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.

1 comment:

Kenny said...

Thank you so much for your kind words and comments. I hope to feel better soon.