I have moved!

October 9, 2013

Hi there! Thanks for stopping by. I have combined my blogs and now BlackBeltMommy’s blog content can be found in the Kickin’ it area of KellyWilli.wordpress.com.
Hope to see you there!

Rank vs Years

June 28, 2013

I have a second degree black belt and 40 years of life experience. Tonight my 40 years helped me through class more than my belt ranking for sure. It was what let me set an expectation of how I am to be treated by an almost-black-belt-dad and a red belt teenaged boy while fighting them both. At once.

There were five black belts in class tonight and twelve other coloured belt students. The black belts were me, aged 40, and four teenagers. *sigh* The other students were teens except for one over-zealous, soon to be black belt dad. The black belts were lined up on one side of the room and the remaining twelve students on the other side. When our instructor said “GO” the coloured belts chose one of us to fight. When the fight was done the coloured belt went back to their side to rest and a fresh student would take their place. That means the black belts were continuously fighting. Can you say “cardio”? This wasn’t bad really, although I did groin a kid with a very sad roundhouse kick. PSA: wear your spoons boys. Things took a downward turn when our instructor decided that the black belts should practice a little two-on-one. WHAT? Multiple attackers in self defence is one thing, but multiple attackers in sparring? Ya, this should be fun (so not fun).

I had to go first, because of course I did, and I got aggressive dad and fairly high ranking teenaged boy as opponents, because apparently there are no karate partnering gods. What’s that I hear? Oh, it’s the sound of an approaching train wreck. I could see by the body language of my two partners that this was not going to be good so I said “Don’t be jerks you two, this is a game of tag.” That’s when dad hit me in the head, hard. I said to him “Do not be a jerk Frank*.” in a steely ‘I will not put up with your crap for one second’ voice. It was the voice of a 40 year old mother of four. I did not have that voice (or that crazy look in my eyes) when I was in my twenties. Or maybe I did, but I don’t know if I would have known how to use them properly. I have to say, Frank* was still a bit of a jerk, but not as much as he would have been. Yes, I got pummelled, but the guys basically respected the line I had draw and reined themselves in a bit. Don’t get me wrong, they didn’t go easy on me, they just exerted more control. Between me standing up for myself and the few punches and a surprisingly fast spinning side kick that I got in, I am happy with the way things turned out. So tonight I give thanks to my years of experience and recognize them for the weapons they truly are.

*I so wanted to use his real name, but I think it’s a faux-pas, so you’re off the hook Karl.

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Dented

June 14, 2013

Golf Ball
Did you know that golf balls were once made with a smooth surface? It’s true. The players started to realize though that when their pristine balls (*snicker*, because I enjoy a little Grade 3 boy humour), got a few nicks and dents they would go farther.

My karate instructor was telling me about how this fact was used as a metaphor at a martial arts seminar he attended. He likened it to sparring. You get to be a better fighter if you get a few dents every now and then. There’s nothing like a sidekick to the ribs to teach you to move faster next time and keep yourself in the fight a little longer.

It’s more than just a metaphor for martial though isn’t it? I think so. I know that I am a stronger person because I’ve failed at things and had the good sense to learn from the experiences. Yes, that is plural. I have my ‘dents’ and I know there will be plenty more. I’m okay with that though. Each new dent means that next time I fly farther.

Ring My Bell

May 7, 2013

I did hundreds of kicks at karate last night and was on the receiving end of dozens more. The only hurts I sustained were from my decrepit body seizing up and a nasty scratch on my arm from the Velcro on someone’s footpad.

At first the drill was mainly for the kicker. Their job was to kick their opponent’s forearm. The defender just had to keep their arm tight to their body and move. If the kicker missed, push-ups, suckas! That’s only fair really. It is important to hit your target after all.

Then the kickers got to add a back fist to the head. Don’t worry, we weren’t ringing each other’s bells, and the defender could block. Karate isn’t a masochistic sport (says the lady with the bleeding Velcro wound). We generally don’t hit each other in the head while being instructed not to block. Generally.

Finally, it was the defender’s turn. Their job was to defend and wait. Wait until the kicker finished their back fist and was in a position that they had to regroup. That was the defender’s moment to loose a back fist of their own.

During my instructor’s explanation of what he wanted us to do, he said “Weather the storm and when it’s over, strike. It’s the perfect opportunity to score.” Well that did ring a bell for me. To me that is a philosophy on how to live your life. Storms happen in life. Some are squalls and some are hurricanes, but they are always coming. If I am wise enough to learn something from them, that is my ‘strike’. When I used what I’ve learned, that is my ‘score’.

This is why I love my sport. I get to have my bell rung.

Knife Fights And Hugs

April 19, 2013

The other day I overheard quite the conversation between my instructor and the father of a six year old white belt. It went something like this:

Dad: Will you teach my son how to defend against a knife attack?
Instructor: Well, we do that in higher belts. Timmy*, you having a lot of trouble with knife attacks at school these days?
Timmy: No sir.
Instructor: Let’s work on getting everything we need for white belt first.
Dad: Okay.

*Name changed to protect the weaponless.

It amazes me how many parents put their kids in martial arts with the main goal of giving their child the best chance at defending themselves in the worst case scenarios. I guess I understand, especially because of what is in the news these days, but in reality, worst case scenarios are few and far between. Much more prevalent are playground punks that get pushy with a game of tag or a hyper friend that hasn’t learned that squeezy neck “hugs” are not okay. This is were kids martial arts self defence really has a chance to shine.

When my daughter came home today and told me: “I had to elbow Jane** in the ribs today. She was squeezing my neck so hard I couldn’t use my voice to tell her to let go, but it’s okay, we’re still friends.”, that’s how I know my child’s martial arts training is really paying off. It’s not a knife fight, it’s her friend not respecting her space. She stood up for herself and used a level of force appropriate to the situation. Well done my girl, well done.

**Name changed to protect the over-zealous hugger.

Just Call Me George

February 26, 2013

I just finished a “nice post” about what it was like going to the karate tournament I competed in last Saturday, but this was what it was actually like in my lunatic brain.

It all started when I unzipped my suit bag to find my “white” gi was actually kind of yellowish and had ring around the collar similar to that of a bad 80’s Tide commercial. What the hell happened? I do wash my gis after all, but this one had sat untouched for 5 years or so. I only wear it to graduations and special karate events, like the tournament I was going to IN FIVE DAMN MINUTES. There was not much I could do about it, so I put it on and left. I squeezed between my filthy van and my husband’s less than squeaky clean car (sorry home builders, that is not a two car garage unless those two cars are built by Fisher Price or Playmobile). I did manage to keep my yellowish gi from any further insult though. Phew!

I finally arrived at my destination and even found parking in the building. I followed the signs of where to go and ended up… outside the building?
Me: “Excuse me, sir. Can you tell me where the entrance to the Hamilton Convention Centre is?”
Sir: “Go in the doors you just came out of.”
Me (to the group of people that followed me from the elevator because they thought I knew where I was going because of my uniform even though I told them I didn’t): “See?” *shrugs in an “I told you so” kind of way*

I was so happy to see a face I knew. My coach was sitting at the registration desk. He gave me a wristband and a small card. I put on the wristband and tucked the card into my bra. What? there are no pockets in a gi.
Me: “What is the card for?”
Coach: “You need to give it to the judges before you compete.”
Me in my mind: “Don’t lose card, Don’t lose card.” *touches boob*

Okay, I was in. There were crushes of people in this giant room and so much going on. I was so afraid of not hearing my category called that I just stood there beside the announcer listening. But then of course, my bladder decided it was high time for some shenanigans. I didn’t want to go to the bathroom, what if I missed the announcement? But if I didn’t go there was a significant possibility of me having a very memorable and humiliating performance. So I did my best Usain Bolt impersonation and booked it to the ladies room. There I was squatting (because public restrooms, ew) and I heard garbled announcer man. What? What did he say? I tied up my pants, washed my hands (hygiene trumps karate), grabbed my boob to confirm the card was still in place, and ran back only to find out that the waiting game was still on.

Finally, it was time. The ladies I was competing against handed in their cards and there was roll call.
Judge: “Amy” looking right at me.
Me: “Nope”
Judge: “You are not Amy?”
Me: “Uhhh, no”
Judge: “Williams?”
Me: “Yes.”
Judge: “But not Amy?”
Me: “No”
Judge: “How about I call you George?”
Me: “Ok.” I like this guy.

I was randomly picked to go first, because OF COURSE I WAS. I got through my routine without cursing, stumbling, or falling, which was in fact my ultimate goal. I bowed out of the ring then stood on the sidelines buzzing.

Then I went home to clean my gi, eat pizza with the kids, and celebrate my son’s 7th birthday. The end.

It’s on!

February 26, 2013

This past weekend I did what any good mother would do and left my birthday boy at home while I went off alone to compete in a karate tournament. I would feel bad about this if he had desperately wanted me to stay and build his giant Lego Millennium Falcon spaceship with him, but he didn’t, so I don’t.

This was a big tournament. There were around 800 competitors and hundreds of spectators. The fact that I chose this event to compete in revealed to me that I not only have some semblance of self confidence, I also have a deluded masochistic streak in me. Of the hundreds of competitors, there were a total of five ladies in my category. Five. That makes me just a little sad because black belt ladies 35 and older should be out there kicking each other’s asses. And by ass kicking I mean supporting each other and applying that wee bit of competitive pressure needed to perform at your best. I think all the ladies that I met last weekend were there for reasons similar to mine. I was there to prove to myself that I could perform under pressure, learn from martial artists that are more skilled, and be entertained by watching athletes compete in my favourite sport. I got all that and more. I met some super cool, nice 35 and over ladies. One quipped “It’s on!” when it came out that we were performing the same kata. She wasn’t being a jerk or smack talkin’, she was pushing me to do my best and letting me know she would do her best to beat me. I respect that. So, did I do my best? No, but it was really close and I’m happy with how I handled myself. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat.

P.S. I came in 2nd.

Ego Much?

January 22, 2013

Tonight my instructor introduced me to ipon (pronounced ee-pon) sparring. It’s where there are five judges calling points for a fight. There is one judge in each corner and a centre judge. The centre judge starts and stops the fight so all the judges can say what fighter they believe got a point. To win the match a fighter must have all five judges award him/her the point. Sometimes there is a single clash and all the judges see the point scored and the match is over. Other times the angle of the fighters or a sloppy technique make it hard to see the point and the match drags on and on.

I had three fights tonight. The first I lost in about five seconds. I was frustrated, but totally deserved to lose. I wanted to fight the same girl again because I knew I could do better. The second fight I won, but it took a while and my opponent actually scored more points on me than I did on him. It’s just that not all the judges could see his points. I was so surprised by my victory I threw my hands in the air. I wasn’t being a jerk, I was just shocked and happy that something so unexpected happened. The third fight was a rematch with the first girl. It went on for about five thousand years (that number was given to me by my woeful cardiovascular system). Time after time judges would award me the point, but not all of the judges. Once, I gave the only judge not to call in my favour a look that should have turned his liver to ice and simultaneously melted his face off. Sadly, he did not expire on the spot, but instead just stood there, hands crossed in front of his chest. Finally, my opponent took me out with a kick to the face. The face! Mother f! Now, she too must die.

I cannot lie, I had a few minutes of unsportsmanlike thoughts. Totally ego driven thoughts. It was like there were two of me in my head. One little punk that wanted payback for that kick to the face. The other, is the me that I like. I am so glad that when asked who fought the better fight, I answered “It doesn’t matter, she won the point.” And she did. She deserved to win that match as much as I deserved to win my second one.

P.S. I should also mention that my male opponent was a great sportsman and that my female opponent is absolutely lovely and twelve years old. Seriously. In defense of my wanting to crush a twelve year old, she is taller than me, wears makeup and could easily pass for fifteen.

How to Fight Like The Fonz

January 16, 2013

TheFonz
My heart sinks just a wee bit every time my karate instructor yells “Gear on everybody!” Sparring is not my forte. I rarely get paired with the overzealous dudes that want to pummel each other, but still. These guys range in age from teenagers to middle aged desk jockeys. There are a few that are very zen, but will totally kick your ass. They just do it very calmly. You don’t see them coming, you just all of a sudden find yourself looking at the chin strap of your head gear. Then there are those that are all jittery, like they chugged a Red Bull and downed too many over the counter daytime cough meds before class. They will also kick your ass, but they do it in a way that is much scarier because you do see them coming. I stay away from these guys at all cost because they get me all riled up too. It is hard to move quickly and strategize when you feel like a hunted rabbit (insert Elmer Fudd joke here).

This is where my real lesson of the night came. My instructor basically said to not let the other person’s energy contaminate my own. Yes, my opponent might be excited and jumpy, but I need to keep calm and fight the way I normally fight. I do not have to match the style of my nemesis partner, especially if they are high strung. In fact, I need to be calm so that my arch enemy partner can absorb some of my vibe and bring it down a notch.

Apparently, this technique can also be used if you are arguing with your spouse. I would not know what it is like to YELL AT MY SPOUSE, because I never do that (snort laugh), but my instructor says it does happen and I can practice staying calm in the face of fury that has been festering for days by keeping cool “like The Fonz”. Yes, he referenced a character from Happy Days and I showed my appreciation and understanding of the lesson by letting out the most relaxed and tranquil “eeehhh” of all time.

A couple of months ago my girls were asked to test for their blue belts. Only kids that have completed a certain number of classes and are ready to test are asked to grade, no one is ever set up to fail. That doesn’t mean they can’t fail, it just means that they have everything they need to pass. I take the girls to every class and I see them work hard (usually), so I had no worries at all.

The night of their test was the ONE AND ONLY TIME I was not there to watch. I was having a grand ol’ time at the Blissdom conference. Imagine my surprise when I get a call from the hubs saying that the girls were beside themselves, sobbing and carrying on because they both failed their tests. He went and spoke with the instructors to find out what happened, not to change the result, and heard about how the girls were both having an “off” night and that it happens to everybody now and then.

I came home to find thee saddest letter to me from daughter #1. She was so worried I’d be disappointed and she begged to not have to go to class the next day. When morning came, I had a rare moment of wisdom and told her “Not passing a karate test is not failing. Not going to karate class because you didn’t pass the test, that is failing.’. Needless to say, they both went to class.

Two weeks ago the girls retested for their blue belts. I can honestly say I was shocked when I was watching the test. They decided “Hard, sharp, and fast” was their motto for the evening, and they lived up to that motto. I’ve never seen them so determined. I could not help grinning like a loon when daughter #1 gave her opponent a swift kick to the shin before taking him down during the self defense portion of the test. Honestly, I think that failing that test was one of the best things to ever happen to my girls.

In case you were wondering, yes, they passed the second test. Now watch out blue belt class because my girls will open a can of hard, sharp, and fast all over you. Go get ’em ladies. Hiya!

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