Monday, June 6, 2011

Erica's June update!

Erica practicing kata on the side of the dojo.
Picture from Arakawa Sensei's blog.

Erica here,

Well, after a few disjointed weeks in Japan, I'm slowly getting acclimated to my new life. It's been a real adjustment trying to get used to such a non-traditional schedule, but hopefully things will become second-nature soon.

As someone who's been to Japan before, I haven't had to contend with much culture shock. That's a good thing because learning Karate for the first time is enough of a challenge for me!

Being active has been something I've enjoyed for a while, so luckily, I am in pretty good shape. Kickboxing is the closest activity I've ever done to karate, but that was in college, and I'd say the focus there was primarily on fitness, enjoyment and effort. However, learning karate here, I've found much of the focus to be on technique. While my level of Japanese understanding allows me to understand the basic idea of most conversations, much of what's discussed in the dojo is about refining basic moves, and when things get that specific, it can be hard for me to understand, and most of all remember when everything else is new for me. Even remembering to keep my fist properly locked can be difficult to do when I'm worrying about if if my shoulders are relaxed or my feet are properly positioned, etc.

Because I'm forced to think about these things so often now, I feel that at the end of this year, I should be a lot more in tune with my body. I received Shingo Ogami Sensei's "Introduction to Karate" from the last intern, Peter, which is an English language book that helps explain some of the specifics. I think it will be helpful as I encounter more moves in the future.

As a beginner, it's hard not to be self-conscious when I'm essentially the only white belt in a room that's usually full of black belts. Whenever I've learned something new, it's usually been the case that I'm with others of the same level. However, at practice there is a mix of different belt levels, which I found surprising. Sometimes, it's a little lonely being the sole beginner, especially when many people I practice with seem to be younger than me. However, even though I'm just starting out, my teachers are very supportive which is quite a relief. And two of the teachers began in their 40s which makes me feel a little better!

My main focus right now is learning the Kata, which is basically a set of prearranged moves I have to remember. Yesterday I finally learned all of the "Pinan Nidan" kata, so now I have something I can do for self-practice. I have a terrible memory sometimes, so after a bit of searching I found a helpful video on youtube.

Here's Wadokai's Hakoishi Sensei performing Pinan Nidan.

Here's WadoRenmei's Suzuki Sensei performing Pinan Nidan.

And here's to another week.

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