Wednesday, August 23, 2006

C'mon baby, let's do the twist.

Being only one day after graduation, with one of Ma'am's star pupil's Dean (good kid, like him, talented kid) going up for his 3rd degree at Master C's tonight, Leadership class was rather quiet. The Drs. P (husband and wife, each with PhDs) were the only other attendants, and they are both 2nd degrees, but very pleasant. Ben is their son. So, it was almost like getting a personal session tonight, as Mr. A worked with them and me. Tonight was my last class for a while, as I'm leaving for vacation on Friday, and won't be back until Labor Day weekend, so no classes-- and no entries, most likely, until I get back! (So you are forewarned! :-P) Mr. A nonetheless started working on some skills tonight that were all new and related to my new form, Chung Jung #2. Uck, I hate it already. I will say that I think the theme for tonight was doing the twist, because heck if I felt like that was the crux of most of what I had to do that the balls of my feet were getting sore from all the twisting, in addition to my waist and hips. Tonight was more about learning some skills related to the form instead of learning the first section, which was fine. Since I was by myself, Mr. A had me mostly working on the pads. First, he had me working on doing hook kicks. Evidentally, I swing out too much-- I think that my inclination to do that was a residual from my dance years. No sooner do I feel that I've figured out how to do this on each side, I now have to figure out how to do a reverse hook kick. Damn. I kept losing my balance just in the turn before even chambering for the kick, and Mr. A helped me fine tune that with a simple foot repositioning, and then it helped with the balance issue, so I was getting a little better. Next was working on a ridgehand move. Mr. A started me with working on a proper jab, and then working it into the ridgehand. I could get the body rotation, but the hard part was keeping a bent arm. It was a lot of work getting it right, or at least trying to get it right! We then worked on weapons. After doing bahng mah ee for SOO long, I decided to trade it for the ssang jeh bahng, since I won't be getting my bo staff thing until after Labor Day. I was just going through some drills on the stuff I remember and the stuff I know, and then Mr. A asks if I know a blind pass move or something named like that. Um...nope. Theoretically, it makes sense. But putting it into practice, well, let's just say I'm going to have to practice it a LOT. It's a tradeoff move, meaning it's where you are transferring the weapon from one hand to the other and then back, but in a series of specific moves. Or at least I call it a tradeoff move, I'm sure that's not the technical term. But you get the idea. Oy, something I'll have to work on. Next, board breaking. I think I figured out that my problem in doing the roundkick break was that I wasn't angling my body correctly. Tonight, I got it on the second or third try, and I wasn't getting my toes this time, so I was happy. Sparring wasn't too bad. Mr. A worked with me on some punching stuff, as I feel that's a big part of me weakness. He's very good with his sparring training, which is good, because for the most part until recently when he started working more with me, I felt like I was just thrown to the wolves and developed a learning curve from there. Now I'm actually getting some direction. So, overall, I was learning a lot of new stuff tonight, which was cool. I'm a little anxious about the next session. Chung Jung 2 is way up on the color belt forms-- it's the red/red-black form, so this is going to be tough. I'm about halfway up the pike in getting my black belt now, and doing an almost black belt form is intimidating. Just working on the stuff I had tonight was intimidating. Broken down, each part I could handle, but to put it all oh man. I think I will need this vacation. And when I return, I will be working on a makeover of sorts. I need to lose weight, and I've set the goal to start after vacation, and put more time into getting into shape so that way I can do better in TKD.

So, see you September!!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The deed is done

Another graduation is done! I am now a blue belt in Songahm Taekwondo. I made it through. Considering in the last month, I have been battling with a big back injury and the continual knee problems, well, I made it through. There were only 3 other color belts camo and up, namely the Indian boy and the twin sisters. The twins went with me, and we were the next to last group to go up, and I was in the last group to do weapons with an orange belt kid. Well, let's see, with forms, I was starting to forget the form before I even got up. Nerves, I'm sure. Some of my kicks were not as good as I would have liked, and I forgot a kihap, but I got through it for the most part otherwise. With weapons, I goofed up at one part. I was a little disappointed in myself for that, because nerves had me goof up, and I had practiced this afternoon. I changed a kneeling move with a weapon toss move. I could pull it off at home, but when it was showtime, I choked. Oh well. Hopefully got I got brownie points for doing something different. I was a little nervous with the sparring part though. I haven't sparred in a month, but felt well enough to try. Fortunately, I got to go up against the taller twin, and she knew about my health issues, and I just told her to take it easy. But if I was going for it, then she knew I was up to it, and she could go for it too. I was going for it, and she tried, but in graduation sparring there's no contact, but I have to say that I think that I would have whooped her butt. ;-) I felt good about that. So, I earned my blue belt! So all that's left is the brown, red, and black recommended, which takes multiple cycles for each of those. I predict that I won't be getting by black belt until at least a year from now, at that rate. Maybe the spring, but I doubt it.

My career in the ATA is moving along too. Before graduation, Ma'am told me that based on what I provided her, she's thinking of having me work from 10-3 daily, and teach 2 Cubs classes and one homeschool class a week during my hours. Sweet! I told her my only hesitation was that being still very green, I didn't know if I was supposed to come up with lesson plans on my own or not, and she told me tonight, absolutely not. She writes them up each week, and hands them out, and I just have to follow them. Whew! That's a relief! So, hopefully after I get Drew started with school, my career as an instructor will be starting, even though I'm kinda doing my apprenticeship of sorts. Big leap in life now! I'm nervous about it, but if you don't try these things, you don't know if you can succeed. Part of the journey to becoming a black belt and moving up in degrees is that you grow as you learn more skills, and hopefully there's a spritual journey in discovering yourself and challenging yourself along the way. Taking on this job is just part of that journey, whether for my bb, or just for me personally. It's time to start making changes like this in my life, and I'm ready (I think), and I'm just lucky that I'm able to make this transition back into the work world doing something that I enjoy, and with someone who has enough faith in me to hire me without an interview or even having looked at my resume, and someone who knows me fairly well in a familiar place. It's still nerve wracking, but that takes some of the edge off.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Hoping a blue wave will hit me

What kind of blue wave, you ask? Well, I'd love something to hit me whereas I will feel a total release from the pain in my back and knee so that I can better do what I need to in class. Or better yet, have it hit me so that I do spectacular at testing/graduation that I earn my blue belt on Tuesday.

The last two classes have been rather difficult. Fortunately, my instructors have not pushed me to do what I can't do, and have even made suggestions to modify things so that I can work around these injuries right now. Like Emily suggesting that instead of kneeling in my Weapons form that I toss up my weapon like the NJ State Champ did at the last tournament. It's a freestyle, after all, so I can get away with it. Point well taken! Just have to make sure not to go too crazy when I toss it. I tried it today during weapons specialty class, and it seemed to flow okay with the routine. Another adjustment was Mr. A trying to get us to learn to do two footed jumping (aka tuck up the supporting/jumping leg when doing jump kicks), and I just couldn't do it one footed. He had me start with the support of both legs, and sure enough, after showing me, THEN I could do it a little more easily. On Thursday, I could barely make it through class without wincing or gritting my teeth in pain to do a basic middle stance (the very first stance in my form). I went to the chiropractor on Friday, and felt some relief, but woke up with the stiff back again. While I now have some new exercises to help me strengthen my core more as my back heals up from the chiro, I still need to take it easy, but I know in the end, these exercises will help. I'm lucky that I have a chiropractor who is also a 1st degree BB in TKD himself, so he knows what I need! ;-) I got through Thursday class, no sparring, but didn't do as well as I would like due to the pain. I'm not overdoing it, but I can't keep still, and I need to stay on top of what's in class, even if I can't execute it all. The mind is willing, but the body is unable, as I've said before, and make sure that my instructors understand that it's not me being lazy. I probably still push myself a little bit. Today, JC used the Homedics massager for a while after I woke with the stiff back again, and that seemed to help loosen things up a little so I could function better. I think that might be a routine for a while for me, but it felt SOOOO good. Forms class today was review and fine tuning the jump kicks for the form for graduation. There were only 3 of us, 2 of them kids, and I clearly knew the form the best. I have to say, even with injuries, I think I did it the best I ever had when I had to do it solo. Too bad today wasn't testing! Weapons was good, as we got a lot of good info on wrist rotation stuff with "helicopter" drills, both vertical and horizontal. I didn't break any boards in board breaking, but got to learn how to practice an axe kick break, as well as practice a roundkick break. That one is hard, as I always seem to hit with my toes. I have the power, follow through, and rotation, but I have to angle myself differently, so I will have to learn how to make that adjustment to keep from breaking my toes. I have to say that taking the specialty classes on Saturdays has really paid off, I think. I'm feeling a lot more confident, and I really am glad that Mr. A is being promoted to being a chief instructor, as I think he's been especially critical to my improvement. And understanding of my ailments! I envy my online buddy Lucky , as he has set out to do a modified UBBT program to get in shape and help him set goals in his quest for an ATA black belt. I only wish I could do half of that, but with this back not getting better quickly, and the knee acting up more, I feel that isn't going to be possible for quite a while. :-(

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The mind is willing, the body is unable

Well, tonight was leadership class night. Ma'am was actually in tonight, and she's still recovering from her shoulder surgery, so she was a little bit limited in what she could show, as she and a few others had just gotten back from a leadership weekend. I would've liked to have done it, but time and money were an issue (when isn't it?). Besides, with the bad back and knee, I wouldn't have been able to keep up. Tonight, Ma'am was going over some drills to consider when teaching kids stuff. It was all 2nd degree level stuff, but I understood it, and it was stuff that a color belt could learn. The problem was that the mind was willing, but the body unable. Seriously. I understood what I was being told to do, but between my back, my bad knee, and my weight, I just couldn't do it. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't due to the lack of trying, that's for sure. I tried, I really did. I could kinda due a butterfly kick, but just couldn't get the height or get my base leg up other than to propel off it. Bleeh. At least for the practice drills, I was either paired up with either Alex or Jodi, and I enjoy working with them. They are both good kids, really they are. After class, when we were having the meeting time, Ma'am was going over coverage, and she announced that Mr. A was being promoted to a Chief Instructor, what with her trying to run three schools, so that's great. He's definitely earned the position, and he's good. Heck, he's the one who trained me all summer, so I know he's good. Afterwards, Ma'am asked me if I had talked to JC, and I told her that yes, we talked about it, and I can start after the school year starts. We leave on vacation in a week and a half for a weeklong vacation, and then the week after Labor Day is the first week of school, and Ma'am is taking a mini vacation that weekend after school starts, so it looks like I might be starting on September 11th. Yeah, that infamous date. Let's hope it brings me better luck.

I just wish that this back would heal up. It's been 2 1/2 weeks already, and I really thought I was okay tonight. We hardly did anything, and it still is smarting. This really sucks. Well, I'll be fine for graduation on Tuesday, I'm sure. I can do my form. I can do my weapons form, sucking it up when I do the kneeling. I can break the board. I can suck it up when sparring. Just get me through the next week, and then I can take a break and start fresh. Drew will start fresh too, starting up when September rolls around. I don't think I'm going to get all his new equipment immediately. I want to make sure that I'm not wasting $300 on new gear for nothing, you know? A lot coming up...and I sure wish my old bones and muscles would cooperate for me.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Even with injuries, I've still got it!

Saturdays are "specialties" days. Each half hour, different aspects of what we do are concentrated on, so for example, a half hour of nothing but spending time on board breaking techniques, a half hour only on weapons, half hour only on forms, etc. They are a lot of work, but I find that they've been very helpful in improving my techniques.

Today, due to my continuing back problems, I skipped sparring, but did the other classes (not a problem since I don't like sparring anyway). The first class was forms. We reviewed some things to make our forms stronger, but I couldn't do them very effectively with the back injury. I definitely know my form very well at this point, so I'm not too worried. Next was weapons, another easy one for me. We did some drills, and I was having fun goofing with the Charters sisters, as it was only them, myself and little Joshua. Joshua was being a little stand-offish, as he'd say he could do it himself, but then he'd want us to do it with him. So, I was working with him on it, as I really know this form well, and it helps if we can get those "helicopter" strikes down correctly. Lastly was board breaking. I really love board breaking the best I think. It's too bad we can't compete in that. Today, in an effort to get ahead a little for the next session, Mr. A taught us (the same group as weapons) a roundkick break. The Charters sisters need it for their next belt, and it is an option for my blue belt break supposed. I don't like my sidekick break, although I think I'd do it much better now, and front kicks are generally pretty easy for me, so I'm always up to the challenge. We did some drills to help us get warmed up and understand our foot positioning, and then we finally got to use the boards. My problem is a) getting my leg up high enough with the back injury, but I was holding my own, b) getting the torque needed with the same injury, and c)not rechambering so quickly when executing the kick. But sure enough, when I got the right amount of twisting and didn't rechamber, BAM! There it went. I think it took about 3 or 4 tries before I got it. For a first time, I thought that was pretty good! I'm excited about working on this one, since I really don't enjoy the sidekick, and I'll probably have to work on that one for the brown belt, so I'd just as soon do that when I need to. I'm just glad to learn something new to work on now. The next week or so is going to be SOOOO boring since it's another week or so before graduation, (I'm assuming that I passed to do it, as I haven't gotten my graduation papers yet,), and perhaps with the back healing up, it's just as well. I think the other thing I will be looking forward to with the next session is doing a different weapon. I've been doing the form for the bahng-mah-ee for so long, I'd like something different. I'm really hoping it's the bo staff. I haven't done anything with that at all yet. Or the kata. Either one, I'd have to buy new weapons, but that's okay. Even if I went back to the ssahng-jeh-bahng (numchucks for you non-TKD people), that would be alright. I want to get better, and that seems to be a common weapon to use, and yet I've hardly used it in all this time. I could use some more help with that.

I'm just happy with learning another board break and getting it pretty quickly. Yay me! :-)

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

First permission to test

Even though I am still not healed up with my back or knee (I'm used to having the bad knee, but the back is usually healed up by now), I went back to leadership class tonight, just to be sure that I was still in the swing of things. Fortunately, Mr. A was teaching, and he's usually pretty understanding when it comes to injury. One thing that was a good exercise was we were put in teams where we had to think about how to teach something from our forms incrementally. Alex V was back (Yay! he's a good kid, and I like him) from a trip to Bosnia, and being that he had an injury and he was the other color belt, we were paired up. We were responsible for teaching how to do a jump side kick, like in our form. We broke it up into two main parts. First we established practicing the #3 side kick, but then we also practiced just stepping up into the jump. Mr. A thought we did a good job. We then could practice form and weapons. Alex and I mostly yakked and caught up during weapons, because we really have ours down.

Then, it was the moment of truth. In order to get permission to test (or graduate), starting with the purple belt level, you have to break a board-- "real wood!" as we are reminded. Well, I always feel that breaking wood is easier than breaking those damn plastic boards. I knew I could break the plastic, so the wood should be a snap. I hadn't broken a board in about 2 weeks, so I did a slight warm up on the BOB, and then did about 2-3 practice hits before attempting to break. So, the board was set up, I asked for permission to break, and then....WHAM! I broke that baby straight through on the first try. "Piece of cake!" declared Mr. A. I was happy, to say the least, but he was right. I've put the work in, and it shows. I like breaking boards too. :-) So, tonight I got two stripes-- one for breaking my board, and the other for showing that I have my form down. So I was happy. Graduation/testing is about a week and a half away, so if my back and knee can just cooperate, then I can get through and get my blue belt! It was a good night, despite being injury laden.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

I'm still here!

This is a note for my virtual buddy, John. HI! I'm still here. Thanks for posting on my other blog to see how I'm doing. I went into Blogger, and I readjusted some setting for comments. I dunno-- this is the first time Blogger has been extra flaky for me, but I've seen how some of my knitting buddies have had bigger problems. Oh well. Thanks for your comments and your concern, John! :-)

Took yet another day off from TKD today. The back is slowly getting better. I have yet another chiropractic appointment for it on Monday. I think it'll be better by class on Wednesday. I'm not in pain, but it sure doesn't feel good when I bend over a little-- even just to wash my face or brush my teeth! Thus, that's why I posted my last post, "Listening to your body"-- because mine is certainly sending me messages!

In the meantime, I may have gotten someone else interested in joining the "cult"- I mean TKD! :-P Drew and I went to a birthday party for one of his friends from his days at Music Together (he stopped going when he was 3, but we still talk to some of the families). While there, I caught up with Ginger, whose son Daniel is about 6 months younger than Drew, and the first mom and kid we met at MT all those years ago (Drew started when he was 19 months old). We hadn't seen them for more than a year, easily, so it was nice to catch up a little and see how big our boys had gotten. I happened to mention that Drew and I both take TKD now, and she knew of the ATA school-- Master C's-- in South Brunswick, and I explained that we went to Ma'am school, and that Master C is her teacher, yet Ma'am is more of a specialist with special needs kids than Master C is. Daniel does have some mild learning disabilities, but it's enough that Ginger feels that getting out of the My Gym and Music Together and into something new and a little more "grown up". She had been interested in this anyway, and fortunately, I had some referral cards with me that I gave her one, and told her to tell Ma'am that I sent them. She seemed very excited about it, and appreciative for information about the school and their program. I'm also fortunate that Ginger has always valued my opinion about things, and that things that we've discussed in the past that don't necessarily deal directly with TKD are things she understands, like the fight I had to get Drew diagnosed and get him help for his CAS and SID. She suspects now that Daniel has SID, and thinks this would help, and I know it can help, so we'll see what happens. Nobody can say that I'm not a recruiting machine of sorts when it comes to TKD!

In other news, I was disappointed to see my man Abe, who from what I can tell is one of Master C.'s students, get eliminated from Final Fu last night. He definitely put his all in it, and it was a very close race for the 4th spot. He did a good job though, and the guy he was tied with was an even match-- height, weight, and ability. And his match was none other than Justin, the other ATA guy! So at least the ATA is being represented in the next round of Final Fu. Hooray!

So, enough babbling for now. And I hope to hear from may grand legion (all 3 or 4 of you) soon! Hopefully there won't be any further issues with the Blogger comments!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Listening to your body

Well, after lifting a lot of things that I shouldn't have, and having an eventful tournament, my body decided to remind me to slow down for a bit. While I thought my knee would be what would be troublesome, it ended up that my shoulder and back were thrown out of whack. So, I knew what I had to do on Monday morning-- go to the chiropractor. I knew the pinch in my shoulder was already travelling up my neck, and I have a trick neck as it is, lots of problems with it, so we ended up heading that problem off quickly. However, my back is still a problem. While it's been getting relief slowly from the two chiropractic visits I've had this week -- and I still have one more visit tomorrow as well -- it is still sore enough that I can't do basic things, like bend over the sink to wash my face, or lift anything more than 2 lbs. So, I just decided to take the week off from TKD. In the end, it's wiser. I can't really do much in class in this condition, and I have gone to class every single week without fail for a very long time-- I think I need a break. I should be okay by next week, hopefully. But sometimes you need to listen to your body, and mine is saying to take a little bit of time off.

So, I have still been keeping up with my martial arts interest by guessed it...watching lots of Final Fu on TV. :-) Of course, I usually root for the TKD people. I knew that there was supposed to be one contestant who was an ATA guy from here in NJ, but I wasn't sure who it was, as Jodi told me his name, but evidentally he's going by an abbreviated version of it, and I didn't make the connection. But I had kinda figured it out from a) knowing that this guy was a TKD guy, and b) watching him fight, I could tell from HOW he fought that he probably was they guy. There was another guy there too whom I noticed had a similar style or at least it looked like ATA style. I went onto the website for the show (it was on MTV2, not MTV), and it turns out I had picked them both out. Abe is the ATA guy Jodi mentioned. It turns out that he hails from East Brunswick, NJ, which is just an half hour from me. It is also likely that he trained --or currently trains-- with Master Capobianco, who is Ma'am's instructor, and thus the founder of our Princeton school, as her first school was started in East Brunswick. (Her second school is in South Brunswick, and it's actually a little closer to us than the Princeton school.) I think Justin, who is the other ATA guy, is from CA. So, I pegged the two ATA guys. How cool is that? I'm enjoying watching the show, and trying to learn some things from it.

So, until next week...unless something exciting happens in the meantime....