On the field of Truth

On the field of truth,

The battlefield of karateka

My true nature came out

When I was down and out

And my pride got wounded

I would not yield

I would not give up

The passion of our ancestors

Coursed through my veins

I wouldn’t surrender

I wouldn’t die

The animal inside me was unleashed

People try to deny this side of them

They forget that this is their strongest aspect of their character

It gives them passion and compassion

It gives the joys of life

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Kumite, I need to evolve

After the sheer exhaustion from training the entire weekend (Summer School 2013), being nervous for 6 weeks and the grading itself(now a shodan-ho a black belt), we finally did our kumite.  What I learnt is that I can take the blows really well, that I can start to see peoples strikes coming towards, and that I have plenty of willpower and the inner animal.

However there were a few problems, first as some friends (and news one made that weekend) pointed out it was quite clear that I was in between styles, my natural style is to be aggressive, dominate driving through my opponent with a short stance and close range punches and knees. However through being overtrained the last year and therefore injured I haven’t been able to spar in this format, hence why I have been trying to develop a counter attack and work on the backfoot more. The problem is with this style that I go backwards but I lose any chance for a counter attack as all my weight goes in retreat, I need to learn to drive forwards whilst going backwards.

Even though I thought I was changing my style depending on the opponent apparently wasn’t the case. All my early fights were very defensive (especially if you have a big south african chasing you! lol) but as I got tired my natural state became more in focus, my aggressive tribal nature. As my best friend said, the problem here is that I should of been aggressive when fresh and defensive when exhausted. Daniel doesn’t do things like that! Once I faced the blackbelts was interesting, the first was a lightening fast nidan, his kicks were immense! When he eventually took me to the ground, I damaged my ribs, but I got mad, no one takes me down and injures me! and it was a rocky moment and I came charging at him with knees and punches, the look I saw in my sensei’s eyes when I let my inner animal animal is one i never want to forget, he looked proud. The next blackbelt is a solid built man, you can throw a strike at him and he seems to not even notice, we went toe to toe and he seemed impressed with me, I felt honoured to earn his respect.

The next guy towered above me i’m 5 11 and 13 stone (well at the grading, I might of bulked up in the last few days!) he was at least 6 2 and between 16-18 stone, I knew that my legs wouldn’t work anymore so I put them in zenkutsu dachi and prepared to trade blows with him. The first blow was an upper cut to my chin, I was impressed that I could take a blow from such a big strong kiwi! we traded a few blows and I end up grabbing hold of his right arm and held him so he couldn’t move it, and to what I thought was only a few seconds (I have been told it was more like 20 seconds) I smashed him with my right hand with big swinging punches. After the end of our bout he said to me damn your strong, all I could think of was that I survived a david vs goliath fight.

The reasons I was swinging my punches is that I normally have a very short range stance and rely on short range punches that i can generate alot of power, but the moment I knew that I couldn’t kick and just had to weather the storm I went into a long range stance, my best friend is a long range fighter, personally I don’t think I have ever fought in a long stance before, and it was clearly unnatural to me. I clearly need to get use to fighting in one if I end up in that situation again.

I am happy I passed, but not the way I faught. I didn’t use my main strengths and even know I did well, I remember watching some of the others going for shodan-ho as well and they fought amazingly, whereas I had to survive rocky style.  I know I can do better, I need to improve my high kicks, there were a number of times when I could of used them and knew that i didn’t have the control for them, I need to use kakie more, to use my short range power punches more, I need to blend my aggressive style with my retreating style, I need to work on my footwork, I need to develop lighter feet ( there was one moment when I actually switched step a few times then kicked, to trick my opponent, I never knew that I could do that!), I need to increase my endurance, stretch more. I know I might sound harsh on myself, but seeing some of the Bristol kyu grades really proving themselves, and some of the london lot being outstanding means that I need to prove to them the kind of karateka fighter I can be, I have a year to prepare.

A year. First thing will be to allow my body to rest, last year I trained hard straight away for this black belt and I have been overtrained and injured for large parts of it. I will have a break from my second main hobby of strength training, my passion for this art has really increased, and I want to come back into it fresh and fully recharged. I want evolve and prove to myself why I deserve to be a black belt.

The belt around my waist

 

After month’s of overtraining, of pushing through many injuries and fears, I finally excepted one of the biggest challenges of my life, and faced my fears on the field of truth, I was nervous throughout, of being apart of the 30 man kumite lineup, to not being good enough, but I finally did with the help of all the people who have shaped me to become the karateka I have become today, without their support it wouldn’t of been possible.

I finally have a blackbelt, that is strange for me to hear I am a blackbelt, I don’t feel good enough. But that is one reason why I am a Shodan-Ho and not a shodan, I have to prove myself in a years time to become a full shodan, a 1st dan in Goju Ryu. Even though I pushed myself to my limits, and know that I earned it, I don’t think I showed to everyone what I got.

The words of one of our nidans from a private conversation we has with her and my friend who has also made 2kyu were “sunday is the time for the nidans to shine and prove themselves in front of everyone why they deserve it, monday is for the future black belts” Both me and my friend have always put it on the line, we never have thought that we were good enough, we just put everything we had on the line, but perhaps that isn’t good enough, perhaps we have to prove to everyone and ourselves why we are good enough, that it is our time to shine.

Next year when he goes for Shodan-Ho and I go for full Shodan we both intend to prove to ourselves why we truly deserve that belt.

Apologie

Sorry that I haven’t posted in a while, with courses that I had to do through work, to training for my next karate grading at summer school, I have been mentally exhausted and training through injuries to get there, with me succeeding in both endeavours, I now have the mental energy to write again