tisdag 17 december 2013

Training with mental struggles

I don't like calling it depression, because to me I'm not depressed and I've never once said I was. I've said I've crashed and burned mentally, am having mental struggles or have gotten knocked down.

During this time I haven't been able to work out as often as I used to three months ago. Because, what's the point? I stand there, in the dojo, and get confused, start off on the wrong kata, head starts to spin, all the techniques feels half arsed, and in the middle of all I start yawning. And the people not knowing what's going on starts asking me why I'm sitting down and not participating. It's not that I don't want to, I just can't, and I'm afraid to miscalculate a kick or a punch and hurt my opponent, or misstep and make myself go flying into someone or the wall. More often that not I exit the dojo feeling like I've been punched in the head several times, even though all we have done is kata and kihon.

Even going to the gym is a struggle. Just knowing that I will fight myself through the two or three exercises I can do without getting tired is not very motivating. And to just think, before this all started I was about to increase the weights and/or reps on every exercise in my full body program! And now it feels like I'm back on square one, just starting off again like I did 2-3 years ago. The worst part is, I know I need to work out to avoid all the different problems I already have with my body. Hip flexors, shoulder strain, arthritis...

I told Terje sensei at the annual SKAN championship a month ago, that I haven't lost interest. I just can't find the motivation. And that is completely the truth. Every time I see someone training karate, I remember I used to have that joy on my face and in my mind not too long ago. I want to get back to that place! And that's the only motivation I have to keep trying, and never to quit.

Even though these mental struggles has taken a toll on my self confidence, and has demotivated me, I haven't stopped working out in the dojo or at the gym. I've shown up at training on the days that hasn't consisted of meltdown, and I've participated on things I feel I can handle. Sometimes I've sat there looking at everyone else and feeling that I miss it, that I want to be there with them. I just can't.

Some weeks I've trained 2-3 times, other weeks zero. But that's counting physical training. Every day I have been working out mentally, either if it's just having a walk, going to work, or even writing! Not all training gives soreness in your muscles, it can also give soreness in your mind.

When I failed the black belt exam this summer, my thoughts were to try again this Christmas. But after less than half this semester, even before the first knock down, I had doubts about making it in time. And after the bang, I knew I had to drop something, and it was a given choice to drop the exam. I'm glad I dropped it. Karate isn't a race, it's a marathon. And if I'm not there mentally I shouldn't even attempt shodan!

I have decided to take the exam again Christmas 2014. I'm hoping that will give me enough time to get back in training and to find the motivation I need to pass.

To make this happen, I have taken another step back. I've resigned as an instructor in the club, and will act as a temp if another instructor is sick or has other obligations. When I said this to the other instructors, they were supportive of my choice and understood why I had to do it. I love being an instructor, but if it means that I will be able to work myself up to participate in training again it is a good choice. And I actually feel relieved to not having to come to the dojo with students waiting for me, but doing it in my own time.

I believe working out has kept me strong for a longer time than without it, and not completely letting all this negativity seep in. I also believe that without karate and martial arts I would never have become as self confident as I was half a year ago. And now it will help me to rebuild myself and make me find the motivation and self confidence again. I just have to take it one step at the time.

Taking a few steps back once in a while is not a defeat. It can actually be healthy, and will help one see the bigger picture.

lördag 5 oktober 2013

No one to remind me

Karate training is not going according to plan. At most I'm at the same level as during the spring, if not worse. I feel there is no one to remind me to become better than yesterday, to push my boundaries! The only place I feel I have developed is my strength and stability, but that is because I train more at the gym nowadays.

I know I most probably have to try and push myself to become better. But I tried doing that during the spring semester, and it didn't quite work out as planned. I need someone to push me to become better and better. I don't have that drive myself.

At the moment it's hard to focus on the good things and remember them for the next training, staying motivated to continue to the (what I see it as) the finish line. I know getting the black belt is just the beginning. But to me I see it as becoming free of belt exams and just training at my own pace, perhaps going for nidan when I feel like it. Right now it feels like I have to, to get acknowledged in many parts of the martial arts world.

I know I cannot compare to most of the people training martial arts. But there are many reasons why people train. For me it has always been that it makes me feel better, I get to achieve something.

Somewhere along the road this past year I have lost the achievement part. I don't feel like I have achieved anything important, and now I'm just putting things off that I could have done yesterday.

I don't feel the support from the club as much as I did before. No one seems to want to become better at karate, but would rather just meet up to hang out. Social aspects are important too, but can't that be done while training martial arts?

This afternoon I was thinking of maybe putting off the black belt exam for yet another year, just because our sensei is on maternity leave and won't be back until next autumn. I don't feel like I can achieve this dream I have in this current situation. We don't have black belt potential in the club as it is right now. And I can't blame anyone for it. I don't wish to either. It's just how it is.

When I started training five years ago I never saw myself getting a black belt. Not until I got my brown belt did I see that maybe I had potential. But this year has been so unfortunate with the arthritis in my foot, strained chest muscle and not having enough job to fully support myself. And on top of that the source of inspiration in the club is taking a break (which I fully understand).

To say the least, this year has had some very very bad turns and it has hit my confidence pretty hard.

tisdag 10 september 2013

What doesn't kill me makes me stronger!

It's not a secret that I failed the black belt exam this summer. Of course I'm disappointed, mostly in myself for not pushing myself more in the kumite part. And I'm still processing the emotions that keeps popping up every time I think of the exam. So I haven't really been that keen on sharing it here on the blog, as I don't really know where to start.

During the summer I took a complete break from karate and focused on getting my general strength up instead. So I joined the near by gym and got a good strength training routine from one of the Personal Trainers there. I felt and immediate effect, and will continue training there.

Last week I got a new program to build up my endurance along with my strength. I tried it out this weekend, and it's truly heavy duty! Will be fun to push myself and feel that I'm getting stronger.

I will take the black belt exam again this Christmas. So the plan is to visit other clubs in neighboring cities that are a bit better than us in kumite, and learn from them, as well as train at the gym 1-2 times per week. I don't feel the need to train more kihon and kata than just repeating it at normal training, as I'm quite strong in those areas already.

måndag 20 maj 2013

Seminar with Iain Abernethy

This weekend we had the privilege to train with Iain Abernethy, expert in kata bunkai. Last time he was here we went through some of the bunkai found in the five Pinan and Naihanchin Shodan. This time he showed us bunkai for the entire Kushanku Dai and Bassai Dai kata!

During the weekend we learned a lot about different types of arm and wrist locks, how to get out of grabs and also a few throws. Most things we learned were incorporated in drills where we avoided attacks, locked the arm, and how to make the attacker incapacitated.

On Saturday we went through the whole Kushanku Dai kata with all its nifty bunkai, some really fancy ones, and some very brutal ones! I had the opportunity to learn to walk through the kata beforehand so that it would be easier to recognise the techniques we were doing. This really helped me understanding the kata and the drills we were doing.

During the evening we socialised over dinner at an Indian restaurant down town.

Sunday was all about Bassai Dai, one of my favorite kata to perform. We learned some interesting history about the name. Many of us thinks it means "To storm a castle", but actually no one knows the meaning of the name. That's just what the kanji means to make up the sounds of the name Bassai Dai. So the original meaning of the name is lost in history. Many of the techniques that are in Kushanku Dai are also in Bassai Dai, so it was a bit easier for both mind and body to go through the techniques.

We got a lot of information and learned many drills and useful techniques. It's really hard to remember everything, but some things stuck to my mind that I want to practice on and also teach others in the club. On this seminar I was the only one representing the club, so I have the responsibility to bring my new knowledge back to everyone else!

Picture by: Sofia Danielsson

söndag 5 maj 2013

Left side, strong side!

Well I wish, haha!

A couple of weeks ago I strained a chest muscle on my right side. I finally went to the chiropractor as it didn't go away by itself with icing treatments. She stretched out some muscles around the shoulder and cracked my back a few times. She also took a look at my posture, which is good now by the way, except for my left shoulder.

Since I'm right handed my left side is naturally weaker. I lift most things with my right arm, so that shoulder is positioned where it should be. But since my left side is weaker, that shoulder needs to come back a bit for me to get an even better posture!

So every time I move about,lift things, or even do punches from shizen dachi or senkutsu dachi, I try to constantly pull the left shoulder back while trying to relax my right side. I'm feeling it working as my left arm and shoulder is getting more of a workout out of it.

I was thinking of doing some extra training on my left side so that I become equally strong on both sides. My chiropractor advised against it, and told me to just try and focus on doing things with my left side. So I'll try that for a period and see how it works. I don't want to strain my left side too! :)

tisdag 23 april 2013

Closing in!

Yes! It's less than 1½ month left to the black belt exam! Am feeling more ready every day.

My strength is improving, much due to the physical work I do. I have been trying to do my strength exersizes, but have been forced to cut back also due to my work. Am still trying to do core at least once a week at home.

Since strength is improving, my techniques are improving and I'm more stable and have better balance. The hip has improved, but still has days/periods where it doesnt quite like to cooperate. But with proper warm up this isn't really a problem.

In some of the kicks I still point my knee down a tiny bit, but it has improved since autumn, and will be something I have to work on more in the future. I think it's much to do with my leg strength...

All katas are looking great except perhaps naihanchin nidan. This one I still need to work on to feel a bit more secure with. But since it's just a plus kata I'm not too worried. I'd rather work on my kihon and get some more sparring in.

Since I also have my arthritis to consider, I'm thinking of doing the exam with budo shoes. Though if I keep trainith without shoes for as much as possible I might not need to. I figured I would try out how it works with training on wooden floors and then decide what to do. But since the pain can come suddenly it could me risky not doing it with shoes...

söndag 17 mars 2013


I have had things to write about the past few weeks. But I have been a bit low and not motivated with training, so that has payed its toll on the blog as well. Though I have been doing a few posts on Facebook once in a while. So here is a little summary of what has happened!

Our club was host for this years Shorin Ryu Championship. The competition was very well planned, and seems like everyone enjoyed it. We had a lot of judges and very few referees, so the judges got to try themselves as referees. It's not the easiest thing in the world when you are a rookie, but it went very well and everyone got some practice with some coaching from Terje Årdal.

Due to injuries in the club we had only four on the youth group that participated in the competition. Two of them only participated in kata, while the other two did both kata and kumite. Everyone did a great job, and I could see their progression. Tinus was the only one to take a medal, bronze in kata. Me, I was coach for the day, and I must say it went a lot better than last year! Now I have had time to get to know the kids, and I have learned more on what to look for in a bout to help.

The week after the competition I found out that the knot under my foot is arthritis caused from an earlier injury. There is nothing more to do but wear good shoes. Though I have been sent to an orthopedic for a second opinion. Due to this I still can't train 100% in the dojo, as I still have to wear shoes or take breaks when it hurts. This is really frustrating, since I was counting on being ready for the black belt exam by now, but I can't hop around on the foot for too long! I do hope the orthopedic has a better solution, because as it is now it's very demotivating to go the dojo knowing it will hurt.

But the world doesn't end.

I've put myself up for a coaching and communication course this Thursday. It's a one day course offered for free from the Norwegian Athletics Association. And on Wednesday me and a couple of help trainers from the club are going to be guest trainers for the second graders at a local sports school.

Picture by: Sofia Danielsson

torsdag 28 februari 2013

Competition preparations

On Saturday it's the annual Shorin Ryu Norway Competition. This year it's our turn to arrange it. So the past few months has been all about planning, and training our karatekas for the event.

Last year I participated in kata and was coach for the youths. This time I'll focus on being coach. I'm hoping it'll get easier this time as I have gotten to know the kids a bit more since last time, and I feel they have really progressed! I'm really excited for the weekend, and I hope all our participants do their best!

We don't have as many participants from the club this year, sadly. Only 3-4 boys and one girl in the youth section, and 19 kids below 12 years. This is due to injuries and sickness that some of our karatekas are suffering at the moment. Hopefully they will be ready for other competitions later in the season.

Picture by: Maren H. Øvsthus

lördag 16 februari 2013

The foot story so far

Since the beginning of December last year I haven't been able to use my foot properly at training. This has meant that there are many techniques I can't do as intense as I would like to. The injury is not only affecting my training, but also work. I walk and stand a lot on concrete floors at work, and that is truly heavy duty for already healthy feet. Imagine walking on concrete on an injured foot!

I've been to the doctor twice. Last time he sent me to do MRI on the foot at a neighboring town. He then called me up this Monday, explaining to me what they have found. It's a knot that sits directly on one of the small bones in the foot, and is an injury caused by overloading the foot. The knot itself is harmless (except for hurting like an s.o.b.), and is not growing. My doctor didn't know how to treat it, so he went to consult an orthopedist. On Thursday I got a text message, saying they want to do some supplementing MRI.

I'm now waiting to be called in for a second time, and am hoping it will be a bit quicker than last time. For the first MRI appointment I was given a time at 5th April. A few days later I called them up and asked if they had any cancellations. Long story short, I got in on 2nd February!

The past week I have noticed the front muscle of my lower leg getting really sore after working or walking for long distances. This is due to me compensating to not step on the pea sized knot sitting on the side of the big toes pad. I'm worried that if this goes on for too long I will get some other sort of muscle injury not unlike my right hip injury I struggled with a year ago! So, I'm now trying to be extra careful. I try to walk as normal as I possibly can, I've asked to take more sitting breaks at work, and I use my trusted ice pack on the over worked muscles.

Training with shoes means I don't have to risk getting surprise pain shot up through my foot when I twist my foot on the mat. Though it means I stick to the mat more, and have weaker balance. This means I very often have to take unnecessary extra steps in both kihon and kata. SO when this whole ordeal is over, I'm feared I have to teach myself the proper foot techniques yet again.

Since this is taking a bit of time to sort out before I even get a treatment, I'm not 100% sure I will take the black belt exam in the summer. Sure I'd be bummed out. But that also means I have an extra 6 months to prepare, and will hopefully do a stronger belt exam. As my chiropractor stated, this could actually be a blessing in disguise.

Pictures by: Sofia Danielsson

tisdag 29 januari 2013

Judge/Referee workshop 2013

Last weekend three of our clubs judges headed up to Oslo for the annual judge/referee workshop held by the referee committee. During the three days we went through the new changes in the rules, went through some new situations in kumite, and discussed our different roles at competitions.

I must honestly say I learned more at last years workshop, though that could be because this was all new to me. Though it was good to run through the new changes. We had some healthy discussions about both kumite and kata that will make the difference in progression. I feel I'm starting to train my eyes on what to look for. But I'm still really fresh and need a lot more practice.

January 25th was the deadline to sign up for the Norwegian Championship. I haven't signed up this year due to many reasons I will not bring up here.

fredag 18 januari 2013

Not done yet

Nope, I'm not done!

Since the beginning of December I have had a knot under my left foot (on the inside of the big toes pad). This has made me walk a bit crooked, and of course my hip started acting up due to this. I went to the doctor with the foot before Christmas and got a gel to put on that removed the soreness but nothing else. I was hoping it would be gone before the first training in January, but alas no... The knot has made me not being able to train 100% in the dojo, because the knot somehow sticks to the matt. So when I do twists and turns the knot shoot up antagonising pain straight through my foot!

So this Monday I went back to my doctor, and he wants me to get an MRI on the foot to see what it is we're dealing with. Sadly it's 11 weeks waiting, which means I will probably have the knot this whole semester.

Not good news! I do not really look forward to taking my black belt exam on a bum foot... But if I have to, I guess I'll just suck it up and go for it.

And yesterday I went to my chiropractor, and she agreed with me that it's the foot that makes me compensate and give me hip problems yet again. Apparently my body is not a Prada- body (chiropractors words, not mine!), which means my body is not really up to scratch and is extra sensitive. So it reacts faster to change than perhaps other bodies do.

During last nights training I tried wearing Budo shoes to put less pressure on the foot. It worked better than I had hoped. I never once got any pains during training, the knot was just a bit extra sore afterwards. That I can deal with :)

Without these adventures, life would be boring!

Picture by: Sofia Danielsson

söndag 6 januari 2013

2012 recap

Well everyone else seems to have written one of these, so why not me too eh? :)

The start of 2012 has been a continuous uncertainty about my hip and my general strength. Spring was all about starting over again and finding what works for me. I found a pretty good pace, but still couldn't participate as much as I wanted.

In January I became a certified Judge in karate and participated at the Workshop later that month and in March at the Norwegian Championship, judging my very first competition! I also took a children's activity weekend course to learn more about pedagogy and also to get more ideas to my youth trainings.

At the end of spring I started working full time for the first time in my life. It was tough on my body and mind starting work early, ending it late and then have the energy to go train in the evenings. But I soon found a balance that worked for me.

Summer was all about strength training and foam rolling for me. Three times a week I did my exercises, ending it with stretching and massaging (foam roller = best buy 2012!) This made me come over a big hurdle. My hip muscles started working as they should, I felt stronger and more stable when lifting things. My posture was getting more and more perfect!

Training started in August, and now karate seemed to help me more than being a hindrance. I felt more explosive in my techniques, I had gotten more balance in my kata. And most important of all, I could feel the right muscles being used more and more! I could participate more at training taking fewer and shorter breaks.

Then I got the stubborn virus in September, and I was sick for two weeks and had to use a third week to recuperate! I had no energy to do more than I had to at work, so there was not much energy left for training. Even walking the dog was tiresome!

Straight after I started a new job, learning new things yet again that drained my energy from training more than at the dojo. This time it took longer for me to find a good energy balance (am still not sure if I've found it yet), and some nights I had trouble sleeping, having to get up and eat several times a night.

During the autumn I also participated in the Trainer 1 Part 2 weekend course. I now only miss part 1 before I have taken all courses for Trainer 1. These are basic courses that are recommended for all trainers to take. I will take part 1 some time during this spring.

I feel I could have done more strength training during the autumn, but so many energy draining things happened I just had to let my body rest before I did anything else.

Some of the troubles are still here for 2013. Yes, my muscles has become stronger and my hip is getting better. But I still have to build more strength and stretch out my hip muscles. Not to become more flexible but so that it won't become stale so that I will injure myself again.

I've been preparing for my black belt exam since last exam a year ago. I'm feeling more and more prepared, but I still need to work on my strength and get my endurance up a couple of notches!

The plan is still to continue with my strength exercises (more than I did in the autumn), and do cardio once either every other week or every week. I have to see what my energy level tells me.

Pictures by: Sofia Danielsson, Eivor Mathilde