Sunday, January 28, 2007

Two More Weeks to endure!

I've certainly been busy with my TKD, as has Drew. I've just been very busy with the rest of my life while I'm at it, that's all!

Wednesday's classes were pretty good. Both classes were rather small. In the morning, it was just Winnie and me. In the instructor class, there were only 4 others. So in both cases, we worked on our forms, but I could get a lot more individual attention, which I need since I need to compete with this form. My main problem, however, is that I am still having my back problems. I've been to the chiropractor twice, and I'm going again tomorrow, but it's just not going away. The Chiro told me at the last visit that the part of my back that's bothering me so much is really locked up badly. Great. It does feel better, however. I'm not in constant pain now, just when I get up or down, or try to do anything remotely active. :-S It figures that my back and hip hurt profusely when I have to do sidekicks, and what's my form full of? Yep, you guessed it. Both regular and reverse sidekicks. Crap. But in the meantime, I have some hand-foot timing stuff I can work on, as well as some hand positioning things to work on as well. Nothing that can't be handled.

The sad yet humorous thing about this whole back thing is seeing me-- or being me- trying to to the one-steps for this form. They show them to us so that we've seen them at least. I don't have to know them for graduation, but one-steps #2 and 3 are doozies with this back injury especially and the bum knee. The bum knee doesn't help either. It's on the same side as the back injury, 'ya know. One of them has a reverse outer crescent kick, and the other has a spin outer crescent kick. In the words of my fellow Jerseyans on the Sopranos, FUGGEDABOUDIT! Not going to happen. So you can imagine if one side of my body is not cooperating, and that's the side that has the kick....yeah, pretty messed up and amusing how BAD it looks-- and is. My mind is willing to do it, but the body is just not willing. Not unless I enjoy huge lightening bolts of pain in my body, which I do not. I can barely get up and down out of a chair for long. Walking isn't too much of a problem, and I can stand for a while, as long as I keep moving. This is not fun, and I'm starting to get concerned. I can't afford to take a break from my training right now. I just can't. :-(

Drew survived his regular class on Friday with fewer incidents. He did get his foot stepped on by accident, and while I'm sure it hurt a lot, he overreacted a bit. There was also a point where after that, it was hard to get him back into class in a totally cooperative manner. When he got another stripe for his belt, and got his permission to test form, he crumpled the form into a ball, and moped around behind the lined up kids. I was pretty pissed at him, and let him know. He also wanted to spar who HE wanted, and Mr. A let him know that Drew couldn't choose and he had to learn to spar other kids than this one kid Ricky whom he likes. (Ricky is the same size as Drew, but he's 7, same belt, and does Masters with Drew.) When it was time for Masters stuff, Ben wasn't being really good about keeping both kids occupied. Drew is doing single weapon, and Ricky is doing double, but he was spending more time with Ricky and his doubles, and so after doing a drill, Drew would start goofing off, and acted up enough that Nikki came out a disciplined him, which I had no issue with her doing that. I also talked to Drew about talking to Ben if he feels he's done with a drill, and asking about how to do another exercise to practice if he does what he's told and finishes, or gets bored with the one he's doing. I know why he did it, but I'm sure the circumstance isn't going to be fixed anytime soon, so there you go. At least next cycle, they'll be doing jahng bahngs again, and he likes that.

Classes on Saturday went decently. Drew went to sparring, but not regular class. He actually behaved and did MUCH better in class. I was really happy for that! I think he's starting to get the hang of sparring. I'm noticing his technique getting better, and more controlled. Still needs work, but I do see improvement. I would've taken it myself if it weren't for my back. I can deal with sparring on a bad knee, but the back....(I know, you've already heard about it). I do have to get into sparring again soon, whether I like it or not, because I need the practice for tournaments in a month. And for graduation too. Bleeh. My forms class went fine. I actually had to take over the class for a second while one child had just burst out crying at one point and Mr. A went to calm him down for a minute. Whoa! But at least I know the form well, and I had the kids participating, and RA could take over without any problems once he was done. Guess I have my exposure to teaching color belts now! Now if I could only remember and memorize all the color belt forms and one-steps and possibly the self-defense stuff, I too could be a certified instructor! :-P In time, in time, I know.

OK, enough babbling for now... graduation is 2 weeks from Wednesday, and I have a lot to concentrate on, but especially in getting better!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I wish all the kids were like this

Today was another day at the grind, so to speak. OK, it was a totally miscombobulated day. The network server went down, the MAN7 decided to rollback several updates for some bizzare reason on the Front Desk computer, but not the office computer (and I work on the Front Desk one), and I was given the task of doing a comparison of some lists, and not exactly knowing what I was supposed to be checking. Just awful! Throw in a Cubs class in the middle, and you have a day of disaster!

The saving grace of all this was that the Cubs class was only one little kid, and it was one of the students I had from my original class coming back. He had gone to Saturday classes for a while, as his grandparents, who take care of him during the week while his parents work, were travelling in the Phillipines, and couldn't take him to regular class time with me. So today he got back, and we had a great time. Little R was always a delight. He started out very quiet and shy, and I barely ever heard a word from him for most of the last cycle. But today, well, he wasn't a chatterbox, but he was certainly engaging in conversation and not being quite as shy for sure. For a 3 1/2 year old, he's quite poised, listens well, and takes direction well. Just a delightful child. I wish my own kid was half this pleasant! :-( The hard thing was that this was turning into a private lesson, as nobody else came today. So, what can you do to fill up a 1/2 hour class when there's only one kid? I think I only cut it short by 5 minutes, but I figured out how to do it. R learned how to do some knifehand strikes, and we also worked on muscle blocks (inner forearm blocks), as well as reviews punches, low and high blocks, and front kicks. I try to make it as fun as I can for the kid, and try to do things that encourage their imagination. For example, we are supposed to reach up high and stretch, reach low and to the sides, then do forward and back arm swings. Well, that's boring. Since we are supposed to be bear cubs, I make it so that we are gathering bear food for energy to do our exercises. So we gather fruit and honey from the trees, nuts on the ground, berries on the bushes to the side, and then we go swimming for fish and back to the shore. The kids seem to respond to that pretty well and enjoy being silly in "eating the food". And today, R was having a blast, and really doing very well. Like I said, he takes direction very well, and is just such a sweet child, that I made sure he got lots of paper starts. ;-)

If it weren't for little R today, today would've been a total writeoff. Now, if I could only influence Drew to act like this younger kid!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Haidong Gumdo

Due to peer pressure to write about it right away (thanks SM!), I have been asked to tell about my introduction to Haidong Gumdo that I had today. But before I do that (I can hear you now, SM, "Nuts!"), a quick overview of regular TKD classes over the last two days.

Drew is continuing to be difficult, which is no surprise. Mr. A has now adopted, with my permission, a zero-tolerance for any misbehavior or meltdown of his, especially if it's not justified. It just takes away from the rest of the class. Granted, he's one of the youngest in the class, but still he shouldn't ACT like a baby if he doesn't get his way. Call it tough love, and he isn't doing anything that I wouldn't do. I've been backing Mr. A up, and he knows it. Drew started okay yesterday, but once he had a small meltdown over something small, he sat out of class. The paper star he earned for good behavior was actually taken back. I didn't like that, but I understood why. He was told he could have it back when he could participate actively in class and not whine and misbehave. Drew scooted to the mats over by where the parents were sitting, and I merely whispered and reminded him in his ear that if he didn't go along with practicing his forms, he wouldn't graduate and he'd be stuck in this beginner class forever! Well, he didn't like the idea of that, so he half-heartedly got back into the swing of things. Then Mr. Lee took over class with the one-steps, and he started to do much better. Mr. A is a good teacher, but there is something about Mr. Lee that he knows how to get the adrenaline going in a good way with the kids and has a huge presence, and Drew does respond to it. Drew will say he doesn't like Mr. A or Mr. Lee, but I know he really does, and it's just that they make him actually WORK. (Heaven forbid, right?) He says it's hard, but even when Mr. A said to the whole class that Drew can do it if he puts his mind to it, another couple of kids piped in that they agreed. Mr. Lee knows how to really pump Drew up. I know that once we can get through the next 3 1/2 weeks of class, he's finally test out of the yellow belt and be a camo recommended (half-camo, half-yellow), and he and I can finally take classes together for a while, which will help, I think.

Today, I took him only for sparring. He still acted up, as he gets a little too rough sometimes and still has to learn control a bit, but his meltdown was at the end of class, so he only missed about 2 or 3 minutes' worth. Then again, the last kid he was sparring was a black belt twice his age who is known to be immature, and should have set an example but didn't. Oh well, what are you doing to do? My forms class went fine, considering my back was killing me all day. (Even sitting with a support pillow behind my back at the moment.) I think with the knee brace, the knee could hold up a bit today, but forget it with the back. One knee bend too deep and I'd be a goner. But I could hold my own, and there are no jumps in the form, and granted, I wasn't working on the techniques as much today as I was reinforcing the form a little more in my head. There was one little boy who's about Drew's age-- perhaps a pinch younger-- named Antonio. He's a very small little boy, generally quiet, but oh, he's a camo belt, and he just has so much discipline for such a little guy. I could only wish that Drew had half this other child's control and discipline. When I'd work with him and another little girl (who's about 8 or 9) in the back of the room, I got him to loosen up, because I could tell that he was a little intimidated being in the class with a lot of big kids. I actually saw the kid smile for the first time! So in that sense, forms class was good. We didn't stick around for Drew's regular class as I didn't want to tempt fate with another meltdown problem day. for the "Sword Seminar" that I took, which was an introduction to Haidong Gumdo. You can study a little more about it starting with this link: Haidong Gumdo What I can tell you, if you don't go to the link right away, is that it's a Korean Sword style that's taught, and sometime integrated a little bit with Songahm Taekwondo. Some of the sword forms that are done when you are a black belt actually come from Gumdo. Ben's dad, whom I've mentioned before as someone whom I've sparred with and can easily kick my butt, is a first degree in Gumdo, and teaches classes. He had a classmate with him to assist in the class, and Mr. A went between taking the class and assisting, as he's a purple belt in Gumdo. Dean and Emily were the only other ones that were older than 10 years old there (Dean is about 16, and Em is in her early 20s), so essentially I was the only newbie adult in the class. (Not the first time, not the last, I'm sure.)

Well, having the back not cooperating did NOT help, I can tell you that. I can also tell you that if you are prone to carpal tunnel syndrome, this is not the sport for you! We did a lot of warmups that were to, understandably, get your upper body and especially your arms stronger, and my hands and wrists especially were giving out that I'd have to stop and shake them out a lot. And there were a few things I couldn't do simply because the back was not cooperating, but I did my best.

My review: It's not too bad, in general. We learned some basic strikes, and how to sheath and unsheath our swords properly. In most cases, you have your right hand on top, and your left hand on the bottom near the end of the handle, spaced apart, so they aren't together like when you hold a baseball bat. And unlike most weapons, we were told that we weren't supposed to strike with force, but rather more lightly for better control. My wrists preferred that! The first strikes we learned was bringing your blade directly behind you so that you are reaching back to touch your back, and then just swoop straight down to belt level, or slightly to the left or right. We then learned how to do the horizontal cuts. We also learned some basic blocks, and then we learned the part about taking your sword out and putting it away. We then proceeded to do some combinations that were the equivalent of our one-steps. Once I got the hang of them, they weren't too bad. In some cases, if I wasn't careful (and considering that these were plastic swords that had no real edge to hurt anyone-- at least not cut anyone), I would have lopped off the head of some of the kids, and we were trying to be spaced apart so we wouldn't hit each other! It was a little hard to follow sometimes because of that spacing issue, and due to the fact that I couldn't move the way I wanted to, AND being in the back of the room so the kids could see made it hard to always see what was going on. Overall, it came fairly easily to me (I'm sure they kept it simple purposely) with some exceptions, but I liked it. After class, we got a demonstration from our instructors and Dean and Em (who are Gumdo students on hiatus until the program comes back)and it was cool to watch, as the main instructors used real swords and the swooshing sound was so awesome and their movements were so fluid. It was cool. When the demonstration was done, I was pretty much the only person from the seminar left watching, as the children has all left for the most part. I asked Mr. A and Mr. P if they'd help me put something together for my XMA routine, and they said yes, they'd be glad to. I don't think I need to do anything too complicated. Most of what I saw, as well as what I learned, could be something that I could put a routine together, I think. Even if I just put together the two one-steps that we learned today, along with the sheathing and unsheathing, and a few extra moves, I could have something. Then it's be a matter of coordinating music to the routine! If they do bring back Gumdo to the school, and if my health would just give me a break in being actually healthy for a while, then I might consider taking the class. I could use the work on my upper body stuff, and I tend to like weapons stuff.

When I was packing up, there was an older gentleman from the Aikido class that uses the back half of our gym on Saturdays. I've chatted with him before during the nights that I used to take classes on Thursdays, and he'd be taking his classes as well. I've gotten the impression that he's fairly high ranked within his Aikido group, and helps Numata Sensei and Mockers-Numata Sensei teach. (Yes, I was reading their website and getting an understanding of what they do over there, since their stuff is all over the back of our school.) Anyhow, I hadn't seen him for a while, and he was telling me that he thought I was doing pretty well during the Gumdo class. I thanked him for the compliment, and explained that it was done under some physical diress from the back and knee problems, especially the back today. He proceeded to tell me that he could see that I have been working hard and he can see the improvements in how I do things, and encouraged me to keep it up with my martial arts studies. I explained that I have been getting more involved, especially with the fact that I'm competiting these days, so I am more concerned about doing things well. (Which, by the way, I did mention to Mr. A and Mr. P about learning a form. I didn't necessarily want to do something fast, but rather, I wanted to do something that yes, looked cool, but something that I could execute with precision more than anything and just look sharp. No pun intended on that last sentence!) He said it showed, and was just very kind and complimentary on how I was doing, and said to not let injuries get in the way if I could. I agreed that I'd like to continue to pursue things, so I don't think that's a problem.

When you are a color belt, your declaration when bowing in and before starting to perform your forms, etc., you say, "My goal is black belt, Ma'am/Sir!". Being that I am getting very close to that black belt now, it is still my goal, but I'm actually thinking ahead. I originally said that if I were to quit, I would at least get my 1st degree belt first. Well, I have no plans on quitting anytime soon. I want to get my 2nd degree belt at least, and certify to teach Level 1, if possible. I think that the Cubs experience and working with some of the younger kids has proven that I think I have the ability to teach kids and have them respond well to me. However, the question is whether my brain can actually expand enough to remember all the forms and one steps to teach color belts, and pass the certification test to do so. Same with the weapons and other chevron certifications. It's overwhelming and dauting and intimidating. But, I've taken steps in the right direction, so I'm sure that, in time, I can do it. Heck, I've taken a Sword fighting/Haidong Gumdo class. That's gotta be a step in the right direction.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Getting old -- or injured -- is not fun.

Classes today generally went well. At both the morning class and the instructor class, we worked on this sparring drill where you stand close to a large pad that the other person is holding, and then you have to step back and do a roundkick, (I think that's a #3 or #4, but I know it's not a #1 or #2). After each partner would take a turn, then we'd progress to where we'd shift weight in a similar move, but instead of making it two steps (step back, roundkick), it'd be a jump round kick instead. The idea is that depending on your height, it's either an offensive or a defensive sparring move. If the other person is too close and you are taller (like me), then it's "get away little bug" move. If you are "vertically challenged" like myself", said SW, then it's "I'm close enough to pop you one". So it can work either way. Most of the rest of the time, I was learning the rest of my form, Songahm #5. All I pretty much had to learn was first, review section 2b (which is a variation of 2a), and then see how the transitions go to reverse the rest of the form on the other side, and then I was done! Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. Now that I have my whole form, I have 4 weeks until graduation, 6 weeks until the interschool tournament, and 7 weeks until the big "A" tournament (Grandmaster is going to be there!) to perfect it.

I don't think it will be so much of a problem to perfect the moves. It's an easy enough form to do. But sometimes the easier stuff is harder to do, because you really need to be able to do it that much better. You need to have the hand-foot timing right. You need to get those wrist "snaps" in just right. You have to execute reverse sidekicks as such that you don't look like you are off balance or ARE off balance. In the morning, I was just learning the rest of the form just to learn the form. Tonight, I was given a drill to practice the reverse sidekicks, but the injury of my lower left back muscle made it near impossible. It wasn't even my knee giving me the problems, or not as much of the problems. I know why my sidekicks, and even my roundkicks hurt. It's because I'M hurt, short and simple. And today was a good day with this injury! I'm taking it easy, but the rest of my life hasn't made it easy for me to just recoop from this and other muscle pulls related to moving and just going on nonstop physically. Last night I went to bed, hoping that finally laying down and resting would help. Nope. My back was killing me, and my legs hurt. Even my hip joints, especially my left (where the back injury and the bad knee are) hurt. I could feel shooting pain going from my back all the way down to the middle of my foot. And that was WITH the analgesics. :-(

I think if I could just not have so much to do, and actually had a mini vacation where I could just relax and heal, I would be fine. But no such luck. So, I have to just be prudent and not go crazy in my training. I'm lucky I have instructors who are understanding and work with me. Now that I know my form, I think I've competed enough times to have an idea of what I need to work on. Even tonight, I was going back to the beginning of the form, just to get the first wrist flick right (it's a ridgehand strike) without it looking like I'm just wailing out to whack my arm out. I think if I take my time and work on it until I start building up some speed, I should be fine. I don't have to be perfect for graduation (very good, yes, but not perfect), but for the tournaments, yes, as close to perfection is needed. I also have the same amount of time to formulate my XMA routines, and review my kama routine, as well as review the SJB form, since I haven't done it in a while. And after the Sword Seminar on Saturday, I am hoping to do sword for the XMA weapon, so that will be *3* weapons I will be working on for the cycle and for tournament. I only have to do two for tournament-- heck, I only need to do one for tournaments, but might as well make it interesting. :-) (Yeah, I can't do things the easy way, can I?)

So, considering that I'm getting older, and I'm injured, this is not fun. But I'm getting through. I'll try to take a break between now and Saturday classes. Thank goodness my board breaking is generally fine for what I need to break for graduation (red belt promotion!), and while I need more sparring in, I think with some healing and a lot of stretching, and learning some endurance skills too (or better yet, so really decent head kicks or jump head kicks so I can get my points quickly and get the matches over and done with), I will be okay.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Funny how it disappears so quickly.

I had a free trial lesson to teach today for my Cubs class. One of my old students did arrive for class, but he arrived an hour early. I asked his grandfather who brought him, if he could bring him back at 2 PM, when class was scheduled, and he said he would, but he never came back (at least while I was there). My trial people arrived. A little 4 year old boy, and his 6 year old sister (okay, she's 6 on Saturday, but who's counting?). Anyhow, since she was there, and nobody else was, both kids took the Cubs class. I hadn't taught a class since a month ago, well before the holidays, so I was a little rusty. I did a quick review of what a basic class was, and Mom seemed to be okay with it, and the kids seemed to have fun, so hopefully it'll pan out into something. But oh, due to chronic back pain recently, and the continuing problem with my knee (and I forgot, or rather didn't think I'd need my knee brace today), even a simple class was a little tough to get through. But I think it went well overall. Also got another trial class booked for Saturday, so that's good. Generally, a busy day at work today!

Tonight, I caught that "The Karate Kid" is on ABC Family channel tonight! Cool! I haven't watched it since I started taking classes. I should really get that, and KKII for my DVD library. I look at it with different eyes now, even though I always enjoyed the movies anyway. "Wax on, wax off." ;-)

Friday, January 12, 2007

Playing with the big boys

We finally had success tonight in TKD class for Drew. And as usual, it was a case of Mom's always right, and that was proven today.

As written in past posts, Drew has been a real problem in TKD classes lately, primarily because he's bored. It's been difficult, and I don't blame him, because while they are reviewing information that he's been over several times, and that in itself is boring, they go at a snail's pace. I'd be bored out of my gourd too!

Today, he started out okay. However, he had a hard time staying focused when the group was split up by age group, and he was the high rank in his group. At one point I went to pick up the phone (and Nina was helping in class), and Drew came into the office because he didn't want to do it anymore. I could tell, from watching, that they were going too slow. So, I told him to ask Ben, who was teaching his group, to see if they could maybe speed it up a bit. At first, Ben misunderstood and thought that Drew thought they were going too fast, but I corrected him, and at that point, Ryan was coming over, and between Ben and Ryan, they suggested that maybe Drew should try going with the bigger kids, as they were going faster. So, we felt that was worth a try. Jorge was working with 4 kids, ages 7-9.

And then it happened.

Because it was a faster pace, but not too fast for him (he still had his moments where he lost his focus a little), he stuck with it, and he was able to get through the rest of class without incident. He was smokin', he was doing so well! He has his usual small issues with sparring with only his punches and mouthpiece, and he behaved generally pretty well during Masters stuff. I tell 'ya, the kid has a wicked palm heel break! (I don't even have that!) He did start to fall apart a little with his SJB work, but it's coming along. Ben was trying to show him how to do the "lasso" move, which is a little difficult, and Drew was having trouble with it. At that point, because it was only him and another kid doing Masters' stuff, Drew really lost his focus, and started goofing off, but it was hard to get him back on track. By that time, he got a few more moves in, they bowed out, and that was it. He actually made it through with a lot-- significantly a lot-- more self-control and focus. I was right in the end. If you can keep him moving and not bore him, he will generally respond better, and he did. Now, if we can just keep it up for the rest of the cycle!!

(Can you tell I'm happy about this?)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Losing my crescent kicks

Today was double duty day, as usual, having class in the morning, and instructor class at night. Plus SW was in, and when she's in, a lot ends up getting done together, or at least I have more to do when she's in, and that's fine. We are almost done with learning our form, and I think I will be okay with it. I am grateful that at my level, while I don't have to do the one-steps for testing, we are still shown them as skill enhancers, if you will. Oh man, that's when it happened, and I thought it was due to just not being stretched out or because winter finally hit this area (we had our first snow flurries all season!), but I think there's more to it.

In two of the one-steps, there are reverse outer crescent kicks. Well, I always thought I did crescent kicks decently. Not today. They were just not happening. Upon reflection, I think there are a few reasons for that. A) I'm not as flexible when I haven't stretched out, and I hadn't stretched. B) As mentioned, the weather has gone from 70F over the past weekend, down to the low 30F range, to the point we even saw those flurries, and since the heater wasn't working well, it was rather cold in the do-jahng today, and my old bones are not loosening up that quickly with the cold. C)I hadn't done reverse crescent kicks before, and I think I have to figure out how to execute them better. They were coming out as awesome reverse hook kicks (thank God they aren't in the form for competition purposes!), but lousy outer crescents. D) I think that despite taking it easy on my knee, even wearing a knee brace during class, I'm afraid of doing damage to my knee. I never hesitated before I knew how bad my knee really was, but now I'm scared to do things. I know I still need to get it checked by the orthopedist, etc. but still... and finally E)maybe the holidays got me too fat and lazy that I just need to get my butt moving!

Hey, at least I realize my faults, especially in point E), but nonetheless, I'm concerned about how hesitant I am to some extent, and that I'm unable to execute those moves even somewhat effectively. I felt like an old lady more than ever, and that's not right. I'm annoyed at myself for now with that, so I think I need to think about making some changes. I need to be in really good condition for March's tournaments. Yes, they are in March, but you have to start somewhere.

In the meantime, Drew is excited about a prospect in his Saturday class. We had given out the gift certificates for the school to all his classmates for the holidays, and of all people, his best friend there, Fayiz, decided to take us up on it. He gets a free month and free uniform, and if they decide to join up sooner than later, then they get a discount from their down payment to get started. SW told me that Fayiz did really well, and his parents were open to him taking classes, and that he'd probably take the class on Saturday that Drew is in. Hooray! When I told Drew, he was happy about it. I told SW that I talked to Drew about it, but I spoke to Drew that having Fayiz in class was not for him to play and goof off, but rather for Drew to have fun with his best friend, and to help him learn and help teach him how to do stuff. SW thought that was a good approach, of having Drew assist in teaching Fayiz, as a means of getting him involved in class. We'll see if it works! I expressed my concern that Drew is lacking focus in class, but at least she pointed out that it's also his age and the fact that he's a boy. I'm glad she sees it that way. So, let's hope that Fayiz starting up will be the booster Drew needs to be motivated in class again.

Moving along....

Monday, January 08, 2007

I need to get serious and start brainstorming

Unexpectedly (as she didn't tell me she was coming in today, but hey, it's her business, she can do whatever she wants after all), SW came in and we got a lot done. It was a busy day! She is really doing her best to get out of the funk caused by the last quarter being so difficult, and taking on a go-get'em attitude, which is hard to keep up with sometimes! But that's okay. I think we were both in a funk for the last couple of months for different reasons, and we have reasons now to look ahead and hope for the best with some efforts in our personal lives as well.

The interesting tidbit that I had to share here tonight, before I forgot, was that I found out I could use a certain weapon, which I don't even know how to use yet, for XMA competition, but not for traditional weapons. The sword. We are having a single-edge sword seminar on the 20th, which I am attending. I think I mentioned that I asked SW not to pay me next pay period so as to pay for the sword, and she said no problem. I was telling her how SM was asking me what weapons I was going to use for the big tourney in March, and how I really didn't think it mattered, and that's when she happened to mention that as a color belt, I could use the sword for XMA, but not the traditional weapons competition. That could work out. Maybe do kamas for traditional, and the sword for the XMA. That would be sweet! So, I will have a LOT vested in the basics of sword use from that seminar on the 20th. I'm sure I can come up with some choreography for it once I get some basic stuff. And as I mentioned, I still have to come up with any XMA choreography at all. I think I really have to settle on some music for each soon. I know with my dance background, I can come up with something, but what? I need to be able to do something that will dazzle, but something that's not TOO complicated to remember, and that will showcase my skills, not just my showmanship. But having a sword when nobody else is likely to have that? That in itself would be priceless!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

How do you solve a problem like....Drew?

How do you catch a cloud and pin it down? How do you find the words that mean "Drew"?

OK, enough paraphrasing The Sound of Music. But you get the point. I'm still in quite the quandry, and don't know how else to get through to him.

Drew seemed to get through Sparring class okay. At one point, he said he was getting tired, but I said that perhaps he can take a break, slow down, and just let the other kid have a chance to punch him in the chest as if he were a human punching bag, that way, he wouldn't leave class. RA saw and heard, and didn't object, yet Drew still automatically reacted that if the other kid tried to throw a punch or kick, he'd jump back out of the way, and then throw a punch back. Well, at least he's being conditioned.

Took forms class. I learned the form, but I think the problem is that since this is a relatively easy form and there are a LOT of little kids in the class, the class is BORING. VERY BORING. I think after you've done the harder forms and have to backtrack to the easier forms, it's hard to stay focused in class. I mean, I can get the hand-foot timing down. I'd better be able to do that at this level! I need a different focus in learning this and getting it down well for tournament purposes, and this class ain't doing it for me, as RA is just trying to get the kids to look better doing the stuff they are supposed to do (like hand-foot timing), and just get the form down. I might start skipping this class, and start going back to Thursday night classes, or going earlier on Wednesday classes. Something like that.

Forward to Drew's 2nd class, which is his regular W/O/Y class. He started up again. She started in class okay, although he was acting a little like a monkey. But it just went downhill from there. He was asked to sit on the sidelines if he couldn't participate, and was allowed back when he was ready. He basically sat for the whole rest of the class. He was not happy about it (but hell, he put himself there, after all!), and Em tried to talk to him, and make him smile, but both SW and I told her that while we understood that she was trying to be nice to him and appease him to get him to participate, she was, in actuality, rewarding him with personal attention when he was there to be punished. It's a fine line on where he was at, and she really wasn't at fault, and SW told her that. Her intentions were good, after all. But Drew has to learn that if he doesn't behave, he doesn't get the attention. You should get attention for positive behavior, not negative behavior. Like I said, it's a fine line, and she figured that maybe she could coerce him into getting with the program. I know I would have tried that too if it were some other kid. But this is Drew. He doesn't play by the same rules, and he has to get with the program, literally and figuratively. So she knows now. Not a big deal.

So, as a further punishment for not participating in class, not doing sparring in his W/O/Y class, he wasn't allowed to stay for his Masters stuff, which is the board breaking and weapons, and that's the stuff he likes, and I try to explain that the other kids aren't allowed (unless they are in Masters Club) to do those things, but he lost his privilege to do it since he wouldn't do him regular stuff in class. It was just as well today, with his attitude, but man, I'm at my wits' end anymore.

Like I said yesterday, I understand what it's like to be bored in class, as I'm in a similar position currently. BUT, you can't move on until you get certain things under your belt (no pun intended), and that includes the boring stuff. The same goes with regular school, as I explained to him. Sometimes you have to do the boring stuff before you can do the fun stuff, and the same goes for TKD. He's SOOOO close to moving up and finally doing upper level stuff, where he can be in the same class as me for a few cycles and that would be good. I asked Drew that when I had to teach the one class, if I was stricter than Mr. A, and he said yes. Maybe I should ask SW if I can start teaching the Saturday classes more, to help keep him in line, and some of the other kids too. (But he's the worst, I'm embarassed to say.) He's not a bad kid. But something's up with him that he's been near impossible not only in TKD classes, but at home too. He has his moments of being a good kid when at home, but I have a hard time with TKD now.

How do you find the words that mean...Drew? Many of things you know you'd like to tell him. Many of things he ought to understand...but how do you make him stay, and listen to all you say? How do you make a wave upon the sand? Oh how do you solve a problem like Drew? How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?

Friday, January 05, 2007

How do you get a 5 year old to focus???

I am SOOOOO frustrated with Drew. He has the skills, but lacks the patience and focus. OK, so I understand how boring it is for him to still be in the W/O/Y class and doing S#1 when he's only a few weeks short of testing for the camo belt, where he can finally move into more challenging stuff and be with the bigger kids. S#1 doesn't have any jump kicks or cool moves at all. It's the first form, after all. I'm taking classes with him so that he can just get through and the instructors don't have to be disciplining him constantly (I'd be doing it more). He acts strangely. Part of him wants to do stuff with Mommy, and yet he'll still goof off and act up with the instructors. He will barely even walk through the forms stuff. I finally made a row with just him and me, and tried to see if I could make him see that as one of the two high ranks in that class (and I'm ranked significantly higher), that we could show that we could knock this form out of the park and do it perfectly in front of the other kids. He didn't bite, except for maybe a total of one minute-- literally. He was just plain difficult for 90% of the time. He was asked to leave the floor once, perhaps even twice. Oh, he's frustrating, and I'm his mother!! He finally got through where he broke his board, then had to work on his SJB. He misplaced it, and I think we eventually found it, but I'm not sure. He was goofing off so much before class, and I'm not sure if we marked his or not. We found a pair like his, so I'm assuming they are his. :-S We'll find them eventually. Anyhow, he gave up after a little while, and he only had about 5 more minutes of SJB training left. I think if he gets too bored or overwhelmed with something new (or both), he gives up easily. I mean, how frustrating is that?

I just don't know what to do with him anymore. I'm really at a loss. Disciplining him doesn't work. Being nice to him doesn't work. Bargaining with him doesn't work. NOTHING works. I am open to suggestions. The only thing I can think of is helping him put things in perspective, and have him see how many weeks he has until graduation, and that might help him understand that he really doesn't have far to go. I just keep telling me to hang on, just get through this cycle, and things will get better with the new stuff.

I was even talking to Ben tonight, and he agreed. He said Drew has awesome moves and killer kicks, especially jump kicks for his age, and the thing he lacks right now is focus. He agreed also and sympathized with Drew that he's at the end of a long road to get where he is, and he's doing the easiest stuff right now, so he's bound to get bored. I understand that too. But if Drew just focused, man, he'd blow everyone away, and he'd be awesome! But no, he doesn't.

Like I said, I'm frustrated, and I don't know what to do to motivate him. Like I said, I do understand his frustration, but I know if he just pushes through until mid-February, he'll get to where he wants to be, a camo belt recommended (aka half yellow-half camo) and working with the big guns, so to speak.

(SIGH) (bangs head against the wall-- ouch)

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Black Belts don't cry

The stress is really getting to me, and tonight was evidence of that. I have been working VERY hard with trying to complete the move of my house (hey, it might only be to the other side of my small town, but still, a move is a move!), and I am physically, mentally and emotionally worn out, and the job isn't done yet. There is still so much to do to get the rest of our stuff out of the old house, and still attempt to organize our new house as well. It's rather overwhelming.

Add to that, just the second day back to work, that SW was in, and while the day went positively overall, she is trying to start the new year on an up note, so she was giving me a million and one directions of things that needed to be done sooner than later, and she's planning things out as far as the end of April at this point... I ended up even saving the day for her, when she had a business appointment that she couldn't find the location, and where she had failed earlier in finding the information about the place online, I found it and got her to where she needed to go.

So tonight, in instructor class I lost it. Not in front of her or anyone else, I think, but I lost it. I couldn't help but start to cry. And when you are under enough pressure, whether self-induced or otherwise, something slight can just set you off, and that's what happened. More in a moment.

This morning's class wasn't too bad. SM was there, and she and I end up being partners, and that's good. We complement each other well with our drive to do well and work together well. The other color belt in there, who's just a little higher than me, doesn't have that same fire in her belly as SM and I do, so it's just as well, even though the other one is working on the same form as I am. That class went fine, it was not too hard. When we had to work on weapons, I helped SM a little with her new ssang-nats (aka kamas), but I tried working on my SJB too, and I really didn't get any help.

So, fast forward to tonight's instructor class. All was going fine for the most part. As usual, I'm the only color belt in there, but I think everyone is used to me being there all the time (I've only missed one class since starting last spring, and that was right before the holidays). SW said that she is going to add a little something to the curriculum, which many ATA schools do, but not always. She said BB does this at Pennington, but she never did, but liked this particular idea. She wants to start teaching the kids especially some of the self-defense moves. She wouldn't teach both per form per cycle (for example, she wouldn't be doing both of them associated with Songahm #1, but just one of them, and then do the other the next cycle that S#1 comes up). It would be an opportunity for the younger ones especially to learn some good defenses in "stranger danger", which I think would be good for Drew to learn, so as a parent, I was all for it.

After we reviewed the self-defense stuff, and the forms and one-steps for S#1 and #5 that is the current curriculum, we were each sent off to work on either forms or weapons in order to practice for the March 10th tourney. Well, I really, honestly don't know what I'm going to do for weapons (or my XMA stuff at this point). So I fiddled with my kamas, as they are somewhat comfortable to work with, while debating if I should be doing kamas or BME for competition. (I know that BME routine inside and out, and have gotten 3rd twice at regional tournaments with it.) I dunno. So, I'm thinking that maybe I should work on my form. Since the tournament is after we start a new cycle, and I've done In-Wha #1 (competed with it last year at my first regional tournament at the same time last year), I took out the cheat sheet for it, and was reviewing it. And then it happened. SW found me with it, and told me that I shouldn't be working on it, because I don't know it. I explained that I did know it, it's what I did a year ago, that's what we'd be working on by that time in the new cycle, so I was just reviewing it-- it'll come back to me. She countered me firmly but not in a scolding way that I was NOT going to do IW#1, but do S#5, as that's what I'm working on, and it'll only be two weeks out from graduation when I'll do it first for an interschool, and then this tournament a week later. After trying to debate it with her and then a final, "Yes, Ma'am", I put the sheet away in the bin it's kept in, and walked to the ladies' room, as I was just holding back the tears and the bawling. Even writing about this, I'm tearing up. I'm really scared about this tourney. I want to do SO well in it. Maybe I'm psyching myself out of it before I even get signed up or whatever. I don't know. Maybe it's just the pressure at home as well, and between the pressure at home, work and the pressure I'm putting on myself with this, mixed in with the confusion of what I need to do to prepare for this tourney, is just getting to me.

While I had a week off from TKD, the rest of my life in the past week has just been highly overwhelming (don't even get me started on the things OUTSIDE the move) that I just need a break from....well, life. But there is no end in sight just yet. I know there will be a point when everything is finally moved out of my old house, and I will have the new place cleaned and organized, and I will know my forms inside and out and have a plan for the XMA and weapons stuff, and will be confident in my sparring skills. But when that is....I don't know. And I can't take a break. I am SOOOO close to my black belt, and I don't want to lose the momentum. If I end up getting arthroscopic surgery (ugh, another thing I haven't had a chance to follow up on yet), I still plan on going to class, even if I have to limp through my forms on crutches. I want that black belt in August!

I feel embarassed that I was crying and had to compose myself. It wasn't like she was yelling at me. She has, and about bigger things, so why did this set me off? I think it's stress. And while TKD has often been a stress-buster for me, I'm wondering if I'm taking it a little TOO seriously lately, or if life is just a little too serious lately. I dunno. :-(

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Welcome to 2007!

OK, that's all I have to say.


Well, what do you expect? It's only the second day of the new year, after all!

I did go back to work today. Surprisingly enough, I was happy to be there. I didn't do much, only because I figured most people would be like me today-- just getting back into the swing of things, and not quite having it together yet after the immediate holiday week. So, I didn't make any follow up calls to anyone in particular, even the ones who said, "call back in January". We need to settle in first, myself included. But I think for me, it was a welcome break to be back.

You see, for those who only follow this blog of mine (and that's fine, I don't mind), I spent the whole last week moving. The very afternoon of Christmas, we were prepping thing to be moved the next day, as we got some help from family members to move the furniture from my old house to my new house. And you have to accept help when you get it, ready or not! I will leave it to say that I'm not completely moved out of the old place, but in a week we've made significant progress, and are living out of the new place now. Every day I go back in the morning and afternoon to pick up a few more things to bring back, and I am constantly working on trying to get reorganized. The past week has been a mind numbing experience where I did nothing but move, organize and clean from the time I'd wake up until I went to sleep. OK, I would take a break now and then, but very few.

So, you can imagine that showing up as the first person inside the school today was a little bit....liberating. Turns out that I didn't have a Cubs class today, although I brought my uniform and belt just in case. And I got a few Holiday sales signs down, and answered some phone calls, which was fine. But to get out of that and into another one of my little "worlds"-- my do-jahng-- was a happy thing for me. It was me getting back into some relative normalcy. Catching up with Ryan after a week away was good, and getting some good jokes and ribbing in was great. He liked the Xmas gift I gave him, as we are both tea lovers, and he approved of my choice that I gave him. (English Breakfast, always a safe bet! and a cool black and red mug.)

I did also finish part of the last year with a martial arts gift I got for Xmas. The only thing I had under the tree this year was a DVD, and it was one I had asked for. It was the all-time martial arts classic, "Enter The Dragon" with Bruce Lee. I have to say, it was kinda funny watching it. It was SOOOOO 70s, for sure. Not much of a plot, but the martial arts was cool. My husband laughed at me when I told him that a certain move was something that I was working on with my ssang jeh bahng (numchakas), and then I'd tell him what moves he just made (side kick/roundkick combo, or whatever). And he'd roll his eyes, as if to say, "What kind of martial arts monster am I helping to create?" LOL

So, I have to look at 2007 with a lot of focus. I have to watch it with my knee, and really think about my training. If I am going to compete at an "A" tournament in March, then I have to think carefully about what form I will compete with for traditional competition, what weapon I'll use, and figuring out how to do XMA forms and weapons in the process. Oh, and get my groove on with sparring, especially for endurance and with my bad knee. I don't make resolutions, as like most, I can't keep them. But it doesn't hurt to set some personal goals that get renewed often, and for me, it's working towards my black belt, doing the best job that *I* can in getting there, and making the most of my ability to compete with the skills that I have. I have about 5 more months to compete as a color belt, and when I get my black belt, then I only have about one year to compete as a 1st degree in the 30-something age group. So, I have to make my mark while I can!

Here's looking at 2007--- a year with a promise of hope for a prosperous new year!