Saturday, March 31, 2007

Women think too much

Women think too much, or so says SW, especially when it comes to doing board breaks. We all make more of a conscious effort to make sure we remember all the details of what we need to do to make the break. I am one of those women who definitely do it WAY too much, and sure enough, while I do have to think some, the less I think about it, the better I do.

I went to specialty classes again, trying to work on my sword and board break. Well, the time was wasted for the sword - again! - and Alex S was supposed to be helping. Despite being a 3rd degree, he's not disciplined enough to really be helping, and he didn't know what he was supposed to be doing. I was paired up with 2 other smaller kids, one of whom knew the form (heck, he taught me!), and the other one who was easily distracted, and didn't know it. Rather than drill us on segments, Alex just goofed off, and naturally being one of the two adults in class (Sandy had come, and she was doing JB), I had to steer the kids into working on the segments. The problem is that I'm getting NOTHING out of that if *I* am the one who is directing the kids, and I'm there to learn! (grumble grumble) I truly wonder why I bother going. Well, next cycle, I'll go back to doing SJB again, and I stink at that, but maybe I can start to work on doubles, and I'll order a second one. I dunno. I'll talk to SW, as technically, I don't need to learn doubles until later. I just get bored and need a challenge, and I don't have to know SJB drills until the cycle after that, and I don't want to learn Sam-Dong-Bong just yet. To me, that's a 2nd degree weapons, and heck, I'm happy enough learning 1st degree stuff. Okay, sshang nat might be a 2nd degree weapon for all I know, but that one comes a little more easily to me. ;-)

Board breaking was a little better. Sandy stayed for that too, and Winnie was there as well, so there were 3 adults there for a change. So, we alternated in doing drills together, which worked. SW was there to help, and the thing that still gets me is that Winnie, while she does look very skinny and frail, ACTS like she is frail. She didn't think she could deal with me kicking a big pad for sidekick practices without me knocking her down. Sandy, in contrast, is much more confident and not afraid, as 5th degrees (her instructors at Pennington) are not afraid to throw their weight against her, so she's had good practice (that's like the practice I have with the teens and guys in my classes!). I worked up to the RJSK, and I had to make sure my heel was hitting the pad. But when Winnie was holding the pad (we were taking turns), all I could do was just touch the pad with my heel. At least with Sandy, I could put a little force into it. We asked Bill if he'd come over and help, as I went last to do my breaks. I made sure I did both, just so I had the rhythm of it. Sandy and Winnie held the board for the elbow break, and SW and Bill did for the foot break. [Edit: I stand corrected-- Sandy and Bill held the foot break, and Winnie and SW held the elbow break. Thanks for the correction, Sandy! You are da bomb!]The other thing I did, partially for my own confidence and because I'd have to practice on it anyway at some point, I broke the foot board using wood. I'm telling 'ya, wood is SOOOOOOOO much easier to break. This is when, after a few practices, SW told the others just to lock it out, because I'd think too much if I didn't just do it-- I was ready. So I did the elbow break- BAM! - and made sure that I ran up at a slight angle. As I ran, I just kept in mind, "Use your heel and follow through!" The board was at least almost head level, which is good. Sure enough, I got the momentum and did the right body shift, got the heel on and "BAM!" It went through. Oh, I was happy! I mean, I'm not a small person, not only due to height, but due to weight too. For me to defy gravity enough to pull that off, and break it on the first try, well, I was excited! I think doing it on wood made a HUGE difference over doing it on plastic. Although, interestingly enough, I almost made the break dead center on the board (it was just a little off center) and it was almost as clean a break as you can make.

So I'm pleased about that, and a little relieved that I DO have the ability to do it, I just have to follow through and remember to use my heel and not the ball of my foot. Hooray!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

You will respect mah authoritah! (Think South Park's Cartman)

Morning class went okay today. SW is picking apart each section and making improvements. The fixes she made today were because I was losing my balance and I couldn't figure out why. Theoretically, I should do well on this form because I've done it before, but I feel like I suck eggs at it. Of course, that's probably why she's trying to help me, and also knowing that I'll have to do this form in a few weeks for the B tourney.

Then, when it was time to work on weapons, I went to get my sword, which I keep with the JBs, which in turn are kept in two large bins. There was the scabbard, but no sword. What the heck? I searched high and low, and couldn't find it. I was none too happy. Those things, even if they are plastic, aren't cheap! I was able to borrow another, but you know, it's the principle of the thing. More on that in a moment.

To finish, it was time to board break. Funny how I'm the lowest rank in my morning class, and yet I'm the only student who knows how to hold a board for someone else! (And there are two 2nd degrees in that class of four!) So, anyway, I got a chance to practice my break, which is actually a double break. I have to do a reverse elbow, then a run-jump-sidekick. Well, I have no problem with the reverse elbow. When I did it today, I didn't break it because I missed-- they moved the board on me! :-S The RJSK is the problem. I don't kick! SW said that my run-jump part is fine. At first, I wasn't putting my heel on the board, and then, once I did that, then I wasn't kicking through. She added that most of the time, people have a harder time with the run-jump part than the kick, and it's the reverse with me. I can get my positioning and chamber for the kick just fine. It's the follow through on the kick that I need to do. She did also say that one of my attempts, had it been on wood rather than the plastic board, would've broken. We agreed that the best course of action, just as a confidence builder, (and I have to do this for the testing break anyway), is to purchase some wood boards, and just work on wood instead for now.

Anyway, that was the bulk of morning class. I spent part of my work afternoon trying to find my sword, and then discovered that Drew's JB was missing too! What the heck? I left a note for SW when she came back later about the missing weapons, and she was able to find both. My sword somehow got mixed in with Aikido stuff (how the heck did that happen?) and Drew's JB was supposedly in the bin after all. I know mine is there, but I swear I didn't see his in either bin, and I checked twice. Maybe my eyes are getting older than I thought! I'm just glad that everything was found, because just between those two weapons alone are worth over $100 together!

Tonight's class was fine. We are now in this mode of doing some instruction stuff for the first 10-15 minutes, working on our individual stuff, then taking the last 15 minutes for a staff meeting. I did work on my form and my sword again. I put the points of correction into my form, and SW noticed and said it looked much better, so that's good. I also got a little help on the sword again tonight. It just isn't coming as easily to me as some of the other weapons. I think a lot of it has to do with the footwork, oddly enough. If I have the footing correct, then the corresponding hand positions with the sword seem to fall into place a little better. Oh well.

It was interesting tonight-- other than myself, the only color belt, and one 3rd degree - Jodi, everyone there was a 2nd degree black belt. There are no 1st degrees in there at all! Well, that will change in October, most likely. ;-)

I am ready for a break, and I know that Spring Break time for the schools is next week. While I'm not working, I wouldn't mind a break from classes myself (TKD school is still open), but my board break with that RJSK needs so much work, and I need to feel confident with my form, at least for graduation, if not for the tournament the weekend before. I mean, I know I'd pass, because she knows I know it, but she's going to be more critical. But I hate this form. Bring on the Chuhng Jung forms. I like them better. After all, I'm going to be doing CJ#2 for 4 months after June until I graduate to black belt. I am SOOOO ready to move on with my new information. But at this point, I don't have time for the break. Not yet, at least. I have to get through the tournament and the graduation, and then we'll talk.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

That's why we have specialty classes.

Today was the first Saturday I had been at the ATA on a Saturday in quite a while. It's always so crazy and crowded on a Saturday, and I wasn't always finding that the specialty classes were helping me as much as they were before. However, since Gary is there on some Saturdays, and he's much better with the sword (being a certified instructor in Gumdo AND has his 1st degree in the discipline), I wanted to be there to get his guidance. I also decided that I do need to spend more time on practicing my run-jump-sidekick break, since the other half of that breaking combination, the reverse elbow, is fine.

Weapons class is always a little crazy, since there are three weapons being used during this cycle. (Last cycle, it was only two.) Certain Leadership people, if they have the sword and want to do it, can do it for this cycle. Originally, it seemed to be just myself and one little boy, NH, who were doing it. Today, it was NH, and a brother and sister, CG and AG, who were doing it too, and they have been taking the Gumdo classes lately too. (I wish I had time and energy to do it, since it would cost me nothing!). Gary reviewed stuff, and then he had to go start the WOY class, and work with an intro pair that had come in. So, since CG and AG knew the whole form from Gumdo, I asked them to help me learn the rest of it. Gary had shown us how to approach the "hard" part, but for me, the "hard" part was actually the easiest for me. (It's a spinning jump with a vertical cut - very Jedi/swashbuckler-like!) So, the kids helped me fill in the blanks, and get some of the footing down better. I have the main gist of the whole thing. (For "Hardheaded is My Middle Name", since she's one of the few who would understand this, we're doing Gumbob #2 form in Gumdo.) So, now I have the whole form, and I just have to work on getting the wrinkles out of it, which is mostly the footwork more than anything. Who'd have thought that learning the sword would be such a challenge?

Board breaking was a little better. Again, it's a case that it's hard when the whole class is full of children all old enough to be yours, and no teens or other adults taking the class. But that run-jump-sidekick needs works, as I have to break for testing for that. We did several drills with breaking kicks. I swear, there are these two brothers, JG and RG (a lot of kids with G-last names today!), and they seem like total dunderheads. The younger one seemed to have a slight clue, whereas the older one was clueless. The thing that got me about both of them was that the younger was a 1BR (black belt recommended) and the dumber one had his black belt! Bill was helping out with the drills, and if you know Bill, he's not a small guy. He's about 6'2", and somewhat stocky, so it takes a lot to push him down (and I often get paired up with him, just my luck!). Well both of these brothers were kicking the practice pad, which Bill was holding in his hand WAY too hard. I mean, the purpose of the drill was not only to have some power behind the kick, but more importantly have the technique down, as it's technique that breaks the board more than power. Well, RG, the older, 1BD (black belt decided) brother, just decided he was going to be Mr. Powerforce. He was just kicking practically for the sake of kicking, and kicking so hard that Bill was getting a might bit pissed, and it takes a lot to get him pissed off, he's such an easy going guy. So, he stopped the kid, and the kid wasn't even doing proper technique. Bill warned him to ease up on the kicks, as they were too rough, too hard, and weren't doing the job they were supposed to do. He even had to stop everything for a while, and reteach him the basics of doing a simple sidekick (make the T with your feet, pull the knee in front of the chest, etc.). I made sure, since I was the person behind RG, that I went very gently so as to give Bill a break on his arm. The kid just didn't want to listen that carefully. Then, it showed that he wasn't paying attention, because we backed up our line because instead of doing the stationary side kick, of course I was practicing my run-jump-side kick, and needed to be backed up, but maintain my spot in line with these not so bright little boys. Somehow, he couldn't understand why they were so backed up. HELLO McFLY! Sheesh. I let the other kids go first in breaking their boards when it was finally time, and then Gary had come back for a bit, and between Gary and Bill, they were able to help me fine tune a few things with my break that it will start coming. The newest little twist was that I should run at a slight angle to get the right twist with the jump. Man, I really have to practice that one.

Other than that, I ended up staying late because they needed a little help with some transactions at the front desk, and then I was outta there! I know Em was a little disappointed that I wasn't staying for Gumdo. I would like to learn Gumdo, but I already spend SO much time over there, even when it's not work, and this month is just very busy, that I couldn't do it. I do have an interest, but timing just isn't right at the moment. I'll try to get into at a later point if I can.

This cycle is just weird. I don't know why. Perhaps it's due to repeating a form that I've already learned and didn't like the first time around, and don't have much of a choice but have to compete with it in the next month. (Bleech!) Perhaps it's the frustration of the sword not coming to me as easily as I'd like. (Heck, a review of the JB form came more easily to me than this!) And of course, I avoid sparring like the plague and really shouldn't. I'm just not as motivated as I should be, especially in light of the fact that I could possibly tie for 1st (depending on how things happen and fall) in weapons for the state title. I dunno. It's something to think about. Perhaps I am burned out with TKD right now too, like Drew, but I am SOOOOO close to that Black Belt that I can taste it. OK, so it's still about 6 months away, but still.... Depending on what happens with my job hunt, maybe I can do a black belt boot camp, and get one of my cycles crammed in one week, and take the summer off that way myself. We'll see. It all depends on what happens with my job situation. I have two interviews this week, and one of them is with a part-time job that would give me the summer off! (Although this summer, I'd be willing to work for part of the summer, just to get established.) I would like to get that job, but again, we'll see. Can't count your chickens before they're hatched, right?

I have a feeling I'll be going to more Saturday classes again for a while. :-S

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Not much going on.

Well, I haven't been writing here lately as there hasn't been a whole lot going on in my TKD world so much. Drew is on his sabbatical, although due to some show, he said he wanted to do Kung Fu, and I don't think he understands what that means, so I told him that he was already taking Korean Kung Fu, which is called taekwondo, and he was taking a break. He'd play with his SJB(numchaka) and his BME, and he still has some good form. When I asked if he wanted to go back now rather than later, he said no. LOL I think he does miss it a little, but I think there are some other stressors in his life that he does need the break, but I'm glad he still has the interest.

It's been a tough week at home, due to Drew and things going on at school. I won't go into detail here, but if you are so inclined to get details, you can check it out on my "regular" blog, Windsornot's Knotted Life, and read posts from the past week or two. It hasn't been an easy time for anyone, and stress levels at home are rather high, but we're trying to do the best we can.

At this point, I'm still working on relearning IW#1, getting my sword information down, and avoiding sparring. I really shouldn't avoid sparring, because I suck at it so badly, and I can't improve if I don't at least participate in it every once in a while. Last week, SW was trying to get me to work on the last two sections of IW#1 in greater detail, because she knows it's what I am going to be doing for the next tournament in April. Bleeh. I appreciate that she wants to spend the extra time with me getting the kinks out, especially after I told her how disappointed I was in my scores at the last tournament. I know what she's up to. Part of me doesn't want to put that kind of time in, as I rarely get close to placing except for that one time last year, and it happened to be with this same form. It's not my favorite form either. But, the fact that she wants to help, and evidentally finds some worth in how I do that she wants to put that time in, I might as well try. Can't hurt. My kama routine is fine for competition, so I'm not worried about that. I just do it to review and make sure I don't forget the skills or moves.

My adventure with the sword continues. Yesterday, SW was really picking that apart. I didn't have the sword blocks over my head correctly, I was moving in the wrong direction, etc. Well, footing is my biggest problem with that. I know she's a first degree in Gumdo, as is Gary, so I know I have to work with them and not Ryan so much with that. Ryan is not a first degree, but he wasn't helping me with the footing as much as the combination. So I have 2/3rds of the combination down, but a lot of mistakes that need to be fixed. Hey, I'm one of the few leadership people doing it this cycle, so give me some credit! I could take the Gumdo classes on Saturdays to get better, but it's just a lot of time out of my schedule to do it, even if it's at no cost to me being that I'm in leadership. :-S I'll get it. I have the main gist of it, it's working out the feet and the blade angles a little better, I think.

Board breaking isn't going too badly. I'm just starting to get the run-jump-sidekick (RJSK) combo down. It has to be down with a reverse elbow break as well, so I was practicing the latter yesterday, since I hadn't done that in a while. It's amazing how much easier that is now than when I was first learning it. I'm confident about doing the RJSK on wood, not so much on plastic. I've done both now, so I know I can do it. I just have a problem with follow through on the kick. It'll come with practice, I'm sure. Also trying to defy gravity with that break (the jump) is not easy with my bad knee, which is the leg I land on, and, well, you've seen my photo, I'm not exactly a petite skinny person! I just need a slight break, or take it easy, rather than train so hard. I did that for the last one, and it didn't get me as far as I would've liked all the way around, especially with form, so I need to relax, and just do the best I can without trying to stress myself out. I still have a few weeks, so I'm not worried yet.

So, things are coming along, but nothing much to write about. I haven't seen that they've updated the tournament stuff for a week, so maybe by the end of this week they will have more. By my estimations, if I can win this next regional tourney, and depending on how they stack up the interschool tourneys, I could either be one point under or tied for 1st place in the state for weapons. So, in my head, I have a lot more riding on the weapons than my form or sparring. I just wish that ATA HQ would hurry up and tally this stuff. I'm anxious!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A Young One's Sabbatical

While the decision was made a while ago, I regret to report that Drew is taking a sabbatical from TKD. Things came to a head after the misbehaving in class and choosing to opt out of the tournament at the last minute. Between talking to Drew, and my husband and I talking about it too, it just made sense to give Drew a break. He's worked hard to get to where he is. This will be a longer break than I had anticipated, as I was hoping that he could get through at least the end of the year and get the summer off. Heck, I was hoping he'd finish out this cycle and get his full camo belt! He also ended his last class on a less than optimal note, and I had hoped, based on a good recommendation of SW, that he'd take at least one more class and end on a high note, but that was not to be.

This was a difficult decision, but I think it's the best one for everyone. Drew was just becoming too difficult in class. That took away from the other kids, which I didn't appreciate on behalf of the other parents, and it didn't make life easier on the instructors either, who really were doing their best to help, especially SW. Drew has a natural ability-- I wouldn't exactly call it a natural talent-- for TKD, and he was doing well when he tried and put his mind to it. It was frustrating for everyone involved that he would be acting up, so to take a break seemed to be the best solution.

I do want him to go back. I think Drew does like it, but maybe was burned out for a while. Maybe he's one of those kids who will take a long time to earn his black belt, but that's okay, as it's not a race. He'll be really good by the time he does though! ;-)

There are two things that have been encouraging me during this small, silent mourning of the situation. First was from RA. He mentioned one boy whose older brothers are regulars, and he was antsy like Drew as well. The boy took a whole YEAR off, and now is MUCH more focused than before and doing quite well. So, RA's take was that sometimes kids need the break, and it will work. After all, when Drew came back from a three month break last summer, he was raring to go and doing well enough that I started his Masters upgrade and got him his gear sooner than I would've expected. Perhaps the same thing will happen again. I sure hope so.

The other encouraging thing is that my incredibly skeptical, cynical husband told me that he honestly thinks Drew will go back to TKD in the fall as planned, raring to go. He sees how much Drew likes it, and thinks Drew will miss it after a while, so he's confident he's going to go back. Now, if JC thinks Drew's going to go back, that's all I need to hear.

Ironically enough, Drew keeps asking, "Do I go to taekwondo today?" and I keep assuring him that he's taking a break until he starts 1st grade.

Oy vey.

So, I felt that we need to keep the boy busy still with something, so after some discussion, Drew will be joining the millions of kids who play the international sport known as either football, or in the US known as soccer. Yes, I'm going to be a soccer mom. Seems like it will be a good program in the spring, as the big rec league here in my area has a more casual program in the spring (fall is when it's twice as big and more structural), and that will be good for him just starting out.

It'll be a little lonely knowing that I'll be doing this by myself for a while. Last summer it wasn't bad, but it was only for 2-3 months. This time, it's going to be for about twice that. By the time I'm getting my black belt, hopefully seeing Mom get hers will reignite his interest and willingness to cooperate.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

A more detailed account of a victorious day.

OK, now I'm more rested and have a little more time to write, although now that we've lost an hour due to Daylight Savings time, I still feel like I lost an hour. My body is still on Standard Time. I've also discovered that my memory was much fresher of the events of the day late last night when I was zonked out than it is today when more rested, but I'll do my best.

So, since Drew wasn't going, I set off on my own to find the destination. I had gone there before for my first regional almost a year ago, but I had taken a different route. Based on my prior research into a better route, I made my way there in just under an hour, which was good. It was a pretty direct path for me to get there versus the way that all the online and offline mapping programs were telling me.

(Off topic for a moment-- if you can ever get your hands on a copy of MS MapPoint, it is worth it. While it can give you directions, and make various adjustments, it also allows you to look at the map yourself, and figure out things on your own, which has helped me immensely, and did this time to the tourney.)

So I arrived a little after 10 AM, thinking that the Opening Ceremonies, which were scheduled for 10 AM, would be going on. Since it was about 10:18 or so when I walked in, I thought I had missed it or something. Nope, turns out that it hadn't even happened yet! More importantly, before I found a place for me to park my stuff, I needed to find Nina to get my tournament forms, as I had forgotten to print them out the day before. I had called the school and asked Rachel to print them out and have Nina bring them, as I knew she'd be there. I found Nina quickly, and she had them on her person, thankfully! I was happy that she had them, and that crisis was averted.
A bunch of the other gals were there. Michelle hadn't seen the latest hair color change, so she commented on it as soon as she saw me and said she liked it. I guess I am having success as a redhead!

Once I parked my stuff, I found that we all had to start lining up soon for the Opening ceremonies. I hadn't missed it! I had also caught up, by that time, with Penelope, as Em was in the front being a black belt, and she and I are still lowly color belts (but catching up!). So she sat with me, and I had someone to hang out with for a while as the Masters, Senior Masters paraded down the middle, and then the host school had a demo team do some sort of XMA-ish presentation. To be honest, while they did a nice job, I do think the kids at our school could do as well, if not better, than their team. One guy on this did a bit with his JB, and I thought, damn, Nikki or Dean could easily do a better job than that guy! Oh well. Then Master R got up and said a few words, and GM said some stuff, and some other dignitaries, and such, and then the games were back on again! So, I just hung out a bit, and after exploring and checking out the scene for a bit (read: checking to see if I could determine who the competition was, and watch some of the kids from our school), Sandy arrived a little before lunchtime. I brought her to where I had parked my stuff, and as we were about to leave the area, Master R walked by. I made sure that I got my bowing in, but I also made sure, since I had just talked to him the day before, that I introduced myself, so that way he could put a face with the name/person. He was very complimentary of my phone manner, and was glad that I made it a point to say hello. Brownie points for me! (I was also sure to bow to Sr. Master Dilegge, Master Dunn and Master Capobianco too, since I do know who they are.) Went off to get some pizza and roam about some more. Sandy and I watched some of the kids doing stuff with their competitions and chatted, and mingled with some other people. At one point, we wanted to get something from our, I think it was that after a few hours, we thought that our rings would be called soon (they were scheduled to start at 2:30), and so we were taking our shoes and socks off, rummaging through our stuff. Nikki was nearby on a cell phone, and she starts giving me some funny looks, and I'm reacting to her like, "What the heck...?" Turns out that she was trying to indicate to me and Sandy (but to me because she could catch my attention) that Grandmaster was walking through. As Sandy put it in her journal so aptly, here she and I were, our chance to be good little ATA'ers, and we had our rear ends nice and high aimed at the GM. I also had only gotten one shoe and sock off, so there I was half shoeless, whipping around, and bowing with a "hello, sir!". He was very genteel, which I wasn't surprised about, and quickly thanked us but insisted that we didn't have to bow since we were evidentally preparing ourselves. Mighty nice of the guy. Turns out he, his wife --who was dressed in full formal Korean gown (which was gorgeous), and a bunch of masters were all getting their picture taken together on one of their cameras, but it wasn't a formal photo like in the main gym where the events were going on-- not a photo op sort of thing. Master R, of course, saw me and remembered me and grabbed me by the arm and asked in his thick NY accent, "Can you come over here and help us out with something? Can you take our picture?" What, I'm not going to say no! Even if I was late, I'm not going to say no to a Master asking me to help photograph him, the Grandmaster and the other Masters. Mrs. Lee (GM's wife) was funny, because instead of "cheese" she was trying to get everyone to say, "Kimchee!" which is cute, especially if you know what kimchee is (and I did). I made sure I did a lot of bowing in respect to all of them before I took the photos, which I think was appreciated. I mean, even if this was all just on the side, it was nice that I could help out, and I wanted to make a good impression. The funny thing about the whole thing was that for the tournament, I was wearing my contact lenses. Not to say that I can't see out of them, but I can't see out of them as well as my glasses, as my contacts a) don't correct my astigmatism as well, b) they dry out quickly, and c)my allergies make them a little...gunky. So, I don't see as well with them as I would my glasses as you can gather. And this was a conventional film camera, and no digital window to look at, so in this slightly darkened area of the gym, I had to try to make sure I got everyone in the photo, and took 2 photos to be safe. I think I did okay-- I don't think I cut anyone's head off or anything. ;-)

After one or two more obligatory bows, I got a nice "Thank you",and they went off, and Sandy and I started stretching on the very dirty floors (so much for keeping the uniform clean, right?) and practicing out stuff, mostly forms. I was feeling pretty confident about my weapons form, so I didn't worry about that too much, although I did practice that reverse the hold move (it's a fingering technique-flip the kama so the handle is outward, then roll it back to the regular blade-out position), since that's probably the most complicated move I have, and I didn't want to screw it up. Our posting time came and went, and at one point, we rested on some mats on that same little alcove where the higher ups got photographed by me. A young woman who was a purple belt came over and asked if she could sit nearby, and I said sure. Turns out that she was 28, so she wouldn't be competing against Sandy and I, but that was okay. She had a foreign accent, and for some reason I thought she was Scandinavian. I don't know why, because I hadn't even asked. But she was from the Virginia Beach area, so Sandy (who had walked away and returned) chatted with her about the B tournament they had there last week, and about VA Beach, and stuff like that. That's one of the things that I think I've really gotten to know about the ATA and about being at these tournaments, is that it's all about the fellowship and making friends and having something in common. They then called us up to determine the rings for adult color belts. Gary was helping with this, and I ended up being first in line as they lined us up to assess the group. So, I chatted with him, and told him where I was with the sword routine, and how I would love his help next weekend if he could, which he was happy to do. After asking how it's been going, he told us, to paraphrase him if I'm not quoting exactly, "Well, take a tournament, throw in Grandmaster and make it an 'A' tournament, and it spells chaos", or disaster, or something to that effect. It was a big chaotic, and things were taking SOOOOOO long to come about as it was. We got our group number, and had to just wait for the ring to be called.

While we waited, Sandy and I caught up with Ben and Bea, who are teenage brother and sister who go to her school, so we chatted with them. While we sat in the bleachers with them, Victoria called Sandy and I down, as she was center judge for a black belt group of boys (we were guessing they were the 8-10s or 10-12 year olds), and they needed a scorekeeping team to do it. Talk about your crash course into doing ATA scorekeeping for sparring! I knew how to do the time and the scoreboard, but that was given to Sandy. I was the one who had to do the written part. After both Ben (who was a corner judge) and Victoria went over it with me, thus started the sparring. The way the kids went up against each other, at least on paper, was kind of like, as again Sandy mentioned in her blog, a bracket system like the basketball playoffs (she was really good at descriptions in that entry!). I had to mark who got the points, if there were any warnings, etc. The first round we goofed up slightly, but we were in synch after that. Part of the problem was that it was so loud, and as loud as I know Victoria can get, I had a hard time hearing her. I don't think it was just me, as Sandy had a hard time too. But we got through that without being called to our rings. After that, Bea and Ben got called up for their rings, so Sandy went to watch them, and I went for a walk, ending up chatting with Jodi and Michelle's mom, and then Nanci, who used to do my job for a while and does it for Master C, as well. They finally called our ring, and I met up with Sandy there.

We had 8 people in the ring, so that's a decent number. I would've liked 5 or 6, but of course we can't choose those things. It seemed like a good group. There were 2 green belts, but everyone else was brown belt or higher-- only one red/black (black belt recommended). We were from all over. One red belt woman was from Florida, but the red/black belt was from ARIZONA! WHOA! Evidentally she was chasing points, because, as Sandy found out, her instructor wouldn't let her promote unless she did this. Of course, I think that's crazy, but more on that later. So...the competition began.

As far as my own performance, it went like this from my own perspective. I was 2nd or 3rd to go up. Granted, I was a red belt doing a green belt form, but technically that doesn't matter. This time, I felt that I had done a really good job. I had turned my foot in for that one stance where I had messed it up earlier. I hit all the kihaps nice and loud and at the right time. I didn't rush, and I didn't mess up in the middle. I thought I had done really well. But somehow, after hearing my points, and later watching others do other forms as well as the same form as myself, I had thought I deserved a better score. The green belt who got 3rd in forms did the same form, but I didn't think she did as good a job as I did. There was also the red belt from FL who got 1st for it, and she did CJ#2, same as Sandy, but I think Sandy did the better job. Sandy got 2nd in forms. I was a little disappointed, not so much that I didn't place, but that from what I could tell, I had done the worst. I really thought my form went over better than others, but as Sandy said, maybe the judges were looking for something else that we didn't realize. Who knows?

For weapons, there were only 4 competitors. I know Sandy was concerned because we were both doing ssahng nat (kamas), but we had completely different forms, so again, who's to know? The other two were the FL and the AZ gals. AZ did a SJB routine where she dropped it twice. I think if she hadn't, she would've placed. FL did a BME routine that was different from what we do at our school. She did some sort of roll in the middle of hers where she almost ended up sitting on me on the sidelines, but otherwise, it wasn't too bad. My turn came up-- I went last, I think. I took my time, and I almost hesitated on that handle out roll I was practicing earlier, but I didn't, and got it out correctly. Lots of kihaps and yells in the routine (added some extra yelling), and I raced through the last 3 moves (crisscrossing double cuts and a big stab at the end with a big kihap, hopefully ending near a judge's throat). Well, the scores weren't as high as at the interschool, but they were still high, and I had a good feeling about it, since I really didn't listen to the scores of the others. FL got 3rd, Sandy got second, and I got FIRST! But reaction to that in a moment.

Lastly was sparring, which everyone knows is my "favorite". NOT. I was the only one with the new faceshield on, and at one point Master C was sitting behind us and she saw me rummaging to get my kamas after form, and she saw the shield and smiled, I think in approval. But let me tell you, those damn things are HOT! Not like we weren't already hot and tired from what we had done already, and being that it was an almost springlike day outside with heat on in the gym, and wearing heavyweight uniforms, and now putting gear on, can imagine having your face covered up wasn't that great for me the asthmatic. When it was my turn, man, I just didn't have it in me, and I couldn't easily ask for time to catch my asthmatic breath. :-( Damn faceshield (mine covers my whole face. See it here at AWMA's website, and you'll see what I mean. Well, remember too, that my contacts are blurry, and there's a slight distortion looking through this shield as well. I think I was just so tired, and my opponent was that much better with her kicking that I lost. I don't even know what the score was, but I don't think I did well at all. I'm not sure I got any points-- maybe one or two, off her, and that's even with me having the higher kicks, and pulling out some reverse kicks. So, I was eliminated the first round, and frankly, I was fine with that. I don't enjoy sparring, but you have to do it, and I was glad that I didn't have to do any additional rounds as I was tired and hot. Sandy, on the other hand, is the powerhouse. She beat the gal I went up against, and made it to the final round. While I'm the kicker, Sandy's the puncher. She's VERY good at it. She also has had a lot more sparring training in the last few months than I have. The final gal she went up against was also a puncher, and she won. Sandy put up a good fight, for sure. She got 2nd place, and I was happy for her. She pointed out afterwards, "I think I could've beaten you today if we had gone up against each other," and I couldn't disagree with her. I just didn't have it in me by that point in the day.

So then we had the awards presentation in our ring. As mentioned, different people got 1st and 3rd place in all the different aspects of the competition, but Sandy got 2nd in all of them. She was the only person to receive 3 trophies from our ring. In my mind, because she was consistently 2nd and the only one to get three trophies, that made her truly the best all around competitor in our ring. She is definitely someone to watch out for, and I guess lucky for me, I only have to be in the same ring with her for about 5 more months! :-P

But my big victory and hard work finally paid off. I got first in weapons from my routine. It was a thrill for a few reasons. While it wasn't my first trophy in my life (that came last year at this tournament with my 3rd place win in weapons), it was my first 1st place trophy. I was reminded that it wasn't my first 1st place win, but this was a regional tournament versus an interschool tournament. And to boot, it was an "A" tournament, which means that based on the number of people who came to the event overall, and based on the number of people in my ring, I would earn more points towards ranking. THIS IS HUGE! I went back to check the numbers in the ATA Tournament manual (which is online), and I saw that I earned *8* points towards my ranking! Tally that up with my interschools as of late, and well....they have a weird way of tallying up points based on the level of the tournament, and you can't just earn points on interschools or just regionals, etc., so we have to see how it all filters out once the Tournament department tallies everything up (and it seems to take forever!). But my guess is that I will be bumped up, if my estimates are correct, from 5th in the state for my age and rank to 2nd! If I'm not 2nd, then I should at least be 3rd, behind Sandy. Despite getting 2nd place wins, she's racked up one more B regional tournament behind her where she did very well, and only a point separates us currently, but again, she's been consistent with her own earning of points, so she could still pass me. Still, that's a big jump, and that would be SO COOL. And of course, ambitious me, is thinking that if I can continue this streak with weapons through the B tournament next month and the last interschool, I have a chance to be very close to upsetting the #1 in the state, as she is not competing in our rank anymore (she's a black belt by now, I'm sure, as I think she was either a red or red/black when I saw her in July), so her stats are static. It's wishful thinking, and I am not going to get my heart set on that or get my hopes too high, but OH, it would be so great to do that to finish off my color belt career!

Sandy and I went to get our trophies, and man, I held onto mine like it was my child until I realized there was a major scrape and a major chip on it, and traded it in for a nice one. We met up with Pen and Em, and chatted, took some post competition photos, and watched the 40-49 women's color belts still going at it. It was a HUGE ring-- double our size! Made me glad I wasn't older! Just as we were thinking about how late it was, the tournament ended, and we got to bow out with GM. They had shut down the sound system, so I couldn't hear a word he said, and I accidentally shouted the "ATA!" when bowing to the flags, as I didn't realize that we were bowing to them, not the higher ups. Oh well. Can't say that I didn't have ATA spirit!

Sandy and I gave our goodbyes to SW, as we really hadn't seen her all day since she is RCT and busy all day. Asked if she was up to going out for dinner, and she said she was too tired and had to let her dogs out (understandably), so she couldn't make it. I think she was happy with our results, though. As I told her, I think I found my niche with weapons, and she said that was hers to, so I think I'm in good hands. ;-) Sandy and I talked about just going ourselves, but it was already late, and we were taking different routes home, so we just parted and we'll catch up again soon. So off I went home, caught up with the family, had a good heart to heart with my son in which he expressed his frustration for the first time about his apraxia (not realizing what his apraxia was, but it was a good conversation, and a long time coming). Oh, and I didn't even mention that I started the day with my getting on the scale for the first time in a month or two and I had lost about 9-11 pounds! I mean, this day had a lot of positives going for it!

I am still tickled pink about the weapons win. I mean, for me personally, this is huge! I'm finding that I'm not liking having to compete in forms and sparring so much, although it comes with the territory. The next tourney I'll have to do IW#1, which I did last year and placed 4th. It's not one of my favorite forms, but hey, whaddya gonna do? Evidentally my SN routine rocks, so there will be no changes for that. It's too bad that I can't do sword as a color belt for weapons (tournament rules, as I believe it's considered a 2nd degree weapon), 'cause I like what I've learned so far, and I think it would be extra razzle dazzle. ;-) I think another part of what I'm proud of with my win is that the routine I did was totally original, meaning it was totally made up by me. I did get elements of it from different people, but in the end, it was all me. I just took different things that I had learned, combined them and refined them. Heck, I just changed a whole part of it about a week or two ago, and the change made a difference, in my opinion. So far, I like SN, and BME (we'll see about double BME) and JB. I'm better at SN and BME so far. JB I'm okay. SJB I'm only okay on too, but I think JB comes easier to me than SJB. Heck, even sword is coming to me easier than SJB. But I think I'll get it eventually. I have to do SJB form for sure for my first R/B testing (I've been watching Evelyn do it, as she's never been big on weapons and is struggling through drills), but I'll get there when I have to do so.

So, overall it was a good day. A lot of the pressure is off for a while, but not too long since there's the B tourney in mid-April, and the interschool at the end of April. And there will be less stress, as Drew is taking a sabbatical for a while, probably until the fall. Even JC said that he believes Drew will go back to it, but he needs the break. I think he'll be better in the fall, as hopefully he'll mature a little more, he'll miss it, and he'll be better able to deal with the harder material by then. (Heck, Mom will be a black belt hopefully by then!)

And now...for the photos! These are all courtesy of Sandy, and the sparring shot is one she sent to me via Ben, who took the photo and passed it on to her. Thanks photographers!

Doing Forms - Lincroft "A" Tourney - 3/10/07
Me doing Forms. Between the red hair and the red eyes, I look like a woman possessed! LOL

Sparring - Lincroft "A" Tourney - 3/10/07
Me sparring, completing a reverse side kick. You can see me turning bright red under that contraption of a face shield!

1st Place Winner! - Lincroft "A" Tourney - 3/10/07
Me, the Champion! Woo hoo!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Oh yeah, baby!

This will be short, as I'm very tired from a very full day, to say the least. I will give more details of my run-ins with the Grandmaster and several high ranks, my first foray into scorekeeping and other fine details.

But-- I will give at least one huge highlight of the day. I WON MY FIRST 1ST PLACE TROPHY EVER IN MY LIFE! AND IT WAS AT AN "A" TOURNAMENT! I got it in weapons. As I said to many today, since this is the 3rd trophy I've received at a regional tournament, and all three were in weapons, I think I know what my niche is. ;-)

To be honest, I think what was more impressive was that Sandy, my cohort in crime, won 2nd place in all competitions. I mean, yeah, I got first, but it was only in one aspect. She not only got 2nd place in weapons (and she also did a ssahng nat/kama routine, and it was great), but she also got 2nd in forms and 2nd in sparring. Man, she's a pistol at sparring! She even half jokingly said, "I think if we had ended up going against each other, I would've beat you this time" (as I've beaten her in sparring every competition we've met up for so far). And my reply was, and it was an honest answer too--"I think you are completely right." It wasn't my day with sparring. I was the only one wearing one of those hot face shields, and I was so tired after doing that that I was thanking the deity of your choice that I was one of the first outs. I didn't think I'd make it through another round.

So while I'm enjoying the euphoria of my first 1st place win, I think I'm actually happier for Sandy, because in my mind, she got a great trifecta. :-)

More later!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Forced to bite my tongue :-( (Ouch!)

I will start by saying that I have to retract what I said about Drew going to the tournament. Until this afternoon, he was all fired up about going, and I tried to trust my little guy and his wishes within reason. I advocated on his behalf to his dad to let him go. I paid for the darn thing. But it fell apart.

Today, I don't know what happened to him. Or, I should say, the old Drew cropped up again. During his class, I decided to hide out in the office so I wouldn't be a distraction, and he could concentrate on the instruction he was getting. To boot, my boss/instructor, SW, was in today to teach, so she was heading up the class. He was doing fine for a while, but from what I could overhear, the kids had to line up in some way to do drills across the floor, and he flipped/freaked out because he was not 1st in line, but second in line. He wasn't freaking out because someone butt in front of him, but merely because His Majesty wasn't first. Well, SW recanted, and I half guessed anyway knowing how they handle things there only too well, she sent him off to the sidelines of the mat to have a sort-of timeout. In his timeout, rather than sit still like he's supposed to do, he was spinning around and goofing off. SW then recanted, since she couldn't allow for that either understandably, that she whispered in his ear that he had a choice, of either getting up nicely and walking with her to the office to talk to me, or else she'd pick him up like a baby and carry him to the office. Fortunately for her back (because he's a big boy and weighs 60 lbs!), he walked with her, where she told me what happened. She went back to class, and I was trying to finish something up that I had started while I talked to him. Drew pushes my buttons easily these days, because I'm so tired of fighting him constantly, so for the second day in a row, rather than yell at him or even hint that I was highly upset, I kept a low, even tone in talking to him. To make a long story short, since he was not willing to go back into class and comply with what was asked of him, he lost his chance to go to the tournament (which didn't seem to bother him) and we left before class was even finished. We left just as the kids were going to get their weapons and I was able to tell SW what we were doing. She was fine, and I followed up later tonight with an email, and she understood and was very supportive. To quote her in wanting to help however she could, "That's what family is for." (Which plucked a heartstring to know that I've got this kind of support from my TKD school, especially the chief instructor.)

We -- meaning Drew, my husband and I-- talked about Drew taking a break, and decided that it might be a good idea. Even upon mentioning this to SW, she was behind the idea, as long as we left on a high note rather than a low note, as she felt that the last time he took a break, he was a bit more refreshed and ready to go. I think JC (my husband) and I have to figure out the timing, and switch him to another sport, like soccer or something like that, and figure out the schedules and all for that and how to get involved. Perhaps between being on a break and being on a team sport will kick this boy into understanding that he can't be first in everything and learn to understand more about equality and the "there's no 'I' in team" thinking that he needs for life.

So, I'm feeling very sad and angry too. I went to all that trouble to get him to go to the tourney, and now he's pulling out. I mean, I'll get a refund, and I'm not being hassled about it from SW, which I wouldn't expect her to do under the circumstances, but it's just so frustrating. He really does have a knack for this, and as my mother said in talking to her about this tonight, maybe he does need something for a while where he can run around and learn how to not be so self-centered about things.

Great thing to deal with mentally before the biggest tournament *I've* have had to do so far. Thanks Drew. Just get me into a clinically depressed state before a big tourney. I appreciate it.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Decisions Made

Well, after extensive talking to Drew, even in front of his dad and such, Drew just would not let up. I explained that we'd have to go to bed VERY early on Friday and get up while it's still dark, and that it's very far away, and a lot of people and too crowded, etc. But he didn't care. He wants to go to that tournament and get a trophy. At least for him, just showing up he more or less gets a trophy due to where he's at due to his age-- until he turns 7, he's a Tiny Tiger, and they only have to do half the form, and they do it with help, and everyone gets a trophy. He's never sparred during a tourney before except for last weekend, but I think if I just remind him to use control and no face hitting, he'll be okay. He's watched Mom's bouts, so he knows what to expect more or less.

So, as of tonight, Drew is signed up for his first "A" tournament. It'll be my first "A" tournament too, and because of the sheer number of people expected, I'm nervous that my ring will be very big, and thus my chances of placing well will be diminished.

This morning's class, I decided that I didn't want to fall behind on my form or weapons for this cycle, so we did that. Class was only 3 of us, probably due to the bad weather, although we three (Winnie, Evelyn and I) are usually pretty consistent about coming. Form is coming along, as it's been done before, so if anything, for the moment, it's just refreshers by section. But then I worked on my sword. Man, that is harder than it looks. I think I have the basic idea of how cuts are supposed to work, but it's getting the combination of which blocks and strikes and how the footing is done that's throwing me off. Bleeh! That's one that I definitely have to practice, but hopefully while RA is a good teacher for it, I felt like I got more from Gary when he taught one Saturday, so I'm sure I'll rely on him quite a bit too. I'll get it by graduation, I'm sure. I was told that the only other person in leadership who decided to do sword is the same boy I worked with that Saturday. No pressure-- no, really! Nobody else is doing it, so there is less stress on me, as the kid won't be doing it at graduation with me, 'cause he's a kid, and typically I wouldn't do a graduation with the kids (but rather the other adults). And since it's a freestyle, if I goof up the form, only those high ranks (which even then it's not many) who know Gumdo would know that I goofed up the form. So that helps. But I still want to get it right. I'll concentrate on it more after this tournament.

Tonight, since so many people in the instructor class are going to the tournament on Saturday, it was a practice night, and I figured it would be, so I saved my practice for that until tonight. We reviewed S#2 and IW#1 (my form, and one of the forms Drew has done 100 times, and I did at one time too). Nobody in class had any problems with S#1 stuff, including the one-steps. Heck, for once I actually remembered them to some degree with less help! IW#1 is the form I'm working on, and other than RA since he's teaching it so much, I was the only one who knew most of it. OK, it's because I'm relearning it, sure, but most people in class didn't remember at all. Even the sections that I hadn't relearned yet came back to me pretty easily. This was the form I had to learn when I made the leap from beginner to intermediate color belt levels, and I struggled with it, so believe me, I remember it. I think it was also what I may have competed with at this same tournament last year, so yeah, I'd remember a lot of it. After we reviewed that, we all split up in different directions to work on whatever we had to for our forms. SW asked what I'd be working on, and I assured her that I was working on the form that we completed last cycle, and she was reassured with that, and said that I probably didn't need help with reviewing weapons, as she "saw the scores from the interschool and you seem to know what you are doing with that." She said something to that effect, which meant that she saw the high scores I got, so she felt confident with that. (Although I did practice after class, and RA made one extra pointer which is an easy fix and I'm confident will help.) So, I worked on my form. Two problems, one of which I don't know how I can fix it. The first problem was an easy one to fix, which was that I didn't know it, but I was not turning my back foot forward for a front stance at one point. Old ballet habits, but easily fixed. I just have to be conscious of it, as stances is a big thing that they are harping on these days in class, and it turns out ATA-wide. The other I can't fix as easily, and it's another weird ballet habit that no matter how I try, I can't break. For some reason, when I do a round kick on my right side, and I flatten my foot into that 90 degree angle, and I pull my toes back as I toes spread out like I have duck toes or something. It's bizarre! I don't seem to do it as much on the left side, so it's not as noticeable, but on the right side it's horrid! And no matter how I try, I just can't tighten up my toes. I asked SW if I could put some tape around my toes during competition, and she said sure. So don't be surprised if I bring some medical tape to tape up my toes! LOL (No, seriously, I probably will do it!) Otherwise, I didn't hear too much criticism. I think the trick will be really getting into a mental zone on Saturday, whereby I can just try to relax, walk around, chill out, focus on what I'm doing, just kinda go Zen. Do some knitting while I wait, something like that. I just don't want to space cadet on my form again. That's my fear-- adrenaline will get the best of me again. I can't have that happen.

Now, if I don't place, that's fine. I don't know how many people I will be competing against. I only know of one, namely Sandy, but I know more or less what she's been working on. People come from all over for this one, as much as 300+ miles away, so I don't know who or how many I'll be competing against until my ring is called. Yikes. I don't look forward to that. I expect it to be a large group. I hope it's not. I certainly want to place, but call me the Irish cynic that I was raised to be, prepare for the worse and hope for the best. You can't do any more than that, and as long as I try my best, that's what competition is all about.

So, now there are two competitors going to the "A" Regional. One is under more pressure than the other, but it will be a great challenge on Saturday. Hopefully it won't be so bad. At least the weather will be better than last year. Last year, it was cold and POURING rain by the buckets. This year, it's supposed to be in the 50s and cloudy. That's an improvement, at least. If I have to go out and get some fresh air, then I can do it without getting drenched or cold. And it'll be easier with driving out there too.

Two days and counting. We have to get through Drew practicing tomorrow. :-S Should be interesting.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Dilemmas, dilemmas

Well, as I was tucking Drew into bed tonight, I was giving him a heads-up that he'd be having a Boys' Day AND Night on Saturday. When he asked why, I just explained that I had the big tournament, and left it at that in the hopes that the topic would pass quickly and he could get to the task of going to sleep. But no, instead he told me he wants to go.

Here's the thing. It's going to be HUGE. Like over 1000 people there. And if he actually attended, what time is Drew's ring supposed to start? 8:30 AM. And how far away is this thing? At least an hour or so away. Now, this is the same kid who will get up at 7:30 on the weekends and you can't get him up at that same time all week for school. And he wants to go to a tournament very far away for him? Additionally, JC is convinced that I've talked Drew up to this, when on the contrary, I've been trying to discourage him from going for the reasons mentioned before. But Drew was very determined tonight that he wanted to go and get a trophy (they do trophies instead of medals at the local regionals). He told me that he didn't want to do weapons, which is fine (as it costs more!) and he'd just do forms and sparring. And due to the fact that Drew also declares that he doesn't like class but he likes tournaments, JC has his doubts. It's a lot of trouble to get him there, etc. and have to bring him home while I stick around and do my stuff later in the afternoon. (I wouldn't expect him to stay anyway-- it's almost a given that Drew would have to be taken home by JC after his ring and meeting Grandmaster, if he did that.)

Part of me is happy he wants to go. He handled himself so well last Saturday at our school tourney that I'm glad he likes the experience and wants to do more. But, I have the same hesitations as JC for the same reasons, although I'm a little more convinced that Drew understands what's involved. I emailed SW about it, as there was something about Late Entrants Round and thought maybe he could swing that, but she couldn't guarantee it, as Master R who is hosting the tourney wasn't supposed to put anything about late rounds in the brochure, but he did.

So what do you think? Do I encourage his interest in the tournament, and get him used to this atmosphere of the larger arena so he's more comfortable as he gets older? (He's been to a B tournament before which is pretty large, and this is an A tourney, which is even bigger.) Or do I tell him some sort of white lie about why he can't go, like we didn't know that they closed out the entries deadline and we were too late. He'll still be upset, but at least he'd understand that more than Daddy's skeptical about hauling you all the way out there. JC wants to talk to Drew directly himself to make sure Drew understands what's involved.

So there you have it. The dilemma. Should we let Drew go to this thing, or not? We have to make a decision fast, that's for sure, as the tourney is this Saturday, and I told JC that we needed to know by the end of tomorrow.


(crossposted to my regular blog.)

Saturday, March 03, 2007

A winning day! A long commentary with photos and video!

Today was the interschool tournament. Let me tell you, I am NOT a morning person, for sure. Well, let me take that back. For sparring purposes, I am a morning person. For forms, I am not. And Drew has moved up in his tournament experience in more than one way. Let me explain how the day unfolded. (And I have photos too!)

Drew and I arrived at the ATA, ready to go. My ring was going first, we were waiting for it to clear from the last group first, which was fine. I had practiced a little bit at home, and felt I knew the information cold. To make it a little more of a contest, even though we were comprised of two different divisions, my ring was comprised of Sandy, Penelope and myself. Since Penelope is in the physical special abilities division, while a color belt and in the decade below Sandy and me, it seemed fair as she is a formidable contenter, even if she uses her wheelchair for competition. (She even told me that she missed me being there last night, as she had some aggression to get out of her system, and she and I usually will wail on each other as our own safe form of therapy!) We'd still get 1st, 2nd and 3rd place, but things would be adjusted as needed later.

So, who has to go first for forms? Yep, me. Great. I think I was kinda tired yet wired-- I wasn't quite awake, but the adrenaline was coursing through me. And it figures, as much as I know that form COLD, I screwed it up big time. I was making a lot of wrong moves all the way around, like doing two moves in the wrong direction, doing my ki-haps at the wrong time, going WAY too fast to make it look precise, all sorts of things. You'd think that I was on drugs of some sort, but I wasn't. I knew I blew it, but at the same, I knew that it wouldn't be that bad a tragedy, because I'd still place no matter what, and it was in the "comfort" of an interschool vs. a regional. :-S

Next was weapons. The tricky part was, by coincidence of sorts, both Sandy and I were doing the same weapon, namely the Ssahng Nat/kamas. I watched her form-- she did very well with it. It was very different than mine, being that it was more power cuts and stabs. She told me later that she thought of putting some more razzle dazzle in it, as she has some killer juggling skills, but she was afraid it'd be too much ATA Xtreme. She described her weapons form as full of more power moves, and mine has more "finesse". While I tried to make my moves look powerful, I understood what she meant. I really incorporated as many of those new moves as I could, and I was happy that I was able to pull them off and didn't do badly in my routine that I had made up, and threw in a couple of good kihaps in there too for good measure. I think even one of my scores was a 9.9, which is as high as you can go! So I was pleased with that. Pen did a BME routine, which I recognized as something that wasn't the standard form that we usually used for freestyle, but it was really cool to watch. She had some moves that I've seen, but I don't know how to do, so that was great.

Last was sparring, and as all my regular readers know, this is my least favorite event. I would rather do 20 board breaks than spar. But, 'ya gotta do what 'ya gotta do. One thing that some non-ATA people would be interested to know is that yes, Penelope would be sparring with us, even though she competes from her wheelchair. You'd think that it's an unfair advantage for someone like me or Sandy to spar her, but there are a few things that make it fair, at least for me personally. A) she has wicked punches, and she is not afraid to wail on me big time, and punching is not my strength. B)She still can get kicked by me, but her blocks are phenomenal. And C)to even the playing field, literally and figuratively, every hit is 1 point, even the kicks. So in other words, while kicking is my strength, I have to work at it to get every last one of those 5 points. But before I did that, since Sandy and I are in the same division, we sparred first, and the winner of that round would spar Pen. Fair enough. I was a little anxious about sparring Sandy. She's had a lot more training time and instruction in the last two months than I have, due to my back injury and my nasty cold. And every time we get matched up, I can see she's gotten better and I really have to watch myself. She might be petite, but she's a fireball! Sure enough, we were tied 3-3, and I was lucky to get a good kick to the face in. I didn't mean it to hit her face, and she said she didn't feel anything, but I felt something like the tip of my foot pad hit her somewhere. Just proves that the safety gear does what it's supposed to do! It was that kick to the head that gave me the two points to win. So, after a 30-second break, in which I got a quick surge of liquid oxygen (that's a good hit of bottled water for asthmatic me), then I had to spar Pen. She put up quite the fight, and made me work for my points, that for sure. But in the end, I did get that 5th point, and won the match. So I got first place in sparring too. Go figure!

Here's a photo of me and Pen sparring, with photo credit going to Sandy this time. Pen had a good block on that one!
Penelope blocking my kick

Here's another one by Sandy of Pen and I sparring, but from a different angle. You can see Drew helping by keeping score, and Mom is up by 2 points!

During this time, Drew was also an official photographer of the event. He took a few photos, but I won't share all of them. I will share a few key ones, however:

Mom screwing up her form
Me screwing up my form.

Hey, at least I look like I am concentrating!

Here are Sandy, Penelope and myself after we received our awards:

The competitors!
The Competitors!

Drew also had a special opportunity during the sparring match that most 5 year olds don't get, and it got him involved in the judging process, which was cool. During the sparring, he was one of the scorekeepers. They have a little lap sized scoreboard where you drop the flap to show the point earned. He had to listen very carefully and get special direction from Rachel, who was the center judge, as to when to add a point to one person or the other (and Cynthia was there to help back him up, just in case), but he did it very well. He also helped do it for center judge Natalie with the Men's competition as well. Considering it took good attention and focus skills on his part, he did a very good job. As a result, Rachel gave him an extra red tournament star for his uniform as a reward for a job well done, which was a great thing for her to do to recognize what he did, or for that matter, giving him a chance to do something like that. He loved helping. (I heard him later tonight playing with his dad upstairs, most likely roughhousing/wrestling, and he'd say, "BREAK!" now and then, just like in sparring matches, so I think it sunk in just a little.) So I was glad he had that opportunity, and that he did well and enjoyed it.

NOW..... As for Drew....

Drew had a good tournament. One thing I didn't realize was that now that he's considered a camo belt for all intensive purposes, he doesn't do one-steps for competition, but rather he spars! He doesn't spar for points or placement, at least, just like he doesn't do forms or weapons for award placement, so that was good. It was a good thing that I had his gear bag in the car, as I didn't know and I had to run out and get it! In Drew's ring, there were two orange belts, a green belt kid who was taller and older than him (I'm guessing Y is maybe 7?), a half camo-half green kid his age named Alexander, and him. At this age, the kids still get help from an instructor, in this case SW since the orange kids were new to it, and SW wanted to be the one to explain how the whole thing worked with the higher color belts to the newbie parents as we went along. So, Drew did his form, and he was later awarded his forms and sparring medal for his "power moves", I believe. He held his own pretty well. I'm sure if SW did the whole form with him, he would have been fine (at that age, they are only required to do half of the form). The orange belts would do one thing, and the higher color belts another.

I will say that having worked with Alexander and watched him, he has more discipline in doing his forms, so I would've given him 1st place over Drew (sorry, being honest and objective!), but I would have definitely given Drew 2nd place, due to just what he got his award for, his power moves.

Here's Drew in mid-half-form:

Drew doing his killer form
Drew doing his killer form!

Weapons are optional, but all the higher belts decided to compete, including Drew. Both Drew and Alexander did the JB, and Y did the SJB. Y's SJB was okay. Alexander did some really nice clean strike lines. Drew, he truly freestyled, throwing in a lot of arm tucks and hand rolls (as best as a 5 year old can do) and other things to make it look more like a form. Even Alexander's mom was impressed, and said that she was surprised at how well Drew did. I think it's because this is the second cycle that Drew has used the JB, so I think this time around it's clicking a little more. He's also used to watching the teen instructors and older students (especially ones who even do ATA Xtreme) do routines, so he gets inspired by them.

And now, hey, we have video! Please note that they have no sound.

Here's video of Drew's first tournament form for jahng bang!

Drew with JB 3/3/07

Then...there are the sparring matches. Oh, Drew did great in these. In this first one, his first ever sparring in a tournament, he's sparring Y, the older green belt. She's pulling them apart as they had already started, and had been wailing on each other, and she had to remind them that this was supposed to be no to little contact. Fortunately, Drew had watched me earlier and helped out, so he had an idea how it worked. At the end, she's leaning over to ask Drew if he'd stick around and spar Alexander! To me, it was a sign that she trusted him, and that in a sense, if this had been with points, perhaps he would've won.

Here's Drew with Y:

Sparring match 1 - 3/3/07

Here's Drew and Alexander:

Drew and Alexander sparring

All was said and done, and Drew got his medals.
Drew receiving his medals!
Drew receiving his medals from Mr. P.

Lastly-- here's the stance of a champion. ;-)
Drew, the tough guy champion
Here's Mr. Tough Guy. Don't mess with him.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

A much better day for Drew

Today was class day for Drew. Unlike last week, where I could technically attend the same class, and did, I decided not to, since for the moment I go on the Wednesday morning adult class, and leadership on the same day, and then usually go on Saturdays. I might change that, but probably not. I just felt that Drew should have his own day, and I shouldn't be in attendence for distraction purposes. He needs to learn this stuff on his own.

It was just as well today, as it turned out to be a very busy day at work, and when I got back with Drew for his class, work overlapped. So I didn't pay that close attention (almost no attention) to what he was doing. But he decided that when the class was being divided up between kids working on tournament info and regular info, he figured that he was going to do tournament info. That was news to me! He hadn't indicated that he wanted to compete before today. Nikki was helping with that group, and she came into the office later (where I was doing stuff) and told me that Drew, considering that he had just made this decision, did well with his practice. At age 5, the Tiny Tigers are not expected to do their forms by themselves, and they have an instructor do the form with them. Nikki told me that he told her that he didn't need her to do it with him, but she could tell him. According to her, sure enough, he was right! She just had to tell him the next move, and he could do it, and do it well. He also "practiced" a jahng bang routine (the bo staff for the non TKD'ers), and she told him it looked good. I'm sure he was just improvising most of the time, as that's his nature. Him come up with a consistent routine? I don't think so! But Nikki has a good idea of what she's doing, as she won 1st place in her age and rank for ATA Extreme in weapons at Nationals last week. ;-) So, in that respect, I didn't hear anyone disciplining Drew too much, and he seemed to be doing well with his tourney material, so I was happy, and I think Drew was too. Oh, and he got his first stripe on his belt, so he was happy.

At the end of class at lineup, he did have the wiggles at one point, and RA caught him on it, and made sure that Drew said "Yes sir!" to acknowledge him, and Drew did it without protesting, of which I was very glad to say the least. You know, he might be finally coming around a bit.

Sweet relief that today was, from what I could tell, a better day for Drew! Onto the interschool tournament!