After the first four weeks of training in 2016, how are my New Year resolutions holding up?
Well, the good news is I've not been injured although I did miss one week due to some seasonal lurgy. I've not managed more than two sessions per week so far but I'm happy with that as I build my endurance level back up.
As for quality of the training, after six sessions, everything seems to be working and this past week I felt my fitness level was noticeably
better than the week before.
Additionally my body conditioning is improving again. Having had a few weeks away from training, I do find it takes a while to get conditioned again to taking bumps (breaking falls, getting hit, breakfall kata and so on) both in terms of the timing and reaction. Tuesday's class this week saw me complete three rounds of the breakfall kata, the most I have done in some time, and although I was exhausted by the end, physically everything felt good.
Timing is starting to get better too. Some light parrying and sticky hands practice over the last two weeks have all felt good. Sticky hands is a skill that I have always found challenging. I understand the reasoning behind it and have an aim but putting it together has been more of an issue. This is not a strength practice but one of controlling movement and feeling an opponent's energy but can often descend into a battle of brawn.
Practicing with Hugh and Eric (9th and 3rd Dan respectively) followed by Scott M and Paul O (both white belts) provided an interesting contrast for me. I can feel where Scott and Paul are trying to go and counter whereas with Hugh and Eric I had to be much more defensive and openings were rare. I do find it useful to be able to compare the different levels and therefore get an understanding of what I am doing right and wrong. Maybe more wrong than right!
Hugh built up the practice from sticky hands and movement, then adding strikes, then locks, then knees and attempts to unbalance an opponent. What a lot to remember! The challenge is to see all of these skills and not (as happened to me when partnering with Hugh) get caught by a trip when focusing too much on the hand techniques. It is a very interesting practice and I do feel like I made some progress this week.
The conditioning improvements and feeling of making progress has helped my confidence considerably. I was in a bit of a slump late last year, frustrated with injuries and feeling that I was going backwards so the past couple of weeks have been a real pick-me-up. I have come away from these sessions with a renewed sense of enthusiasm for the year ahead and that feels great.
Scott has been training in Shoto Budo since 2007 and is a 1st Dan Black Belt. He is working towards his 2nd Dan grading.