Running in the air

Running through the air,
With little bursts of speed,
I see the world at my feet,
No longer is it a dark and scary place,
There are people all over the space,
Beneath my feet,
Jumping amongst the birds,
The sun is shining brightly,
And the wind is in my face,
I want to run for the hills,
To where it is surely going to greener,
Why are people so grumpy,
When you can run in the air,
And see the real beauty of the world,
It is all around you,
Don’t let despatch get you,
Live for the moment,
Live and be free,
We weren’t meant to be constrained,
By the roped and shackles of modern society,
We are meant to be free,
Giving peace and love to all thy neighbours,
I want to run in the air,
And run free with the birds,
The world at my feet.

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A change within me- Shodan-Ho

I have noticed a change within me, since I graded to shodan-ho (probationary blackbelt) in June. The first thing is that I am alot more comfortable in walking through a city by myself. Let me quickly elaborate on this point, I am use to walking through the city by myself, I often do so, but being brought up as a country person and with my overactive imagination I over think and worry about all the potential possibilities that could happen. I get very tense and can not be at ease.

On the one hand it is a very good thing, it makes me very aware of the environment around me and to be cautious, but you can’t enjoy yourself that much, as you always have this edge on you. When you have a few drinks to relax, I am still over analysing my environment which means I stay safe, but I can’t fully enjoy myself in the moment. I have always been like this, I recall being 14 and walking through the harbourside festival with my mother and sister and me being very tense, being very protective and then I couldn’t fully enjoy the atmosphere of the festival. 

I have become less tense since my Journey to China, growing in my own way, but I will still feel this tension outside my comfort zone, I suppose. But since the grading, I have been able to walk through the city while being relaxed and completely at ease. I have been able to enjoy drinking with my mates now more than before, but it hasn’t diminished my awareness, I am still observing possible signs of danger, I am just not over taxing my mind (and therefore tiring out my body). Probably for the first time in my life I feel like I can be more of myself in public.

It hasn’t been a conscious thing though, thats what I don’t understand, I know for alot of people who are Shodan-ho’s they are a blackbelt (in their mind) they finally earned it, and have to grade for it again in a years time. In my mind I am not a true blackbelt, just something in between a kyu grade and a Dan and that I need to prove to myself and earn my name on my blackbelt, that for me Shodan-ho is a year of hard training to earn what I have been training for, what I have been dreaming for. I don’t want to just pass my grading by sheer will, I want to pass it by showing how good I know I can become.

So I don’t know what’s changed within me, its just really nice to know that I can start enjoying life more.

Sanchin/Sanzhan training

I have put my strength and fitness regime on a down step, and have focused on swimming (mainly butterfly) walking, and Sanchin/Sanzhan training. I am listening to my body, some days i will train alot of San(zhan)chin, and others little or non. I mainly do them with pullups, not necessarily for reps but for one day full range explosive, and another day very slowly with tension. then I will finish off with Shisochin.

I am trying to develop the way I want to fight via these three kata, and when we start proper sparring again (too many injuries from the big grading) I want to see how it has affected the way I spar. The pullups is to help me to focus on my back muscles (and I missed doing them after 2-3 weeks), which Sifu Yen Da Shi (my White Crane teacher in China) said that doing white crane, specifically the Sanzhan form really develops you back muscles, especially your lats. I have noticed that when I practice Sanzhan regularly that my short range power increase alot, and when I came back from China my pullup max increased dramatically.

What I love is the more I discover about Sanchin from my Sensei, the more i realise that my white crane teacher was teaching me directly translates to it, I didn’t appreciate at the time but I really do now. I find for me to develop in my understanding in a mental and spiritual way that i need to do both, one for perfect alignment, subtly and get the body to work together as a rooted tree, and the other for explosion tension and sheer will power.

I need to start practicing more kicking and stretching more to get to where I want to get to, but I will build up my year journey towards my full Shodan slowly and with patience.

through San(zhan)chin I am trying to develop the body, my willpower and I have recently found a meditative calmness during it. I know it will take a lifetime to truly understand it, but the doubts that the other masters in kung fu school in china are long gone, it is a constant battle of the the three parts of human, it is designed to prepare to fight, it is the heart of our art.

Fistral, living for the moment and kata!

Since the grading i have been taking it easy, still training but enjoying life more and trying to live the moment more. I have already noticed that I seem fitter and faster than I have in months, mainly because I am allowing myself to recover quicker. When I have an early shift i do notice my ability to recover goes down, especially as I am trying to do more things in the evenings.

It all requires a balance, which lead me and two friends from karate to have an impulsive trip to devon, which we of course got lost and ended up in Newquay mainly fistral bay (one of the surfers beaches in the world), where we drank, eat, enjoyed the nightlife and the beautiful sights. It was a really amazing time as it felt like we were in another country and we did things at random, giving us a sense of liberty.

We also did a little training, sprinting in and out of the sea really works your legs and lower abs, I was stiff for two days! And I was teaching them kata, my love of Sanchin (and Sanzhan but I was not teaching them it) really grew strong during these few days, and there is a picture of two of us doing saifa on the beach with the sunset seemed surreal. It is one thing I love about kata, you can take them everywhere with you!

I still want to prepare well for the next grading next year, I just want my body to be in good health my mind focused and my spirit in its animal like tranquility.

It felt very okinawan to train on the beach! ous!!

Without the empty hand, leaves an empty heart

After Summer School, I felt really empty a big event had just come and gone in my life, and I really missed the feeling of having fun with my friends, training and gaining my Shodan-ho. After the dust had settled and I was back in normality of everyday life I felt an emptiness inside, the same emptiness that I felt when I had to leave the Kung Fu School in China, it became my home, I made some great friends there, my personal martial art had improved so much and I had to leave it. The same of when I had to leave China, emptiness and the loss of a great experience and a profound part of my life.

 

I found it strange that I felt like this after Dkk Summer School 2013, it is by far my favourite summer school, but I have been to several now before and after China. For me it is because of two things, I spent a year training for this, even though through illness and injury I wasn’t at the condition that I desired to be, I trained a year for this, with the martial art that I love, and through this some friendships that I have in karate have become much closer  through training for this goal and socialising more together. This helped me feel so much more relaxed and at home at summer school that we could laugh through all the rough parts and enjoy the fun parts, we helped each other drank together and have bled for each other. We had to prove ourselves in front of the london lot that we are a good club during the Nidan’s 30 man kumite  line up.

 

Actually seeing it in this light no wonder I can draw comparisons to my experience in China, bonded over training, over drinking in celebrations in the beautiful countryside.  So when I decided to take 2 and 1/2 weeks break from my training that I felt slightly depressed, after excess drinking and thinking of having fun, I just really missed training for a goal, training with my mates, doing karate.

 

One of my mates left to go back to his home country in Germany to finish his masters, he will sorely be missed, his energy and excitement that he brought to the club, his sense of humour, will be something the club will miss.

 

 

I returned to karate last thursday and even though I had a break where I swan once or twice a week but that was it, how fit I was when I returned, actually I felt fitter than I have in a long time. This goes to show that I can’t train in high intensity all the time, I want to train for a whole year for my next grade, not train hard every two months and need a month off.

 

Karate is my home, I still have my ambitions to train and travel around the world, but this art, this club, this spirit will always be where I belong.