Sunday, June 25, 2006

A few more details, and a good, but tiring Saturday (long entry--be forewarned)

I didn't write until now (Sunday evening) since Friday as I had a pretty full day yesterday, and by the time I got the time to write here, frankly, I was tired. I'll explain in a moment.

So, more on the opening ceremonies. Like I said, very theatrical. The national anthems (both for Korea and the United States) took forever. I don't know the Korean national anthem to say whether that was very long, but man, the American one was. I was told later that there are 5 verses to it, but no, they didn't sing all 5 verses, but rather dragged out an embellishment at the end. Man, they take a shorter time singing that one verse at the Super Bowl, for goodness' sake! But I get the impression somewhere that the Grandmaster likes all this high drama stuff. Anyway, the theme of the event was "The Legend of Baogh, the Flying Tiger". (Baogh is pronounced "bay-oh", FYI.) The World Demo team did this whole thing at different times during the course of the evening where they showed skills but acted out parts of the story like improvisational dance. (That always works for me!).

The story basically goes that in a jungle far away was a land of jackals and tigers. Long ago, the jackals had lost a battle for territory, and the tigers were the leaders of the land. This was achieved due to a flying tiger who had stopped the war. Within the ranks of the tigers, there were "castes", per se (my words, not theirs), of the 3 striped tigers, 2 striped, 1 striped and no striped tigers. The 3 striped tigers were the leaders, and the no striped tigers were just above the jackals in the lowlands and were the servant class. There was a young cub in the no stripe clan named Baogh, and he questioned his mother as to why he had to be a servant when he knew that he had much more in himself that to be forced to be less than he was. His mother explained that that was just the way it was, but also told him the story of the Flying Tiger, who supposedly was once a no-stripe tiger too. Baogh decided to go into the jungle, and find himself, and see what he was worth. Along the way, he met an old tiger, who saved him from some jackals in how he presented himself-- strong, fearless, and merciful. He took Baogh under his wing, and trained him with all the skills to build his strength and knowledge for a long time. One day, the old tiger put Baogh to the test. His challenge was that Baogh had to jump across the width of the running river. The old tiger assured Baogh that he had the skills necessary to do it. Baogh tried, but made it almost halfway, and fell into the river. He felt defeated. The old tiger told him to try again. Again, Baogh fell in. He was frustrated and feeling defeated. The old tiger told him, "You are not doing it because you don't BELIEVE-- you have to have faith in yourself that you CAN do it.". Sure enough, Baogh tried one more time, and will his determination and faith in himself, he made it across. Upon landing on the other side of the river, he was happy with his success. He discovered that out of nowhere, he had gained a single stripe on his fur. Before he could figure out how that got there, another older no stripe tiger was across the river and was being attacked by jackals. Baogh leaped across the river again with ease this time, and understanding his power, that he didn't necessarily have to use it aggressively, made his presence known and scared the jackals away, saving the no stripe tiger. "Thank you so much! I didn't expect to see a two-striped tiger in this part of the woods! I am indebted to you!". Sure enough, Baogh had sprouted a second stripe. Baogh assured the no stripe tiger that he too was a no stripe, and had only learned the potential within himself to do more. The other no stripe explained to him that things were bad where they lived, due to a pending jackal revolt. The 3 stripes were unaware and not really paying attention that the jackals were coming to upset the balance of things and take over, ruining their life, and sought Baogh's help. Baogh went to help. He encountered his mother and other clanstigers, who were amazed at the transformation. He only explained that the difference between them and him was that he knew he had a lot more to offer, and was able to find and learn how to live up to that potential. His mother was proud, naturally. It was just at that moment the jackals came to attack. Lots of snarling and growling about, but Baogh led the way, but not fighting, but maintaining his presence and essentially being diplomatic and putting the jackals in their place without shedding blood. In standing up to opposition, being true to himself, and while having the strength and power using it wisely as a true leader, he was able to make a peace with the jackals again, and proved that you can be someone in how you develop yourself and participate as a leader in your community. It was a good story. Oh, and Baogh got a third stripe too. ;-)

So, in between all that, they had the ATA Xtreme group competition, presentations to civic leaders, and they did the testing for those trying to promote to senior masters, their mid terms, and one guy testing for chief master (7th and 8th degrees respectively). Then they did the end of the Masters Ceremony, which is the culmination of training, fasting, and other symbolic stuff. Becoming a Master is becoming an Instructor of Instructors, as is becoming a Senior Master. Interesting ceremony, steeped in tradition and symbolism, etc. Pretty cool. There were several people that I knew or had met along the way. Some I had not realized were already Masters, and as I mentioned in my last post, had I known, I wouldn't have been crying in front of them when I went to that seminar, as they were coming up to be Senior Masters now!

In the end, it was a 3 hr. extravaganza, and very interesting to watch, and certainly encouraging and inspiring at time to keep working at it. Thank goodness it was on the Internet that it was being broadcast, because it was a little after midnight when it ended, and I was tired, so I could just go to bed, while all those people, who granted were an hour behind me, still had to leave the arena, get back to wherever they came from before they could get to bed, and some had to compete the next day!

My next day, Saturday, was my first attempt at the new schedule that Ma'am has instituted for the summer. She is breaking down each half hour into concentrations where you can work on one aspect of what we do for the full half hour. This is especially important to me as I want to improve and be able to get some individualized attention to help me improve, especially in light of the tournament next month. So, I hit EVERYTHING-- sparring, weapons, forms, and board breaking. Yes, it was 2 hours, and it was nonstop. We'd take a quick break to bow in and out of each session, but otherwise not much of a break. I think after sparring and before weapons, I was able to peel off all the gear and guzzle down some water. I think all the sessions helped in some way. I certainly need all the sparring practice I can get. Knowing that I'm a little more assertive in how I spar than most women at my age and rank, I'm getting more confident. Due to my height and age as well, I actually would prefer to spar with the teenagers and the men, not so much most of the women my age. Not that many of them show up, but many of the teens, again mostly the guys, and the adult men are more of a challenge. I always say, "Go easy on me", and they do at first, but at least that way they can better gauge what I can do. It's not unusual for me to go up against someone who is a higher rank than me, either by a little or a lot, and if they can help me learn something, I will stop and ask how to do something in the middle of a sparring session. It's all about the learning after all, isn't it? I haven't had anyone not oblige me if I ask questions or offer advice. I also try to challenge the littler kids too. It gives me a break, but then I also try to make them try and not be afraid of coming up against someone bigger than themselves. It helps give them confidence and learn and try some new things too. After this sparring session, I was exhausted, and could feel the sweat dripping down the sides of my face. I think I must be getting a little better. I still tired out sooner than everyone else, due to the asthma mostly, but I felt like considering that I made it through that class, and I hadn't had a heart attack (or felt like I was going to), that was progress. Weapons was easy. Paul, a young boy who is in Leadership and was assisting, was having a hard time remembering how to start a practice, so I'd prompt him a little bit. I tried to help him more like I wasn't taking over the class from the background, but telling him that he had to lead, and you tell US when to start, etc. He didn't remember the form, but naturally I know it by heart, but we had a chance to really review it step by step. The Charters sisters were in that class, so they were glad I was in there to help them review and learn the last part a little bit. Weapons is SO easy right now. We did some good warmups to really get our arms ready to do the moves for the weapons form. Dude, by the end of next month, I should be MORE than ready for tournament in weapons, and should kick butt! Forms were good too, as we could slow it down a little, and get some of the smaller details down. While I have the next section down in my head (and I think in practice), I know getting the little details are what make or break in tournament. Again, I want to kick butt with that. I think I'll be more ready for sparring for tournament too. When that tough chick from VA comes along again, I'll be ready! She won't knock ME over any chairs like she did some others. PHEAR ME! :-P Board breaking, while not required for tournament, is something that I need to work on in general. I'm not sure if I have to board break for my next testing, so I can use all the help I can get. This class, I think, I got the most information from. We did a lot of drills without the boards. All of us, whether it was in our form or part of what needed to be done for our board break, worked on some form of side kicks. I worked on the basic side kick at first, but then, since the kid I was working with was working on reverse side kicks, I asked Mr. A if he'd show me how to do them. They really weren't that hard to do once I got the hang of them. And after all the drills in front of the mirror and on the bags, we finally got to the boards. The kid who was working with me held my board with Mr. A, and it was his first time holding a board. I think because of my slight hesitancy due to the boy, I pushed the first time, but did separate the board a little. Mr. A banged it back together and I had another try at it. BAM! In that second hit, it came apart. SWEET. I think this dreaded side kick is finally coming together. I am hoping that the next time I have a chance to work on it, I will be able to warm up a little first, and have two capable board holders, and I will get it on the first break. I've done that with a front kick, but never a side kick. Believe me, I will be so excited when that happens. And I have to make that happen, and like in the story of Baogh, I have to have faith in my abilities to make it happen. I think I've seen too many kids get so nervous that something they should be able to do with the board breaking is they just stop short and don't follow through. I need to have the confidence to get the job done, or as they tell us when we test, "Bust 'em up!". I was thoroughly exhausted both physically and mentally after that (more physically), but it was a worthwhile 2 hours, and I think this is going to be my Saturday midday thing for the summer, if not for a long period of time. I am quite determined that this coming year, I will be at least #2 in all respects in the state, and I will work to make that happen.

In the meantime, I'm going to rest a little bit!

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