On the way to the second DAN: Which path has always been straight? Mine, at least in the martial arts, doesn’t. But from here on out, I have my eye on the next target. The second DAN is targeted. The thoughts here:
As already written, obtaining the first black belt is only a first step towards further knowledge, on another level. What at first sounds like a platitude, a phrase, is really true. Despite many years of training, the path to the martial arts starts all over again after you have reached the 1st DAN. In any case with me. Because all further steps, all further DAN grades, should not only be the processing of examination regulations. One more kata, ten more techniques, one more weapon.
I have been thinking for a long time about what constitutes the “next step” for me. Spurred on by the words of master Herbert Zielinski (“Keep going fast, you’re not getting any younger”) I first had in mind to take the next black belt exam this winter. The physical requirements are really not without their challenges. And despite my 50+ I gratefully renounce a “grandpa bonus”. So I asked my Silat teacher Niki, if he could take me under his wing a little bit in Kempo and prepare me for the belt in individual trainings.
A very good idea. But it quickly led me to throw my schedule off course. Why? Because in training with Niki I realized that Kempo offers much more than just “new” techniques. Since the occupation with Silat and also the contacts to Stephan Yamamoto and Frank Pelny I understood, it’s more about principles of movements (for me). In training with Niki, I quickly realized that I was still far from understanding the next level of these principles. What does that mean in concrete terms? An obvious and practical example:
The straight fist punch is actually super simple. Or super complicated. As a beginner, you more or less quickly raise your fist. As an advanced, you learn to keep your shoulders down, keep your upper body straight and turn your fists correctly. The hip work comes a step further, the principle of the vibrating hip brings much more steam behind the fist. And the footwork is included — the whole body begins to stand behind the so simple fist punch.
This is my status at the beginning of this year and can be transferred to many other techniques. But while working with Niki I noticed that he moves quite differently in some cases. Much “rounder”, much “smoother”. Why? Because Niki not only works in the horizontal plane, but also lets a wave movement from bottom to top (or back) flow through his body. Similar to a flexible whip, arms and legs are only the last ends of an elastic system, which virtually shoot towards the opponent by themselves. In words difficult to describe. And believe me: also difficult to train! If you get into it, whole chains of movement are destroyed and completely rebuilt. I have been working on my Age Uke for an hour alone and I am far from finished. Shake training, wave movement, hip work, loosening up the spine — I’m just sorting myself out completely new.
It was therefore clear to me very quickly: this is exactly my next goal. I am far away from a championship like Niki’s, but I would like to understand the principle of the wave movement through my body and to be able to use it for myself. So the next Kumite and Kata are not the learning goal. They come “on the side” so to speak. Decisive are the new movement patterns. For me it was like an enlightenment. Which also fits even better to my understanding of a combination of Silat and Kempo.
So the schedule was in the barrel. Blow pie this winter, despite my advancing years. The bones just have to last a little longer. Next summer, then?
No, it’ll be next winter. Because recently my Kempo trainer asked Flo if I would like to work out the next DAN grades together with him and my old partner Uwe. Of course I wanted to! Training together is always nicer. But the two of them had set their sights on the end of 2018. But half a year later is no problem, because my Kempo doesn’t get any worse in that time. Even if Master Herbert encourages me to continue quickly: “If nothing comes between, I will do the second DAN at the end of next year at the age of 55. On this page I will continue to report on my progress, if you are interested.