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Karate

Karate, Year Ju-Go

Last night was my first karate class of 2015, and it left me feeling a bit miserable.

Sensei (actually Shihan now he's a fifth dan) asked us to name the one necessary requirement for grading to black belt. We suggested discipline, fitness, five years' training, bribes (that was me, and I got a laugh), but the answer was: train twice a week, minimum.

"In the past," he said, "there's been an attitude that if you don't go as often you'll still get there, it'll just take longer. You won't. You need to train twice a week to get sharp enough and fast enough for that grade."

That's me stuffed, then.

I'm not going to say I can't train more often. I've been reading a lot, lately, about priorities, and if karate was at the top of my list I could rearrange my life to suit.

For the last ten years, I've tried to keep Tuesday and Thursday evenings free. Sometimes there's a gig or other event I really want to go to; sometimes a friend I want to see can only do one of those evenings. These things happen, and I'll go back to two classes the next week. It takes me a long time to reach the next belt - two or three years - but I'm not especially athletic and I thought I was just doing it at my own pace. Suddenly, that's not good enough. (There are classes on other nights, and if you can't make your regular class you're encouraged to go to an alternative one. But that's another evening tied up in an already busy week.)

So I feel guilty for not trying hard enough, but also resentful that something I do for fun, of my own free will, has become an obligation, and sad that I may never make black belt unless I sacrifice something else in my life for moar karate.

Still, we did learn the numbers from 11 to 20 in Japanese. We've only ever gone up to ten before!
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Shotokan Karate by any chance?
Close! It's a school called kenshukai, which borrows from both shotokan and gojanru (not sure of the spelling of that one!)
Pawsibleh Gōjū-ryū, which is apparently a traditional Okinawan style? (The fact that the above comes complete with macrons is a dead giveaway that it's just been cut'n'pasted from a Wikipedia article...)
Thank you!! (We usually just refer to it as 'kangaroo'.)
This, combined with the asthma I was suffering at the time, was a major factor in my leaving kung fu. Unfortunately, your instructor is probably right that you need at least two sessions a week to advance. It would be true of any kind of physical development, really, or a skill like learning to play a musical instrument. To get good at anything requires sustained effort over time. And since twenty minutes every morning isn't really an option, multiple longer sessions are required.

The choice then becomes, "Would I rather spend the time on the karate, or on other things?" Once the decision is made, own it. At least, that's my suggestion.

-The Gneech
One possibility is to say "OK, I'm just doing this for fun and exercise" and cut down to one session a week (the Thursday one, which is a lot smaller and more enjoyable). I'll see how my grading prospects look over the next few months and think about it...
What grade are you at present? Is it a viable option to take the "gradualist" approach until you're first kyu, then decide at that point if you're willing to push to committing to "hard two" or "flexi three" nights. That's assuming you take what he says literally, of course, rather than as (de?)motivational hyperbole.

Also, shihan at 5th dan? As an extremely lapsed aikidoka, I'm calling "rampant shihan grade inflation". :)
I'm first kyu, hence the problem!

Another sensei once suggested going 'one and a half times' a week - twice one week and once the next. That's worked pretty well for me, and stopped me getting burned out/pissed off, but I was several grades lower when the suggestion was made.

I'm vague about the definition of shihan now, although it was explained to me. He can grade first dans?
Ooo, ouch. Wondered if that might be the flaw in my supposely cunning scheme! But I wonder if it's not still feasible to some extent? Maintain your current schedule for the time being, consider a "run on black" at some later point if you think you feel motivate to devote more time to it for a number of months?

Hopefully 'averaging to two' (...ish) is an option, but as you say that would imply sacking three days on some weeks to make up the diff, which is its own particular sorts of pain. I'm sure the "second opinion" option does have some viability, though...

I think use of "shihan" varies even within a particular art, much less between them. I believe less fancy titles of aikido instructor (such as "shidoin") are able to serve as dan examiners, so unsurprising if they're not equivalent in dan terms. Not that I've ever trained with either, much less had the conversation about dan grading, so this is all very theoretical for me!
I do try to up the attendance if there might be a belt in the offing - I'll see how it goes, and many thanks for the advice. It really helps sort this stuff out.
So I feel guilty for not trying hard enough, but also resentful that something I do for fun, of my own free will, has become an obligation

I have the same double-sided feeling about lifting. Sometimes I really resent how much time it takes up, but if I don't go I feel like I've let people down (who?!)
Gah!! Yes!

I'm so glad it's not just me.
Sensei (actually Shihan now he's a fifth dan) asked us to name the one necessary requirement for grading to black belt. We suggested discipline, fitness, five years' training, bribes (that was me, and I got a laugh), but the answer was: train twice a week, minimum.

I'm rather missing "having fun" there, too.

So I feel guilty for not trying hard enough, but also resentful that something I do for fun, of my own free will, has become an obligation, and sad that I may never make black belt unless I sacrifice something else in my life for moar karate.

Don't. The whole thing IS supposed to be fun, not an obligation; if it isn't that, then something's wrong. Do you want a black belt? Sure. Do you still do so if you can choose either a black belt or having fun, but not the other? I'd think that having fun is more important. Continue doing it at YOUR pace, the way YOU enjoy it, and don't let anyone else, any real or perceived authority figures, tell you otherwise.

'sides, I think what he's saying is simply not true. Maybe you can't a black belt from him that way (if so, that really just speaks about his abilities as a teacher), but I'm sure you could elsewhere. I'm not saying you should find a different place and a different trainer, but keep in mind that the option is there. There's many places out there that will teach this sort of thing, and you're not required to stick with any one of them. The world's your oyster.

Really, just keep your fun in mind, and don't let anyone tell you you can't do this or that.
*hugs* Thanks - that's really helpful. In fact, there are suspicions that he does hold people back, and I know a number of people who've left in a huff after lingering at brown belt for ages (oh dear, is it time I made this post Friends Only?). I've stuck with it because I respect and trust him, even though there are other schools where I could have progressed more quickly, but up till now I've always assumed that I will get there in the end.

Maybe I'll chalk it up as a New Year motivational speech, and remember that his pay is affected by how many attendees his classes get...
*hugs back* You're welcome.

It could be motivational, perhaps, an attempt to get you to work hard and do all you can and be your best. Still, telling people that they'll fail is rarely a good motivator in my opinion. You gotta focus on the positive.

And again, fun is paramount, too. That's true even in education, say in school or university or training on the job, where you really HAVE to reach a certain goal. Even then, fun is crucial for success; when success isn't even strictly necessary and fun is all that ultimately matters to begin with, well... don't lose sight of your fun. And don't let anyone else take it away.

As for attendees and classes... can't say anything about that, though if that's what he's got in mind, I'd like to remind him that his pay is also affected by his reputation as an instructor. :) Like a doctor, a teacher's job is to make himself obsolete — but if he's good at it, he'll have more students soon. :)
When I went back to school ten years ago (Autumn 2005), I had to take a PE to satisfy requirements and I took karate in the Shotokan style. I really enjoyed it and got into it a lot.

When I moved up here 18 months ago to start my teaching career, I REALLY wanted to find a dojo or studio that gave instruction in the Shotokan style and really try to make something out of it. :-)
I find it very good both mentally and physically. I don't get bored because I'm thinking as well as doing. Well, except when we're doing a zillion pressups :/