Yep that’s me in the black gi, circa fall 1987.
In the previous post on my Notre Dame years (see http://bamboospiritmartialarts.com/notre-dame-years-part-1/), I went into detail about the arduous Friday night practices. No less arduous were the Saturday morning classes which took place from 10:00am to noon in same room (Room 219 of the Rockne Memorial).
A 10:00am practice on Saturdays seemed awful early to us in those days, being that we were college students and a number of us were dragging our hung over and sleep deprived selves to the Rockne Memorial for the weekly slam and jam session. Occasionally, we got a break from these practices when the ND football team had an early game and practice would be cancelled. Whereas the Friday night practices focused on Chung Do Kwan Tae Kwon Do, the Saturday practices focused on Vee Jiu Jitsu. This meant a considerable number of falls as we practiced them and took falls from various techniques that our partners practiced on us.
Typically we started with the same knuckle pushups as the night before but with less intensity. Usually, we got a little cardio by running in place and jumping up with the knees tucked in on Gary’s count. Normally, this would not present much difficulty. However, the combination of a hard practice the night before and sleep deprivation and hangovers sometimes made this less than fun. 😉
Thereafter, we would get the ugly green and white mats (see above picture) and practice our dive rolls and various types of rolls and falls. We would dive over Gary’s belt held at head height and we witnessed a number of incredible dive rolls over the years. They were not without risk though. In the spring of 1986, I suffered a right shoulder dislocation as a result of a dive roll. My body got snagged as I dove over the belt and I was out of position before I hit the floor. The result was a direct landing on my shoulder. Ouch. I digress. My shoulder feels dislocated just looking at the picture of those mats. They were old and the padding was essentially useless. Over the years that the club practiced on these mats, the velcro got so poor that students needed to sit around the edges of the mats to hold it together so that you didn’t land in a crack between the mats. When that happened, that hurt. And plenty of us had the experience of falling into those cracks. Ouch.
On these mats, we practiced various Vee Jitsu techniques such as the front sweep, reverse sweep, hip throw, shoulder throw, sacrifices, and other various techniques. The combination of forceful throws, poor padding and being sleepy eyed made for rude awakenings on those Saturday mornings. A nice way to get ready to study later in the day. 🙂 Gary would pair us up and coach us on our techniques as we practiced. Occasionally, we practiced the Vee Jitsu techniques on the bare floor at a controlled pace.
While the Saturday morning practices had a different tenor and tone than the Friday night practices, they were no less challenging. The conditioning was different due to the good number of falls that we took. While Gary drove us hard in the Friday night practices, the atmosphere was a bit more relaxing in the Saturday morning practices due to the more individualized aspect of the session.
After the session concluded, we would all mosey over to the South Dining Hall for our Saturday brunch, beginning a tradition that would endure. Over brunch, we would share good times, laughter and ribbing each other. We would then part our ways and heal up for the next Friday practice.
For me, the ugly mats and the post practice brunches at the South Dining Hall are the enduring memories of the Saturday morning practices.
For those of you who were with me at Notre Dame, let’s hear your favorite memories!