the alarm goes off on a Sunday morning at 7:30am. “Man, you have got to be kidding me” I think to myself. Then I remember why it went off in the first place. “Gotta get to class” my brain says. “Gotta get more rest” my body says. I manage to move one hand to the covers and the fight’s over, brain wins, as it usually does on the sunday class issue. I roll out of bed and the movement wakes Fae up enough to where she smiles and rolls into my spot. She’s partially awake, kisses the air to me, and falls back asleep. 7:30am is a four letter word for Miss “Bring me coffee at 9:30″ 😉
I get dressed, wet my hair to get rid of the bedhead, brush hair and teeth, and roll out the door with a glass of OJ and a bagel or something carb-loaded. I drive 45 minutes to my class in South Jersey and pull up in the driveway. I am welcomed by the big black dog who has a frightening bark but almost wags his tail off once he recognizes my smell. Great black lab. I put on my gi-top, tie my white belt, get my weapons and set them against the wooden fence in the back part of the yard. Sensei and I talk about things for a few minutes, the conversation including the people showing up for the class until it’s just about 9 and he has us line up to bow in.
We do some light aerobic stuff, stretching, and some breathing exercises before we work on sword. By this point, the nice shady backyard has become a lot less shady and our black uniforms are starting to absorb enough heat to make us all sweat lightly. We go through our kata in order, each of us dropping off to the side as we pass the kata we have learned to practice on our own. Sensei moves around helping people with finer points or even teaching a new kata. Repetition is the key, and it’s compounded by the fact we are not in an indoor dojo, so we have to adjust for rocks, roots, sticks, even downgrades or upgrades in the yard, making training regularly essential.
We work on that for about 20 minutes and switch to bo staff. These are paired drills, not full force or full speed, but focused on the position of the staff, body, and focus so that if a situation did arise, it would simply be a effort of speed to utilize these in defense or attack. Sometimes we learn kata of staff vs sword, sometimes we next work on hanbo which is a much thinner staff around 36″ long. Wicked for in close fighting.
The last part of the class, which is usually as close to an hour as possible, is jujitsu. This is the meat of our style, and up until I restarted class, my least favorite part of the class. As someone who is 6’2” tall, close in fighting is not my best approach. With long legs and arms, I want to keep people as far away as possible. Plus with the twisting moves and times when I have to duck under an arm, it’s a question of “How low can big man go?” most of the time. Thankfully, there is one guy who is a little taller than me so I get a break sometimes (as does he). The thing that I have learned which has really changed my perspective on jujitsu, is the application of the technique and how doing it a 100 times over the years has trained me to react without thought. One of my friends sons is getting bigger and thought it would be funny to grab my wrist and try to pull me under in the pool. I had my arm free and had countered it before I even thought about it. I also withheld all of the strength from the technique before I could hurt him.
His wideeyed expression told me that I not only had I surprised him by getting out, but shocked him by turning it back on him. “What did you just do?” he said, his eyes still big. “I didn’t do anything, my body did” I responded with a smile, letting his wrist go. So what did he do? He grabbed me again, and this time I just shoved him underwater 😉
When asked why I take classes, why I study martial arts, I usually answer the same way – to be ready for anything. Do I think I’m going to have a sword handy, or a staff? No, but if I did have something similar, I’d know what to do with it. Knowing the hand to hand, that’s the applicable stuff, and something I’m having a much better appreciation for.
Why did I get out of bed on Sunday morning at 7:30am? Besides being a place to workout some of my stress, I did it so that I can always be ready. Knowing what I could do is the important thing for me, and something that makes me feel better as a provider and protector of my family and what is important to them. Do I feel the need to hurt people? No. Do i like throwing people around and being thrown? Hell yes, at this point, it’s almost a necessity.
What do you do to get your excess energy out or what gets you all fired up?