Purple Belt!

I took the test for my karate purple belt at Tracy’s Karate in Kirkwood on Wednesday 25th November. The test was at 8pm, which gave me all day to get nervous.

Purple Belt!

Today just didn’t seem right without a quick run through of my Long Two kata first thing this morning. I’ve been practicing that form over and over to get it right.

Purple is the first intermediate belt, I have blue and green to go before I hit the first advanced belt. I’m not a beginner any more! Felt sad taking the purple belt off to go to bed last night…

Paul took video on the camera, which made me REALLY nervous, but I can see my technique now, including the stuff I need to work on. Got to get over the nervousness somehow, any ideas?

UKA Karate Tournament

Went to the UKA Karate Tournament on Saturday 18th July in Eureka, about 30 miles from home. Hubby and I turned up on time and watched students perform katas for the judges. I was surprised to see a white belt competing, and some orange belts like me. The white belt got second by virtue of there being only two people in her class.

There was a flock of kids age 6 and under, including one fierce little girl with cute pink sparring gear. Pink! My gear is black, and Karen says if I get pink gear I need to find a new instructor… The kids sparring was all energy and no strategy, lots of flailing fists and feet and running at their opponents.

The people from Tracy’s turned up for the sparring (two hours after the tournament started), and won everything. Watched Karen take women’s senior black belt sparring, then take on the younger women’s black belt sparring winner to go home with the Grand Champion women’s sparring title, and I saw her using plays she’s taught me. The initial stance the Tracy’s crowd used is very different to the other schools, and it seems to work. Saw another instructor, Dan, punch his opponent’s helmet off, the men’s black belt sparring went to a Tracy’s fighter from Chesterfield.

Talked about the tournament at my next lesson, and we worked on some sparring moves that Karen used in her fights. I need to work on actually hitting my opponent. Nice girls don’t hit, but Kenpo isn’t about being nice…

State of the Union

NaNoWriMo has proved I work better with goals and a deadlines. I’m looking at the state of my knitting, spinning, and writing for the next few days and thinking about what goals I want to achieve.

Passing the citizenship test was a huge personal goal, thank you for all of your kind comments. Everyone’s been so supportive about us becoming citizens. I never thought I’d be looking forward to voting! We will be losing our "Get out of Jury Duty Free" card though. I haven’t been called yet, but Hubby’s been called three times.

Getting my karate orange belt was another big goal. We’re working on sparring now, and learning techniques and katas for the purple belt. I have a set of pads (helmet, gloves, shin guards, and boots) to spar in that are plastic and get hot and uncomfortable, but feel a whole lot better than getting hit in the head. It would be great if I could get my purple belt by the end of the year.

State of the Knit coming up in the next post.

Orange belt!

I’ve been learning Chinese Kenpo at Tracy’s Karate Studio since 17th November 2008 and I passed my orange belt test yesterday. There is a photo of me wearing the new belt on the wall of the studio, and I have a certificate to prove my rank. Had to pledge to use karate only for good and not evil, which felt a little like Spiderman and Uncle Ben. I was given my white belt when I signed up, I had to earn my orange belt.

For the test I had to demonstrate two katas (set piece forms), twenty techniques, answer questions, and show kicks and punches. The techniques were ways to get out of a situation where an opponent had grabbed me, or was about to hit me. Most of the techniques I did in the air, a couple I did on my instructor, Karen.

Hubby brought carrot cake cupcakes and added orange icing to them as a surprise. He also brought me an orange drink, all things orange. And now we start sparring! With protective gear, and it’s not about hurting your opponent, just sneaking past their guard to tag them. Karen says it’s fun.

Pocket full of random

I do most of my knitting at lunchtime, very irritating to get out of the car at work and realise I left my knitting bag at home. Current sock is made from allegedly "self-striping" yarn (Fyberspates BFL), but three stripes per sock is going to look a bit odd. Definitely going to be fraternal socks, not identical.

Fourteen moves and one kata down on the Tracy’s orange belt list (plus a kata from the next belt up). I may not be totally proficient at each move, but it’s in my notebook and I can more or less reproduce it. I’m having way more fun with karate than just pushing weights in the gym. Can I get my orange belt before the first weekend of May?

Over halfway through spinning the merino silk on my Majacraft wheel, it’s going to be a 2 ply yarn. I have Christmas present batts from Rox to spin next, merino and seacell in a light blue/purple colour called "Sun-bleached Grover". Love the name! How do you spin batts?

I’m done with winter. Ironic that Buckinghamshire’s record-breaking -10C cold was warmer than St Louis that morning (we had -12C). But it’s not a record here, it’s just cold. -5C in England felt Arctic, -5C in St Louis feels merely cold. -5C in St Louis after an hour-long karate class doesn’t even feel cold.

Said goodbye to Chorlton, my Louet S10 wheel, on Tuesday. It went to a new spinner called Matthew who is really excited about it. Threw in some Romney to get him started. Two wheels felt very indulgent, and I hadn’t touched the Louet since the Majacraft arrived.

Starting the year

I only made a couple of resolutions for 2009 and I believe both are do-able goals:

  • Spin on my new wheel at least twice a week.
  • Get my karate orange belt.

My first ever karate lesson was on November 17th, on December 11th I signed up for five months of lessons. There’s a list of twenty things to learn for the orange belt test, and I’ve done seven so far. My balance has improved, I’m more flexible than I thought, and the group classes are a good workout. Way more fun than moving weights around in the gym.

On January 1st I played Carcasonne with Hubby on the XBox (and won a few games), tried a salted caramel hot chocolate from Starbucks, which was yummy, cast on a lace scarf, reorganised my blog categories, spun on my Majacraft Rose (now christened Phoenix), and edited some of my 2008 NaNoWriMo novel. Not a bad start to the year.

I’m always boggled when I re-read my NaNo novel and find it doesn’t suck, but this one is a decent story with lots going on. Fixed the inconsistencies about who is supposed to be married to who, and how many pages in the diary have red asterisks on, and I’m heading into the conclusion. Still like the bad guy best of all the characters.

Novelling Snapshot

Reached 40,000 words on Wednesday 19th and I’m only partway through chapter nine of twelve, looks like I’m writing a 60,000 word story. But it’s moving along nicely and I hope to write "The End" by November 30th.

The story has no knitting content whatsoever, but I did include a karate move I learned from my instructor Karen, who is all kinds of awesome. No-one told me punching, blocking, and kicking was this much fun! I would never have tried karate if it wasn’t for Jim, who we met through NaNoWriMo, and I really want to keep going with it. Karen didn’t even snigger when I missed a kick and fell on my behind. Thanks Jim, I’m loving it!

My reward for reaching 50,000 words on my novel will be a fuzzarelly bunny batt, and a bump of Panda top (merino, bamboo, nylon) from Susan’s Spinning Bunny. I’ve never spun a batt, and never spun angora, much less a merino/angora/silk blend in perfect sunset colours.

Next to my shared office is a small conference room I’ve been camping in at lunchtimes to write. I can get 1100 words done in 45 minutes on a good day. The light is on a motion sensor, and unless I sit in exactly the right spot, it’ll go out after ten minutes or so, until I stand up and wave my arms.

The St Louis region is holding at #30 on the all-nations novelling score board, but we’re flunking in our word wars. Everyone but Columbia MO is beating us on words per person. I’m hoping my guys push their word counts up over Thanksgiving.

First Frost

Scraped ice off my car this morning, and there was a snow flurry over the weekend. It must be winter. This happens every year, and it’s always a surprise. Got a new pair of leather gloves at the weekend, dug my roll-brim Rowan Coccoon hat out of the drawer, and I’m ready.

Nine days working on my novel so far, and I’m one day ahead of my self-imposed 2k a day schedule. Broke the 20k barrier last night after pounding out about 1300 words at the Central Bread Co write in. Mike is pushing me to do a 60k novel this year, but he’s already written 75k. The Regional word wars are going well, Indy and Manchester are making us work to catch up.

I got my friend and co-worker into geocaching. I got him into NaNoWriMo, this is his third year. I have my first karate lesson next Monday and he swears he’s not going to pick that one up.

Started the heel flap of the Viking socks at knitting morning on Saturday. Flap and gusset heels are not my specialty, I’m determined to keep doing them until I feel good about the technique. Need to learn darning, there’s a hole in the foot of one Boudica sock, which is one of my favourite pairs.

Susan opened a spinning shop! I saw some of her hand-dyed fibre at the Weaving Department spin in and it was beautiful. Can’t wait to vist!