Saturday, November 6, 2010

Deep South Martial Arts Championship 2010

This afternoon I will be competing in a martial arts tournament. This will be my 9th tournament. Like last time I will be competing in empty-hand kata and grappling. Last time I got 4th place in kata, and 3rd place (out of three!) in grappling. I plan to do better this time.
As usual, I'm nervous. This is what I feel like today.

Shingo Yamamoto, Sasuke 23. Picture from Rambling Rican

I'm more nervous than usual today. On October 14th, I promoted to black belt.

Me with Sensei Stanley on the day of my black belt promotion.

This will be my first time competing as a black belt. The adults (18 and up) compete in the afternoon, and the colored belts compete first. I've still got a few hours before I compete.
In all of the tournaments I've competed in, I've never won a 1st place trophy. Today I plan to get first place in at least one event. As I've said before, these tournaments are my version of Sasuke, and winning first place is my Kanzenseiha. Like my hero, Shingo Yamamoto, I will keep trying. I won't give up. I will win.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Black Belt Promotion

Last Thursday afternoon I got some very exciting news. I found out that I was being promoted to Sho-Dan, first level black belt, that night. I have been studying Isshinryu karate and Half-Circle jujitsu since February 2006. Over the last few weeks I have been doing the testing for Sho-Dan in Isshinryu. Usually when they do a black belt promotion in the dojo, they do a ceremony called a kamisa. They promote students from Ik-Kyu, first level brown belt, to Sho-Dan, first level black belt. They also promote black belts to higher levels of black belt. This time they did not do the full kamisa. I suspect that was because there were five brown belts in the process of doing the testing for Sho-Dan, as well as four black belts preparing to promote up. The people being promoted can invite family and friends to the kamisa. If we had nine people being promoted, and they all invited friends and relatives, that would be a lot of people. I guess Sensei Stanley felt that would be too much, so he's just promoting the students as they finish the tests, rather than wait until we're all ready and promoting us at the same time. I am the only one of the five brown belts who has promoted up so far. I think the others are still doing the testing.

Four of the black belts promoted up to another level of black belt that evening. Sensei Donald, Sensei Christopher, and Sensei Sam all promoted from Sho-Dan to ni-Dan (second level black belt). Sensei Justin was a junior black belt, which is what you promote to if you reach black belt before you are in the adult class (13 and up). He should have promoted to adult Sho-Dan quite a while ago, but things got mixed up and his promotion kept getting delayed, so instead of promoting him to Sho-Dan, Sensei Stanley promoted him to Ni-Dan.

These are some pictures my dad took of me being promoted.

In these pictures: Me (white gi), and from the right; Sensei Stanley, Sensei Ricky, Sensei Daryn, Sensei Taylor, Sensei Donald, Sensei Christopher, Sensei Sam, Sensei Justin (he promoted from junior black belt to adult black belt, and thus to "sensei" that night), and Sensei Robby.

The black belts talked a little about my training so far; how I come to class on a regular basis. always come to class ready to learn, and that I've continued training even though I injured my right shoulder shortly after starting the class. Sensei Ricky talked about how I ask a lot of questions. I knew that was going to come up, LOL. He said that out of all of those black belts in that line up, he'd never had one who asks as many questions as I do, and that it used to drive him nuts because I sometimes asked questions that he couldn't answer. He would have to tell me, "I don't know, I'll have to look it up." Actually, he doesn't really mind that I ask a lot of questions. The instructors encourage the students to ask questions.

I take my brown belt off and hand it to Sensei Ricky, who folds it...

...and Sensei Stanley ties on my black belt.

I bow as Sensei Stanley congratulates me.

A picture of all of the black belts who were present that evening.

And a picture of me with Sensei Stanley.

I was very excited about promoting to black belt, and I still am excited. I look forward to continuing my martial arts training and promoting to higher levels of black belt. I am now an advanced beginner. as Sensei Stanley often says: "A black belt is a white belt who never stopped training." My journey as a martial artist has only just begun.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Holiday in Dixie Martial Arts Tournament, Part 2

It's been over two months since the tournament, but now I'm finally doing part 2 of this blog. I've been busy lately. After the tournament I was getting ready for finals for the spring semester, then I had a couple of weeks off but I had to write the essay for my black belt test, and we went to visit my grandmother in Texas. When we got back from Texas I started my summer semester. I took two classes--6 hours--in four weeks. I won't do that again, if I can avoid it. Now I'm done with my summer classes, so I have time to do this blog. I have videos that go with this, but there seems to be a problem with them. If I can get them working I'll add them later.

I competed in empty-hand kata and grappling. The kata I performed is called "Sunsu." The word means "strong man." That was Master Shimabuku's nickname. This is a difficult kata because it combines moves from the seven kata that come before it. This is the only kata that is actually an Isshinryu kata. Isshinryu is a combination of two other styles; Shorin-ryu (the Shaolin Way) and Goju-ryu (the hard-soft way). 5 of the 8 empty-hand kata come from Shorin-ryu, 2 come from Goju-ryu, and Sunsu was invented by Master Shimabuku himself.
I decided to perform this kata because it is usually considered to be a black belt kata, and I'm still a brown belt. I had hoped that it would impress the judges for a brown belt to perform a black belt kata. I ended up getting third place. That frustrated me. I'm not sure what I did wrong. Maybe I went too fast? I don't know.

I also grappled in this tournament. I had two matches. I lost both of them, so I got third (last) place. That didn't frustrate me as much as getting third place in kata. It was my first time grappling in a tournament. In the first match I probably would have won if I had taken my opponent down instead of her taking me down. I could tell she wasn't very experienced. She didn't try to submit me except for a couple of attempts at an arm bar, which I resisted. This match "went the distance." That means that neither of us submitted or "tapped out." We grappled for 4 minutes and it came down to points. Even though she didn't really do anything to me, she was on top, so she got the points and won the match.

There were only three of us grappling, so after the first match I got about a minute to rest and catch my breath, and then I grappled again. This time my opponent was more experienced. She took me down quickly and put me in an arm lock called a kimura. I'm very flexible, so it is often difficult to tap me out. Most of the time if I get put in a hold like that I can fight my way out of it, but this time I was already tired from the first match. I couldn't fight my way out of it this time, and I tapped out.

I am disappointed with my results in this tournament. I will train harder and try again in the tournament in November. I am determined to win first place in at least one division. These tournaments are my form of Sasuke, and winning first place will be my Kanzenseiha. I'll keep trying. I will win.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Holiday in Dixie Martial Arts Tournament Part 1

Last November I blogged about competing in the Deep South Martial Arts Championship. This afternoon I will be competing in the Holiday in Dixie Martial Arts Tournament. I will be competing in empty-hand kata and I will be grappling. Last fall I competed in empty-hand kata and weapons kata. I got 4th place in weapons and 2nd place in empty-hand. I want to do better than that today. I want to get 1st place in at least one event. I have competed in 7 tournaments and I have never won 1st place. These tournaments are my form of Sasuke and I want to achieve kanzenseiha.

This is what I feel like today.

Picture from Rambling Rican

The kata I will be performing today is called Sunsu. In Isshinryu that is the last empty-hand kata a student learns before promoting to black belt. I'm still a brown belt. It is unusual for a brown belt to perform this kata because most students promote to black belt before they have the chance to perform this kata in a tournament. I have only recently learned it, but I feel comfortable enough with it to perform it today. One of my instructors recommended that I do Sunsu because I have been practicing it a lot lately and because it is usually considered to be a black belt kata. A brown belt performing a black belt kata may impress the judges.

I will also be competing in grappling (submission wrestling) today. I've grappled in the dojo before, but this will be my first time to grapple in a tournament. I enjoy grappling. I'm strong and very flexible, which helps a lot in grappling.

I am nervous about competing today. I'm going to be performing a kata I've only recently learned and I'll be grappling for the first time. I will do my best, though. I want to win 1st place in at least one division. I haven't done it yet, but like my hero, Shingo Yamamoto, I won't give up. I'll keep trying. I will win.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sasuke Posters

I haven't been on in a while, so I decided to do a new post. I often make Sasuke posters and collages in Photoshop. I did a couple of blogs about some of the collages. This time I'm going to do one about the posters. Please note that the pictures come from Pam at the Sasuke All-Star Fans site, from Arsenette at Rambling Rican, and from Makoto Nagano's site, Takasui. I usually come up with the captions for these pics when I'm tired. Most of the posters are funny ones. You can click on the pictures to enlarge them, if necessary.

The first poster isn't really a funny one, but I thought the caption fit. This picture comes from the Sasuke All-Star Fans site.

I believe this picture comes from Rambling Rican. I was watching Mythbusters right before I went to bed one night, and I made this poster the next day.

This one is another one I made recently. The pic comes from Rambling Rican. The expression on Shingo's face made me think of this.

The next couple of pics come from the same original pic, which comes from Takasui. This is the original one.

This is from the 2008 Maguro Festival. L to R: Katsumi Yamada, Shingo Yamamoto, Toshihiro Takeda, Kazuhiko Akiyama, and Makoto Nagano. Note that Bunpei Shiratori isn't there.

This is one of the modifications I made to the pic in Photoshop.

I wanted a picture with all six of the All-Stars, but I couldn't find one, so I made one. There was another pic with Bunpei in it, so I used the lasso tool in Photoshop to copy and paste the image of him onto this pic.

I later used that pic to make this poster.

I don't know what made me think of that. I was probably tired. Or bored.

I made a poster from the original pic, too. I've put these posters on my site on Multiply, and linked to them on the Sasuke All-stars Fans site. This one seems to be one of the favorites.

I think I got this next pic from Rambling Rican, but I think it originally came from the Muscle Park site. I don't think it's there anymore, though.

Again, I think I was bored when I made this one. The caption fits, though.

This pic comes from Rambling Rican. I got the idea from LOL Celebs. There are pics similar to this on there.

This pic comes from Takasui. The expression on Shingo's face is what made me think of this caption.

This one is one I just made a few minutes ago. I got the pic from Rambling Rican, but I believe it originally came from a fan who received it from Makoto Nagano.
Edit: This one makes more sense and is funnier if you read it from right to left.

I always have fun making these posters. After I make some more of them, I'll do another post about them. I hope you enjoy these as much as I enjoyed making them.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Deep South Martial Arts Championship

As promised I am blogging about the martial arts tournament I competed in last Saturday. I was pretty nervous. I'm always nervous before a tournament. This is what felt like before I competed.

Picture from Rambling Rican

Once I actually started to perform, I felt better. In both kata I did a couple of "kiai." "Kiai" means "spirit shout." A kiai is basically deep breathing with a shout added to it. Deep breathing helps you relax, so the kiai helped me to not be so nervous. The kiai was originally meant to startle opponents and momentarily distract them. Now the kiai is often used in kata competitions. A good kiai impresses the judges. It also gives you power. Exhaling just before you strike adds power to the strike.

The first event I competed in was weapons kata. I performed the kusanku no sai kata. Here's a video of it. The guy who bows to me before I enter the ring is another one of Sensei Stanley's students, btw. When I step up to the judges I bow and do my introduction. I say my name, the style of karate I study, the school I represent, and the kata that I'm going to perform. I was nervous, so I stumbled a bit on that.

At the beginning of the sai kata I have one sai up and one down. Kusanku is called the "moonlight kata." It's as though I'm out in the woods at night and there's a full moon. I'm using one hand to shield my eyes so I can look around, and the other hand is guarding my groin, or maybe pushing something out of the way. In Isshinryu the weapons kata don't have kicks, so the part where I jump up in the air is not a kick. I'm not sure what that is. When I drop down low after that jump I am getting down where I won't be seen and looking for my opponent.

Kusanku no sai is a variation of the kusanku kata, which I performed in the empty-hand division. the empty-hand version is very similar to the sai version, although the empty-hand one has kicks and the sai one does not. Also the sai version is longer. It includes some moves that are not in the empty-hand version. In the empty-hand kata I am fighting several opponents. Eight, I think. Here are some pictures of it.

I got 4th place in the weapons division and second place in the empty-hand division. I didn't get first place like I was hoping for, but I certainly did better than I did at the tournament in April. In April I did not place in weapons. They only do trophies through 4th place and I got 5th place last time. Same for the time before that, last November. This was the first time I got a trophy in the weapons division. Last time in the empty-hand division I got 3rd place...out of three competitors. I was not satisfied with my performance back in April. The day of the tournament and several times after I said that that would not happen again. I would do better at the next tournament. And I did. I still didn't get first place, but I did better than I did in April.

In the tournament next spring I plan to do three divisions; weapons kata, empty-hand kata, and grappling. And I plan to get first place in at least one of those divisions. These tournaments are my version of Sasuke. I am still aiming for my own kanzen seiha. I haven't gotten it yet, but like my hero, Shingo Yamamoto, I won't give up. I will keep trying. Next time I will win.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Martial Arts Tournament

It's been quite a while since I posted on here. I'm planning to do a post this weekend or early next week. I'm competing in a martial arts tournament on Saturday. These tournaments are done twice a year. In April it's the Holiday in Dixie tournament and in November it's the Deep South Martial Arts Championship. These are open tournaments. That means that people from any style can compete. The man in charge of the tournament runs an Isshinryu karate dojo. A lot of his students compete. The dojo I attend is also an Isshinryu dojo and a lot of the students from there compete. In addition to Isshinryu students, there are also kung fu students, tae kwon do students, and students who do various forms of karate, such as Kenpo and Shotokan.

Here are some pictures from the tournament last April.

In these pictures I'm doing the Tokumine no kun kata. A kata with the bo, the wooden staff. I got 5th place. I also competed in empty-hand kata and got third place. I want to do better than that this time. In the tournament this Saturday I am competing in weapons kata and empty-hand kata again. This time I am doing the kusanku kata for empty-hand, and the kusanku no sai kata for weapons. I mentioned in previous posts that I love watching Sasuke. These martial arts tournaments are my version of Sasuke. I am trying for my own kanzen seiha. In the six tournaments I've competed in I've never won a first place trophy. This time I want to get first place in at least one of the two divisions I'm competing in. That will be my personal kanzen seiha. And like my hero, Shingo Yamamoto, I won't give up. I've never won first place, but I'll keep coming back and trying until I do.