Sunday, July 6, 2008

Bo Knows Martial Arts...

Speak softly and carry a big stick. Who was it who said that? Teddy Roosevelt I think. But I could be wrong - history is not one of my strong suits.

As I've said before, my martial arts school is based out of a community center. Our sessions run 10-14 weeks depending on the season. Because of the limitations of meeting once per week for our regular sessions, we do not operate like many schools.

For instance, only once per session is the norm for working with bo staffs. The first time I saw one of these weapons was when I was still just a spectator at Buddy's classes. It was almost the end of the kids' class when the adult students started filing in with what looked to be 6' long broomsticks. I could sense the excitement amongst them. They were clearly ready for the kids class to be over and theirs to begin. A group of about 4 or 5 of the adult students stood down in one corner out of the way and practiced with the oversized toothpicks. It was fortunate it was very near the end of the kids' class because you can just imagine how much attention the kids were paying to "boring old punching and kicking" when the grown-ups were over there in plain view playing with toys! At that point, I don't think I had decided to sign up for adult karate classes and I did not stick around to watch the class to see how these pool-stick looking weapons were used, but I have to admit - my eyes were as glued to those adults and their toys as the kids had been.

My next encounter with bo staffs was when I had already joined the adult class. About 4 or so lessons in, at the end of our class, when Sensei updates us on what is going on with our school and martial arts outside of our school, he told the class to bring their "bo's" next week. I was all excited, figuring I could borrow one as I'd seen that there was a box of them in our storage area.

The next week I arrived to class, and in came the same adult students from before with their bo staffs and their enthusiasm in tow. I was enthused as well, but also anxious because I couldnt' figure out how I was going to do any kind of kata with the class never having handled a bo staff before in my life. Sensei asked if I'd like to just work on basics since I was so new to martial arts. I was disappointed in a way, but relieved in another. And after all, everyone can use review on the basics - especially the newbie.

Fast forward to the next session (my 2nd session) and when bo staff night was upon us, we had a few new beginners sign up so there was more than one person to learn bo staff basics. About 3 of us eagerly chose a bo staff from the box kept in the storage room. And one of the then brown belts taught us how to hold it at attention and fundamentals in how to handle a bo staff in general. That evening passed very quickly. I could see I was going to enjoy working with this weapon.

In my 3rd session, on bo night, I was back to being the lone ranger in that I just knew the very basics from last session. So, Sensei himself took me aside and taught me the basic bo kata. I caught on pretty quickly and was quite proud of myself. He and I "sparred" back and forth quite a bit that evening. The repetition drilled the routine into my head. I knew I wanted to practice at home, so that was the evening I ordered my very own bo staff.

I practiced at home and got the hang of switching hands, but could not get the jist of figure eights where one does one wrist over the other (one up, one down). But I got the kata pretty well under control - not an easy feat considering I did not have anyone to practice it with. My neighbors must have wondered what in the world a grown woman was doing in her front yard fighting an imaginary adversary with a 6' pole.

Now I'm in my fourth session and another mom and I ordered bo staffs for our sons who are also in the kids karate class together but who have both taken this summer session off. So, she and I received the bo staffs this past week. We took them out and started practicing the different ways of handling them...and luckily, Sensei was right there and I asked him about the proper technique on the figure eight dilemma I've been having. I did not know the proper term for this technique so it was kind of comical me trying to describe to him what I wanted him to show me.I think the other woman knew what I meant too but didn't know the proper term. He did a little assortment of movements and when he hit upon the one I wanted to see executed, I was almost giddy that we had hit pay dirt. Everyone thought that was kind of funny and we all laughed together about how I knew the kata but didn't know this simple little movement.

The other woman and I started to practice the kata - one of us attacking, the other defending and then reversing the roles. I happened to catch the "in awe" glances from the kids class - just like that first time I saw a bo staff, so I suggested to my friend that we go into another room so as not to distract the kids. And so we did and the kids got back to their kicking and punching. And probably, some new adult student who arrived early, or a parent thinking about joining our class saw us and thought, "Wow, look how excited those grown women are over an oversized toothpick. Maybe I should look into signing up for these classes..."


Amy said...

Sounds like fun! In a few weeks I can have the opportunity to go to escrima (sp?) training. It's basically two sticks each around 2 feet long or so. There are basic forms with those as well.

Minivanninja said...

Ok, I have to start leaving my comments with my URL in the name link.

Martial Arts Mom said...

It is alot of fun, and yes, Amy, make sure you leave your URL. I want people to see your cool blog, too!

BBat50 said...

Hi Martial Arts Mom - The Bo is great. My son and I spend absurd amounts of time in the backyard twirling them around. He likes to look cool: I'm trying to learn the kata. We both hurt ourselves regularly.

Thanks for stopping by my blog....Isn't it weird how compulsive you can get?