Location: Palm Beach County, Florida, United States

Recently have been told I look like Mary Ann from Gilligan's Island. I hadn't heard that in years, but that is a good place to start as to what I look like, although she had a better bod. I have three boys and have been married for 13 years. Born of a Navy family, in Hawaii, one Mom, one Dad, one sister and one brother. The eldest of three children. BS in Applied Mathematics. Consider Pensacola my home town although I moved every 2-3 years of my life growing up. Currently work in the aerospace industry in an engineering position while being a Mom. Of Celtic heritage and very proud of it.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

I'm not Bendy, Dammit!

Knowns: 1) I am a brown belt in Shotokan Karate
2) I suck
3) I will never test for black belt
4) I am not black belt material
5) I do it for health reasons

I’m about as flexible as a brick. I’m 5’2” 120 lb of tight muscle that does not flex. At all. Ever. My husband told me once that I was the least flexible person he had ever met. Of course, he doesn’t go around checking flexibility, so I feel certain that it really translates into, “You are the least flexible woman I have ever slept with.” Heh. Nice.

In Karate flexibility is very important. If you can’t raise your knee up high enough when you kick, you can make contact with your opponent’s knee and break your toes. That hurts. For a long time.

I have been diagnosed with low bone density and am on that power curve to osteoporosis. It’s pretty much ‘small woman’s disease’. To combat this, I have taken up strength training as well as the Karate, which is high impact. Unfortunately, the strength training can directly counter act my flexibility which causes problems in Karate. In particular, when I’ve done an extensive amount of leg work, my glutes get so tight I can only raise my leg to knee level and pretty much kick at someone’s shin. Real menace to society, I am. “Watch out! Don’t mess with me or I’ll kick you in the shin!”

Normally it doesn’t bother me and I just work with it. When we spar, I stay enough away so as to not make any sort of contact. Meanwhile, my Sensei is on me all the time about my gross lack of flexibility. I guess I kind of let it slide off my back at this point. In Karate, you strive to seek perfection, never achieving it, so I’ll never really be flexible enough. However, I know it’s a problem when the girl I work out with, who is a professional trainer tells me I need to take a stretching class. They actually have classes for that. Stretching.

I inform my Sensei last week that I’m doing this in an effort to improve my flexibility. And if any of you work out, yes, I stretch between each set and try to stretch on my own. I’m just not flexible and I came by it honestly as TGOO is the King of Inflexibility. Any ‘stretchiness’ I have, came from my beloved Mother, and trust me, I didn’t get much.

Flash forward to Monday’s training. We’re doing all these kicks and my Sensei stops the class. He looks right at me and says, “When do you start your stretching class?” I replied, “Tomorrow morning” to which he said, emphatically, “Thank God!” As a brown belt, the flexibility thing is becoming a real issue.

Yesterday was my first stretch class. It was 15 minutes of abs and 20 minutes of stretching. The 15 minutes of ab work was a piece of cake. The 20 minutes following of stretching… let’s just say, I’d rather give blood. (That one’s for you, Grau!) It was the most painful horrific 20 minutes of my life. I think childbirth may have been less painful. And I did one without drugs. I am just NOT bendy. Period. I’m watching all these older women become human pretzels. The instructor is saying, “OK, everyone sit tall and now bend forward, keeping your back straight.” I look in the mirror, I am making an enormous effort to bend forward, yet I am still shaped like a perfect ‘L’, while everyone else is in some sort of ‘V’ shape and every now and then there is some Princess Pretzel Petunia who is touching her nose to her knees. I hate her.

So now that is what I do every Tuesday at 9:30, I go to Stretching Hell. And I sure as hell hope it works. Because I’m already over it and it’s only been one class.


Blogger Contagion said...

Don't feel bad, my wife isn't the most flexable either. She reminds me everytime we are in bed and I'm trying to position her. She chimes out, "I can't bend like that anymore." oh yeah... uh sorry.

7:29 AM  
Blogger Harvey said...

mmmm... flexible women...

Eh. Flexibility is less important than *ahem* enthusiasm ;-)

9:50 AM  
Blogger Graumagus said...

You should try taking Hop ki do instead of Karate. You don't need as much flexibility and it's alot more practical for self defense.
I took two years of Tae Kwon Do and my utter lack of flexibility came into play as well (I only made green stripe, which is two levels above white belt, mainly because I didn't feel like shelling out $75 every time testing came up). It's funny how badly I always got my ass kicked in sparring, but how all the black belts would watch me practice for the breaking competitions at the tournaments.
Not too many green stripes who can ridgehand through two 1" thick unsupported boards, and smash his head through two 1 1/2" thick patio blocks.

10:52 AM  
Blogger Boudicca said...

I've never been flexible. My sophomore year in college, I signed up for a aerobics class in some effort to stay in shape. The prereq to get an A was to be able to touch your toes. That was the most stressful class I took. God I hated it.

Shotokan is much different than Tae Kwon do. TKD requires a lot of kicking. Ours is a lot of upper body striking and blocking, but we have kicking too. You need kicking... it's all about balance. We do an enormous amount of self defense, practical application. We attack each other like we were on the streets and he shows what applications work best for small people like me vs. really big people.

We are an independent dojo, so it's only $30 to test. I am just not black belt material. They say give it time, but its just not a goal. They also say that what you lack in talent can be made up for in 'heart' or enthusiam. Well, I have that, but I just don't feel the need to attain black belt.

3:21 PM  
Blogger littlejoe said...

Damn it! Half of my fantasy life just came crashing down....well, at least you still have pasty and small going for you.


10:41 PM  
Blogger Graumagus said...

Tae Kwon Do was basically an expensive aerobics class.
The one instructor who was teaching actual self defense stuff got sacked becuase the smarmy bastard who owned the dojo was afraid people might actually, you know, hurt people and stuff and he'd get sued.

10:29 AM  
Blogger Boudicca said...

You have to be really careful when you pick a dojo. I had to sign some releases, but I had some advice when I picked mine. We have people get hurt. It happens. It's Karate. It happens mainly with brown belts though, most injuries. In our form of Karate, we spend a lot of time teaching control through distance and as you get higher up, we close the distance. With a lot of brown belts, all the things they have taught us, come into play and if you haven't been doing it right, you get hurt. i.e. block incorrectly, don't lift your knee high enough in a kick, etc.

I'm not cutting on TKD. You just have to be really careful with them. It has become so popular, it is almost a mill sport. You have dojo popping up all over. There are some great TKD dojo out there, I am sure, but you have to search extra hard because of every black belt in the world saying they can open their own dojo.

And Little Joe... I may not be bendy, but I could still kick your ass! :) Oh. Maybe not. ;-)

2:16 PM  

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