So, That Happened…

My final stripe in under-rank training.

I almost feel like I need to extend an apology to the kind friends who advised me to exercise caution and not take my stripe test this week. However, the situation presented itself where: I needed to go to karate class anyhow, it happened to be a testing week, and I actually felt quite optimistic about my healing. With that said, I was able to take and pass my final stripe test before I head into my black belt training this coming Monday.  The stripe test went really well, and I felt confident performing the material – so if anyone currently in training suffers an injury – have faith.  I was reminded by one of my instructors that I actually exercised patience this time, and it paid off.  Watching the class, as difficult as it was for those few weeks, was a good call.  Actually, it gave me a completely different perspective of my own abilities.  When I saw others execute a form well or maybe flub a spinning kick, I could see where both the progress came from or where errors were made; this will allow me to apply those lessons to my own training.  It was a unique opportunity to observe and learn from others, which I think came at a good time for me.

After the stripe test, my training group had our first official black belt candidate meeting. The meeting was an opportunity for one of the head instructors to go over our training schedule, specific candidate classes (where we have to stay later on some nights after our training), the actual test dates, and supplementary “assignments” that have to be completed along way – including gaining character recommendations, intensifying our fitness levels, and writing personal essays.  At one point I looked around and everyone except for one other candidate had their mother with them.  I am the only person who is (well over) 21 in my training group.  That certainly makes it…interesting.

This morning I was able to participate in the Saturday kickboxing class that I teach; I felt so much more like myself.  I really prefer to be involved with the class and do as much of the workout as I can, while still helping those who would like or need some instruction.  I was back in my Saturday morning happy place, even if I stayed out a little too late last night while taking full advantage of my children sleeping over their grandparents’ house.  We had a great night out celebrating our friend’s birthday with dinner at a tasty little place called Noodles 102 (check it out sometime –>, rock ‘n bowl, and shenanigans with a unique birthday present – shout out to Len the Chicken.

Len the Chicken enjoying his night at rock ‘n bowl.  Can you tell?  #lenthechicken

This weekend will include two basketball games for my older child – one at the Dunk for a halftime show, a science fair, prepping lessons on Ernest Hemingway for my American Studies students, the typical housecleaning, grocery shopping and other errands, but I am definitely excited to start black belt training Monday evening.  I am anxious to feel what it’s like to put in the training hours three nights a week, along with my 5:30 a.m.  wake-up call, and teaching a full day. I’m sure it will take a couple of weeks for my body (and mind) to adjust to the rigor.  My goal this week is to gather my wits around the busy weeks ahead and, essentially, try to follow the clichéd adage “take it one day at a time” – which I think will be a popular mantra throughout all of my training.


It’s All in a Name

Ninjas Can't Be FoundThe learning curve for blogging, specifically the technical aspects, has been great this week. With a slight change in name, I was able to acquire the domain name, as well as the Instagram and Twitter handles for ninjasuze.  Hooray – nomenclature complete!

Although the blog and domain name ninjasue was available, ninjasue was taken for other social media. I tip my hat to the lady in Great Britain who calls herself ninjasue; I am sure she is a badass and I do not want to mess with her internet alter-ego.  In the spirit of consistency, I gladly took ninjasuze since (a) I have never really felt like a “Sue,” even though everyone from my hometown called me that and (b) there are quite a few people in my adult life who currently call me “Suze.”  So all is good.

The next decision is how public to take my blog.  As of now, I have only informed a small group and I am trying to decide how to handle telling others without anyone thinking that I am acting against some sort of dojo secret code.  With that said, I do want to state that I will not use the karate school’s name or individual’s names (unless I have permission).  I will also protect the privacy of the school and its members with my use of images.  Furthermore, I am committed to keeping the details about our karate school’s black belt testing private.  I hope that clears up any potential issues for members of the karate school, particularly my training group.

Five years’ worth of belts – minus the one around my waist.

With regards to last week’s goal:  don’t be dumb – I fared pretty well.  Without question, I was much more intelligent on Tuesday night than I was on Thursday night.  On Tuesday, I took class, but I did not allow any take-downs, nor did I participate in a linear kick timing drill or do any spinning kicks, and I did not do push-ups (partially dumb); on Thursday I actually just took class and did it all – even the stomach-buster jumping-jacks (probably very dumb).  The good news is that I only felt a little sore on Friday morning; I took a couple of ibuprofens with my oatmeal in the morning and I was good to go.  However, I do fear that being old and trying to get your black belt may require more ibuprofen than my stomach will appreciate. (Note to self: monitor ibuprofen intake.)

On either Monday or Tuesday night, I will have my official meeting to begin black belt training.  The initial meeting is when the head instructors go over the training schedule, the dates for testing, and they clear up any questions.  I am excited, for sure, but I just simply cannot believe that it is already here.  This week’s big decision will be whether or not to take the Stripe Test.  I qualify for black belt candidacy regardless of earning this week’s stripe.  One of the instructors has already told me to just to take the week off, rest up, and come back ready to begin training the following week.  The problem is that I know all of the material and I know I could earn that final stripe on my candidate belt – and there, my friends, is my pride rearing its ugly head.  Stripe testing asks for your maximum effort – for you to snap all of your punches, go hard during defense, and make your mark with kicks.  I am not sure if I will be able to “go easy” and earn a stripe.  Is it worth taking the test?  Will I potentially set myself back before training begins next week?  These are my questions heading into the week.  I will accept any and all advice!


When Laughter is NOT the Best Medicine

Today marks four weeks since I was side-kicked in the chest during routine sparring and ended up with bruised ribs.  The injury happened right before Christmas, which was bad timing to start having chest pain – not that there really ever is good timing for chest pain – but bad timing because I had to visit the medical clinic on Christmas Eve.  My doctor thought I had a case of costochondritis – otherwise known as “pulled muscles from coughing” – and this very well could have contributed to the excruciating pain in my chest whenever I coughed, laughed, sneezed or, God forbid, took a breath.  However, I clearly remembered being kicked in the chest at karate, which is something I just sort of left out during the examination.  I mean, really, either way the prognosis is the same (rest, rest, ibuprofen, rest, rest) and every doctor I have ever talked to about karate-related injuries has basically just looked at me with disbelief and then asked me why I couldn’t take up a more tame hobby, such as yoga or “jogging.”  Don’t get me wrong, I love me some shavasana, and I do run for fitness, but there is no turning back for me.  Even after a separated shoulder and a couple of concussions (one unrelated to martial arts), I never seem to learn and I often just jump back on the mat before I am fully healed.

What I have learned in the past four weeks, however, is that bruised or broken ribs seem pretty standard as you run up the ranks in martial arts training.  It just so happens that my injury landed at about six weeks before my official black belt training is supposed to begin.  I’ve said all along that this could either be perfect timing or bad luck, depending on my perspective.  Now that I have entered the fourth week of healing and can take a deep breath without a searing pain through my side, I am going with the glass half-full approach.

What I do need to focus on this week is not being stupid.  I have been watching karate class for the past two weeks and it has been brutal – just light stretching and walking through forms.  I really want to jump right in tonight, but as one of the instructors already told me this afternoon, this is the exact time when I need to be more careful so that I do not re-injure and throw away my opportunity to start black belt training in two weeks. So, with that being said, my goal for this week is:  Don’t be dumb.

Wish me luck!