With the Easter school holidays closing both of our regular venues, a few of us took the chance to train with our friends from Kaizen Shoto Budo at Springburn Academy. It's always interesting to visit other clubs and train with different people for many reasons.
Firstly, there are different instructors. Although Hugh was there, the class was taken by Pauline Walmsley, 8th Dan and head instructor of Kaizen. Pauline was actually the first senior grade other than Hugh that I trained with, way back at my first course in 2008 and I have always really enjoyed her approach to coaching.
I like how a class will start with a particular skill and build on it throughout the session, gradually adding more and more elements. By the end of the session, I come away with a genuine sense of development and maybe the light bulb is illuminated with how the various components of a practice are connected. In this particular class, we spent time parrying and striking whilst on the ground which tied in nicely with some of the standing, parrying and deflection practices that Hugh has been working on over the last few weeks. Slowly but surely, I am seeing how the skills I am learning can be applied in varying situations.
The next benefit is you get to train with different people, which I find is a good way of both measuring my own progress and developing new skills as it definitely is a step outside the comfort zone of familiar training partners. It was great to train with Pauline Sharp (6th Dan) and Chris Foley (3rd Dan) for the first time in a couple of years and get some tips from both.
The third benefit, and perhaps the best reason of all, it is a lot of fun!
So a very enjoyable night's training ahead of our return to our regular venues for the next few weeks. I am looking forward to the next visit already!
The first quarter of 2016 is in the books so it's a good time to check on my progress against the New Year resolutions I set out.
So far I've avoided injury, or at least I had until Sunday when I hurt my back lifting weights at the gym. It doesn't feel too bad but it might derail me for a few days as my lower back has stiffened up. Prior to this, I've been feeling good and my body conditioning has improved considerably since the start of the year.
2015 saw me suffer a number of groin strains so I have been paying some extra attention to stretching this area after warm up and at the end of practice. As mentioned before, my other great interest is ice hockey and I have been borrowing some hockey stretching routines that have helped here. The compression shorts help as well and you will be relieved to know I am not going to post any pictures of me wearing those . . .
Training has been regular, hitting two sessions at our club every week as well as running and time in the gym. As a result, my fitness and stamina has shown good improvements. I am always concerned about my stamina in intense training as I have asthma, and although not particularly chronic it can sometimes cause breathlessness. Thus far, this has not been an issue and over the last couple of weeks we have been finishing off training with three and four rounds of the break fall kata. I still hate the break fall kata but getting through repetitions of it is a great way to measure fitness improvements
Finally the quality of training has been good. Hugh has been working on a series of close contact defence over the quarter, using sticky hands to parry attacks and then adding kicks, distractions, locks and traps into the mix. As mentioned before this is a lot to process but again definitely it feels like progress has been made. In practicing with black belts John and Eric, I'm finding the speed of my parrying and movement improving whilst it feels that I am relaxing more whilst doing it. I have always found sticky hands difficult to after several years, it feels good to make progress!
So am I anywhere nearer to the elusive black belt? It feels like it is (slowly) getting closer which is very encouraging. The hard work continues...
The BMAC blog began in 2013 to chart one member's journey to black belt.