In March, five members of our club, including myself, successfully graded for brown belt. Of course, nobody starts martial arts to be a brown belt and whenever I tell people that I train, the first question is, without exception, "are you a black belt?". Well the next grading is indeed for black belt so hopefully in the near(ish) future I will be able to answer with a yes.
It might take me a year to get there (or it might take longer!) but I thought it would be interesting to blog about my training as I work towards 1st Dan. It will give an insight into the array of skills and technique we practise, how we train and the preparation required for a Shoto Budo grading. I won't post after every class but will aim to provide regular updates on my progress, as well as that of the other brown belts who are making this journey with me.
So with the introduction out of the way, let's get this show on the road . . .
This week saw the club resume after the Easter break. After some intense preparation for the grading in March, I will admit that it was nice to have a couple of weeks to recover but it is always nice to get back into training. Much to my surprise, my fitness level does not appear to have dropped too badly. Phew!
Mind you, I did have some flashbacks to grading during Wednesday's class as we started with some intense pad work. This saw groups of three, two people with pads and the other using any hand techniques for rounds of 90 seconds. I enjoy these practises but sometimes struggle to balance speed, power and technique. Often I get two of three but in going for say, speed and power, I neglect to vary my techniques and rely on one or two old favourites - I do like elbow strikes! On this occasion during my second round, Eric encouraged me to focus on technique and power rather than speed and that definitely helped me focus.
From there we did some kata, starting at Taikuyku Shodan up to Hangetsu Den I'm still learning the Hangetsu katas so my form and movement definitely need some work. We have five orange belts in the club that are preparing (being prepared?) for their next grading so a run through kata is a good practise for everyone.
Finally it was onto some ground work and a new drill, working on both keeping a strong guard position and how to defend when in guard. An interesting practice for both the defender and attacker. Defending guard by placing your knuckles on your opponent's solar plexus proved hugely effective and interestingly the margin of error between the defence either working or not was very small. I will say that having knuckles digging into your solar plexus is not exactly a bundle of laughs but it certainly worked. However, writing this 48 hours after the practise, I can still feel it. Pass the Deep Heat!
So all in all, it was a good varied practise to get us all moving again, with some stamina work, reinforcing kata and new skills to work on. It's 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.