Monday’s Martial Madness: It’s Time to Spring Forward, or How to Karate Chop Your Way Through the Week After the Daylight Savings Time Change

Or don’t because you have morning death breath.

Woe to America! The government’s done it again: they’ve taken our precious sleep right out from under us! Unless you live in Arizona, or some obscure parts of the mid-West, they’re A-ok all snug in their hoity-toity god-like smarty pants beds snoring while the rest of us suffer. I think most Americans agree by now that this here DST is getting down right annoying. 90% percent of us don’t farm, or whatever, and don’t really care about when the sun rises, or sets. We only care that it keeps on keepin’ on, because ARMAGEDDON.

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Lessons from the Mats: The Principles I Learned After Getting Thrown Under the Bus by a Training Center.

Some time ago, I decided to cross train for a while in another setting, with a couple of different styles. Being dedicated to Ninpo and my organization, I was looking for something to supplement my style. At first things went pretty well, I was getting to know the students and instructors, and beginning to feel comfortable in the environment. Then, something happened and suddenly I was “let out of my contract.” Of course, my initial reaction was shock and dismay. The incident involved me and another student doing a difficult and high-level technique, that neither of us should have been doing. I started to lose control and torqued the other student’s shoulder a little too much, but did not actually injure her. I was basically told I was dangerous and a liability and was not welcome back to their school.

Continue reading “Lessons from the Mats: The Principles I Learned After Getting Thrown Under the Bus by a Training Center.”

Monday’s Martial Madness: Always Gonna Lift You Up (Never Gonna Give You Up Parody. Ha ha! I Rick Rolled You!)

Or, you’ll throw off the No Touch Dude’s Groove!

*Author’s note: I realize that the people who will get this without traipsing across the Interwebs are legit martial arts players: average Joes and Janes who train in certified dojos. So, for the sake of you NOOBS, I will give a short explanation. “No-touch” martial arts are practiced by those who believe they can summon, at will, their own “chi energy” and use it to throw people, block punches, knock people down, and otherwise control others (see below video).

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Go to Failure.

“I want you to go to failure,” says my personal fitness trainer as my heart rate swoops upward, and I grunt my way through the fifth rep of single leg walkouts. For the uninitiated: a single leg walkout consists of squatting, leaning over to walkout to a plank with my hands, do a pushup or hold the plank, then walk myself back to squatting and then standing up while pushing through my heel, ALL ON ONE LEG (see video below). I can modify this exercise so that 60% of my weight is on the side I’m working on, and 40% is on the other leg. I am absolutely not able to do this without my other leg sharing the load, at least not yet (I watched someone he was training do this all on one leg, so I know it’s possible). As he introduces each knew exercise into the day’s routine, he says he wants me to grunt, to fail, to push when my muscles are burning, until I cannot move that way anymore in that moment. This way of exercise is exhausting, and maybe a little intimidating.

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Monday’s Martial Madness: Battle Group for the Martial Artist’s Soul (Because Chicken Soup for the MA’s Soul is Already Taken)

Hey? Where’s the token female??!!

If you’re a violence nerd (totally stole that from the Stick Chick), or a martial artist, it’s possible you’ve spent countless hours in the dead of night, or with your nerdy friends, creating battles between superheroes, long-dead martial arts masters, or the ultimate warrior groups to fight off evil in every form. Depending on which comics universe you support, you may get into…internecine fights. I’ve decide it’s time to settle this once and for all and create the ultimate fighting group ever, and forever…amen. This guide is meant to soothe your violent little soul, sort of like chicken soup does for the virus-ravaged.

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The Inner Life of The Martial Artist

Every person has an internal life. Thoughts, feelings, beliefs, imagination, and etc take place in the mind. Our experiences and personality shape our inner life which in turn frames both our perception and response. Depending on stage of life, levels of stress, beliefs and resiliency one’s internal life can be rich and full or fairly shallow.

This is good news for everyone.

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Monday’s Martial Madness: How to Succeed at Life- The Martial Arts Edition.

Of all the tenets of life, the martial arts has the most preposterous amount of life-altering sayings and philosophies. There are thousands of years, and masters, from whom we’ve derived myriad high-falutin’ ideologies that can, and do, change your life for the better and actually SUCCEED like Chuck Norris, who apparently succeeds without even trying.

Continue reading “Monday’s Martial Madness: How to Succeed at Life- The Martial Arts Edition.”

Monday’s Martial Madness: Ode to My Left Foot- Evil Twin of The Right One.

Get it together left foot!

Have you ever noticed that when practicing a technique the left side doesn’t necessarily follow suit with the right? It becomes all awkward, like a newborn babe who has never kicked anyone, ever. My body, like yours, needs to GET. ITSELF. TOGETHER. Especially, my feet. That left foot of mine, is insanely…uncoordinated. And that’s putting it MILDLY. I’ve caught onto it’s wily ways and have decided to shame it into subservience with…a poem. Because, the best insults are the most well-crafted as our brother Willy Shakespeare shows in his plays. So, please, if you like the poem and want to tell your left to step off and get back in line, by all means, read this out loud to it.

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Monday’s Martial Madness: How to Make Friends with a Martial Artist

According to the Internet, there are 3.42 million martial artists in the United States, and 327.16 million people living here in the US. With some rather dubious math I’ve concluded there is 1 martial artist per 95 people. With those numbers, it’s likely you know a martial artist or two. Martial artists are “special” and it takes a certain kind of perspicacity to make friends with them. They are not into normal things like bacon memes and “hold my beer” moments, rather they’re into somewhat obscure Eastern philosophies and how to maim people for jocularity’s sake. They can be kind of weird and hard to get to know if you lack the knowledge and skills on how to befriend your friendly neighborhood karate expert. Well, once again, The Modern Kunoichi has come to your rescue. This how-to list I’ve compiled will help you, John, or Jane, Q. Public both understand what interests these types, and how to befriend them.

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For the Love of My Ego: A True Tale of Martial Naughtiness

I have no idea if he said this, but it’s good stuff anyway.

I’ve been struggling for a couple weeks to write something meaningful for my 2nd post of the week. Then Jackie Bradbury of The Stick Chick Blog writes about ego in her That Guy post on a kind of martial artist she calls Ranky McGee. In essence, Ranky McGee is the kind of person who attaches too much meaning to his rank in the dojo which either grows an already outsized ego, or develops a new one based on previous neuroses founded largely on the need for approval. She then asked us if WE (the dear readers) have ever been THAT GUY. As I considered the likeliness of me having somewhat of an ego problem I felt the rattan stick of truth hit me in the eyeball.

Yeah, I’ve been that guy.

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Monday’s Martial Madness: It’s Brass Monkey Cold Out There. Or, How to Kung Fu Your Way Through The Deep Freeze Like the Monkey King.

Here in Delaware, the current temperature (as of 12 pm) is 16 degrees Farenheit. The windchill is bringing it down to -10 degrees with blasts up to 30 mph. In other words, as my husband says, its brass monkey cold out there. Technically the phrase is “It’s cold enough to freeze the balls off of a brass monkey,” but my husband prefers to use his own phrase because mentioning male anatomy paaaaaaaaaarts.

I knew there was a reason I loved this character.
Continue reading “Monday’s Martial Madness: It’s Brass Monkey Cold Out There. Or, How to Kung Fu Your Way Through The Deep Freeze Like the Monkey King.”

Monday’s Martial Madness: Ninjas in a Winter Wonderland

That horrid white stuff known affectionately to some as “snow” fell here in the Mid-Atlantic yesterday. ALL. DAY. LONG. Which brought to mind ninjas, because ninjas are awesome and it’s Monday. Those are the only two reasons I need for a song parody. I do need to give a shoutout to my child, Bumpkin Bee, for helping me come up with this idea. Go check out his Youtube channel, it’s full of silliness.

Here we go… Ninjas in a Winter Wonderland

Ninja blades, how they glisten
You're afraid, so you stiffen
The ninja nearby are hiding tonight
Ninja in a winter wonderland

In the snow, they'll be hiding
And their time, they'll be biding
To take out their blade and go on their raid
Ninja in a winter wonderland

In the meadow you won't see the ninja
They'll pretend that they're one with the snow
They'll be watching your every move man
But you won't know how close they are, you better go

Later on, they'll conspire
They'll eat frogs and admire
The plans they'll make to disrupt your day
Ninjas in a winter wonderland

The silence screams, are you listening?
Ninja slink, the snow is glistening
They're out of sight, they're ready to strike
Ninja in a winter wonderland

As they whisper out the password
They'll be stalking till the last word
That you'll ever say, cuz they found their prey
Ninja in a winter wonderland.

In the meadow you can't see the ninja
They've been watching your every move
They are ready to snatch your head now
But you will never see them coming

Later on, they'll retire
As they sit by their fire
In their ninja cave, and you in your grave
Ninja in a winter wonderland
Ninja in a winter wonderland.

Here’s a few ninja memes to make your day better:

Lineage and Legitimacy, The Imposing Twin Peaks of Martial Arts.

In my short three years as a ninpoka (In Japanese, “ka” as a suffix means practitioner) , I’ve seen, and read a lot of thoughts on lineage and legitimacy. I’ll take a moment and explain these terms in relation to the martial arts. Lineage refers to the succession of teachers who taught any given art from its inception to you, the practitioner. Legitimacy refers whether, or not, a style is inherently able to teach a person actual self-defense skills. In other words, would this person walk away from a fight intact?

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Monday’s Martial Madness: New Year’s Resolutions for the Martial Artist

AAAaaaaand I’m BACK! I took a bit of a hiatus because Christmas snuck up on me like merrily clad ninja then it was GO! GO! GO! for like 2.5 weeks. That’s all over now. So, it’s back to Monday’s Martial Madness for me, and you.

Today I’m offering a very unequivocally punctilious (ha ha, made you look up words!) list of New Year’s Resolutions that every martial artist should make. This list will insure that you are the best martial artist you can be for the coming year.

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Monday’s Martial Madness: The 12 Days of Martial Arts đŸŽ„

Dear Reader, You are about to embark on a non-sensical journey of wonder.  You’re probably gonna wonder about this little ditty.  Why in the world would anyone do this on PURPOSE.  While it is possible to get injured practicing a martial art, it doesn’t happen this fast or intensely.  Rather, this is an imaginative a retelling of many injuries collected by many martial artists over the past century condensed into 12 days. Because Christmas, and madness.  

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Calm Aggression: A Paradoxical Reality of the Martial Arts

I was working with a young girl who I knew struggled with being aggressive in her sparring.  It was just her and me for that particular class so I could slow things down and explain some concepts that she had not intuited yet in her training.  I mean, she’s pretty young, so this concept wouldn’t have occurred to her anyway.  Whenever she sparred with the other students she would get overwhelmed, particularly if one young boy was her partner and freeze in response. We talked about what it means to be aggressive, she gave me a list of definitions that were most centered on being physically aggressive, I added really going after something and a couple of other ideas to the list.  Then we talked about remaining calm while sparring and what that looked like.  I told her that she could be both calm, and aggressive, at the same time.  She was skeptical of that idea. Through a series of exercises I proved that it was possible, and apparently that was a game changer for her according to her dad.

At this point in my training, certain things have become instinctual so I barely think about them until I’m faced with a higher level of danger or commitment.  Being calm, but aggressive is one of those things. It dawned on me after class that being calm AND aggressive at the same time in the face of danger is a bit of a paradox.  The terms seem mutually exclusive and opposites.  How can one remain calm, yet be also aggressive during a fight, or sparring, or during testing?  

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Monday’s Martial Madness: How to Make a Martial Art Out of ANYTHING

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, Gurg learned that he could stop his neighbor, Brob, from taking his portion of mammoth by hitting him with a stick just below the eyes.  Somewhere else, some other prehistoric dude found poking Zur in the eyeball helped him impress the local prehistoric babes.  Since then, humans have found numerous ways to hit, kick, maim and otherwise kill each other.  Some have organized their techniques into whole systems.  Some of these you may know: kung fu, karate, tae kwan do, and that barbaric sport pigeon-do.  Never heard of pigeon-do? It’s by far the deadliest martial art known to man, even worse than krav maga.

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Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast: The Learning Curve

Lately I’ve had the honor and privilege of working with a new white belt during class.  We are working through his first kyu (belt) level so he can complete his first test. Last night we were working on his punching and kicking techniques when Sensei came over to help my fellow student smooth out some parts of his punching technique.  He said to the student, “Slow is smooth.  Smooth is fast.”  Our instructor often says he would rather us take our time learning the technique and do it correctly than be fast and hard but doing the technique incorrectly.  Incorrect movement leads to injury, or being defeated.

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Monday’s Martial Madness: A No-Touch Thanksgiving Tutorial

It’s that time of year again. An overflow of food and relatives that can a person feel overstuffed physically, and emotionally.  The madness that overtakes us every year can be daunting, and perhaps make us shut down with all of the work that comes with adhering to tradition by preparing, and eating, massive amounts of food.  I’m here to help you overcome the plague of busyness by helping you develop you’re martial skills in the area of preparing the fearsome feast known as Thanksgiving.  Because training is life, and life is training.

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The Deluded: The Most Dangerous Enemy in the Martial Arts

During a TV show, the bad guys were discussing an upcoming event.  One of the bad guys made a comment about people who are deluded.  The other responded with something to the effect that we can’t let the deluded run the show.  Delusion happens to anyone and everyone.  The only ingredient needed is resolute faith in something no matter the actual evidence.  On an episode of Dr. Phil a woman said she was 1000% percent convinced that she was pregnant with multiple babies and had been pregnant for multiple years.  She even believed she had more than one uterus.  It didn’t matter if top notch OB/GYN’s did ultrasounds, blood work, or anything else that conventionally shows pregnancy.  She didn’t care about the evidence, she only believed what she wanted to believe.

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Monday’s Martial Madness: The True Meaning of Martial Arts Memes

Farce_9

I know what you’re thinking.  Memes are pretty straightforward, right?  I mean it says right on the meme what it’s all about, duh.

What if I told you there is a hidden message that only truly great masters can understand?  Ancient wisdom passed down through the ages must be hidden in the most archaic forms of art, philosophy, and religion.  Those of lucky enough to find this wisdom can indubitably become better versions of ourselves.

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There’s More Than Meets the Eye: A Look at the Hidden Features of Martial Arts Training

https://martialartsmedia.com/martial-arts-quotes/

You know, you should really check out The Stick Chick Blog.  She’s sassy, smart, and funny.  I really enjoy reading stuff by a martial artist who knows her stuff.  She practices Presas Arnis and Kobudo (Okinawan Weapons), very different from what I study in a lot of ways, but I find some of the themes she writes about translate over to any martial art style.

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Monday’s Martial Madness: The Art of the Fart (a.k.a. How to Break Wind like a Ninja)

Fart_6

Farts come, and farts go.  We’ve all been there, right? RIGHT?? Hello?? Farts are one of the many major pitfalls of group dynamics.  Some of the great questions of human society are, how does one let one out and not sending the team packing?  How loud is too loud? Is it ok to use the Ninja Fart method?  Can I blame the person next to me without casting suspicion on myself? Was it really THAT bad?

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Desire, Will, and Morality: The Holy Trinity of Grit

Grit_2

My friend, bestie, twin and fellow homeschool mom, Evelyn was teaching our boys a portion of a high school writing course, One Year Adventure Novel.  This particular lesson was “someone to care about” which is generally the hero.  As I was sitting there watching the lesson and doing my duty as the TA/Lunch Lady, I saw the three elements of a hero we care about evolve on the whiteboard.  Desire, will, and morality are the three things we need to give to our heroes in stories. What makes them keep going in the face of danger? What give them determination and strength? What makes them relatable. We need to make them realistic and someone we relate to so we want to finish the story.  After all, why would we continue to watch shows like The Walking Dead if the hero’s weren’t like us?

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The Woman Warrior: What Does That Even MEAN?

Tachibanna-hime ukiyo-e
Tachibanna-hime fighting a dragon under a bridge

As you might’ve guessed, I’m a woman (10 Awesome Points for you if I didn’t need to tell you that).  And, I’m a martial artist which puts in the category of warrior (if you’re someone who believes that the term warrior is only reserved for people who have experienced actual combat, that’s not what I’m talking about here.  I’m interested in discussing mindsets. So, put your diatribe a side and just listen), because I’m training very closely to the ways ancient people did to fight each other in battles and wars.  Also, I’m philosophical so I like to think about things and find answers to my questions.  Questions like, I represent a minority in the martial arts, why is that so?  Why are many women not-so-inclined to become martial artists?  Is it too male? Too violent? Too… something? I’ve spent many hours researching the warrior mentality, what it means to be a martial artist as a woman, and etc.

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Monday’s Martial Madness: To the Hawker of Horror and Hijinks, the Purveyor of Punishment and Purpose, the Retailer of Reality and Regurgitation: An Ode to the Sensei.

This one’s for all you sensei/instructor/whatever who like to dole out physical punishment, I mean training to your students. Read ’em and weep. These verses I mean.

Continue reading “Monday’s Martial Madness: To the Hawker of Horror and Hijinks, the Purveyor of Punishment and Purpose, the Retailer of Reality and Regurgitation: An Ode to the Sensei.”

The Moral Center of Martial Arts: Emotions, Beliefs, and Spirituality.

When people talk about the martial arts, most of what I hear is how cool this move was, or that kick, or how flexible or physically skilled so and so was in their competition.  Training to hit, kick, take down, and otherwise incapacitate someone is the basic premise of martial arts.  Necessity being the mother of invention means she birthed warrior training, and for obvious reasons.

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The Greatest Irony of Martial Arts (and Life): Failure, pain and loss as accurate measures of success.

This week in the dojo, both nights were what I call hard training.  I was thrown harder than normal (for me) to the mats, my limbs were twisted into painful pretzels, I acquired a few bruises, bumps, went through a round of sparring with five separate attacks I had to avoid or fend off.  I got hit in the face.  I was put in chokehold.  Another person had my face and body smashed into the mats.  By Thursday morning I was pretty sore and tired (My chiropractor had a field day with all of the loud CRACKS! my body was making).

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Taking the Road Less Traveled (Part 2): Fear, Panic, Anxiety, and the Calming Effect of the Martial Arts

I remember sitting on my knees on the mats to the far left, Mark Sensei was beside me asking me what was stopping me from successfully executing ukemi (safely falling).  I had been at it for weeks by that point.  Fear stiffened my body, either preventing a decent roll, or stopping me altogether.  I had to keep going no matter what, but man oh man, was it difficult to push myself into this art.

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Taking the Road Less Traveled (Part 1): From Victim to Victor, Within the Context of the Martial Arts.

As I sit here on my couch, I find myself reflecting on my past.  A lot of things people normally experience in their youth were lost to me: happiness, security, a sense of purpose, and so on.  It wasn’t until I became acquainted with Jesus that I got on the true path to recovery.  He usually sends me on an unusual path, unusual even in Christian circles, to find healing and wholeness.  Like a surprise laid out long ago for me to find at the right time and place.

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How to Find Your Fighting Spirit

evpunching2

I’ve learned a lot about myself in the past 2 years as a martial artist, and as a woman I don’t think I could have learned in just any environment.  Learning a martial art takes a lot of perseverance and grit, it’s not easy, and it shouldn’t be.  I’ve been downright frightened at times and had to grit my teeth and force myself to keep going.  Because of this, the greatest lessons I’ve learned through ninpo have to do with my internal life, how I think, how I behave, what I allow to bother me, or not, and what I think about myself and others.  My sense of value changed through several intense experiences in class and private lessons.  I went from only valuing my usefulness, to valuing my existence.  Learning one’s true value is something I desire to transmit to other women.

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The Battle Has Just Begun

I’ve heard rumors that once a person reaches a black belt, they’ve only just begun to train.  All of what happened before was preparing for the next level of training which is sort of like starting fresh at something.  Not say that all of the previous belt levels are useless, but they are essentially basics.  Many of the black belts I know seem to be on a different plane of learning.  It seems they’ve achieved something, are more aware of themselves and their capabilities, they can think a little more out of the box.  However, there is an understanding that the real work is just beginning.  In a blog by the Budo Bum, when speaking of budo (æ­Ļ道 “way of war”) he often refers to how budo is a journey, in other words it’s not a means to an end, it’s a way of living. The ideas behind budo translates well into the notion that a black belt is just getting started.

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I go to the mats.

I’ve never seen the movie The Godfather.  But like many in my generation (X to be exact), the movie is referenced by so many other movies, literature, and TV shows, I might as well have seen it.  The Godfather being sourced frequently through other media is like getting the Cliff Notes version accidentally.  Honestly, I don’t think I can stomach this movie’s particular version of Murder and Mayhem so I’ve avoided it.  That won’t stop me from referencing The Godfather via another pleasanter movie genre, the rom-com.

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The Art of Falling

When I began my Ninpo training, I was not automatically handed a white belt. The tenth level required that I show proper etiquette towards the sensei, senpai, and other students.  Rei ho is fairly easy to mimic in movement and speech, but not so much in spirit.  That’s a post for another day.  The more dreaded portion of the tenth kyu for myself was the ukemi.  Ukemi (受けčēĢ), or the receiving body, can be taught, but must ultimately be experienced to fully understood.  Our particular curriculum required the ninpoka to demonstrate that they could safely fall forwards, backwards, and sideways, and roll in various combinations of leg and arm positions to win their stripe.  For myself, learning how to do this required a huge leap of faith in my instructors, and, perhaps more significantly, in myself.  I grew up awkward and uncoordinated, very easily falling over for no apparent reason.  This often resulted in magnificent injuries to which I could only explain with a shrug and the oft repeated phrase “I’m a klutz.”  Asking me to intentionally fall down in a coordinated fashion at the time seemed, well, ridiculous.

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Purification through dedication: Get on that crazy train as soon as possible.

I remember the fright I felt at these words, “Remember, what you give out is what I will respond with…”

I was tasked with sparring with my one female sensei, a 2nd or 3rd dan, and immediately felt overwhelmed.  I had no idea how to hit, or kick, or where to aim.  I certainly didn’t desire to feel more pain than necessary, I had only just started my journey as a ninpoka.  I swallowed the lump in my throat and made an attempt at a strike, which was easily countered by my way more experienced partner.  I paused and considered the next attempt: a kick.  Again, this was easily countered.  On we went for what felt like an eternity, but was only like two minutes.  That was two years ago.  I have traversed many of the same nerve-wracking scenarios since then, faced with far superior opponents wondering how I would get through.

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