Why I’m So Tired of Local Tournaments

When I went to the tournament, I had no plans to help in any way. I purposefully left my gi at home and paid my spectator admission fee. I was pouting. Not to get into too many details on past events, let’s just say, I was sure all my negative feelings were my issues. If I sat out a tournament or two, I was pretty sure I’d totally be over what was bugging me.

But, the crowd at the tournament was a little bigger than usual. There was a “new” school that brought a large group of students with them. Their sensei attended the last tournament and it looked like he enjoyed himself because he brought the kids. So, the event coordinator was trying to get all four rings running and I surprised myself by volunteering to act as a scorekeeper. I’m not one of those scorekeepers who sit by silently. I run the ring.

“Jose, you’re up!”

“Amanda is on deck. Get ready, sweetie. You go after Jose.”

Now, you’re thinking, big deal, score keepers always do that. But I did it while sucking on a fist full of cough drops because I just finished a round of antibiotics from a case of pneumonia. (This isn’t hyperbole. I literally had pneumonia and showed up at a tournament with a handful of cough drops and my emergency inhaler.) [Read more...]

Ultimate Guide to Sports Bras for Karate and Other Kick-Ass Sports

If you wear a bra on a daily or nearly daily basis, you should be wearing a sports bra during your training. Your regular day-to-day bra is not designed for the rigors of a high-impact sport such as karate.

In fact, many “sports” bras are not designed for the rigors of karate. After all this time, I think I finally got this stuff figured out. The wrong bra means (at best) you’ll be uncomfortable and self-conscious when you move. At worst, it could mean serious back pain and even a pulled muscle.

Correct Fit

You’ll find some really good directions on how to measure yourself for a bra at HerRoom.com. I’ve found that you should subtract one cup size from whatever you measure using the HerRoom directions. If you’re an old pro at bra shopping and don’t want to measure (again), use your lingerie store measurements. [Read more...]

An Overweight Martial Artist Asks for Advice

A couple of days ago, I received a comment on an old blog post “Karate? Really?!” I’m sure you don’t obsess over every single comment the way I do, but I wanted to make sure you saw this one in particular.

I am currently 130# overweight, and am re-starting martial arts after a serious injury several years ago took me out of commission. I can understand people’s confusion about someone my size practicing martial arts, but what really gets me is when people IN MY OWN CLASS giggle at my unbalanced, jiggling attempts. It is at that point I get really angry–and really, really hurt.

I know I look ridiculous, but I feel proud of the fact that at least I am not running from their ridicule. After all, hiding inside my house isn’t going to help me lose weight.

Any stories or advice you can offer would be MUCH appreciated.
- Heather315

Well, my fellow karate-ka, what advice do you have to share?

Black Gi Pants and Women in Karate

At some point this year, some of us will be gathering for a women’s karate retreat. The date hasn’t been picked, nor has the location, but the idea has been planted. We’ll probably have some seminars during the day and spend the evening hanging out and drinking cocktails.

Eventually, the conversation will turn to “why aren’t there more women in karate?” and “how can we get more women involved in karate?” I think it comes down to black gi pants. OK, not literally, but stay with me for a while so I can explain the connection.

In my dojo, we wear white gi. Many other dojos probably do the same thing, everyone wears white gi and, when someone wears black gi pants, they get the stink eye from their sensei. It’s the way karateka had dressed since our days in Okinawa and, probably, no one (at least no man) has really thought much about them.

Here’s the thing, I’ve seen pictures from Grand Master Shimabuku’s dojo. In half of them, at least, the men went shirtless. Why? Because it’s fucking hot in Okinawa. And, because it’s hot, going shirtless just made sense. I put to you the theory, if Okinawan men had uteruses, gi pants would be black. Why? Because it just makes sense.

Warning to my male readers: I’ll try to keep this description PG-13 because I want you to see how something small can balloon into something that causes a group of fellow karateka distress. There are times when women don’t feel confident wearing white pants. We never REALLY feel comfortable wearing white pants, because our bodies are sneaky. They like to play tricks on our delicate psyches by playing havoc with natural rhythms, especially when we travel out of state for seminars and tournaments.

I have friends who are para-menopausal (which is the time when our beloved aunt starts visiting less frequently and soon not at all). They will get surprise reunions at inconvenient times. Our daughters who are still freaked out by auntie’s visit wear flannel pajamas under their brand new, heavy-weight gi to avoid accidents. And, those of us who have become accustomed to our aunt’s constant presence have to “double up” to go to class. (Note male readers: “doubling up” means using both a tampon and a pad… not two of one or the other. It’s a common misunderstanding.)

The discomfort of white gi pants are something that would just never cross a man’s mind and, if ever brought up, he would probably say something along the lines of “well, why don’t you just wear the black pants when you don’t feel ‘confident’ and go back to the traditional gi pants later?” Because to do so would draw attention to the fact that we’re only wearing white gi pants to one or two classes a month. It would be like wearing a neon sign that says, “I’m different from my male counterparts and need special consideration.” I don’t want special consideration, I want a level playing field: traditional white gi top with black or white gi pants…for everyone, anytime.

What’s one thing you would change to help women feel more comfortable in your dojo? Enter your comments below and you could get a Fat Karate-ka T-shirt. We’ll give two commenters (chosen randomly) a free T-Shirt. Drawing will be held 10/3/2010.