Story of a Fight

I've recently called it quits in tournament competitions as far as my Karate goes.  That isn't any sort of slam again tournaments.  I still love competing.  However, after a while there's a time when you need to step aside, let others have their fun and go on to helping judge these events.  I did go out on top as I won the forms grand championship at the last tournament I entered.  I stopped entering kumite competitions years ago as I've had my share of concussions and bruised ribs, which makes it hard for me to work.  

I'm a bird!
I'm considered the guy to beat in these tournaments in my division.  This isn't something that happened over night.  I haven't had some epic long reign as a champ.  I spent years and year and years competing and pushing myself to try to just make it into the top four.  Over time, I started to regularly make it into the top four.  Eventually, I started winning.  

I listened to judges when they gave me advice.  Some was good.  Some not so much.  I finally hit upon what worked for me and its something that helps my karate training even outside of competition.

Kata tells a story.  A story about a fight.  People like stories, and that includes judges.

I don't add theatrics to my forms.  I don't wear fancy dan outfits.  I do my form and perform it as if I was demonstrating what happened in a battle.  You have to make yourself the star of your own little movie in these competitions.  I do everything I can to breathe life into the form.

Well, that's great for showing off (which I like to do), but what about real training?

If you want to tell a story you have to know how to speak.  You need vocabulary.  You need context.  If you don't know what the words mean or how to use them properly you end up sounding like a dope.

Children learn to speak by listening to others.  They imitate what they hear.  Much like new karate students learn their basics by imitating their instructor.  They get the basic movements.

Later children learn what the words mean.  Usually they do so by asking, "What does ____ mean?"  That's the question many karateka fail to ask.  What does this move mean?  That's the start of bunkai, application of techniques.

You memorize every move of every kata.  You can perform every technique just fine, and still have mediocre or even awful kata.  Knowing what the move is doing, even if its the most basic application, taking out any tuite or kyusho jitsu, will improve that kata.

Not what you're going for.
Block means get that technique out there like your life depends on it.  Punch means drive that fist like you're needing to drop that person in front of you.  It doesn't mean flop your arms around like overboiled Top Ramen.

Then you work your way into context and putting together the moves in your forms like they were designed.  This gives you a better understanding over what you're doing.  Having a good sense of context let's you tell a better story.  There's nuance involved.  The applications and techniques get a lot more interesting and it shows.

Still, can have full command over your language and have an interesting story to tell, but still tell a boring story.  Its in the delivery.  You can tell a simple story in an interesting manner.  This gets into breating life into the kata.  Placing yourself in the middle of that imaginary battle and performing the techniques as if it was a matter of life and death.

Doing this takes effort.  If you haven't broken a sweat doing your form, then you didn't do it hard enough.  I'm not talking about a form you are still learning, but the ones you have a good handle on.  The stories that you know.  The stronger you do your kata, the more you tell your story, the more likely you'll be able to call up the details of your story should the need arises.

Yes, that was a reference to self defense.

Now, go tell your stories.

I don't have a Brony name

Alright, for those who don't know, a "Brony" is a male fan of the MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC cartoon.  I have seen every episode of this cartoon available on Netflix.  I know the names of all the "mane six" ponies and a majority of the supporting cast.  I have a fairly good grip on the ongoing storyline and major events that have gone on in this show.  I have read most of the comics that IDW put out.  

So, am I a Brony?


I'm the father of two six year old girls.

Being a dad means you have to have a general knowledge of what your kids are into.  There will be a time later that they will keep their interests from me, and that's part of being a teenager.  For now, if they show an interest in something, I have to have an interest too.  I'm not one of those sit-com dads who are utterly clueless as to everything going on in their kids existence.  I do work a lot and am not the best dad in the world, but I do try to keep up.

Also, much of the programming aimed at kids is utterly horrible.  ADVENTURE TIME?  Are you kidding me?  McDonalds is giving out ADVENTURE TIME toys in Happy Meals!  That show should never be viewed by a little kid.  That show shouldn't be viewed by anyone, its terrible and falls right in with all the horrible crap coming down the pipe which acts like its supposed to be for kids but is really for teenagers and young adults.  So when I hear about this MY LITTLE PONY cartoon and people whose opinions I trust say its very good I watch it with my kids and see what they think and I, with the Missus, determine if its appropriate for them.

As a parent and a person who has enjoyed cartoons for his entire life, I can say that it is a high quality cartoon.  The animation is very done and very consistant.  The voice acting is high quality.  The stories are well written.  Every episode has a good message for the kids.  I can watch it without wanting to flee the room.  This show is of such a good quality that I am not surprised in the least that it has branched out from its initial target demographic.  Of all the things out there competing for my kids attention I'm glad that this and PHINEAS AND FERB have won out.

And I do know that there's a little fandom that's on the verge of sub-culture status going on.  I've made my jokes about it.  I've posted up little MLP images online because its ironic that a gnarly old Karate guy like me would do such things and hitting folks with unexpected things like that amuses me.  But, you won't catch me making the trip to Bronycon any time soon.

This past Christmas I has discovered that there's a My Little Pony collectible card game.  I asked about it and whether it would be suitable for my daughters.  Its mainly for kids ten and older, but there's nothing objectionable in there and younger kids had been picking it up.  I got the kids some starter decks.  They liked it.  I found out there were going to be tournaments at Comic Kings.  I took them up there.  They were easily the youngest kids there.  The majority of people there were guys in their late teens and early twenties. Full on Bronies.

Was it creepy?

At first I was a bit skeptical, but these young men took the girls under their wings.  Taught them about the game.  They were perfect gentlemen to my daughters.  One guy gave the girls at least 50 cards that he wasn't using to help them round out their decks.  They have a vested interest in new players, obviously, but they were genuinely very gracious and very helpful.

There is one guy who worries me a bit, not because he is creepy or inappropriate, but that I think he's taken his fandom into fan-dumb.  He's asked me if I have a Brony name, and he told me his which is how he wants to be referred to.  He's easily in his late teens.  I understand having a nickname.  Still, I get the feeling that he's just a little too into the scene and probably needs to get himself laid good and proper.

Still, I've been going down to the shop every weekend with the girls.  They likeplaying in the tournaments.  They asked me to play in it too, which I obliged them because I like a good card game and the game is pretty fun.  I did look up that whole Brony Name thing and it seems there charts and name generaters online.  I won't be adopting any of that.  

I'm glad that there's a quality show like this around for my kids and its OK if folks who aren't little girls like it too.  But seriously, walking around with an MLP t-shirt is fine, but talking to people in serious "ponyspeak" is something you just shouldn't do.

You can be a Brony without being that guy.