Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Japanese Martial Arts Center's 4th Anniversary!

On June 26th, 2010, the Japanese Martial Arts Center of Ann Arbor, Michigan celebrated its 4th Anniversary. To commemorate the occasion, there were three martial arts demonstrations: First was a free-form bokken fencing bout featuring techniques inspired by Muso Jikiden Eishin-Ryu Iaido; next was a display of Nihon Jujutsu randori, wherein multiple attackers were repelled by means of throws and joint locks; and finally was a Judo demonstration of Nage ura no Kata, a systematized form of counter-throws originally developed by the renown Mifune Kyuzo
Following the demonstrations, JMAC students who tested the previous week participated in rank graduations. Quite a few were awarded black belt ranks, including Shodan (1st Degree Black Belt), Nidan (2nd Degree Black Belt), and even two Yondan (4th Degree Black Belt)! 

The day ended with a delicious Potluck Dinner, with a plethora of tasty contributions! Congratulations to the Japanese Martial Arts Center and to all those who tested!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Some Humble Advice for Martial Artists Who Wear Contacts

I wear contacts, and the most annoying feature of such a crutch is that they tend pop out during martial arts classes. This is a regular enough occurrence that, as long as I’ve had my coffee in the morning, I am typically able to snatch the recalcitrant deserter before it finds the ground. Of course, if my reflexes are poor, then I have to scour the mat like a cyclopic woodland creature until I find the damn thing. It’s no big deal when this happens during informal practice — I just excuse myself and take care of the problem. But I hate to excuse myself during free practice. There is something present in the confines of my brain, most likely influenced by testosterone and the pride I take in the image of my own manliness, that impedes my ability to display such weakness at fight time. 

Do you suffer from the same affliction? Well, let me advise you: If you manage to snatch the contact from the air before it hits the ground, okay, fine, put it back in if you’re in the moment and don’t want to look like you’re wussing out. It’ll be uncomfortable. Deal with it. But allow me to share a bit of accumulated wisdom that could potentially steer all you contacting-wearing martial artists from a great deal of trouble and/or death: If the contact does, in fact, contact the ground, don’t just pick it up and put back in. Go clean it off first. 

“What do you know,” you might ask? Well, here’s a good story:

I’m doing Push Hands in my Internal Kung Fu class, and my training partner hits me in the eye. My contact bails and I’m not swift enough to catch it. The good news is that I note exactly where it lands. Certainly by now there has been enough foreshadowing for you to guess that it goes back in my eye without hesitation. I do this as if to say to my partner “See? I get hit in the eye all the time. Doesn’t bother me at all.”

We continue to push, and a few moments later my nose starts running. That’s irritating, but not debilitating. Then my throat starts hurting, but whatever, I can get a pack of cough drops across the street for a buck. Then my eye swells shut. 

At this point I do excuse myself and wash the contact, which is difficult because the eye is quite puffy and the swelling has migrated to my throat, making it difficult to breathe. Someone tells me I need to go to the hospital. I respond that I need to do more push hands — and I try, but as most martial artists know, one suffers a distinct, competitive disadvantage when one can’t breathe, so I go to the hospital. 

The doctor sees me right away, despite a busy emergency room packed with people complaining they’d been waiting for hours. In my case this is favorable, because by now my face is a balloon and my throat is essentially closed. As she pumps me full of steroids, benadryl, and other magical fluids via IV, the doctor explains that I’ve suffered a severe allergic reaction to whatever had been on my contact, and in a polite, maternal voice points out that its reinsertion sans proper cleaning had been life-threateningly stupid. I concur, and enjoy a full recovery thirty minutes later. 

So, what’s the moral of the story? I don’t know. Get laser eye surgery, I guess.