I didn’t feel ready. We had, only two weeks prior, begun training with deliberation on the two kata I needed to pass – Pinan sono go & Gekisai dai. But time was up, and I need to show them what I’ve got.
It was much like most classes but much longer, more intense and with higher stakes. My senpai pushed us harder than Shihan did during my last exam; likely because he knew what we could handle and wanted to test our spirit.
He has told us a hundred times over the years, and reminded us at the start of the exam, that training begins AFTER you get tired so if he saw us conserving energy he’d fail us. I took his warning to heart and by the time we got to basic strength exercises, more than an hour into the test, my muscles were far from fresh. Even knowing that, though, I was pretty disappointed in my performance with some of our key basic exercises.
Push ups – 35
Crunches – 43
Squats – 70
Wall-handstands – 65 seconds
Bo jumps – 16
I was disappointed with the pushups, primarily. I have been training for them in particular and when my muscles are fresh I can do 55 REAL push ups (all the way up and down, not the barely-bend-your-elbows kind…you know who you are!). 60 sit ups, easily. 100+ squats. Wall handstands for 90 seconds. So, yeah, I was disappointed that on the day it counts, my numbers were so much lower. But…that’s karate.
Finally, literally THREE HOURS LATER we get to the kumite. And as luck would have it, I have video!
Round 1: Me vs. Andre the Giant (his name is Zoltan, actually)
Post Fight Commentary: After watching, I was surprised at how little I moved. Guess I was more tired than I thought. During this fight I found out that I was the only one wise enough to wear a groin cup, as we can see when I clipped him in his “buddies” (sorry Zoltan!). He got me back at the end with a nice jodan mawashi geri that hit me in the neck and threw my balance off – hence the acrobatics.
Round 2: Me vs Nader
Post Fight Commentary: Nader likes using his height and flexibility to score some head kicks (a lesson I remembered from our first time sparring). As such, he fights at medium to long distance so my intent here was to stay inside or just outside his high kick range and blast his inner and outer thighs with kicks while working his core with punches. I think he caught on to my strategy because I started having to sune uke his low kicks – which resulted in some bruises I’m sure I’ll have for a week.
Round 3: Me vs Ben
Post Fight Commentary: As is evident, Ben is an older guy. Mid 60′s I think. And he has just recovered from surgery to his right knee. Suffice it to say I didn’t go too hard on him. This was my recovery-round.
Round 4: Me vs David
Post Fight Commentary: David is a big guy. Nearly as big as Zoltan. But his size isn’t truly helping him here. You’ll notice at 0:11 I open up the distance but he just keeps on trying to strike without closing that distance first. From observing this he either doesn’t have a proper sense of maai, or he doesn’t mind throwing strikes and just hoping they’ll land. At 0:33 I wanted to try something he wouldn’t expect (and one I haven’t practiced) just to see what he’d do…and to have a little fun, too.
Round 5: Me vs Senpai Javier (Boss Fight)
Post Fight Commentary: Senpai is particularly skilled. Not only at Kyokushin itself, but at knowing how hard to push you. He looks to spend the first 10 seconds seeing how much steam I’ve got left and then goes on to pummel me right to the very end, keeping himself just above my skill level and making me struggle just to not get killed.
Knowing he likes seeing a variety of techniques I tried something different at 0:18 (and as tired as I was it one of the few kicks I could get to jodan level), for which he paid me back with a nice kick to my kidneys at 0:20…thanks senpai; I’m still feeling that one. And at least I “sort of” checked it and countered. The next 30 seconds were me just trying to not get killed and then and customary bull-rush for the last 10 seconds.
What a day! I am still tired from the exertion. Don’t know how I’m going to get through class tonight.
Oh yeah, I passed. Today I am a 3rd kyu in Kyokushin Karate.