Wrestling and goofing off fighting has been a long standing tradition in my family and with mostly boy cousins there’s never been too much of a shortage of willing participants.
Also growing up with my father being a 5th degree black belt in Isshin-Ryu karate there were lots of instances when dad would show my brother and I how to throw a punch, apply an arm lock or why one would twist their hips as a kick flew towards a knee.
Around last March I seized a few things around my life and decided it was time to start doing something for me. A few months earlier my uncle who is also a 5th degree black belt in Isshin-Ryu opened up a ministry based dojo between my work and home. Now at least once a week if not twice I study this karate.
I love it. Like a fish to water this style of fighting was very natural to me, perhaps it’s because for years I watched my dad run his katas (a routine of defensive and offensive movements) before bed. I don’t know why it all seemed to work but it did and does.
Thursdays is usually considered our fun night, that means it’s sparing time. I’m three belts into my training and going as fast as I can to advance but on Thursdays I get to see where my training is taking me.
So it lines up like this the black belts run us through a few warm ups to get loose, we might run a few katas, we have a little devo type thing and then we’re told to “pad up”. We get hand and foot pad put in out mouth guard (you show up wearing a cup and you do need it) and then for about five to eight minutes at a time we have at it. The class cycles through all skill levels lining up black belts against white belts. The black belts know what they are doing so unless you tell them you want to step things up a bit they are pretty reserved.
A few times I’ve lined up against across from the higher belts and we’ve opened up on each other. Man, its fun! I’ve gotten whopped and left class with knots atop my head and bruises across my body but pitting myself against someone else is wonderful. It’s challenging mentally and physically and it’s one of the best ways I’ve found to get completely exhausted.
It’s sort of hard to explain the hows and why’s it feels good to get hit in the face. What’s easier to explain is that it feels great to learn how to defend yourself from getting hit in the face the next time. If you can move past thinking about technique you understand what you can do to defend yourself and your family at any time.
No I don’t live in an area where there are roving gangs of marauders but if a “swollen’ man” were to come up to me now I could handle the situation with much more confidence.
Last week I was grappling with one of the black belts and made hip “tap out” or submit. I had him on his back in a choke and could have made him black out. I felt great and we went another round, after a good five minute fight he submitted me with a leg lock which could have twisted off my ankle.
At any rate this is how I’ve been spending at least one night a week for the past several weeks, hopefully I’m going to get back to two nights a week every now and again.