Saturday, October 28, 2006

Back to Saturday classes!

While Drew hadn't taken an absence from them, it's been a while since I was at Saturday classes. For the most part, Saturdays are "specialty" classes, in which we concentrate in only one aspect of our studies during a half hour class instead of just a few minutes crammed into regular class time. Due to my exhaustion from last night, and my dislike of this thing, I bowed out of sparring class, while Drew took it. Right now, it's the only specialty class he's allowed to take, and he likes it. He was partnered up with a 6 year old camo belt, so he was more evenly paired up with someone his own age and height more or less, which was good. Then I had my forms class. I wasn't too happy with it. Victoria was teaching it, but she was teaching it as if it was a regular class in many respects. She had us doing these jumping drills. Hell, if I had known we were going to do all this running and jumping in forms class, then I would've skipped that class! I can appreciate doing drills that would be helping us with aspects of the segment we are working on, but we really didn't do much of that. We did work on the form, but it wasn't anything I hadn't already learned. Bleeh. Weapons class was a little challenging. Megan and Kristen were in class with me, so it was good to be in a class with some of my teen buddies, and they are higher ranks, but they were working on the SJB, and I was working on the kata instead. Ben was teaching the weapons class, and he asked Jody if she could work with us. I had to interrupt for a few moments because I had to get Drew started on his regular class as well, but that gave Jodi a moment to work with Megan and Kristen. Once I returned, Jodi-- who is very good with the kata-- worked on my 4 way cuts, and gave me a new thing to work on as well, so that helped. I know I have stuff to work on, and that helps. Board breaking was a snap, of course. Worked on my elbow break. Didn't do it on the first attempt, as I didn't rotate enough, but the second one, BAM! Mission accomplished. Drew finished up his class, and that was that.

In between, SW talked to me. She got a new signup, an upgrade or two, and framed a few others for upgrades as well. She felt that this definitely showed that she needs to be there more. I explained that I would do more of that, but not knowing which kids would be eligible for upgrades, or which ones to frame for certain other things, and she said she understood that, and wasn't blaming me. But she felt that RA needs to be doing more selling and less instructing, and letting the girls do more instructing than selling. Besides, these kids are teenagers. While SW feels they are capable, and perhaps they are, when you are talking about having an adult sign up and pay big bucks, I think that another adult should be handling that, not a teenager in high school. They are all capable instructors, after all, so let the girls teach, and RA should sell. This is part of what SW was saying but for different reasons. And I now have the task of dropping that hint to RA. Oh joy! I think part of it is that he needs to be more authoritative with the kids. HE'S the chief instructor now, not SW, even if she's ultimately the boss. He should take some more authority in talking to and handling the kids, and taking more of the business responsibility. SW thinks that he feels the pressure of trying to keep the curriculum up to snuff in her absence, which may be true. I'll figure out some way to talk about it with him a little bit, on an informal basis.

Oh, and there was one nice little highlight. After one of the classes, Ben came up to me to talk about Drew. Ben had been one of the judges for Drew's ring in the interschool tournament yesterday, and he wanted to tell me that if it had been a regular competition of 1st, 2nd and 3rd place, he thought that Drew was the one who did the best job out of all the kids in the ring. Ben's a 3rd degree, the highest belt rank in the school after SW, so I took that as a really big compliment. I had thought Drew was the best too, but of course, I'm a little biased since he's my kid, but I agree that he has a natural ability about him with this, and a lot of it is starting to kick in (no pun intended). Both he and Dean, another 3rd degree (Dean just got his 3rd degree a month ago, so he's technically ranked behind Ben) thought that he really should take XMA classes, as they thought he'd kick butt. (Again, no pun intended.) I agree, but mentioned that he's not in Leadership yet, and I can't afford to put him in that right now, and they were very enthusiastic in encouraging me to put him in when he's a little older, because they both felt that he had the right stuff for it. That was really cool to hear. I mean, they didn't have to tell me that at all, and they both strike me as the kind that wouldn't say anything if they didn't have something good to say, so I really appreciated it. It made me happy. Drew will say sometimes that he doesn't like his karate class, but once he's there and in it, he has fun. It's tiring though, and I understand that, but I think if he sticks with it, he has a bright future ahead with it.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The competition was tough

Tonight, both Drew and I went to the Interschool Tournament. For Drew, it's just for the practice and to get a participation medal. For me, it was for points towards rank in the state.

Drew did great. I think this was the best interschool tournament he's ever done. First of all, just behavior-wise, it was the best he'd ever done. He only rolled over on the floor while waiting twice, and when I said something, he sat up quickly. I think that's a record! At his age, he still get assistance doing forms during something like this, so Nikki was there, but for once he didn't mirror her, he actually did it very well. It was cool to see him in his new lettered uniform, and he really did a great job. And I'm not just saying that because I'm his mother. ;-) What really got me is when he had to do his one-steps. He had to do "Hickory Dickory Block", as we call it, and while he thought he needed assistance, he actually rattled the whole thing off without help, and did the whole thing by himself, even though Nikki did it with him. I couldn't believe my ears and eyes, because I NEVER thought anything would click anytime soon with him remembering anything he'd learned in class, so I almost welled up with tears that it was clicking in his head. I was very proud of him.

And yes, here are the photos!

Drew doing his form with Nikki. (Ben P. is in the back.)

Nikki giving Drew his medal for "Most Confidence". :-)

Drew showing off his new medal that's now added to his collection.

As for me, well, I didn't do as well as I would have liked. As usual, I choked a bit. It was Sandy, Jeri, Paul and I in the ring, which means is was a Purple Belt, 2 2nd dgree black belt (one of which was a guy), and a brown belt recommended in the same ring. Fun. In forms, I went first, and while performing my form I realized a few dumb mistakes along the way. I didn't even place. :-( In weapons, I thought I did okay. Paul dropped one of his double SJB, so that put him in 4th, and I ended up in 3rd. Sandy had done the form that I usually do with the BME, and she did a good job, getting 1st. Makes me think that I should stick to that myself instead of doing the bo staff! Oh well. Sparring was a little bit of a surprise. I first went up against Sandy, who hadn't sparred really since she took her leave of absence with the ATA in 3 years, but she held her own for a first time in competition. I actually kicked her in the head! Oops, sorry Sandy! I told her that I was passing down the tradition from Jeri, from the time Jeri, the higher rank (and state champion) kicked me in the head. I didn't even feel my foot make contact with the pads on! If I had none on, I would have felt it. Fortunately, she was okay. (Whew!). Then I got a quick breather (not realizing I'd have to go immediately again!) and had to spar Jeri. Well, I kinda knew I'd lose to her, especially since I could hardly breathe (congested, inflammed lungs of an astmatic getting over a bad cold). I got one point off her this time, considering my pulminary condition, but she won. I used a slightly different technique tonight, which was let the other person make the 1st move and jump back instead. It worked well with Sandy, but not as well with Jeri. But then again, Jeri is much more experienced, so she knows how to get you. And as mentioned, she is a 2nd degree black belt who is state champ for her age range. But interestingly enough, I placed 2nd overall, so that was cool.

So overall, not my best effort, as I really thought I would have nailed this better. But Ma'am also said that since Jeri and I were the only ones going for points and we were in different categories, she's make the necessary adjustments when submitting the information. So that's good.

Now, I need to recover, and go to class tomorrow. No sparring class for me. My lungs need the rest! But I'll go to forms, as I need to catch up and get ahead in that, do weapons with the kamas, and get some board breaking in. I'm not as worried about the board breaking, as I can do all the breaks that will be required of me to bump up. But I need to keep them up so that when it is time for testing, they will be no brainers.

Until tomorrow...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Busy times these days

Life is rather busy these days. It's not that I've forgotten to update here, it's just finding the time, and if I've got the time, am I coherent enough in the aftermath of the frenzy?

So, for all intensive purposes, I have a night off. Normally, I try to go to TKD class on Thursdays, but I haven't gone for a while because something comes up. Last week, it was the last night of my FIL and business partner's visit, as they were leaving that night. Tonight, it was the book fair at school (my husband wouldn't do something like that, let alone even get something for Drew), so I haven't been to a Thursday class in a while. I actually miss Matthew, my buddy. I hope he's doing okay in class. I always felt that he did a little better because I was more willing to work with him than the others in class. He's a good kid.

In the meantime, work has been busy. SW was out pretty much all last week due to Fall Nationals (she came in 4th in sparring, and that's considering that she's still in recovery mode from her shoulder surgery),so that was pretty good. And Ryan and I have been holding down the fort and doing okay. As a small token of her gratitude towards us, she was kind enough to give us some t-shirts from the event, or at least for TKD from Disney Wide World of Sports, which was very cool of her. I can wear it to class, which is good! :-) It was nice of her to think of us. Her first day back in a while was yesterday, so we had a lot of catching up to do. One thing for sure is that there is no down time really at the school. We have an interschool tournament tomorrow which we still have to get things ready for (I know what I'll be doing tomorrow!), and she already has me working on getting holiday (Christmas/Hannukah/Kwanzaa) stuff to sell gear, etc. for the gift giving season. I was doing a lot of scanning and photoshop stuff today. I didn't even finish, but I got a good head start on it.

In the meantime, how are classes, you ask? They are fine. Let's start with my Cubs class. Man, I threw them for a few loops the other day. First, I didn't hold class on the front floor, because I think two of the boys tend to look at themselves in the mirror a little too much, so taking them on the back floor, they theoretically should be watching me more. I let the kids who usually come in later choose their mats first. Oh, and I forgot to have them do their stretches via coloring on the floor! Oh well. We got caught up in other things. J, as usual, was being a pain in the tushie. He was trying my patience again. Problem is that when he acts up, then S starts to think it's okay to act up. Interestingly enough, the best behaved child in there is the youngest one in there, who's barely turned three, and that's R. He also is the one with the best technique too. For example, if I have the kids do a punch through the x-ray paper that I hold, he's the only one who does straight punches. The others will do something more like a hammer fist until I correct them that it's not down, but straight out like an arrow. But R is flawless for such a little guy, and I suspect he might have a real talent for this as he gets older. J, like I said, was driving me nuts, and being a distraction from class. "Are we done yet? My brother does that...etc." As I told him, just because his brother does something doesn't mean it's right. And I said that in front of his dad too. Evidentally, these brothers are all trouble, to the point that even the teen instructors feel that they have ineffective parents. That says something! So, we survived, and I think the kids are starting to get the hang of things. I'll be looking forward to graduating them at the beginning of December so that we can finally move onto bigger and better things, like a knifehand strike! I think they'll like that. ;-)

Classes for me...the morning class was good. Sandy from the Pennington ATA (Hi Sandy!) came, so it was nice to have another color belt in class with us. We did some drills, and I was paired up with Paul, the dentist with the Mazerati. He's a funny guy, very sweet and very upbeat. I've never seen the guy in a bad mood. Even when he is in a bad mood, he's still a lot more upbeat than anybody else. He seems to take a lot of stuff in stride, which I guess is something we should all strive for, don't you think? Anyway, we had a lot of kicking drills, and he was really helpful. He's one of those people who should be in Leadership but isn't, for whatever reason. I learned from him, and his good nature is definitely infectious. After the drills, SW had us split into groups of the tournament people and the non-tournament people. So Sandy, Jeri, Paul and I went to the back floor. Sandy was working on Chuhng Jung #1, which interestingly enough, I still remembered most of it. It's been a while, after all, and I crammed that baby into my head before the last regional tournament in July. And I was working on Chuhng Jung #2, as that's the last thing I worked on and it's still in my head. I'm debating whether I should continue to practice CJ#2 for the December Regional, if I'm going. :-S (That's another story in a minute.) Or, should I do what I'm doing now, which is Songahm #4? I could probably kick butt with S#4, since someone at my belt level would find it very easy, so I should theoretically be able to do it very well. I'll have to ask SW that. I also practiced my Jahng Bong. Still get stuck on the last part, but once I do it a few times, it comes. I'm just afraid of whacking someone accidentally in the process! Sandy was practicing the BME, and it's nice to see someone else who whips that stick as much as I try to do! I was giving her a few pointers from my experience, as I've always competed with that until now, and SW smiled and yelled, "Giving pointers now, huh?" as if to make fun of me playfully. Well, hey, if I can return the favor others have given me with help and pointers, why not? Besides, Sandy seems to be like me, in that even though she's an adult learning, she's determined to be as good as she can at it, and do things well if she can. Gotta admire that determination! So, she liked my "sic it to them" move at the end (my "signature" move which I think gets the judges attention), so I'm glad to share it. So, overall a good class, but in some ways, a little boring since it was reviewing a lot of old material that I feel like I have in my head pretty well at this point. I don't mean to sound cocky, but I'll be fine for Friday's tournament.

Leadership class was good too. We did some drills, and SW said that she wants to put more structure back in, and more of the "Yes, Ma'am! No Sir!" type of stuff back in, because all the instructors, and she listed herself foremost among them, at our school have been a little lazy about getting after the kids, so we were learning by self-example what needed to be done. Then we split into groups again to practice for tournament, and SW worked with her 3rd degree students (she has a few now!), since they usually get the short end of the stick in learning their materials. Of course two of them *just* got their new belts, so they haven't suffered too much. ;-) The meeting afterwards was good, because we were able to catch up some more and get the message out to people about what we are doing about Front Desk changes that are hopefully for the better, like automating more things, putting electronic files all the same folder, etc.

So, things are moving along. At least I'm ahead in learning my form segments, and even Ryan said that he'd teach me sections as needed in the time when he and I are there during "transition" of shifts. It only takes a few minutes, especially since this is an easier form than the last, oh, 4 of them? :-P Maybe I can talk him into the next segment on Saturday.

In the meantime, I got news of a scheduling conflict. JC told me today that he will probably be taking a business trip. To San Diego (man, I want to go!). In December. He leaves on December 1st, and returns on December 4th or 5th. Well, Master C's regional tournament in New Brunswick (which means it's only a half hour away!), is on December 2ND. This may mean that I might have to skip it if JC is not around. I mean, it's pretty much an all day event. You get there at about 8-ish in the morning, and then it doesn't finish up until about 5:30 or 6:00 PM. Truly all day. I can't ask my parents to watch him that long. JC thinks his mom might be willing to do that, but it's a lot to ask of her, especially since I need her to watch him for a few afternoons in about two weeks. Then the next day is the open house, if we haven't sold this place yet (PLEASE SEND GOOD KARMA/PRAYERS/COSMIC ORDERS OUT ON OUR BEHALF TO GET THIS HOUSE SOLD!), then I either have to have Drew stay here, or have grandparents watch him, and I don't know if my parents would watch him for that long. I would love it if they did. We'll have to see. It's still a month away, after all.

So that's the rundown of the last few days. Tune in tomorrow when you will be getting the results of our participation in the Interschool Tournament! I hope I can do really well this time, and get some extra points!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Getting ahead already

Things have been so busy these days. While I was able to get two classes in yesterday (one in the morning, and one at night), I can't get to class on Saturday, and I wasn't able to get to class tonight due to other commitments, so it's a good thing that I was able to get the first two sections and their reverse of my new form already, as that would be about 2/5ths of my form right there, from what I can figure.

Since the upper level color belt cycle is back to the beginning again, and I've already done the most advanced stuff (just did the most advanced one last cycle), we're back to the beginning with Songham #4 and the corresponding one-steps. Man, I dislike learning one-steps again, but as an instructor I'll have to know them anyway, and since this form is much shorter than the stuff I've already done, I guess throwing the one-steps back in is not that big a deal, and they are easy anyway. In fact, this form is that much easier than what I've done most recently that Ryan gave me both this week's section and next week's section together. So, I've already learned segments 1 and 2, and their reverse. Learned the first one-step as well, and again, piece of cake. Board breaking too-- to go to the next level, I have to do an elbow break, and either a front kick or side kick break. I can do that with no problem. I did the elbow break in the morning with ease, and a front kick easily at night. Since they are doing the bahng mah ee AGAIN, I am SO bored with that, and asked Ryan if there was the next form of the single BME to learn, and he said that I already know what I need for color belt levels. Bleeh. I don't want to be THAT bored for 8 weeks, with the form being pretty easy thusfar. So, he did mention that Leadership was being taught the kamas. They have some other name in Korean, but I forget what it is...I'm sure I'll find out soon enough. Anyhow, of course I jump at the opportunity to try that and learn that, so I go to the supply cabinets and grab a pair (I am the office manager, for lack of a better title, after all), and he taught me some basic cuts and one move that looks kinda like swimming. ;-) I'm not used to doing anything double-handed, so this will be a good challenge.

At night during Leadership, since Ma'am is at Nationals, Ryan taught class, and we went over some options on how to teach segments in a big class, when you might have 2 or more different forms that you have to teach different people in the group. It was a good exercise, and since we were reviewing my form, I got some good reinforcement of the segments. The kicker (no pun intended) was sparring. We all know how much I dislike sparring, but it has to be done. And it's always a challenge to go up again the kids, and the ones in Leadership are the best in the school, but they are good sports and supportive. I would actually consider many of the kids to be my young friends and buddies, even though I'm old enough to be their mother! :-S So, the first round-- up against Mr. U, and he gets me right in the forearm where the bruise was just starting to heal up from the other guy last week. Bleeh. So, the next round was against my buddy Alex V. That one was kind of fun. I almost kicked him in the face. He's much faster than me, but I think I got a few good shots in, and Ryan was saying that I need to get out of the way more instead of blocking, and I think I'm getting a better idea about evading instead of going head-on. The last round was against Nina. That little spitfire is a lot more powerful than she looks. We went at it, and at one point she lost her balance and fell. It almost looked like I did it, but I didn't. Well, one of the last hits she got in was this killer kick. I went to block it with my right hand (and do note, like most people, I am right handed), and sure enough, that kick blasted the one part of my hand that was not covered by my glove, the whole palm muscle directly under my thumb all the way down to my wrist. OUCH! It stung something fierce and was throbbing. Of course she apologized, but MAN! I even iced it when I got home for a long time, and the pain still didn't go away. It's still painful. Not as bad as last night, but it's definitely bruised big time. It would be just my luck to have the little bit of hand exposed messed up, right? So, I can't lean on that part of my hand, and holding certain sized objects are a little difficult. It'll heal, I know, but MAN, it smarts.

Things have been busy at work. We got a huge shipment of gear in, and I was trying to go through and decipher the invoice forms, and then figure out how to invoice for some custom uniforms. I got the hang of one once I text-messaged SW, but then I couldn't get clarification for some of the others. So, I think I have to wait until tomorrow. Oh well. There were still things that I didn't get done, and I ended up running late leaving today, trying to get stuff done or organized, at least, before I left. Well, at least there is tomorrow. I just hope the freaking copier doesn't bug out on me again tomorrow like it did today. That certainly didn't help matters.

Drew was one of those people who got a custom uniform. It's not totally personalized, as it would have his name on the back if that was the case. Instead it's like mine, but instead of his name, it says, "Princeton, N.J.". I thought he'd be excited to get it, but it was a bad day for him, so he was not happy. He said he wanted to stick with his old uniform, but the problem was that a)it's his Cubs uniform, and the knee in the pants has a hole and b) he's outgrown that one pretty much that he needs the next size up. With him being in Masters, he needed a lettered uniform, so since they are heavy duty, I was fine with that. It'll last him for a while. Hopefully tomorrow, he'll be more in the mood for it.

I really hope that this cycle isn't too boring. I mean, Ryan gave me the okay to skip class tonight (I wasn't sure whether I was going to go or not due to some things going on at home), since I already got this week's AND next week's segments. I could probably learn all of it in a month, no doubt. So hopefully the kama will keep things interesting.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Because no one will be a good listener

Last night, Drew was doing an assignment for school (late, which was my fault), in which he had to dictate to me events of the past weekend. We include photos from my printer to help him remember, and this weekend's events naturally included TKD graduation. There was a photo of Drew with Ma'am, and when I told him to tell me who Ma'am was, so that way other people would know, he said, verbatim, "She's a taekwondo teacher because no one will be a good listener." I think, from what I can interpret knowing his apraxic, 5 year old ways, is that she teaches the kids to respect authority and how to be a good listener. I thought it was funny the way it came out, but it's interesting that's her job description.

Well, if that's the case, I am certainly doing my best to teach the little Cubs in my class to be respectful and listen. But there's one kid-- ugh-- he makes my son look like an angel. Ma'am said it first, but the more I've gotten to know this kid, for once I agree that she's right about my son being an angel in comparison. J really tried to push it today, and I stood my ground, and I think I need to stand my ground more and intend to do so. It all started with the mats. We have foam placemats that the kids stand on to mark their spot. The instructor always has black. ;-) Since mine is such a small class, I allow each of them to choose what color they want. Because J is a trouble maker when he's with the little girl of the class, C, I wanted to separate them, and at the same time, keep him away from the side where the mirrors are, because he likes to spend his time looking at himself rather than pay attention. He grabbed his color out of the drawer before I could take it, and he placed it on that spot nearest the mirrors next to C. I asked him nicely but firmly down at his level to please get off his mat, as he needed to be on the other side. He looked me squarely in the eye, and said, "I don't want to move. I want to be next to C." I asked him the same thing again, slightly more sternly. He was practically in my face, and stood his ground. I reminded him of who was the teacher and who was the kid, and that he needed to listen to ME. He balked and complained, but I finally got him to move. I mean, come on! He's 4 years old! I'm twice his size! And he thinks he's going to defy ME? I don't think so! He continued to want to do things HIS way, but I had to continually remind him to pay attention, and this was MY class. I wasn't mean to him, and when I needed him to get back in line, he'd get back in line. He talks too much too, so I have to nip that in the bud. I don't mind the kids talking to me and participating-- I encourage that. Little R in class needs to do that more. But J needs to shut up. J and his older brothers have a reputation in the school that none of the instructors want to teach these kids. If it's one kid that's a problem, and the other siblings are fine, it's usually the kid that's the problem. When it's ALL the kids in the family, then you know it's a parenting problem. Mr. A told me today that J also attends his Cubs class on Saturdays, and he's convinced that J should actually be in the Special Abilities class so that his mother can keep him in line, because he thinks he's ADHD. That certainly might be true, but I think it's a matter of him being hyperactive AND undisciplined. Some of my son's sensory integration dysfunction symptoms are similar to ADHD, and I know that if my husband and I didn't start cracking down on Drew, he would've ended up the same way. So, I've made a decision. I'm not backing down against a little kid. He disrupts the class. The other kids are good and they enjoy the class. I hate taking away from them. I could ignore him, but then the other kids would think that his behavior is acceptable, which it's not. They start to mimic him until I get after him. They whip into shape quickly if I say something, but him...not usually. The other new kids are fine. S has a major stutter/stammer. I really try to be patient with him. After all, I'm the mother of a child with a major speech impairment. However, OH! Sometimes I just want to say, GET ON WITH IT! but he's wanting to participate and say something, so I don't want to discourage it. But sometimes it's hard to understand him. I talked to his mom after class, and she's hoping that he'll grow out of it, as he seems to do it especially when he's excited, etc. I'm thinking, nuh-uh, but I can't say that to her. So, I think I will try to work with him myself, and see if by MY listening more carefully, I can repeat what he's said already, so he doesn't repeat himself, and he can get his thought out more quickly. C is the princess of the class. She has an older brother who's been doing TKD at our school for a while, so she gets with the program very easily. She's a sweetie when she's not influenced by J. And R just turned 3, and is very shy and bashful, but he seems to be coming out of his shell little by little. His Chinese-American grandparents bring him to class each week, taking photos and such. It's very cute. They told me he likes class a lot, which I'm glad to hear. I'll bet that if he sticks with it, he might just end up being really good at this, as he's pretty attentive for a 3 year old. And since he's quiet, I want him to speak up more, so I'll have all the children talk and have a voice, not just noisy J. For example, today we played a game called Running Through the Jungle. I have the kids jogging for a while (hopefully to tire them out a little) and each person will take a turn saying that they see a jungle animal (or any animal, I don't care), and we do a move to combat or avoid that animal. Like, if we see a snake, we jump. If we see a tiger, we do front kicks, etc. So, each of the children take a turn. S was getting a little bit caught up and elaborate with whatever he was trying to tell me, and I finally said, OK! We'll give him two punches!. I did let each child have two turns, and then J is trying to take over. NOPE! NOT GONNA HAPPEN, J! I truly think that J is testing me, as I can see it in his eyes. He can manipulate his parents, so he thinks he can manipulate me, and it's not going to work. I will make sure that I get that kid into line, probably using things that worked with my son, but no one has ever used with this kid. It's not torturous things, but things like asking him to leave class if he can't behave, rewarding him with a paper star if I catch him doing good things, giving him incentives to behave nicely, etc. I think that can work.

So, this just goes to show that teaching a Cubs class might be easy curriculum-wise, but not so easy to teach necessarily. Definitely a learning experience for me too.

SW is going to Fall Nationals in the morning, so she called today in a good mood, and was rattling off all this stuff to do and follow up on. No problem. She told me that she is starting to learn that she can trust Ryan and I with more stuff, and that she's getting better about learning to delegate things. She's feeling more confident that things are on the upswing now, as Ryan's been getting a lot of upgrades lately, and that benefits all of us, so we might be looking at a bonus this month, which would be great. I'm contributing to this too, as we are all in touch with what's going on. So, while I might not make the actual sale, I might have preframed a client or given them info, or was the person that they verified information with, so everything can be set up. So we all play a part, no matter who actually makes the sale, and I think that works out great. We need to convert some people who are on trial programs too, so I can help with that. We are slowly getting organized and reorganized. SW admitted that when she did things on her own, she had a lot of it in her head, but now she can't do that, but with better organization, we can do it. Ryan wants to update the webpage. I could probably do that too, but he knows that particular system that SW is using better, so that's fine. I'm working on straightening out the database so it's in better synch with the ATA HQ database as far as testings, membership expirations, etc. Like, according to the ATA, my membership expired, but I know I paid for it months ago. SW has the records, but it needs to be updated, etc. Stuff like that. So, we are slowly getting things super organized so anyone can go in and check stuff and be totally in synch with the other members of the team. Progress, at least.

Tomorrow will probably be two classes. One in the morning, and one at night. Should be interesting. I still have to see if I'll be able to take class on Thursday due to stuff going on here at home.

Busy, busy!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Easiest testing----EVER!!!

Oh yeah, you read that right. I got a MAJOR break tonight in many respects, but even if I had done things conventionally, I think I still would've been okay.

Well, we had a slightly rocky start, as we were going to test/graduate in Pennington ATA instead of our home school, the Princeton ATA. Graduation was at 5:30 PM. We hadn't changed into our uniforms (as Drew wanted to change there), and I'm trying to get JC and Drew out the door, knowing how rush hour traffic is in our area to get out that way. And of course, JC thinks we are going to Princeton, so he doesn't understand, at first, why I'm on the verge of going ballistic on his butt to get out the door. So, fortunately, I was able to steer him through some short cuts which did improve our time to get ourselves to Pennington, and we were only a few minutes late. At least I had Ma'am's cell phone number (which she didn't pick up) and I know the Pennington phone number by heart, and she picked that up, so she knew we'd be late due to traffic. As usual, she was cool about it.

We arrived and rushed into the ladies' bathroom to change quickly. We lined up as best as we could, as it was not laid out the same was as our school. No biggie. I had reminded Drew that being that he was from our school and not this one we were at, he was a high rank, and he had to behave like one. Most of the time, he did behave. And other times, he was still a monkey. I think part of it was that he was excited, and he was in this BIG space (bigger than our school), so he wanted to be able to run and jump and explore, etc. He's a difficult boy to keep down!

Nonetheless, because we were there, we got to be the example for the little tiny tigers along with a few others, namely two kids whom I knew from our school, and Mr. P, Victoria's dad. I've been in class with the two kids before, as their parents also take class with them, and their parents are my age, and they are all just a few belts ahead. They are a nice family. The parents were there, naturally, to root the kids on.

So, Ma'am finished with the little ones, and then she had Drew come up. Now, at age 5, Drew isn't always expected to remember his form, or even half of it, so Ma'am did it with him. She bowed him in, and he remembered what to do except he almost called her "sir", as he's used to declaring "My goal is black belt, Sir!" since in class, his teachers are usually men. But he caught himself and got the Ma'am out. He did a good job overall. I think I was most impressed because he was doing this in front of a lot of people, and other than Ma'am doing it along with him, he was essentially all by himself doing his forms and one steps. He remembered the rhyme that went with one of the one steps ("Hickory Dickory Block", from Songahm #2 for those who know that one), and he did his one step pretty much solo, with minimal help from Ma'am. I was really proud of him.

Then it was my turn. I had to do mine with two white belts, and I don't even know what form they were doing. I wasn't paying attention. I was just doing my own thing. I got caught about three-quarters of the way through when I lost my track of thought, and then when I got the reminder of the next step, then I was fine. How embarrassing! But, I just went with it, because I happen to know that Ma'am knows that I know the form, as she saw me do it just two days ago without any goofs. Diane, the mom of the two kids from our school whom I've taken class with in the past, told me later that she wanted to yell out the next step, as she knew that I would know it. She said that she always notices that I work hard to make the form as perfect as possible when I do it, and other than that slight slip, I did it really well, which was nice of her to say. I also felt pretty decently about my weapons form. Only problem was that I was doing it with those two kids, and we hadn't allotted for enough room, so my Jahng Bong slightly scraped against the mirrors behind me when I did part of my form. But I knew I had to be doing it fairly decently, because I could hear the swishing sounds from the staff whirring by as I manuevered it. ;-)

Then, believe it or not, I was one of the senior ranks there. Not only in belt level, but also collar level. I was being used as an example of the Leadership program, where Ma'am pointed out how she, Mr. P and I had different collar colors to show different levels of instructorship (instructorhood?). So I got to hold boards for the kids, and that was fine. I was also used for a self-defense thing for the little ones who were using other people instead of classmates. Which was fine.

But here was the icing on the cake. Normally, part of achieving rank, especially at my level, is not only doing your form, doing your permission to test board break, and the optional weapons form, but also you must spar. guessed it. We didn't spar! Hooray! I was SOOOOO happy. I thanked Ma'am later. There was another female adult color belt who was part of the Pennington school that I could have sparred, or heck, you could've geared up Drew and I and we would've gone at it. But she told me that with SO many little Tiny Tiger white belts, that their patience levels while we would get geared up and sparred wouldn't be there, so it wasn't worth it. Besides, she knows what I'm capable of, so it's a freebie for this time. OH YEAH!

Hence, this had to be the easiest testing I've done yet. I don't expect it to be this easy again necessarily, but I'm not about to look a gift horse in the mouth, y'know? It also felt kinda good-- and this was something I was trying to impress upon Drew-- that it felt good not to be the bottom rung, but rather a high rank. Even Diane said to me after the whole thing was, "Look at you! You're not at the bottom anymore, but one of the high rank color belts now!". And she's right. I'm so used to being at the bottom of the pecking order, and now I'm closer to the top, at least color belt wise. And even Drew was a high rank for a day, and he held his own, all things considered. JC doesn't think Drew really cares about getting new belts and such. He just likes to go. Eventually it will matter to Drew what rank he is, because he has to eventually get out of the white/orange/yellow cycle and finally do something new when moving up to camo-red levels. I think there may be one cycle when he and I will be doing the same thing, but we'll have to see.

And now...the photos! (I know you were waiting for those...)

Ma'am asking Drew if he knows his one steps.

Yes, the fat marshmellow lady in the middle is me doing my form. White is not a good color on a voluptuous woman, as my husband is kind enough to describe me.

Drew is being called first to show the white belts how to receive your belt. :-)Go Drew! That's me congratulating him at the same time.

Drew with his new Masters' Orange/Yellow belt (aka Yellow Recommended). He might have been promoted, but he's still a monkey boy!

So, all in all, a good night. I am FINALLY a brown belt, and moving out of that intermediate level. I'm past the halfway point with my belts. Being a brown belt will take two cycles, then red will take two cycles, and I believe that red/black will also be two cycles. My guess is that I'll be testing for my black belt in August, just in time for my 39th birthday. Man, and when that happens, the whole school stands and bows to you when you receive your belt, and that's probably gonna make me cry. I predict it now, so we'll see what happens in August.

My next things to worry about is my midterm for Brown belt, and the next tournament, which should be at almost the same time in early December. I know this form will be MUCH easier than what I just did, as it will be a camo level form, aka Songahm #4, which I haven't done. Heck, after doing Chuhng Jung #2, it should be a piece of cake!

Hooray! I'm a brown belt now!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Asthma, Congestion and TKD don't mix well

Despite the fact that I'm sick, I'm not running a fever. It's one of those things where I'm not sick enough to stay home, but sick enough that I shouldn't be at work, but am. So, unless I'm falling on my face and not running a fever, I went in. It's only for a few hours, after all, not like a full day. The thing that I really, perhaps shouldn't have done, however, was take class before work.

There is a single day class during the week at 11 AM on Wednesdays. So now that I'm working 12-3, I can take that class during the week guilt free. Being that I have graduation on Friday, I felt it would be beneficial for SW to see how I was doing and get any additional help if needed, especially with my Jahng Bong. Turns out I had been shown the ending wrong. I explained to her that I've been going to Weapons specialty classes on Saturdays, but usually end up doing strike line drills and teaching the little ones as much of the Jahng Bong form as I could remember, but I was having trouble with the end of it. So, because there were only four of us in class, I actually got a little one-on-one time to get it fixed and get it right. I still have to practice it before Friday, but it's a small adjustment in what I was doing wrong. Also found out that I've been placing my hands too close together when holding the weapon, so hopefully that's a habit I'll be able to break soon enough. She didn't have any comments about my form, so either I did it okay, or it was good enough for now, considering I'll have to do it again in a several months.

The problem was, with being sick, even a little bit of exercise wasn't all that good, but it wasn't all that bad. The good part was that it got my adrenaline up enough that I was feeling better for a little bit. The bad part was that just doing warmup kicks across the floor winded me big time, so when we were stretching, I was huffing and puffing enough to put the Big Bad Wolf to shame. My lungs still hurt like hell, being that they are still quite congested and all. I'd normally be huffing and puffing due to my asthma, but being congested AND with asthma, not a good combination. To boot, I didn't eat my lunch right away, and so when I got hungry, instead of just feeling hunger pains, it was hunger pains like I was going to faint and feel sick to my stomach. I started to overheat and put the A/C on in the room. I eventually got something to eat, albeit something small, and cooled down. I even put my head down for a little while on the front desk.

I'm a little better now, but it's a matter of making sure I'm drugged up on the proper amount of OTC drugs and getting as much rest as possible. I swear there's a conspiracy that's preventing me from getting a nap here and there, and I'm trying to go to bed early. But I won't make that mistake again. I'll make myself worse.

In the meantime, when I was functional, RA, SW and I quickly got stuff together for tonight's graduation. Normally I'd go, and I could go, but I am going to Pennington on Friday with Drew instead. Should be interesting, as Mr. Bassett will also be judging, so hopefully he's patient. (Doubt it, from what I've heard.) SW is starting to regret opening the 2nd school. I told her that I felt guilty that I couldn't do more to help, since I don't know what she needs done, and she just has to show me more of what needs to be done and I can help. She said that I shouldn't feel guilty at all, but she shouldn't have invested in the other school. I haven't told her this, but I don't think it was wrong to open another school. But the way her time is divided, and her funds are being depleted, I think it was the wrong time. There's nothing wrong with having the ambition or goal of having more than one school. It's just not the right timing. Things are bad for her financially that she had to trade in her big Suburban for a Jeep Wrangler because she couldn't afford the Suburban anymore. I could see the sadness in her face about it. In many ways, she's miserable, and I wish I could do more to help. She's not ungrateful for what RA and I have done, but some of it comes with time, and there's a lot that's just intuitive to her that's not to us. Or, for example, I'd work on people who would be upgrade candidates, but I don't know who they are because I don't teach class. I don't know who's what belts, where they are at in their studies, etc. That's RA's job. So, it's hard for me to follow up on people that I don't know who to follow up on. The current lead log is about as up to date as it could possibly be. And SW knows we are trying and we are working it for her. I think she really misses being at our school full-time. Her birthday is in a few weeks, so I'll have to be sure to give her a little something to make her day.

And with that...I'm going to go try to eat some dinner, namely Greek Chicken and Rice Soup (Avgolemono). Hopefully it'll help the cold. I'm not too hungry, but I am also starting to get those weird hunger pangs again.

I hate being sick.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Mixed Bag, or how to do TKD with not enough sleep

Drew and I had class today. Drew could've gone to class yesterday, it turns out, because his grandfather's plane was hours late, but we didn't know until the last minute, and there was no time to get over to class. Oh well. So, today, both Drew and I went to our usual classes. I was a wussy and sat out of sparring class because a) I really don't enjoy it, especially since sparring for a half hour doesn't help my asthma much and I tired easily from it, and b) heck, I don't have to if I don't want to, and I didn't want to. But Drew took class. He's the smallest one in there, but he loves it. Mr. A was doing his best to stress and emphasize in class the idea of control, yet this is a concept that Drew still has a difficult time grasping. It's not that he doesn't understand it at all, but some aspects of it elude him still, perhaps because he's socially immature for a 5 year old. However, I think one of the best compliments that he's gotten yet was a little black belt kid who's at least twice his age told me randomly that he thought Drew was really good. That was kinda cool to hear.

So, after sparring, Drew sat out, and I did forms class. The oldest two people in the class were me, and Alessandro, who's about 13 I think. All the other kids were under 10 years old, which can be frustrating. But, I got the review I needed. Ben was helping out, and he said I had it, but I felt that my reverse hook kick is, well, not pretty. He said there was nothing wrong with it, but it feels awkward when I do it. I know I slow down to do it as correctly as possible, but it still doesn't feel like it looks good when I execute the kick. I was pretty tired after the class though, having to keep slow control so the younger kids could keep up. Bleeh. But at least I got the review I needed for testing. Then weapons class. Slightly peeved again, as I am having trouble with the form at the end, and that's why I came to class. Now, I can have Ryan show me almost anytime when he and I are there together before classes and before I leave for work, but you know, this is why I come to Saturday classes. So, as usual, I end up showing the two little kids and reviewing strike lines and the form, but I get stuck at the point that I usually get, so I'm no help to them, let alone myself. Ptooey!

Drew went off to start his regular class, and I went to board breaking class. Since my permission to test break was done, I figured that I ought to start working on the breaks for the next cycle. I remember an elbow break being required, so worked on that. I ended up paired with JZ, someone I'm not too fond of, to say the least. He's very insistent on this stomp thing, which is stomping your foot when you step forward for the break and getting the hand-foot timing together as you break. I personally think the actualy stomp part is unnecessary, but fine, I'll do it to shut him up. Well, when it came time for me to break with the elbow break, I did it his way, and BAM! Right through the first time. Sweet. I don't think it's his method. I just had to get into the swing and rhythm of doing elbow breaks again.

Drew, in the meantime, had a meltdown during his class. I got two different stories of what happened, but I'm not sure which version I should believe. Em, who was helping, said that another girl did her back fist in the form into Drew's back by accident, and of course, it hurt and he needed to take a break, and Em was sweet enough to be sitting with him trying to soothe him. But according to another kid's mom, Drew was being extra antsy today and not controlling his actions too well, so the little girl was subtely getting back at him. I dunno. Either scenario is not good, and I have no reason to doubt either person. I guess I'll have to ask Ryan on Monday what happened for sure. I'm sure a lot of it had to do with the fact that Drew was very tired, and at the same time he's fired up and excited when he's in class, so it might have been a bad combination. Who knows.

Let's hope that testing week goes better. I have a couple of classes I can squeeze in before I test, and I'm sure that Drew's as good as it gets for now. (SIGH) It's not easy being a mom of a rambuctious youngster sometimes! :-S

Thursday, October 05, 2006


It's been a busy past few days for me. Due to some things going on with the purchase of my new house and the selling of the old one (yes, it's not sold yet), and things going on at work, some changes had to be made. I am very fortunate that SW is a VERY reasonable woman, and was willing to work with me and make some compromises. So, I'll be working less hours for now, which is okay, and as time goes on and things get back on the upswing in time and experience, I'll probably increase those hours and have more responsibilities and such. It's fine. I didn't want to be in a position to have to go somewhere else, and we found a solution, which is good.

It's interesting to be on the "inside", to say the least. Seeing the ATA from the business perspective instead of the student/parent perspective is certainly different. After all, a school IS a business after all, and keeping things going is always a challenge. For SW, she is running the school I have, is half owner of another school, and still has financial interests in two other schools, so incentives to keep things really going at the "home" school is important. Just yesterday alone, SW, RA and I had our first "staff" meeting to catch up, and I learned a lot. RA had a lot of knowledge from the instructing end, and he had attended an ATA business seminar a while ago. I know that SW would like to send me too at some point, but doesn't have it in the budget right now. But most things, like basics to sell, etc. I have learned from a career of consumer affairs, customer services and sales experience, as well as the experience of being a student AND a parent there, so it's just a matter of adaptation. But I learned about a few things that help the business along that I thought were just "programs" when they are actually things to help generate extra money. Nothing wrong with that, especially if what's being offered are things that people like and are interested in, like Movie/Date Night (the school watches the kids and has a movie night while parents can get a break and go out for a date. We love them!) or a special self-defense seminar.

In the meantime, it's a lean week doing classes. I skipped tonight's class, and Drew is skipping tomorrow's class due to my FIL coming in from Ecuador for the night as a pitstop on his way to a business trip to the Far East. I went to leadership last night, and I practiced a bit today, but I think my form is coming. It's not easy, as it's the form you do in order to test for your 1st degree black belt. I'm not too worried about doing fantastic on it. I know I'll be coming back to it in several months, so if I can just get a passable score, then I'll be fine. I did my board break for permission to test last night. I knew for my level this time around was a foot break, which means I had the choice of front kick, side kick, or round kick. While my front kick I can do in my sleep, my round kick still leaves something to be desired (like a broken board!), so I did my sidekick. I was about to use my rebreakable when Ma'am said, "WAIT!!! You need to do it on wood!". So, somebody grabbed a wood board. That was fine by me, as the wood is usually a lot easier than the rebreakable board. So, I just did my step, chambered, and POP! Right on the first try. No hopping like usual. So, piece of cake! I know the next time I have to do an elbow break and another foot break, so I'll have to get that back into my elbow break again. Still trying to get the kinks out of my weapons routine. And sparring, well, not much changes there. I did get a nasty bruise on my left forearm from blocking a kick last night. I sometimes think I should but my shinpads on my forearms instead. I can take the blows the shins, but not the forearms. That's also what you get for having to spar with two men who are both 2nd degree BBs, and the one that got me good is a World Champion. :-S

We might have to change out testing/graduation date. I'm fine with my date, but Drew has a scheduling conflict that just came up today. So, I'm going to see if he and I can do our testing at the Pennington school. I remember SW saying something like it would be good if anyone had to test on another day to go there, so her new students there could see higher ranks doing theirs. It would be a win-win situation if she lets us. Otherwise, we'll have to find some other alternative. We're having a lot of scheduling conflicts in this next month that are just almost coming out of nowhere all of the sudden, and the conflicts have to do with other things competing with our training/class time. :-S

So...busy, busy days at the ATA. And hopefully, within the next week or so, Drew will be a Yellow Recommended and I will be a Brown belt. And it will mean, if I am consistent, that I will probably test for my 1st degree in time for my 39th birthday, which is in August. Geez!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Need my TKD therapy today

Did you ever want to go to your martial arts class not because you enjoyed it, and it was the scheduled day, but because you felt you needed it? Today is one of those days for me. I have off from work, and Drew has off from school due to Yom Kippur, and it's only 12:30 PM as I write this, but it's been a stressful day already. I need to be able to release some anger, frustration and sadness in a constructive way, but with the TKD school closed today, I don't have that option today. Maybe I can just walk it off, or buy something extra at the supermarket that I shouldn't get (you know, retail therapy), or something like that. But my TKD allows me to have a true physical release sometimes. I can actually punch someone without getting in trouble, y'know? I can kick someone too and yell if I want as well. Bleeh. There's always tomorrow during down time at work, if there IS any down time.