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So we’ve started another new year and I can’t believe we are over half way through January already. Last year was not a great year for politics or celebrities and I had some serious struggles with my mental health, largely due to my brother moving to Ireland. But for my karate it was a pretty good year, I had lots of people giving me compliments on my katas and one on the speed of one of my punches. This was finished off nicely with our chief toasting me at the Christmas instructors meal, as ‘the most improved student in all of our clubs’ to a resounding hear hear, and two under their breath saying something along the lines of ‘about time’. Yes, I cried. It’s a always a strange meal as I am the only female among 10 men, the other lady black belt doesn’t come. I always feel a little awkward there and the restaurant we went to has a policy of giving out roses to all the ladies on leaving. I also had to field some inappropriate lines of conversation from one guy who was pretty hammered and very maudlin. I now feel like I have to keep him at arms length.

Teaching

I have taken charge of the kids classes on a Saturday and organised the instructors to teach them, which is more than a little daunting to tell senior black belts what and who to teach. They said I did very well. People I have taught got through their gradings and they thanked me for helping them, including a new adult black belt. Very gratifying. Other people I’ve taught have told me that the other black belts had noticed and approved of the improvements in their techniques. I have gained a private student for one-to-one tuition and hope to expand this year, with possibly my own club.

Kata

I didn’t manage to do Sanchin three times a day or even every day, but at least 3 times a week. This year I need to learn Tanto (knife) kata for my 2nd Dan and I want to learn escrima (stick). So Sanchin is going on the back burner, but it will still be my go to stress kata. Obviously it has changed quite a lot. I say obviously because I worked on changes to it, I didn’t just mindlessly go through the form. The best thing is it’s a much more relaxed/softer kata that doesn’t kill my shoulders any more. The worst thing is I’ve been over stressing my knees. Which I don’t do in hand drills or sticky hands training. It’s also had the side effect of really improving my Tensho and Empi Waza (being renamed to Shiru geto – Empi). I would say these Go Ju katas are the core of our style, even though the rest is Wado.

Gained A New Friend

I’ve gained a brilliant new martial arts friend, the blogger Kai Morgan. She is the lady who wrote the ebook ‘How to Market Your Dojo to Women’ that I mentioned at the beginning of last year. I have been along to her teacher’s seminars with her and had a great time. If you haven’t checked out her blog Budo Inochi, you really should. Her articles are insightful and well researched. She has also written some really interesting comparisons to Disney princess movies and one on light saber training. Not to mention she is an awesome, kind and lovely lady. She sent me some lovely feedback from her sensei too, saying that I have the potential to become an exceptional martial artist. Made me feel like that guy in Bulletproof Monk.

Local Fame

Our town paper has a magazine that they produce quarterly and wanted to write about ordinary people’s hobbies. They approached me for their first article (p27) (mostly because I work there and couldn’t escape). I bristled a bit as I hate being front and centre and I don’t consider my martial arts a hobby, but a way of life. The reporter was really excited about it though and I thought well if it helps others find their way to Martial Arts then it can be only be a good thing. I have got this really good photo of me doing Kihon 5 from it.

Karate Kihon 5

I have to confess I did feel pushed into it and I was a disappointed in myself in how easily the reporter got me to agree before I’d actually said yes, and how much the photographer controlled the room, it’s not an experience I’d like to repeat. Lots of self-defence boundaries and embarrassment issues to work on here.

Sensei in Love

Mr T and one of our brown belt ladies decided to get together. This means the dynamics of the club on Tuesday have changed and as a result Mr T has dropped some of the other classes to spend more time with her. This means the dynamics of the other clubs have changed as well. I am not a fan of relationships in the Dojo but I know both of them very well and I’m happy for them. They didn’t go into the relationship lightly and both considered the impact it would have on the people around them and are pretty sure it is a forever partnership. It will take some time to get used to.

Looking forward

So there is a lot of change for this year, hopefully positive. It should be interesting.

I am going to take this advice from the awesome Carrie Fisher.

Stay afraid, but – do it anyway. What’s important is the action, you don’t have to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.

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