Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Gyaku Zuki 逆突き, Karate Chop!

This is the year.  I have been working towards this goal for 5 years now.  My palms are already sweating at the thought of it.  This is the year I will test to receive a black belt from my Sensei.

My current rank of Ikkyu (brown belt).

Karate is the first sport that I have ever really dedicated myself to and have actually accomplished something in the process.  It is truly one of my greatest adventures and a life changing experience.  I study Kyu Shin Ryu and am currently the rank of Ikkyu (brown belt).  Hopefully if all goes well I will earn my Shodan ranking on April 28th.

Kyu Shin Ryu kin on my gi (uniform).

To be perfectly honest, I am literally terrified of my test that will take place at the end of April.  The pressures of school work, studying, and training for black belt are overwhelming and could send any reasonable person into a panic attack.  I am trying to focus on just one aspect of my test at a time, but I do not think that my nerves will ever be fully prepared, no matter how much I practice.

Bo staff kata, strike to the nose.

The test...the very, very big test.  The belt test takes nearly 6 hours.  I will be first in line to test, meaning that a command in Japanese will be relayed and I will have to remember how to perform the given technique (yikes).  Next, I will have to perform Kata.  I will have to perform a total of 5 different Kata, one of which has four parts.  Kata is almost like a dance with karate techniques.  They can be considered short skits where you are fighting an imaginary opponent.  However, if ever faced with a real opponent then Kata can truly improve your fighting techniques.  One of these Kata will also include a bo staff.  I was super excited when I first started learning the bo staff Kata.  I just hope that my palms aren't too sweaty, causing my bo to slip away whilst spinning it.  The Kata makes me the most nervous of all, because I will have to stand in front of everyone, while my Sensei watches my every move.  One small misstep of a foot or strike of a punch would be my worst nightmare.  I want to make sure I am perfect and hope that my nerves don't get the best of me.

Sokoto Geri (side kick).
After Kata, I will have to do 2 Embu.  Normally, I only do one, but black belts have an additional Do No Embu added.  The Embu is a mock fight with a partner (luckily my partner is Sensei's wife and she is great).  We get up in front of the class and demonstrate 10 different techniques on each other.  The techniques include kicks, punches, throws, twists, and more.  For the Do No Embu, we put on body shields to cover our chests.  This is considered a 'hard' Embu, meaning you are supposed to kick and punch your partner hard, as if you were in a real fight.  All of the kicks and punches are to the padding, but you will still feel the force of a full kick to the stomach.  If you are doing the Embu correctly then they will most likely hurt...but that is a good thing I suppose.

Bo staff kata...not the best dojo to practice in ;)

Lastly, I will be required to Spar.  I will likely have to fight at least twice.  Besides the fact that I will likely be mentally and physically drained, I don't think I will be too nervous.  It would be nice to be able to score at least one point against my opponent, or bock a really good kick.  The good thing about sparring compared to the other portions of the test is that when I step into the circle I will no longer have to think.  My mind will become clear, my worries will be gone, and my body will flow (hopefully in the right direction ;)

My hope is to practice diligently, with every spare moment that I have for the next 2 months.  I am using practice to cure my nerves.  Although the butterflies will still be fluttering in my stomach, they will be no match to my muscle memory.  Let the countdown begin...

Gyaku Zuki...kiai!


  1. Leah!! You are going to kick ass! I'm so proud of you, and I miss our dojo and Sensei so much. Good luck sparring with LaDonna- she always tags you in the boob :/

  2. Aww, thanks Sarah. We miss you too. LaDonna is intimidating to fight. Last time she got me good straight in the nose. She is a great fighter.