Sunday, December 16, 2007

Words From My Sensei

I was talking with my friends at the Jersey City Fight Club about how much I had enjoyed the kickboxing part of my black belt test (shown in the photo--I'm on the right). Since I passed that part of the test (and in fact passed everything except grappling, because I got injured), I won't go through that again next time I test. I was wondering how I could have an experience like that again.

Suddenly I had an idea: I could volunteer at the black belt test to spar with the brown belts.

I talked to my new sensei about this on Saturday after my core class. I told him I didn't want to go to a tournament because, hey, I'm 51, the risk of injury is higher there--the one tournament I attended, I fought a young tiger so young he could have been my son.

My sensei said he wants me to focus first on getting my black belt, but he said the idea makes sense. At the tournament, head contact isn't allowed, so people go all out hitting the body. At the black belt test, it would be easier to pair me with other "seniors," technically for us 35 and older, and the tests are very closely supervised--they don't want people getting knocked out. (I know of one instance, but that was a young tiger fighting a professional.)

He even thought I could help out with sparring in the second-degree test.

I got nervous about that. I've seen those second degree candidates going at it with each other. I told him I would be worried about getting hit in the head too hard, due to my bad eyes and risk of detaching a retina.

He said they put the "young stallions" together in one group, and I would be there to help testing for the seniors. He commented that the young stallions don't always get the belt because they don't show good style, they're just out to pound on somebody.

He said I wouldn't be first in line to help with the testing. People doing preliminary work for their second-degree black belt get first shot. But he said he would look for places for me to join the kickboxing test where it's appropriate.

We talked about my plan to start grappling, and kicking in kickboxing, in February. He said he wants me to be confident and not afraid for my injured knee before I re-take the test. I'll have a red dot on my knee, indicating that it was injured, so my opponents will be instructed not to do locks that would hurt my knee such as ankle locks. But I have to also show that I won't get caught in such positions. He said he would like to see me work initially in grappling class with my friend Larry, who also had ACL surgery, and understands what it's like to return.

He was glad I was telling him what I enjoy, and he said he could see now I'm eager to get back into full form. He said he was impressed that my sense of proper distance in kickboxing class (I'm just boxing now) had returned very quickly--I felt happy to hear that comment!

Last night the whole school went on a dinner cruise, I'll post on that later.

No comments: