Thursday, August 28, 2008

Competitive Nature

A few years ago, I decided to return to work full time. I applied for a job in the garment industry through a recruiter. We exchanged several emails and the recruiter asked me to fill out questions regarding my job experience. He sent me several questionnaires. I use the term questionnaires lightly...they were more like essay questions. I spent at least ten hours on these email questions. Eventually, I was asked to take a DISC assessment. This is a behavioral analysis that categorizes into a type...Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientious.

I turned out to be a High C.
Persons with High C styles adhere to rules, regulations, and structure. They like to do quality work and do it right the first time. High C people are careful, cautious, exacting, neat, systematic, diplomatic, accurate, tactful. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia I did not get the job because they were looking for a High I. Go figure.

During the session the recruiter spoke with me and interpreted the results. In addition to being a High C, he told me that my answers constantly indicate that I have a competitive nature. I was hard on myself certain enough but was not competitive. Being categorized as a High C made sense because I can be slightly OCD about some things. I can tell you I was shocked at being called competitive.

It is time to call on my competitive nature. I am thinking of competing in a karate tournament. When I went to tournaments in the past, I just went out and did my best. I know how to prepare for testing and I have helped other prepare for competition. Right now I feel stuck regarding my own preparation. The first step will be choosing which bo kata and which open hand kata I will demonstrate. Not sure about sparring yet.

Have you competed in a tournament? Did you spend extra time on tournament material? Is there a need for extra preparation or is the training time in the dojo sufficient?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Self-Defense Against Mean

I am crossing my fingers for a bully-proof year.

My daughter attends a small Catholic grade school. She will be starting the 4th grade on Monday. She is excited because she found out that she got the teacher she wanted. Last year was a rough year. I was glad when the school year ended and I do not think the summer was long enough.

The first quarter of third grade was terrible. I think I received three slips from the nurse each week. My daughter was constantly in the nurses office with a stomach ache or a headache. Finally, she confided to the nurse that the kids were being mean. She said "The kids have been mean since kindergarten but now that they are older, they just find new ways to be mean." We took her to the doctor to make sure that there was nothing wrong with her stomach. The doctor concluded that her upset stomach was a result of stress caused by the mean kids in school. The school acted quickly and things got better. I seriously considered changing schools.

My daughter knows the basic school yard self-defense. She knows how to get out of wrist grabs and knows how to avoid a push. What is the self-defense against mean? The kids that are one day your friend and the next day won't talk to you. I was surprised to learn that cliques start in first grade. When did it start so early? We have practiced how to use assertive words. We discussed when it is appropriate to "tell". I have tried to explain that bullies are looking for a reaction and that her best reaction is ... no reaction.

I send her to school armed with what I call "The Mommy Rules". The first rule is that "I love her ... no matter what". The second rule is "I am proud of her". I think kids need to know their parents are their ally. She refuses to stand up for herself because she is concerned she will get in trouble at school. My daughter is an only child and spends much of her time around adults. She is involved in school activities and gets good grades.

How do you prepare your child against bullying?

Friday, August 22, 2008

PT in the Grocery Store

I may have mentioned that I had a terrific Physical Therapist during my ACL recovery. Her children took karate classes for a few years and were great to have in class. The other night I was bringing my daughter home from soccer practice. We decided to stop at the local grocery store for a treat. I ran into my PT in the frozen food aisle. She asked me how I was doing and I told her that things were great and I finally feel like I have put this injury behind me. She had the surgery over twenty years ago and told me that it took her a year to feel confident again. During my update , I mentioned a "popping" feeling on the side of my knee. I explained that when I work out more than usual or do squats, my knee feels weird. She told me that it sounds like Iliotibial Band Syndrome. Lovely.

The best thing about running into your PT in the grocery store...No co-pay! : )

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Push Ups Anyone?

I was reading the post 100 Push Ups over at Lady's Sparring Night's blog. She refers to a website One Hundred Push Ups that provides a program to achieve 100 push ups in six weeks. I decided to give it a try. I am not very good at push ups. I am hoping to change that!

Push Ups anyone?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Have You Ever Used It?

When people find out that I am involved in the martial arts, the first question out of their mouth is "Are you a black belt?". Immediately after I respond "Yes" the next question is "What rank?". These first two questions are easy to answer and the usual response is "Oh". However, it is the next question in this script that I often do not know how to answer.

Have you ever used it? The first thought that goes through my head is "Of course, I use it everyday. My training and involvement with karate shapes how I move and my approach to life." But, that is not the answer they are looking for. They want to know if I was ever in a fight or did I ever use karate to defend myself.

I was never in a fight. One night in the dojo, the students were predominately female. The subject of fighting came up and after a lengthy discussion I found out that 8 out of the 10 females in the room had been in a fight with other females. The stories were mainly about fights in high school. Girls would send notes to other girls telling them to meet them after school. I had never seen or heard of a fight when I was in high school.

In regards to self-defense, I do believe that I avoided a serious confrontation. I worked as a manager of a wholesale clothing warehouse. My job was located in the middle of the city in an undesirable location. It was an interesting job to say the least. Many of the temporary employees wore ankle bracelets and were on work release. There was one temporary employee that would talk to her "imaginary friend" during work. This woman fell asleep at her examining table and I had to let her go. I was six months pregnant at the time and she left the building threatening to kill me.

One night I was scheduled to come in to work late to help prepare for a warehouse sale. I was to meet a co-worker at midnight so we could finalize the preparations for the opening. My husband went along with me so I did not have to go alone. My co-worker parked his car a half of a block ahead of us. My husband and I parked the car. As we opened the door, a truck went speeding past us. The truck stopped at the corner and the driver opened the door, stood on the edge of the car and started screaming at us. The driver did not see my co-worker who was a half a block ahead. My husband and I stood there. We did not yell or rush back to our car. We stood there and waited. All of a sudden, he hopped back into his truck and drove off. My co-worker was speechless. He was certain there would be a confrontation and amazed at our reaction. My husband and I looked unified, calm and ready.

I do believe that I use my karate training on a daily basis. So, let me rephrase the question: "How have you used your karate training in a non-combative way?" We talked about this briefly in the dojo and here are a few examples:

My sister-in-law works as a child care assistant. She was on a ledge twelve inches off the ground. The children were playing on the floor close by. She lost her balance and was delighted to tell me that she did a karate roll fall to avoid injury.

Removal of target. When walking in a crowd have you ever cut angles or minimized the target?

A student came back from climbing Mt. Rainier. He mentioned how the karate stances of Seisan and Sanchin helped his climb.

When lifting a heavy piece of equipment my husband was losing his balance. He dropped into a Kosa stance and avoided falling.

The no-touch flush. This is the technique of using a slow front thrust kick to flush a public toilet.

I used my experience in karate to help with my ACL recovery. I would spend time analyzing how I walked in an effort to eliminate my limp.

I made a calm, clear decision during my car crisis.

Has martial arts training helped your everyday living? Do you move better? Are your reaction times quicker? Are you more aware of your surroundings?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Car Quest - The Results - Upside Down

I recently wrote about the problems I was having with my car and my attempt to stay calm. This problem resolved itself two weeks ago but it is only now that I am ready to talk about it.

Part 1
I had an appointment to meet with the sales manager to discuss my options. Last November, I bought a Certified Pre-Owned car from a local dealer. During the first seven months my car need numerous, expensive repairs. My brother went to the meeting with me. When we arrived, we were told the sales manager left for the day. WHAT?!!! They called him on his cell phone and we were told that the salesperson X would take care of us. USELESS!!!! He tried to sell me a new Mazda 6.

My brother, who was fabulous throughout this whole process, asked the dealer to show us the service paperwork for the 130 point Pre-Certification. No one in the entire dealership was able to access this report. The salesperson explained that I was upside down. They offered $4000.00 less of a trade in that I owed on the car. They told me that I could just roll-over the difference on a new car loan. We then found out that this dealership has a reputation for sending out cars that they know will break after 30 days. Their BBB report shows 16 complaints in the past 3 years. I checked all the local dealerships and no one came close to the number of complaints this dealership had.

Part 2
We decided that we would check out another dealership. I was told that July was a great time to buy a car because there were many incentives. My brother and I went to another dealership. They were going to help me. They were going to get me in a new car TODAY! I told them that I was not going to rush into buying a new car because it did not work so well last time. They called me and emailed me twice a day. They offered me a deal but it was not good enough. My brother was the negotiator. He is the CFO of a construction company and deals with bids all day long. He went into the meeting prepared and knew exactly how much money the car was worth. The end result ... No Deal.

New strategy .... go back to dealership #1 and get them to fix the car they sold me at a reasonable price. My brother went to the service manager and still could not get the Pre-Certification report. The manager offered me a 10% discount. Seriously! They already charged me two $70.00 diagnostic fees to confirm what I already told them ... a broken window and a broken wheel hub. He tried to explain to them how valuable a gesture of goodwill would be for the dealership. It would be worth every penny of word of mouth advertising. The dealership did not care. I will never do business with them again. I am telling everyone about my bad experience.

I got my car fixed. My brother found me a different mechanic that fixed my car for $250.00 less than the dealership. My car is upside down. It is not worth what I paid for it or owe on it for that matter. I am stuck with it.
Post edited 08.15.08. The following links describe the tricks and scams car dealerships and salespeople use.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Focus on Basics

In the dojo, over the last two months, we were focused on black belt testing material. We worked hard on kata, weapons and bunkai. The kyu rank students had a brief opportunity to work on a more advanced curriculum. Now, it is back to basics. I love to teach basics ...strikes, blocks, movement and drills. Last week we spent thirty minutes on how to move in the first kata. A few years ago, I taught a class that included several teenage brown belts. After warm-ups, we would begin each class with moving drills. They would groan and I told them that they would thank me one day. They had a particularly rough black belt test but passed with no problem. One of the students came up to me after he received his belt and thanked me for the all the moving drills we did in class.

There were several students that attended the 2008 Annual Training. They returned to the dojo inspired and enthused. Several kyu rank students watched black belt testing for the first time. They saw for themselves the level of commitment required to do well. The instructors have explained the process many times but it was not until they saw the testing that they truly understood.

In August, I will focus on the basics but not just in the dojo. There is much work to do at home. I spent the better part of the weekend school shopping with my daughter. I am exhausted from shopping. I am lucky that she wears a uniform to school every day. I can not imagine taking her shopping for back to school clothes. I have enough trouble finding shoes and a backpack. It took us three trips to the mall to find the perfect backpack. This is the first year that she did not get a Disney Princess or Fairie backpack. We bought a backpack with wheels because of the amount of books she is required to bring home each day. She weighs 60 pounds and last year she was carrying 12-15 pounds of books. I actually put the backpack on the scale!

Enjoy the rest of the summer!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

2008 Training Camp

I have been at a loss for words when trying to write about the 2008 Annual Training. It is not because there is nothing to say. It is because I could not find the words that would do it justice. There was something special about this years training. I felt it and I heard others remark on it. I tried to identify what made it special but I could not isolate the source. I soon realized that it was the combination of inspiring instructors, training, friends and accomplishments.

I am fortunate to belong to a Federation that promotes the sharing of information across styles. Hanshi and Kyoshi invite amazing guest instructors; Hanshi Miquel Iberra - Aki-Jujitsu, and Kyoshi William Hayes - Shorin-Ryu Karate and Kobudo. I cannot say enough about these instructors. If you ever have a chance to attend their seminars…take the opportunity. There were many outstanding sessions focused on Okinawa Kenpo taught by Hanshi and Kyoshi Heilman. Several Federation Kyoshi ran excellent sessions on kobudo and bunkai.

I am proud, yet often feel unworthy, to be a member of the Renshi-Kai. This is a Federation advisory board of licensed instructors. The Renshi-Kai comprises the formal Yudansha Testing Board. It is a privilege to be part of the testing board. I see the testing candidate’s hard work, determination and perseverance. There were several triumphs this year at testing. One candidate was victorious over a serious illness and another demonstrated true warrior spirit.

There is a strong sense of camaraderie at the training seminars. I only see these martial artists a few times each year. Even though we do not see each other often, we fall into the natural rhythm of friendship. We are there for the same purpose…to learn… to share… to train. We are in the moment.

It was an amazing weekend.