Saturday, February 28, 2015

Kobudo: Getting Used to the Big Stick

So I had my second formal Kobudo class a few weeks ago.

I had to rush to it after rushing from a three hour Modern Arnis seminar to attend class, so by the end of that day, my arms were about ready to fall right off.

Pretty much.  Image found here.

Now that I'm past my fear of formality (see here and here), I've relaxed a little bit so class is a more enjoyable.

My classmates range from high-kyu red and brown belts from various TKD and Karate schools, all the way up third and fourth dan (and maybe higher) in their respective arts. I'm one of the lowest ranked people in the room, I think.  Not that I mind, really, although this group is way more rank-conscious than I'm used to in my daily martial arts life (again, my school is small and my instructor isn't terribly formal).

I get a little bit of a funny look from the others who don't know me, because my black belt is not like theirs. It has no embroidery with my name or rank or school, it's got a red edge, and I wear it on my right hip in the way we Modern Arnisadoras do. I may wear white in this class but darn it, I'm an Arnis black belt; it's how it's done!

Me all gussied up formal-like.
No, I have not taken one in my white gi yet.

Right now, we are working on a "seven step drill", which can be done solo or in pairs, and we started learning the first form, Bo Ichi.  When you do the "seven step drill" in pairs, you strike each others' weapons forcefully.  My bo is getting many nice dents in it, but is holding up well to the punishment.  That's Japanese white oak for you, guys - don't buy a cheap bo if you plan to hit stuff with it.

I have been working on the same stuff in my home school's kobudo class as well, so I get lots of practice and I'm keeping up with the class well. The only problem thus far are the minor variations from teacher to teacher - my teacher at home, and the individuals leading each "section" of formal class.

You see, that formal class is still very big - it will winnow down over time, either by people deciding to drop out, or people being invited to drop out - so for now, we tend to be divided into two groups, by gender, each of group of us working with a different instructor.  So variations are creeping in, and that part is a bit confusing.

I'll do it exactly that way, until I'm shown a completely different way.

I am bound and determined to do this as perfectly as I can, so that's a real problem to cope with.

I was kind of thrilled that I got picked out to help my bo instructor check some of my classmates on some things, things apparently I've picked up to her satisfaction.  I felt like teacher's pet a bit, which was nice, given I'm so self-conscious in this class so far.

I'm working hard on making sure I'm swinging this six foot piece of lumber with excellent control, so it's a real workout, and it puts a lot of stress on my right shoulder.  In fact, I suspect I might have some damage there, but between Kobudo and Arnis and the gym, it's not getting proper rest and healing.  The problem is, I can't stop any of those things, so I have to live with it.

We actually went outside (in February - even in north Texas, that's a pretty unusual thing) as it was nice and warm (actually kinda hot in the sun). I have to make sure I have athletic shoes when I go to class from now on, as they could decide to do that at any time.  I got bitten by an ant, which I understand is an issue out there - very much looking forward to the season where they're all over the place.

I wish.

We did some warming up with a bit of, well, twirling (from side to side).  It was fun, especially when you started switching sides and hands.  I see why people enjoy it for that aspect, and why they spend so much time with toothpick bo twirling.  Doing it with a six foot bo is a little more challenging but still fun.

I'm disliking bo less than I used to, but will I end up liking it over other weapons I'm learning or will learn?  Maybe.  I see why other people like it so much, and why it's so commonly taught versus the other weapons, as it seems like there is a lot of direct translation from the empty hand to bo that comes pretty easily to the mind.

If you've studied bo, I'd love to know your experience with the weapon, pros and cons!