Road to 1st kyu is complete


Originally uploaded by markdeso

And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
– 1 Corinthians 13:3

For the past 10 weeks our dojo has been helping two of us prepare for our belt tests. Linda tested for 3rd kyu and I tested for 1st. I decided to blog about my experience, more from a perspective of what kind of insight this experience gives me.

There were 3 things I wanted to accomplish:
consistency, gentleness and good technique. I think with out the first and the second, the third does me no good. I need to be consistent and I need to be gentle in my approach and manner in all that I do. After the test the testing board brings us out to talk about our test. I was very pleased when Sensei specifically remarked about my consistency throughout the test.

I had been training with a san dan at our dojo who agreed to be my uke. At literally the last moment, (we were in the middle of rolls warming up for our test) he said to me that his back was bothering him to the point where he could not be my uke. My uke has talked about doing the best with what’s given you. This was an opportunity to do just that.

We are a small school so to replace him, I went through most of my dojo mates that came that day to watch. My son Steven even uke’d for me on a few techniques. As we reviewed my test, Sensei remarked that I showed good flow regardless of who I worked with, and adjusted my techniques to be appropriate to the uke’s experience. I was very touched by his support and words. The board all had good things to say and I felt good about my performance.

I have posted my test on youtube. i’m wondering if I will have an onslaught of “that stuff just won’t do against MMA.” comments. Here’s what I think about that: There were two peopl on our testing board that are up in their years. We have a woman who is 82. She does not train anymore but Sensei thinks enough of her to have her sit on our tests anytime she can. She is a testament to consistent training. We also have one of our black belts that still trains. He is 79, and still rolling around on the mat and throwing us with ease. I’m fairly certain that neither of these two fine people have had a fight in their life. However, when we see football players, wrestlers, and boxers who cannot train because of bad knees, hips or other casualties of their sport, we have people well into their 60s, 70s and 80s still training and still vibrant. This is of great inspiration to me.

If you teach someone to fight, then that’s all they will do. However, if you teach someone to resolve conflict, become a bigger person, show love in the face of adversity, then you teach someone to tap into the greatness we all have.

I am grateful to my Sensei, my school and uke for their gracious support. I’m grateful to my son for his wondrous and unflinching support of his dad. Last but not least, I’m grateful for having a wonderful and amazing woman that has been there for me, cheering me on, inspiring me and loving me through this experience. Leah, you are my sun, moon and stars.

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Road to 1st Kyu – the final stretch


Originally uploaded by markdeso

This has been a whirl wind couple of weeks. We have been really busy at work and I did not have a chance to train this weekend. I am taking advantage of the classes yesterday, tonite and thursday before my test.

I had an interesting revelation last nite. I don’t really have to think. I just have to do what Sensei asks of me on my test and it will be alright. For me, it’s not “can I” but “how well can I”. I’ve thought a lot about the things important for me to express when I’m testing this Saturday. Ultimately there are 3 things I want to accomplish:

Good technique – I want to be able to demonstrate good form in my throws and techniques. The basics of any artistic or physical expression stem from good technique.

Flow and consistancy – I want to feel a connection with my partner and exhibit zanshin, awareness throughout the test. This means that as I finish one technique I still keep focus on uke and hold that focus till we bow out from our testing.

Most importantly, the spirit of loving protection – I’ve read once that the spirit of loving protection means that when we are in a conflict situation, we not only strive to protect ourselves from harm, but we strive to protect our attackers, even as they seek to hurt us. I want to encompass the spirit of loving protection and exhibit how this can be done on the mat. If I can practice these things on the mat, then I can learn to work this into my life, just that much more.

Tonight was an interesting and wondrous night at the dojo. I came in to find Charlie, one of our teachers, standing at the window. I asked him how he was doing and he said he had come down with a bad cold. He felt that he didn’t want to touch the mats or have any human contact for fear that he would be contagious. He said, “You get to teach the class tonight…Lock up when you’re done…” Wow… I was scared and at the same time very appreciative of the opportunity. So, we had five people come today including myself. We bowed in, and started. As it turned out, we worked quite a few techniques, we did some suwari waza, worked in a line and worked some interesting earth and heaven energy, did nikkyo into irimi nage, and I think that I did a pretty good job on short notice! I tried to stick to the basics, and show what I knew, not what I thought I knew or what i thought Sensei or Charlie would teach, bu what I knew. The end result: I can see why people like to teach! It was a great and amazing opportunity!

So, as I finished my second to last class before my test, I feel that tonight was a really great gift. I’m appreciative of my dojo mates for putting up with me, and I am still high from the experience as I type.

Onegai shimasu!