Karate evaluations

Last Tuesday night, Sept. 24, I had my first evaluation in order to potentially be promoted to yellow belt. There were, if I recall correctly, five black belts (Senseis Joanne, Aleeta, Kim, Tracy, and Jen) evaluating five adult students: Renee, Adela, Kiera, Rebecca, Owl, and me.

We lined up and went through two rounds of ten of each punch. For every set of ten, you finish with a left punch and right hand chambered, and it seems (though nobody has ever said so) that you have to hold your position no matter how long it takes for the senseis to decide what you’ll do next. The hardest thing for me was the way the back of my shoulder hurt after holding the chamber for maybe a minute, several times. Later I found out I wasn’t the only one hurting. Then we did ten or twenty of each block and each kick, also holding a block or a guard position while we waited for our next command. All of this is called standing basics.

Next we did moving basics in front stance. Step in and block and/or punch with whatever skill or combination is called out. In moving basics, it’s harder for me to keep up with the others, because I have to stop and think after I step and before I throw whatever movement(s) I’m supposed to do. We did some moving basics in another stance (the wide footed squat stance…?) and after a couple of rounds of that I was excused because I could no longer keep up at all. After that I got to enjoy watching the yellow, orange, and green belts perform their katas.

The rigorousness of the testing method and atmosphere reminded me of a few of the strength/skill trainings I’ve been through, especially the RKC (who I strongly suppose are emulating the martial arts structure on purpose). So I was glad to find that I wasn’t intimidated by the process. It helped me keep my head in the present and enjoy it. The instructors are kind and patient and direct, so it’s a very trustworthy process. I love how in each class we practice basics. There’s no sense that some people don’t need that and are impatient. And I know I’ll get smooth and fast at the combinations if I just keep showing up and cooperating. It’s nice to be old enough not to get really flustered.

I did get my yellow belt but of course I feel like as much of a beginner as ever. It was fun on Thursday when four new people joined the class.

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Catching up

Forgot to post for a while!

Sept. 12, bench press up to 3 x 10 at 90 lbs. Also, karate class.

Sept. 16, Lurong challenge workout 2, 100 each burpees and 16-kg kettlebell swings, 12-minute cap, partition as needed. I got through 100 swings and 83 burpees. Some people finished them all.

Sept. 17, Lurong challenge workout 3, hang power cleans (95 lbs) and 10-meter-increment shuttle runs. 10 cleans, 2 runs; 8 cleans, 4 runs; 6 cleans, 6 runs; 4 cleans, 8 runs; 2 cleans, 10 runs (100m). Five minute cap. I got through everything except the final 50 meters. I had two no-reps. Lots of people finished it all.

Sept. 19 (today): back squat up to 3 x 5 at 175. It did not feel hard at the time but my legs and back are really tired now, 4 hours later. After 90 minutes or so I bench pressed up to 95 pounds for sets of 10, 7, and 8. I was by myself and stopped each set when it turned into a wobbling mess. In between all my bench sets I practiced karate standing basics and struggled to draw a map of the kata I’m learning.

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Bench press, deadlift

Friday: bench press up to 87 lbs for almost 3 sets of 10. The first set I broke into 8 and 2, then did the final two sets of 10 unbroken. I think that’s all I did on Friday. Well, I practiced a few karate blocks and part of the kata.

Today: a repeat of the previous deadlift and bench workout. I deadlifted up to a set of five at 210, and then bench pressed up to 3 unbroken sets of 10 at 87 lbs. I’m close to the bench press equivalent of a push-up, which my hands on the scale show 89 lbs. Bench press is harder because it’s a bit more of an open chain.

Hearing test

I saw an “otolaryngology” doctor at UW to see if anything can help my vertigo. As part of that, I had some interesting hearing tests. I was put in a chair in a tiny, extremely quiet soundproof room. First, with headphones on my head, a device in the next room with the audiologist issued a series of beeps at different pitches and volumes in my right ear, then left ear. I was frustrated and kept wanting to tell her “turn it up, it’s too hard!” I had to say “yes” every time I heard the tones, but the sound of my own breathing or swallowing would drown them out. It seemed to go on for a long time without much opportunity to breathe normally or swallow.

Next, via the earphones, she said a bunch of words that I had to repeat, and they got softer and softer. They were all compound words like “greyhound.” That test was less anxiety-provoking.

Then the funniest one, a recording of a man’s voice. He kept saying, “Say the word ____.” And I had to repeat the word only. He talked fast and the words ran together like in a normal conversation, so although he wasn’t very quiet, I had to listen carefully. It felt more like a lesson in listening than like a hearing test. There was a noticeable pattern to the words he said: first a bunch that ended in vowels, then ending in consonants, then in consonants like r or n, then some plurals, then some that ended in soft consonants like F or TH. When the audiologist came back in the room, I told her I wanted to “say the word bossy” after repeating after the recorded man and his commanding tone. She then seemed to be in a big hurry and was not amused.

After that, I think (I’m not sure of the order), she tested bone conduction hearing, where I had something other than headphones on my head. I didn’t see what it looked like but it pressed into the base of my skull. I heard the beeps. There were long pauses during all the sets of beeps, and I thought, oh no, I am as deaf as a rock, but it turned out I scored 100% on the tests involving words, and totally normal and symmetrical on hearing the beeps. She said I have no sign of age-related hearing loss. I’m glad to find out I still have a chance to protect my hearing for the future.

The doctor’s maneuver could not induce my vertigo, just like my regular doctor could not. But if I got in bed and lay down, I’d have it, and again when I got up. Or if I did that thing on the rings where I pull up and tuck, tip back, and rock back and forth. Next I’m supposed to be referred to a physical therapist, who, amazingly, is in the same building as the gym.

Barbells, sprints, pull-ups

Yesterday:
5 pull-ups, 1 sprint, repeat. Total five sprints of about 100m and five sets of five weighted pull-ups. I was sore about an hour after I finished sprinting — not terribly, but enough to not do it again with any of my classes that evening. I love sprinting, hate the normal running in WODs.

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Today: Back squat up to 3 sets of 5 at 145. Lightish because of the tired legs from yesterday. By the time I completed the third set of five at 145, I felt that I could easily go heavier, as if I were finally warmed up. But it was almost time for the noon class, so I left the weight the same and did a set of 10. I did a few pull-ups and dips today, not much.

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Deadlift, bench

Yesterday: Bench press up to 3 x 10 at 85 lbs; deadlift up to 1 x 5 at 210. I felt good about the deadlift because, despite three hours of yard work the previous day, and a slightly achy low back (fatigue), I increased the DL by 10 pounds over last week. These deadlifts aren’t PRs, just maintenance.