Sensei Kristen O'conner led class in Shihan's absence a week ago last Monday. It started out as normal, but ended kind of strange. We did our usual, punches, blocks, and kicks. It was hot and even in the winter, that room gets steamy and uncomfortable. After, I looked silly, drinking from my tiny 1 cup water bottles. I picked up the wrong size case of water. They are so funny looking. Poland spring carries these tiny little bottles of water, that are 8 ounces of water. I can drink that in one sip after kihon, and did.
Sensei was very peculiar that night. She warned us that Shihan had instructed her to get us ready for something complicated. She said not to worry about it. It can be done, but it will be hard, but she was not going to tell us what it was. "Above all", she said, "don't give up". Very hard to concentrate on what we are supposed to learn, when the whole time I am trying to figure out what we are going to learn next week. Added a little more interest to the night though. I like puzzles.
Sensei had us sit cross legged on the floor. Actually she said 'Indian style', then said "oops, I mean cross legged". "When you sit, do not tuck both legs in, let one stay out some.", she said. She had us roll backwards, pushing our hands and feet into the air, and roll back up to our starting positions. Next she had us roll back just the same and then to roll up on our knee that was tucked under and foot that was out and reset sitting down. Step three, roll back, feet and hands in air, roll up to a standing/fighting position. You have to roll up on one knee and stand with the other foot. Step four we did rolls from the standing position, backwards onto the floor and back up to standing. Sensei explained how it was important that we learn to fall properly, so we don't get hurt. After a ten count of each of these, we geared up for sparring.
The next Monday rolls around and Shihan announces that the kick we were to learn, is the (insert Japanese Name here), flipping, spinning ax kick. Basically, you are standing in a fighting position, kumite dachi, against your opponent. Aiming your body to between there legs, you flip, bringing your back leg, stiff, up and over to strike your opponent in the head, nose or collar bone, with your heal. What is good about this kick is that even if you miss (in a tournament fight) it doesn't count against you. If you hit the target, it will probably knock them out or injure them so they can't fight anymore.
Lessons to get to the flip. We started on the edge of the mat, rolling. What you do is in a fighting stance, you bend over, reaching your lead hand to your back leg. Tucking your head under, you roll from you lead shoulder, to the opposite side hip. Using the technique we learned last week, we then roll onto one knee, then foot and stand. Very easy, momentum brings you right up to standing.
Next, while rolling the same way, keep your back leg stiff and slam it down on the mat. You really can't roll up from this one, but it can slam pretty hard. Listening to all the heals striking the mat, makes me know that I never want to get hit with this kick. Now Shihan holds up a pad at arms length for us to aim at. We are split up into two groups. Sensei is holding mine. She starts by holding it low and I am missing it, so is the rest of my group. Shihan stops us and tells us to watch his group. Everyone of them is hitting the pad at head level with the roll.
He comes to our side to hold the pad. Sensei does it, but it is not a roll. She actually is like jumping into a flip, and bringing her back leg up to the pad. Seems like I always have to watch her do something, in order for me to do it. So my turn is next, sure enough. I eye my target. The goal is the kick, not the flip. I flip and kick and smack that dang pad hard. It was awesome. So we go through it once more. Now shihan stops everyone to have the other group watch us. He called Sensei and I 'launchers', and I guess we are.