Wednesday, November 26, 2014

EDS Kata Development

I'm thinking about developing kata series for hypermobile and Dysautonomia people once I get to shodan level (black belt). I couldn't do any such thing before then, out of respect to the practice and to safety itself. But it would be interesting.

I believe you're not even authorized to be a Sensei until you achieve at least Yon-dan level, fourth degree black belt, in Goju Ryu. I could be wrong.

The purpose of the kata would be to do as much damage as possible with the upper body, while posturing the lower body such that it would have as few dislocations as possible, such that one could run away. Kicks may push more force through an opponent but the risk of dislocation and landing improperly is high.

One thing I treasure about the Goju Ryu style is that one of its tenets is to close in on the opponent. This significantly reduces dislocation risk. It works, too! When I don't close in properly I can guarantee myself a stupid mistake and two to four weeks of physiotherapy, followed by six months of reconditioning. It doesn't take much. But for what karate has given me, it's worth it. I walk better, fall better, carry bags better, so much is better. The pain is not better. But I'm stronger and smarter about handling the pain, more aware, and more focused.

Advanced kata could involve fighting from a chair, using splints as weapons, and with other mobility aids. We'll see.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Couch to 5 Kata

I've been a blue belt for quite some time now, and I'm quite comfortable here.  This is the last belt in the first half of the belt series of Goju Ryu karate-do.  That means once I level up, things get real.  I know five kata sequences now: Gekisai Dai Ichi, Gekisai Dai Ni, Saifa, Sanchin, and Seiyunchin.  I know a lot of the bunkai (applications), I've got some randori (light sparring) under my belt, and a few blue ribbons from shiai (tournaments).  Most importantly, I've got a strong physical and emotional bond to my karate family.  They are an integral part of my existence, people for whom I pray and cry, cheer, and celebrate.  When they level up, I get so excited to have been a part of their progress that I feel proud of myself, too.  There are people who started well before me and well after me, leveling up around me.  When I finally do level up I know I will have truly earned it, and it won't just be for attendance.

Some people don't like using a belt system, but it helps me feel safe.  When higher belts know I'm just a lower kyu-belt, they will be more careful. When white belts know I'm above them, they may be braver, and worry less about my port or about the syringe of anti-emitic drugs sticking out from where I have it tucked into my bra strap, in a place that I can guard fairly well now.  Belt systems give us opportunities to celebrate the milestones, to cheer one another on, to urge ourselves to keep moving forward, to understand where we are in the curriculum, and so on.  I like it.

For a few days I've been stuck on the couch during what one of my best friends calls "Shark Week," a monthly uterine blood bath.  The progesterone during Shark Week is theoretically the culprit for the excessive laxity and pain, which one of my doctors suggested is nature's way of setting up my body to push out the baby I'll never have.  I dragged myself to the dojo, hearing my Sensei's voice in my head, "You need to be here."  I couldn't even change into my gi, I just got there and took myself to the bench.  You know what?  It was the right decision!

I'm working on learning the sequence of Seiyunchin kata.  From the bench I don't have a chance to practice like I'd like to, but Sensei always includes me.  He still answers my questions, still expects me to pay attention, and I like that very well.  Seated at the bench I can watch everybody's different shape move along the guidelines, see how it's done, see how it's not done.  Not having to perform means having the energy to really listen and think about what Sensei is saying.  It's not my preference, but the truth is that it gives me a chance to grapple with my hearing loss, and to let myself think of hearing as a positive thing for once in a while.

Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance.  I have often spoken of my gi as a comfort item, something gender-neutral, a garb in which my body can just be what it is, free from interpretation and judgement.   We simply accept one another in the dojo, and it's a safe place. I wish all trans people would take at least one self-defense course.  The legislative efforts we've made are great and all, but out on the street the fact is that people get away with hate crimes.  My thoughts are with Krista, who entered immortality several years ago now.  I never stop missing her.

It's a busy blog tonight, lots of thoughts are racing through my head.  Another thing I'm thinking about is Buffalo, my home.  They've got about seven feet of snow in the Southtowns, where I'm from.  I wish I could be there to help shovel, to play, make snowmen (yes, I want to build a snowman), make snow angels, igloos, knock icicles off buildings and trees, and then come in soaking wet and frozen solid and warm up with hot soup.  I want to knock the little clusters of ice from the tassels of my scarf and blow my nose until I stop sniffling from the thaw of mucus membranes.  I miss the giant ice pack that is Buffalo, where anything that hurts is just a snow bank away from relief.

But I'd miss my dojo if I left.  My heart is 100% in it, a part of my identity, perhaps the strongest part of my identity at this time in my life.  Hopefully forever.

Be well.