Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Grading Post mortem.

After a week or so I can now take stock of the grading and think about what went well and what didn't and how the preparation helped...or not?

My main concern leading up to the day wasmemory recall of the techniques. I've grained long enough to know them to a fair standard (some better than others, granted) so this didn't trouble me so much. I did however *still* get muddled up with the Japanese names and find that there is lag between being asked for a technique and my brain processing it and outputting it as action. So what to do? Well as MattKlein commented, just swot up on techniques and have someone call waza at random. Over and over again. And over some more. This worked quite well and in the grading I was confident that I could manage.

The second issue was not knowing who I would gradewith. As shorinji kempo is based on pair work this can have an effect on performance. Naturally techniques should be able to applied to anyone but in a grading it comforts you to know who your partner is. As it happens when I met mine and we had a chance to go through embu I felt a lot easier. He knew his stuff and was fluid in movement. No problem.

In fact during feedback Mizuno sensei made this very point about grazings. To him a grading is useful as it pressure tests technique. Yes they make allowances for the fact that sometimes we don't have a chance to practice with a partner beforehand but in real self defence you have to make the technique work. And this is grading: making it work under pressure. It's no good asking an adversary on the street to stop and start again "cos I wasn't prepared".

Lastly it's worth mentioning sweat. I know it's notpleasant but on a hot spring day in a packed dojo it becomes an issue when you're trying to apply wrist locks. The answer? Think creatively. Go with the flow of the technique and focus on the outcome (immobilising an opponent, trapping an opponent or maybe throwing). It was trickier but a valuable lesson.

Photos courtesy of Amar Haria.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Grading Day

Black belt grading came and went (it was the 7th May 2011) and I was lucky enough to meet and take the exam with a very capable kenshi. All went well apart from a few brain jams plus putting locks and wrist restraints on sweaty people on a hot day tends to be….challenging.

Beautiful day with view of the Royal Albert Hall and a post grading chinwag and beer with Toby.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Richard Holmes, military historian and top toff, dies

Richard Holmes made military history very presentable without losing any gravitas or intelligent discussion. Modern military presenters like Dan Snow tend to sensationalise and recount the 'fluff' at the top of the story without going deep. Not Richard Holmes. He was a Brigadier in the TA and professor at Cranfield University and had taught at the military academy at Sandhurst. All this made him credible but just as important as that he came across well on screen with his steady, whispering delivery. I believe this was a deliberately reverential tone, showing the respect Holmes had for the ordinary soldier. The man on the ground.

I still have on my reading list: Redcoat, Tommy and Sahib and these are just three of his many publications on military history. Bibliography.

Read a detailed obituary here.

See him at work in his War Walks series, this one covering The Somme. You'll even see hear him speaking very good French with a spectacular English accent. They must've thought he was great with that and his 'tache! I did too.

Final revision

Well, as the saying goes, if I don't know it now I never will. With only five more days til grading and one more official training session I can only revise my 83 techniques, 9 katas, 6 philosophy subjects as well as general ukemi, different stances and of course the whole thing wrapped up in a language I don't know. Thankfully there are plenty of resources out there to help the errant kenshi, such as Kenseikai's Shorinji Kempo site.

There's no point me cramming now and I've planned my schedule fairly well. I've aimed to peak this week and I have been polishing up some points this evening and aim to ask some final questions tomorrow at training. Then a light revision and training session on Thursday night and a day off on Friday. Saturday's the grading day so I'll take my mandatory kit bag with me:

- 1x dogi
- 1 box (I refuse to call it a 'groin protector!)
- 1x micro fibre towel and shower gel
- 1x flask of green tea
- 1x sandwich and a banana
- spare contact lenses
- body protector ('do')

Oh flipping heck I forgot I'll have to lug that around on the tube. The things we do...