Saturday, July 29, 2006

I survived the NJ Regional Tournament of 2006 (long)

WHEW! I am so exhausted! It's been a long day-- a long past two days, or for that matter a busy and tiring week! But it's finally over. I survived the NJ Regional Tournament of 2006.

We got to the tourney at around 8AM, as I had to drop off the programs that I designed and ended up paying for too (Ma'am is paying me back). I did get some compliments on it, which was cool. Drew's competition was supposed to start at around 8:30 AM, so it was just as well. It's just that we are late to bed, late to rise people in our house, so we were AT the tourney at the time we'd normally get up! *YAWN*.

Drew did fine in his round. For the Tiny Tigers, especially his rank and age, he can follow a judge and all the kids get a trophy for something. He got his trophy for "Spectacular Stances". I think he would've gotten the "Best ki-haps" award if the judge hadn't already given it out to some tiny little 3 year old instead. He held his own under the circumstances. I think what was hard for him was all the waiting. Being that our last name starts with "V", he went next to last, and it was really hard for him to wait. At least twice he was laying on the floor, and I had to go nudge him to sit up. He just wanted his trophy! Can't blame him, it was taking a while. Once thing that happened prior to being divided up into groups, Victoria brought in three little boys who were half orange-half white from the Trenton ATA where she and her dad also teach (it's one of Ma'am's other clubs/schools, and it's still new). I forget the little boys' names, but they were so cute. I introduced myself to them a la ATA instructor style, and Drew came down, and introduced himself, and even shook hands with them. I was really proud that he did that. It shows that he's made progress with some social graces. The problem was that he was also sitting next to Josh R., who is a little monkey like Drew, so when the two of them get together, they can be a troublesome twosome. These little boys from Trenton were being little angels. They put our Princeton kids to shame, and that's including my own kid (well, he always has his issues). Oh well. I can't wait to tell Ron and Victoria how well behaved those other little boys were, as I am hoping they will pass the word along to the little boys to boost their confidence and self-esteem. I did tell Drew at bedtime how proud I was of him, and how he was nice to those boys. He was a Power Ranger gentleman. ;-)

Shortly after his competition, JC took Drew home as he said he was bored, and I stuck around all day. Sharon was there too, and several times we got together and went over our form (brown belt/chuhng-jung #1), as she was not confident in it. I think by the time I went, I was pretty confident in it. I was glad she was around, as at the last regional tournament, I didn't have anyone to hang out with except Pen and Em, who are good company for a bit, but they are diehards in doing stuff, and I just wanted to hang out. In the off time that I wasn't hanging with Sharon (sometimes she was helping her son or some other thing), I just sat and played "pump it up" music with my MP3 player to get psyched. Eventually, it was the adult color belts' turn. I saw at least one gal, Lori S., who is a DE state champ. She's cool, I like her. She's a bit heavy set like me (actually a little heavier), but like me, she just goes out to do her best, and go with the flow. Debbie D., the NJ state champ in our division, was there, and man, she is annoying. She was strutting around like she ruled the roost, and other people noted it, especially the newbies, and kind of took a dislike of her. Most of the group we had was pretty low key, and we were all supportive of each other. There is an interesting dynamic that occurs in some schools and not others. I think if I said, "Can you think, 'Karate Kid'?", (provided you've seen the movie,) I think you'd understand. There are some schools who get SO caught up in the 'tude and the competitiveness, that they lose sight of what the competition is all about. There was another woman in my group, Stephanie, who is a very petite little thing who also goes to my school, and she understood, as well as some of the other ladies whom we were around. Debbie D., as well as some others, are fierce competitors. And don't get me wrong, they are very good. I would be watching some of these people (new faces to me, but probably not to the scene), and they were very good at what they did. But the way they did it almost struck most of us as if this is all they do. Like two of the ladies...I swear they must have been former cheerleaders or gymnasts or something, because their athleticism, for 30-somethings, was something not to believe. Of course, at least two of them could've been 20-somethings as instead of having the 17-29 group and a 30-39 group, it was one big whole group, and it was a LARGE group. Whereas at Lincroft we had 8 people in our group, this time we easily had twice as many. That naturally had its pluses and minuses. The main sticking point for me was that there was more competition, but it didn't seem like a fair fight. I mean, why would you put a woman who is almost forty up against someone who is almost half her age? That doesn't seem quite fair. Also, putting a camo belt against a black belt recommended? Or in my case, a purple belt against a brown belt. Granted, I've fought off a red belt and even a black belt in my time, but I had a difficult time today. More on that in a moment. So anyway, we seemed to have a good group overall, except for those people who seemed like obnoxious ringers, and they were a small group. Most of the ladies are quite sweet and supportive, and very low key. So, onto the personal details!

First was forms. After practicing it enough times, I pretty much had it down cold. Of course, that choaking mechanism of not remembering due to subconscious nerves kicked in. I didn't do as well as I would've liked, but I got through it with no major bobbles. Mr. A watched a bit and commented that I don't keep my thumbs tucked in, and we have to work on that! But otherwise, he thought I generally did fine. Weapons came along, and about half the group did it. I went through my bahng-mah-ee routine and almost forgot, but was able to pull through and wing it, especially at the end. I've rarely done the same thing twice with the ending, so I had tried to practice something I had done before so I had some consistency. I almost bobbled that, but kept going, and ended up with my signature "touche'" at the center judge at the end with a good kihap. So I felt, after hearing the scores, I might have shot, but not sure. Debbie D was doing this routine with those axe-like things where she even threw them up and caught them. Damn. Even more, was one of those seemingly ex-cheerleader types who was doing all these rolls and tumbles that made me think she was doing more of an XMA routine than a regular freestyle routine for weapons. Lastly was the dreaded sparring. I was happy to see that while the brute from the last regional was there, she was not geared up, so that gave me a better chance right there. Man, it was a tough match. I admit that I really didn't punch all that much, and was kicking like crazy. I am NOT good at second guessing or judging how other people are going to throw me kicks or punches. I outright suck at it. But, I was kicking a helluva lot, and though I should've gotten some more points. I also noticed that unlike some of the prior rounds before mine, they were flying through them, whereas mine seemed to go on forever. As it was, time was called instead of who got to 5 points first. I guess that's a good thing. I lost 2-4, but they were earned for sure. I did stumble at one point having lost my balance. I was doing these repeat round kicks with the idea of throwing her off, as most people don't expect a bunch of rapid fire repeated kicks. Instead, I think after she fended one of them off after a few, I lost my balance when they said "BREAK!". Heck, I don't even think I got the point on that one. :-S I banged up my bad knee a little, and my shoulder, which I think helped to break my fall a little, got slightly injured, but I persevered. As I returned to my little spot on the floor, I was just glad it was over, and knew I wasn't going to rank, but in running the clock down, at least I felt like I was holding my own a bit better. Since the sparring was going on longer than other people's, I was TIRED! I was told by the others sitting by me that they felt I was robbed, as I had gotten a lot more hits and the judges were blind, and they were surprised that I hadn't earned more points. That was encouraging. Later, Mr. A who had watched that as well, told me it wasn't a problem with the kicks themselves, but rather my timing of them, as I was kicking too late. Being a taller person with longer legs, I have a bigger reach. So instead of waiting until they are in striking range, I should learn to anticipate them coming in to try to reach me and strike out earlier. It makes total sense, especially the way he explained it, but I think that's a skill I will have to work on. As I sit and think about it several hours later, I do acknowledge that I do have to continue to not be afraid to learn to punch and yet protect myself better, and I have to better learn this timing thing. I think I also should have taken more risks with maybe doing some reverse sidekicks and the like, but those are skills I have to still learn. I do have to commend some of the lower ranked belts, as some of them said they had just been introduced to sparring or hadn't done it for long, and all they knew was defensive moves, not offensive moves, and they still held their own. That was really commendable. In the end, we knew up front who was going to be winning the sparring rounds, but we didn't know the ranking of the forms and weapons were. So, we lined up, and the judge, who seemed to be very low key and had a good sense of humor, talked to us, but I couldn't hear a lot of what he was saying because it was very loud with XMA stuff going on beyond the regular noisy levels. But he seemed very nice and complimentary to the group and all. So in forms, it was fair predictable-- Debbie D and the ex-cheerleaders. No surprise there. So when the weapons placements were announced, I was surprised to hear that I had made 3rd place! First and second place went to the two people I mentioned above-- Debbie and one of the ex-cheerleader types. I had predicted that-- it was easy to see. So, I was happy, as I really didn't think in the end that I'd be leaving with anything in the end.

I was a little disappointed in the end, because I felt I had improved a lot since the last go around, but I think because there was much more competition than the last time, I should feel very lucky that I made the 3rd place in weapons. I seem to rank at least 3rd in weapons all the time. And I don't always place on the others. So I may have found my niche. I would be happy to come in second to Debbie D. She is a diehard, and I swear she is a ringer, or she must be making a semi-career out of doing tournaments and such. It's bleeh to me. I haven't had much competition for placement in NJ yet, except for her. And I know she does a lot of travelling and going to a lot of tournaments, so if I can even get to being 2nd in the state, that would be good. She's closer to her black belt than I am, so maybe after she gets her black belt, I might have a slight chance at being number one. ;-) If not, hey, you can't say I haven't tried. It's not the end of the world if I'm not, but no one can ever say that I don't have enough spirit to try.

The next tournament that's relatively close is in DE towards the end of September. I might go-- we'll have to see how things are going at that time with the house and school and such. Lori S. asked me if we'd see each other at another tournament, and I said I was going to try to be at the one in her home state in September, and she said, "Hope to see you there!" :-) ATA friends are GOOOOOD.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

As ready as I'll ever be

Tonight we had yet another review class, but Michelle gave us a good warmup beforehand, so that was good. Had a good little chat with Penelope too. I like her a lot, and get along with her pretty well. There was only 5 people in class, so we were able to cover a lot of ground. After warming up, we had a few minutes to review our form, and I knew I had it. Then, we each took turns. I went last, as Michelle always has me go first with the little kids on Saturdays, so I had a chance to rest a little bit. Everyone but this little Indian kid who tries too hard and Pen had the same form, so that helped. I realized that Diane and Malachi don't know the form as well. Malachi would act like he knew it earlier on, but tonight, he was not remembering well. But tonight, I felt like I hit it the best I had yet. I had good flow, I didn't forget the moves (except the kihaps, I think, but I have a day to work on that), and I know that my moves were much stronger than Diane's or Malachi's. I felt confident. Weapons I goofed up a little at the end, but it was okay. Forgot some yelling, but I'll be fine. Just have to focus and be consistent with the ending. We did some tournament sparring. The first one was me against Diane. Well, Diane hadn't done it before, but she did okay. Still, I won 5-1. Then I had to fight Pen. Well, the only change in the rules is that where every hit is worth 1 point, vs. with non-SA people, it's 2 if it's a head strike, and 1 to chest. That way, if it's a non-SA person (like me) vs. an SA person, it levels the field a little since obviously the SA person is sparring at some disadvantage along the way. Well, it was my kicks to the head, and I did beat Pen, but it was more of a challenge, as she's got a mean punch and blocked very well. I think the score was more like 5-3, so she made me work a little more. But when she did get the point, even I would judge that she got it, and I knew it. We gave each other a run for the moeny, for sure. We had enough time to break boards, and again, I've got this knifehand DOWN, I tell you. I was flowing and humming tonight, for sure! And that's good, because if I can stay healthy for the next 36+ hrs., then I feel like I'll have a really good chance. It was the last opportunity to practice on the mats (vs at home) and get any critique. And I did fine-- just minor stuff. So I'm happy about that. Tomorrow afternoon and evening is setup for the tournament, and Saturday is the big day. Fortunately, there's the Zimmerman blowoff on Sunday, and that will be fun. (It's a pool party at the Zimmerman's house with the ATA leadership crowd, and Drew is invited too, which helps since JC will be doing the open house during the same time.)


I need to find my ki

Life has been pretty crazy lately. We put the house on the market (FSBO--yeah, I know), and the big, long awaited tournament is this weekend. I've been working all week to get the tournament program together. Even Ma'am has been doing things last minute, so I don't feel quite so bad in the end. But there is not only frenzy at the ATA, but just at my house too so my head is feeling like it's in constant whirl.

So it's no surprise that last night during a practice tournament, I didn't do as well as I thought. I think I was trying to rush through, and I blanked out, and just didn't put the full effort I need to in. I DO know this form, although I am still trying to remember where to put the kihaps. I need to find my center, I need to calm down and find my ki, and just RELAX. That's easier said than done, but I have to do that. I know that everytime I start my form I take a deep breath to try to blow it all out. I wish I could take more than one deep breath, but you know, the judges aren't going to wait all day for me to start, after all. I need to practice more at home, at least marking through what the moves are. When I practiced last night before class on the back mat, I was doing okay, but then under the pressure of my peers-- my PEERS, no less-- I choked. I shouldn't have in front of them. I know they have my best interests at hand.

Oy. If you see me come up for air in the next week, you'll know I'm still alive! Just so much to jam pack in the next few days!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Flirting with disaster...but escaping with just a few bruises

Yesterday was the last Saturday before the tournament where I could practice specific things for longer periods of time than during regular class time. I brought Drew with me, as he hasn't been to a class since the end of May, so that way he could at least get into the swing of it for the tournament. I know what you are thinking...I was setting myself up for disaster. Actually, there were only two points that did have some less than desireable effects. One was that, unbeknownst to me, in his regular class which he took, they were doing a lot more direction-giving and cracking down a little harder than usual as they were getting the little white/orange/yellow belts ready for tournament. Well, Drew's been out of the loop for a while, so it was a little bit of overload and it was difficult. Victoria informed me of all this, since she was co-teaching the class. I asked her if it was a "normal" class if he would've done okay, and she said, "Oh yeah, definitely he would've been okay if it was a normal class. He just had a rough time due to having to follow more directions than usual." Drew did tell me, however, that he really liked sparring class, so that's good. The other thing is that between sparring class and his regular class, while I had found entertainment for him while I continued with my classes, I think he probably needed a snack very badly. I just didn't have the time this morning. (Read my regular blog, Windsornot's Journal, for an update on the rest of my crazy life, and you'll understand what's been going on.) So, a snack would've been helpful, as it was VERY late before we got out of classes and got some lunch. Drew is a very cranky boy when he's hungry, that's for sure.

Classes were good for me, however. Before Drew and I went off, I did squeeze in a moment to review "THE WAY" DVD I have for the brown belt form so I could review what I did know, and see if watching the end I could fix that part I keep screwing up. Sure enough, it definitely helped. Heck, I'm bringing my portable DVD player and that DVD with me to tournament next week to make sure that I remember everything and review before I compete! We did a quick mock tournament practice, and I was shown to be good because I took my time. I just have to work on getting the kihaps in, still get better consistency with the wrist snaps, and heck, just remember the darn form! I was also told that my outer crescent kick was really good, and that the "judges" (Victoria and Ben P., a 2nd and 3rd degree BB respectively), felt they couldn't even execute these well. I think mine are not graceful, but I guess I get the job done! Weapons, were no problem. I was advised to throw in at least one or two extra kihaps just to sound good. Sparring was fine...I don't think I can get much better than I am. Evidentally my kicks to the head are something to be reckoned with, but I supposed it's a matter of me using my height advantage at least. Just need to remember to cover myself when kicking still! Board breaking-- I have it. As long as I'm warmed up, that knifehand break is gold.

In other tournament news, I have gotten a few boosters in, and I secured another item for the raffle, so hopefully Ma'am will be happy about that. We still have to get the last big thing worked out with my BIL's employer (a caterer) for their donation of breakfast food for the event. I hope that works out!

Between things going on at home, and this tournament, it's going to be a busy week! I will try to go to class as much as I can this week, and I think I will be able to hold my own in the tournament. I just really want to do well and get a placement. Hopefully all the work I've been putting in will pay off.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Frustrated in a twisted way

Tonight was leadership class, and it's always a challenge in there. Since tournament is coming up, we all worked on some things to help us, and also mentored each other in some drills, which helped with our teaching skills. We first did some aerobic stuff, where we had to do different foot combinations while running through the "ladder". Some I could do with no problem, and some I didn't do as well, but I tried. The worst part is that I am NOT an aerobic person due to my asthma, so you knew it was bad that when we were stretching and we had some dance music on to help keep us motivated, that my heartbeat, which I could feel throbbing all the way to the veins in my head, were in time with the music. Not good. Eventually my heart rate came down. I should resurrect my pulse/heart rate monitor so that these instructors can see that I really am over exerting myself to keep up sometimes. I think to see that my HR would be over 200 BPM would be really bad, don't you think? (I'm guessing at that, but it wouldn't be surprising. I always feel like my heart is going to explode and my lungs deflate like balloons in cartoons.) Anyway, we did these drills to work on kicks either for board breaking or in our forms, so I worked on my outer crescent kick. I was doing them a lot more gracefully tonight, so I was happy about that. Then we worked on practicing our forms. I've got most of it down, but the last freaking three steps are throwing me off, and it's a directional thing. The last three steps are SO simple. It's a double outer knifehand strike, then a slow upper hand block and low block (opposite hands), side kick, and then spin around and do the high/low block quickly. We do the same thing towards the beginning of the form, but in the opposite direction. For some reason, I'm having a hard time with that first double knifehand to set the whole section up. I don't know why. It's just not clicking. So, I just continued doing that last section while everyone else worked on weapons, because sometimes I'd get it, and sometimes I wouldn't. I don't know where the mental block is, or why the mental block is occurring. Once I have the "setup" right, I can do the rest of it with no problem. And the tournament is a week from Saturday, so I'm feeling the pressure. I think overall, I have it, and I have to remember where the ki-haps are and put them in, but I think with some persistance, it will be done. Next we worked on breaking boards. I practiced a little on the BOB first to make sure I had the rhythm of the whole thing. When it was finally my turn, POP, right there on the first try. Man, I get so excited when that happens! I am so thrilled, especially since I just learned how to do that knifehand break just a few weeks ago. Something where some persistance and training is paying off! I hope that by the time graduation and permission to test comes around, there will be little or no issues with me progressing. There seems to have been problems in getting stripes, and just about anyone who is a color belt has not officially, at least through the ATA system, been acknowledged as having graduated to their current belt. I mean, Penelope is a Yellow Belt, and she is a Decided, not recommended, and she didn't get her first stripe until yesterday. I've gotten none, and I know I've earned them by now, unless there's something I don't know. How frustrating! Sparring, of course, took the last vestiges of energy out of me. I first sparred Dr. Jimmy, aka Dr. Albani who all two or three of you may remember as the scourge who made life miserable for me early when I was a white belt. I'm okay with him now, and I'm sure I was easy for him, but I think it was a good round with him, at least from the perspective that I got a good challenge. My kicking still does pretty decently. Sparred Nina second, but I was pooped by then, and she's good. ;-) Then, that was that.

If I can just hammer out that last section of the form, I'll be as good to go as I can be at this rate. I'm just so frustrated that I can't twist my arms in the right freaking direction consistently! Grrr!

Monday, July 17, 2006

New TV Obsession

We interrupt this blog to bring you my newest television programming discovery which I'm going to probably start getting obsessed about, and hope it doesn't compete (figurative and literally) with some of my other favorite late night programs. I was channel surfing a bit last night, and they had some show on MTV called "Final Fu". It's some sort of reality elimination thing, much like any other show like that, but what's cool about this is the start out with 30 people who are high ranking 20-somethings versed in various martial arts, and they narrow down the group to the Final Fu. Last night, they had an obstacle course which had to do with going through a maze where all these vases and pieces of china were strung together, and if you touched the line even slightly, then the vases would drop and you'd get points off, or rather time added to your final time thorugh. To make it more interesteing, there were 20 button lights you also had to turn off-- with your foot or a kick. So it was a contest about true balance and skill, so it was interesting. Then, they had a sparring session between the bottom two people. One was a TKD guy, and one was a karate guy. Rules were no hitting the head (hard for a TKD person, or at least me since that's what I'm always going for), and not below the belt. All they had on was their boxing glaves and their mouthguards-- that's it. It was interesteding to thing I noticed was that neither of them (at least in the 1st two rounds) would attempt a double kick. I'm trying to learn to do that all the time. You know, blow to the chest then head then chest, then chest. (OK, you've figured out that my kicking is my stronger point.) Even though they couldn't strike to the head, you still could get double kicks in, and I didn't see that until the 3rd round. The TKD guy won. (Yay!). I'll be watching with great interest if I can make sure it doesn't come on at a bad time and doesn't compete with some of my other favorites on TV.

I was also thinking about it, since I had been watching Supernanny for a bit last night too, and I find that both she and a few other shows where they are rehabing the family often send the kids to TKD or karate classes. I think that's great, as I think, as they show, it's a good outlet to physically get aggression out in positive way. (I know it works for me that way!). Cool that there's a nudging more towards martial arts. Just an observation.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Good Saturday

Overall, it was a good Saturday. I think I've figured out part of the key to getting through the 2 hours of nonstop classes. First, I need to get up a little earlier than I would for a Saturday morning. Second, not only eat breakfast, which I do anyway, but eat a banana as part of the mix. I had read something in one of the listservs that I belong to for Drew's apraxia that bananas are good for calming you down and such, and often those who have to do performances (professional musicians, athletes, etc.) will eat a banana before showtime. It's good for you too and a natural resource, so why not? I've done it the last two Saturdays, and it seems to have worked. Oh, and I also stretch at least a little bit before I go, and then get to the school early to do some stretching too. In sparring class, we first did some drills with the #1,2,3 and 4 kicks across the floor. Then we geared up, and we had one sparring match where we weren't allowed to use our hands, and had to keep moving and kicking. Another one was just hands and no feet (that one was hard, and I realize that I am really weak with my left punches), and then a regular sparring match. Fortunately, for the regular sparring match, I got to spar an adult, Karla, a 2nd degree. I got a surprise when I was informed by her that, "Jeri told me that you have some very strong kicks". See, I knew I could kick, but never thought they were strong kicks. And Jeri is that 2nd black belt that I almost defeated at the interschool tournament. Then, I ended up backing Karla up where she tripped and sprained her ankle. I felt bad, but it really wasn't my fault, it was how she decided to step back. Oh well. Maybe my sparring isn't as bad as I thought, but I still will pursue better skills. Forms are coming along. Got that new section again, and the we reviewed the rest of the form, since most in the class were going to tournament and using this Chuhng-Jung #1 like me, so that was good. I still need help with some of the directional stuff, but I think I can get it. I have a good foundation, and it's just memorization to keep it flowing, and getting the directionals and stances right, and I should be okay. We did some jump kick exercises to warm up, since it's in the form, so that helped. Weapons, piece of cake as usual. Strectches, easy drills, and Mr. A even told me that I know the first Bahng-mah-ee form super well to teach it to someone else (I have done that already too), so that's good. I ran though the weapons drill a little more, trying to get more of that hip motion/pivot in the first striking lines that Victoria mentioned to me, and Diane (who attended class with her whole family) thought it looked cool. Last was board breaking. I like board breaking classes with Mr. A, as I feel I get better drills and direction from him. When asking each person which break they were working on, he guessed correctly the knifehand strike one, with a smile. I think that not many people do that one, so that's why it's kinda cool for me to do it. I was told that I had my choice of elbow, palm heel or knifehand, and almost nobody ever does knifehand. I know I have to do an elbow for another testing break later, and I'm pretty sure that it's the same situation with the knifehand, so why not? I don't think you get more points for completing this type of break, but maybe I'd get more brownie points for it. ;-) So, did the drills on the pads and such per Mr. A's direction, and I was the last person to break. Sure enough, I'm happy to say, BAM, got it on the first try after a few practice tries. I always get excited when I break on the first try, and I think Mr. A was pretty happy about it too. Diane even complimented me by saying, "You know, that's such an impressive looking break!" :-) I can't complain.

Tournament is two weeks away. Yikes! I think I'll be ready overall. There is no board breaking, which is probably just as well. Weapons, obviously, I'm not worried about that. Just have to keep my head with it and not get cocky and focus. Forms, I'm pretty sure that I'll have it down, and will get most of the finer points in by then. I will have to practice this a lot between now and then. And sparring-- well, I think just by practicing and practicing and practicing, I'm hopefully better than the last tournament. But then again, some of my competition might be better too, so it will be interesting to see. All I can do is try, right?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Let's try this again...

My computer is being a little slow tonight, and so it's showing a slight delay from my typing (crap! I had that when that happnes!), and last night I was almost done my entry when we lost power due to a thunderstorm (it only takes a few seconds, huh?), so I lost my whole entry from last night. So, I'm gong to try to cram in two days' worth of entries into one.

Both night have been fairly easy going, of which I'm glad, as I've been pretty hard driven as of late. I think I need to let up a little, and the attitude of the instructors wasn't too different. Everyone is under some pressure to cram in some way or another with something for tournament. Last night in Leadership class, since almost all of us are competing. Mr. A was leading the classes, as Ma'am is out due to having surgery on her bad shoulder finally. We had mock tournament practice, and we were split into the guys and the gals. There was more of us gals, two of us were in wheelchairs, and two of us were color belts, so that made it interesting! And although I am not certified (yet) as a corner judge, I got a chance to practice and see how it's done, and it looks like I was kinda on track on how I was observing. When it was my turn with forms and weapons, I did fairly well. I didn't have my whole form yet, so I did as much as I could. I messed up, as there was a section that had kicks and for a moment I had brain freeze and thought they were jumps instead. DUH. Big mess up. So the suggestions for me were flow and better memorization, naturally, and a little more consistency with the hand whip-locks. What I mean by that is when you do a slow move and it's kind of a flair move to whip your hand into position and lock it at the last second. I'd do it in some places and not others. All things I can fix. With weapons, it's just more hip rotation on my first strike lines, and more downward motion on a particular strike. Easy to do. So I think I'm generally in good shape.

Tonight, it was just Em, Pen, Diane T. and myself in class. That was nice, as that way, I had someone else working on my form and getting some of the steps down. Diane was about a week behind in learning the form, so she was playing catchup, but it was good review. Got some points to help with fine tuning too, so that helps. I have learned the rest of the form, and it's basically reversing the first half, so I just have to remember the order the sections go in, and keeping the direction correct. So I'm generally feeling good. I just have to do some practicing, and I feel like if I can just keep a cool head at tournament and not choke from nerves, I should do pretty decently.

Pushing onwards....

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Getting pumped

As I entered to post this...posting, I saw that I had already written 100 entries before this. Wow. I didn't think I had done that many here, but here's #101!

Today being Saturday, it's marathon day for me, hence the specialty classes. Sometimes it's still frustrating to be the only adult in a class, let alone the only woman or even the only color belt adult in the class. The sparring class is for all ages and ranks, but the other adults today were all black belt men. I sparred only one of them, otherwise I sparred mostly with some kids who were between 9-11 years old for the most part. We did more in reviewing what was legal and what was not in tournament sparring, and had a few practice rounds. One 9 year old in particular--don't know his name yet, but he's gonna be a looker when he's older-- was a little afraid to spar me. I assured him that a) since he's a black belt, he should be able to whoop my butt anyway, b) I suck at sparring, and c) size doesn't matter if you have the skills. I did go a little easy on him, size he was pretty short for his age, and I did tower over him (I'm 5'10", so I tend to tower over a lot of people anyway), and he got a couple of good hits in, so it bolstered his self confidence, so that's good.

In forms class, Malachi showed up, so there was at least someone over 13 years old there. He behaved himself for the most part. He's starting to shape up a bit, and instructors and instructor trainees are allowed to whack him if needed to get him to behave-- his parents even gave permission! But it wasn't necessary. Although to keep his back straight, MZ, who was teaching the forms class, did stick a bahng-mah-ee in his back under his belt to help him, and the littlest one in there, Joshua (who was more focused today) at age 5, thought that was very funny. It was, but more from the perspective of him sticking himself in the tushie when he didn't stand up straight and his complaining. :-P I was also trying to show him that while he might know the form, and he's not competing in the tournament with forms, the way to get points is not speed, but showing methodology, meaning, doing the steps exactly right. Speed comes with time. His form always looks sloppy. He keeps saying how much he likes speed, but again, that's not going to get him points unless his technique is good. So, I think I have the next section down now, but as usual I have to work on my stances more than the hand movements. Em was discouraging me from trying to get ahead, until MZ explained that I have to have this form down for tournament. I think I have the next section down already actually, as I read it in the manual, saw it on the training DVD, so it's just a matter of orientation since the next section is just double low block, step, jump side kick, double muscle block, and then reverse in the other direction. That's pretty simple enough. Just have to get the jump looking a lot more graceful.

Weapons class-- I don't know why I keep taking this class. Waste of time right now, since I'm doing the same thing I did for the last tournament. We each had to take a turn practicing individually in front of MZ and JZ as judges, and they would give pointers as to what we needed to change. My only criticism was that I should start standing farther back when I start. Otherwise, it was fine/good. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Board breaking was fine. I was the only adult in the class...again. MZ said she didn't know how to stretch a board breaking class for a half hour on just one technique for each of us, but she tried. When it was finally my turn to break my board with the knifehand strike, it wasn't breaking. I knew part of the problem was that I wasn't rotating my waist enough, but even when I tried to correct that, it still wasn't coming. MZ told me that my technique was fine, that I had that, but I needed more twist in the hips in the follow through. I guess it's cool that I'm being encouraged to do this break. I could've been working on the elbow or palm heel, but since I've learned this, I guess I'm being encouraged since I suspect it's a little harder and not the regular run of the mill break like the kids.

While I didn't pass out this time or have leg problems during sparring class, and classes when fine overall, part of me really wishes that I was a black belt already, as there are always black belt adults there, but their classes are before mine, so at most I share the sparring class on Saturdays. It's not enough. Man, I have to hurry up and get that belt, and as it is, I'm suspecting that I won't actually earn it until next spring at least. Bleeh. It's a lot harder to be a black belt, I know, but part of it is just so I don't have to do this stuff with kids anymore. I don't mind helping the kids at all, but lately I've been wanting to be able to practice with others who can appreciate my time and needs as they have the same needs or at least I can be more challenged and not worry about smacking a kid down vs. an adult.

But after Wednesday, having a good class on Thursday and good classes today, I'm starting to feel a little better again about tournament. Well, as much as I'd like to win something, I just have to go and do my best, and that's all I can ask of myself. In the meantime, I have to get my butt into gear, as I am the one who is designing the Tournament program. Ma'am gave me a bunch more of entries, and I need to get on my butt to get some more, since the more in there, the more money we can give to charity, since all profits are going to charity. I have a few places in mind, so I will try to go and see what I can rouse up in fundraising. The tournament is in 3 weeks. Yikes!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Better night

I went to class, knowing that the odds were that Victoria was going to be teaching tonight. After the last class with her, I think I was getting more pissed off at her, and I just felt if she stepped over the line again, that was it, I was not going to mince words with her. However, she and I, along with some other people, were chit-chatting before class, and she was better today and more respectful while still being able to teach and joke around during class. We did some warmups to get our hips rotated a bit (that's easy for me), and did some kicking/balance warmups as well. Part of it was that we'd each take a turn on the balance ball (one of those half balls where it's flat on one side, and round on the other), and while balancing, we'd have to do front kicks to a pad. Dean, who I think is working on getting his 3rd degree BB and is VERY good (I'd say one of the best in the school) was helping, and he said that he could do 3 front kicks at once before losing his balance. Well, on the first side, I was lucky to get one or two in a row, but on the other side, I got 3 kicks in a row in twice. Sweet.

We then went through form. I think it was again more just getting the steps down than working on the finer points. I have to check with Ma'am about the X-cross we do with our hands to verify if it's open hand or closed hand. Victoria looked it up, but everyone I've seen do it (except Ma'am, as I haven't seen her do it), I think did it closed hand. I'll either have to look at the DVD or ask her later. We then worked on weapons, and it was mostly me working with Matthew again tonight. He's such a sweet kid. I think his Dad, who hadn't seen me work with him, was getting after Matt when he was fine. I think Matthew has come to trust me, and I think he's been starting to get the hang of some stuff. Sometimes, I think people don't think he can do stuff, but if you just take your time and work with him slowly, and set patterns, he can do it. He's really starting to remember the pattern for the bahng-mah-ee, which is great! So, in a sense, got to goof off with that and didn't have to practice my weapons in the conventional sense. Sparring went fine. Sparred one of the Charters sisters, then Matthew, and that was fine. We then did board breaking. Victoria thought I was nuts to be doing the knifehand break, and I almost did it on the first try, but I didn't rotate my hips enough. DUH. Got it on the second try. I think she was a little shaken up, as I don't think too many people do this break, especially at my level. Go me. We did a little bit of advanced kicking afterwards, and that jump kick that bashed up my knees I was able to do it. Clumsily, but I got up off the ground at least.

So, overall, it wasn't too bad tonight. I think on Saturday, I need to get up a little earlier in the day so that my muscles are a little more warmed up, and then maybe it'll be easier to participate in class. Maybe I will be ready for tournament after all. I really hope so. I'm starting to get nervous.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

I've lost already

Tonight was leadership class. I got a chance to see Sharon coming out of the class before, and I told her what happened with Victoria on Saturday, and she agreed that Victoria is a little bit of a smartass for her own good sometimes. Class was small again tonight due to it being summer and all, but that's okay. Ma'am actually taught leadership class for the first time in at least a month. She did speak a little about how you approach how you speak. For me, it was all pretty easy stuff. It was about things like, don't correct the black collar on the floor when he/she is in charge and you're just a trainee; if you disagree, talk to them about it after class, not during class, etc. A lot like discipline and parenting skills stuff, so it's pretty easy for me to understand and put into practice. We then worked on each of us directing the class in a form or one step as needed. Ma'am had me do One-step #1 in Songham 1. I was nervous enough, as I've never done it before-- that is, directed other people. Talk about being put on the spot a little bit. After we reviewed Songham #1 in its entirety and all the corresponding one-steps, we reviewed the steps for this week for my form. It helped getting the preview from Mr. A last week. Ma'am then sent me to the back floor to work on my form thusfar.

Then the disaster began. I pulled out my cheat sheet book to help me remember the steps. Ma'am scolded me and told me to not look at that. She asked me to do what I knew so far, and after only a few moves, she stopped me in the middle. Evidentally, I have developed a lot of bad habits in this form that hadn't been corrected. She had me do the first two sections over and over, and if I tried to do the next section after that, she got after me. I'm just trying to get the damn flow of the whole thing as it is! While others worked on weapons, I just kept working on my form the whole night, and she'd fix a few things along the way. I know she wasn't being mean or getting after me to be harsh. But part of my problem was that I started to cry. Part of the reason for that, I think, (warning: TMI) that it's female hormones surging right now. But a lot of it was frustration and anger-- at myself, and at the instructors who were supposed to have been teaching me this correctly and looking for those bad habit and those mistakes. All those who have been my instructors in these past weeks are even certified to be tournament judges, so they know what to look for in my form. And they weren't correcting it. And they all know, or at least most of them know, that I'm using this form for tournament. I'm frustrated at myself for a) crying when I shouldn't have (embarassed about it too), b) for being so dense that I can't cram this and know better with some of this stuff. Some of the corrections she made were simple hand and foot timing that I do know better. I dunno. I just felt so lame and upset. I mean, here I've been working for weeks on learning a new form, which as usual is meant for a color belt two belts up from me, and I'm trying to cram in learning it in half the time, and this happens. I'm feeling like crap now. All those feelings of dread that I thought I was starting to get over with the rush of confidence I've had recently was smacked down in an instant. I felt like I had a chance to do well with this upcoming tournament. Now, I'm having serious, serious doubts again. Oh crap. All I can do now, I guess, is just keep working on this. It looks like there's a potential that this tournament may end up being much bigger than expected, with people coming from as far as the MidWest US for this. That means more competition. That means I have to work that much harder to ensure that I place-- because I want to place.

Maybe I need a mental break from TKD myself, much like Drew is getting the summer off. The problem with that is that with a tournament coming up, I can't do that. Maybe afterwards, but not right now. Then I have to worry about graduation, but if I can do those board breaks, keep up with my sparring, and learn this icky form, I'll be fine, I'm sure. But I'll have August to get the kinks out. I dunno.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Double Charley Horse avoided

Today I did another one of those 2 hours of nonstop classes. The first one was bad. I think part of it was that the front and back doors were open to let a crossbreeze through the school, but it was still very warm inside, and since it was getting later in the morning, it hadn't occured to anyone to just close the doors and let the A/C get the place to a normal room temperature. I felt rather stiff and all this morning, and did a quick warm up, but evidentally it wasn't enough, or...I don't know, lack of physical fitness? The first class is the dreaded one, the sparring class. Now mind you, I don't even have to take this class, but I know my sparring needs work, so I go. And usually, my asthma kicks up something fierce, and I'm overheating and dripping with sweat. It was warm enough that one of my sparring partners, whom I believe is a high schooler-- possibly about to enter college-- would also take off her head gear to cool off in between exercises. Yeah, that bad. That's the problem with all that gear. While it does a good job in generally protecting you due to it's foam core, it's also hotter than hell. I think part of this weekend, instead of just letting it air dry, maybe I'll wash it a little and disinfect. Bleeh! But the big problem wasn't even the asthma quite as much. The calves on my legs were tensing up and hurting like all get out. I've seen this happen before when I've had to do a lot of hopping around/jogging. It's so bad, that the muscles almost lock up like getting a Charley Horse. That's bad. Of course, who do I get for an instructor this morning but Victoria, who has no sympathy and little mercy. Again, part of the reason that I like TKD is that I can go at my own pace. I'm not against learning to push myself to learn new things, but I also know my own limitations well. There is a fine line in pushing yourself beyond your limits productively and gradually, versus pushing yourself too hard. Victoria is thinks more of the latter. I stopped for a moment, just to catch my breath, kneeled on the floor for a moment, just to regain some composure so I could continue. Victoria said I could sit out, with just the slightest hint in her tone that "geez old woman, just get off and don't be such a wussy bother". I explained that I just needed a moment, and that's all I needed-- a moment. Heck, this wasn't a regular class, after all. If I didn't want to work, I wouldn't have come at all. But my body was not cooperating first thing, and I was working to the best of my ability. I'd like to see this teenager put on 60 lbs, give up all sports and activities for a long while, contract asthma, and then do what she demands, and see what she says. At that moment, I told her, "I just need a moment. I feel like I'm going to pass out, and it's either I pass out, or I spar, and I'd rather not pass out, thank you." She snipped back, "Well, I guess we have different priorities." Ooh, that made me angry. Again, I came her to learn, not to take snide remarks. I work hard within my ability, and I do my best to push myself. I don't need lip from a teenager, even if she is higher ranked than me in every way. I'd say something to Ma'am, but Ma'am has known her for years, and I worry that I would say something that would be seen as out of turn and me being difficult and a wuss, so I don't. I just put up and shut up. Grrrrrr.

Anyhow, did forms class. Boring, and my knees are aching as I really worked on stances a lot, but it's good. I was the only adult in the class. :-S Weapons and board breaking were the same deal. I was the only adult there. All the others didn't even crack the 10 year old mark. But, that's okay. With weapons, I could at least work on stuff, and set a good example for the kids. There's one boy, Joshua, who used to be in Drew's class. He was also a little goofball who couldn't focus well, and his mom is a sweetheart. However, I am really starting to wonder about this kid. Drew has sensory issues and is easily distracted, but I felt like if you brought him into line, he'd behave better than Joshua, who's considered "normal". I'm wondering if Joshua has mild ADHD or something, because he's older than Drew, considered "normal" compared to Drew, and yet I feel like Drew would have done better in that class than him. Hmmmm. So anyway, weapons was boring too, as I think I have that one down pretty well for now. I might use that as my lunch break or something, 'cause I really haven't learned anything new. At least not this week. Board breaking was okay. I felt I got more out of Mr. A's classes last week, and classes today were Victoria and MZ. MZ is better as she's a little more relaxed with the kids and can still deal with me. Emily was trying to help out again, but I really don't think she understands kids. At one point, she was barking out how she couldn't hear responses and ki-haps. Even MZ said, we'll worry about the ki-haps later, and this seemed to be a somewhat shy group. Emily really doesn't understand how to be around kids, I don't think. She gets a little too verbal. I respect her for her knowledge-- for someone who is wheelchair bound, she understands very well where stances and footing should be, and she really does know her stuff. But she lacks...bedside manner, if that makes sense. She's not rude, but she's not sympathetic. Geez, this is a bunch of small children (and me) who are nervous enough being in a concentration class to get better at something, they are trying to concentrate more on their form than on the "Yes, Ma'ams", and that's what they should be focusing on. If they were being irreverent or disruptive or goofing off, then I can understand getting after them with that stuff to get them refocused. But otherwise, geez, they are just kids, not cadets at West Point for Christ's sake!

Board breaking-- yay! It wasn't great drills, but we did drill to work on our breaks. Since it was review week, I chose to continue to work on my new break, the knifehand strike. Hopefully it'll impress Ma'am when she sees me doing it. We had to get Ron, Victoria's dad who is also an instructor, to help hold my boards, and he helped a little on coaching. (Being an adult, I needed two holders, whereas the kids are smaller and can have one adult-- MZ--holding.) I just needed a little more rotation in my waist, but I got it pretty quickly. And this time, it was an open hand instead of a closed hand. Yes! My waist and back were hurting after so much rotation, but it was there. I'm getting the hang of that break very quickly, and I was assured by MZ that my board wasn't starting to give out yet or be too broken in yet. That's good. Then again, I didn't break it right away. I'd say it was about the 3rd or 4th attempt, and at least one of them I got the pieces separated, but not broken. Progress!

Being that it's July 1st, it's only 4 weeks until the tournament. I don't know that my sparring is any better than before. I wish instead of these marathon of sparring we'd actually do some real tournament sparring. I understand the idea behind the marathons-- it's conditioning that we won't get tired during competition like others do-- but still, it's hard on my body, specifically, my lungs. I'm starting to feel confident, though, about my weapons for the moment, so I might drop that extra class. Forms can always use work, but I'm wondering if there's a way to get more out of the class if it's mostly the little kids. Granted, I'm doing the same thing, and the same segments, but right now, I'm also trying to get a little ahead. Gonna have to see how next week's classes go. I really like Mr. A teaching, but the poor guy needed the weekend, for sure, after teaching almost all classes for the last two weeks while Ma'am was away and with her doing camp. We'll see how it goes.

In the meantime, I think some of the kids today were starting to get interested in the tournament, as MZ would say, "If a judge saw you, you'd have to do this, and they wouldn't like this, etc.". I could at least vouch for what she was saying. It would be great to get some more kids involved. I think they'd enjoy it. MZ told me that my whole weapons routine definitely hit the 20 second mark, which is good. I just have to practice the end some more, but that's fine. No biggie. I don't have to worry about board breaks at tournament, at least, but I'm feeling pretty confident lately about that. It's the sparring and forms, more the former than the latter. Forms I'm not TOO worried about, but that's a biggie, and I think I've got techniques down, I just want to do a killer job on them and place in forms. I lost the tie breaker at the last one for 3rd place, so I want to try to get 2nd place right off the bat. And sparring. While my victory in doing well against Jeri at the interschool tournament was good, and Karla and some others have been encouraging, I would love to get at least 3rd in that. I think I'd have a chance, at least, of not being last in my group's placements for that, now that I know what to expect.

I'm not so stuck on winning, but it is a gauge for me to try to persevere and do well. I have set a goal of trying to place 2nd in all areas for color belt women in my age group for this tournament year, and I want to start off with a bang. Hence, all the training.