The Interests Thread!
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May 28th, 2012 (2:54 PM).
Join Date: Oct 2007
Those of you, who know me relatively well, will realize that I am a man who has a plethora of interests. I am going to talk about the one that I have had for the longest period of time. It is also the one I am most passionate and focussed on in my life. That interest is . . .
When I was around seven years of age (I have been training for around fifteen years now), a flyer came through the door one day. It was an advertisement for a local karate club. My father asked if me and my brother were interested and I said yes - my mentality was "sure why not?"
I started out doing Sendai Karate while in Australia and I made it to Brown + 1 I believe before moving to the United Kingdom. I switched to Shotokan Karate because that's what the local club offered over in England. I got downgraded a few belts because I lost a few certificates and the most recent one I had was for blue belt. Sucks, but there you go.
There's been two times where I've failed a grading. Well, technically once - the other was a close call. I was going for my Brown Belt and there were four of us going for it. The Sensei who was grading us was overall not impressed with the way we did our kata (essentially a fighting dance, I'll show some further below). He did pass me on that grading but I am not sure how many out of the remaining three he passed. The second instance, I was going for my Brown + 3 grading - the belt before Black - and I messed up my Bassai Dai kata. The annoying thing is that all the other katas you only need to know for one grading but Bassai Dai have to know for Brown belt onwards. It's a really important kata in Karate. So I have done it successfully twice already, for my Brown + 1 and +2. So you would think that I've practised it long enough not to screw it up. But I did. I stepped forward with the wrong leg in the middle of the kata. I managed to make a decent recovery though, so as not to completely humiliate myself in front of everyone else. But yeah, the Sensei grading me wasn’t going to give me any leverage. He might have done if I was going for my Brown +1, in other words if I was performing the kata for a grading for the first time, though he’s generally ruthless ESPECIALLY when it comes to kata. It’s because that is his favourite aspect of Karate. I did fail but that being said, he is firm but fair. My mistake wasn’t huge. I just got caught under the pressure and made an error. He gives me the belt and stamps my certificate but tells me that in three months, I’ll have to repeat the kata for him again, but only the kata. I won’t have to redo the basic combinations or the fighting aspects as I passed them.
Moving on, I do end up redoing the kata and I pass the second time round and a few years down the line when I was eighteen years old, a black belt grading was approaching. I really wanted to take it but my Sensei said I wasn’t physically strong enough to handle it. Upsetting as it was to hear that, I could understand the reason for his decision. All the black belts could overpower me with a strong attack and my defence wasn’t great enough to deal with it at the time. So I continued my training and one year later, I earned my Black belt and that’s currently where I am in terms of ranking. Enough time has passed for me to take my second Dan grading but my training lacked consistency during my university years. Training with a different Sensei at university and training less frequently too (now I train twice a week at least), slowed things down for me in terms of grade advancement. I do not particularly mind though to be honest. I am content with developing at my own pace. After all, “power attained in a day shatters just as swiftly”. That’s a quote of mine. I’ve seen people who take these accelerated Karate courses or whatever to get their Black belt really quickly or whatever. I watch some of them and they perform so mediocrely and I just feel as if the instructor is just stealing their money, by teaching these people incorrectly.
Anyway, I’m getting a little side tracked. My motivation for my training has evolved over the years. Primarily though, it is because I enjoy it and that has remained constant. As I developed, my main aim was to achieve my Black belt and to keep improving. I know of people who train for the sake of wanting to be able to protect loved ones, should the need arise. Perhaps I used to think like that too, I cannot quite remember. Nevertheless, that is not my mentality now, at least not in a direct manner. The question I ask myself is “How can you protect those you cherish if you can’t even save yourself?” Karate is not a hobby, nor is it a study or a profession. It is a way of life for me. For me, the individual. No one else. As in, I do it for my own benefit, not anyone else. I train because I
to not because I feel I
to. If I have the confidence of being able to defend myself, by extension I’ll feel more confident about defending others. The end result may be the same but the mentality is different.
My favourite aspect of Karate has to be the basic combinations. The fundamentals so to speak. It’s quite mathematical actually. You cannot do the harder stuff if you do not have a good understanding of the basics. You cannot solve the tougher problems if you cannot do the simpler ones first. Same concept. Now the term “basic” has evolved for me over the years. As a Black belt, the fundamentals stay the same but the way I apply some of them has varied for me. An example would be the round house kick. Ordinarily, you bring your leg up to the side then pivot on your standing foot and extend the leg out to strike the side of the body. Now I bring my leg up in front of me and then twist at the last moment to do a round house kick. So it looks as though I’m going to do a front kick but that’s just a feint for the round house. I apologize; it’s not the easiest of things to explain. I like to adapt the techniques that get taught to me. Not everything works best for me. For example, I am not particularly skilled at grappling opponents and trying to manipulate them in that manner. So I try to modify them into pseudo striking techniques or I alter the grapple to suit my style of fighting better. Some things just work better for some people than others.
My favourite Kata is Bassai Dai. It’s probably because I have done it for such a long period of time; it’s really grown on me over the years. The meaning of Bassai Dai is “storming the fortress” which just sounds freaking badass and epic to me.
My least favourite part of Karate is the competition fighting. I’ve only ever been to one competition as a kid and now that I have grown up, I do not see the practicality in it. You have to hold back your attacks when you try to score points against your opponent. If you hit someone too hard, you get fouled and then if you do it again, disqualified. I just think it’s impractical for real life confrontations. The way most people fight in competitions isn’t how people will fight you in the real world. People don’t circle around you, throwing a quick jab or a kick. To describe a real fight in one word. Chaotic. You get people who blindly swing their fists around in fury and all sorts of insanity. It’s brutal and carnage. None of this bouncing on the spot bullcrap, moving around throwing a few combos here and there. It’s BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM! Everything just goes crazy.
Karate has improved a lot of aspects about me. It has enforced discipline, respect, sharpened focus and drastically increased my mental awareness. I’ve met and trained with different people over many years and I believe it has made me a better person than what I would have been had I not been doing Karate. It is something I can take great pride in. Though I know I have a long way to go – and Karate essentially developed throughout an entire lifetime – I believe I have really come a long way and I want to just keep climbing higher and higher. To reach new heights, to push my limits even further and to continuously develop myself both physically and mentally. I have a deep respect and admiration for all of the Senseis’ I have had the pleasure of being instructed by. They have taught me well and helped shape me into the person I am today. I sometimes assist my current Sensei in training the younger students. It is my way of giving something back to him for everything he has taught me.
Anyway, I think that’s enough of a wall of text. Kudos if you managed to read all of that. To conclude I have a special treat for you guys.
Power through ambition
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