Chapter 29

23 Oct

Shotokan Karate Part 5: Neck Locks

After the great sparring debacle, I’d like to say things returned to normal. They never really did; everything between sensei and I felt awkward. It might have been me feeling winner’s remorse, or it might’ve been sensei’s crushed pride. About a week after the incident, black belt guy goes back to his own dojo, never to be seen again.

Two more months pass, and my brother and I rise another belt to reach orange. Sensei informs us that next class, we’ll start learning something “new”. I’ll admit, I was a little excited. Even though I suspected it would be total worthless bullshit, I was excited.

My brother and I arrive early, warm up, and stretch. Sensei comes in his usual 20 minutes late, but there’s something different about him. A gleam in his eye, a spring in his step; he has a special air about him.

We go through some basic punches, and instead of the usual kata, he tells us to line up. He asks me to step forward so he can demonstrate whatever it is he’s going to teach us.

He tells me to do a stepping punch, which I do. He side steps, then he places two fingers on the bottom of my chin. Then he tells everyone to watch. I get slightly nervous wondering what will happen; there aren’t any ground pads, so if he throws me, it will hurt like the maddest bastard of Bastardtown.

Using the fingers under my chin, he starts pressing up. Then he quickly places them on the side of my chin and goes sideways. He is making me look sideways, and I don’t really know what’s going on, so I apply gentle resistance to try and figure out what I’m supposed to be doing.

“Relax your neck, [Brother’s Name]!”

I relax it as much as I can, and he just keeps swirling it around and around. He’ll change his finger positions, and swirl me some more. He swirls me, then places his fingers under my chin, pushes up, steps behind me, puts his fingers on my forehead, then gently presses down. He has his hand under my back to catch me just in case.

“This is neck lock! It is best way to handle your opponent.”

He then has us pair off to train this. I go through the moves, but god damn, this is stupid. This would never work. Never, ever, ever, ever. I mean, I can understand controlling someone’s head as a means to control their body. Sure. But the things he was demonstrating, and the manner in which we were supposed to practice them, it was just impossible.

After that, sensei shows us another technique. He asks me to stand up there again, in a forward stance. He grabs my lapel and the cloth around my elbow, and I grimace in my mind. This is the classic hold for a throw of some nature, and the lack of pads means it’s going to hurt. He shows the class to step behind. He leans his chest back, plants his front foot, and pulls me across it. I awkwardly fall down.

We practice, and sensei chastises me for many, many things. I thought I remembered this takedown from BJJ, but aparently I didn’t.

Sensei Sayz:

You don’t lean forward, because you can’t watch your opponent to see what they do

You don’t kick the leg through. There wasn’t a reason given for this bad boy.

You don’t step past your opponent, because there’s other throws you can do if they resist you. I cringe thinking about what these other throws are.

I kind of zone out after that, and just do it like sensei did it, no matter how much it hurts inside. After that sensei shows us another throw, should the first one fail. After we plant the front stepping leg, if they won’t let us trip them, we first jump in the air and switch feet.

For example, if you had your right leg stepping across to trip your opponents right leg, you would now jump in the leg and put your left leg behind their right leg. Now, you let go of your grips, and put your left arm across their neck, and sweep them down.

I go through it like sensei said. This class feels long; no wonder. It’s already been 10 minutes since class was supposed to end.

Sensei then stops us to ask me to the front. He then asks me to show them a “jiu jitsu technique”. I decide to go with old faithful, and show them a standing rear naked choke thing I learned once.

Basically, when facing your opponent, you push one shoulder, while pulling the other. Then you slip behind, and slap on the RNC. I perform this on sensei, and land it twice; once when I was showing it to him, and once when he was resisting it thinking it wouldn’t work. I demonstrate the proper technique for the class, they practice.

“That is good, but do the neck lock technique first, then if that doesn’t work, do this.”

I almost laugh at this point. This has become so ludicrous, so stupid, I can’t even believe it. I’ve still got four months to go at this god forsaken place. On top of this, I made the mistake of buying a new scale. I’m up to 230. TWO FUCKING THIRTY. I’ve gained weight at this shitty place. This isn’t even worth the exercise. This place isn’t fun, it doesn’t help me exercise, it doesn’t teach me to defend myself, it is the worst fucking fit ever made.

I need something better. I think about things that I’ve always known to be bad ass. What is known for it’s extreme conditioning, functionality, and practice?

Well, there’s boxing. To be honest, I always liked boxing. The more I thought about it, the more I fell in love with the idea. Me. A boxer. That would be really, really awesome. That would be even more cool than being a shaolin monk.

I consult the internet, and find that there aren’t…any…….boxing gyms. But it’s too late. Once I set my mind to something, I become obsessive. I google day and night for a week, and I finally find a place that teaches boxing. On top of that, it’s relatively close. I talk to my mom about it, and she says depending on how much it costs, I might be able to do it.

This does not satiate my obsession. I google around for what the best boxing manual is; I find that it is written by Jack Dempsey. On top of that, I found it for download at this one website. It’s a website about fighting for real, and considering this metamorphosis I was undergoing, it was a perfect fit. I could talk about techniques, training, or do whatever. I lurked around for a little bit, and it was hilarious. All manner of people posted there, and most of them were amusing. I liked this site, I liked the people on it, I liked the idea behind it.

So I joined Bullshido.

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