Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A sweat free workout can be okay

Today was Drew's last class until the fall. He was happy. He didn't get in trouble today, and even got another paper star for good behavior, so that was good. He'll still be going to the school picnic on Saturday, Movie Night in a week, and the regional tournament in July, so that'll be fine. Even talking to Ma'am later, she was cool with it, and said sometimes kids just need a break, and he was probably ready for one. After class, knowing it was his last class for a while, Mr. A tried to shake his hand and offered to turn him upside down, but Drew decided that he was going to be Mr. Shy and hid behind me and didn't want to do it. I think he just wanted out. Times like this I wish he was better, but Mr. A understands that sometimes Drew is not always up to par with his social development (despite the best efforts of his mother!). I will say that while Drew was in class, I did get a Quickbooks lesson from Jodi on doing financial transactions, so that helped. So I have two basics down-- signing kids in, and doing sales for testing payments, merchandise, etc.

I got to my own class a little early tonight to go over my personal financial stuff with Ma'am and explained what happened to the card last week. She seemed to be in a better mood than the last time, and I was telling her that I think once school is out, if she doesn't object to me bringing Drew with me, I can do a few hours in the afternoons in Pennington or wherever. And once school started, then I could put more hours in. I think she was happy to hear that. We'll work something out, at least.

I did mention to Ma'am that I thought I'd be dying my heavyweight uniform with the current heat (it's really hot these days, and the AC doesn't seem to be kicking in much inside to make the room at least a normal, bearable room temp when not working out), and she assured me that we wouldn't be working out much tonight. Well, sure enough we didn't. In fact, the only thing that we worked out was our minds a bit. She had just gotten back from a big tournament meeting with higher ups, and it was decided that all the different regions are going to start standardizing more in how they run their regional tournaments, which is a good thing. I understood most of the conversation, since I had attended at least that one. In some ways, I didn't know the difference, as some of the changes that are being proposed are what I've experienced anyway. But some of them I'm not so sure about. And same with other more experienced people, so it was a night of learning more about tournaments, tournament and judging (I'm not qualified to become a judge---yet. Ma'am said it won't be long before I'll be testing/certifying for that!). So, if nothing else, it was a mental workout. Not too stressful, but I was learning a lot more about how tournaments work from the back end of things, and that will be important for the regional tournament we'll be hosting in July, which was the whole idea. Ma'am is going to try to do a certification seminar as needed for it. I can't certify as I'm too far down the food chain-- for now-- to certify, but I can at least get the information down, so that when I am qualified to do it, it'll be easier for me. It's just a matter of the timing for the time of the seminar, depending on what's going on at that time. So, I might not have broken a sweat, but I got a chance to learn something new, and isn't mental learning just as important as the physical learning?

Friday, May 26, 2006

I am woman, hear me roar

Last night's class was pretty uneventful, so it's not really worth talking about. I have my form down SO much better, front board break a cinch, sparring, the usual, weapons still working on.

However, I got something that I've been waiting a month for, because I had earned it:

This is a very bad fuzzy photo of the trophy I earned for my 3rd place finish in Weapons from the last regional tournament that I participated in, that helped me get my 3rd place Weapons position for my age and rank in the state. Hooray! I would've loved to have gone home with it the day of the competition, like most everyone else that day, but better late than never! Both JC and Drew were impressed. Drew is looking forward to getting his little trophy at the next regional tournament this summer. :-)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Lazy Night

A few things going on.

First, it looks like it's official now. I'm officially ranked #3 in NJ in weapons for women's color belts aged 30-39. Go me.

Second, I think Drew's only going to have one more class before taking his summer break. Graduation is the first full week of June, and since he's not graduating to the next half rank (or full rank for that matter) anyway, it doesn't seem worth paying for the month of June when he'll miss most of it. So next Wednesday is his last class until September. He did better today. Still a bit of a clown, but no "timeouts" today. He did much better. Although he did try to bop a kid in the face during sparring, and Mr. A caught it and said, "BREAK!" to prevent everyone from going too far. I think it's a good thing that I'm putting off the kicks and other sparring gear and weapons until September. He'll just start everything up again when he starts Kindergarten. He still gets to go to the ATA picnic and Movie Night, and he still will be allowed to be in the Tournament in July, so that helps.

Third, I had something related yet unrelated happen. I lost my change purse/wallet after Drew's class, which I wasn't happy about. You can read about it on my other journal-- Not happy about that.

But finally class-- it was small since it's getting towards the end of the year with exams and such, and Memorial Day weekend approaching fast. I got to class a little early due to looking for the wallet, and spent a while out back behind the school trying to contact the credit/debit card companies to issue new cards immediately. I think some in the class, particularly the teenagers, where wondering why I wasn't in class with them, but I had a more important thing to deal with. And besides, I wasn't intending to be in that class anyway. I was going to go home and change and be at Leadership class anyway. Good thing I had my leadership uniform in my bag already, so I just had to change.

Class was rather uneventful, since Ma'am wasn't there. But that's okay. We got to practice our forms some more, and I got my square block directional problem fixed once and for all. Mr. A is the tops quite often. Alex V. helped too, as he's got it down pat, and he was very kind and complimentary (for a kid) to say he's seen improvement in how I'm doing it, so that was nice of him. Good kid. Did a warm up exercise with Mr. Dr. Phillips, and that went okay. He's a lot older than I am, but patient. Sparred his son Ben, one of the few 3rd degrees at our school, who also took it easy on me. Nina is funny, as she and I sparred first. She's a petite little teenager, but she knows that if she's feeling tired, I'm not going to make her work, so she said, "I'll go with you, Mrs. Villegas." Hahahaha. No problem. The kids are getting to know me well! :-P Board breaking was a cinch. It was review week, and I don't have to break for rank yet, so it was optional. Since I have the front kick down without thinking, I just did that so I could say that I did it. I also worked on my ssang-jeh-bang, and Mr. A helped me get a kink out of that horizontal 360 move. He said that it's actually a black belt required move, so that's fine, and since the vertical wasn't required until black belt level as well, he said not to worry about learning it now. OK, no argument from me!

So, it was a bit of a lazy night. It's not that I didn't work during class, just not as much. I just want to get through this week and next week, and get through graduation, and earn that purple belt! After being the green color family for 2 cycles now (camo and green), I need a color change! So many people are brown belts right now, and I want to catch up. I will, in time, I'm not in that much of a rush. At least I'm doing things as well as I can, and learning to do them correctly, which has to account for something. I think by graduation, I'll be able to get that form down perfectly, and it will be so much easier when I have to do it later.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

I must be out of favor right now.

Ma'am often says if she's not joking with you or making fun of you at some point, that you are probably on her hit list. I think I am, but I don't know why. I don't think I've been TOO annoying or anything. If anything, I've backed off. I'm kinda keeping to myself with her. I dunno. I sent an email asking about how the point system worked, as I didn't understand why both the points from the regional AND the interschool counted, but the points from the interschool alone didn't count in the ranking. I got a short email answer, but it didn't make sense. She said she'd explain it more in detail to me when I came in, and she saw me there tonight, but never beckoned me over to her office or anything. Then again, I didn't go over to her office either. I'm feeling a little intimidated these days, since I feel like she really doesn't like me right now, and I don't know why.

Anyway, so tonight we had class with Michelle Zimmerman. I'd say "Miss Zimmerman", but her little sister Jodi also is an instructor, so I'll just call her by her first name here. It was a fairly easy going class, and nice and SMALL. It was the two boys with Downs, Matthew and Mike, who both always want to partner up with me on exercises and sparring, and they did. After doing some floor stuff and group stuff, we actually got to do sparring first. Matthew and Mike each had a turn with me, and then Michelle took a turn with me too, which was fine. I couldn't go too crazy as she didn't have gear on, and she was tired, and so was I. Next, we worked on forms. I think I have the problem with the square block direction figured out now, but I still have to work on it some more. With board breaking, I did my side kick one with my right foot, after the success with my left last night, and it was the least amount of tries until the break with my right foot yet. So I was happy about that. We bowed out, but them worked on weapons a bit, and Em was helping me with some pointers about hand placement on the ssang-je-bang. We have freestyle for now, but I want to come up with something if I can that looks pretty good. I'm getting better at that horizontal 360 move, but still have to work on the vertical some more.

So, a somewhat uneventful class other than doing sparring first, which I liked. I think for a while, I'm just going to keep a low profile.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Brain dead, or maybe I'm not cut out for this.

Today was another triple threat TKD day, like last week. Drew's class, quick break, and then 2 classes in a row for me.

First for Drew. He was doing better today. He only had to sit out once, and I saw that Mr. A and Miss Chunko worked with him individually instead of pairing him up with other kids, and I think he did better with that. Overall, it was a better time for him, and he did earn his star patch from last week, so he was happy about that. So I was happy with him today. He had an overall good day before class, so that contributed to that, I'm sure. It was a good day for Drew. He's slowly, but surely improving.

I dunno. Sometimes I think I made a big mistake going into Leadership. I am not a kid, and I think that mentally I'm not cut out for this. Maybe it's because I was tired and I've had an abnormally busy and long day. The drills we had to do were hard, and just physically difficult for me. If I was a kid, maybe I could do them, but I'm just not in that kind of shape. When working on forms, as usual, Malachi rushed through stuff, and he doesn't pay attention to the details. I did get a better sense of direction, but I have to get the ki-haps and the foot positioning better. I'm getting it. Next week is when they decide who's actually graduating and who's not. Weapons, I'm getting a little more. Alex V. was impressed that I was starting to get the horizontal 360s, but I do have to work on the vertical one and come up with something for graduation. Gotta start thinking about that. Board breaking-- it was a foot week. Instead of doing the front kick, which I can get right off the bat, I decided to reapproach the side kick, but from the reverse side. It took 3 tries once it was locked in, but I got it, much faster than the other foot. I think I have a better idea of what to do with it now. Sparring was okay. Nothing special there.

Leadership class was a challenge. And I was paired up with Ma'am. She was patient, but at the same time I think she gets a little frustrated with me. I am just brain dead, but I was getting the hang of it after a while. I just look and listen to some of this, and wonder if I'll ever catch up.

There is a slight silver lining tonight that I discovered late tonight. As of tonight, probably for the tournament year of 2005-2006, I am ranked third for my age and rank for the state of New Jersey in weapons. Yay me! I heard everyone congratulating Alex V. for getting first in all formats for his age and rank (age 14-16 color belt). While that's great, and he's even helped me and I would consider him a young friend, I wish they could've fussed about me a little. I mean, I haven't even been doing this a year, and I'm 3rd in the state for weapons. That's not too shabby, c'mon! My husband told me, at least that in this house, I was #1 all the way around, and that meant a lot to me.

Friday, May 12, 2006

I didn't get the Spirit award for nuttin'

I am SOOO exhausted. I cannot remember being so physically exhausted in such a long time. Today was that seminar with Senior Master DiLeggie (if I spelled his last name right), 7th degree, and with Chief Master In Ho Lee, 8th degree. Chief Master is brother to the Grandmaster, and short of being Grandmaster, is pretty much almost as high up as you can go. Plus, there were at least 4 other Masters there. I found out later in a group of about 50+, only 3 of us were color belts. Everyone else was a black belts, with the majority of them being 2nd and 3rd degrees. Is that enough of an intimidation factor for you?

It was bad enough that I had to get up pretty early in the morning. You have to understand that we are a late to bed, late to rise family at my house, so having to be at Master C's school by 8 AM was a miracle. I made it. And it didn't start on time anyway. Oh well. Found people from my school, but didn't feel that included in the group. I had been told that we should wear workout clothes, and make sure that I wore an ATA T-shirt. Well, I was wearing bike shorts (the cooler I am, the better usually), but I didn't see a single other person who had shorts of any kind on. Good thing I brought my yoga pants, and just threw them on top. So, I was conforming at least and didn't stand out like a sore thumb yet. We lined up and Chief Master (CM from this point forward), gave us a killer workout. It started out with a whole lot of jumping stuff...side to side, front to back, at 3 points like a triangle, etc. Well, not only did my legs get tired, but yep, you guessed it, I was running out of steam very quickly and the asthma started kicking in. Thankfully, I was in the back row, which was close to the benches, so I just slide back, did a slight bow out, and sat on the benches until I could gain some physical composure again. Once they stopped, I was okay for most of the rest of the day. We did some difficult stretches, which were pretty basic, but it's amazing how many high ranks had sloppy habits and techniques. We did some partner work, and fortunately I was paired up with Gary, aka Mr. Phifer, who owns a school north of us, and I think he's adjunct to our school. I've met him before, especially at the last Regional tournament. He's a nice guy. He was on the slightly injured list, so us being partners worked out since I'm not exactly a world-class athlete. It worked out well. The one thing that I have to say is that considering, as I'm mentioned many times before, I'm a green belt, I was able to generally keep up, and as CM was going through the group -- and he WAS looking at each person at some point-- he never corrected me. I mean, he had no way of knowing that I was a green belt because nobody wore their belt to designate who they were, and yet he corrected Gary twice. I could even see the problem in those exercises in what Gary was doing wrong. ;-) I think that part of what helps is that a lot of it had to do with posture, and many people were all hunched or bent over in the wrong direction. As my mother would say, it's a case where my 20+ years of dancing lessons which she paid for paid off. In ballet, you have to have the same erect posture and positioning for balance, etc. I mean, think about it, did 'ya ever see an hunched over ballerina when she's dancing? Nope, never. Always standing tall and long, and that applies in TKD too. So, we got through this very brutal workout. It lasted for almost 2 hours. So you can imagine that I was exhausted, but it was a good exercise in understanding positioning, direction and balance, so that you can better execute your forms and various moves.

After a 10 minute break, it was right back out to the floor, this time under Senior Master DiLeggie (known henceforth as SM). That was a bit brutal too. Oh my God, it was nearly awful. First of all, at different intervals between learning stuff, he'd have everyone hit the floor and do up to 30 push ups. I can't even do one. I have NEVER had the kind of arm strength to do that, and I used to even lift weights, but I can't lift myself like that. And if you've ever met me, you know that I'm VERY top heavy (these 40DDD's don't lie!), so that makes it even more impossible. I was doing very slow and modified ones, doing half as many as the group until SM said that he expected the women to do the same as the men, and if any of us had a physical reason that we couldn't do the pushups, then we could do situps or run in place. You know what I did next. I did the situps. I am definitely a master of doing MANY crunches, and I am the champion of this household on any given day of the year, whether sick or well, in shape or out of shape. (But then again, JC is pathetically out of shape all the time, so that's not saying much.) So, we learned some XMA stuff, which was cool. Part of my problem, naturally, was keeping up. He crunched about a month's worth of learning in 15 minutes, and we had to partner up in groups not only to master the moves, but learn how to synchronize in a group. I mean, the moves weren't that difficult, but it's like throwing a fast ball at me. I can hit a baseball, but if I can't keep my eye on it fast enough, it'll fly right by me. So, I was glad that Master Raimundi was coaching the "geriatric" team, as we called ourselves, as my group was all older adults save one teenager and a 20-something guy. Then each group would get up to perform. The big joke was that whomever "won" would have to buy everyone lunch. So in that respect, I didn't have to worry about my group paying for lunch, as I would be the one to ensure that with my skills. So we did two different sections, and I was starting to get it at least, so it wasn't so bad. It was a little bit fun, in fact, even though I kinda hid in the back at all times.

The next part was probably the most trying part. Weapons. Now, as I've written here before, I tend to like weapons. SM was having the group work with the bahng-mah-ee. "But you like the Bahng-mah-ee, Dani," I can hear you saying. Yeah, I do. The SINGLE bahng-mah-ee. Because that's all I know. And that's all I own. So here I was, pulling out my single, and everyone not only had doubles, but 95% of them had the wood sticks instead of the usual foam ProTech stuff (a few people, especially from my group, had the ProTech ones). I saw they had put out a bunch of the wood ones out for people in case they didn't bring theirs, so I hurriedly stashed mine away and grabbed two wooden ones. Once we lined up again, SM said, "OK, everyone should know this," and I immediately raised my hand and told him I was a green belt so I had not. There were others who didn't know the form he was doing, so he had the "rookies" on one side (which included me), and the experts on the other side. So, SM broke down the form a little bit at a time, which was good. I can handle that, kind of. I was REALLY fortunate to be paired up with a kid for whom this clicked much more quickly, and was VERY PATIENT with me. Whomever you are kid, if you were to actually read this-- THANK YOU. I also had Master Raimundi and Master Dunn also both helping me out as well. I felt a little bit like an idiot, and I was very overwhelmed that it just wasn't clicking. It took me a while to get the hang of the pattern, and then I couldn't get my hands-- especially the left one, to cooperate for me. I actually got to the point were I stopped and closed my eyes because I started crying. I couldn't help myself. I was so overwhelmed and frustrated and confused. I didn't do much else but tear up for a moment (a longer moment than I would've liked), but I think I needed to have that release. I sucked it up as best as I could, and moved on. Later, SM said some encouraging words of you're getting it, just keep going, don't be discouraged, and I merely replied that I was trying and doing the best that I could. I mean, what more could I say? I felt humiliated enough that I teared up (I just tear up writing this), but to have an SM try to see that, maybe even out of the corner of your eye-- or even two of the Masters...well, I'm not going to say anymore about that. I found out later that somewhere along the line, maybe it was with the SM section of the seminar, that even Ma'am secretly panicked a little, because she knew I didn't know this stuff either. I survived, at least.

We took another quick break, but then continued for a bit with CM, as I thought, OK, now he's going to give us some sort of insight with teaching or the business. Nope. He spends the loooooongest time babbling about good health and this diet he's been on, and explaining the diet. I listened with some interest, as I was smack up in front and I can always learn about something new with diet. I even was the only one who really asked a question about it. The basic premise is something about some sort of fasting, and also alternating drinking liquids with eating solids in small meals, so that you never drink something with your meals as that dilutes what you are eating, therefore not getting the best metabolic digestion possible, and stuff like that. He lost 20 lbs. and was able to go off many diabetic and other meds, so I wanted to hear it out. I asked CM a question where I inquired whether there were specifically certain foods that should be eaten as the solids. And I added, "For example, I'm sure Twinkies are not part of that." It elicited a happy chuckle from him and the group, but at least it showed I was paying attention and was keying in on the main idea. He gave a roundabout answer that it had to do with body type, so he didn't have the details. Later, someone else stood up and asked if we could get the info, and he said he was working on the translation of the diet book he got this info from, as it was written in Korean. I later found out that I made a huge faux-pas as I didn't stand and bow like the other guy did to ask my question. Oops. :-S Humilation #2.

We broke for lunch, and I had lunch with Gary, Ryan (aka Mr. A), Jeri (the one who kicked my jaw) , and later Rachel and Nikki joined us for an Asian buffet just down a few stores from the ATA studio. Nice, pleasant lunch, good conversation, but nothing extraordinary other than I had a chance to explain better to Ryan about Drew's sensory integration issues, so now he has a better understanding why Drew is "hyper" sometimes and NEEDS to run around before class as he always wants to. He even said that Drew is starting to respond better to him, which is good news indeed.

After lunch-- the home stretch!-- we had one last workout on forms with CM. We worked on some of the arm movements, and the proper way to execute moves to exude your "chi" (pronounced "gi", but I believe the way I spelled it is the correct spelling). His main point during this workout, as with his last one, was that you really need to follow through in full with your moves. Speed is not the key, but accuracy is. Well, that would explain why I did well with Regionals. Most of these kids are more about the speed and looking cool, but CM's point is that speed will come, but accuracy is better. So we all had to split up and do our forms. CM assumed that everyone was a black belt when we had to split into groups. He stuck us 3 color belts in the back. I was surprised to find there were other color belts there, two guys, a camo belt and a red belt, so I wasn't alone in that respect. We were glad that we weren't alone after all, at least. But here was another embarrassing, humiliating part of the day. Each of us were supposed to work on our individual forms, embracing our "chi" and executing them with the boldness we learned from the whole of the day. The problem was, I was blanking out on my form. It's not like I haven't learned it, or practiced it in class. I admit I haven't practiced at home as much. So Gary was opting out as his arthritis (or something) was acting up to do his own form, so he helped me, which he didn't have to do. I think at one point, Ma'am saw me working with him, and she didn't object, but she mouthed at a distance, "Don't worry about it, you're fine." And I was just constantly frustrated, saying to Gary, "I DO know this form, I really do, I'm just blanking out and I don't know why... I know I have problems with transitions....". He was very kind and just worked with me the whole time, fixing a few things along the way, which helped. He assured me that in the situation of being in the presence of SM, CM and a bunch of other Masters and all these black belts, that it was easy to feel intimidated, and I shouldn't worry about doing it perfectly, as he sensed my utter despair and anxiety.

We bowed out, and that was the end of the day. At we were packing our things, CM was passing by me, and I bowed and apologized for my breech of ATA etiquette that I was unaware of doing. He was very kind, and said no problem, , and said some words of encouragement which helped ease the situation, for which I said that I appreciated his words and thanked him. Hopefully, I made a good impression.

I have so many thoughts swirling in my mind. I've been in tears for some of the thoughts, and yet proud of what I did today. Perhaps in my mental and physical exhaustion, I'm in the mode of seeing the glass half empty instead of half full, although I should look at it as half full. I survived an all day seminar with a group of black belt instructors, and held my own for most of the time, and didn't get any corrections from the 8th degree black belt CM. I learned some XMA stuff and held my own, and learned some double bahng-mah-ee stuff which will come in handy later. I made a connection with several Masters, a SM and a CM, and I think I made an impression on the CM. That has to be impressive. On the downside, I couldn't do pushups and nearly collapsed during a cardio-footwork section from the very beginning, made a fool of myself with weapons and picking up the XMA, bowed at wrong times, breeched plenty of ATA etiquette, and finished off with not knowing my form as well as I should. Oh, and almost crying big time in front off a lot of high ranking people. Black belts don't cry, after all, even if they are still in training to get to that position.

CM is having classes at our school tomorrow morning. I had intended on going, but the bottoms of my feet, especially my big toe, hurts. I thnk it's from the all day friction of bare feet against the vinyl mats. My calves also hurt like hell. They are just really stiff and perhaps over stretched or something. I have a GNO tomorrow afternoon where I will be standing for a couple hours, so I figured that it might be better if I just go to bed early and try to sleep in, get some rest. While having another opportunity to redeem myself in regular class with CM or any other dignitaries that might be there tomorrow would be fantastic, sometimes you have to know when to say "when", and listen to your body. I have the Spirit in me, but for the moment, the spirit is weak. It got pretty wiped out today. I suppose I have plenty of time to truly redeem myself, but it's gonna be a long trip there. I just don't know how Ma'am is going to react and talk to me about it, if at all. I hope she still sees that I tried really hard, and I didn't embarass her or anything. I hope I didn't represent the school poorly. Like I said, just feeling discouraged at the moment, when I should be happy about the successes instead.

I think I'm going to go to bed in a few minutes. I'm pooped.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I feel like a bad car radiator

Why do I feel like a bad car radiator? Because I overheat and break down very quickly, at least at high temps. More on that in a moment.

Drew was being antsy today in class. I wasn't watching the whole time as I was trying to be a little helpful behind the desk, although I didn't do much. Nancy was too flustered and busy, so I just offered my help if she needed it, and I did a few piddly things. During class, Drew was acting up a few times, that he was instructed to sit down until he could cooperate. I even had Alex S. intervene (when I pointed out to him that Drew needed some direction), and Drew balked at that, but he was taking away from another kid's time to learn, and that's not right. And evidentally, during the sparring part of class, he acted up enough (although I didn't see it and the other mothers missed it too due to chatting) that Mr. A asked him to take off his punches and mouthpiece early because he wasn't participating appropriately. I was disappointed with his behavior, and that he had to be singled out like that, although I knew that Mr. A wouldn't have done it unless it was necessary. Mr. A is usually pretty easy going, and understanding and patient, so I knew he wouldn't do it without good reason. Drew also had finally earned 10 paper stars for good black belt behavior in class (got the last 2 today), so he earned a star patch for his uniform. I even put it together for him, being behind the desk and got it ready for Mr. A. But Drew didn't get it. I asked Mr. A why he didn't get it, not sure if he didn't see me put it there or not, and he said that Drew's behavior in class today didn't warrant it, and Drew could try next week, and I accepted that. Again, I knew that Mr. A wouldn't withhold it without good reason. He's not like that. He's much easier than a lot of them, so if he's pushed to this limit, then Drew had to have really been not that cooperative. Oh well. :-(

During Drew's class, a phone call came in that Senior Master Dunn, who is a 7th degree black belt and the highest ranked in our region, was making a pop visit of sorts to the school. Well, you can imagine, CRAP! So everyone was in a slightly nervous hustle if and when he was to arrive. Due to that, knowing that I am an instructor trainee and trying to have a good black belt attitude, I made sure that I had my heavyweight lettered uniform on tonight. More on how that became a problem follows.

As for me, I was a kamikaze student tonight. Two classes in a row. First, regular class. We started with a good exercise that for the most part, I can do, but there were circumstances that made me feel like the overheated radiator. Simply, it was an exercise where we had to do a "pyramid" of roundkicks on a pad. What I mean by that is that you start with 1 kick, then 2 kicks, then 3, etc. to 10, and then back down again to 1. On both sides. Well, Mr. Uhl and I were partners, so we each did a side then would take a break holding the pad for the other. The problem with this whole exercise was multifold for me, and this is when my inner radiator started to malfunction. First, I was wearing that heavyweight uniform. Versus the medium weight or lightweight, it truly bears out its name, and it was really keeping me warm. Too warm, especially considering I was working out big time. Second, even though you'd think that holding the pad in between was a break, it wasn't. Mr. Uhl is taller than me, but he insisted that I hold the pad lower than what was comfortable for me standing, so that was a physical struggle which just exacerbated the problem. It also didn't help that the thermostat registered at 75 degree F, (as I happened to look at it), and the doors of the place weren't opened nor was the A/C kicking in. Add all those factors together of working hard in a heavyweight uniform in a hot room, you can understand why I felt rather ill and almost faint. After the exercise was over, I asked Ms. Chunko (who was leading the class) if I could have permission to get a drink. Hopefully she could see how flushed and ill I looked, and let me go. I went to the water fountain to take a drink, thinking the liquid oxygen would help. It wasn't, and I felt a little ill in my stomach. I ran to the ladies room immediately since I thought I was going to be sick, and tore off my belt and jacket, and lifted up my shirt just to cool off. I really thought I was going to barf, but didn't. I could overheard they were just doing stretches, which would have been fine, but it would've still be physical work for me, so I needed those few minutes to recoup. When I felt well enough again, I put my jacket and belt back on, splashed my face and neck with some cool water, and then went back to class. Not fun, and this is the second time that I've had some sort of a meltdown in as many days.

We reviewed the form with Nikki (aka Miss Kawaski), and my problem is transitions from one section to another. I generally have the form, it's again getting the finer touches in, and learning ki-hap placement as well as making those transitions more smoothly. Our least favorite person, Malachi, was in class again tonight, and one thing that he and that young Indian boy were both doing that Nikki was pointing out was not rushing through and really making power moves, which is more of what I do anyway. Heh heh, serves them right for trying to be little Jackie Chans ahead of their time, and not even black belts at that.

I learned a new move with the ssang-jeh-bahng (numchuks for the non-TKD reading population), which was a 360 move. It looks pretty fancy, and it will take some practice, but I got the basic gist of it tonight. Essentially, it's crossover like the start of a triangle, but then you grab the connecting string in the middle, then grab the other connected stick. So you are going from one stick to the other utilizing the string uniting them. It's a pretty cool move to see it really fast going in several different directions, but I'll just work on the basics for now.

It was hand week for board breaking. So I decided to do something different. I decided to try a basic palm heel break. Turns out that it's pretty much the same thing as the elbow one I've been working on, but the only different is that it's the palm heel instead of your elbow hitting. For me, it's that simple. I didn't get it from the first try, but I did break it on the 3rd try, so that's pretty good, considering it took me months to get the elbow one. It's definitely progress that I see in overall technique as a result.

I was feeling okay enough to spar. I first paired up with Nina, as she too was feeling tired, so I encouraged her that I'd be her target practice, and we could spar but just go easy, and that's what we did. So that went well. But then, I found I had no choice but to spar evil Malachi. I think he's been getting in enough trouble that he's trying to watch his Ps & Qs a little more if he has reminders. I was not happy about this, and I told him point blank, "Look if you get too rough, I am walking off the mats and I will refuse to fight you. " It happened to be within hearing range of Mr. A, who said told Malachi that I had every right to say that, and he instructed me that if he did get too rough to tell him. Fortunately, Malachi behaved himself, and I did wallop him a little bit within my tired abilities. I love the fact that I can corner this kid in a moment. But he did behave himself, and so when Mr. A asked, I could honestly tell him that Malachi followed through correctly.

So that was regular class.

Leadership class was good tonight. While those testing for their collars practiced, the rest of us learned some new stuff with teaching weapons. Ma'am just got back from a ProTech (weapons) camp, so she was fairly psyched about it. Evidentally, from what she was saying, and I've heard this from some others too, that they didn't used to teach weapons until you were a full black belt, and now they are starting to teach them starting with your white belt. I'm one of the beneficiaries of that revolution, for sure. So, I was paired up with Dan T., little brother of Ben T. whom some of us moms wished that he was about 25 years older and we were single. ;-) Actually, both boys are really nice and sweet. Ma'am was teaching us a strike and blocking exercise that helped all of us with our bahng-mah-ee forms, and Dan and I had a good time trying to get the exercise pattern down. I think we really worked as a team, as I would remember the pattern better than him at first, but then I'd always forget a part of a block that I was supposed to do (with my sacrifice hand, hence why I'd forget it), so we truly supported each other. It worked out well. I have to say that I really enjoyed that class, as I'm finding that I like weapons. I just have to learn a lot more and get better at it.

After class, we all had a sit down, as we usually do. Ma'am was bouncing off this idea that she had for the summer and Saturday scheduling, where she is thinking of doing half hour classes that are specific to certain ranks and certain skills. So for example, 9:00-9:30 would be1st degree forms, 9:30-10:00 would be 2nd degree forms, 10:00-10:30 would be black belt weapons, 10:30-11:00 would be all ranks sparring, 11:00-11:30 would be color belt forms, etc. You get the idea. You could come for just a half hour session, or for a few half hour session, and just spend a half hour of true concentrated time on one aspect of forms, board breaking, weapons or sparring. Overall, the idea went over well with our group. I think it's just a matter of adjustment. Ma'am thought it'd be good to try during the summer as that's when enrollment is generally down, so it wouldn't be too bad. Heck, I'm willing to give it a try. As it is, Ma'am said every Saturday in July will be Tournament prep, and I want to kick butt in this next tournament, so it's going to be a challenge, and I want to be ready. I will probably attend all the specialty classes for myself on Saturdays when I can, since there are things that I want to not only do well, but when it comes to time to test for my black belt, things like board breaks should be easy this way. The more I master now in the early stages, the more comfortable it will be later to allow me to advance.

It's been a long night, and I want to go to sleep. I'm getting nervous about Friday and Saturday. Friday is the workout/business seminar that I signed up to do at Ma'am suggestion. Tonight I found out that I.H. Lee, 8th degree black belt and brother to the Grandmaster, is going to be not only at the seminar, but also at the Saturday class. Yikes! It's one thing that he'll be in class on Saturday, as that's intimidating enough. But I am guessing that, as usual, I will be one of the lowest ranked people at the seminar, and I will be rather lost in there among all those black belts. I'm starting to wonder if my medications are making me do crazy things now. :-S I think the nerves are just going to be progressively building up until Friday arrives. :-(

Saturday, May 06, 2006

What, are you trying to kill me?

Today's class overall was good. We reviewed the form, I broke my board on the first try (front kick, super easy), got another section of the ssahg-jeh-bahng form, and sparred. All par for the course.

Part of me should know better than to go on a Saturday. For some reason, that's when they have the group really WORK. We had to run around the classroom in various ways in this zigzag pattern to get the cardio going. Well, the problem with me is that since I have exercise induced asthma, I can't run. I can't really even jog. Walk fast, absolutely, but that's not fast enough and I was already holding the class back with my slow speed as it was. I could feel my lungs starting to close up and dry out very quickly. I'm huffing and puffing, but not blowing any houses down, for sure. If anything, you could've knocked ME down. So once we stopped and we were doing stretches, I still wasn't doing too well. I knew I couldn't go get a drink of water, which for me sometimes helps, as if it were liquid oxygen going into my system. I was still breathing hard, so I could barely respond my "Yes SIR!"s, etc. I even got to the point where I was coughing, and when I get to that point, it's bad. So I was glad we were stretching, because it gave my body a chance to rest a little bit. But I was not feeling good.

The rest of the class went at a more normal, even pace, so I could kinda rest and still do what I was supposed to do. I get really annoyed with some of the color belt teenagers, especially Malachi, whom I've mentioned before. Even before class, Mr. A was giving him a little lecture that he needs to shape up, as evidentally something happened last night, and if he did okay today, then he wouldn't tell Ma'am. Let me tell you, I'm a pretty fair person, but this kid is TROUBLE. I don't know what's holding her back other than financial considerations, but this kid ought to be kicked out of our TKD school. He's disruptive, he's incredibly rude and disrespectful to EVERYONE, he gets too rough with the sparring...the list could go on. I get to the point where I'm polite yet nasty with the kid, and I'm usually pretty tolerant of most teenagers. With him, I'd really like to smack him across the mouth, and again, I'm not a person who even believes in that sort of thing with my own child. That's how bad he is. He was instructed, along with the rest of the kids (and myself), that as we were practicing our form together, that we needed to try to stay together. Of course, Malachi doesn't listen, and I tell him to SLOW DOWN. I even explain that I just learned this on Wednesday, so I don't know it well. He speeds through it. To be honest, his method is terrible. He swings through everything thinking he's Bruce Lee, but it's not proper form, really. He goes through the motions, but not where you get the true defined moves, you know what I mean? You don't have to go slow, but he doesn't have the techniques down cleanly, that's probably a better way of saying it. I tell him again, and at that point, Mr. A comes down on him, and I just declare that I'm doing things on my own, because if the group can't listen, I can't be bothered. I'm there to learn and improve. Rushing through and not being considerate of my peers is not acceptable--- it's just downright rude, especially if the peer says something. I was really ready to pull rank on the kid, because even though belt-wise I'm lower than him, due to my instructor trainee status, I'm higher than him, and being an adult alone would garner more respect. Burns my britches. I'll get the form eventually, I'm just glad I'm not in the same class as him on a regular basis.

Ssang-jeh-bahng wasn't too bad. I just have to practice. Because instead of the form and new parts we were just given, one of the better kids, Alessandro, was constantly muttering about knowing the strike lines for this weapon, and I told him it's probably almost the same as the Bahng-mah-ee or the bo staff, but rather than concentrating on what we were given, he distracted me with that. I learned a new move which was a helicopter move with a jumping turn, which looks pretty cool, but when Mr. A broke it down, it was pretty easy. Problem is I can't remember the sequence because Alessandro was distracting me. I know there's a jump kick, the helicopter move, and the lasso move in there, but in what order or if I'm missing anything else, I don't know. I'll find out next week, I'm sure.

Board break was easy. The Charters sisters (formerly known as the dweeb sisters) were playfully challenging me to do the front kick break, and they have a hard time with that one. I think that's the easiest one for me to do. POP, just like that, first try. I figured it out that because I've done SOOOOOO much work with weights using a leg press, that's probably why it's an easy one for me to do. I've had to do leg press exercises with one leg at a time with PT, so just to do the same thing but standing but no counterweights is easy. It's now given me the idea that I should practice on my Total Gym on my side to do leg press exercises, and perhaps that'll help with the elusive side kick break.

Sparring was fine. Sparred Alessandro, and he went easy on me, but we still got a good workout. Same with Winnie, who at least is closer to my height, and will definitely go easy on me. She said she was a little tired, so we didn't go at it with the same gusto, but we still got a good round going.

Now, 8 hours later as I write this, my lungs still feel tender and I still have some difficulty breathing. I just need to rest, maybe get a cortisone based inhaler in my system to help with the swelling (can't exactly ice down your lungs, but maybe that's what the water helps with, I dunno.) . I said to Mr. A I just CANNOT do that again for health reasons, and he was understanding, and said that if I needed to, I can just pull myself out and walk the running parts if needed in the future, and he'd understand. I know Ma'am understands. And if anyone questions me and thinks I'm not working hard during class hasn't watched me in class. I work hard. I might not have the speed, I might not have the strength, or the technique yet, but I do have the determination. I come, and I fully participate. I might not spar at full force, but my attention is where it needs to be. I laugh at myself a lot in class at my inability, but always work hard to do my best at the abilities I do have, and I think with the recent tournaments, that shows.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Slow Pokes

There's only one thing on the official ATA website that I don't like, and it's more of a backend thing than the layout or design, etc.

They can't seem to update their tournament information fast enough!

Now, I know that HQ probably gets a lot of information thrown at them all the time for completed tournaments, so it's a lot of information to keep up with. But in my mind, does it REALLY take 3-4 weeks to post information? I know at school, some of the teens compete big time, so they really want to know if they are holding their standings statewide and on the national/world level. For me, I know my standings are miniscule-- if at all--but I want to know if I have achieved top 5 in the state or not, with my tiny little one point (I'm guessing) or not. Not many people in my age and rank competing in this state, so a little could go a long way. I might tie for 3rd in sparring (go figure that) based on my 2nd place win at the interschool tournament, and I might get at least 3rd in weapons based on my regional tournament 3rd place win for the state. That would be so cool to have-- a huge accomplishment for someone who just started 8 months or so ago.

I guess in my head, because I've seen all the categories, is that you'd have some sort of MS Access or MS Excel database, just punch in the names, points, etc. and you could tally things up fairly quickly. It shouldn't take THAT long to do it. They did just update things twice this week-- usually I've noticed it only once a week--but I think that's because World Championships are coming up in about a month, so they have to know where everyone stands going in. I just hope they get their act together. That's the only drawback I see-- so far.

Next week at this time, I'll be attending a business seminar/workout with one of the senior masters of the ATA. It should be interesting. But in the meantime...more classes to get my form down!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Keeping up with the Joneses

Wednesday is always a busy TKD for us. It's the day that Drew has class, and I get a little bit of training, and then I have Leadership class later that night. Today was no different. Drew seemed to be having fun in class, and I like how he's much more apt to want to talk to the teachers, especially Mr. Anderson, now. He's not shy, and will ask them things, like today he was asking Mr. A if he ever watched the Doodlebops (a Disney Channel preschool show that Drew loves, for those not in the know), and he admitted (not surprisingly) that he didn't know about them, and Drew went on to explain about them happily, and Mr. A listened intently (and politely!). He seems to do well with Mr. A, so I hope he sees him as the role model that Mr. A is. Mr. A is a very good instructor, probably the highest ranking one after Ma'am at our school, and I have definitely benefitted from his direction myself.

While Drew was doing his thing in class, I was helping Nancy, and I got to put in the cards for attendence and learn some of Nancy's methodology, which worked for me. I got a lot of good info without it being overwhelming, since I'm doing bits of it at a time. So I felt that went well.

Class for tonight wasn't too bad. Even though I'd seen Ma'am earlier in the day during Drew's class for a little bit, she wasn't teaching my leadership class tonight-- she seemed to be long gone when I had gotten there early. So, those people who were testing for an upgrade soon were practicing with us as a warmup. There were a few problems with that. First, Penna (who has now joined the Leadership ranks) was next to me, and she couldn't move out of the way with her wheelchair fast enough. It really wasn't a problem, because of other issues. Namely, the instructors who were testing had to go through Songham #1 through Choong Jung Ee-Jang#2 and give the directions. They kinda glazed through them as everyone except Penna and I had done the forms before. Just to put it in perspective, this was pretty much all the forms from white belt through red belt (red belt being the next to last belt before becoming a black belt). I haven't done all the Songham forms, and I certainly haven't done the Choong Jung forms, so I was winging it, and going solely by the directions of the instructor trainees. I had to, and I also followed along with others. I lost my place, and in some cases, I could only mark through, so it really wasn't that much of a problem that Penna was in the way. I assured her not to worry about it, as I wouldn't kick or hit her and I didn't know what I was doing anyway. After that long exercise and pretty much keeping up for the most part, considering I didn't have a clue what I was doing, we stretched and then we had the option of working on our own forms and stuff, or helping the instructor trainees some more. I chose the former, and fortunately Alex V. did too. Since I've had to cram the whole form in the span of less than a week, I knew he knew it, and so he could help me get through. I know I need practice, but between him mostly and a little help from Em, it was starting to click a little more, so I was happy about that. If I can just get the sequence down, then I can fine tune it, then add the appropriate ki-haps (that's my last concern!). Doing better still with the board break. Did the elbow break on the 2nd try, so I was happy. I think I have a MUCH better handle on that one. :-) Did only one round of sparring as I was tired and not enough people, but do you hear me complaining? The kid I went against I think was happy that I was pretty easy tonight, as I think he was tired too.

So, all in all, not a bad night. It's still a little overwhelming, in retrospect, that I will eventually have to know ALL these forms and one-steps in order to get my instructor certification eventually, but until I'm told otherwise, I'm just going to take in as much as I can, and not try to worry about it too much.

I have a break until Saturday, but I have a feeling that I will be put to the challenge on Saturday in class.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Keeping up with the kids, as usual, and Kareem and Bruce

I went to the odd night of going to class on a Tuesday. I usually don't go on a Tuesday, but since I have a GNO on Thursday, when I'd normally go, I had to switch it to another day. Reports are that I shouldn't been around last night, according to Em and Penna, as Ma'am was cracking jokes the whole night. Man, I could've used that last night, since my anniversary was a disaster yesterday, I'm sure I would've had more fun doing that if it was that good. Oh well.

So tonight, it was me and three boys. One very young Indian boy who kep asking a lot of questions. He was a red belt, but somehow seemed like he was pushing himself to do too much too soon, and didn't seem to know what he was doing of what he was supposed to do. (If that made any sense). The other two were the Joel-lookalike (Joel being my brother, and this kid looks like a taller, skinnier, less geeky version of my brother) who is a brown belt, and Alex V., whom I've mentioned before, who is a red belt as well. And Em and Penna. So, we started out with some drills and stretches, and then we started on the form. I still haven't even gotten it all down of what we had so far, and here we are learning the last section. Crud. Well, it's not hard stuff, but a lot to cram in, so I have some studying to do. So we get through that, and then we work on weapons. So I learn the ssang-jeh-bahng form, which is easy, but I have to practice to make it look beautiful. It's still very awkward for me. It's only a triangle, figure 8, snap out, triangle, switch sides behind your back. That's pretty easy, but again, I just have to practice. It's a review week with board breaks, so I did my elbow break pretty quick again, so I was happy with that. I think I'm starting to GET IT with that. You just have to pummel straight through. Sparring was good today. I was exhausted when I was done, but it was good. I first sparred with the Indian kid, and he was a little easy because all he'd do is duck when I kicked, but then he'd get me good with a few punches. I then sparred with the Joel-lookalike, and that was kinda fun. I kicked him in the tushie at one point by accident, and we actually knocked knees when kicking which hurt, but was funny. After the last few rounds with sparring in tournaments, I'm feeling more confident with that, and that's good. So that was class, and it was fine. Just me and the kids, as usual.

I also paid for my seminar for the 12th, so I'm glad that's out of the way. I'm looking forward to that, as it turns out a few people from my school will be going, so that's cool.

On a totally unrelated thing, but somewhat related, I was watching this program on AMC today that had to do with Bruce Lee. They showed the last part of a movie-- or some sort of footage from a movie called "Game of Death". It was a strange movie, but now that I understand a little bit about martial arts from my TKD exposure, it was more interesting to watch. I think the most interesting scene was Bruce Lee going up against Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Now, you have to understand, it turns out that Kareem was a student of Bruce's as well as being the All-star basketball player, and I'm sure because of the way he looked, Kareem was good for the movie part. But man, is KA-J TALL! I mean, I knew he was, but he seemed to make Bruce Lee look so tiny. And to watch him do side kicks and roundkicks, etc. was kinda wild. I have a better appreciation for Bruce Lee movies now, for sure, even if they are still pretty violent. They make some sense, at least from the martial arts perspective.