Saturday, December 23, 2006

Probably the last posting...for 2006! ;-)

Now that I know that I have a more serious knee injury than I thought, I have to take it a little easy on it. Last night, I think just due to the stress probably put on it from Wednesday's sparring bout and going up and down a lot of stairs in my house, my knee was so inflammed that I could barely walk last night, and it hurt SO much as I tried to sleep. Fortunately, the Motrin eventually kicked in, and getting some rest helped.

Drew skipped out on classes today (which was probably a good thing), and I went to only two. I would have done weapons and board breaking, but with Christmas essentially being a two-day celebration in my family (my husband's family celebrates on Christmas Eve, and mine does on Christmas Day), I had (and still have at this writing) a LOT to do, so I stuck with sparring and forms class.

SM showed up, and so I had a partner, of course, for sparring class. Today, Jason K, a teen who transferred in from another local school and is VERY good, taught the class. He's the one that would do that "voodoo hex" thing during sparring. He really knows what he's talking about. While class centered on the ideas of a) learning to evade your opponent, b) learning to figure out your opponent's favorite moves so that you can figure out how to not only counteract them with a move they don't expect, but throw in some moves that aren't your favorites to throw THEM off, and c) learning to judge distance and throw your opponent off. While these are all things that you always have to learn, and in so many ways, are the basics of sparring, they are all things that I still have to master well. (See video below). I have to get a better repertoire of combinations and defense moves to be able to counteract others. I know that punching or other hand stuff is my weakness, and I also don't protect myself (notice that my arms pretty much always flail out when I kick, leaving me open), so getting back to basics, and seeing how to break that down, or look at it more carefully, as if in slow motion, is a good thing. It was a good class and a good exercise.

Forms class was good too. MZ was there teaching as well, but again, it was Jason who mostly taught the class. I really hadn't taken a class from him before, (well, except the sparring class just before forms class), but he's very good. I learned the somewhat long second segment of this latest form. At least there weren't any big jumps or kicks in it, so that helped. Pretty basic, but it's just a matter of remembering the steps in the segments that we've done so far, and also learning how to get the hand-foot timing, since we aren't taught that going slowly (and with 95% of the students in the class being kids!). It shouldn't be too bad, from what I could see in the cheat sheets I have and was reviewing later today.

After that, I had to go. I didn't have a chance to say a proper Happy Holidays to SW (who was actually in, and giving the sales pitch to a family that I had booked for a free trial class), or SM, as she was taking the weapons class as I left, but that's okay. I'll probably talk to them during the week or something like that via email.

So, I have a week off from work, and a week off from TKD. Probably good, as sometimes we all need a break. I'm not afraid of doing classes, other than if they agitate my knee or my asthma. Both will probably be put through the wringer without TKD, as part of my post-Christmas activities will be moving the furniture in my house to my new house! Yes, I'm spending the week moving! It's just across town, but still...lots of physical work nonetheless. Having a break from TKD will not be a bad thing. Hopefully I'll be able to start fresh with the new year after taking the break. I think I'll still be in the same mental mode, since technically I won't really be taking a break from the rest of my life. Someday, I'll have a vacation on my own! If the moving isn't too strenuous, it'll be a good break for my knee. I did wear the "holy" knee brace, but I didn't like it, and didn't feel it helped that much. It also needs a good washing, BLEECH! I went and bought another one at the local CVS today (while picking up the prescription anti-inflammatory for my knee), and it seems to be doing a slightly better job. I think it's because it's a little more flexible than the other one. The other had metal support on the side, that if you bent your knee too much, it would dig into my leg. This one has double plastic supports, and is flexible enough to bend more and not dig into my leg. It's supposed to be a sport brace, and it's a little more breathable, so I think it'll work out. We'll see.

So, unless something comes up big time, I want to thank my martial arts friends that I've met through this blog in the past year for your support. You are all a great bunch of people, and I find a lot of joy in getting to know you and knowing that we all support each other in our martial arts endeavors as well as our "outside" lives. You are all such great, fascinating people, and it's very cool that we all have this common bond that ties us together, even if we all practice different types of martial arts. I wish you all peace, love, joy, safety, good health, and happiness in the holiday season and in the new year.

See 'ya in 2007!!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Some surprises, some not surprises

The last two days have been interesting. While I haven't taken any classes since the school tourney, I've had two significant events happen. They aren't necessarily HUGE, but they have their impact.

The bad news is that the knee problems I've been having are not psychosomatic, or just arthritis as I was told almost 4 years ago. I had the MRI done on Monday, two days before my tourney, and post-tourney my knee is feeling worse. The results came in, and today I talked to my MD about it. Turns out that I have all sorts of problems going on. The main problems include fluid in the knee, inflammation of the joints, the kneecap out of whack (which I already knew), but the clincher was that I have a torn ligament. See, I knew something was bad! It could've happened anytime. Could've been that time I crashed down on my knees when literally trying to keep up with the 2nd and 3rd degree guys doing advanced kicking (double kicks on the bag, whereby you might do something like a front, then round with the opposite foot, both before landing on the ground). Or I could be when I got knocked down at the regional this past summer, and then couldn't walk for a few days. Who knows? Nonetheless, it's not good news for someone who does a lot of jumping and kicking in class. While I thought the positive side of this was that I'd get out of sparring, I am not. :-( I will have to take a prescription anti-inflammatory, go to an orthopedist, and get PT (and I swear the PT won't do squat, as I've done it before). Laying off it, and getting surgery is the answer, if you ask me, but I have to wait for the orthopedist to make that determination.

In the meantime, upon telling SW of the prognosis, she immediately (while on the phone with her) insisted that I find the knee brace with the metal inserts on the side. The way she talked about it, you'd think it was the Holy Grail or something, and the responsibility of her passing it to me was a great honor. Evidentally, this particular knee brace has had a history, whereby it has helped heal many a person, and included wearers such as a few Senior and Chief Masters in the ATA, let alone people within my school whom I respect as talented martial artists. SW said I had to carry on the tradition that when somebody tears a ligament in their knee, they have to wear this do-dad. OK, if you insist! I found it under some boxes in her office, confirmed I got the right thing when I saw her later in the afternoon, and I guess I'll try it tomorrow in class, and see how it works. I'm a little skeptical, but hey, it's worth a try, right? Maybe with some of the prestigious wearers (and if you knew ATA hierarchy, you'd be impressed by some of the people who have worn it before me!), it'll have magical healing powers or something. I just don't want to be in pain after nearly 8 years of enduring this, and it getting progressively worse. We'll see...

The good news is that I got an AWESOME Christmas present from my Jewish boss/instructor. ;-) (Or Christmannukah, as she likes to call it). Now, I'll be honest, my present from her was sitting on a bunch of boxes for a few days now, and I didn't want to open it without her being around. Just felt wrong. But like a goofy little kid, I couldn't imagine what was so large that I just...felt...the present. Just feeling the shape of it, etc. Before I knew it, without too much squeezing I had figured it out, or so I thought, but I figured I'd wait. So tonight, SW was very insistent that I open my present. I put on a fairly good act, which was partially true, based on what I could guess it was. I couldn't imagine what large present she could be giving me, and was afraid that she got me something really great. And I gave the genuine look of surprise (and half acting, since it was what I thought it was), when I opened the paper to see that it was one of those really cool ATA zippered chest protectors. Those things ain't cheap, and even though I know how much she paid for it at cost...still! Her comment was that with SM and I now becoming tournament competitors, she didn't want to see that SM had one and I didn't! Those regular chest protectors make me feel like the Sta-Puf Marshmallow Girl, so I'm REALLY happy about getting this. It's so comfortable, and less restrictive, and heck, easier to put on! Now all I need is my black belt so that I can get my black gear! ;-) But what a fantastic present. Do I have a great boss, or what?

Oh, now here's something that will show what the two chest protectors look like, and something for a good giggle. SM had SW take video of our sparring bout at the school tourney the other night, and she posted it online! She said it was fine if I posted it, as she made it public domain with my permission. Heck, I think it's funny, and while I did beat her 4-3 before time was called, I was exhausted after that! (For those not in the know, we had to do forms and weapons before doing sparring, so it'd already been a while that we were working out). My husband said upon looking at this that we looked relaxed, but quite the contrary-- we were both wound tightly like springs, and that in itself takes a lot of energy. It is REALLY evident that I need to work on my sparring, although I think one fake out-reverse kick was not too shabby in there.

So here, in all my glory, is my latest sparring round. I'm the tall Darth Vader chick on the left; SM is to the right. Victoria is the center judge to the far left between us; Jodi is the corner judge on the right, and Nina is behind me as the left corner judge. Oh, and when they said points towards red or white, I'm "white". Enjoy!

12-20-06 Sparring Match

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Phoenix has risen from the ashes!

Just as a precursor, most of this is in my other journal, almost word for word, but since I have two audiences, it's easier to write it once, and edit the same words for the other audience. In this case, this is the "other" audience, but one that understands more of what it's all about. ;-)

Tonight was the interschool tournament that I was slightly dreading. Sure, I could've skipped it, but if I did, then I'd be losing another opportunity with points in an arena that I am comfortable with (my own do-jahng) and with competitors I know, and in this case, it was only one other competitor.

Well, let's get the big part out of the way. I got 1st on all accounts, in forms, weapons, and sparring! Which I will say, without hopefully sounding conceited, was very cool. BUT, let me tell you, I did have to work at them. There were only the two of us. SM and I get along great, and we're new friends, but we are also fiercely competitive with each other. FIERCELY. Then again, I went in knowing that the worst I could do was 2nd place. There have been plenty of times, including the last interschool tournament and in regional tournaments, where I haven't placed at all, so 2nd place all the way around wouldn't have been too shabby. Nonetheless, I knew that SM has been working very hard, and I think although we share one instructor, her main instructor is much tougher on her than mine is on me, so she was plenty prepared. I work hard too, however, I think there is no question that she earns her high placements due to her diligence and practice. If I was as diligent and practiced more, people would PHEAR ME. ;-) LOL

SM did have a more difficult form, but I won. Why? I think it boiled down to the fact that, yes, I had an easier form, so it came more naturally to me, especially being a higher rank and more experienced. I think that in having an easier form allowed me to be able to put more "finesse" in things like the punches and kicks, and I could take my time and get those finesse points in. It's something I've been working on, such as "popping" the punches and hand stuff. It's all in the wrist, literally. There was less to remember, less complexity, and by pacing myself I could remember to get those finesse points in. It's not a criticism of what she did or how she did it. The score was very close, and I was watching her. She knew her form like nobody's business. I think this is where experience benefited me with the more tournaments with more tournaments under my belt.

I felt really good about the kamas. I think the comment that the girls made at graduation made me feel like I had an inkling of knowing what I was doing, at least, and that gave me confidence. It also helps that not many color belts do kamas. I wish I knew more moves, but I can hold my own, and tonight proved that. I did an original freestyle, not the kama form that eventually I will have to learn, unlike the BMEs, the SJBs or the bo staff. Again, I think it's finesse points, and not rushing my 20 seconds, pacing myself evenly, that helped as well. I think the finesse points are the "snaps" or "popping" the moves more, so they are very clearly defined. I had worked on that with the kids, who in fact were the judges tonight, all last summer with my weapons routine then, and they worked on those finesse points with me. I benefitted from THEIR experience to help me smooth it out more, and it helped. Even the form I did tonight was something that the kids helped me work out the kinks. Heck, they were the ones who taught me the moves in the first place, as I wasn't getting a whole lot of instruction on the kamas to begin with. I don't even know what the actual kama form is, so it was all original, just pieces I put together myself to make it "razzle dazzle", and it worked.

Sparring, as usual, was the big challenge. I avoid sparring like the plague, as most of my readership knows, and SM has been doing more training in this event, and it showed! We were more evenly matched than before. Her moves tonight were the fire I needed under my butt to get back into working on my sparring. In our sparring match, I started out well with a good kick to the head, which was 2 points (you have to get to 5). The area where she is better than me is in the straight out punching-- I admit I suck at that part. And while I do have good kicks, I was not warmed up or anything, so they weren't as good as they could be. SM was convinced that if time hadn't run out, she would've gotten me with a good head kick, especially since I was tuckering out near the end there. Oh, I know I was getting tired. Another thing to work on, especially between my weight and asthma-- stamina. Could she have gotten that kick in, or could I have gotten that last point to better secure things before time was called? (The final score was 4-3.) Hard to say. My thought was that I needed to get that last good head kick in to get that final point, but time was called, so who's to say? But like I said, it looks like I'm going to need to start taking sparring classes again, and I hate them!

So, I had a good night. SM is excellent competition for me, for sure, and she definitely gives me a run for the money. Until now, I didn't have anyone, really, to compete with. I was competing with 2nd degrees, and that's not exactly an even playing field. THIS is an even playing field. NOW....the competition is going to get interesting. There's an A-level tournament in March that we are both intending to go to, and again, we'd be competing against each other as well as a lot of people from all over, so the general competition will be extra fierce. Both she and I have talked about doing XMA, since there are next to nobody (or as far as we know, in NJ, nobody at all!) in our age group doing it. We stayed after our competition tonight to watch the teen/younger adult gals do their stuff, including their XMA forms. After watching them, not to sound obnoxious, but I think I could do just as well, if not better in some instances, as they did. They had the skills and the moves, but none of the showmanship or pizzazz that ATA XMA is supposed to be about! From my many years of dancing and having to perform publically, I think I have a good shot at doing VERY well in this field, without having to do any gymnastics. XMA is a totally creative form, and I think if I can come up with a good form in both "open hand" (regular form style) or closed hand (with weapons), I've got a good chance at doing well, and actually earning a 1st place berth. Of course, SM is hot on my heels that she will be the 1st place winner in those categories, as we'd be up against each other again. We shall see in March! I have my work cut out for me. Hey, as far as I can figure, the worst I can do is 2nd place again. ;-)

I really needed this 1st place sweep tonight. I don't mean to sound egotistical or full of it, but I do work hard at what I do, and things in the rest of my life haven't been going so smoothly lately, so to get this big win was a big deal to me. It was that silver lining in the dark cloud. Sure, there were bragging rights won tonight, and I succeeded in making the best of the opportunity I had in front of me. But sometimes, you have to know that you are doing well in something, and I got that boost tonight. So yay me.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Tournament frustration kicks in again

Tomorrow night I have an interschool tournament, so that I can, as my instructor says, "chase down some points".

The problem is, I just read the state stats for my group (women color belts, 30-somethings), and found out that Sandy, due to that last big regional that I had to miss and was very upset about missing, is now placed #3 is sparring and tied with me for #4 in weapons. This just opens up an old wound and gets me depressed. Now understand, I don't begrudge Sandy. She works very hard on her stuff, and she earns what she has gotten. This is not to say that I haven't, but again, this just means that if I had gone, I would have had an opportunity to really gain some big points. Even according to Sandy, I always beat her in sparring, and yet she's #3 in the state? I am not going to be facecious (if I spelled that right) to think that I would've beat her and the others. But from prior conversations, it sounds like I would've had a good chance, and that chance was lost with me not attending. I would have just liked to have tried, and if I lost fair and square, then that would be that. But I know that I am fairly good at what I do, and that tournament was a big opportunity lost, and I knew it, but couldn't help it. WAH!

Tomorrow night, we have an interschool tourney. Not as big, and I'll be up against Sandy, hoping to kick her butt and take her name (to use her phraseology). Nothing against her personally, but I think my competitive psyche is turned on. I might go to work early tomorrow so that I can practice for the tourney. I know that my forms and kama routine are pretty good. I just have to remember where the kihaps are for the form (I didn't have to remember them because I couldn't say them at graduation due to my laryngitis), and see if there are any little adjustments I can make to make this easy form sing. My life has been so...yucky lately that I need something good to happen.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Some ends, and some beginnings

Today was the last day of my Cubs classes for a while. Next week, their class is cancelled in favor of a stranger danger seminar that SW is trying to coordinate with a parent of some kids at a couple of the local prep schools (including my alma mater. Yes, I'm a prep school brat, minus the brat part). An extra friend came along named Imogen, who had come to the very first class, and I couldn't convince her mother to sign her up, even for a trial class. She is a darling little 3 1/2 year old with curly blond hair, looks like a little doll, and sweet, quiet disposition to match. I didn't mind her coming, because even though her mother didn't pay for her to join, for one class it wouldn't hurt, and if she went home and said that she liked it, then maybe her mother would reconsider. So, of course, I still have my laryngitis, and the kids thought it was funny that I had to either whisper or have a gravely voice. Naturally, Jacob tested my patience. The child is going to have SO many problems as he gets older, seriously. I don't expect the kids to stand perfectly still on their spots, but he shouldn't, especially by now, be walking up to me, and grabbing my hand, etc. Annoying! The one good thing is that when he is given a direction to do a certain thing, he tends to listen a *little* better. Today I finally got a chance to teach the kids something new, namely an inner forearm block (or a "muscle block" as we call it with the little ones), and a simple side kick. I think because Carly and Jacob have older brothers who work on that stuff, the principles of the side kicks came to them pretty quickly. Imogen seemed to pick it up pretty quickly too, considering she hasn't been with us for the past few months. Afterwards, I gave them the temporary tattoo and gift certificates that we gave everyone else, but I also gave them some leftover candy from the Drop N Shop, and wished them a Happy Hannukah! (All of them were Jewish, and it's coming up this weekend, after all, if I recall correctly.) After the new year, the kids will be taking their TKD at the Jewish Center preschool they attend, and SW will be teaching that! I'm a little relieved. She said that if all those kids came to the school, then she'd give it to me, but not that kind of situation. So I am glad to get the break. I didn't mind teaching the girls, especially Carly. I hate to play favorites, but I think some kids just set themselves up. It's not that I dislike Jacob. He's not a bad kid, just a super undisciplined spoiled brat who makes it difficult to teach the other kids who are willing to pay attention and participate correctly. Carly has her moments too, but she's much more into it, and I foresee her becoming a student in leadership eventually. She's got the right stuff already! So, that's the end of a short era-- my first forray into teaching TKD. I think it turned out okay in the end. The kids liked me, and generally respected me. I figure that if Jacob didn't like me, he wouldn't be coming up to me and trying to be close to me, even though I was strict with him and always getting after him, y'know? To have that trust from a child carries a lot of weight, even if that child is a bit of a nuisance. Kids have a sixth sense like that, so if the kids were happy to come to class, and they did learn what they needed to learn, then my job was done right.

The beginning is something I decided to do on my own. The ATA puts out a quarterly publication called, "ATA World" for its membership. We just got our copies (Drew gets one, not that he can read something like that yet, although he's an awesome reader at age 5 1/2), and in reading the articles, I felt compelled to write something of my own. Drew, as I have mentioned before, has a condition known as apraxia, which affect the motor control of his body, in particular his speech. He does have global apraxia, which can make him a little on the clumsy side, but his speech is what is affected most. He has a severe to moderate case of verbal apraxia, which has definitely improved over time, and his global apraxia (meaning how it affects the whole rest of his body) is not that bad. After all, the kid learned how to ride a two-wheeler without the training wheels when he was 3 1/2. But I found that through a listserv I belong to which is a support group for parents of apraxic kids, many of us send our kids to martial arts programs, especially ATA programs. The ATA has always (as far as I know) supported teaching TKD to all abilities, and even has special abilities classes for those who are either physically or cognitively disabled. The ATA Women's Black Belt World Champion for physical disabilities goes to my school--- Em, whom I've mentioned many times here before. SW is considered THE SA expert in the ATA as well, and I've helped as well as taken classes with kids who have Downs Syndrome and autism and other conditions. But apraxia--- that's a different story. It's not the same as being autistic or having CP. It's often where the child is cognitively and physically fine except for this problem. Many of us parents of apraxic kids have found that having our kids in the ATA, because of their positive attitude in helping any kid find their niche at their own pace, has been a very positive experience. So, I put the notice out in the listserv to see if I can get some parent and instructor feedback, and so far, I've gotten two responses as well as a referral to another ATA instructor who has worked with an apraxic child. Let's hope I get some more responses! I'm going to try to write a freelance article and submit it to the ATA, and see if they will publish it. So, wish me luck! If you know any ATA TKD people who have kids with speech issues, let me know! ;-)

I still have, as mentioned, my laryngitis. Yes, I've seen an MD, and I'm on antibiotics. I'm starting to get my voice back a little, but I still have a lot of congestion in my sinuses and chest. I can't laugh without almost choking! At least I'm starting to sleep at night, and getting some of my voice back, but I'm not pushing it too much if I can help it. I can still do all my other physical stuff for the most part, and tomorrow we start with a new form, the only one I haven't done for the color belt series so far...Songahm #5! Should be interesting. And I'll have to see about what weapon to do. I think it's ssang jeh bahngs (SJBs), aka numchaka, but I'm not sure. I'm not sure if SW will want me to do singles or doubles either, so we'll have to see about that. :-S

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Graduation Day!

So, today was Graduation Day. Both Drew and I had to do it at the same testing time, as I had to miss my testing time earlier in the week to sign a contract to sell my house. (Hey, I'm fortunate that my instructor/boss understands the real priorities of life!) So, this testing time was really for the little kids' who were white/orange/yellow, but there were a few of us higher ranks that had to go as well. Just a handful of us. There was only one other adult testing, and she was a 2nd degree black belt, so you know with whom I had to do my graduation sparring! (Actually, it wasn't too bad. We didn't make contact, kept it kinda light as to not scare off many parents who are "beginner" karate moms and dads.) But as there were some kids who were not white belts, like Drew, this was old hat, so it was a breeze.

Just to get things things started, SW had a few of us color belts (so that included me) to be the first ones up. Due to my laryngitis (which is still REALLY bad, and other than the headache, coughing, sore throat and loss of voice, I feel fine), she instructed me not to make a peep, although I had joked in an email the night before that I knew how to sign in ASL, "My goal is Black Belt, Ma'am", although really it would've been "I want my black belt, please!" Em was one of the people helping run the graduation, and I told her (in whispers, naturally) that I was going to do that but chickened out, and she laughed and said that had I done that, she would've burst out laughing, as she is slightly hearing impaired, so she is fluent in ASL, and she thought my rough translation was pretty good, and was surprised that I knew a pinch. I explained that with Drew's speech delays, we employed some to help him bridge until he did start to speak, but he doesn't remember much.

Anyhow, I digress. I didn't have to my form at my pace, as she counted out the steps for the younger ones, so I could really take my time and do it right. I did my weapons, and it came off pretty well, from what I could tell. I was told later by another parent that she was impressed by my kama routine, which was nice of her to say. Drew went up while I got my sparring gear on (upper level color belts and black belts must spar at testing; white/orange/yellow do not, as they do their one-steps). I watched him do his form, and even with direction, he made mistakes, but so did a lot of other kids. He just made less of them, and did the steps well, even if it was in the wrong direction, or something like that. He then, he for the first time, got up with his weapon, a bahng-mah-ee. For color belts, doing a weapons form means you can do a freestyle, as that way, as SW teaches, "you can't mess up!". Well, I think if you say to Drew, "do anything", he just gets a mental block, and I don't know if he just choked or what. I was a bit of distance from him, and was hoping he could see me, and as trying to show him to do some fan moves and strikes, but I guess he didn't know what to do. He only had 20 seconds, but he got something in during the last 5 seconds. Fortunately, weapons is optional at color belt level. I was able to sit with him after he went up, and I told him how proud I was that he went up and tried, and he said it was hard, which I agreed, but assured him that next time, it'll be a different weapon, and we'll work on it, and every time he gets up with his weapon, it'll get a little easier. I was glad he didn't get much more discouraged than that.

When all was said and done, (including my sparring), we all received our promotions and new belts or stripes (the latter in my case). Drew was not only very happy to finally be getting his yellow belt (he even took it out of its packaging early), but he also received a silver star patch for his uniform for the extra effort he made for trying to do a weapons form. It takes a lot for a 5 year old to get up for the first time, even if you are up with other kids, in front of a lot of people and do something you haven't done before, so I was glad that he and the other weapons kids got rewarded for their efforts. I'm not rewarded for that as a color belt! So all in all, it turned out to be a good graduation for Drew, and I think he was definitely encouraged by the silver star that even trying can have its benefits, as long as you keep working at it.

Here's the latest recipient of a Yellow Belt in Songahm Taekwondo, in a spar ready stance:
Drew gets his Yellow Belt_12-09-06

His uniform is a little big, that's why you don't see his hands, but he'll grow into it. ;-)

I thought that was the end of it until tonight. The school had a "Drop N Shop" night, where they feed, entertain and babysit the kids for a few hours while parents can go out holiday shopping, which we did our best to take advantage of that time. When I came to get Drew, several of the teen instructors who were helping at the event, who are higher ranked both as all are either 2nd or 3rd degree black belts and have higher instructor ranks as well, stopped me and told me that they really liked my kama routine. Would I show it to them sometime, as they wanted to incorporate it into their routines? I don't think they were joking or would have stopped me if they didn't mean it intentionally. I was surprised, because I really didn't think I did anything all that special, other than incorporate a few things that a couple of them had shown me, so naturally I agreed to that. But, for me, that carried more weight than the parent who complimented me earlier. I mean, here are kids that are much higher ranked and experienced in TKD than I am, and they liked my routine and wanted to learn it? I couldn't ask for more in that, especially after a period when my asthma has been acting up, my knee has been giving me problems, and I've been sick the last few days, to know that I gave such a strong performance. (I have to admit, the other 2nd degree woman who was testing just had to do some sort of drill thing, but she looked rather lackluster doing them, and again, she's been doing kamas longer than me!).

Good ending. Now, off to the next form, Songahm #5, the only color belt one I haven't done yet! And I think I'll be working on ssang-jeh-bahngs (SJBs), aka numchakas next. I know Drew is looking forward to that! And after next this next cycle, I will finally take another step closer and will be a Red Belt Recommended!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

First Cubs graduation!

Well, today was the first time I graduated any kids to promote them. Now granted they were the preschoolers in my Cubs class, and they got their first promotion to a junior orange belt, but hey, it's a start!

Here they are, after getting their belt.

At least they are chambering their kicks before they did them. The quality of the photo isn't great as it was done with my camera phone. Oh well. The one on the left is Miss Carly, who between them is the better student. I see a lot of potential in her. She's got a great Black Belt attitude. Jacob, well, he's my problem kid. He just would not shut up today, even when I kindly but sternly asked him to stop, even getting literally nose to nose with him to be quiet. Jacob's problem, which has been acknowledged through multiple sources, is that neither of his parents discipline him or his older brothers at all, and so he's a problem for everyone, and pretty much bucks all authority. Sometimes he's not so bad, and sometimes he's impossible. I try to do the best I can without yelling as if it was my own kid, and use "Supernanny" tactics as often as I can, hopefully showing his dad how to do it while he's watching.

The kids had an obstacle course that I made up off the top of my head to go through whereby they had to show me the moves they learned, and do some running, jumping, and tumbling along the way too. They had fun, and they followed directions for the most part, so they graduated. They still have until this time next year to get their act together to promote into Tiny Tigers. I think Jacob will continue to be a discipline problem, but I'm hoping that me standing my ground in class that he'll finally get the hint that he's not the star of the show. Of course, with only 2 kids in the class, there's a possibility that SW might eliminate the class. To a certain degree, I don't mind. It's good practice, but it's a little bit of a hassle to only be teaching two kids. I don't get paid extra for teaching the class. I think I'm ready to start learning how to teach the Tiny Tigers and the Karate for Kids program kids. Or anybody for that matter. I mean, I've taken the Instructor class on how to teach people that are higher belts than you, so I'm sure I could manage if I just had a clue to the forms themselves. But, I think I can do a decent warm up or practice drills at this point. Well, time will tell.

Looks like SW might be doing a preschool class onsite for the Jewish Center preschool anyway, which Carly and Jacob attend. (Oh, Carly and Jacob are getting married, they told me. Yes, they are only 4.) Carly's mom and Jacob's dad were asking if I was teaching, and I responded that if I was, I didn't know about it yet. Ryan told me later that as far as he knew, SW was going to do it, which is fine too. Whatever! Makes no difference to me.

My graduation has been moved to Saturday with the Tiny Tigers (aka Drew's class) of White/Orange/Yellow since we are hoping to sign the contract for my house tomorrow night. SW totally understood and agreed that the contract was more of a priority, and she didn't care when I did my graduation. (She knows I'm good for it. Besides, it's not like I'm getting a belt this time, just a stripe on my belt which makes me go from recommended brown to decided brown. No big whoop.) Drew isn't really into it. He says he's getting bored, but I'm pretty sure it's the material. He's done it SO many times, I don't blame him. That's how I feel about my current form because it's so easy compared to what I've done already. He just has to hold out one more cycle, and then he can finally promote to camo recommended (aka half yellow, half camo) and then he can start doing the higher level stuff and get a new challenge instead of the same old stuff. He's ready, but if I take him out now, he'll still have one more cycle of white/orange/yellow material to cover, so better to get it over with now rather than stall. The sooner he gets through it, the sooner he can move on! Compared to some other kids who started after him but didn't take a break and went to class twice a week, they are ahead of him. Now, SW's philosophy is that it's not a race, and he should go at the pace that HE needs to, which is fine. But right now, I do need to push him, so that he can get to more challenging and new things for him, or else he'll surely lose interest. I know, from talking to him, he wants to be like the 3rd degree teenagers (especially the guys) at our school, but I remind him that they went to class and worked on it all the time, and didn't give up, so he just has to be patient, and he WILL get there with lots of hard work.

So, that's the latest. Lots going on at work, just getting ready for the holidays and graduation, and that's keeping me busy enough. The copier at work is getting bad and needs maintenance, bleeh. I finally learned how to fix the quickbooks problem I had from Saturday. Once I could see more clearly what SW was talking about (she went through it more slowly today over the phone), it was one of those, "OhhhhhhhhHHHHHHhhhh" things. I learn a little all the time, and fortunately less damage had been done than thought.

Now, with a cold coming on (bought the Zicam, hoping it will work!) and going to bed earlier, I'm hoping I can fight it off for class tomorrow and graduation!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

It shouldn't have happened this way

This was not a good TKD day for me. First of all, I went in only to take one half hour specialty class (forms), and I never even got a chance to work on it! Since it was only Mr. A and myself, I tried to fill in at the desk, and it was a disaster. Mr. A was helping a parent with an order for stuff, and asked me to stretch out the class. Okay, easy enough, and it was done. So, stupid me said that I could take over the rest of the admin work so he could get back to teaching the class, as I didn't know what he had on the agenda. As hindsight is 20/20, I think I could have winged it a bit. I've been to enough instructor classes now that I should have been able to do it. But I didn't, and ended up having computer problems where I charge that parent twice about $200 worth on his card. Since I've only learned the program used (Quickbooks) by the seat of my pants, I didn't know how to void the second charge, or print it out, or anything like that. I tried calling SW, but completely forgot that she was at the tournament (big DUH on my part), and what she was describing was not on my screen. The guy stopped being pushy after 15 minutes, and said he'd just call the credit card company to put a stop on that particular charge. :-S Then I processed a testing package (paying for multiple testings at once at a discount), and realized hours later that I might have charged for the wrong package. Oh man. After struggling with that, it ended up that I missed forms class altogether, or the important part at least, and that was a waste of time! Grrrr.

So, a big part of the reason I was there too was to help start the white/orange/yellow (beginner three belt colors) class, which is mostly little kids. Drew is in the class. He was acting up, but I don't think it was because of me. In some ways, he was actually behaving, and he has it more together than many in the class. So, with a few directions from Mr. A, I warmed up the class with some drills. Again, in retrospect, I think I did fine but I also think I might have done things differently. I might have even been able to take the whole class if I knew the whole form (which I don't remember it, but I will eventually have to remember to get my certification). By that time, Mr. A was freed up from the weapons class that he was teaching as it had ended, and he took over from there. Yes, I missed weapons class too. Board breaking was cancelled because I can't teach that, and Mr. A had to teach the W/O/Y class. So, things are going along, and then Mr. A needs help with the one step. It turns out to be one of the few one-steps that I remember. Man, those kids are headed about this particular one. Now, Drew had it, and a couple of the older kids (and the one adult in the class) had it, but I swear most of them couldn't do it by themselves at all, and that was after doing it with them -- no joke-- at least 10-12 times with them first. You'd think they'd get a clue, but no. The older kids who did have it, like Drew, have done it before many times, so of course they had it. But the littler ones...oy vey. It even has a little saying thing that goes with it, and it's known as "Pizza Dude". First, it's a step out with a single low block to the right (knock open the door), then you turn towards the back (to load up and "grab the pizza", and then you rotate back around to do a left outer forearm block (here's your pizza), then a knifehand on the same side (here's your change), then rotate around to do a round kick with the right foot (where's my tip?), and the step back into sparring stance (ai-yah!). Easy as pie (pizza pie, don't 'ya know), if you remember the words.

I think overall, between my experience teaching the cubs for the last 10 or 11 weeks, as well as helping out today, I can certainly be an instructor and a fair one. I just have to learn the material, and I could probably hold my own for the most part, at least with most classes. It's just a lot of material to cover!

The thing that made it worse was the fact that I couldn't attend the regional tournament today. I had wanted to go SOOO badly, and had even skipped the one in DE with the intent of going to this one, but between finances (which SW said she would've helped in some way since she is the regional tournament director and has some swing on these things), and babysitting (too long a day for Drew to bring him, and too long to leave him with someone else), I couldn't go. I got the report from Sandy, who did go, that first of all, she did great for a newbie. She got 2nd place in both weapons and sparring! Now the latter of that got me, because, with no offense to Sandy (and she even acknowledged this independently in a note to me), I usually beat her when we spar in class. She even said that my killer head kick would've really done some damage, as no one there did any head kicking. To add to this, there were only *6* people in the ring, and even that was a number that was actually two age groups combined, namely 30- and 40-somethings. Cripes! So, based on her descriptions of what was going on in that ring, I can truly say that it sounds like I could've had a really good shot at getting some decent points today to secure a better placement in my weapons ranking, and might have even gotten on the map for the forms and sparring. It pisses me off, and I've actually cried about it already. I sent an email to JC that it's all his boss's fault, because he was the one that made JC go on this trip and put me in this position when I had already planned to go to this tourney months ago, and was forced to cancel it. I'm really angry about it. I might not have won any placements, but it sounds like I had a decent shot at them, and I would've really liked to have had that opportunity. But now it's lost. I told JC to tell his boss that he now owes me a new chest protector (a more streamlined one that I want), new bahng mah ees, and an XMA uniform. Not cheap stuff, mind you. Oh yeah, he owes me BIG time. I will have to keep my temper at JC's office Xmas party next week when I see his boss. I'm that upset.

So, not a good day in the ATA world for me. (SIGH) I just want to get through the graduation now, get through my interschool tournament at the end of the month to get some tiny points that MIGHT get me on the ranking map, and hope there's another "B" tourney before the big Lincroft one (an "A" tourney-- more points) in March. Sandy and I are talking about possibly doing some XMA stuff (don't laugh!), and at least either of us could rank 1st or 2nd. With my dance background, I might be able to pull it off. I just have to see how to choreograph the whole thing.

Now, to get through the rest of my weekend.....:-(

Friday, December 01, 2006

Getting through the week before graduation.

It's been a busy week, and this weekend will be busier. Wednesday's classes were fine, almost nothing really to write about. In the morning class, Sandy came, and it's always fun to have her come in from the other school, as the other ladies in that class tend to be a little too serious sometimes, and while Sandy and I are serious about our martial arts, we also know how to have fun with what we are learning and enjoy the experience. Man, if I don't know my forms and the form I made up for my kata by now, I shouldn't be allowed to do anything! I think the only critique that I had about my form was head turning-- turning it quickly to anticipate the next move. Something small, but easily fixed. The leadership class was mostly just reviewing things, as most of the people in there were going to be competing tomorrow in the regional tournament, so they needed some practice time. As a result of most of them being there and not working tomorrow, I'll be working instead. I'd be there anyway because of Drew's classes and mine (although I keep pulling out of many because of Drew interrupting them due to his own class that goes on simultaneously (I have to get him out of the back office to start class, and then he needs help with getting his sparring gear on and off. Geez.). So, since I'd be there anyway, and it turned out that I had to take a shortened work day today due to having to show my house to potential buyers during the time I'd normally be at work, it all evens out. I even have to start Drew's regular class tomorrow, as Ryan will still be finishing up the weapons class! (I'd be taking that, but that's one of the classes where I get interrupted. :-S) So, might as well help out, because there's no one else to do that except me, and with some direction, I can help get things started.

Today, in the meantime, I went to get Drew so I could get back to work early and work on some stuff. A slightly futile thing to do. I am having a hard time with the printer to work the way I want it too, and I end up wasting a lot of specialty paper for a project that I have to do. Bleeh. Michelle and Rachel were in, as well as Ryan, and the former two were trying to work on an XMA form for Michelle. They were having a hard time with music, and I had my MP3 player with me, played a few tunes that I had been thinking about, and lo and behold, I found something that they liked. I'm sure it was a little surprising to them that someone 20 years older than them had music that they liked and worked with what they were doing, but they were happy when I had a copy of the same song on a CD that I had made for Drew, and they borrow and made a copy for the competition tomorrow at the tournament. :-) Glad I could help! Drew was having a hard time, and having a total meltdown before class even started. Ryan wasn't too happy, but hey, I can't help it sometimes. I can't control my kid. Getting him a snack at the convenience store next door helped, so I think he was feeling better once he had something in his stomach. I went to work on my project in the office, and at one point I saw Drew sitting on the side of the mats. I went over and asked him why he was there, and he said that he wasn't in trouble, but he was tired and didn't want to do his forms, so he asked if he could sit, so he was. At least he was behaving himself. He didn't feel like putting on full gear for sparring either, so I had him ask Ben (who was instructing that part of class) if he could "noodle" spar. (For those who are saying, "huh?", we cut those swimming noodles into pieces, and use those with the kids to learn how to block, so one kid will gently swing the noodle towards one side or the other, and the opponent would use the appropriate high block move to counter it.) Ben said it was fine, and he was behaving himself. Later, he seemed to be okay with board breaking and weapons from what I could see, so I think he just needed the break, and I was happy that he was being a little more mature (vs when he had his meltdown earlier) to say that he needed a break and he behaved when he was granted it and didn't cause any problems in the process. Hopefully that's a step towards maturity. He was thrilled when he received a certificate at the end of class for his last rank bump up. He was very proud he had a certificate! He's only had one other. I guess I take them for granted, now that's I've had 6 or 7 of them now. The only one that matters to me right now is one I haven't gotten yet, which will be when I get my black belt. ;-) Oh, and I do have to add that I think I have found the incentive for Drew to progress. After next week, he only has one more cycle in which he has to be in the White/Orange/Yellow (aka the beginner stuff) curriculum. He's only been doing it for more than a year now! He was watching the upper color belt class (the one I should be in if I took class on Fridays), and since Mr. Lee was teaching it, he liked what he saw. In many respects, it was the usual thing that I do, with the exception of a running drill that I probably couldn't manage between my knee and my asthma, but he could, and he was thrilled with the drills. So, now that he had a chance to see-- and have me point out-- what lay ahead of him, that gave him more incentive to move on, I think. He'll finally be getting his yellow belt next week. It was only a year and a half to get it (if you don't include the summer break he took)! Once he completes this next cycle, then he can be bumped up to upper level color belt, and he and I can take some classes together, as we'll be learning the same material. I just hope he's up to the task!

So, busy weekend ahead. I'm just realizing that I may have a scheduling conflict with graduation for me and writing up a possible sales contract for my house! Yikes! SW will understand if I need to reschedule it. But bleeh, I want to do it with everyone else, darn it! Last time I did it at Pennington due to a scheduling conflict. Maybe I can go earlier on the Saturday that Drew goes, or at the same time as his. I'll have to see how it all shapes up. :-S

November is finally over, and I think things are starting to take a turn. Or else, there is a movement towards change of how things are done, whether at home or at work. SW is doing a lot to change how things are done. She has some prospects of things going on that will hopefully improve her situation, and the situation at the school altogether, which would be a good thing. We'll see how it all pans out. If it ends up that with SW being at the school more often that she doesn't need me (which she hasn't said that she won't need me, but she is working towards being at the school more often hopefully this winter), that wouldn't be a tragedy. I thought earlier this month it would be, but I think in retrospect, I'd be okay. If I have to find something else, that's fine. I've just decided to not fret about it anymore. There are times that my job is fun, and there are other times it's not, and I'm not paid a whole helluva lot, so it might be for the better if I have to move on. Maybe once this whole house selling nonsense is over and there is some stability on her end, then it'll be easier to keep a more peaceful mind, body and soul about things.

So...I have to concentrate on my graduation for now. Not only preparing for it, but also possibly rescheduling it! :-S