December 2015 was my third year as a black belt and I have improved greatly. As part of that growth, one of the other black belts invited me to join him and some others to go to some seminars.
This was quite a big thing for me as I am not great at socialising at all, I have big problems with small talk. I have a tendency to be closed off and get extremely anxious going somewhere new where I might be judged. However the guy that arranged us going is like my brother in the dojo and is largely responsible for teaching me to brown belt. So I trusted him when he said I wouldn’t look bad or show them up.
I was keen to see outside of our dojo and hoped to see and interact with other women black belts. Apart from me there is only one other adult female dan grade, she got hers the year after me. She is also one of those people who seems to be just naturally good at everything. I have to remind myself constantly not to compare us, which is hard as being the only two. We get compared by default even though as people we are completely different. I’m not going to get into that in this post. It is relevant though as going to these seminars was a big way of tackling my issues with her. I got to see other women more like me and different from the both of us.
The other great thing about going to seminars is you get a glimpse of how other dojos work. I hear fairly often that our dojo doesn’t operate the same way as others. We don’t do lots strenuous exercise as part of the warm up, no sit ups, push ups or aerobics. No long runs, high kicks or sparring*. We are a traditional club with only 3 wazas and 6 katas. Health and safety is paramount.
So far I have done two Iain Abernethy seminars, which were physically exhausting but great fun and one Jesse Enkamp which was completely different in both structure and content. I learnt a lot from both, not necessarily anything new but seeing it from a different perspective and a different way of learning and understanding it.
There were other women at both, roughly 10 out of 50. I didn’t really interact with them or they with me. Still it was good to see them, made me feel less like the odd one out. Maybe next time I will manage a conversation. One lady who seemed even more reticent than me, was practicing her stuff at the edge of the mat. She was really really good I wish I had plucked up the courage to go and say hello to her. Rather than just watch her awesomeness from the other side of the room. She was someone I felt I could aspire to be like. I can’t imagine anyone being jealous of her. You can see her kneeling down in the frayed belt in the photo below.
I did feel that the Ladies at the Jesse Enkamp seminar were much more approachable, but this could just be that there were more clubs represented and I was less defensive about what I could and couldn’t do in comparison. In fact I was a whole lot less bothered about not getting it and able to make mental notes on things they had, that I wanted to work on.
More on this seminar to follow.
At the second Abernethy seminar (I’m the smallest person in the middle row. Photo above) I was given a huge confidence boost from one of the guys there who wanted to watch how I did one of the techniques, as I could throw my training partner relatively easily and he was using all his strength and still couldn’t do it, with out falling on his training partner.
I did feel a little lost at times as I didn’t know the katas he was teaching from and because there were only four of us who were Wado he focused on the Shotokan versions. He did give us our version too, I just had trouble remembering it. Luckily because we go into such depth with our katas it meant I had most moves covered.
I don’t feel like I need to go to another Abernethy seminar. They are not really the direction I am working toward and he does like to incorporate a lot of throws. I do really like the way he teaches and the way he has really looked into the idea of why does a kata do that. Plus he is funny, energetic and has looked in depth of the history of everything he teaches.
*We do do Ji Yu and bunkai, but only in relation to where they relate to the current kata or Kumite pairs work, that the student is learning.