In my previous two posts I mentioned this seminar briefly and got the date wrong for the next one, definitely wasn’t in March. I was quite excited but apprehensive to go to this seminar (last October). I have been following Jesse’s blog for a few years now. It’s like going to meet a famous actor. So I kind of had him up on this pedestal. Different to Iain Abernethy as I didn’t really know anything about him at the time I went to those. I knew that some of my ideas about him would be brought into sharp reality. I didn’t want to be disappointed and find out he was a talk the talk, but not a walk the walk person.
I wasn’t. He is every bit the down to earth, knowledgeable and humorous person that he is on his blog. It was from his blog that I found out about the most awesome kata champion Rika Usami, I want that precision and snap in mine. He has a way of writing that is easy to understand and pulls information from various sources. Much easier than trying to read some of the old masters who seem to talk in riddles and metaphors. If you haven’t checked it out yet, I highly recommend it.
His seminar was titled Rei, commonly meaning bow, actually means respect/etiquette. Kai Morgan has a good description. The concept that right from the very start you are learning good body posture and alignment is key. We went through the body from feet to head, with exercises for each part and why they were important. This is a good write up of the day. The exercise mentioned in that post, I was pretty good at sitting and rolling down on to my back but had terrible trouble getting back up. The Russian dancing used to be my Christmas party trick when I was about 7.
The warm up consisted of several tagging games, my kysushi (not sure of the spelling) footwork stood me in good stead for this. Which was important as it saved my energy, and helped me breathe properly. I have a really bad habit of holding my breath when I concentrate. I have managed to do the whole of kushanku holding my breath – really not a good idea!
I knew before I started that I was going to struggle with my energy levels, because not only was I on my period, I also had quite a bad cough. I have had quite a struggle over the years learning to manage the dehydration that quickly turns to dizziness. It’s frustrating, but I do think some of it is related to my self-consciousness anxiety. My anxiety was high, largely due to being in an unfamiliar environment with unfamiliar people and being on my period really didn’t help. Seriously who isn’t going to worry about getting blood on white trousers! Still I managed to get through the afternoon, not quite without leakage (yes I know ugh!) and I was so exhausted at the end that when I had my photo taken with Jesse that I was actually leant on him a bit. I think I was a little rude as well, not sure if I thanked him for the lesson.
I’m not going to go through the whole course, but look at my stance above compared to Jesse. Note: he is a kata champion and has trained with some top masters from a child. So several years more varied experience. My foot is not under my knee, and my knee is not under my hip, which means none of that side of my body is under my shoulder. The whole point of the lesson. Duh. This is another reason why I was leaning. There were two quick fixes. One bend my supporting leg knee and two straighten my foot more.
There is just one, fairly big problem that women have with their pelvis shape.
Women’s are oval shaped and men’s are heart shaped. Which means we are wider at the hips and when we stand with our legs together and our feet straight, we are by default knock-kneed. And as soon as we straighten our knees, either our feet roll onto their sides or try to splay out.
Read this by KarateGirl who has done some good research into this common problem.
So when we did one of the first exercises walking with our knees over our toes and Jesse tried to make mine go there, I nearly fell over. Because I physically cannot line my foot, knee and hip all up, yet!
So these are all just excuses really, luckily there is hope.
My knees are way better than when I started. Only one sensei ever bluntly picked me up on it. Luckily for me, he believed it would move over time. He didn’t know it but there is a technique called the Alexander Technique which has proven that you can adjust over a period of time. Although that focuses on the spine, Martial Arts does it in spades with every part of your body – if you’re paying attention. Unfortunately your body will do what it wants, and go to where it feels comfortable, even if you are willing it to do otherwise.
It’s a good reason why it is so effective at helping people with mobility and balance issues. One of the reasons I love it. I seen it help deaf kids with balance problems, two kids with severe arthritis radically improve their range of movement, and a partially (read as mostly) blind man go from a doddery hunchback to walking tall and straight. Most people now have to be told that he needs a more tactile approach. Maybe he’ll be the real Daredevil.
All in all it was a great seminar and I came away with lots of exercises for myself and to help with my teaching. Not only that I was shocked to win the day’s raffle prize. I never win anything. Three of Jesse’s books, a t-shirt and vouchers for the Seishin International website which meant I could get one of Jesse’s specially designed Gi made with the knowledge of karateka from around the world.