Friday, September 29, 2006

OK, the ranting and rambling is done...for now.

I wrote an email to SW to let her know my concerns. She called this morning on her way somewhere, and we discussed the contents of said email. I apologized for rambling a bit in it, and in the meantime, this morning I was finally able to find the missing folders. But she agreed with the principle in what I was saying about getting "the house" in order because it's a business, didn't feel I was rambling at all, and agreed about how we need to get the kids to get with the program. She told me that she is thrilled that I want to go to the lengths that I am to get her school in better shape business-wise and my whole attitude. She wants to have a staff meeting between Ryan, me and herself on Tuesday to smooth out some other stuff, because a few minutes after Leadership class on Wednesdays is not enough. I hope we'll be able to work out some further kinks. There are some things which I am sure I am lacking in, but she told me this morning that there are elements that Ryan lacks in that we need to talk about, and come up with some solutions.

I have to say, these days, it seems like even my "free time" is that which I end up working too. I ended up inadvertently showing the kids in Tiny Tigers today stuff with the Jahng Bong (and of course, Drew was the one who wasn't paying attention and goofing off :-S) and I shouldn't have been doing it-- Ben should've been doing it. Then Ryan gets me to help him with a few things in signing up a new student. I know that tomorrow, SW will be in, but we have *5* people coming in for intro classes, and between her, me and Rachel will be in, I'll end up working more than working out. :-S Hey, as long as I get my forms class in, I'll consider myself lucky, although Ryan said he'd work with me during some of the time that he and I are there together before classes actually start to review stuff if I need it. I even know that on Graduation Day for Drew (yes, he finally gets to promote to Yellow Recommended aka Orange/Yellow Belt!), I'm going to be working behind the desk. Hopefully if we can pull in some more recruits tomorrow, I think we may be in good shape and I might just get my first commission/bonus. Problem is, I don't know how much it is! Let's hope it's decent money, especially for the extra time beyond my regular hours that I've been putting in lately.

Drew is coming along with his class. He was extra tired today, and didn't want to go to class, but I made him, and he got through most of it with minimal problems, although he started to melt down at the end. I actually got to be a TKD mom on the sidelines for most of the class time for a change, which was nice as I got to chit chat with one of the moms I've gotten to know. I was trying to figure out how to crochet (and still can't figure it out, but that's for one of my other blogs), but I did look up and watch him now and then. I think he's definitely one of those kids who does better a) when I don't watch, and b)when I don't teach him. Like almost any kid, he doesn't always respond well when I'm trying to give instructions, and I think it's better if someone else shows him. He has pretty strong moves in his form, when he's not doing it too slow that he gets bored and starts wiggling around. Same with his one-steps. He shows a strong punch, and a fairly well executed kick when needed. Fortunately with graduation, until they are 7 years old (so he's got help for the next two years thankfully), he does it along with the instructor during the "testing". I think he'll do really well this time around. I don't think he should try to do weapons during graduation. It might be freestyle, but he can't even do his striking lines without Ben assisting him (he won't let me assist him or try to learn from me), and since it's not required at his level, it's just as well. For me, it's not required, but I still do it so that it's routine for me by the time I HAVE to do it. And besides, from what I understand, I'm learning the 1st degree forms and then adding a few of my own flourishes anyhow. But anyway, he's still enjoying breaking boards, and he is PHIERCE (as in fierce with the PH, so PHEAR him!) with his sparring. He spars kids who are bigger and older than him, and he has them backing away. Heh heh. Even the mom I was chit chatting with thought he was a younger sibling as he seemed to have that je ne sais quoi to be able to hold his own and stand his ground. Her son is 7 and is the same size as Drew! Or I should say that Drew is 5 and the same size as her 7 year old. Drew is very tall for his age, and here he is, technically the youngest in the Master's group for sparring, etc. and he's holding his own so far. It's pretty cool.

Well, off to bed after this little writing jaunt. Tomorrow is going to be a busy morning at the ATA for Drew and I. I might just have to have JC pick him up early or something, depending on what I have to do. Thank goodness I have a slight breather on Monday, as the school is closed for Yom Kippur.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Try my patience. PLEASE.

I just got back from my evening class. You know, while things are generally good, I think with the new job, there is a certain hazard for working where you enjoy your recreational exercise. I'm getting really angry about it, but I'll explain in a moment.

Class was fine generally. I had to work with Matthew on drills and form. I don't mind generally, but when you are working with a Downs kid, you have to slow things down DRASTICALLY. Em was helping us, but while she's a walking encyclopedia of understanding the forms, at the same time (and she's been criticized for it too), she truly lacks people skills. She even knows less with how to deal with little kids, and effectively Downs kids like Matthew (in many respects, you treat them the same way). When I work with Matthew, I never talk down to him. I try to speak on his level, but I'm always respectful and help him, and I think in many ways he does well in class when working with me because I have the patience and can talk him through things better than most people. It's probably from having a nonverbal child with sensory issues that I know how to elicit the response I need, not that Matthew is nonverbal, because he's not. But while he's probably about 20 years old, instructing him is not too different from me instructing my Bear Cubs, but he's a little more responsive because he knows what to do from a long time of repetition. So anyway, I had to learn my form from Em, and do it super slow and be patient for Matthew to catch up. While I was in an okay mood about it then, in retrospect I wish I had a night where I could do it at a normal pace. I have to know the whole thing in a week and a half, after all, and doing it ONCE VERY SLOWLY isn't going to help me learn it. It helps me learn my teaching skills, but not what *I* need to learn for myself. I did get a little extra help on my Jahng Bong tonight, and learned another section. Again, Em is no help because unless she's showing, and she can't show it well due to rotation limitations she has due to her CP. Thank goodness Ryan could show me the next section, and then when talking about a new move, Dean was there to show me this move that Em couldn't demonstrate. It's called the butterfly move, and it's something I'll have to practice. Sparring was fine; it was against Matthew first, and then Dima, who's a little boy about 8 years old (yeah, small class tonight), and then against a punching bag. Good practice, huh? Board breaking was really good. I did my side kick in one shot tonight, no do-overs, so I'm happy about that. I'll pass permission to test next week with no problem.

So, after class, I'm looking behind the desk, making sure that things are organized and I understand what's been going on during the night so I know what to follow up on tomorrow, and that's when it happened. Let me backtrack a little. I keep a folder of my "To-Do" things either at the Front Desk or on Susan's desk, which is only about 3-4 feet away (in another room just off the mats area). Yesterday, my folder, which is clearly marked, disappeared. I reasoned this morning when I found it missing that perhaps Susan picked it up by accident last night when gathering some other things. It had my notes to myself and my cheat sheets in there. I can't find it anywhere, and I haven't asked her, but I figured maybe it'll show up. (Still hasn't tonight). But since we are now handing out the graduation forms that people have to return to indicate which time they are coming and the fee they are paying, I made a folder for the return forms, as some parents fill out the form and pay immediately. (In fact, my form was the first one in there.) So, yes, you can guess what's missing tonight when I got to check the desk after class. GRRRRRRR! I want to scream! I am SO sick of these kids goofing off and not doing what they are supposed to be doing. Who moved it? Who put it in a place that no one can find it to follow up if needed? I need to talk to SW about this. She's hired me to basically be able to run things during the day and keep things organized to help run her business efficiently in her frequent absence. How can I do this if a bunch of teenagers have no regard for what they need to do? Most of these kids are honor students at school too, so you'd figure that they would be relatively good at helping out, since they, too, are being paid to mind the front desk and help out. Instead, they goof off and they pay no regard to what they are doing. I'm being paid to keep things going in such a way that SW doesn't HAVE to be there, but she can pick up where I leave off, and I can pick up where she leaves off, and the business runs smoothly. Even tonight, Ryan thought he had a walk-in, and it wasn't completely. He wrote enough info down that I was able to match it up with a call sheet of a call where I returned a voice mail message that we got, but the person didn't return MY call. She did by being a walk-in tonight. I was able to put all the info together, and I was thrilled that the system that we are trying to develop worked. But then to find that the grad slips' folder is missing, and my personal work folder is missing....I am just fed up. I think I have to write SW a email to, well, not so much complain, but at least bring to her attention things I'm concerned about going awry. (How does that sound?). I swear I think there is a conspiracy today to try my patience. Really. It's that bad. I feel like I'm losing my mind, but it was lost to begin with, so I don't need this.

Live! From the ATA!

Well, here I am, sitting at work, coming to you direct from the ATA Black Belt Academy where I am a parent, student, instructor trainee, and now employee. I don't think I've posted on this blog while at work before, but it's a little bit of a slow afternoon, so what the heck.

Things are going fairly well in class. Ma'am actually was here for the night for all Wednesday classes to help out (she still has some limitations due to her still recouping from shoulder surgery over the summer), but I think she was happy to be here. This school is her baby, and while she is half owner of the other place, she is not the high rank there, and here she is, and her heart is over here more. In leadership class, it was nice to learn the next section of my form from her. I don't think I've learned many parts of this or my last form from her, and she can pinpoint things like nobody else around here. For example, I got here early for class last night, and ended up helping hold boards for breaking. Between me and another trainee, we couldn't pinpoint the problems as well as she could. She'd take one look at someone doing their break and not breaking and with one tweak (twist your hips more, or it's fine, you just need more speed, etc.), POP! The board would finally break. She's amazing that way. So, I think her leadership class and many of her students were happy to see her, for sure.

For me, my form is coming along slowly but surely. Hopefully it will be ready for graduation on the 11th. Drew's graduation is on the 14th. I'm also starting to get more of the Jahng Bong form, and Nina was surprised that I knew as much as I knew. I have a feeling that it's actually a 1st degree form, and that's how they get us started. So, I know most of it. Maybe I can get Ryan to show me the rest. Nina tried to show me, but I don't remember it all. I tell you, between personal stuff going on at home , and stuff going on here at work and remembering this stuff, it's no wonder my head doesn't explode sometime soon.

I'm just glad that I'm almost through this belt. My form is coming along, my weapons form is coming along, I'm not too worried about testing next week with my board break, and sparring, is well, sparring. After this next graduation, I will finally be a brown belt. The last 2-3 levels before being a full-fledged black belt is brown, then red, then red/black. Red/Black is actually 1st degree recommended, but it's still considered a color belt. Each of these levels take 2 cycles each, whereas up until now, each color belt was one cycle each. So, I guess theoretically, I'm about 6 months or so from getting my black belt. I've been at this about a year already. I got my first belt rather quickly, as I joined up about halfway through a cycle, but picked it up quickly enough to get that first belt within a month. It's been a little more of a struggle after that. Part of my problem these days is not only keeping track of all the personal, work and my own form stuff, but I need to remember all the stuff I've already done for instructor purposes. Oh man, I was SO glad that Ma'am didn't call on me to lead in doing some drills. Maybe she saw the sheer panic in my eyes like, "Please, for the love of God, don't call on me!". I'm still the little newbie in there, being the only color belt (although technically, Alex V is a color belt, but he's a red/black). Everyone else in there is pretty much a 1st degree about to get their 2nd degree or is a 2nd degree and higher. So, it's a little intimidating sometimes, because I know I've done it, but I sure don't remember it! Some kids are going for Certification Camp at the end of October. I just don't think I'm even close to being ready for it. I know it's brutal, for sure, but I only started in Leadership back in March, and I haven't had too many instructional classes to feel confident or prepared for it. I know I've learned a lot by example, for sure. I think I'd be ready for a Chevron clinic (where you get certification to do judging at events) for Level 1, but for my next collar level? No, not quite yet. I need to know ALL of Songahm #1, #2 and #3 and their corresponding one-steps, and I just can't cram that in my head right now. Wish I could, and in time, I will, but the timing isn't right on this one. I haven't had any pressure yet, but I know there will be a time that I will have to go. Just...don't make me go yet.

We'll see how tonight's class goes. I'm sure I'll get more form time, weapons time, and board breaking time tonight. Thursday classes are usually small. It looks like even when I'm not officially working, I'll be doing a lot to help out at the desk and such around here for some events.

Yes, it's life at the ATA-- live! ;-)

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Drafted against my will

Saturday is always a big day for Drew and I to go to class, as it's specialty day. I forgot to bring something for Drew to do in a certain interim when he wasn't taking a class and I was, but he behaved himself, and that's what helps.

We both took sparring class. It seems that in the martial arts blogs I've been reading and discussions that I've been having, the issue of control when sparring is a hot topic. Well, sure enough, one of those people that I was having such a conversation with this week about that topic was Mr. A, and during the specialty class today, it was the theme of the day: CONTROL. He wanted to be sure that we understood the difference between executing moves fighting style vs. sports sparring, and at our school and in the ATA at large, we do sports sparring. So he showed, for example, a #1 front kick on a pad with full force, vs. tapping or not even touching the pad, but still maintaining the speed and power (e.g. wrong way vs. right way). So most of the class, we did some drills with each other working on that. I concentrated on my own stuff, so I really didn't pay attention to how Drew was doing. I figure if I ignore him and the other instructors work with him, that's better, because how often does anyone listen to their parents? It's better if he listens to people who know better than me anyway. When we got our gear on, we did two rounds, and the second round I was with this teenager named Jason who seemed like a nice kid, but told me he originally came from another form of TKD, and he'd do this stance where in actuality he was measuring to see how far I was, but he was in a middle stance with one arm outstretched, and with that same hand slightly waving it around, as if he was trying to put some voodoo hex on me. I just looked at him like he was nuts. I mean, it's supposed to psych you out a little, and it did, but not that much. I just had never seen such a thing, so I was asking him about it, and kinda laughing, because again, I hadn't really ever seen that in the ATA, even at tournaments, before.

Next class was upper color belt forms. That's me, but not Drew. It was good that I went, because evidentally in my practicing at home, I missed a whole step in the form, and it made a lot more sense once it was put in again. Man, now THAT would be bad to learn a whole form, and out of, say, 44 steps, you miss 2 of them altogether! So, good thing I got that one. Then we had weapons. Drew was allowed to participate for a few minutes before his own class if he promised to behave like a black belt, and he did, although Ben had to work with him one on one, and I worked with the older kids, as we all worked together.

Then it happened. Instead of me continuing with my weapon back with Mr. A, and the older kids, I got drafted. There were 16 Tiny Tigers with white, orange and yellow belts (Drew being one of them), and only one instructor. Ben asked if I would help him to start out, but as stragglers came in, it was apparent it was going to be a big class, and he needed the help. Of course, he's the high rank, so I had to go along with what he said. If I thought something should be instructed to the kids, instead of making the order to try to supercede him (of course you don't do that to a high rank!), I would ask him, "Mr. P, should everyone put their ___ on the floor when they are done?", so that way, he'd get the clue that he needed to make that instruction (I'm a mommy, and I can see what needs to be done), and I wouldn't be stepping out of line. Seemed like a good way to do it. I actually got to stretch out the class too. I've never led a class-- even with my little cubs the other day-- in the stretching, so that was cool to hear the kids saying "Yes Ma'am! one ma'am! two Ma'am, three Ma'am, etc." and addressing it to me. Don't worry, I won't let the power go to my head. ;-) I ended up staying for the whole class, as Mr. A wasn't free to take over until the last part with the kids reviewing their one steps. So, since they needed the help, and I had already been there for the entire class, I just kept going. I think I also provided a little bit of comic relief and self-esteem points for the kids, because if Mr. A asked who wanted to do it faster, and who wanted to do it slower, I'd say out loud that I voted for slower and all the kids voted for faster. So when I'd goof up, they knew it was okay that they didn't have to be perfect, and that you learn from your mistakes. Afterwards, I had to help with board breaking. Drew wasn't in the mood, but he's in Master's, and Mr. A said he'd help me with my break. Well, mine never happened. :-S I ended up working with another boy on his knifehand strike break (my favorite hand break), and he was having trouble because he wasn't executing it right. Drew finally had his turn, and I had to help still, as Ryan was helping a parent at the front desk, and Ben had to start the Cubs class. Ben and I should've switched, since I'm learning to do the Cubs class anyway, and have a good idea now how to do it. Oh well, I know for next time. So Drew broke, and then I was helping behind the desk for a bit, and next thing you know, as I'm getting things done behind the desk, the cubs class was over, and it was already a half hour later than I had intended to stay. I had to repack both my bag and Drew's bag, and man, we just were there for SO long, longer than usual. One thing I'm going to have to do is have Drew learn how to put on and take off some of his gear. I can't do all of it for him. He knows how to put on his head gear, his punches and mouthpiece, but he's not good with the kicks, shin guards and chest protector. Well, nobody's good with that one, and he can help other adults or instructors to help him if he needs it. Sometimes others will volunteers to help you with your gear, like Ben helped me with my chest protector today, in fact. But I can't do it all for him, and while, yes, he's only 5, part of being a "big kid" and in Master's program is that you are a big enough kid to do, or at least help, in getting your own gear and stuff.

So, you can imagine I was exhausted today, especially since I didn't expect to be taking/helping instruct a class. I also have to talk to SW about me assisting a class. If that's going to be a regular thing, then I want to know if it's still "internship" time, or if I can get compensated for that time. Also, I'm not sure, since Drew's at a younger age, if it's wise for me to help in my own kid's class. I mean, I did step in in a pinch when asked, and stayed because I could see they were pinched. And in some respects, I don't mind. But I need to make adjustments if that's the case. Mentally, if for no other reason.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Breathing and living TKD

Now that I'm working for my ATA school in the office and somewhat unofficially as an instructor,I feel more like I'm truly living, eating, breathing and sleeping TKD. It's not overwhelming or anything. I think right now it's just an adjustment. I'm looking at things from both sides of the coin, so to speak, from the business end, the instructor end, the parent end, and the student end. So maybe that's more than two sides of the coin, but you see what I mean.

Wednesday, I did double duty taking two back-to-back classes. The first was a regular class. Overall, it went fine. (It was 2 days ago, so I'm trying to remember it). I'm having a difficult time retaining the new form, whereas everyone else is having no problem, but I believe it's because they've all seen it before, adn this is my first time with it. I'll see it again, as this is the form that's used for black belt recommended candidates (aka Red/black belts) and red belts, so at least the next time it'll be a breeze. But I have to learn it for the first time 'round! I'm also getting better at that sidekick break. A year ago, I struggled with it. Now, I get it! I was helping Kristen, one of the twin girls, with her breaks, and we got a little delayed in getting our sparring gear on. Once I had mine one, I sparred with Emily for about two seconds, and that was it. Mr. A didn't have us go around too many rounds that night. Kristen finally had geared up, and thinking that we had one more round, she was about to enter the floor to spar me, and no sooner had she come on the mats that Mr. A said, "Okay, gear off!". Kristen was frustrated but we both understood the irony of it all, and we gave her a big hug and laughed at her predicament. Fortunately she's a good sport, and saw the humor too.

Leadership class was basically more of the same. I got to work on my jahng bong more. I really like this weapon, and really want to master it better. I did get some help from Mr. Lee today during Drew's class when he was working on learning his Jahng Bong for the first time. After leadership class, however, we had our weekly staff meeting, and Ma'am tried to plan some things out. It was the first time Mr. A, she and I could talk, even for a little bit, about working on a plan for communication and a work flow on the business end. Poor woman, she is so frustrated because she wants to spend more time at her own school than the new one she has half ownership in. The newer one is taking up too much of her time, or more than she feels she should be putting in, and so she told me she is grateful that I'm there to help out, even if it's just answering the phone and taking messages (I'm doing more than that, but you get the idea.) Having me at her home school, her real "baby", has "allowed me to relax a little more" according to her. So, I'm glad I can help.

Drew's doing great in classes. He's paying attention a lot more and focusing on class much more than ever. He still gets the wiggles, but if reminded, he straightens up pretty quickly. Mr. Lee continues to help with teaching class at that time, and Drew just really responds to him big time. I think Drew just naturally responds to males better than females, at least in TKD class better simply because that's what little boys do, but that's fine. At least he's responding! He enjoyed sparring in his full gear again, although he was flopping around a little bit in his new "kicks" as they were a bigger size than last week. The pair last week were too tight and small, and the next size up is a little bigger than his foot, but it's not exactly clown shoes either. He'll get used to it. Ben P. worked with Drew on his Jahng Bong. He asked me a little while into the session if Drew had done it before, and I said not really, just got the weapon last week and was still trying to figure out how to bow in with it. Ben is a 3rd degree BB, and while he's only 16, he's seriously really good and knows his stuff. So when he asks, and then says, "I wondered because he's really got the knack of this. He's really picking it up and he's good at it for a first timer!", you can imagine the pride bursting from my heart. Drew was enjoying himself too, and Ben is really good with him. Lastly, Mr. Lee worked on board breaks with Drew. It was the first time Drew was using his rebreakable board. Mr. Lee first worked on doing proper front kick breaks with him. For some reason, my right-side dominant son was trying to kick with his left foot. When he switched, THEN he got results. Mr. Lee then worked on his palm heel break with him. He was more successful with him, especially since I explained that I tried working with him, but he had never really had any formal breaking experience before today. Mr. Lee loosened up the boards a little bit, and with some better direction than what I could give him (because, let's face it, when do you ever listen to your parents?), he was more successful in learning the techniques and broke the boards. When he did, he got very excited and would jump for joy, literally. (Like mother, like son when gaining success against those hunks of plastic.) My sweaty little boy, the youngest in the Masters' program there, bowed out, and was SO excited about his successes today. I was proud, and I think he was proud of himself.

I also ended up helping in a pinch with Drew's class. Even though there were 4 instructors there working the class, I ended up helping one overly shy and hesitant little girl named Johanna get through class. When she got there, she cried and fussed to her daddy that she didn't want to go, and yet this was at least her 3rd or 4th class. Ryan came over to her, and in his sweet voice talked to her about joining, and reminded her that once she got started, she had fun, but she wasn't budging today. She sat out for a little while, much to her dad's frustration, until I thought that maybe it was a girl thing, that being with so many boys it didn't feel right. So today, even though technically I was just a mommy in the waiting room, and I had meant to bring my uniform pants but forgot them and had my ATA tshirt on, and I asked if I could try with her, and Ryan said sure. So, I talked to her out from under the bench she was hiding under and asked if she would like to work with me instead, and she responded quickly that she did. Once she came out, this highly introverted child who was hiding behind her daddy was Miss Congeniality. I knew what the problem was...she was a little scared to work with the guys, and she was responding better to me as another female. Which is unusual circumstance, as most of the instructors at our school are actually female. Just happens that today's instructors were all male, and there were few girls in class today. So, I worked with her a while, and she didn't seem to want to participate with the rest of the class unless I went with her. Ryan didn't have an issue with that, so I did for a little longer. I had to help Drew get his gear on, so I had her pair up with another little girl her age for intro "noodle" sparring. Johanna was doing fine without me until she saw me. When I tried to encourage her to keep going on her own with the other little girl, Poonja, that she was doing a great job, Johanna started to cry and wanted her mommy. Sheesh. So, I made a compromise that we could be a threesome, but in the end, I took maybe one turn and had her show me what they were working on, and had her take more turns than me, so in the end, she really was doing the work she was supposed to do. She even wanted me to bow out of class with her, so I did, and the guys (instructors) were cool about it...they were just glad to have her participate and not cry and freak out. So, I talked to her about having Girl Power and that we'll work on her showing the boys that she can do what they can do, and we'll get her to work with the other girls in class too so they can be a team. I think the girl's father was grateful that I helped and averted a crisis, and she's looking forward to seeing me next week. I think I have to make sure my uniform pants are in my bag next time! I think I'll be good as an instructor as far as the psychology part of working with the kids. I'm not worried about that. It's cramming all the material (theirs and my own!) and understand how to teach the curriculum (and figure out what the curriculum is!), making sure they learn proper technique that gets me a little flustered. Well, I can't fret about it too much yet. Like everything else at this school, I learn everything by the seat of my pants, and it'll always be that way. But I'm enjoying it. A little stressful, but it keeps me out of trouble.

Tomorrow is Saturday, and that means specialty classes including sparring class. Drew loves sparring class. Me, not so much. I might sit out of that one. ;-) But I'll do forms, weapons, and board breaking anytime, and Drew can have his regular class too. Busy, busy week, and it'll just get busier as I get more and more integrated into the life of this ATA school.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Achieving a new rank, but not a new belt

How can that be, you ask? Well, today, I officially joined the ranks of thousands who have chosen to take an extra step in their martial arts journey, and I am now instructing. Well, I'm still technically an instructor trainee, and I can't be certified until I pass certain tests and am at least a black belt. But, today, as part of my new job of working at the school, I taught my first Bear Cubs class. SOLO, no less. The Cubs class is for the 3 and 4 year olds, and today's class was all three year olds. I was told to expect two kids, possibly three, and I ended up with four kids. That was fine-- the more the merrier after all. There was one boy and three girls. The boy, oh, he was a handful. Even SW and Mr. A both commented when I told them how class went that this boy and his older brother are a handful, and they make my sensory seeking, bouncy Drew look like an angel in comparison, so that's saying a lot! While I did my best to explain in 3 year old terms why we did stuff, and kept things moving, J was a bit of a problem. He'd lay all over the floor, and try to disrupt class a little bit, but I'd just say a quick word or two, and continue with class. At one point, I even said, "(J), if you don't want to participate, you can sit here in the blue area (side of the mats) like a black belt, and you can join us again when you are ready. 'Yes, Ma'am?'". And all I got was a look like, "You gotta be kidding me, B****.". So I repeated, "Yes Ma'am??", wanting to repeat it to acknowledge, and he just kept up that look, so I just gave him a look like, "I'm not happy, but I'm not dealing with you, brat," and continued with class. As long as he was not disrupting, I let him be. I wasn't going to let him take away from the three girls there. I think he's going to be a challenge, and this sounds harsh, but I WILL break him. Or I will sure try! The girls were fine. C has watched her big brother for a long time, and I think she was the most responsive. Little I was adorable, and so was her friend M. They were the unexpected factors. M was a little shy, and so she participated for about half the class. "I" was a little bit of a run around and would go to Mommy or Daddy at one point, but once she got more absorbed she participated well, considering she's three. I think one of my big successes was bringing back something like learned at the My Gym that Drew used to go to, and would use the following: Spy Goggles and Listening Ears. When I wanted to make sure their eyes and ears were on me, I'd say, "Does everyone have their spy goggles and listening ears on?" and motion at my eyes and ears, and I'd see I had their attention. I actually went a pinch over time since I was able to cover just about everything. But I got a good reception from the parents, and it looks like "I"'s mom is going to sign her up next week. Sweet! Even the parents who had older children seemed happy with how class went. As you can imagine, I was quite relieved. I survived my first teaching experience and have lived to tell about it! Now that I'm over those first time jitters, I have some ideas on how to take the kids to the next step. a sense, I've earned my red collar, even though you start out with that. But I'm one step closer to my red/black color. Sweet.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Drew is in Master's Program!

Today was the official first day of Drew being in the Master's program, since we got most of his gear in today. (And I do still have to pay for it, but I can do that on Monday.) Drew already had his punches and mouthpiece, and I knew he really had been wanting to upgrade since last spring. Since he proved to me in the last week that he'd grown up a little, I went ahead and got the stuff. He is REALLY excited. He got his head gear, a chest protector, shin guards, a cup (he thought that was funny), and kicks (foot protectors). I think the kicks are too small, to be honest, so I'm going to see if there are any in a size larger when I go to work on Monday. He also got his first ssang jeh bahng (numchucks), bahng mah ee ("the stick"), and because they were studying it, and there was only an XMA one left, Drew is getting his jahng bong (bo staff). Oh, he was happy about that! The only thing missing was his breaking board, 'cause we were out, but they didn't break today anyway. He had fun. Today, he had a small class with Mr. Lee again, and Mr. Lee is tough! He wore the poor kid out! But I think he really enjoyed himself, and that's what's good. I think he REALLY liked being in full gear especially. He's on a roll now!

So, without further ado, here is a photo of my son, sparring for the first time in full gear, against a former world champion and a 4th or 5th degree BB, no less. Go Drew!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Giggle fight!

After a slightly tiring day at work (I always feel like I'm not getting much done, and the time flies so fast!), I had regular class tonight. It was a really small class, maybe due to back to school nights or something like that. I dunno. But it was Pen, Matteo (whose mother's maiden name is the same as my last name, and she's from Chile), and the Indian boy whose name I don't know who tries too hard. The Indian boy is supposed to be in the black belt class now that he's a back belt recommended, but he got the times wrong. Since we happen to be working on the same form, he was allowed to stay.

For the most part, tonight's class was a giggle fest. Matteo is another good natured kid, and I warmed up with various kicks on the pad with him. Then, after stretching, we split into groups, where Pen and I practiced our form. I couldn't figure out the transition from segment 1 to segment 2 with the round kick/side kick combo. It felt awkward. Turns out I was making a roundkick, but in the wrong direction. Somehow I thought it was some sort of kick behind me instead of in front of me. DUH. Once it was corrected, it made a heckuva lot more sense. Em was coaching Pen and I, and while she's a rolling encyclopedia (since she's in a wheelchair, after all), she couldn't always explain the correction clearly to me, so that's when Mr. A was able to do it. So, the form is starting to come together. The segments aren't hard except I can't get the hand positioning right on one part, but I'm getting there. Pen and I love using our jahng bong (aka bo staff). Pen doesn't have the same flexibility in her wrists as most people do, so it's a little harder, but as we both agreed, we like playing with our new toys. The jahng bong feels very natural in my hands, to say the least. I think it's due to all that time with the bahng mahng ee (I have a reference for correct spelling now!). Pen and I practiced our form, or what we know so far, but we felt we were having problems with the last three strikes of the strikes drill. There are 9 strikes, and we couldn't get 7 through 9 properly. Em is left handed, and Pen and I are right, so it was getting a little confusing. Mr. A came along and showed us the corrections, and then it was "DING!" a light went off in our collective heads. It made SO much more sense. Board breaking was good, but not as successful as last night. I broke, but it took more tries. I have to work more on the power of my side kick in the release. But I'm just glad that board break is finally coming along.

Then it was time for sparring. Since I had been helping hold boards while other broke, I was a little slow on the get-go to get my gear on. I literally had about 2 minutes vs. Matteo, in which I think I would've won. But then....OH beware the wheelchaired one! Pen is practicing for a regional tournament, so she was really getting into it. Man, she was backing me into the corner! We both started really getting into it, and in the process, were giggling like crazy, because we generally very docile, peaceloving people, both normally conducting ourselves like the ladies that we are. But not in sparring! I got a good reverse side kick on her that worked, and both she and Em said, "Ooh, that was a good one." It was an all out fight, but we both couldn't stop laughing and giggling. I think that's part of the key for me to spar well, and just for sparring in general, that I can't always do well. You have to relax. I'm told time and time again that you shouldn't tense up and put all the energy into the executed moves, not into just the dancing around each other part too. I'm always tensed up, so a lot of my power is lost and I tired easy. I was tired after going after Pen, since she was really going at it. But I think it's that-- whenever I end up having a giggle fight with another person, I end up having more fun with sparring and do better in the process. Unfortunately, during a tournament, it's not going to be a giggle fight like it is with my friends in class, so that makes it difficult. So, this is something I still have to learn.

So, it ended up being a good night. I won't be in another class until I'm teaching my first on Tuesday! Yikes! Saturday is the breakathon at Pennington, and so no classes, and next Thursday is Back to School night, and I can't miss that. So, next week will be interesting. Today was my first solo day at work. I had to do a few things to help prepare for the breakathon, and I actually got a few calls in. I also dealt with a walk in, and handled a call about a birthday party in the mix, so I think I handled things as well as can be expected. It's amazing how quickly 3 PM rolls around (quitting time). With the exception of yesterday, I've had a hard time, so far, leaving on time. Today wasn't too bad. If it weren't for the fact that I have to go meet Drew at home getting off the bus, it wouldn't bother me to stay later. On Thursdays and Fridays I could, if needed, since JC works from home those days. I think I will need to learn how to be more proficient at work, to say the least. And get the hang of everything.

Do you think I'm entrenched in TKD yet? :-P

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

OK, I'm in it deep now

A lot has happened in the last two days. The main thing that has happened is that I started working at our ATA school part-time during the days while Drew is in school. Just like any other situation I've ever had with this school, I've been just thrown into the water and told to swim when I don't know what to do. But every time, so far, I've been able to tread water-- at least so far.

There's a whole other aspect to running a dojo that most students really don't think about. All the contracts, inventory of gear, following up on bills, etc. is stuff that the school owner has to do other than teach. Well, now I am going to be doing some of that stuff too. Well, I won't be paying the bills, but so far, even just in the first two days, I have had to make appointments to get prospective students in for free trial lessons, I signed up my first student today (hooray! although Ma'am bailed me out a little bit when I goofed up slightly), been contacting the local media for a fundraising event that's on Saturday, making a flyer to be put in shop windows at the last minute for said fundraiser, taking messages, fielding all sorts of calls, and well, just figuring out which end is up and which is down. It's a lot to take over, but Ma'am seems to feel very relieved and confident that I'm there, even though I've assured her that as intelligent as she has told me she thinks I am, I'm gonna have a lot of Blond Polish chick moments (yes, I'm all of the above!), so be prepared. I think she's just relieved that SOMEBODY is here, and that there's at least someone to answer the phones and such and try to help get some of this stuff done. Hopefully there's a big learning curve. A lot of stuff is being thrown at me at once. But no total panic moments yet, and while there is a lot to do that I haven't been able to get to, she doesn't seem TOO worried...yet. We'll take it day by day. But as of today, which is only day 2, so far, so good.

Classwise, since Ma'am had to be at her other school unexpectedly, Mr. A taught class, had us warm up, do the reviewed the Songahm #2 and corresponding one-steps. I haven't done them in a year, and I swear, I must be brain dead. Maybe it's because there is so much going on in my life with us trying to sell our house, dealing with the first days of school, just trying to remember my OWN form...I just can't retain it for some reason. And here's the kicker-- I have to learn it again. I have my own class starting this coming Tuesday. YES. I AM GOING TO INSTRUCT MY OWN CLASS. Granted, it's just the bear cubs (3-4 year olds), hence the easiest and shortest class we own, but again, it's been a while since I've seen one since my son started as a cub more than a year and a half ago, and he's been a Tiny Tiger for a year now, and Tiny Tigers do things more like the way my classes do them. So, I asked Ma'am about that. She originally suggested hanging around for the Cubs class on Saturday, but we have the break-a-thon on Saturday, so that's out. She said she'd go over stuff on Monday with me, and perhaps help teach the first class with me on Tuesday, and then I'm on my own. I think I'm going to have to pull out my Instructor manual and start studying big time!

Anyway, in the meantime, it was a fairly sizable class, as some people were starting to get back into the routine of things with the start of school again. Penelope was back, and I always enjoy her. She's a camo belt now, so although she's in a wheelchair, she and I have the same form, and she was cramming what we've learned so far. Heck, even though I've learned parts, I was cramming stuff in too. Thank goodness Alex was helping us, since he's got the whole form down since he's a BB recommended. He's such a good kid. I was also getting the next section of the bo staff form, and showing what I had learned in the last week to Pen. She has some limitations due to the chair and rotation of her wrists, but otherwise, she picked up fast. I'm really liking the bo staff (gotta remember the Korean name for it) so far. Now, it helps that I bought myself a nice, lightweight XMA weapon to work with, which makes it feel seamless as I practice. Sparring-- eh, same old, same old. Leaving myself wide open at times, not staying loose between executing hits, etc. Someday I might get decent at it. At least I can sorta keep up. But overall, class went well.

So, I've entered a new phase in my quest for my black belt. I'm learning the business end of things, and I'm taking on my own class of preschoolers, and I'm still just a red collar at this point. I know at some point I'll be tested on it so I can be promoted to red/black....but not anytime soon, I'm sure. There's certainly a sense of anxiety that fills my being right now about everything. I've been told that I don't adapt to change well, and sometimes that's true. Even when it's self induced, it doesn't mean I get into the swing of things quickly. But I have to assure myself that I have people who will be working to help me not fail, and I have to not put so much pressure on myself, and just take things a step at a time.

Oh, one last thing that was a good thing, talk about being persistent and patient with myself. Board breaking-- it's foot week, and I've been working on a roundhouse kick to break for a while, but having a difficult time with it. I know that I've got it about 90%, but it's that 10% that's somehow eluding me. So since I don't need it to test for the next belt, and I can use another foot break to do it, I decided that I'd try to go back to doing a side kick break. I've been working on it for a year. I think doing side kick drills for forms and such for the past few months have finally paid off. I hadn't done a side kick break for a while, but tonight, on my second try, I got it. I think that was the fastest I'd ever done a side kick break ever! I knew exactly what I did wrong on the first one, and fixed it for the second and BAM! Oh yeah, I was excited, to say the least.

I have many self-doubts about myself. Many self-esteem issues, as many women have. I have gotten less confident about myself as an adult, and I have to realize that there are some people who DO believe in me, and they are genuine about it, so I need to start believing in myself. Perhaps I should take a lesson from myself with the board breaking tonight. Persistence and patience in myself is the key to my success.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Just because you have a black belt, doesn't mean you know squat

Today, being Saturday, Drew and I both went to class together. I don't know what was going on, but it seemed like instructor-wise, the school was a little short-handed. Ma'am is on vacation, I know that. Ryan, aka Mr. A (I use his name interchangeably here), seemed to be on his own for the most part, although Emily was there too to assist. Emily assisting isn't always the best thing. After a while, she tries to supercede whomever is teaching, and she doesn't have the right to do that. She also lacks people skills as well, which causes problems. Anyhow, we started with sparring class, which both Drew and I could participate. Once he and I were sparring partners, and he had some issues where he doesn't like to get into the routine of combinations and stuff and just wants to go at it, but he can be brought into control pretty quickly, I think. He didn't get the rest of his gear because Ryan just seemed very overwhelmed with stuff-- it's just easier to wait until Ma'am gets back next week and get stuff. And Drew was actually okay with that. But otherwise, other than some wiggles, Drew did fine during sparring class. Next was forms class. Drew played with his Lightening McQueen car for this and the next few classes until his own class started up.

Forms was a little boring. I didn't learn the next section as I had with Alex the other night. The problem was also being in the same class where I'm the only adult there. I mean, I need the help and have found that some of the drill are really good for me-- or anyone, but there wasn't anyone over the age of 10 other than me in the class. It's a little hard, because I can approach things and work on things better and differently than the kids.

Weapons class gave me a chance to work on the new bo staff (don't know the Korean name for it yet). Drew thought me having one was cool. It's not that drastically different from the Bahng- mah-ee (aka the stick) that I've gotten relatively proficient in, so it's coming pretty quickly to me. The strike line drills came pretty easily to me, and one I saw the form again since Thursday when Victoria showed me, it came more easily to me. However, I was back on kiddle patrol as I learned, and assigned to monitor Josh, who is about Drew's age but about 2 belts ahead of him, but even more restless. So, I decided to get him to cooperate by having him teach me the form. This was for a few reasons-- 1) get his confidence up in showing that he knew the information and could teach a grown up, 2) to keep him engaged at the task at hand, and 3) I actually did need the help. When it got too boring for him (and he'd admit that he wa bored), I'd say, "Okay, let's do it together again, but when I say go, we have to do it correctly and we can't cheat, but let's see who can do it the fastest." See? I made it a game, and once he knew it was a race and he was confident in what he was doing, he engaged in the practice and I was able to keep him on task.

Next we had to work on board breaking. Class comprised of a bunch of kid color belts, the twin sisters (one of which was so cute that when we partnered up she grabbed my hand and wouldn't let go like we were little girl best friends instead of a teenager and a woman old enough to be her mother), and a bunch of 2nd degree 50-something who were working on stuff. I worked with the twins for a while. Emily was conducting class with Mrs. Dr. Phillips, but the two of them didn't seem to have the same grab as Mr. A or Ma'am or some of the other teachers. The twins and I all had problems with actual board breaking. I was trying to help Kirsten with her palm break, and ushered Mr. Z (one of the 50-something 2nd degrees) to help me hold her board. He was making corrections of which some were correct, and some were not. After Kirsten would try, I would say, "good try" with a comment to fix afterwards about to come from my lips, and Mr. Z would say, "NO, it's not good-- don't listen to her (meaning me)". Well, I can somewhat respect what he was saying in his corrections, and he is the higher belt. HOWEVER, poor Kirsten kept looking at me as if to say, "What in the hell is he talking about? Help!" I did quiet down after a while, And just let Mr. Z continue what he was doing (now remember, he was not the instructor of the class) and the 50-somethings were advising the poor kid to death. I felt bad for her. They did the same thing to her sister. Part of the problem was that he was explaining things to them that were a) wrong (you don't hit downwards, you hit straight, which was his first mistake in how he was telling things) and b) he doesn't know these girls and how to coach them personally. I've been a student with them for a long time know, and I understand how each girl ticks, how she thinks. I understand what motivates them, and if anything, Mr. Z was not motivating either of them, but rather intimidating them instead. Not good. He wasn't saying anything positive about what they were doing right, only focusing on what was wrong. You have to be balanced as you teach this stuff, especially to two very timid teenage girls who don't have a lot of confidence in themselves and their abilities. I think that's why they both love me so much. I can be playful with them, but we know how to work well together and get the job done, and me being the lower rank, I show them how to have confidence even if you have no idea of what you are doing but perservering. In many ways, they are me at the same age, so perhaps that's why they see me as a role model to them, and while I used to think they were annoying, they really have endeared themselves to me, and I look forward to seeing them. But Mr. Z just pissed me off. I was having a hard time with my own break, and again, since I didn't have the proper instructors, I just gave up after a while, and figured that I'd have proper help at another time. Drew was out of his class by that time, since he didn't have his weapons or board yet, so I figured that was enough.

When I got home, I talked to my husband about what I wrote above. And I think I've come to a conclusion about myself, and why in the end, I'll probably end up being a pretty decent instructor eventually. It's simply because I'm a people person, in the sincerest sense. Or as my husband put it, at least with kids and teenagers, but I think it's with some adults too. I don't forget where I've come from in my slow ascent to my black belt, and even though I'm only a blue belt. It was only a year ago-- almost exactly-- that I started this quest. I don't think that I would've guessed that I would have made it this far, although I had made the commitment to at least get my 1st degree belt. I don't think I would've thought that I'd be competing (much less ranked in the state), or that I'd be in the leadership program to earn my instructor certification, or that I'd even be working for the ATA school. But here I am-- and finding that I have skills that some other people don't have. They might have all the moves and knowledge in how to do the forms, weapons, etc. But one of the most important elements is being able to relate to other people. You can be a world champion(as some people at my school actually are), and if you don't talk to respectfully, or try to endear yourself even a little bit to them, they aren't going to like you, and resent how you do thing. Ma'am is tough, but she also talks to you as a person, and knows how to inject humor into class while making her point. Same with Mr. A and most of the student instructors. Even Mr. Lee, whom Drew found great, is VERY strict, and yet he treats the kids like people and doesn't talk down to them, and is motivating. This is a skill I feel I have that as well, and I think that ultimately, that is what will help me get ahead, not actually earning a black belt. It's the combination of technical/physical skills AND people skills that truly makes you a true black belt.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Successful return

Today was Drew's first class back to the ATA. We had postponed it for the last two days, and I told him that we really needed to get moving. So, I sent him to Kindergarten in an ATA t-shirt (Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays are t-shirt days at our school), and as soon as he got off the bus, he walked about 12 feet to the car and had to jump in immediately so I could get him to class. We made it with just enough time to visit the bathroom and change from his shorts to his uniform pants and orange belt. I paid attention to most of the class, as I did help out a new parent with a uniform problem. (Heck, starting my new job alrady in a manner of speaking.) Also entered the cards into the attendance and filed them to help out a little, since I know how to do that. What I did see during drills and stretches was that Drew was holding his own, and I didn't hear anyone disciplining him like usual. He actually was getting the hang of the sidekick and roundkick drills with chambering his leg like it was on the table, etc. He got a little upset with his partner at one point because the OTHER kid was kicking too hard and was being rowdy. There's something for you! When it was time to learn forms, Mr. Lee, who helps only on Fridays and also teaches the XMA stuff (very nice guy), showed the kids the form and first one step (Songahm #2 and the 1st one-step), as well as the basics of standing correctly and bowing correctly, etc. His style is a little different from Mr. A's or Ma'ams, and somehow Drew LOVED him. Drew was actually executing his form rather well for the most part, and he was paying attention, and he told me that he liked Mr. Lee's class. So, I guess Drew's weekday class is going to be Fridays instead of Wednesdays. Oh well. We'll figure it out. I guess no one had been told that Drew was upgrading to Masters class. I had told Ma'am, but I don't know if she put in for it, etc. So, I'll work it out with her when she gets back. I have to remember to call Sharon to see if she's still willing to sell or give us her daughter's old gear for sparring. I know that Jodi said that if she can find it, Drew can have her old bo-staff from when she was a kid. So that would be a BIG saving for buying all this stuff, even though I saved up for it. And since it had been a long day for Drew, and it was rather busy tonight, Mr. A and Drew decided to wait for new gear until tomorrow. That was fine by me. Drew was happy with his progress tonight, and he even got a special slap me five from Mr. A who said that he still had some wiggles, but it was MUCH better today than he had ever seen, and I had to agree. Drew still got distracted a little, and was still a little restless sometimes, but he was much better than he's ever been, and I can only see him improving from here. Goes to show what a little maturity and a summer off can do sometimes. :-)


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Still rusty in some spots, but nothing that can't be buffed out

Man, I sound like an old car with that subject heading.

Tonight was my first class back since the day after graduation, which was about 2 weeks ago. Fortunately, not much was done last week since it was the week before Labor Day and the end of August (pretty much a dead week at the school), and everyone is starting to come back now, including us. Drew starts back this week too. I was a little tight from being away and not exercising as much, but I wasn't as bad as I thought I could have been. Felt a little creaky, but not much more than that.

Since it was a makeup graduation for all those in the adult classes (and there was only 5 of them), we started up with some warm up drills to get our hips going and did some stretching first. Actually-- let me backtrack a pinch. Among those who had to do graduation tonight was Sharon. So, even though it'd been two weeks, before class started I reviewed the form with her, and I still remembered it. Didn't do it beautifully, but I remembered it all. Even she said that compared to knowing it for tournament, she knew it much better now and could execute it better now too. I know the feeling! So, she was ready, and I felt pretty good that I still remembered it after a week.

After that, those doing graduation went to the back mat, and the rest of us were supposed to be working on reviewing Songham#2 and its corresponding one-steps (I haven't done them for a year, so I don't remember it that well), and Chuhng-Jung #2 (the form I'm supposed to be learning now). It was a little hard to follow, because everyone else has done this stuff a million times before. I remember Dr. Jimmy teaching me the first part of Songahm #2 and the 1st one step, and I was SO intimidated by him. I'm not now, but then...yeah. Eventually, Mr. A pulled me to go with the other color belts who were done with graduation testing and to go learn CJ#2. Alex was showing it to us, and it's pretty easy so far, just have to get one part straight with the hand direction. Then we did some sparring, but it wasn't heavy duty. And that was that.

Not a bad re-entry into TKD world.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

And now for this news flash....

I just checked the ATA Tournament website for stats. Finally, my tournament has been acknowledged and tallied.

I am ranked 4th in NJ for women's color belts 30-39 in weapons. And the tournament year just started in July.

Oh yeah, I'm a contender!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Forging Forward

I'm back from vacation, and I think I'm ready to get back into TKD. A week away seemed like a looooong time. I don't have my first class until tomorrow, but there were certain aspects of classes I missed. I think the biggest thing that I missed was the release. What I mean by that is that a lot of tension that builds up is released during class. That can be true of almost any exercise, but I think the fact that I can punch and kick almost to my heart's content is healthier not only physically but emotionally. It's no wonder that guys with anger management issues love boxing and martial arts sometimes, or use that as a constructive way to release their anger physically. I truly appreciated that for myself in the past week. I did try to do some stretching and keeping limber, but I'm sure I didn't do enough. At least in going back, my back is normal (for me) again, so I should be able to get back into things a little more easily.

However, I'm nervous also. While I have a little less than a week reprieve, next week I start working at my school. Over vacation, it was decided that not only would I be helping with administrative stuff, but I'd also be teaching Cubs classes, and perhaps a homestudy group's class. Yikes. I've been assured by Ma'am that I don't have to come up with the lesson plan, or do anything beyond white/orange/yellow levels (and I'm now 6 belts above white now, so this stuff ought to be easy enough), but still...I want to do a good job. I've watched and participated in PLENTY of classes, and even assisted in a class or two, but never taught one solo. It's an intimidating thought, since in some ways I have a clue what to do, and in other ways, I have no idea what I'm doing. Thus, the intense nerves. Well, if nothing else, at least for the first week, if I can just get the kids to pay attention, and focus on different exercises that I do know if something goes wrong, that will be a success in itself, y'know? Get them to trust and respect me, but still provide some fun that they like coming to class-- that's what's important. I have to remember that Ma'am evidentally thinks enough of me to want to hire me, and trusts my knowledge and abilities enough to give me some classes before I even get to the black belt level. I think that's what's keeping me going with this whole thing...

In the meantime, Drew will be starting classes again himself after a summer off. I think he misses class a little bit, and likes his association with the ATA, as he insisted on wearing his ATA t-shirts most of the past week on vacation. He's very into the Power Rangers now, and I keep telling him that the Power Rangers got their skills starting in TKD classes before they grew up, so hopefully that'll click. He also has about a week or two to prove that he's going to be more grown up in class before I dump the $300 for additional equipment he needs to upgrade to Masters/Black Belt Club classes. (At our school, Ma'am decided to do away with the Black Belt Club, and combined Masters and BBC together.) He loves sparring, and has a natural ability with it, so I think he's probably ready to get the rest of his gear instead of just punches and mouthpiece, so that way he can throw in some kicks now too! He's only mildly interested in learning weapons and breaking boards, but I think once he tries it, he'll enjoy them too. I'll have to see if each of us needs a new bo staff (the one "basic" weapon we don't have) or if we can share one. Hopefully we can share, and I plan to get a top of the line one for longevity.

So, here I am, on the cusp of a new chapter in my quest for my black belt in Songahm Taekwondo. Past the halfway point in the ascent in the color belts, teaching my first classes, and learning more about the business. It's a lot on my plate, and I just have to think positively that things will work out fine.