,

Sailing along the river,

Enjoying a romantic dinner,

We make each other laugh,

As we are each others half,

When it is feeling cold,

Or when we get rather old,

We will always have each other,

You’ll always be my lover,

In the day I love to cuddle,

And at night we get to snuggle,

Keeping each other warm,

Loving you is my norm,

As we go on our big adventure,

For the rest of our lives.

A moment of reflection

Last year I became a caveman to karate, I decided to train for the 30 man kumite. I trained with an obsession like no other, it was my chance to train at least in my mind like a professional fighter, diet lifestyle everything was focused on that one goal.

Not only did I achieve an impossible dream, apparently mine was one of the best performances they had ever seen. Which is something I’m still coming to terms with.

Next week I turn 30, and I often wonder what have I achieved in life. I tend to be negative about myself. There have been some dark moments, I failed university and that period nearly destroyed me.

But through that dark period, I have in my own mind gone through my hell and become a stronger person. I refocused on karate, worked in an abattoir (literally like hell), and managed to chase a dream and train kung fu in China (my heaven).

After China I had to go through another period of darkness in unemployment where I felt worthless, karate was the only thing keeping me going.

I learnt I had a talent teaching kids, specifically in swimming which gave me a new lease on life. I love helping others, making people laugh and making a difference in someone else’s life.

I achieved a blackbelt which was impossible to me before. I was a wreck, nerves and fear ruined me. I met a girl who gave me confidence, but tried to change me and mentally scarred me by saying no woman would ever want to be with me long term.

She tried to take me away from my dad and karate, which are really important to my foundations.

I trained like a caveman (with a caveman beard), achieving my nidan and the coverted black gi.

Along the way I fell in love to the woman that gives me happiness, who excepts me for me and who trains in karate as well. (What an awesome bonus!)

Life isn’t always easy, its the hard roads that have taken me to where I am. It led me to swim teaching, achieving nidan level and being with the love of my life.

My twenties don’t look so bad now in hindsight, and I look forward to my thirties with my foundations of karate and my beautiful girlfriend by my side to keep me strong and on the right path.

The yang to my yin

When the skies are blue,

And not even a single cloud in the sky,

When the sun is high,

Shinny brightly over the world,

When a gentle breeze passes on a summers day,

And all is calm,

And there is nothing but laughter,

This is how you make me feel,

When times are tough,

Fighting through the eye of a storm,

You are what anchors me to the ground,

You are what gives me light,

Even in the darkest moments,

You are what gives me peace,

That I have never known before,

Even when the world is at war,

You give me the strength to be me.

A journey through shadows

Circled by darkness,
The birds of shadow are hunting,
Waiting for my fall,
Scavengers of life,
Waiting to take me piece by piece,
The darkness spreads,
I no longer know what light is,
Despair pain and madness are all the same,
A vicious cycle that never seems to end,
I’m looking for someone to save me,
Why will no one save me,
Lost alone,
Bewildered,
I reach the abyss waiting for the shadows,
No one is there to save me,
I am alone,
I realise as I fall,
Wind rushing against my face,
Only one person can save me,
That is me the shadows,
I am the one circling,
Hunting myself down,
It is not weakness,
But fear of nothingness,
Of never being more than I am,
Embracing the darkness,
I no longer run away from its pull,
But neither do I let it drag me down,
Of the deep waters of the lagoon,
I embrace who I truly am,
And fight,
Fight against the current,
My arms spread,
Growing longer and wider,
Wings are forming,
Sheer will is my power,
Pulling against despair,
Shoulders burn with intensity,
As I fight to fly high above the sky,
The shadows pounce on my flesh,
I growl,
A beast is released from within my chest,
I fight to be amongst the skies,
To the one I truly I am,
To earn the white feathers,
With the black stripe around my waist,
Then you show up,
Showing me who I could be,
The shadows have gone,
I no longer fight,
I am happy for a time,
I learn to be more than fight over fear,
Laughter is in my heart,
But then you change,
Still beautiful but with a colder edge,
You want me to be something else,
Someone else,
You make me choose between those I love,
And you,
I am nearly torn in two,
Who am I,
I no longer know,
I never felt pain as much,
Since the fall of Man,
My soul has grown,
I love me for me now,
First time since forever,
How dare anyone try to turn me into a shell of the being I am,
I am proud of who I am,
Despite my flaws,
I remember the shadows,
Darkness,
Pain the beast from within,
I shall not fall,
But embrace who I am,
And battle the eternal battle,
Of life versus fear,
I will confront my  fear,
Amongst the line of shadows facing me,
Their faces cold with no emotions,
Ready to destroy me,
I am my strength,
My will, will be strong,
But I won’t forget the light that you showed me,
I now live instead of hiding from the shadows.

A magical journey

Down the magical river,
on a boat hiding from the evil fairies,
Popping from tavern to tavern,
meeting all kinds of strange and wonderful folk,
Magic is fresh and alive,
Reborn after years of its century of turmoil,
The boat is being invaded by pixie pirates,
The drummer scares them off with his portable drums,
But it only slows them down,
The singer finds a magic carpet,
And embracing the bold,
They jump,
Tumbling,
Tumbling down about to fall into the water,
The magic carpet comes to life,
His name is Henry bonbash
The carpet flys them to the castle in the sky,
Dodging birds the size of planes,
And enter into the palace of palpatine

Embracing fate

Silent by day,
Bright by night,
I now know what is my fight,
Tumbling down the river,
Reaching the summit,
It shall not escape my might,
As long as I have it within my sight,
I will,
I will,
I will it to be,
Bracing for the inevitable impact,
I shall fly across the heavens,
Flying above the devil’s fiery pit,
I will not fail,
Confronting the storm,
The wind,
The rage,
The beast that surrounds me,
Trying to engulf me,
I will pass the storm,
And find the sunshine,
From within.

Finally a connection with Stances

For the last week it feels like I have had many eureka moments, where something makes sense and it’s been a constant if accidental theme, stances to generate power from the ground, stances that helps with your covering and deflecting, it is what is seemed like as kid like training of karate but is actually in the heart of its true power.

Roundhouse kicks is a kick I have often struggled on, I can kick quite hard on either leg but that is with lot of effort, and my quads often get burnt out really quickly making it hard for me to do them fast for a long time.
Andy one of our nidans is a very good fighter the amount of power he can generate is incredible but also the speed and stamina he can perform for lengths at a time. He has often discussed his type of kick, but whether it just finally made sense (large parts of it have, it’s just putting them together) to alot of us or whether his teaching style has evolved I’m not quite sure yet.
First he took out the speed and got us to focus on the technique raising the knee high, dropping it down, rolling the shin kind of corkscrewing your body into the kick, almost being side on with your bodyweight and structure and rebounding it back.
Elements of it I have been told before, from the likes of Darren etc but it’s the first time when it all clicked into.place that I didn’t need alot of effort to generate power, my thighs weren’t burnt out and the roundhouse kicks were much more effective.
He went on about range, and different levels but a quick discussion with him at the end was his keenness that it all related to sanchin.

Power from the turn, effectively using the stance to generate power is an element I have often struggled with (unless I’m in animal mode), I have been looking into bunkai and stances for a while (mainly saifa and seiunchin) but generally my connection has been quite weak. The during Smiley’s Sandan Course the London Shihan came over and gave me some advice, that I was just turning and punching I wasn’t using my stance, legs or bodyweight into the punch.

This was the drill where our partner had a fist out by our heads and held a pad with the other, we had to turn and defect block the strike and then strike them back.

The London sensei demonstrated and the power he generated caused the pad holder to go backwards quite a bit. He pointed out that I wasn’t using the corkscrew on the turn to drive into my stance, and that I should use the stance to drive my bodyweight into that pad.
The effort was the same, intent was different and the power I achieved enabled me to send the pad holder backwards.
This changed my perspective for the whole course, the kihon ido wasn’t just something we had to do, but became a fundamental aspect of karate, and I could feel the power driving from my legs into my stance, and the turn now was transformed. Not only was i having the reaction time to deflect block and strike, the corkscrew of my legs meant power from my stance went into my block and strike and I felt drive aggression as if someone tried to attack me.

This ended up effecting me throughout the rest of the course, when it came to being surrounded by pad holders calling north, south, East or west I was using what the London Shihan said instinctively and driving through the pads. This lead to sparring where it all came together.

After the course I wanted to thank the London Shihan as it made a huge difference, and admitted my weakness in not using my stances so well when it comes to striking. He gave me some great advice on when they are so important, and why we aim not to hurt but to knockout a person. Pain isn’t enough when  you could knockout and end the conflict quicker, be it from mental, physical or spiritual consequences, but that intent is the most important aspect even if you have to internalise with a partner, with a pad you should always release it. This mindset will get you through alot of trouble and get you most of the way with your karate journey.

I asked the London Shihan does it imply to sticky hands, and he answered yes because they will lead to the final strike which will always aim to be that knockout blow. He demonstrated that a heavy hand, is nothing compared to the combined strength of the stance, corkscrew and bodyweight shift into that strike.

It made me realise that while my time in China was great and beneficial for me, with learning Sanzhan, I have been so focused on being subtle I have stopped using all the power I use to use. It’s like a yo-yo going from exaggeration to subtle, and finding the right balance. I will have to start exaggerating my movements focusing on connecting stances to strikes before I can make it subtle again.

Mindset, when it comes to striking no point in just trying to hurt someone, intention is.key, is strike especially on a pad should be a knockout punch, just giving them pain isn’t going to do much, when sparring intention is to knockout as that will bring your mechanics into it, but internalise it as you have the mindset to do knock them out, with damaging your training partner.

Gripping the ground from your stance be it Zenkutsu dachi or sanchin dachi, gripping with the feet gives you this connection with the ground that you are driving against which can make you more solid in using your stances or help driving you to and from. The Bristol Shihan was on fire last night, and this eureka moments starting from Andy last Thursday, smiley and London Shihan to the Bristol Shihan, everything seems to be slowly connecting together.

Rather than just grip the floor with your toes, which raised the arch in your foot so your not rooted and connected, therefore can’t generate power from it, you pull the ground with tour toes from in to out slowly, it acts like a suction rooting you to the ground. In sanchin kat, your drive the lead hip in, draw the other the other hip in, sink and bring the knees in and rise up almost upright but sinking with your tailbone. This is stuff us high grades have heard before, but trying to walk like that brought new insight and as I discovered new muscle groups into effect.
A similar principle is developed from zenkutsu dachi, where the lead foot gets rooted to the ground and the release enables you to drive backwards effect for sparring.

Maybe it’s just me getting older, but it’s been nearly a week of karate relevations, but the only way for me to learn them is by practice.