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.
Right, time to get back into the faithful old training regime, now that Spring seems to be finally creeping up on us, and all the Winter chest pains, bugs and coughs appear to have finally deserted me.
The karateka have returned from the very successful gushku in Germany, meaning that karate training is now back on track for every Monday and Wednesday evening (though attendance from my part is always a 50/50 – if Chantelle is working a late then I’m needed for Daddy duty, no argument there!).
I’ve started my weekly early morning jogs/walks again, now that it isn’t so cold any more, and for a change I can actually convince my body to get out of bed at 05:20! (On that topic, I rather impressed myself, having been able to pick up right where I left off on my first outing, resulting in a pretty chuffed Craig on his sweaty return.)
Lunch time gym activity is also back on track, now with every 20 minute elliptical trainer session being complemented by a quick huff with some fixed weights before I have to hit the showers and make it back to the office for more quality time behind the keyboard.
Lastly, the better weather does of course signal an increase in weekend pram strolls with Jessica, and now that she is a little older I can venture much further from home – she seems to enjoy them as she sleeps for the most part, while I basically get a whole lot of extra training while taking in some pretty scenic views, which seems like a good deal to me! :)
All this said though, the last Spring/Summer/Autumn training regime resulted in exactly no change in my waistline (though my fitness level definitely increased) which was of course pretty disheartening. This time around though, I do have more hope for this run, now that Chantelle and I have agreed upon and implemented a good eating plan that seeks to team up the right food types with stricter portion control. So far it has worked pretty well for Chantelle who has started dropping some kilos, so hopefully it will do something for me, especially in combination with my training regime.
Oh well, I’ll let you know come January I suppose! ;)
Okay, I guess it is time that I resume with some live life blogging again (thank you my carefully crafted blog buffer – an intricate process I might add, filled with pen marks and printed out calendar pages if you must know), now that I’m no longer feeling like something the dog dragged in for supper via the gutter, no longer constantly bending over to pick up the chunks of my lungs that I have coughed out, or clenching my nostrils as the seemingly endless hammers go to work in my brain.
Shame, it has pretty much been a month of on and off sickness in the Lotter household over here in Gordon’s Bay, with little Jessie forced to do a course of antibiotics half way through and who still coughs and wakes up with a snotty nose each and every morning, a Chantelle who alternates between splitting headaches, a throat on fire and who knows what else, and myself whose infected chest has prevented me from being active for at least four weeks now! (Which is torture indeed for all those around me who are now forced to endure a Craig who hasn’t been able to release his energy for quite some time now. That said, I have been sleeping three times as much as what I normally do!)
Thankfully though I ended up not missing out on too much karate time over this period, but that happens to only be due to the three week long Gushku that was attended by Sensei Birgitt and a handful of others from our dojo in Germany of all places, under Dai Hanshi Ward who made the trip through from Canada. But as for gym and my lovely long morning walks? Ha, forget about it!
(On that note, would have loved to make the Germany trip, but damn, I don’t have that kind of free cash lying around any more, never mind the three weeks leave I would have had to try and sneak in past the bosses!)
Anyway, while we were pretty much constrained to home for the most part (I was even forced to work out of my home office a couple of times – not Chantelle though, she has no other choice but to go in), we did get up to one or two small family-related shenanigans, like a braai at Mom’s place with Claire, Riley and the rest of the family (plus extended) in celebration of Riley’s 30th birthday, a final evening of FIFA with the boys in our old four-man format, a evening out at Cattle Baron with the friends, followed by Scattegories and cake as a sending-off for my good friend Terrance Brown who has left South Africa behind in order to go and teach English in Japan. We slept over in Bellville, enjoyed breakfast with the Montgomery clan, visited with Dean, Zania and Zandea for the first time in literally months, made homemade pizza, watched Jackie Chan (okay, only I did that one), did a couple of slow walks with Jessie in the pram, finished up the cement slabs/brickwork under the carport (wait a minute, wasn’t I meant to be sick over this period?), so yeah, we didn’t completely rest on our laurels despite the sickness permeating number 5 Country Mews, which I guess is a good thing.
Still, I’m pretty sick of winter and all of its associated germs now. Summer had better get here soon…
Anyway, it looks like we’re over the worst part of it now, and I’m going to try my hand at karate again this week.
Hopefully I don’t die. (But if I do, rest assured that there is still at least a month and a half worth of buffer blog posts to keep you entertained.)
A grandmother was tasked with taking her eager young grandson to partake in his first ever karate tournament. On arriving, the granny noted that the tournament organiser appeared rather understaffed, and so approached the main officials’ table.
“Good morning,” she said to the tournament director, “you look a little short-handed. Is there anything I can do to help?”
“Well yes, we are short of fighters for the under 90 kg division,” the director replied.
“Sorry,” the grandmother said, “but I really don’t know anything about karate.”
“That’s okay then,” said the directory without batting an eyelid.
“We need referees too”.