Progress in karate isn’t just about getting better at training, it’s also about making a place for myself in the dojo whilst I do so, both in terms of my actual practise, as well as being part of the group of people who spend so much of our lives there. A couple of cool things have happened recently which have assured me that I’m doing ok on that front.
A few weeks ago I explained to Sensei that I wanted a new gi because I was having to do lots of washing (one gi + four training sessions a week = a hell of a lot of washing, in fact). The next week he brought in two for me to try on, and after selecting the one I wanted I went up to give him the other one back, and to pay him the 7,500 yen that was marked on the packaging of the one I wanted. He wouldn’t let me pay, however, and said it was a present. I was really pleased – not only it is a lovely quality gi, but it was also a lovely gesture.
The second thing was that last weekend I was invited to join the dojo folk on a trip to an izakaya. Sadly I couldn’t go as it was a friends birthday, but told him I would definitely come next time. He reiterated his invitation yesterday, saying that myself and another newbie were welcome to come and drink and eat all we wanted, and that it would be his treat. Awesome! Given that I’ve not even been invited to any enkai (work drinks) with the schools, I’m chuffed.
On the training front, things are going reasonably well. I have learnt, more or less, kushanku, which is the longest kata, and also very confusing as it’s an amalgamation of the previous five kata’s, so you’re constantly having to compute what to do next. I have also learnt, in pattern at least, naihanchi, which is a koshi (hip power) driven kata, and is really more advanced than the level I am at now, but Sensei decided it was time to learn it, so who am I to argue. I have decided not to learn any new ones (at least in my own time – it’s possible I will be taught some in the dojo) until I have got the seven I now know in tip-top shape.
In my own practise, I’ve mainly been working on the one area I have serious problems – relaxing and using the power from hip rotation, rather than power from my freakishly strong arms. At some point I’ll talk about this further, but let’s just say it’s a fairly vital issue in karate, and one which is sadly not always given the attention it deserves by Western dojo.
For now, I must get off to my next lesson – the fourth and final first year class of the day. They are good fun, but so tiring!