Saturday, April 28, 2007

It should be in the bag

I was really ticked off that the ATA still hasn't updated all the tournaments in place. They have some C tournaments in before they have my B tournament in, so those points from that last regional haven't kicked in yet. Phooey! What a pain! Well, I know it'll kick in, but just for security, and to try to put it over the top, I participated in the interschool tourney today. Not much to say about it. Sandy couldn't make it due to another commitment, and she was missed. I went in early so that I could stretch and practice, and SW informed me that instead of competing at 9AM, I'd be competing with some color belt tweens instead at 10 AM. Fine, whatever. I had no other plans since Drew's soccer was cancelled due to wet fields again. (He's missed SOOOOO much soccer due to wet fields and bad weather since the season started. He's only been able to go once!) So, that's what I did. I practiced a little bit, helped out a little bit (did scorekeeping for the 9AM ring), etc. I did get chewed out a little as we barely had enough gold medals for the kids, and I hadn't checked ahead of time. I forgot, and I was only asked yesterday as I was leaving where the medals were being kept (and they were where they were the last time we had competition.) I apologized all over the place, because it totally didn't occur to me, but she later said it was okay, and understood the oversight. Anyhow, "picture day" was yesterday and today, so that was going on at the same time. I got my photo done too, but it was only for the wall. It looks pretty bad, because a) I'm fat, and you know a man was the one who insisted on the white uniforms instead of the black ones (we don't have them in the ATA except for the XMA stuff) and b)I had it taken AFTER competition, so my hair is all slicked back and looking kinda greasy. Oh well. It's done, and SW will have it like she wanted.

So, back to the tourmament. While Sandy was unable to make it, Karla came in, and SW recruited her to help. Karla is the same age as I am, but she's a 2nd degree black belt, and the 2005 state champ in all events for her age and rank. Yikes! (Yes, we have a good number of state champs at our school.) She was there just as a filler more than anything, and just to keep up her competition skills. She didn't do much in weapons, so she got 3rd in weapons, and I got first. She kicks butt with forms,and she got 1st, and I got 2nd. Since sparring wasn't important to either of us, and we wanted the kids to have a good experience, we somewhat threw our sparring rounds so that they could have 1st and 2nd place and we tied for 3rd naturally. Hey, part of the idea of a tournament, especially for the kids, is that it's an exercise in learning about self-confidence and self-esteem. They needed those wins more than Karla or I did, so we were happy to do it. And the girl I had to spar actually got some good hit in. She was more of a puncher, and got some decent punches in, so I think she legitimately win. I did get a few points off of her in the sparring round, but I didn't try as hard as I could've, but she held her own.

And that was pretty much it. I think that my 1st place in state ranking should be secure now, and even I've solidified my probable 4th place ranking for the state too. Hey, at least I can say I'm in the top 5, even though there's only 4 people ranking in sparring! LOL

I did get an interesting comment today from Jodi. Knowing what belt I am at, and being another person who tracks the stats of people at our school, she encouraged me to "totally" continue to compete next year as a black belt. She felt that I didn't have much competition, and that it'd be cool for me to continue with all of them, and I could "totally do well in that category". Color me surprised. I was thinking of possibly hanging up my gloves and concentrate on getting my certification and judging creds instead of competing. But maybe I shouldn't! I don't know. I guess I'll just take things as they come, and see how it goes. I was reviewing my posts from a year ago, and a lot of it was about me wondering what got into my head with joining leadership and starting competing. I don't regret joining leadership. While I'm still far from ready to start truly studying to certify, I'm more comfortable in the instructor classes now, and having taught Cubs classes as well as helped out in the other color belt classes, and entrenched myself into the instructor group. The competition thing...well, not too many people of my age and rank compete, at least around here. So, yeah, I do have a good chance to continue the quest in state rank. Of course, Jodi thought I could go compete for Top Ten (National/World level), but I don't know about that. It's something that I'll have to think about and ask about with Susan. I'm not sure I'm cut out for it, but perhaps I am, and don't have enough faith in myself to think so.

I'll just concentrate on getting through the regional that is this summer, and getting my black belt for now. I think that's plenty right there.


In the meantime, I'd like to add something here that was brought to my attention by Penelope.

Blogging Against Disablism Day, May 1st 2007
Blogging Against Disablism Day

First, to clarify, this is based on a UK site and the term "disabled" is not the same as the US. In this case, it's really blogging against disablism discrimination, to be more exact. Being that some of my TKD friends are connected with disabilities in one way or another, and that includes myself with Drew, I thought I would contribute to this. On this, I'm going to look at it from my TKD perspective. On my regular blog, I'll probably look at it from other angles. If you or someone you know fits this category, I encourage you to participate.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Just Biding My Time

Not much is going on with Training. It's kind of an in-between week, as I have an Interschool on Saturday, so I'm not learning the next form until next week, and I can catch up quickly as it's IW#2, which I've done before. SW gave me a few pointers in the morning class to work on to make my forms and weapons better. In forms, I have to work on my stances (I always do-- more knee bending), and with the double roundkick, I have to work on making my foot flatter (more heel, less toe, if that makes sense). I'm starting to discover than my balance isn't that great, and I'm convinced it's the mats. They don't give much, but they give enough that I lose my balance more easily these days if I'm slowing things down. If I'm on a perfectly flat floor with no give, no problem. For my weapons, SW agreed that I need to stick with what works, namely the SN, but offered the main suggestion of making sure that I was careful in where my digs were and that the cuts were pronounced. For me, in other words, I have to make sure I really snap and overexaggerate the moves to make them look sharper without compromising the moves. I can't have a 4-way cut looking too much like a windmill, for example. Get that little bit of flick in the wrist, and I should be okay.

Instructor class was fairly straightforward. We did an exercise in teaching (and for me, learning) some JB drills. Part of the problem is how we had to hold the JB, in a "gun rifle" hold (again, if that makes sense), and learning some basic offensive and defensive strikes and blocks based on the strike lines. I had Ron as a partner, and he was very patient with me, fortunately. You have to remember, I am still the lowly color belt, and everyone else there is a 2nd degree or higher! But we got through it, perhaps a little slower than the rest of the group, but we got through it. SW said I didn't have to worry about learning it just yet, but it was helpful for me to understand it, so that took the pressure off a little. We then practiced our stuff. I worked on the stuff for interschool some more. We finished up with our usual staff meeting, at which, since most of us in the group compete, we got information of re-inforcement of uniform and weapons information as they pertain to tournaments (what you can and cannot wear/use). Most of it was review, but there were a few changes, so it was good to review.

The evening ended with SW telling us that one of our instructor group, a 1st degree who's only a few cycles ahead of me but has been AWOL lately, has recently entered rehab for some diagnoses. I was really surprised, and found out info about the kid that I had no idea about. This is one of my favorite kids at the school, so it's been on my mind since I heard it last night. This kid was one of the last ones I expected to hear this about, so it's weighed on my mind heavily. We have a "survivor" drop N date night soon, and I asked SW if I could buy a t-shirt from the event to send, and she said, of course. She encouraged the group to send lighthearted get-well cards, but I think I want to write a little more than that, more like a letter of encouragement. I really know that once this kid gets help, all the encouragement and support in the world is what's needed to stay on track. This is a really good kid, even from my own limited perspective. I always try to find the good in people, and with this kid I could find it pretty easily.

So, I just have the Interschool and Picture Day on Saturday. I hope she'll let me wear a black belt or something just for the photo, but probably not. :-S Sandy won't be able to make it to the Interschool due to prior commitments, so she will be missed. She and I were talking about it yesterday, and she said she knows she is ready to kick my butt, especially in sparring! And to be honest, and I've said this before, I know the time is coming that she will. She has stretchier pants now so that she can better kick me in the jaw! LOL She will beat me, sooner than later, I'm sure.

We'll see how the Interschool goes on Saturday.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Talk about backwards!

While I originally wasn't going to go to classes yesterday, I did anyway. It was an off week, since we had just had graduation, and I knew it'd be "fun week" (although fun week isn't fun, it just is doing drills and working on stuff without doing specific forms,etc.) Originally, I was going to go watch my son at soccer, but despite the glorious weather we've finally had after a dragged out winter and a massive Nor'Easter this past week, some of the fields were still flooded, so they cancelled soccer. (Drew was disappointed, for sure, and so was I!). Sandy asked if I was going, so I said sure, no reason not to now. I knew, after banging my bad knee on my desk very hard, that sparring would be out. So I didn't go to that class. Although when I got there, it looks like RA was teaching them ground fighting, and that's always fun.

Forms class was just doing drill and such, and some races with basic skills. While I had to slow down at a certain point because my asthma started kicking in, for two heavy Mommies, Sandy and I could keep up with the kids! :-) (Her even better than me!) We were partnered up, of course, so it worked out since we were the only two adults in the classes.

Weapons didn't yield a whole lot. We are starting with SJB again. My plan is to get the drills I need to know for red/black's 1st cycle down first (I think I have most of that down anyway pretty well), and I'll think about starting to learn doubles. Man, doubles are certainly harder! I know Sandy has another old style SJB, and maybe she'd be willing to sell it to me since she's got the nice new Dragon ones, and I'd rather have the old style ones. (Sandy? Name your reasonable price!) The alternative for leadership this cycle is Sam Dong Bong, but that's such a 2nd degree weapon that I'd just as soon skip that until I have to do it. I think I have enough weapons as is!

Finally, there was board breaking class. That class is usually pretty short, as it's a matter of doing some stretches and drills with your kick or hand break with pads, and then you go for it with your board. I waited until last to do my break, because I usually need two adults/teens to hold my board being the big girl that I am. Well, I was getting my foot in the right vicinity, but I kept hitting the board with my toe, which isn't right since it's supposed to be with the ball of my foot. For whatever bizarre reason, when I flex my toes of my right foot to break a board or whatever, my toes spread out. I can't flex and keep the toes together for some odd reason. I can do it with my left foot with no problem. While Jason K was helping, and giving some good pointers, I asked him to humor me, and see what would happen if I did the break with my left foot instead. He had no problem, assuring me that this was the time to play with the breaks and see what works, because we have about 2 months to figure it out, so now was as good a time as any to try something different. So, we lined up the board, and I took my practice shots. Hmm, that seemed to be more on target, strangely enough, at least with foot position. It took about 3-4 tries, but I finally broke the board-- with my left foot, no less! That's my OPPOSITE foot for breaking usually. Hey, I'm not going to question it, because if it works, it works! I think SW will be a little taken aback, but I think she'll agree that if it works, don't change it. It wasn't working the other way, and even Jason said that if it was the first time that I was breaking it with my left, and I got it after a few tries like I did, I should be in good shape as I practice during the cycle. So I was happy about that. Roundkicks, unlike run-jum-sidekicks, are more often done for testing breaks, so it's good that I figure this out now!

In looking ahead to the breaks that I can do for 1st degree promotion, most people do either a roundkick-reverse sidekick combo, or reverse punch-step forward reverse sidekick. Me, I'm looking at the other options, as there are 2 others. One is a back elbow-run jump side kick over one obstacle. I think I'm a little too old for that, and I had enough problems with the regular jump side kick that I don't think it's worth it. The other one sounds the best so far-- back elbow-jump front kick at face level. Front kicks have usually been pretty easy for me, and getting it to face level, even though I'm pretty tall--- yeah, I think I can do it with enough stretching. I don't know the proper way yet to do that, but in my imagination, it shouldn't be too bad.

But I should probably conquer this "backwards" roundkick first. ;-) It's not really backwards, if you think about it. After all, theoretically, you should be able to break with either foot if you are moving on your way up. Yes, you have one foot more dominant than the other, but I would think that as you go up in rank, the idea is that you are balanced and not one side dominant (like in weapons, right?), so doing something whereby you break with what is not traditionally your dominant side shouldn't be that bad. I think it'll just help so much more for me.

So, it was a good set of classes, and we'll see where we go. In Wha #2 is next, and I tend to recall I liked that one better than In Wha #1. Looking over the notes, some of it is coming back to me. It is a harder one to do, because I think there's a jump kick in it, but nothing impossible, since I've done it before. Yeah, I think learning double SJB will keep things interesting for me this cycle, since I'll be doing SJB for two cycles in a row due to rank.

Onto a new cycle, and one step closer to that black belt! :-)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

All that just for a piece of tape!

Graduation was tonight. I usually enjoy graduation for the social aspect of it all. I get to see some people I haven't seen for a while, cheer them on, catch up with them, etc. Out of everyone there, however, there's only 3 color belts, and I was one of them. At least I wasn't the bottom one! I know there are a few teens that are in the W/O/Y ranks, but they weren't there tonight. The two kids that were there tonight were both purple belts, so they were about 4 cycles behind me. We pretty much went last, with the exception of Nikki, who did her Xtreme weapon routine and impressed the heck outta everyone there. (Then again, I've seen her practice, so I know she definitely has worked at it!) She's ranked in the WORLD Top Ten in Xtreme, and it showed. I was just glad that SW put me in the back, and put the kids up front. I really didn't pay attention to them. My form wasn't perfect, but I'm sure it was cleaner looking than the kids, especially since I had just competed with it, and I've done it before. I'm just glad that not only the run-jump-sidekick break is over, but no more IW#1 unless I'm teaching it! :-) I never liked that form very much. I remember liking IW#2 much better, and we're doing that next. And after that, I'll jump back to CJ#2, and I remember that wasn't too bad either.

I was watching the drills for SJB that are required for the red/black 1st cycle, and man, I can do that already! That will be SOOO easy. I think this next cycle will be SJB anyway, so I will be more than prepared. Maybe I'll finally get a chance to get better at that!

So, a lot of effort this cycle, all for a piece of tape to show that I took the midterm for that level. Next cycle, I'll finally change color again, and I'll be red/black, aka BLACK BELT RECOMMENDED! :-D

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Home free!

Okay, it didn't exactly come that easily, and it's not that I'm exactly out of the woods, but the worst is over! I FINALLY got my board break done. Hooray! This was on the only stressor for this week with TKD. Doing my form, my weapons and sparring tomorrow are all water under the bridge compared to getting this board break now. I am SOOOOOOO relieved! I practiced a few times, but I remember SW saying that if I practice too many times, then a) I get tired and wear down, and b) I over-analyze things, thus doing it wrong. So I didn't practice too much. I went last, naturally, being the only adult in the class, and needing to break two boards to test. Fortunately, Gary showed up, and was able to help out a little. When I was done adjusting the boards, I got the elbow break the first time with no problem. No surprise. The kick wasn't quite right again. I wasn't happen, but I didn't let it get me down, as I was RIGHT THERE. Ryan asked if I wanted to do one more practice, and I said no, let's do it-- no practice. So I ran again....and with a big kihap-- BAM! It went through. Thank God (or the higher power of your choice)! I am just SO glad it's over. I don't have to do anymore jump-kick breaks like that ever again-- or at least not for a very, very, long time! The next break I have to do for the next cycle is palm heel and round kick combo. I have a hard time with a round kick as well, but I think after this one, it will be a little easier, as I have a natural tendency to like breaking with the ball of my foot.

So, graduation, here I come! That's tomorrow night. (Yeah, I know I was cutting it close by breaking to test the night before, but I didn't have much of a choice!) I will just have to get through graduation, then I only have to worry about the interschool tourney in two weeks. That's not as pressured, because I just have to do what I've already done. I know what to expect on that, as I know my main competition (Hi Sandy! :-P), and even if she does better, I will still come in second, and in getting just ONE point, I'll top the current status of being tied for first. I'm pretty sure that Sandy's gonna get me this time in sparring. It's been getting harder and harder to compete with her, y'know!

Like I said, I'm just relieved that the break from hell is over. I can move on from here, for sure!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Whoops and SCORE! (a novella with photos at the end)

Today was the last big regional tournament in this area for the tournament season. It was at Lincroft again, but this time is was just a B tournament, which was fine. As long as I can have the opportunity to get some points!

Rather than go very early, I got there around 12:30 in the afternoon. They wouldn't be calling for the adult color belts until at least 2:30, so I had plenty of time. I went and got some lunch, but nothing too heavy so I wouldn't feel sick or anything like that. Sandy arrived at about 1:15 or so. In comparison to other regionals I had been to before, including the other B tournaments I'd been to before, this one seemed rather small. Then again, anything was smaller than that A tournament we went to last month, but even I felt like this was smaller that last year's B tournament in Lincroft, or the Montgomery one last July. Even Sandy said it seemed about the same or a little smaller than the one I missed in New Brunswick. Alas, we walked around, talked with other people who were around, checked things out, and practiced, of course. When Sandy showed me her new JB routine, I started quaking in my sneakers a bit. It's a REALLY good routine, in my opinion. What really got me shaking in my shoes was that she had a good release move and would catch it nicely and consistently. While I have a release move in my SN routine, it's not like that. And she always does things gracefully, but still with a powerful purpose, because, after all, forms and such are supposed to be one-sided combat, and she is one of those people who is very aware of that, and similarly, shows that when she performs.

They actually called the adult color belts almost on time, which was a huge improvement over last month. The guy who was divving up the groups was having a difficult time. White/Orange/Yellow were separated out off the top like cream, but that's to be expected, and that was fine. But then rather than divide up everyone from there into age groups, he was dividing them by camo-blue, then brown-red-red/black. THEN, he'd filter by age. Before that second filter, there was a 19 year old in our group. Hey, that's not fair for me, someone who's just about 20 years older than her, to compete against her!(God that makes me feel so old!) Somehow, even with the second filter, it wasn't working, and SW, being that she's the RCT of the event and region, was brought in, and it ended up like it usually is-- all camo through red/black in an age group. HELLO!!! So, in the end, we had 6 in our group. Four of us did weapons, so that was good.

Now the rundown of events:
Forms: I thought I didn't do too badly, BUT I did lose my place and stopped and I'm sure that cost me points big time. From my own estimation, I came in 6th. :-( However, the scores were middle of the road, so it makes me think that I might have done a pinch better had I not stopped and forgotten my place and then picked up and continued. Oh well. I wasn't too worried about that one. For Sandy, oh, she was robbed again. She does forms so beautifully, and she did CJ#1 vs. CJ#2 that she's been doing so long. I know she had had some issues with balance and jump kicks before, but that was absolutely not the case today! She was SO on top of it all. In the end, she tied for 2nd place, and won the tie breaker. Yah! So she placed well in that.
Weapons: Sandy had her kick butt JB routine, and I had my SN routine from before (hey, why change what works?). The other gals, Kim and Kathy had a JB and SJB routine respectively. I'm sure Sandy wasn't too thrilled that there was another JB there. Kim's JB routine was good, but it seemed to be more about whirling the JB around than actual strikes and stuff. Sandy had that cool release move and she did her whole routine really well. Kathy did her routine, but it seemed more like a bunch of drills than anything with a lot of movement. Well, here's the kicker-- Kim, Kathy and I TIED for 1st! OH MAN, this is pressure time. Yes, I wanted that 1st place win that I could taste it. Heck, I just wanted to place in weapons today, even if it meant that I wasn't going to get a possible tie for 1st place statewide. So, we each had to do our routines again, and at the end, the judges would point to whom they thought should be 1st, 2nd and 3rd. Well, BOTH Kim and Kathy bobbled in their routines, and I was really doing my best to make sure that I didn't bobble. And knowing I didn't, I was thinking that should at least put me in 1st or 2nd place. So imagine my relief when I did get 1st! I think I was so wrapped up in my thoughts of relief I didn't notice who got 2nd and 3rd. I was disappointed that Sandy didn't place, because I honestly felt that her routine should have placed in there. It was much better than either of the other two.
SPARRING: I didn't feel like sparring, but Sandy convinced me otherwise, because then we'd have an even number of people doing it, but due to the fact that they do it on that bracket system, 2 people had "byes" for the first round, and they made it the 1st place people from the other two events. That meant I had one of the byes. Color me surprised! I just wanted to get it over with, and here I would have to fight against one of the winners of the first match. Bleeh! Sandy went up for her turn, and sure enough, unluckily enough, it was against the gal she sparred against for the top spot back at the A tournament. I kept yelling now and then, "KICK HER!" to Sandy, as it seems they both have a similar strategy with doing a lot of punching, but she didn't seem to hear me. :-( The other gal won that match, but Sandy definitely put up a good fight. She really is good at sparring, much better than I am. So guess who I had to go up against? Yep, you guessed it, the one that beat Sandy. Crap. I was really hoping that it'd be a quick match, but alas, it wasn't. I did stop the match at one point due to having a mild asthma attack, and they let me stop to catch my breath, and then we continued. I didn't exactly try hard, but I didn't just stand there either the whole time. I realized that she always goes for the punches, and she's short. Ah, use the strategy of using what I'm good at-- my high kicks. I tried to fake her out, by lifting one leg as if to kick, and then kick with the other leg (like the ready, aim, fire! kicks), and it did work a little bit. I got at least one good kick to the head! Of course, that gave me 2 points. After a bit, we actually were tied at 4-4. At that point, I said, what the heck, I'll try to get another kick in. She got a good punch in instead, and she beat me. No surprise there. But this is what gets me...I figured that due to the bye, I had a chance at possibly being 3rd, but considering the other gal had won her first match, I figured she'd get it (the other loser of the second round). So imagine my surprise when I heard that I got THIRD in sparring! WTF? OK, I'm not going to question it. Maybe it had to do with how many points were earned during the losing matches instead of how many rounds you won. Who knows? I felt, and still feel, so guilty and bad about that win, more for Sandy. She's become an incredible sparrer, and if she and I had to be paired up, I know one of these days she's going to beat me big time. And she didn't place this time. I felt SOOOOOO bad. I know she felt it was a little unfair that two of us got byes, but I understood why they chose who they did-- the two with byes were the 1st placers in the other two events, and that kinda made sense, if you were going to pick anybody. Ultimately, I think the gal that won in forms also won in sparring (not the gal that both Sandy and I sparred). Oh well. SW had been watching, and I showed her the ticket for me to get my reward, and she said she wasn't surprised, but if I opened my arms and left myself open again, she'd come and hit me herself! :-S Oops, okay, yes ma'am! I think I probably did that because I thought if I just let the other gal get the point, we could end it all more quickly, but that wasn't happening. Go figure, when I make a pointed effort NOT to try, I end up getting 3rd place! As I told her, I dedicated my 3rd place win to Sandy, because in my mind, she deserved it more than I did.

Now, I was just checking the stats for NJ, and seeing the stats for some of the other gals who came tonight. Man, Sandy has been robbed! First, the gal who won from FL who got 1st in forms and sparring was already in first place in FL by a 100 MILES! She didn't need to be there today. And the other gal who got 2nd place in sparring today, who beat both Sandy and I, and got 1st in sparring last month isn't even leadership, from what I can tell, unless she's not done any interschools. If I recall, she was from a North Jersey school, and the only other person listed as ranking other than the #1 and Sandy is a person from SOUTH Jersey. So if she had not come either time, Sandy would be much higher ranked state. This is why competition is good, but why if you're not involved in leadership, then it seems a little unfair for those going for the points. It's frustrating.

Nonetheless, Sandy is still #2 in both forms and sparring, it looks like, if I'm calculating correctly, I will be TIED for 1st place after today (hence why getting the interschools in will put me over the top. Good work on both our parts! Not too shabby!

Something that was also slightly different was that there were no trophies this time around. We got giant mondo medals! That was interesting, and a little more easily portable, that's for sure. :-)

OK, now the few photos I have, that are thanks to Sandy, of course, the one who always documents everything! :-)
Medal Winner
Medal Winner!

Fear me!
Fear me! (My tribute to

TKD Buddies
Happy TKD Buddies! (Sandy and I)

And lastly, a closeup of those cool medals...
3rd place sparring and 1st place weapons medals - 4/14/073rd in Sparring on Left, 1st in Weapons on the Right

So, all in all, a good day. We just have to see how it all boils down in the end with the points, but I'm feeling better after today. Now, all I have to worry about now is the board break, getting through graduation, and then the interschool will be less of a worry, methinks.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


Man, it's been a tough couple of days. First, I have to explain, I've been sick again. What's the deal? The weather has been wrecking havoc on my system with allergies, to the point that I have one of those nasty sore throats whereby you can't swallow unless you have taken some major painkillers, and even then it doesn't go away. Yesterday, I was feeling so wiped out that I didn't go to classes at all. I had an interview for a job that I'm hoping that I'll get, so I missed morning class, went to work, and was ready to pass out when I got home. After getting the boy from the bus stop, I did take a nap for an hour and a half, got up to make dinner, then tried going back to sleep again. Only after taking another dose of OTC medication was I able to even eat anything, and I still felt achy and yuck for the rest of the night. I was just not in any shape to do anything last night.

I got interesting news yesterday. Sandy was very concerned that I wouldn't take it well, and I can see why she-- and SW thought so too--thought I'd be upset. Here's the deal. As of today, based on the belts, Sandy is a belt behind me, or 2 cycles, depending on how you look at it. When you get to the upper color belts, namely brown, red and red/black, you do two cycles through each belt instead of one, like the previous colors. Well, Sandy had completed her first cycle of brown, and I'm completing my first cycle of red. She called me to forewarn me that after the next graduation, she's being promoted to red. In other words, she's doing her brown, and probably her red, and possibly her red/black, in one cycle each. I'll admit, yeah, it bothers me a little bit. I work just as hard as she does, and am the only color belt adult in leadership right now at my school. Or at least the only color belt who attends leadership/instructor class. But I still have to do it the long way. I'm really bored with the curriculum now, hence why I do all the weapons that aren't the norm at the moment, to keep things interesting for me. But at the same time, I am following the same track that about 99.9% of the students ahead of me have taken, so I really have no reason to complain. And if anyone has earned the right to be fast tracked, it's Sandy. So I have no bad feelings towards her at all. And even SW said she was outranked in the decision, and she didn't like the methodology of how BB is handling this, but again, he outranks her. It's one of those times that her age and experience should've outranked him other than a belt, but there you go. There's nothing I can do about it anyway. Besides, what have I done differently at my school that should make me privy to something different from everyone else? Nothing. I'm just a little color belt, after all.

Things didn't get any better when I went to class tonight. I went with the intent of working on my forms and getting my break to qualify to test out of the way. What a disaster! Besides the fact that I'm not at my usual 90% (I don't think I'll ever be 100%), because one of the kids didn't show up for work, I ended up helping out at the front desk for the majority of the time during class. I rushed through my form once, didn't know my kihaps, and just screwed it all up big time. I'm supposed to be competing with this form in TWO DAYS. Damn. I did my sword routine fast, not like I've been able to practice it in two weeks, and I was trying to remember it at all. I was told it was passable for TKD graduation next week, but good thing I'm not testing for Gumdo. :-S Well, thanks a lot, I think! Then, time for board breaking. No problem with the elbow break. I just could NOT get that RJSK break, even on wood. I was getting very frustrated. RA had me take a break, stretch some more, and if I could stay after a little into the black belt class, I could work on it some more. Well, I thought I was going to have a second chance to break for testing, and instead, it was just getting it so that I'd break for the night. I couldn't start over. It was just as well, as I was still having problems. It wasn't until the very last time that RA realized that the problem was that I was starting my run too close to the board. Damn this break! I've NEVER, EVER not broken my testing boards on the first try. I hate this break. I've been working on it nonstop. And to be honest, I don't have time to go to another class to break. I'd normally go to board breaking class on Saturday and probably get it done there, but I'll be at the tournament, which I'm evidentally unprepared for, on Saturday. I don't usually go to Monday or Tuesday classes, and Wednesday, there is no class due to graduation. So, I have no choice but to go on Monday or Tuesday, which I hate. I wasn't warmed up, I didn't get the workout or the review I needed. I am actually very upset. I guess I should be upset at myself, but in actuality, my form in doing the break was fine, it was that distance. I have NEVER not broken on the first try. And I'm really afraid that I'm not going to be able to qualify to test, thus putting me a cycle behind, and getting me more bored. (Man, in just writing this, I'm starting to cry, that's how upset I am.) There are other stressors in my life, sure, and I haven't been feeling well, but still, I am really feeling the pressure of all this. This time, I might not be able to do it. I am SO close to getting 1st in the state in weapons, but I have to compete in the other stuff too, and I HAVE to get this board break in so I can qualify to test. This so sucks. I have to let the other stuff fade away a little so I can concentrate, I guess. And get healthier again very fast.

I feel very defeated. I am feeling very bitter and frustrated. I feel like I've been smacked down. Have I done it to myself? I don't think so. I've done my best under the circumstances as of late, and I've worked hard. I really don't know what's going on. There are things around me that I can't control lately, and this doesn't help matters, when I CAN help it a little bit, and yet, I can't fix it. Maybe some of this is PMS talking (sorry guys, but you know me to be blunt). But I often say, and ask the females around you, but when it's PMS time, it can be the same issues, but the volume is turned up. My husband's favorite phrase is, "Where's the volume dial, because we need to turn it down!". I don't think it is. I'd still feel very deflated from all of this.

I've come so far to be sidetracked.

This just in: I just got an email back from SW, as I told her about the chaos of the evening. Much to my relief, she said that she'll work with me on the breaks, even if we have to spend one on one time to do it in the next few days, and assured me not to worry. I sometimes forget that I have to trust her. She DOES know what she's doing, and when the going has gotten tough, she hasn't let me down yet.

OK, I think that's enough for tonight. Maybe I need to go to bed early and get some rest. Tomorrow is going to be a hectic day.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Hard work is starting to pay off!

I returned from my day excursion to the Crayola Factory today, and got a call on my cell phone. It was Sandy. She asked, "They finally updated the tournament stats. Did you see it yet?". Since I had just gotten home, I hadn't. She proceeded to inform me that I had bumped up from 5th place in weapons to 2nd place! That was great news, although I had guessed already that once my big A tourney win had been calculated in, that I was going to at least be in 2nd place. I was just glad it was official!

But here's the kicker, because we were talking about how it'd all figure in together. Evidentally, some of those interschool tournament scores were finally figured in as well. I had 2 points, and knew with the A tourney that I had an additional 8 points for a total of 10 points, minimally, to put me into 2nd place (the 1st place holder has 17 points). It appears that with the other interschool tournament scores, that I actually have 13 points. SO, theoretically, if there are enough participants at next week's B tournament and I get 1st place at that, I could easily be the state champ in weapons! OH MY GAWD. That would be so awesome!

Of course, it's a little presumptuous to think that I'm going to get 1st. Granted, I have a good routine, but there's always someone who can replace you, so I have to really practice this coming week. Heck with the sword for a week-- gotta work on those kamas!

I also have to mention that Sandy, as we say in my house, isn't doing too shabby in her own right. While she will admit that unless she were to be able to get some really good high ranks very quickly that she wouldn't be able to surpass the 1st place person (because the other person got REALLY high scores that are hard to catch up to), she is 2nd in the state in forms and sparring. WHOA! And this is her first year competing. I think all in all, and I've said this many times before, I think she's a better martial artist than me. I've found my niche in weapons, but she's all around consistent, and it shows not only in class, but also in her tourney performances. She truly puts her heart and soul into what she does, and the fact that she's 2nd in those two disciplines and just started competing this year, that says a lot in itself. This is my 2nd year of competing, and still struggling.

So, as you can guess, I'm quite excited, to say the least. My rank placement is a LOT better than I expected, or rather the points I have is better than I thought. That in itself is a thrill, so I'm going to enjoy it while it lasts. While I would LOVE to be 1st, I'm going to be happy if I don't get that, simply because it's been a lot of work, and I had a lot to catch up with. Even Sandy said, heck, if I had gone to the Rutgers tourney that I had wanted to go to and placed, there's no question that I'd be in 1st place now. So, it's been worth it in that respect.

I do think ahead to the 2007-2008 tournament season which starts in June. I'm not sure if I'll compete or not. I'll only be a color belt for a little while longer, and then after that, I'm eligible as a 1st degree black belt in the 30-something category for a few months, and then next year, I'll be in the 40-something category before I even turn 40. I have thought about, however, going and getting judging certification, because by getting my 1st degree belt, I'm eligible to go to certification camp. Same with my instructor certification. I don't think there was any pressure up to now to get all the information under my belt (no pun intended),but once I get my black belt, then yeah, I should start working more on that. Heck, if I can end on top, that's not a bad thing. We'll see.

So-- YEAH! 2nd place! Just 4 more points, and I could tie for 1st, and 5 points I would BE 1st place! Can't beat the feeling. :-)

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Don't try to make me keep up with the kids

I went to class tonight. I used to go on Thursdays often, and it was always a small class, but then I got my day classes back, and went to those instead. Of course, if and when I get my new job, I'll probably have to go back to going on Thursday nights, but that's fine.

It was another quiet night for the most part. It's funny how I'm starting to get impatient with lower ranked belts. That's not nice, I know. I would not have appreciated it if a higher rank was like that with me. But what can I say? The 9 year old green belt had it together more than the 3 -15 year old white belt boys. All three of them didn't seem that bright. :-S Believe it or not, I actually some of the other color belt teenagers that were higher color belt ranked! (Even the troublemakers!) At least the worked and listen better. It made for a somewhat dull class. This is not to say that what Nikki was teaching was boring. Part of the problem was that I was old enough to be the mother of any of these children, including the instructor, and I was expected to run and jump as well as them, and that just ain't going to happen. This is not to say that I wouldn't work at what I was doing-- I'd still try, even though my muscles just don't work as fast, nor do my asthmatic lungs, and my knees (yes, both, although the bad one was worse, naturally) didn't want to cooperate. But c'mon-- I just can't keep up. Oh well. The things that got me too was that Nikki and Jodi would go over the directions for these drills a few times, and none of those teenagers would get it. Only E (the green belt boy) and I would get it. Oy.

E and I got to practice our forms. I know it, but I am having problems with hand stuff. I shouldn't, but I think I got a few things straightened out. Mostly, it's stuff like open vs. closed hands, and with one section, just getting started on the correct hand, then I can get the correct ones going. Tonight was the first time that I was not getting nit-picked about the details, and just allowed to work on the form itself. I still have balance issues, which again, I shouldn't have, and I need to work on that. At least if I practice at home (when my knees and time are cooperating), I have a flat, hard floor vs. soft mats at school, so I can be more prepared for how it'll be like at tournament. After all, it's just a week or so away! :-S

I think I'm getting the hang of the sword. As I said to SW tonight (since neither Nikki or Jodi could help me on the sword form), well, I think I have the main gist of it, and it'll be close enough that it'll look okay, because it's a freestyle after all, right? Can't goof it up too much. Of course, Jodi was suggesting that I could always go to Gumdo. I would if I had the time! I can't take almost all day off to do TKD and Gumdo every Saturday. The occasional Saturday seminar, sure, but almost every other Saturday, literally? Nope, just have too many things going on at home.

We did a few sparring drills, but no sparring. I was paired up with one of the white belts who's in Masters, and he tried, so I'll give him credit for trying. I think I would've been better off with E, even though he was smaller. I did my best to be patient and help D (the white belt) learn the purpose of the drill, etc. I think he was starting to get the hang of it a little bit.

When it came time for board breaking, it was mostly just E and I. E was working on an elbow break, and I was working on the elbow and RJSK. I worked that RJSK with the wood again. I was surprised that I didn't get the elbow when I tried to break, but got the RJSK. I was told I didn't rotate enough on the elbow, which was easy to fix. And I'm pretty sure that I broke that RJSK with the ball of my foot rather than the heel of my foot, although I was told that only my heel could've broken it. Nope, I don't think so-- I'm pretty sure that it was the ball of my foot. But, who am I to question a higher rank, and as long as it broke, who cares?

At least I'm feeling a little better about the board breaks. And the rest, well, it's just practice. I'm still feeling a little sore from Monday's class. In talking to SW about it, she could understand, and said that Sr. Cabrera's methods, vs. the way she does it is VERY different. She says that those classes over at Pennington, unless she's teaching them, don't learn much about forms at all! My gosh, forms and sparring, especially for most color belt levels, are essential for promotions, so how can they get away with not teaching forms? You have to learn it all, and the earlier, the better! I thought it was crazy, but SW corrected me that it was just different. Then I clarified that it was crazy to ME. (I think she thinks it's a little nuts too, but as she said, different people have different ways of teaching the material, after all, as long as the material is taught.)

So, the class went by quickly, but I guess, since the white belt boys were not exactly too swift (and I don't think it's because they were white belts, if you catch my drift), it was a little dull. I guess the only "highlight" was that since I was leadership, during stretching I got to lead the class in stretches while Nikki asked Ma'am something, which was fine. If I could have, I would have been up and fixing all those kids stretches, because quite frankly they were pathetic. I think when I'm a black belt, I can probably get away with that more. But I am still the "lowly" red belt, and despite being in Leadership, I'm not really in a position that the other kids would take me that seriously. Or at least I wouldn't take a color belt leader as seriously as I would a black belt one, I don't think. So, I didn't push it. Sometimes I know, like tonight, I would be a much stricter instructor. Directions weren't being listened to, and it wasn't that it was complicated stuff. If you are supposed to be doing a leg swing kick for warmup, you shouldn't be doing a front kick with the snap in it. HELLO! And like I said, they don't have to have their heads on their knees when stretching, but they should at least TRY. Geez. In this way, the old lady is doing it right. I might not be able to do all of it, but I DO try.

No more TKD until next week, and next week is rather critical. After all, I have a tourney to prepare for! I'm going to do my best, of course, but I'm most concerned about the weapons part, and I do need to practice my ssahng nat routine, since that's what I'm doing. I never do well in sparring, so I hope I'm out early like the last time with that. And forms, well, if I do okay, then I do okay. It's the weapons stuff I'm after. Graduation is the week after that. But if I have it ready for tourney, then I'm set.

OK, I'm going to relax for the next few days. Happy Easter to all! (We're visiting the Crayola Factory in Easton, PA tomorrow! Woo hoo!)

Monday, April 02, 2007

You say Hola, and I say Adios (Hola, hola, I don't know why you say Hola, I say Adios)

Sorry, when Macca gets in my head, gotta follow through all the way. ;-)

Well, it ended up being a bit of a last minute thing, but I finally gave in and went to a class at the Pennington ATA. Sandy has been wanting me to come, and I really didn't think I'd make it tonight. I had wanted to go to experience a class with the visiting 5th degree, Senor Gonzalo Cabrera of Uraguay, who was here for a bit to help build up the Pennington school, and he's leaving on Thursday back for Uraguay. I mean, SW is most of the way to her 5th degree, and I've worked with higher, but the fact that he was here visiting, and from another country, no less, made it more important for me to go. I also had to figure a way to make up some classes this week (due to Spring Break and no classes on Saturday), and this was one way to do it!

Sr. Cabrera couldn't be nicer. Oh, what a sweetie pie. He didn't put on airs about being a higher rank or anything, and after introducing myself, he made the connection from the stories that Sandy had told him about taking classes and always being up against each other in tournaments. So, the rest of the students, including Sandy, eventually came, and we started class. It started out okay, a bunch of drills. I was pretty tired after those, but tonight, he worked us OUT. Lemme tell you, Sandy told me this was par for the course. And it really explains why it's getting harder and harder to compete with her as a result. It's all about endurance, which is something I truly lack.

The whole rest of the class was nothing but sparring and sparring drills. I was already exhausted and hot before from the initial drills, but then once we got the rest of our gear on, I was pretty much a goner. I had to spar and do everything without my glasses on, because, well, I can't get my glasses into my headgear with that blasted faceshield on now. Before, it wasn't an issue. And technically, I don't have to wear it until June, but I might as well get used to it, and it was only maybe the 2nd time I've worn it. Oh, there was literally steam inside that thing. Paired up with the fact that I was getting tired from all the workout and overheated, throw in the asthma, and you have a winning combination! I still did the best that I could do, and I was paired up with an orange belt guy (Matt?) at one point, but otherwise, most of the night was with Sandy, which was good, because I think we complement each other well as training partners, despite the significant height difference. Since we don't have the same strengths and weaknesses, we can easily work off each other. And as I've mentioned before, I don't have to be as "gentle" with her as I do with most of the ladies at Princeton.

It truly was a good workout, but it just goes to show how differently things are done at Princeton, and how many I should be going to a regular night class more often. I felt as though, even though I am totally, physically exhausted and worn out, it was the workout I probably really should have more often. Since we do things a little differently in Princeton, we try to cover all bases and you can only cram so much information with forms, sparring or one-steps, and weapons in an hour. I'm usually exhausted if I work hard on my regular drills and forms, as well as weapons, that I don't have much energy left for sparring by the end.

After the official end of class, Sandy was kind enough to ask Sr. Cabrera if he minded helping me with my RJSK. She lended me her board so I could get the reverse elbow break in too. We did it a few times with a pad (which for me isn't THAT helpful, but hey, what do I know? I have a 5th degree helping out), and then we did it with the boards. Sure enough, BAM with the elbow (no problem), and the foot wasn't coming. Turns out the second time I tried, one of the holders moved the board, so that didn't help! But finally on the third time, BAM, got it. Man, wood is SOOOOOOO much easier! But, I think if I can keep working on getting it with the plastic, I will be consistent on the wood, and that's what's important. So, I was appreciative of the class staying a little late, and some people helping, and for Sr. Cabrera's pointers. I think the elements of the break are coming together. It's still that follow through, and I kinda knew what I was doing wrong. He was telling me that I have to think of the chamber and kick more like a rubber band to get that momentum going with the kick itself.

So while it was a hello-goodbye visit with Sr. Cabrera, I'm glad I went. It's just too bad that he hadn't made any appearances at Princeton, as I think the kids there could've used some of his methodology. Thanks for having me, Sandy! :-)