Unfortunately for me, I had foreseen the start of what would eventually be sure to come, and as it so happens, last week I was finally forced to send out this particular e-mail to my Gordon’s Bay Funakoshi Karate International South Africa sensei, Birgitt Smit:
Hi Sensei Birgitt and Gert
Unfortunately, as much as it pains me to do so, I need to step back from karate for the foreseeable future, as the time constraints brought about by Chantelle’s evening shift work, her Cookies and Cakes venture and of course looking after young Jessica are simply making it impossible to grab any free time whatsoever in order to attend karate classes.
Please know that I greatly enjoyed my time training and learning under the two of you (I’ve been with you guys since February 2009 – didn’t realise it had been so long already!), and will most certainly miss training with my Gordon’s Bay karate family.
Hopefully things ease up in the future, perhaps when Chantelle falls pregnant and needs to stay home again, then can I revive my karate career, but for now there just doesn’t seem to be any alternative other than going on a karate hiatus for now.
My apologies on taking so long to write this e-mail to you, but it has been a difficult decision to make – though I believe in the end, the correct one. At the end of the day, I need to make the necessary sacrifices that are in the best interest of my family.
Thank you both for the time and effort that you put in for the people who choose to train with you, and best of luck for the future.
And that is that. Once again I have fallen short in earning my black belt in any form of martial art that I have tried my hand at, meaning that it remains one of those elusive achievements which always seems to fall just short of my grasp.
Stopping karate for now is sad and unfortunate (I’m going to miss the physical exertion, the camaraderie of the karate family and of course the constant learning and challenging of oneself), but like I said in the e-mail, a man has to do what a man has to do – and in this case someone has to be at home to look after Jessie while Mommy is busy with work…
Saturday the 4th of February marked the first Funakoshi Karate International South Africa beach training session for the year, and as it turned out, we got a lucky break in that the gale force wind that had been pumping through Gordon’s Bay for the last couple of days, and indeed, the entire morning of the beach training day, all of a sudden halted completely, leaving a breathless, sunny and hot afternoon, the perfect conditions for the 30 or so karateka that descended upon Gordon’s Bay main beach in front of Sunset Spur to partake in a special hour long beach training session.
The afternoon kicked off with a long set of basics, done in a big circle, before moving on to some fitness training in the form of various running styles between two laid out lines. Some kihon was done, as well as fun group exercises to improve explosive power, before finishing off with a kicking session designed to ensure that by the end of a sweaty afternoon, everyone would have been sufficiently cooled down by the raining sea water and mud!
(Needless to say, plenty of gi washing would have to follow)
After the final bow was done and the karateka dispersed, a group of the senior members then decided to take further advantage of the great weather, not by doing more training, no, but rather by grabbing a refreshing round of beer at the conveniently close by Spur.
Ah, life in sunny old South Africa truly is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? :)
Sensei Birgit’s son Wickus Smit went ahead and compiled the photos of the session into this fun little video, which is available on Facebook in case you’re interested in seeing what we got up to, and as always, if you’re keen on finding out more about what we do or perhaps even signing up, feel free to contact Sensei Birgit Smit at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last Wednesday saw me make my return to Funakoshi karate, for my first training session of 2012, after having enjoyed a nice month and bit holiday break from all the punching, kicking and shifting around. The break had been good, but I could feel it was definitely time to come back and get my knuckles dirty.
Unfortunately for me though, I couldn’t have picked a worse night to start up again.
With the Western Cape trapped in the burning clutches of an extreme heat wave the past week, the little dojo was like a mini furnace, and even the slightest of exertion earned you a soggy, clinging dogi as you battled to keep the sweat out of your eyes and hopefully off of the floor.
It was pretty damaging and exhausting, and it has to be said, the karate on the night wasn’t exactly pretty. Still, at least I went, so that has to count for something! :P
Mind you, it’s not like I went back completely unprepared. As a lead up, I have been doing my early morning jog/walks for the last while, and thanks to my newly discovered SmartTraining pedometer app on my Samsung Galaxy Ace smartphone, these sessions have turned into a daily mission of trying to beat the record of the day before!
An added bonus is the addition of Chantelle and Jessica on some of these morning excursions, with Chantelle finally seeing the light of my madness and venturing out into the early morning sunlight, despite the fact that she’s not exactly the world’s best morning person! (Can you say Grumpysaurus? :P)
Jessica on the other hand sits quite happy and entertained in her pram, legs kicking out with each and every step, so no problem on that front thank goodness!
Then of course there are my renewed lunch time elliptical trainer sessions at the gym on the days that I’m in at the Westlake office, but of course that is now only three times a week, so I’m cheating myself out of two days’ worth of exercise sessions!
And to be honest I need every session I can get if I want to make good on this year’s resolution to try and fight back against my now rather weighty problem…
Pleasingly, despite my reduced commitment to my Karate training regime, I was allowed to grade the Saturday before last, grading for Brown Kyu 2, in other words Brown two stripes (where I was currently Brown three stripes).
The grading took place on the Saturday morning at the quaint Mondeor Eco-School in Somerset West (just next to Monkey Town on the N2), the same location where I had previously graded for my Purple belt. As per usual time estimates were a fair bit off, but I was in truth pretty thankful for the extended delay before we got to my group, as it gave me a chance to run through my syllabus a few more times, just to make 100% sure that I knew what I was doing!
This was the first grading since my very first grading to Yellow that I was actually nervous of standing and performing my karate on my own in front of Sensei Birgitt and the panel of all the black belts, not feeling confident in terms of what would be required of me – and this was all based squarely on my now rather spotty training schedule that I’m going to have to live with for the next couple of years!
Anyway, by the time my group was finally called up, I was pretty warmed up and had a firm grasp of my syllabus, meaning that the nerves were now calm and it was just a matter of getting on with it. As per usual, I gave it my all, full power and nice and vocal, and despite making a few silly mistakes of which I’m not so happy with myself for making, the grading went pretty okay, meaning that I could proudly accept my new certificate at the end of the ceremony.
So now one more level of Brown to go, before that year long slog to Funakoshi Karate Black – which is after all, my ultimate goal now isn’t it? ;)
I sit with a bit of a dilemma on my hands with regards to my karate training, and the decision is a big one – should I continue or should I stop?
It’s important to understand why this dilemma has arisen. First, you must understand that I still enjoy practicing my karate and certainly enjoy training, but simply put, the reality of family life has had a big impact on my extramural activities – and this is a cold hard fact.
Last week was a little special – due to circumstances with Chantelle’s work, I was actually able to attend both training sessions for a change, but believe me, this is a pretty rare thing to be able to do.
Chantelle and Andy share the duties as managers of Gordon’s Beach Lodge, and this of course means shift work, covering both morning, evening and weekend shifts. Previously this obviously wasn’t such a big thing because I would simply continue doing my own thing if Chantelle was on duty, but obviously with Jessie around, this has completely changed.
In terms of my training, I am guaranteed at least one late shift a week that falls either on the Monday or Wednesday, meaning that I can now only attend one karate training session a week – which is only a hour long and thus computes to a measly 4 hours of karate a month! (Not to mention all the events I find myself having to withdraw from!)
Needless to say this is not nearly enough in order for me to keep up with the rest of the group, and subsequently I am well behind in my syllabus necessary for the upcoming grading come early December.
And this simply isn’t fair on Sensei Birgitt or the rest of the class as far as I’m concerned.
So now I sit with the question as to whether or not I continue to limp along as I have for the last couple of months, or throw in the towel for now, until Jessica is old enough for me to cart along to the venue, and pick it up later again?
Sigh, I guess I can’t really complain about this though. One knows that there will be a lot of sacrifices which need to be made if you want to bring a child into this world and more importantly, raise them properly! Decisions, decisions, decisions…
The following items make up the required syllabus in order to grade up from a brown belt 3rd kyu to a brown belt 2nd kyu level. The items are divided up into Saiten Kentai Waza (Grading Forms), Katas, Basic Kihon and Jiyu Kumite. Note that a set amount of classroom time is also required to have been completed in order to grade.
These requirements have been laid out by Dai Hanchi Edwin Ward (2011).
- F7A Mae Tobi Geri
- Shi-ho Geri Waza – Mae geri / Yoko geri / Mawashi geri / Ushiro geri (4 Way Kicking)
- Naihanchi Kata 1 (Tekki Shodan)
- Kamae Kata 1
- Kamae Kata 2
- Kamae Kata 3
(From Kamae stepping 3x forwards and 3x backwards)
- Chudan oi zuki in zenkutsu dachi
- Sanbon zuki (jodan/chudan/chudan) in zenkutsu dachi
- Jodan age uke / chudan gyaku zuki in zenkutsu dachi
- Chudan soto uke / jodan uraken /chudan gyaku zuki in zenkutsu dachi
- Chudan uchi uke / kizami mae geri / kizami zuki / chudan gyaku zuki in zenkutsu dachi
- Jodan yoko geri keage / jodan uraken in zenkutsu dachi
- Chudan mae geri kekomi / jodan taisho in zenkutsu dachi
- Chudan mawashi geri in zenkutsu dachi
- Chudan ushiro geri in zenkutsu dachi
- Jodan mae tobi geri in zenkutsu dachi mate in kamae
(predetermined one point attack)
One point attack, the attacker only calls the area (jodan, chudan, gedan). They are free to choose any attack they wish from the list below, as long as they deliver it to the announced target area. The defender may use any uke block to deflect the attack.
Friday 11 February saw the perfect way to de-stress after a long week of work, with a Bikini Beach training session to kick off the weekend.
As it turned out, the wind that had plagued Gordon’s Bay during the week had dissipated, leaving only glorious sunshine and white sand to greet the eager karateka as they hit the beach. Under sensei Birgitt everyone was soon going through their paces, mixing sweat and sand under the watchful eyes of parents and passers-by who had stopped to take in the spectacle of white dogi-clad kids and adults taking over Gordon’s Bay’s premier stretch of beach.
Of course, for the adults it was more a case of keeping a watchful eye on the kids and making sure they all more or less stuck to the plan, but in the end it was a lot of fun for everyone involved, and as a bonus the dojo got some pretty nice pictures to use for its website.
To view the full set of photos coming out of the day, hit the gallery here: http://www.funakoshikarate.co.za/bikini-beach-training.
Gordon’s Bay is the home of Funakoshi Karate International South Africa, and what good is living by the sea if you don’t use it? After all, it makes for a great training ground!
Purple. Not the most manly colour I have to admit. Nevertheless, it feels good now find it snugly wrapped around my waist.
In all the excitement that made up the last couple of months of my life, it completely slipped my mind to mention that back on the 4th December 2010, I successfully graded for my purple belt making it officially the highest colour belt I have ever achieved, and more importantly, one big step towards that ultimate goal of my first ever black belt.
Purple belt carries with it a fair bit of work, as it can be seen as being one of the toughest lower belt gradings because you are required to grade over the entire karate syllabus going all the way back to white belt, not to mention the introduction of some new, particularly mentally challenging forms like F6B Ushiru geri and Kamae Kata 3!