Saturday, April 29, 2006

Sometimes you need a reminder of how lucky you are.

Today, I slept in and skipped my own class. My jaw still hurts a little, but I'm not ready to get into sparring in class, and felt I needed the rest, and I did. I slept in and my jaw hurts a lot less today. But I had promised to help out today with the Special Abilities class, so I went.

I knew a few of the kids because I had seen them before when Drew used to go to Cubs class, and their class was before his. Two of them were clearly autistic tweens, but they are somewhat responsive. Another kid, an Indian boy whom I can't guess his age but he's at least a teenager, has a lot more going on. Even today, I'm not sure, but after class he may have been having a mild seizure. :-S His mom said he hadn't been connecting much all day, and his limbs are very bent and such. The other two guys there are probably older teens. One is Micah, who is clearly MR ,whose parents are black belts I've met in graduation and in class. Micah usually is yelling all sorts of stuff, but it's enthusiastic stuff because he loves TKD. He's a pip and very good natured, so I like talking to him. And then came in the other teenager, Tim-- about 6'1", very cute that you'd not realize he was autistic until you tried to talk to him. He never said a word, and talk about the disconnect. I had to work with him. It was fine, but man, it's a little intimidating. With the Downs Syndrome kids whom I usually pair up with in class during the week, they are fine in comparison, as at least they make the mental and social connection. It just takes them a little longer to do it. I can deal with them much more easily that this crowd today. I admit, it scared me a little, but I did my best, and since I was only assisting, I just cheered a lot and help them.

I know it sounds awful that I wasn't comfortable with these kids. I think that's probably normal for someone who isn't used to dealing with people who have some truly serious neurological disabilities. But it definitely puts things in perspective. Drew has disabilities, but nothing like these kids. NOTHING. Yes, he has big time speech issues, and he might have some reading issues, it's hard to tell at this stage (at least for me), and he does have the sensory issues, but in comparison to these kids, he was NORMAL. Sometimes you need a reminder like this to make you remember how lucky and blessed you truly are.

If I can help it, I think I'm better off with the adults and Tiny Tigers from now on. Unless is Michael and Matthew (the two boys with Downs) that I've worked with before are around, I'm just too uncomfortable with those kids. I know I sound like an awful person for saying so, but at the same time, I think it's good to know your limits sometimes.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Just a kick in the mouth

Drew and I had our Interschool tournament tonight. Drew, of course being younger and lower ranked, went earlier in the evening. I have photographic proof!

This Drew sitting patiently (GASP!) for his turn.

This is Drew doing a happy punch for the camera.

Here's Drew receiving his medal for best "ki-haps" of the tournament. Here, he's doing a "GRRRR!" for Miss Chunko. I think that's because it's Miss Chunko's favorite (and she's seen to the right of the photo).

And finally, Drew showing off his new medal with that sneer of being the badass that he is. Word.

Well, after the tournament, I forget what happened, but Drew turned into Mr. Badass for the rest of the night, just having a sour attitude, etc. I was trying to get him changed and out the door, because my turn was in less than an hour and we had to go and eat between now and then. I had also tried to ask Ma'am what time I should be back, if it was still 6-ish, and she said, "I guess...". Well, that doesn't help me. We made it to Friendly's, scarfed down our dinner, and made it back in time for me to go and change. Fortunately, my event hadn't started yet, so I was in good shape. I went to change, and was about as ready as I could be to go. I knew that JC and Drew would spend part of the time outside, but with the exception of 2 minutes, that's all they did. They didn't come to watch me at all. There were only 3 of us, so it would've moved quickly, but no. Not even for the medal distribution at the end. They couldn't be bothered to get out of the car except to get a cheap ice cream at the convenience store next door. Believe me, I was not happy about this.

But I had other things to deal with while the guys sat in the car. I had a competition! And it figures that again, being the only adult color belt to show up, I have to be paired with a group. Last time, I was paired with older kids who were the same rank, and got all the golds because I was the only adult going. I thought that since again, I was the only adult color belt, and the only adult color belt in my age range to boot, I'd get all the golds again by default. But no. Ma'am decided to put me with the other two adult women who were competing. And they were both 2nd degree black belts. Crap. Now, unlike at the regional competition, I knew both of these women personally, and so I couldn't feel too much animosity against them. I still didn't like that Ma'am pitted me against them-- it's not a fair competition if that's the case-- but you can't go against it. Just go in and do what you can.

So let me put this in perspective even further-- I was up again Jeri S. and Karla W. According to the statistics posted as of tonight (which doesn't include the tournament last week yet), Jeri is 1st in weapons and sparring and 2nd in forms for 2nd degree black belts in the 40-49 year range IN THE STATE, and Karla is 1st in sparring, 2nd in form, and 3rd in weapons for 2nd degree in the 30-39 range IN THE STATE. And Ma'am is putting me up against these women? Geez. I mean, in class it's one thing, but competition? That's not exactly fair. But then again, the worst I could do in any of these categories was 3rd, since there was only 3 of us.

Sure enough, forms I got 3rd. The had a tiebreaker between Jeri and Karla on that one. In weapons, I got 3rd again. Then in sparring, Karla opted out for some reason, and it was just Jeri and me. I asked Jeri to go easy on me, as I suck at sparring, and she claimed she did too. (And this was before I saw her stats! She fibbed big time, or else she meant that this was her weak spot vs. the other disciplines.) So, there we were. It was the first time I actually sparred a woman who was about the same size as me, so in a sense, it was actually easier to not worry about punching in the wrong spots as much, since most of my competition is usually a lot shorter than me. I decided to just adopt the same attitude as I did before at regionals, which was just keep going until they say stop. I was surprised that I was actually racking up some points against Jeri. But at one point, BAM, just what I didn't need. Jeri kicked me in the jaw. I supposed it would've been worse had I not worn my mouthguard and helmet, but at this writing, 3 hours later, it still smarts like hell. Jeri apologized profusely, and made sure I was okay. Since I'm not about to be the crybaby and have a bad habit of being tough in the face of adversity, I proclaimed I was okay and kept going. In the end, it was very close. We were tied at 4 pts. a piece, and you need 5 to win. Sure enough, she got it. So, I got 2nd place for that one, but knowing that Jeri was a 2nd degree and I was able to keep up with her, that was pretty good. Upon later seeing that she's sparring champ for her age group and rank in the state, that made me feel a little better.

Thus concluded the tournament, and we got our medals-- my 2 bronze and 1 silver. At the end, Miss Chunko called us back, as she wanted to give one more prize out, which I didn't think they gave the adults. She gave me a pin for ATA spirit. I was happy that I got that over the 2 other ladies, considering they are much higher ranked and have been in the leadership program for a while. I thought I might have overheard something about giving it to me not so much for giving good loud yels and ki-haps (it runs in the family), but rather because of the fact that I showed up and battled it out with two people who were significantly higher ranked than me, just to get the experience and practice, and held my own. For that endeavor alone, I earned it. That was rather satisfying in itself, but somewhat lost in the fact that my family was outside and had no clue because they hadn't bothered to come in to support me.

So I guess tonight was a bit of a hollow victory. I think I just have to have the confidence that I have nothing to lose by trying. I still have a lot to learn, and hopefully by the next regional tournament, I'll be more of a force to be reckoned with.

Now, to get this jaw fixed...OUCH. I can't close my jaw without it hurting like hell. I can move my jaw directly up and down, but the slightest bit off in any other direction (such as for chewing or a few other things you wouldn't think that you move your jaw that much), OUCH. I can still talk, but I think that's due to my elastic tongue and the fact that my lips still work. So I can still be perfectly understood. I took two Motrin for it and it isn't working, and I've tried icing the joint, and that doesn't help either. I said I'd help with the Special Abilities class tomorrow, and I will, but I'm not sure if I'll go to my own class tomorrow. I'm tired, and Drew's been instructed to stay in bed later if he can, and I know I can't spar with this jaw. We'll see if I make it. I think I've put in my quota for the last two weeks and then some, so we'll see.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

How much caffeine did she have?

No, not me. Miss Chunko. She is currently practicing what she has to do for her testing to upgrade her instructor status. Yesterday during class, she got most of the points that she needed to do out of habit, but there were a few that she had to brush up on. Well, today, she was teaching class, and well, you would have thought that this generally perky 18 year old gal had drank about 15 cappuccinos. She was going a little crazy. Part of it is that she was trying to make sure that she was keeping the energy levels up, and that we kept moving. Nothing wrong with that, but it was 7 PM, after a long day, and I'm not exactly in tip top shape, overweight, asthmatic and have bad knees (the back is better, thank you). So, 'nuff said. I just was ready to keel over and I couldn't keep up. I got through the exercises/drills with a little bit of trouble, but overall kept up. We finally went over the form. I knew next to nothing of it, so I was cramming in about 2/3rds of what we need to know so far for it in one night. Yikes. I think I have it, but thank God I have two guides to refer to to help me review it, since I was crash coursing so much of it. Generally is was easier than the form I just did, but it's still new, and I really have to work on perfecting the moves. Yes, I know, I have to get them down first, but I need to make this new form good too, as this is the one I most likely will be competing with in June, unless I get the next one down really fast. We'll see. Sparring went fine-- up against Michael who is a Downs kid, and he and I have fun doing it. And then Sharon, and Sharon was more exhausted than me, so we went through the motions, so that helped. But board breaking. Man, that was easy tonight. I decided that I would try something different, as I was a little afraid to try the side kick, since I have too many reservations about doing it. I dunno, it's been a while. So, I did a front kick. BAM! Got it on the first try. Sharon was amazed. She is having a hard time with the front kick, and can do the side kick with no problem, and yet I'm the opposite. No problem, to each their own. But at least I found some success with that. Oh yeah. BAM on the first try. So at least I have a basic foot board break that I don't even have to think about.

So tonight's class was good, but it got a little goofy with Miss Chunko going a little overly gung ho. Got some good giggles as well as one heckuva workout, for sure.

I had emailed Ma'am with the tournament forms stuff this afternoon, and she only made one tweak, which was that the charities had changed, so that's easy to fix. I guess starting tomorrow, starting by hitting up the chiropractor, I'm in the business of getting ads for this program and raising some funds. Wa-hoo.

Drew and I also have the interschool tournament tomorrow, so I think after the regional, this will be a cinch. I still have to do well, of course, but it's in front of Ma'am, so it'll be easier.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

In over my head

I wrote a little about this in my regular blog, but I'll expound upon it here. I am really feeling way in over my head still about joining leadership. I mean, what was I thinking? I think there are some higher expectations for me too now, since I am getting more involved in the business side of things and not just the instructor end of things.

Before class started, Ma'am told me she had some things for me on her desk. I couldn't exactly imagine what it was, but it was materials for the tournament program. She said the person who used to do it is no longer with the school and never thought that was happening (whatever), but nobody had copies of what they had, so she had some older stuff from Master Raimondi to use as guides. She seems to be having a lot of confidence in having me do this. Yikes. I'll do my best, of course, but still, it's a big responsibility.

Class was more intense than this program business. Three of the instructor trainees are up for testing, so we were all used as their guinea pigs of sorts while they "practiced". The one teenager, Ms. Chunko who has taught Drew quite a bit, did fine. Ms. Kawaski also did fine,. Both of them teach the kids on a regular basis, so most of it came naturally to them. Mr. Dr. Phillips (as there is a Mrs. Dr. Phillips) seemed a little more awkward, and didn't know exactly how to keep things humming. His attitude was good, but he kinda stumble and faultered in talking to us. I'm sure he'll be fine-- he already teached Kendo fighting, so maybe it was just being put on the spotlight that made him nervous. What made me anxious had to do with being the only color belt in the class. The information that was being presented for these instructors' testing was material I haven't done at all. There were skills and steps I've never done, combinations I've never done, and it was thrown at us kamikaze style, or at least it felt that way to me. That's simply because a) I don't know any of this material, whereas these black belts all had it a long time ago and b) I swear I'm getting old and don't pick up stuff as quickly as I used to. I was paired up with Victoria, and I'm sure she was rather annoyed with me. She knows the material inside and out, and is one of Ma'am better teen teachers, but I think I tried her patience a little, but not intentionally. I was doing roundkicks when I should've been doing side kicks, which she was constantly correcting, and the reverse crescent kicks thoroughly confused me. I was making an effort though, and laughing at myself when I royally screwed up. Oh well. The only thing I can say is that I'm sure that I will have a fairly natural ability to teach than some people. I am a people person after all. I know I work with the SA kids and the little kids well, so that will help. I had been talking to a fellow adult student tonight who has his black belt, but started in leadership a few months ago, and he said he hasn't cracked open the big manual as of yet, so that was a little encouraging that I'm not the only one who feels like it's a lot of information.

After class with the post-meeting, Ma'am mentioned some business stuff and that I was involved in them. I guess it was cool that she was pointing me out as more of a person getting into the business end of things, but somewhat intimidating at the same time, seeing that I'm just starting to get my toes wet in all of this.

I'm just feeling rather overwhelmed by all of this. What have I gotten myself into? I've said this before, that I know there is no rush in learning all this or getting involved in this stuff, but's a lot to swallow even a little at a time when you look at the magnitude of it all. What was I thinking? Was my drive to do competitions and have a chance at some tournament glory a moment when I was pulling the wool over my own eyes? I don't know. While I feel like there is outside confidence that I can do this, I'm really feeling my own self-esteem wavering. Man, if I fail at this, it's going to be a big blow. Why do I always jump in head first at full force instead of just biding my time?

In the meantime, Drew was up to some of his usual antics in class. I could see he was half participating here and there. He had an argument with me just before class, where he wanted to run on the mats, and even asked another boy to do it with him. The boy very politely declined, and he had also been told that he wasn't supposed to run on the mats anyway, so major temper tantrum tears ensued. It took a while to calm him down. At least I got a pinch of introductory training today. I was shown how the cards are checked in to show attendence in class. It was easy, but I have to say that I wonder if the girls really pay attention. The program showed that 9 kids were there merely from their cards, when there was clearly more than that, and that's not including the introductory kids visiting. Oh well. When I start to get to know everyone, then it'll be easier to get the hang of things and make sure records are more accurate. I also spent some time cutting up sheets that had paper stars to hand out in class. so that kept me a little occupied. Drew was happy at the end of class as he got his certificate showing that he was an orange belt.

We have our interschool tournament on Friday, so we'll see how that goes. Drew seems to be interested in getting a medal, and participating. Only time will tell.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

New Icon here

Yes, we interrupt your blog reading to make you see that the fat Buddha lady that was there before has been replaced by a South Park rendition of me in my current full uniform. I hope you like it.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Man, what drug was I taking when I signed up for Leadership?

I was questioning again what I had gotten myself into today again with jumping into Leadership after dropping off the last bit of equipment from last Saturday's tournament over at the ATA today. It was all informal, as Ma'am and Nancy were cleaning up stuff and trying to get the back all organized. I had never much gone in the back of the office area (and still haven't gone upstairs-- I didn't know there was an upstairs!), so it was revealing-- and a mess. But, Nancy is on a kick to help Ma'am get better organized and cleaned up. That's fine. I also helped clear out Nancy's car of tournament stuff, and then I helped (due to my height) rehanging two flags on the wall, as Nancy and her husband and Ma'am are working to refurbish and refreshen the look of the school. I didn't mind helping with that. While I was there too, Ma'am gave me my Leadership Training Guide, which is a 4" thick binder full of a lot of information. She, Nancy and I were also talking about business training, and she gave me the business training manual, which is essentially a sales manual. Ma'am, having enough confidence in knowing that I already do sales said, "You're going to laugh when you read this stuff. It's so funny especially if you've done sales to read these scripts." She also informed me that there will be a business seminar/workout at Mrs. C.'s school (the one in South Brunswick, which is probably as close to me as the Princeton ATA if not a hair closer) on May 12th, and she hasn't announced it to the rest of the group. She said there was a $50 fee, and somehow I lost something in there, but I somehow got the impression that she might cover it for me if I can go with her. I'll have to double check and listen when she announces on Wednesday at Leadership class to make sure.

After I left, and later today when I got home, I started to look at these binders. Crap. Double crap. What did I get myself into? I'm feeling pretty insecure and overwhelmed at the information. I mean, I felt overwhelmed just with the new Leadership class alone last week. It was bad enough that I have to learn ALL the forms, weapons forms, etc. including my own which I still haven't learned myself yet (but that's a little understandable to be overwhelmed by that), but there's so much more to it, including the business side. I'm trying not to freak out just yet, as when you start something big and new like this, it's always overwhelming, and I appreciate that. But this is something that you have to be into for the long haul if you are truly serious about it. So, since I've only truly put myself into this in the last week or so since signing up, I just have to learn to pace myself and trust that Ma'am will lead me in the right direction. She hasn't let me down yet.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

My first regional tournament is complete, and I actually did well working against a few obstacles of sorts. I'm writing this the day after the tournament, as I got home late last night, and then wrote in my regular journal first about the bad GNO I had first. I looked up some information last night on the ATA website to see more information about my competition from yesterday, and when put in perspective, I actually didn't do badly for a first time out.

Let me backtrack first to Friday night. Bad GNO, and somehow during things-- I don't know what it was exactly, but I might have been a little tense, and then helping throw a log on the fire in the fireplace, I threw out my back. VERY BADLY. To the point that even sitting instead of standing didn't help. I could barely move. I couldn't twist in any slight direction, and it's super painful. Great, just what I need the night before a tournament. After the GNO, I did get the hosts to help me clean up and load up the car. But I didn't take any of my stuff out. Even at this writing on Sunday, it's still sitting in the car, and hasn't been touched. So, that night, I took some heating pads from JC (who is also recovering from a back injury as well), an Advil, and just slept on my back for the most part. I'm not a back sleeper either. :-S As you can imagine, I didn't sleep well, and I wanted to cry from the pain and from also being so worried about the next day, but I couldn't because I think I was just tired, and I think I was just praying to every deity out there that I'd be well enough to compete the next day.

I woke up extra early on Saturday to take a shower and get ready as best as I could, and to see if I could head over to the 24-hour CVS pharmacy before getting to the event, which was supposed to be about an hour away (I guess that early in the morning on a Saturday, it wasn't as long, but that's okay). I got replacement heating pads, had the Motrin with me, and asked the pharmacist which of the topical analgesics worked best for my situation, and she felt that the extra strength Ben Gay was better than the Mineral Ice or other brands, and even pointed me to the CVS brand of it, so I picked that up as well, a box of Atkins breakfast bars, a bottle of fruit flavored water, and I was on my way. There I was in the parking lot of the CVS, hiking up my shirt to put on the Ben Gay as best as I could, and figured I'd put the heating pads on when I got to the event. The Ben Gay actually did help quite a bit, surprisingly enough. At least it made it almost tolerable.

I got to Brookdale Community College, site of the regional tournament. It was pouring rain all day, and since I hadn't gotten there early, I had to park a little ways out, but it wasn't too bad. At least under normal circumstances, but I still had to carry my gear bag. Fortunately that's more bulky that heavy. So, I lugged my gear bag into the venue. It was just a small arena style gym, but I think seeing so many people wearing white martial arts uniforms was a little intimidating. It was a little overwhelming. I looked for people I knew, and saw Victoria and Nikki first, and asked if they were sitting together or not, and they said everyone just sat randomly, so that's what I did. I found a spot in the bleachers (bleeh), and then Nancy found me, and I got a chance to tell her what was going on. She encouraged me just to do my best, and not to worry about placing and just take in the whole experience of my first tournament and such. It was another one of those situations where I felt like, "Damn, what'd I get myself into?"I put on my new Leadership uniform (the pants fit much better, and the jacket is lettered with my name, which is cool, so I kinda felt important, even if I was in pain. It was especially intimidating once they did the opening ceremonies, and the Grandmaster and other dignitaries came in. Not that I was in awe or anything. One thing I've learned over time, or gotten over, is that everyone is just human, and unless you've performed something or done something that is truly amazing, I don't go that ga-ga over "celebrities" as much as I used to. OK, so for Paul McCartney, I cry everytime I've seen him on stage, but he's a musical genius. But anyway, I digress. I wasn't going ga-ga over the Grandmaster or the various Masters who were attending, but naturally I would give them the respect that they were due. (Heck, if the Grandmaster is a 9th degree black belt, and the rest of them were 7th degrees and up, and I know how hard it is still not even halfway to my 1st degree black belt, then heck, that does command some respect, darn it.) So, after we all were dismissed from opening ceremonies, I went to sit on the bleachers for a little bit. I tried putting on the heating pads, but ended up leaving to visit the ladies room to better put on one of them. And yes, I wore two back heating pads pretty much all day.

By the time opening ceremonies were done, it was after 9 AM, and I didn't have to compete until around 3 PM. So, obviously, I had time to kill. Since I didn't have much time the night before due to the pain, and similarly I didn't have a lot of time to gather things in the morning, I didn't have much to do. I had wanted to bring my knitting (even saw at least 2 or 3 moms with their knitting, and I was wishing it was me), but I just didn't have time to fuss with that. The one thing I did do was recharge my Zen MP3 player, so I could listen to music. That ended up being a good thing. I could listen to some music and get pumped up. So, since there was a sort of running track on the upper level, I just walked around in circles and listened to music, sometimes stopping to watch the kids (mostly all the Tiny Tigers of various ages went first, and there was a lot of them). There were some kid black belts going too. I did that for a really long time. When it was getting close to lunch time, I went back to my gear bag to get my wallet, down two more Motrin, and I watch some of the little boys XMA stuff. XMA is eXtreme Martial Arts, which is pretty much the more gymnastic/dance/TKD stuff. I was watching some kids who were pretty small, and they were going at it, and man, they were good! Part of me said because it's all about moving fast and getting lots of moves in, and tumbling, etc., I could see Drew really getting into that and enjoying it because it was all about moving constantly. So that was fun to watch. Anyhow, took my meds, and went off and got some slices of pizza. When I went to throw out my plate, I found Emily and Penelope, the two special abilities adults (both are in wheelchairs and/or walkers-- Em has CP, but I don't know the reason that Penna is in hers), and we sat and chatted for a while. It was interesting to talk to them. I'm kinda buddies with Em anyway. Em is actually the Special Abilities Women's World Champion, which is cool, but she's incredibly immature for her age. Penna just got started, and she's a college student at Bryn Mawr (so she's actually very smart), and she definitely spoke much more intelligently and maturely. Evidentally, due to their disabilities, both of them had done a lot of research into TKD and who to go to, and the long and the short of it is that the foremost expert in teaching TKD to special abilities kids is actually Ms. Winter-- our "Ma'am". It's not surprising really, as she is very good at what she does, but it's definitely encouraging. As I work with some of the special abilities kids, I find that I like working with them, and I would like to help with those classes, so if I can truly mentor and learn how to adapt forms as well as Ma'am, I might be able to fill a special niche that she does too, that we can become even moreso the premier TKD school for SpEd kids. That would be cool. But again, I digress with the pipe dreams.

I still had several hours to kill, and now and then I practiced my form in a corner, but I didn't want to overdue it for fear of psyching myself too much or anything like that. I knew nerves would get in the way, no matter what, so if I just concentrated on it too much, it'd mess with my head. Eventually, I did sit and watch again for a while, watching the older kids and seeing how the sparring rounds worked. It was different than what we do in our school, insofar as you battle for a few moments until there's a point, and then you break, and then go at it again, until one person or the other has 5 points, and they win the round, and then progress with the others in the group until there's a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. Man, if we did it like that all the time, I'd be better in sparring and not nearly passing out! So, at almost 3 PM, the announcement came over the loudspeakers for adult color belts camo and up to come to the front for ring assignments. They lumped all the color belt women 30-39 together, and there was 8 of us altogether. Crap, I was hoping there wouldn't be many people, and that would help my chances. But I also remembered that there were people here from other states, and several of them from my group were not local, so I was relieved a little from that.

So we were assigned our ring and off we went. There were two other green belts other than myself, and all the rest were brown or red or black-belt recommended. Yikes. Each of us did our forms. I was watching carefully, and for the most part, not surprisingly, my competition was excellent. Oh boy. So, we did it in three rounds, where first we did forms, then weapons, then sparring just like at our school. So my turn came up for my form. I was nervous as all get out, as the butterflies started an hour before. The ladies in my group, while seemingly very skilled, were all very nice and friendly, and very encouraging when they heard this was my first regional competition. When my turn came, I got to my spot and did the double punches we do at my school, in which the center judge looked at me like I was crazy. I guess that's a Tiny Tiger thing, I dunno. :-S I yelled out my "joon-be" and my "ai-yahs" pretty loud, so that was good, I'm sure. So, there I went, into my form. I choked almost immediately. I tried to take a deep breath before I started. But I took my time, and I did get through the whole thing, even though I stopped at some points. The other ladies would cheer words of encouragement when I got stuck, but it was distracting and I wanted to stop and say, "Shut up!" but I needed to concentrate more. I got through, and scored decently. In forms, 4 of us tied-- 2 with one score, and myself and another with the 2nd score. So, I was tied for 3rd. I would've been happy with that, but no, they had to have a tie-breaker, or a "form-off" as I was calling it (I watch too much Project Runway and was thinking a walk-off a la forms style.). The second time, I went through it more quickly and a little bit more confidently, because I had gotten that far, but in retrospect, when rushing, I didn't pay as close attention to the details as I should have. The other gal who competed against me was also a green belt, but she had an easier form to do than me, and to be honest, after watching a lot of people that day, I didn't feel she had done that great of a job. I felt like just for doing a harder form that I should have gotten more credit, but in the end, she got the win. So, I guess I got 4th, but they didn't give anything out for 4th in that case. So that was disappointing.

Next was weapons. Only 4 of us were competing, and interestingly enough, each of us did a different weapon. From my understanding that I got later, until you are a black belt, you can compete with whatever weapons you want. Sweet. So, I did my routine with the bahng-mah-ee (aka "the stick"), which I had changed up at the end to add, as Ma'am always encourages, my own "flourish". I think it helped. I had done 9/10th of that routine so many times in the last 2 cycles that I knew I had THAT down. At the end, I threw in a down swipe, another helicopter move, a side kick with a big "ai-yah" and the #10 move, which is the skewer down the middle, and it ended up about an inch from the center judges chest! Well, that must have made an impression. I forget who got 1st and 2nd in weapons, although one of them had been doing something with ssang-jeh-bang (numchucks), but she ended with a split at the end! DAMN! Even if my back wasn't hurting, I couldn't have done that! However, I did manage to get 3rd place for that.

Lastly, we had sparring, which I know is always my downfall. I was eliminated in the 1st round, which was not surprising at all. The woman who is the NJ state champ for my age group was there (nice lady), but she was eliminated in that first round (she was the first group to go up first round), so I didn't feel too discouraged. However, I think I didn't do too badly. The woman I went up again eventually got 3rd, so the fact that I did get some points on her was pretty good, I thought. For that, I just figured that I would just not pay attention to the score, and just keep going until they told me to stop. I did hear "point for red" (as I was the red player) now and then, but like I said, I didn't keep track. I'd be curious as to what the final score was, but in the end, it wasn't enough to win. Since the NJ state champ was the other one eliminated in the first round, I figured that she was good enough to whip my butt, so I came in last for that event, but that's no surprise. Funny enough, I know when I especially had a point against me, I kept saying "FUDGE!" (rather than another famous 4-letter word) after each bout. I think that if it hadn't been for my back, and what I see now to be my main weakness, which is speed, I could hold my own. Watching those who went through the next few rounds, MAN! Some of them really went at it, and one woman in particular was particularly brutal-- she was simply too rough that she was knocking people down! One woman was knocked so hard that she fell over a chair and a lot of people caught her before she could been more seriously hurt! You could see in Kate's eyes that she wasn't going to tolerate that! I think Kate (new friend!) won in the end, but it was truly a duel it out battle against Maria (the brute). One thing that struck me, with a lot of the sparring matches is that you are supposed to just touch lightly, not beat the hell out of someone. Thank God for protective gear! Even the young girls could get pretty rough.

So for my competition, it was over. I was awarded my 3rd place for weapons, and given a slip to bring to the trophy table. Except when I did, they said they were out of 3rd place medals (MEDALS?). How can you run out? Don't you allocate enough for each event, etc.? Geez, bad planning. So I felt a little defeated. I didn't think I had done all that well, maybe due to my back, maybe due to nerves, and while I did get something, I was still walking away empty handed. I would've liked to have brought home a trophy, for sure, even one of the little ones. Bleeh.

I finally caught up with several people from my team/school, and talked with them. Afterwards, I finally saw Ma'am and she had concerns because of transportation issues, between kids that she had brought out, and stuff that we had to bring back to the school. Since Princeton is hosting the next regional tournament in July, we had to bring a lot of the equipment used for the tournament back to Princeton for ours. I volunteered (I could've left, but didn't), and ended up helping coordinate putting the gear into the cars, with most of it going into Ma'am's truck as she has one of those big Chevy Suburbans. Some of the smaller stuff went in my car, and whatever was leftover went into Nancy's car. After waiting for Ma'am to get out of a leaders meeting (which was only for a few minutes), we all headed off to a Chinese Buffet Place in New Brunswick on Rt. 18 near Rt. 1. I ended up chatting with Victoria's mom, Victoria, Nikki, Alex V and Nina, and had a nice chat with them. I eventually was able to tell Ma'am how I did, and she seemed happy with my results. Even the kids were saying that I did pretty well for my first time out. I just took it in stride, just accepting that I didn't do as phenominally as I had hoped. Before we left the restaurant, Ma'am and I talked about arrangements for getting the stuff in my car to the school (will do it some afternoon this week), and then she reminded me, or rather asked me again if I would be willing to contribute something from my business to raffle off, and I said certainly, that was already a given since she had asked before. She then asked me if I could provide my business card, and for that matter, since she needed the help, would I be willing to put together the program for the event? I said sure, I have MS Publisher (which she was glad about, as I think she has it too), and she seemed to feel comfortable and happy delegating that task to me. So, I actually have my first tournament assignment! After seeing the tournament program guide that was done for this one just completed, I think I can do a MUCH better job for sure. So I'm a little excited about that.

When I got home, I was tired, but feeling better. The double dose of Motrin I think got me through most of the afternoon (including competition) and evening, and having a good dinner helped too. I felt restored, closer to myself again. When I got home, it was late, but Drew was not happy with me being gone for so long. I spent some time with him in his bed talking and stuff, then came back downstairs to catch up on email, post on my regular blog, etc.

I also did some extra research, since I remembered most of the names of those I was competing with. It turns out that of the 8 people there, including myself, 5 of them were top 3 (in many cases, #1!) in their states. The Brute was from VA, and three of them were from DE, and the other was the NJ state champ who is far and away the #1 pointwise. I got the impression that the other two, for whom I didn't remember their names -- or at least when looking at various state stats, the names on there didn't ring a bell-- that this was not their first regional competition, so I was the only beginner competitor there. Now I understood what the kids and Nancy and Ma'am were saying-- I actually DID do pretty well, not knowing what to expect and all. Now I know.

We have one last Interschool Tournament next week-- I'll do that. It wouldn't be worth many points, but hey, I know I'll have next to no competition in my age class. ;-) Since I got the 3rd place at the regional, I might actually end up ranking in weapons, at least, for the state, and that would still be cool. It wouldn't be as high up as I like (I cannot possibly catch up to Debbie, the state champ), but hey, it's a start. It's the end of the tournament season, so at least I'll have something to start with. And the next regional tournament is on my own turf, in Princeton/Montgomery, so that will help. And I know what to expect now. I have to talk to Ma'am about figuring out not only how to do something for my next form and doing that well, but also perhaps picking up a new weapons (or really jazzing up my Bahng-mah-ee), and gaining more speed with my sparring skills. I can kick and punch with decent accuracy, but I'm not fast enough, and without that speed, I don't have power, and points are earned off me, instead of me earning the points. I've got to figure that part out, and I'm sure Ma'am will have suggestions.

But first, I need to get some more Motrin and Ben Gay-- oy, my back still hurts!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Heavyweight uniforms and big workouts in the heat do not mix. That's just so you know. Tonight was pretty good. The class was small, and I was not only the only female, but the only adult. And two of the kids were Downs kids too, but that's fine. And oddly enough (or maybe not so oddly,) both of them wanted to partner up with me, especially for sparring! They are cute kids, but then again, they are teenagers, so they aren't so little. We really got a workout for sure. I was wheezing and having my asthma attacks and everything. The knees held up, so that's good. The weather was rather warm today, and so the school was rather hot, and the A/C wasn't put on for some reason. I saw on the thermostat that the temp inside was 79 degrees. Bleeh! And to be sparring and working out, I was dripping wet. I finally asked permission to take off my uniform jacket before I passed out, and was told that it was okay, as long as I had a t-shirt underneath, which I had a tank tee on. Sweet relief. At the end of class, I was given/awarded my instructor trainee uniform. Hooray! It's a heavyweight uniform, and while it might work better when doing forms and such, it's definitely hotter material than the lightweight one, so I would've died had I worn that tonight. I'm gonna have to double check when t-shirt days are. I know Friday and Saturday are t-shirt days, but I'm not sure about Thursdays. I think it is, so that's something I can try to fix in the future. But I'm really happy to have gotten my uniform. I'll have to take a photo of it-- it has my name on the back and everything, which is extra sweet-cool.

I also talked to Ma'am before class, and told her what I had been thinking with scheduling, etc. She was in a better position tonight, and I think she appreciated what I had to say, and assured me that I WILL be put to use to help get ready for the big regional tournament that we host this summer. So that's cool. Also got my forms for the tournament this Saturday. It should be quite interesting, for sure! I will be practicing my forms as much as I can between all the crazy errands that I have to do in the next day, but I think I'm as ready as I'll ever be. :-S We'll see! At least I'll get to debut my spanking new uniform with my name on it. ;-)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Survived my first instructor class. I wasn't able to make it to my regular class for my own form due to car issues with JC, but I was able to make it to the instructor class, at least. As I mentioned, it was my first one. I, as usual, am the one who is at the bottom of the barrel, not only in rank, but being the newbie in the group. All of them have been doing this for a while, and there is testing that is done on being an instructor. We all got sheets tonight about what they score on, and while it doesn't look unreasonable, it's a little overwhelming. I think Ma'am sensed that, but she said that I was coming in 4 weeks before testing, so just to go with the flow for now, which was fine. We practiced Songham #3's one steps tonight. I just did those very one-steps two cycles ago, so it didn't take long for me to pick it up again. It included the jump kick and the "pizza dude" moves. What was new for me was doing the attack moves as well as the defense moves. That was new. For now, I'm fortunate that I only have to learn Songham #1, #2, and #3, which means white, orange and yellow belts stuff, which I just completed not long ago. And Drew is still working on that stuff, so I'll always have him as a refresher, at least for now. Anyhow, I worked with Mrs. Dr. Phillips (vs. Mr. Dr. Phillips), and for once I had someone who was almost as tall as me to work with, so that made it a little easier. She was helpful as my mind is just mush tonight (other stuff) that it was difficult to concentrate, and she was patient with me, thankfully. It was definitely interesting looking at things from a different perspective. Part of me was like, eesh, what'd I get myself into? And part of me was, "OK, c'mon, you are up to the challenge of doing this. You would be great with kids as well as adults teaching them. You can do this." So, time will tell, as I just have to perservere. After class, Ma'am was working to get scheduling in with these instructors and instructor wannabes (like me). Part of the problem is what I stated before, too low in rank and instructor training to do anything quite yet to truly help out. I am going to be helping out with a Special Abilities class assisting Mr. Anderson on 4/29, so that will be good. I just felt bad about Ma'am. The kids she works with are good kids, but sometimes I think they are too caught up in themselves to take their responsibility seriously. But I have to keep quiet, I guess. I would help more if I could, but I'm not trained yet. I could just see the tension in Ma'am's face, and I just felt so bad with her. She kept saying out loud to herself, "I can't do it all, I can't do it all," as if to remind herself to stop trying to do it all. I really do want to help, and I'll talk to her tomorrow and tell her I'll help where I can, and hopefully she'll take me up on the offer, and at least appreciate the sentiment.

Drew also had his first class back since Spring Break. He was rather excited today to go, and actually looked forward to going, which was a surprise. He was generally okay. I spent most of the time chit-chatting with Joshua's mom, but when I was watching, he was definitely trying to participate, and calling out things (appropriately) more often. But then there was also the usual extra steps and "wiggles" as Mr. Anderson calls them, and that got in the way sometimes, but otherwise, he did fine, and he was happy and excited during and after class. I'm glad he's starting to like TKD more and more. He keeps asking for his kicks. He'll get them, when I make some more money. He might get them in time for his birthday, we'll see. But I was glad to see how happy class made him, even when he was corrected. He's made some progress, and it shows. Even Joshua's mother commented that she noticed that he didn't act up as much and didn't have to be reprimanded or that he didn't start crying at the drop of a hat anymore. Joshua and Drew are the wigglers and antsy pants ones in the class, which would explain why they get along well, and both have difficulties focusing. But hey, Joshua just turned 5 a few months ago, and Drew isn't quite 5 yet, and they have made progress, so I guess you just take it one step at a time with them.

I'll go back to class tomorrow night, start learning my new form, and then I'll be getting ready for tournament for Saturday mentally and practice when I can before then. (Deep breath.) So much to do in the next few days.

Monday, April 17, 2006

After a week or so away, here I am, as the ATA was closed pretty much all last week due to the Passover/Easter holidays and the fact that pretty much all the public schools in the area had off.

So today, I went back to the ATA for a special private lesson to go over my form and get some kinks out of it. I had to bring Drew with me since he doesn't go back to school until tomorrow. Immediately upon entering, something seemed different about the place. While I didn't smell the fumes at all (maybe after doing my house enough times, I like the smell or something), but the place had been completely repainted, with a fresh coat of white paint. It looked sharp. All the photos and paraphenalia that had been on the walls, for the most part, were down and had to be put up. Even Drew noticed it. Also, the mats had been cleaned and repositioned better, and a new wood border to hold them in was in place instead of the metal strips that would keep coming up and injuring people. It was painted the same blue as some of the mats, so it looked really sharp.

So anyway, Ma'am went to work with me. It started immediately with her correcting how I would do my "joon-bi" (or however you spell it) stance. Oops. Well, no one showed me correctly before today. We picked the whole form apart. She said overall, it was pretty good, but agreed that some changes were in order to make it better. And while she could really pick it apart big time, (of which I have no doubt), she felt that if I could fix at least the stances and the arm positions, that would clean it up immensely. So, that's what I worked on. Part of my problem in doing my stances right is that I need to bend my knees more. That's a BIG problem. Due to my chronic knee problems, I have a feeling that I'll be hitting the CVS pharmacy this week to find something to tape up my kneecaps better to stablize them. Otherwise, it's going to KILL. I sometimes think that surgery is the only option for this if I am to continue this, but I guess time will tell. Anyhow, once I made some of the corrections, she felt that I had the hang of them, and hand positions and stances were plenty to work on for now. I felt like I really got a workout today in controlling my muscles more closely. I asked her about weapons, and she said that I had that down, and I just had to concentrate on where my target was when I did stuff, and I'll be fine with that. Then I asked about sparring, asking the rules of where can I hit if I do hit, where I can't hit, etc. She said it's pretty much like graduation sparring, and if I make TOO much contact, that'll actually be points taken away. I said I have to watch, because accidentally I sometimes want to punch towards the head area, and she understood, and said it's because most of the opponents I have are usually significantly shorter than me. ;-) Glad she doesn't hold it against me! She said she wasn't looking for me to place, especially in sparring, but at least get a good experience out of it. She even mentioned that when I did the last interschool tournament, there were those who wondered why she even put me up against the kids, etc. since there weren't any other color belt adults competiting, and she said that the way she does the interschool tournaments is just like the regionals, so that way, I understood the methodology of how they do them for the future. Well, I'm glad she defended me, and at the same time was preparing me too! I do think I will be doing interschool next week too, and then I know that I will be doing the regional one that Ma'am in sponsoring in July. I have to tell her that I want to help her with that where I can. I know she already asked if I'd like to donate something for the silent auction, and of course I said yes.

On a slightly separate note, I know she considers me an instructor now, as I signed our family up for the annual summer picnic and water fight, I was filling out the form and I had to choose something to bring to the picnic. I asked her what they are usually lacking the most of, since any of the suggestions there were fine by me. She said that what she always asks her INSTRUCTORS to bring (and implying I was one of them), was ice. I said, that's easy. So I have it marked on the calendar that I have to bring ice. I think I will have to clean out the cooler we have too, just to make sure it stays frozen! That should be a fun day.

During the whole time, Drew played quietly and nicely. I think he got bored a little bit after a while, but overall, I was pleased with his behavior. And just to catch him in the act of doing something well, I said outloud that I thought Drew had behaved well, and Ma'am actually said that she felt he had behaved extremely well, which is a complement coming from her. Drew has his moments, especially these days, but I was glad this was one of his better moments instead of his bad moments.

So, I have my work cut out for me. Gotta get that medical tape to bind my knees, and I have to practice those stances, and dream about my form, so that, as I said to Ma'am, I want the judges to say, "Ms. Winter, are you sure you didn't enter a ringer for this competition?". ;-)

Saturday, April 08, 2006

I finally got my first class where I assisted under my belt today. I had intended to stay for two more classes, but Victoria, aka Miss Plummer, told me that she didn't need the extra help for either of those classes (Bear Cubs or Special Abilities), so I went home after that.

But first, my regular class. It's the few days after graduation, so we really don't learn much with form or anything like that right now, especially since the school's going to be close most of next week for Spring Break. Which is fine. I don't remember everything we did, but rather more about the one kid who is definitely a problem. His name is Malachi. He put the "mal" (bad" in Malachi. He's one of those learning disabled kids who gives other LD kids (like my Drew) a bad name. He's a real discipline problem, and he immediately strikes you from the moment you meet him as a troublemaker. I've seen his parents, and I just get the impression from looking at them that this kid is one of those super "late in life" kids, and while I know they send him to the Lewis School for his education, they strike me as the types who don't discipline him too much, and depend on school and TKD to straighten him out, you know what I mean? Well, it started with him being obnoxious in general. Then, when we were supposed to get our "new" weapon, called the ssang-jeh-bahng (aka numchucks), he said something obnoxious that REALLY got Ma'am pissed by the way he said it, and then he announced that he didn't have a pair, as it got stuck on the roof of his house. Ma'am, knowing what a troublemaker this kid is, told him that he would have to just move his hands or do pushups instead, and that he'd have to earn the money to pay for a new pair, because she wasn't going to have his parents just buy him a new pair or lend him a pair for class. Then, when we all had to spar, he was roughhousing a little with one of the adult men before officially starting our sparring rounds, and he kicked the guy in the groin. Now, first of all, you don't kick anyone in the groin, that's a given, especially one without a cup on. Second, you're not supposed to do that anyway in TKD. Third, the guy he kicked is a black belt and bigger than him, so he should know better! Malachi looked at me when he was done, thinking that I'd find it amusing, and I told him my disgust with it and that it wasn't funny, and he said almost proudly, "I know." When we had to switch partners, he wanted to fight me, and I absolutely refused. I don't need some kid beating up on me if he can't control himself. And I was very clear when I said, "No way, I'm NOT fighting you," and walked away. After class, Ma'am told him that after he got his gear off, she wanted to see him in her office. I don't know what was said, and I didn't see him leave, but I have no doubt that he was given a pretty good lecture. I almost hope that if he doesn't watch himself, he'll be kicked out of the TKD school. He's not a black belt yet, but at the rank he's at, he should know how to control himself and speak to his superiors, etc. I'm sorry, I'm one of those people who see kids who are DS or autistic behave better than this kid, and they DO have neurological issues. I have no sympathy for this kid. He's just a nuisance. It's funny in an ironic way. Ma'am has to be nice to the kids to a certain degree, because the parents pay for her to teach them. Her temper, and her perspective, are not different than mine. The difference is, that I'm not paid, so I can say what I want to this kid, at least for now. Ick-grrrrr.
I did have some positive moments of my own. I was at least a little ahead on the ssang-je-bahng (I'm going to have to find the spelling of that), but hopefully I can learn a lot more this cycle. And I'm still doing okay on the elbow board break. Still took a couple of tries, but not a lot of tries. Even the gentleman holding the board, Ron Plummer (yes, Victoria's dad), noticed that it happened a lot quicker. Ma'am was telling Ron, "Don't let her [meaning me] practice too much on this. She needs to just go." Sure enough, BAM. I think the problem today was that I was stopping, when I really need to visualize my arm going all the way through. If I do that, then I do follow through.
So anyway, after class, I took a quick break for lunch, watched the older kids' color belts (which I could've helped on-- maybe next time I will), and then went for the Tiny Tigers' class. This is the class Drew would be in if he went on Saturdays instead of Wednesday. I think I made a good impression. I did stuff with the kids, and helped some of them understand how they were supposed to be doing a drill with front stances by telling them to pretend they are big fat sumo wrestlers, and that's how they had to walk. Once they understood that, they did it correctly. There was also a new kid named Hunter whose dad was trying to get him to participate. Evidentally, he visited last week and was stubborn about it, and he was just as stubborn in trying it out this week. I worked with him a little, and gave positive encouragement to him where I could, and I think he responded better once he got into it. Some of the other kids responded well to me too, as they really behaved well when they paid attention to me. So, I think I'm definitely cut out to do the kids' classes. I left feeling pretty good.
I talked with Ma'am before class, and she was cool about me helping with classes today, and also with helping me with my form for tournament in a couple of weeks. I really hope I can get into some sort of regular rhythm with classes and eventually learning the business side of things soon enough. Our neighbor Brenda offered to watch Drew after school and such if I needed help. I don't want to take advantage of her offer, but she said compared to some other kids that her son Evan is friends with, Drew is a CALM one. I wouldn't have guessed that for the life of me, but hey, if she enjoys having Drew over, all the better.
I'll need to practice in the meantime.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

So I sent an email to Ma'am today, asking if I can meet with her before the tournament for some extra help as I evidentally had some issues with my form, because I couldn't believe that I had choked like I did last night, and I really want to do well in Lincroft. She sent the following response:

The "issues" with your form was more nerves then lack of knowledge and that is why we call it graduation not testing. I will be away next week but will be happy to find time the week after. Are you in over the weekend that we can schedule some time?

Gotta love the woman. :-) I definitely picked the right teacher.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

We all have new belts here tonight. Drew got his full orange tonight, and was very excited and happy. He behaved well during the graduation, and sat patiently, etc. It wasn't too bad. He's just happy he has his full orange now. He's not getting another belt until the fall, with him skipping the summer and all.

I got my green belt. I think I'm a little disappointed in the end. I had mentioned that I had hoped that maybe my leadership uniform would be in, and that everyone would see me get it. Evidentally, this was not to be. Either the uniform isn't in, or she just doesn't play like that. I thought that maybe I'd get some sort of acknowledgement, but not that either. I waited until the end, and nada. So, when we were all done, I just left quietly among the hubbub of activity, as the place was super packed. To backtrack, everything went okay. Not great, but okay. I had been practicing and practicing, and I didn't think I was that nervous, but evidentally I was because I screwed up. Enough that I was embarassed, but I wasn't made to feel embarassed. It was self-inflicted, the best kind, don't 'ya know? I had just finished telling Sharon that she should not pay attention to the rest of us, and just go at her own pace, and she'll find that she'll do better. The adults, fortunately, didn't have to do it with the teenagers, which helped tremendously. I do feel like not having the personalized attention of that one class finally showed that it took its toll. At least I remembered the ki-haps at the right sections, considering I just got them down today. Ma'am didn't make me feel bad. I mean, she acknowledged that this was a hard form. And considering that the rest of the color belt adults above me were actually about 3 ranks or more above, I guess I did okay. I'm just concerned that this is the form that I'm going to be using for the regional tournament, and here I screwed it up when I really did know it. I had even been practicing the finer details of head turns and everything, and it all went down the toilet tonight. I think I have to email Ma'am and see if maybe she can schedule an afternoon before the tournament to work with me to get the kinks out. The worst she can say is no. Weapons went fine, although I think I was probably lame at the end, but then again, I don't even have to do weapons at this point. My first graduation sparring went okay, as far as I could tell. Again, I was fortunate that I would go up against Sharon, and we only had to do one round. We were laughing because we usually spar together, so we know each other's weaknesses. I know I did one illegal punch, as far as I was figuring, but I got a lot more kicks in, so hopefully that balanced it out. I think just thinking that I was going to be congratulated publically for joining leadership would happen, and it didn't. Maybe because there's enough people doing it that it's not that big a deal. I don't know too many adults, though, who are in the program, or for that matter joined up this early in the game with it. So, we'll see.

But I'm a green belt now. Once I complete this belt's form, etc., then I will be halfway up the ladder of belts to the black belt. But I can say that it looks like going from brown to red, and red to black belt recommended, then recommended to full black takes some time. I guess I'm not in a rush.

Monday, April 03, 2006

I think I'm ready for graduation. After a little bit of warming up tonight, all the different groups were allowed to practice and review their form. At that point, there I was again, with 3 other teenagers, this time all boys, but fortunately, one of them is in leadership-- Alex V., and I trust him in knowing it, so it turns out that I had been okay with my form. The problem was, just like last week, the kids generally rush ahead rather than take their time and then we aren't in synch. It wasn't quite as bad, but I messed up when we did practice graduation, and I know I know this form. Oh well. I'll do better on Wednesday. I also reviewed the rules of sparring with Ma'am, to make sure I understood where hits went, and I've got it covered now. I'm feeling a little more confident about that. Then it was board breaking time. I did it without the pad this time, and did two practice hits, missed the first real hit, and got it the second time. So I'm feeling good about that. And no bruises on my elbow! I feel really good about it now. I also got to hold boards tonight for higher ranks, which is cool. One was for a black belt kid, Ben T., who is just so cute and all smiles that if I was 25 years younger I'd have the biggest crush on him. He was doing something where he would so some sort of knifehand break, then turn, run, jump over a double stack of large body pads, and do a jump-kick break. It was awesome to watch him do it, just as it was cool that I could hold for him. The next break was for Ma'am so that she could practice. It figures that the one board she couldn't break was my board which she had borrowed. She said she wasn't hitting the kick at the correct angle, but I said it was stubborn as hell board. Oh well. So overall, it was a good class. I'm feeling good about graduation on Wednesday. I'm going to ignore the kids, and just go at my own pace, which is nice and easy.

Oh, and then before class, I got my copy of the form on DVD so I can watch and be ready and practice for the next few weeks, as I signed up for the regional tournament. Yes, yes I did too sign up for it. I'm locked in now, for both form, sparring and weapons. I do have to go find a better white t-shirt to put underneath. I hate regular t-shirts, so I think I'm off to Old Navy to find a decent tank top for underneath, or something like that. Anyhow, I have to be there for 9:15 AM bow in, but I don't compete until 2:30 PM. Oh well. It's my first regional, so hopefully I'll be able to earn some points, and just possibly rank for the state level for women my age and belt rank, and that'd be cool. We'll see how it goes. Regionals, here I come! And get this, the Grand Master himself is going to be there, so I really want to do well. I really doubt that he'd be watching me personally that carefully. I mean, I wouldn't care if the Pope was watching me. And yes, even if the Queen of England was there, I wouldn't care. I just want to go do my best, and I think with some practice, I could do pretty decently. So now it's practice, practice, practice.