Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Cabbage Story

My daughter's 3rd grade class is participating in Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program. In the spring, each child was given a cabbage to plant. Each plant started out looking like the above picture. We have been nurturing the cabbage for weeks. I do not have a green thumb but my brother has a wonderful garden.

He has been taking care of the cabbage and even fenced in the plant to protect it. The cage is three feet high and surrounds the cabbage. No potential diners should have gotten through. My brother called me early this morning with panic in his voice. When he checked on the cabbage this morning, this is what he saw.

Something ATE the entire cabbage leaving only the stump. The cabbage is supposed to grow and weigh THIRTY pounds. The only plants that survive in my house are cactus and fake plants.

Does anyone know where I can buy a thirty pound cabbage?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Why Did You Start Learning Karate?

There are so many reasons to start karate. I have heard several: self-defense, self-esteem, discipline, balance and coordination, health and fitness, inspired by the movies or a life long ambition. When I ask a new student, why they are taking karate the most common answer is self-defense. I am often asked about why I began and my answer is simple…people.

My karate journey started in 1993 when I stepped on the dojo floor for the first time. However, my initial exposure was through my husband. We were married in 1992 and he was a brown belt at the time. I was young, 24 years old, and newly married. So imagine a newlywed sitting at home alone three nights a week while my spouse packed up a gym bag and headed to class. I was a dutiful karate wife and I would attend tournaments and promotions to cheer on my husband.

Then it happened, the trip that would change everything. My husband wanted to travel with his instructors and training partners to New Orleans to attend a large tournament. I decided to go along because I always wanted to see New Orleans. I asked my sister to go with me and we spend the trip site seeing while my husband attended the tournament. During the course of the trip, I met his instructors and other members of the dojo community. They were enthusiastic, empowered, real and simply fantastic people. They suggested that I start taking karate classes. I told them I would think about it but it was less than two weeks later that I stepped through the dojo door and never looked back.

There are times when I wish my “Why” tale could be more elaborate or exciting. I think most people assume, because I am female, that I started karate in order to learn self-defense. Many assume that my husband is my teacher but he is not. We are students of the same instructor. The dojo community is an important part of my life. It is the reason I started and it is the reason I continue.

Why did you start learing karate?

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Gym versus The Dojo

I love going to the gym. I workout at night and arrive at the gym between 8:00 and 8:30. I walk into the gym and hand the attendant my membership card. The attendant might mutter a "thank you" but after that no one talks to me. It is glorious. During the day, I am bombarded with phone calls at work and chatter when I get home. I have an extremely articulate nine year old who talks all the time. You may think I am exaggerating. I am not. I love talking to her and hearing stories about her day, a t.v. program, the song she just made up, her plans for the future (the last I checked it was to be a zookeeper and an iron chef), her wii success, science, or her opinion about anything and everything. She is terrific and I am very lucky. However I must admit, I enjoy the hour of solitude and silence at the gym.

The dojo is different. There is a strong sense of community and belonging. I may have mentioned that I am in a unique dojo situation. I am involved in two dojo. My husband and I are students at the Federation Honbu. I teach at the dojo my husband started thirteen years ago. It it like being part of two families. Class time is full of interaction such as questions or discussions. I greet the students and parents as they arrive and spend a few minutes talking to them. I am connected to the dojo.

If I would have to chose between them, there would be no contest. I would chose the dojo. I am fortunate that I do not have to chose. My time at the gym has improved my strength and endurance. The gym augments my karate training and hopefully will reduce the chance of further injury. My bo strikes feel stronger and my sai work has improved.

I suppose that I should have titled the post: How the Gym improves my time in the Dojo.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Best Wishes

Best wishes to a fellow martial artist undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery today. Wishing you a speedy recovery!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tiger Woods - ACL Reconstruction

I just ran across this article.

Tiger Woods announced that he needs ACL reconstruction and will be unable to participate in the remainder of the 2008 season.

50 Posts and 6 Months

This is my 50th post. I started by clicking on "create blog" as I was reading Bob's Middle Aged Martial Artist blog. The fact that I am blogging six months later is a surprise to me. I would not consider myself a natural blogger. I often do not know what to write about and have trouble adding images (hence the lack of pictures). A major obstacle is that I am a terrible speller. I always have been and probably always will be. I worry that my spelling deficiency is genetic. My daughter took a standardized test this year in school. She tested above average in all subjects ... except spelling. Thank goodness for spell check!

I only planned on posting a few times. To this day, not many of my friends or family (anonymous #1 & #2) know I have a blog. The fact that I enjoyed writing down my thoughts was a shock. Even more shocking was that I sent my thoughts out to be viewed on the Internet. So, what has blogging done for me? It has given me an outlet to document my ACL recovery experience. I was able to talk to people experiencing the same thing. I received support and encouragement from others going through ACL recovery. I can not thank you enough. Blogging has also given me the opportunity to communicate with other (non-ACL) martial artist. I enjoy reading articles as they document their martial arts journey.

I hope to continue posting and maybe one day reach the 100 post milestone! Who knows ... maybe I will start adding images!

Friday, June 13, 2008

You Can't Like Them All

I suffer guilt regarding the kata Sanchin. The trouble is that I do not like this kata at all. I appreciate what this kata is teaching and understand the importance of proper breathing. I know that a Sanchin stance provides stability in both directions. I really want to like this kata. I feel I should like this kata. My guilt stems from the obvious cringe that crosses my face when this kata is mentioned.

The unfortunate situation is that most people know my feelings towards Sanchin. About a month ago, I went to a training session at the Honbu. My instructor taught a fabulous session on Sanchin. It is because of this session that Sanchin has been on my mind. (I had a "light bulb" moment with this kata due to the manner in which the information was presented.) After class, a fellow black belt stopped me and said "I thought of you when we were working on Sanchin". He then proceeded to tell me the story of his Nidan testing. He ran into me in the hallway after the kata portion of his test was over. He asked me a question about a comment that was made on his Sanchin. Unfortunately, I did not have an answer for him because I did not hear the comment. I did manage to tell him "I don't like Sanchin".

The Okinawa Kenpo Karate Kobudo system that I train in has 51 kata. There are 21 open hand and 30 weapons kata. Maybe I am expecting too much of myself to like them all. I have my favorites: Chinto, Kusanku, Passai, Wansu, Tokumini Nokun Ni, Shima Igiri Bo Ichi, Odo No Tunfa Ni, Odo No Sai Ni and Odo No Tekkos Ichi. There are also a few I do not like: Sanchin, Nakamura No Sai, Odo No Kama Ichi and Kobo. Looking at the list I can tell you that the kata I do not like were the ones most difficult for me to learn. I am sure there is a correlation.

In my attempt to rid myself of my Sanchin guilt, I have promised myself that I will review the kata in every one of my classes. I have included Sanchin breathing exercises and drills as part of the warm up. I am going to stop saying "I don't like Sanchin".

Is it necessary to like all the kata in a system? I am going to try for a feeling of neutrality when it comes to Sanchin.

Maybe, you just cannot like them all.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Bare Knee

Last night my knee was bare. Let me explain. It was the first time since my return to karate that I was knee brace-free. Initially I was concerned, but my front kick finally felt like it did pre-ACL surgery. When I wear the brace, I am unable to get the retraction I need to perform the kick properly. I stopped wearing the functional brace a few months ago. I could not move freely and my leg felt robotic. I switched to a Breg short runner and was able to move better but my kicks were not right. After months of brace wearing, I decided it was time to try karate without the brace.

The last time I saw my surgeon was August 2007. He released me at twelve weeks. He told me that at six months I had no restrictions. I was fitted with my functional brace and was told to wear it a year. I never liked the brace. I had the surgery so that I would NOT have to wear a brace. I created my own brace protocol (I am not recommending this I am just sharing my experience). I wore the functional brace until I felt it held me back. I will wear the soft brace until I feel it holds me back. I am going to experiment with a few more brace-free classes. I will continue to wear the soft brace during sparring or during contact drills.

I never understood the different brace protocols from surgeon to surgeon. I had a complete ACL tear and a tiny (notrepaired) meniscus tear. I wore a post-operative brace that was completely locked at extension for five weeks. Some people only wear a brace for a few weeks while others wear the brace with some ROM. I know that each individual case is different but brace preferences are extremely varied. It seemed like those individuals with less bracing needed to rely more on their own strength than the protection of the brace.

Many posts ago I was concerned that I would have a hard time letting go of the brace. I do not think that is a problem anymore.

I am looking forward to many more brace-free days!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Days of Summer

Friday was the last day of school for my daughter. I have been more excited than she has been about the end of the school year. I have more time in the summer. There is no homework to check, daughter to get ready, lunch money to remember, activities to attend or bus to catch. School mornings are tough. I am one of those people that get up quickly in the morning. My daughter is a "five more minutes of sleep" type. She would catch the bus at 7:10 a.m. and I start work at 8:30 a.m. Now that it is summer, I get to sleep a few more minutes or get some housework done.

In the Sunday paper, Andy Rooney made a list of Good Things. His list included a full tank of gas to finding money in a pants pocket. I thought I would make a list too.

A Few Good Things - Summer

1. the last day of school
2. a fresh cut lawn
3. air conditioning
4. a clean house
5. a dish of chocolate ice cream with peanut butter topping
6. karate training camp
7. plane tickets
8. vacation days
9. local festivals
10. picnics
11. a game of S.P.U.D.
12. laundry hung outside to dry
13. Alpine Slides
14. miniature golf
15. auctions and yard sales

Have a safe summer!