Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Today was spent doing intertournament preparation. I was kinda glad that it was a private lesson-- no Winnie or Laura today. Ma'am felt that we could just fine tune my form and one-steps, and then work more on board breaking and my bahng-mah-ee routine. Found out that there was an inconsistency that was in my form that also affected my board breaking. My side kicks are looking more like round kicks, so I was doing several drills on doing better with my side kick. I also got a quicky primer on how interschool tournaments work. Evidentally, there are three judges. One judges hands, one does feet, and then center judge does overall (which is usually Ma'am). She already said that she's a tough scorer, of which I have no doubt about that-- she doesn't strike me as an easy grader at all. Everyone starts out with a grade of 9.5 as average, and either you have points taken off or added. After doing my form before making some corrections, she felt that I was well above average, which was good to hear. Made a few other tweaks in my one steps, and then it was the drills on the side kicks to work out the kinks of that. Then we worked on my board breaking. It's there, but just not consistent. But it's also getting better, and I have to work on my timing still, and review how I turned my body with my drills. Finished up with the Bahng-mah-ee, and I think I'm getting that. Ma'am says she's leaving some things out as she wants to leave some creativity in there, as part of leadership and growth is learning how to do stuff on your own. Makes sense to me. I think I'll be fine for tournament. I am encouraged that she felt that I was doing better than average overall, and could tweak stuff that were easy tweaks. I guess it'll come down to whom I'm competing against. Ma'am has to figure out the schedule, but I may be competing against a kid, or I might be competing against another adult. I know she's trying to schedule it for times close to our regular class time, so that will be good. Drew will be participating too, and I know he'll be happy to get a red star and a medal for participating. If I do well, I think all I get is the glory and perhaps some points towards ranking. That's it. But hey, you don't know until you try.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

I am an aerobically challenged person. Today, they split the class that Drew and I take into little groups, and played "four corners". At each corner, you had to do something different. Drew and I were in separate groups, but that was fine. In the corners, we had to do nonstop crunches, then jumping jacks, then "mountain climber", then run in place. The last two stations nearly killed me! Then it was the usual stretches and then working on form and one steps. I swear, I wish Drew would focus more. I'm sure he's bored, but he gets distracted too. He was trying to read the bulletin board when doing one steps, and I caught him, but I couldn't do much since he was on one side of the mats, and I was on the extreme other side. Oh well. Then, I had to separate and do board breaking and sparring. Board breaking with my side kick is finally coming along. It's breaking more quickly. I think my board is finally starting to ease up, or else I'm finally getting better at it. So I was happy about that. I actually helped hold for some other people, so that was cool. I sparred one dad, whom I think was hesitant to spar a woman. Then I ended up sparring two little kids, which wasn't that much of a challenge. What was funny was that the purple belt kid, whom I would guess was maybe 8 or 9, was not good at all. Drew could do a better job than him! I had Drew spar me without gear, not that I'd really get him much, but he was going at it, and doing a better job, and he doesn't even have the punches and mouthpiece yet. But I'm waiting, because Drew needs to understand when to control how he's sparring first. I think he needs some time. So, not too bad overall, but I don't get that much out of the kiddie class. I'll do it until I get my camo belt, and then we'll see what happens. Now this Saturday class seems to be getting large, so we might go back to Wednesday again. we'll play it by ear.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Got another stripe! I finally have down my form where I'm speeding through it, and got a few little nuances fixed, so I'm in good shape, and thus received my new stripe. Just have to think like I'm in a Jackie Chan movie or something while I do it to get those little details. So that's cool. Graduation is just a few weeks away, about 2-3, so I'll be fine. Didn't work on my one-steps, but they are fine too, as they are even easier than the form. I did work on the bahng-mah-EE today. That doesn't come quite as easily. Fortunately as it's freeform, and as Ma'am said, "for fun", you really can't make any mistakes. Still, I want to get the form that she gave me for it down correctly. Until I get the hang of it, it's not natural since I don't know that many moves. It will, I'm sure, since I think part of it is that I have the smooth part of it, meaning the grace of movement from my dancing days, so that helps. I also practiced my side kick break again today. It's coming along. Ma'am says that I've got the technique down that I am hitting the board correctly, but not following through entirely-- that it's more of a pushing of the board than a kick THROUGH the board. But that's getting better.

One thing that was kind of nice was that there was actually three people in class today. Winnie was there, which was not a surprise, but Laura was there. I haven't seen her since right after the holidays. She's working on a different form right now, so obviously we couldn't work together on stuff. But she was doing the same kick as I was, and it was good to see someone who's slightly ahead of me having the same problems. After this next graduation, she and I will be doing the same form again.

Overall a good day. I also signed Drew and I up for the Interschool Tournament on the 4th. This is for me as I want to start to gain points, and for Drew, as a replacement for not being able to participate in graduation. Ma'am thought that was a good idea for him, so that's good. I also picked up info for summer camp for Drew and the tournament in Lincroft in March. I still have to think about the Lincroft one. Ma'am definitely wants people for the big one our school is hosting in July, and I think I'll definitely do that one. I just actually have to practice and get good.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

While today was the first Tiny Tiger class that I took with Drew, it was generally uneventful. He behaved himself pretty well, and got two paper stars, which was good. At one point, me and a dad of another kid, who both of us take regular classes too, had to break off and we sparred, broke boards, and did a little practice with our weapons. I'd never sparred a guy before, and he's a blue belt (several ranks above me at this point), so I just told him to go easy on me as I'm not that good. After we were done, he told me that I was actually pretty good at it. I don't know if he was being kind, or meant it. I took it for the latter. I think I feel more comfortable sparring guys because unless it's a teenage girl, most of the women don't really go for it too much, whereas the guys will. I guess that's what happens when you have a rough-and-tumble boy in the house. I was doing a little better with my side kick for the board break. That's becoming a little easier as time goes on. I think I'm starting to get the rhythm of that. Ben Phillips (a 15 yr old instructor in training who just got his 3rd degree black belt-- nice kid) helped me learn the proper way of switching that numchuck thingy from one hand to the other, which is good.

I did run into a little trouble with Ma'am, and although I understand her position, I still think it sucks. Drew was disappointed as I got my graduation paper, and he got nothing. Somehow I remembered with the Cubs the kids participating but not getting a belt, so I thought something similar would apply to the Tiny Tigers his age. I know he's not eligible for a belt until the following round of graduation, but I thought that this way, he wouldn't be left out, so I asked if Drew could participate and if needed, I could make him a little certificate. Ma'am was very adamant on a "no" on that, because if she let Drew that, she'd have to do that for all the kids. OK, well, I understand that. But man, how to deal with a sad little 4 year old? I hate that, because he does work hard, and I think it's a slightly stupid idea that just because he only comes to class once a week vs. twice a week he has to be left out. He's only 4, for heavens' sake, why would he come twice a week at this age? Anyhow, I scrambled my brain for an answer, and I realized that he could get something-- at least a red star patch minimally-- for participating in the next interschool tournament. And I told him we could have our own graduation at home too. That seemed to make him feel better. I felt so bad for him, but we both knew that he wouldn't get a belt this time around. If he doesn't get a belt at the following graduation, I will be quite angry, to say the least. Even Drew told me in the car after we left and I was encouraging him after his disappointment, "But Mom, I'm a good boy!". My heart broke. I had to tell him that Ma'am didn't think he was bad, but that he wasn't ready yet. He needed more practice, and that he was already doing a good job. That seemed to make him feel better.

I dunno. There are times I really wonder about doing this with either of us. But part of it, at least in respect towards Drew, is that I'm very protective of him, as my one and only child, and I hate to see others hurt his feelings. I sometimes have to say things that aren't always the kindest to get my point across, but I also reinforce a lot of positive things with him. He's already working with a speech deficit, and I don't want him to feel any big negative self-esteem issues spurned on by anyone. I hope that when Drew is older and understands more about growing up and what I've done for him, I hope he realizes how much I truly do love him and how much I do for him to make him feel like a success.

In the meantime, I asked JC if maybe I could have him and Drew come to the next graduation to cheer me on, as the times are either at 5 PM one day, or 6 PM the next day, and I'm thinking the 6PM one is better. He thought that was a great idea, and that they'd enjoy seeing the other teens and adults do their stuff. I told him it was pretty cool to watch the black belts do their stuff. We'll see if it spurs Drew on to do well.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

It only took 5 kicks (give or take), but I finally broke the board with my foot in less than 10 tries. I hadn't done any foot breaks in a while-- I think it was literally last year, like Christmas time the last time I tried. And today, I had it. A few tweaks, and BOOM! Right through. I was so happy! After the frustration I've been going through lately, it was good to have some success with something, especially something that I haven't done in a while. Winnie was in class today, so it was a semi-private lesson. But we still got a lot done. No sparring, yay. But we did a lot of warmups. I have to make sure that I re-chamber more on some kicks, but that's not a big deal. Easy adjustment. I'm sure my right leg is going to feel it more later, but I'm still working on turning in my feet more when I do my form. That seems to be my biggest problem. I mean, I am turning my feet in more, but my turning my feet to go straight feels like everyone else's turning their feet in, so it feels awkward and hurts because that muscle doesn't want to stretch that way. So, my form is there, my one steps are there, worked on Bahng mahn EE today, got an extra step or two thrown in for the "freestyle", which is more that Ma'am choreographed it for me, since I don't know the first thing to do with that. I'll have to work on that one. Then did the board breaking, and got some success for a change. Ma'am felt that we had a good class today, and said so out loud. I'm thinking, she wouldn't just say that unless she really felt that way, so that's good. AND, I got another stripe for my belt, which was great too. Good day overall, for which I'm glad. I haven't had that in TKD for a little while.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

I'm feeling defeated and frustrated, but it's all self-imposed. Class was a little smaller than usual for a Saturday, which I didn't mind. As usual, I was the lowest ranked, but I got some individual attention. Victoria, aka Miss Plummer, helped me with my form and one-steps, and helped me a little with working on my numchuks, which I have to figure out that Korean word for the same thing. But anyway, which I was working on my form, Nancy, who is a new admin staff member picking up some hours and usually works at Capobianco's ATA (Mrs. C is Ma'am teacher, to put it in perspective), was watching me, and kept saying that I shouldn't look so frustrating and try so hard-- it was written on my face, as I had a furrowed brow as I did everything, and to not be so hard on myself. I explained that part of it was me trying to remember and concentrate, but part of it was also that the form and one steps are so easy compared to the other forms I did, I'm always thinking that I'm messing up because I'm leaving something out or adding something, when I'm probably not, so that's why my brain feels scrambled with it. Same with the numchuk thing. I really have to practice that figure 8 thing and there's a part of it I didn't remember, that I don't do so well, so I really need to work on it. Then we went onto sparring. I started out sparring Winnie, one of my usual partners, and that was pretty good-- I'm getting better at sparring her. Then I sparred Emily. Emily is the Special Abilities Women's World Champion, as she has CP, and she spars from a wheelchair. OK, I don't have a problem with that, not at all. I'm thinking, that'll be easier to do, and I just have to watch my aim. I was told, just go for it the same way you do others, and I'll be fine. So I did. I think because I'm so tall vs. her in the wheelchair, I was kicking a little too high, and almost got her in the face a few times. I kept aiming for her chest (we all have chest pads on, after all), but I'd still kick a little high, so I was apologizing a little bit. She was easy to punch at, so that gave me a break. Ma'am decided to torture us with a third round, and I ended up with Lindsay again. She's the one that nearly beat me up a little while ago. She was feeling tired, and I said, "Then I'll be easy to spar-- you can even use me as your punching/practice dummy". She still got me, but it wasn't as bad as the last time. I was more prepared for it. So, maybe I am actually getting a little better. I know that I'm being more offensive than defensive now, so hopefully that will help. But I still suck. Then there was the board breaking. What I used to like, I'm starting to dislike. Victoria was being very helpful with her advice on adjusting how I was breaking the board, and Ma'am even intervened because I still was making mistakes, no fault of Victoria. It's just not clicking. Victoria said that she's continue to work with me on it, but next time with an arm pad, and wood. My practice board is SO stiff it's not even funny. I don't know how to break it in more, but it does work properly. Even one of my hits did split the board slightly, but not enough to break, so I know I was doing it right to some degree. Supposedly, speed is part of my problem, but for me, it's hard to gauge. Oh well, that's why we have lessons.

Maybe I am beating myself up with this. It started out easy, and now it's getting frustrating, as I don't feel like I'm making progress, and here's I've told Ma'am that I want to try to compete now. What was I thinking? I don't mind being challenged, but I feel I've just come up to a point where no matter what I do, whether it's TKD or elsewhere, I try to meet the challenge and always fall flat. The harder I work and try, the harder I fall. I'm feeling rather frustrated, and this is only a hobby. I haven't gotten THAT worked up about it yet, as it's only an exercise program, and it's going to be a long time before I get to the black belt level. I'll get it eventually, but I'm not exactly known for my patience in these kinds of things, hence why I'm hard on myself! I can't understand why it's not coming. I understand the logistics, and I keep thinking that I'm executing them, and somehow I'm not. Unlike in my business, where I'm at the mercy of others, here, I'm at the mercy of the limitations or abilities of my own body, which I have more control over. Or so I thought. What's wrong with me? I sound so extreme, but I'm just really disappointed and frustrated, but not at the manic stage about it yet.

Well, there's always Tuesday.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Well, at least he figured this one out correctly. Drew was goofing off, as usual, in class today. In a sense, I don't blame him. While the class was a little smaller than usual, Nikki couldn't control the half of the class that she was in charge of, namely 9 kids, by herself. She wasn't moving things along, and so Drew would be going all over the place, and jumping around, and sitting, and other things to show he wasn't paying full attention. He was the only one in his group, that I could tell, that didn't get a paper star today. He didn't get any last week either. He doesn't seem to care as well.

While he did get a stripe on his belt today, which he was happy about, he told me on the way home that he didn't want to be in the Wednesday class anymore. I've been trying to talk him out of it for weeks, and I think it finally got through to him. I've told him that if he and I took the same class together it'd be more fun. In my mind, it also would mean that I could keep closer tabs on him and keep him in line better. So I have no problem than that. Like I said, I'm glad he figured this one out. I think he's getting bored in there, and if I'm in the same class with him, and it's not as big (or even if it is bigger), then I can make it more of a challenge for him. I told him that together, we can work as a team. He seemed agreeable to that. I wish he was more agreeable on other things!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Tournament bound. That's me. I ended up with another private lesson, which went pretty well. I'm really working hard on making corrections in how I do things. My biggest problem seems to be keeping my feet straight and forward ahead. From all my ballet years, my feet want to desparately turn out, and that's way wrong in TKD. That and wide stances, and synchronizing my striking hand with my feet. Otherwise, I'm not doing too badly. I think another problem is that I've got an easy form this time around, almost too easy. So, I keep thinking there should be more to it, and there's not, so that messes me up. Some of it comes more naturally to me. I get all this easy stuff mixed up, so what I think should be coming actually is coming, if that makes sense. A few slight tweaks with the one-steps, and they are much easier. Heck, the last form I had to do jump-kicks! Nothing like that here. No board breaking today, which is okay. But I did work on the bahng mahn-ee some more. From what Ma'am told me, it's a freeform thing, so she said since I know nothing, she was making it up for me, and I could always change it as I learn. So it was the first 6 moves, then move #7 in reverse behind me, then a reload where I whack them from behind, then front, reload, punch, and swivel back to a kneel and #10 with the wrist twist. Works for me for now! So, I'll have to practice that. I'm getting a little more flexibility with my wrists now, so that helps.

I also finally broke down and asked Ma'am about doing tournaments. I said to her that I would understand if she said I wasn't ready yet, but what would I need to do in order to start in tournaments? As I predicted, she didn't discourage me. She said for the Interschool Tournament next month, I'd just have to do my form, one steps, and a weapon. The regional one, I will be a newbie Camo belt, so I'll have to spar as well, and she knows I don't like to spar. I said that was fine, and I knew I had to spar, that's expected. But she didn't say anything about how I have to work harder on technique or anything like that, but I'll probably push myself anyway. She also encouraged me to be in the regionals that our school is hosting in July, which I'll definitely do if we aren't on vacation somewhere. (Heck, if there is a tournament at the same time and place where we are on vacation, I'll go!) So, I felt a little encouraged by that. I know I'm only a color belt, and only time will tell if I can be up to par at the black belt level for my age group later on. I'm still about a year away from being at black belt recommended level, from what I can tell, but I don't know that for sure. That's my guess. So I have time to get into tournament routine. I can still try to be best color belt in the state if I attend enough of these, I think, for my age group. That's my goal, so I have to hanker down and really work out these kinks. But again, I am encouraged by this. I have only about 3 weeks left to perfect what I have for the interschool tournament, and it's my first opportunity to get my first points. You don't know until you try!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

I've got the bruises to prove that I was working on it. Today was the first day back at a big class. Ma'am worked us a little more with sparring. I didn't mind it as much today, I guess, since I didn't have to go up against a teenager again. Today, my "buddy" Laura was back too-- haven't seen her for a while, and I sparred with her. I mentioned to her that I bet Ma'am was doing this coincidentally since I don't like sparring much, and she replied that she didn't think most women liked to spar. So I was glad to think I wasn't alone with that idea. But I think all things considered, I wasn't doing too badly. I guess that's what happens when your 4 year old decides to use you as his personal punching bag without pads, and you just learn to defend yourself and do a couple a little kicks and hits with him. I seem to be doing okay with my form, from what I can see, and the 3rd one step that I had to learn today was pretty easy. I don't remember it at the moment, although I really should study my form and one steps, as graduation is a month away, and I think I need to work on them along with my weapons and sparring more. My problem is trying to get the "fine tuning" in, like keeping my feet parallel most of the time and keeping a wider stance than I'd like.

But the bruises part-- ah, here's the good part. I always like board breaking. I'm not good at that either, but unlike sparring, where it's me against someone else and I don't know what's coming, it's just me against the board, figuratively and literally. Today I was working on that elbow hit again. I was doing a little better insofar as I remembered most of what I had to do, so it wasn't just randomly trying to hit the thing with my shoulders. This time, when I got a lot of tips from the other black belts, it all made sense and it didn't overwhelm me. It was more like reminders since I had a better understanding of what I had to do. I was getting a little frustrated, because I swear I have the stiffest practice board in the school. Of course, it doesn't help that I keep it in the car (in the winter) most of the time. Anyhow, I knew my form was on the right track and yet it still wasn't breaking. So, there I am, getting full rotation of my arm and hips, etc. and my elbow is getting all bruised up in the meantime. Leave it to Ma'am to fix the problem. While I was getting better with my technique, the board was being held too low. Once it was brought up higher, BAM. There is was. Figures! So, I feel like I'm getting this one much faster than the foot one. Go figure that, since I am usually more confident with my kicks than punches.

Drew's first class back from break on Wednesday was pretty much the usual. He behaved overall, but was jumpy and happy and excited most of the time that he wasn't always paying attention or focused consistently. But he did the drills and he kept up. I think as time goes on, he'll improve and find that focusing gets him farther. He likes being with older kids than the smaller ones, or the kids more his age, and so I'm glad that he's with the Tiny Tigers rather than the Bear Cubs now. He couldn't go back-- he'd be bored out of his mind!

I'm starting to seriously think about attending some tournaments. I've been a little nervous about asking Ma'am about it, although I shouldn't be. The worst she can say is no, and she won't do that, but the worst that will happen is that I don't do well, and I don't want to do that. I'll ask her on Tuesday about it, what it involves at my level, since I know what to expect at Drew's level. ;-)

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A new year, and new skills too! I was really happy to get back to TKD today. I told Ma'am about the Pizza Dude incident after the New Year's Eve party, and she thought it was cute too. Today we did a lot of stretching, and I got the last part of my form, which I just have to practice. It wasn't hard, but I have to get the kinks out of it, such as making sure my feet are both always pointing forward at the right time. I also got a new weapons move with the numchuks. It's essentially a figure eight then tucked under your arm. Easier said than done, especially with my left hand. I also practiced my new hand board break, and was getting the pointers from Ma'am. Last time I tried, I was getting bombarded by black belts saying, "do this, do that". She broke it down for me, and I got the main hang of it. I have to remember to hang onto my jacket for arm placement for my hitting arm, keep my arm level, and follow through with the hip twist/thrust when making the arm strike. As anyone reading this knows, Tuesdays are my favorite classes, as there's more one-on-one, and Winnie was there recounting her holidays, and so was I, and Ma'am, and it's just a more pleasant class. I was surprised that Winnie said something to the effect that she was surprised that I was doing weapons and board breaking at my level, but heck, I'm not. She wasn't ready to do any sparring due to an injury she is just starting to recover from, and I commented that I'm no good at it so I'm just as happy not to be doing it. But Ma'am reminded me that if I am going to compete, then I need to do it, and I will only get better if I practice. I still don't like sparring though. Oh well. Just happy to be back! Gotta work on my form and my numchuks. Ma'am said that if I can handle this figure eight thing, then we'll take the 4 moves I've learned and make a combination/routine with them. I just practiced all the moves, and I have the general idea of what to do. The figure 8s are still a little hard, but I'll get it in time with more practice. I think the trick for me is figuring out not only the moves, but how to do the moves without bopping myself in the head! (Good thing they are made of foam!)

Monday, January 02, 2006

You know that TKD is making an impression on your child when in his sleepy stupor, when he's too tired to think straight, he tells you that while passing other food eateries on the way home from a New Year's party at 12:30 AM that he wants to go to Pizza Dude, knowing that the only reference to Pizza Dude he's ever had is the one step from TKD class. :-P Too funny!