Has it really been four months since my last update? Sadly, the answer is yes.
As it turns out my neck issues dragged on a bit longer than expected. However, one MRI scan and several sessions of physiotherapy later and finally I am back in training. Now, where were we again?
Having missed four months, and being inactive for most of this time, my fitness level has plummeted. It's probably the least exercise I have done in twenty odd years, going back to my student days, so getting back into the routine was always going to be a challenge. I started training again three weeks ago and started gently for my first week, just training on Tuesday night. And the next day I felt like I had been through a weekend National course. Had I lost ALL my conditioning?
Fortunately the following two weeks, I trained both Tuesday and Wednesday with no ill effects and I can feel my fitness starting to come back. I have kept my training light, focusing on pads and kata until my neck feels ready to include the takedowns, sparring and grappling elements of training.
Over these past three weeks, Hugh has been taking us through an interesting kicking practice. Rather than doing individual or double kicks, this sequence involves 12 then eight then three repetitions of the same kick. We then do the same sequence for another kick and then do these in a combination. For example, we do 12-8-3 mae geri (snap kicks), 12-8-3 mawashi geri (round house kicks) and then repeat the combination of mae geri - mawashi geri - mae geri four times.
I think there are a variety of benefit s here. The repetitions sharpens up kicking skills but it also helps balance and stamina whilst the combinations are proving a useful tool for judging and changing distance which will be good in a sparring situation. I have found myself improving in each area over the course of the past three weeks although my balance on the sets of 12 for yoko geri kekomi (side thrust kicks) still needs some work. A useful tip from Hugh is to have your partner provide a hand with balance when required. Over the sessions I have found that my need for the balance is decreasing, although it is still a welcome hand (quite literally).
Following on from this, Hugh has then been taking the club through some new grappling moves, takedowns and moving on the ground. As I am taking my first tentative steps back into training, I have been a spectator for these which is slightly disappointing partly because this is my favourite area of practise but mainly because the moves look REALLY COOL. I will talk about these more when I am taking part.
Finally, we have rounded out the sessions with kata and some stretching. I would never claim to be the most flexible person in our club and after all the time off that definitely has not changed!
So it is early days getting back on the road to my First Dan but it sure does feel good to be back.
Until the next time, keep your guard up!
Scott has been training in Shoto Budo since 2007 and is a 1st Dan Black Belt. He is working towards his 2nd Dan grading.