Thursday, May 31, 2007

Let's just get things over with, and-- OH YEAH, BABY!

Yesterday's classes were okay. The morning class was only three of us, Sandy, E an myself. Michelle was teaching, so we got a little bit more of a workout. Michelle's great, as we- meaning Sandy and I- tend to have more fun with her, and she's more willing to actually make us work out. Heaven forbid! I was a little disappointed, however, that she didn't have Sandy and I pair up. Working with E is a bore. She doesn't have much power, and every time I tried to hit a pad, she'd move the damn thing, as if to brace for impact. Just hold the damn thing still! Cripes! Sandy wouldn't move, that's for sure! She'd take the punches or kicks, and give the same or more back in return! Man, it's so much easier to workout with her, because I know that she's there to get the job done, and take names, just like me! ;-) The one real positive of the class was that I was able to figure out how I'm going to position my boards for my board breaking for Permission to Test next week. Unlike most people who do everything one-sided (like hand break with the right hand, then kick with the right), I'm doing a palm heel break with my right, and a round kick with my left foot. Once I got the rhythm to it, using wood boards (since we have to do break wood to test), BAM! BAM! I popped both of them on the first try. Oh yeah, my confidence is back with board breaking. This permission to test will be easier than the last one, for sure. Problem was that instead of using the actual palm heel, I broke the board with the part of my hand just below that, so now I have a nice little bruise on my inner wrist. Lovely. I'm sure it'll heal in time for whenever I have to break next week. But MAN, I broke both boards with a vengeance!

Instructor class was all about how to do nothing but front kicks, but in about 5 different ways so that the kids don't realize that they are working on front kicks the whole time. It was good, although with one drill, it required you to get down on one knee, then come back up kicking that front kick. With my bad knees, it was a true struggle to do it, and um, it didn't feel good. The rest of the time, as usual, was time used to practice forms and such, and me being the only color belt, well, I essentially got ignored as far as getting a checkup or some help with what I was doing. I was also crowded out of my small amount of mat space to practice, no matter where I went. I'm doing fine on my form, I think. I'm not sure of my transitions still, although I think I have them down a little better than a week ago. I'll just have to check the DVD for this form to get my instruction this time. Good thing I've done this form before! I still have to figure out what kind of freestyle I'm doing with my DSJB (double numchukas, for you non-ATA people). I think I have some good basics that I just have to smooth out and again, get some rhythm and flow so they look good and I can get something flashy out in 20 seconds or so. :-S Should be interesting, but at least I have about 2 weeks-- give or take-- to get it together.

So classes in general have been rather boring, and they will continue to be boring for the next 4-5 months. Even once I get my 1st degree recommended belt (1BR), it's a form I've done before, and it's the only form I'll be working on. It'd be one thing if it was the 1st degree form, which I know I'll be working on for a few YEARS, but I don't know it yet, so that will be a challenge. And each cycle, there's something new to learn with weapons, etc. But for now, oh my gawd. I think the only part of the single SJB and single BME forms I don't know are still pretty simple, and I'll probably learn them in a day. Bleeh. I pretty much know all the SJB information for 1BR, although I just need a quickie review of the strike lines. I mean, I know where the strike lines ARE, I just don't know how to show them with a SJB. Again, that'll probably take 5 minutes. Same with the BME the following cycle. I think I only don't know the "snake" move, but everything else should be review for the most part. Makes me wish I could do both weapons in the same cycle, and get it over with! But no. Bugger!

So, that being said, we should move onto the "OH YEAH, BABY!" part of this entry.

Drum roll please........


I am very excited about this. Many in my school and in the leadership program take getting a state championship, let alone a ranking in the state, for granted. Not me! I worked very hard for this one, for sure. Let's face it, I'm keeping that Kama/SN routine as long as I can! ;-) I also ended up ranking #5 in the state in my group for sparring.

The next tournament year starts with World Championships in late June, and of course I can't make it to that. (Unless I find some Sugar Daddy or Sugar Mama to pay my way!) It's also going to be a little, well weird for this tournament year for me. I will be a color belt for only a few more months, and not too many tournaments between now and then. And once I become a black belt, then there are not too many tournaments either until the end of that tournament year. It has to do with rank and age. I'm going to be 39 this summer. So I only have a short time to still be in the color belts for that age range, and for the moment, there are next to no 30-something 1st degrees competing, or at least any that have placed at tourneys. When next year's tournament year starts, I will have to switch and be in the 40-something category, as it's based on the age you will be on 12/31 of that tournament year. This time next year, I will be considered 40, not still 39, so it's going to be weird for a while. I don't know. I'm not sure that I want to still compete. I have to think about it. There is some pressure to continue, but I'm not sure. I guess I'll just continue for a while until I can make a "for sure" decision.

So, that's the big news. I am a state champ. I'm really thrilled about it. I can't wait to order my state champ uniform, and due to ATA regs being reinforced more, I will have to get black gear instead of red gear soon with the black belt promotion. Hey, at least I switched out my faceshield now for one that will allow me to breathe! That's gotta help!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Playing catch-up

The last several weeks, I haven't been in classes as much as I could be, due to personal stuff going on in my family. And that happens. Fortunately, as far as my form goes, it's not too bad, because just like the last cycle, it's all stuff I've done before. This cycle, with IW#2, it's a form I remembered that I liked a year ago when I did it, so it's coming back to me pretty quickly. The problem is, I really have had no gauge as to where I should be in re-learning this. I mean, the sequence in how it's done is section 1, section 2, reverse of each, then section 3, section 4 and the reverse of those. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. The problem I have is getting the transitions right.

So, today was a day of trying to figure out what I was missing in my forms, and what were the transitions. This morning's class was being taught by MZ, who's back from college for the summer, and looking for hours, so she's helping, and hopefully doing more Wednesday morning classes. Perhaps she'll put some fire under those old ladies' butts! She agreed that it was pretty lame that they want to be able to not be too sweaty or have "helmet head" from wearing headgear for sparring during that class since they have to go back out into the world after class. Um, hello? That's what happens with a day class! It's a CLASS, not a minor demonstration! MZ appreciated that at least Sandy and I actually try to work out, and aren't afraid to actually punch and kick each other, unlike the "elders". One of them was going on and on about how RA is like a frog in how he jumps, and since MZ and RA don't always get along, I could tell that MZ was just biting her tongue short of bleeding with this person. MZ and I had a chance to catch up for a while, so that was cool. She's a good kid, and I like her. So she helped me with getting all the parts and some of the transitions. She also helped Sandy and I with some more challenging things with the DSJB, get some ideas about freestyle for that. I also worked for a few minutes after class (volunteered for duty when the phone rang, to allow MZ to finish teaching class, as Sandy said she'd stick around to help me break, and MZ would be around too), and I've got that roundkick break, more or less, but I really need to get more practice in it. But I'm not nervous about it just yet. I think I'll be fine.

Tonight's instructor class did some drills, and we had a discussion that was evidentally a carry-over from last week's class (which I missed) about things that instructors can bring back to class to perk things up, keep the kids' attention during class yet keep it fun AND get curriculum in at the same time. We then worked a bit on weapons and forms on our own. I mostly worked with the C sisters on SJB for a while, but in the end, after class, I asked SW if she could help me again with transitions. It turns out, in the end, that I'm actually ahead, as at this point we're only supposed to know the 1st half of the form. That part is the easy part. It's the second half that I have issues with. I think I have a better idea of what's going on now with the transitions. I think I'll have to check the DVD several more times too, and well, practice of course! But to know that I'm probably ahead of the game, despite actually being behind a bit in classes, is a little reassuring. I still feel like I have to play catch-up, but knowing that I'm on the right track instead of feeling lost is good.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

I've been tagged! aka "We interrupt our regularly scheduled blog for this message...."

Well, I usually don't do things like this here, but since I've been tagged at this blog, I will indulge the person who was nice enough to tag me. Thanks Becky! I actually did this on my other blog, but what the heck. Different audience here.

Those tagged must list 7 random facts about themselves. They also need to write in their blogs the rules of the game, which are pretty simple--you list your 7 facts, then list 7 people you are tagging. Then you leave them comments letting them know they've been tagged.

Here are my 7 random facts:

1. Since Becky was the one who tagged me, I can say that she and I share another common hobby other than motherhood (is that a hobby? I guess it depends on the kid!), and martial arts -- knitting! Been doing it for about 2 1/2 years, and wish I could make more time to do it. Even have a knitting blog I share with friends,

2. As of this writing, I am currently #1 ranked in the state for weapons competition for color belts 30-39.

3. I own a purple (the official color is "amethyst") Jeep Cherokee which I dubbed "Purple Haze". Someday I'd like to get tie-dye seat covers for it.

4. I haven't met a pasta I didn't like. Sauces for the pasta, perhaps that I don't like, but not the noodles. YUM!

5. I have taken 5 language courses over my lifetime (if you don't count computer languages), and I don't speak any of them fluently.

6. I don't watch network TV pretty much at all. The show "Heroes" is the only exception in the past few years. I watch a LOT of cable TV.

7. My dream retirement is living in the Caribbean or somewhere on the Southeastern coastline of the US.

The seven people I am tagging are:

1. One Crazy Chick

2. HardHeaded Is My Middle Name

3. Lucky

4. Mat's Way

5. John V.

6. Person #1 that I don't know that reads this

7. Person #2 that I don't know that reads this.

(Black Belt Mama and Frotoe - I would've tagged you, but Becky beat me to it! And Sandy aka "Oceandirt", and Penelope were tagged on my other one, I believe.)

If you aren't up to it, don't worry about it. ;-) I'm just glad you read!

I'll do the Mommy Survey that Becky also posted on her blog on my my regular blog.


Saturday, May 19, 2007

Why do I keep going on Saturdays?

I really needed to go to class today. I hadn't been to classes in a week, especially since I missed all the classes I normally would've gone to either regularly or makeup days. I figured that since this was the day where they took more time for each thing, it'd be better.

In general, it was, simply because I hadn't done it yet this week. We learned the next segment of IW#2, which came back (say hi to the ceiling, take the cookie platter away, punch, smash the pumpkin, and the hi-lo switch). That one section alone is pretty cool looking, so I remember it well once I got the hang of it. I think the kids are used to the fact that I'm the only adult in the class, and I'm pretty harmless and I'm nice to them, and don't talk down to them. And I try to be silly and pump them up, because some of them really do know the information better than I do! :-) So that went well. Ben P. even told one kid who knew me but felt a little intimidated working with an adult, "Don't worry, Mrs. V is pretty nice. She won't hurt you," which seemed like a nice compliment to get. So that went well.

Weapons class was not too bad either. The whole class was doing DSJB, and we were given a new trick to do. They showed us the "7s" triangle-like trick, but they also showed us how to do "9s". Oh man, 9s did NOT come easily for me. Here I am, the only adult in the class again, and a whole bunch of children old enough to be mine were working circles (literally and figuratively around me). As SW has been known to say, women tend to think things out a little too much sometimes, but we have to analyze it and break it down so that we can mentally process it. And doing these 9s, that as certainly the case. I started out doing the movements without swinging the SJBs, then I'd let go and get the swinging motions going, then slowly I started getting the hang of it. Oh yes, it's another case of learning something because I'm a glutton for punishment. I don't want to do the routine that they are teaching the kids completely, as I think that I've been learning a few other things along the way that I want to hopefully show off. And besides, it's a freestyle, I can do whatever I want within reason! So we'll see what I can throw in there, like those new release moves with the triangles. So that class was a little more productive.

As we are finishing up weapons class, before starting board breaking class, yep, you guessed it. Even though Gary was there, and Ryan was there, and there were 2-3 student instructors there, I was pulled into service rather than taking class as we had a LOT of intros who came in today. Man, I hate that when that happens. I had to get a little 4 1/2 year old acclimated to the W/O/Y class, tell Gary who his parents were, and by then, board breaking class was over. WTF? I hate that. Ben remembered that all I wanted was the chance to be able to practice breaking my roundkick, so he worked with me, and I got it done on the 2nd try, with only him holding the board, so that was good. I need to make it so I get it on the first try now! But without much warming up and getting it on the 2nd try, I'm feeling a little more confident.

I just resent it a little bit that the guys can't get it together, or that people weren't around to help out more. I mean, in the end, I still got to practice, but I end up working, and I'm not there to do work as in sales, I'm there to work and practice and get better at my own material that I'm working on.

I only have until the end of this cycle, and once I graduate in June to Red/Black, then I can go to the early morning Black Belt classes rather than the color belt classes, and perhaps that will fix the problem for me. But in the meantime, I suppose I'll have to put up with it for a few more weekends. The downside of going to Black Belt classes will be having to get up earlier in the morning to go to classes, but the upside would be that I wouldn't be drafted into service so often when I'm just trying to take class myself.

Maybe one of these days, I'll learn!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Back on top

I'm feeling a little more confident after the specialty classes today. Saturdays are when the school take a half hour for each thing that we have to learn, so that way if you need a little extra help learning some aspect of something, you have more time to work on it and practice. While I should probably do more with sparring classes, since that's my least favorite, I usually skip it. I'm glad I did today, as I'm still recovering from a bad allergy attack from last week when I went away, and last night was the first night I slept soundly without the help of medications. I'm still a little congested, so I really don't feel up to having a full blown asthma attack on top of that, y'know? And besides, it was really warm in there. We have A/C, but SW doesn't like to put it on sometimes because if you open the front and back doors to the school, you can often get a nice crossbreeze. But not today--it was a stuffy breeze if any, and it's a warm day! So I was glad I didn't do that. I still broke out in a sweat doing everything else instead!

Forms class was good. I found out where I was making a mistake in my form with a section, but it's a minor adjustment in direction. We worked on hook kick combinations that are in this form. I really don't like hook kicks, simply because to do it correctly take more work. I know that sounds lazy, but this is the thing: When you do a proper hook kick it's like a side kick, and then you do the pullback for the hook. Yes, in slow-mo, I can do that with a minimal amount of extra effort. However, my natural tendency is to do something like a sideways crescent kick, if that makes sense. So instead of extending, then hooking, my whole kick is a hook, and that's not right. I think part of it stems from how I had to do certain kicks as a dancer, so I CAN do it that way, but for TKD, it's incorrect method. So, because I'm a higher ranked color belt and I do competed, I do want to make sure my method in form is correct. Well, also if I plan to eventually teach or I assist in teaching, I have to be able to do it correctly as well. So, at least I was able to work out some wrinkles in what sections have been taught thusfar.

Weapons class was rather boring, although I now know the freestyle routine that they are teaching the kids. It's just a variation of the SSJB routine is, along with the stuff that SW taught me the other day. I have a feeling that I will be making something up on my own in a few weeks just to keep it interesting. Maybe Sandy and I can work on something together and make it snazzy. ;-) (Oh Sandy......) Basically, it's a triangle then figure 8 with one hand, then do it with the other, then do a quick snap and tuck with both, then it's drill #1 (the double Vs twice), then drill #2 (roll up and tuck under the arms twice), then a #3 front kick, then drill #3 (taking both together in a V in the same direction to the left, then to the right, separate and roll up, then one of the drill #2 tuck/flips). And that's it. Seems a little boring. I could see how it works well for the kids though, as it uses what they learned from the SSJB routine to put into the DSJB routine. I think I need to do more somehow. Sandy and I will figure it out. (I'm sure she's loving how I'm volunteering her for this, huh?)

Board breaking was crucial to me today, as I haven't done any breaks for 3 weeks, for whatever reason. They just hadn't been doing them in the classes I was in for the last few weeks. So today, I knew I needed to stay, especially since I knew I was using a different foot now for my round kick break. There were four of us who had to do double breaks, so we practiced them. Tony, another parent/adult student, was there, and he's a red belt as well. He had taken a break this year, and I think if he hadn't, he would already have his black belt. I know he should be ahead of me, but now I'm a cycle ahead of him (go figure). So after RA worked on some drills with the four of us, Tony and I worked on practicing our roundkicks, as that's the one he wanted to work on as well. I tried doing it on my "dominant" side, but again, I found that doing it on my left felt better. I think I figured out why. While I am right handed, and like most people, I would kick to break with my more dominant foot, my right leg is also my more dominant foot for balance as well. My left is okay, but with a bad knee, I also tend to torque it more when doing the roundkick, so it hurts now and then. I think it being my bad knee as well influences my balance as well, not just because it's not my dominant side. Kicking is not a problem with the left foot, and besides, theoretically, you should be able to break a board with either foot as a black belt, right? And it's not as much power and force as it is speed, and I can be fairly fast with my left foot as much as I am with my right. Oh, in the past I would struggle to break that board with my right foot. Today, it was the 2nd try. The first one I didn't have the follow-through. The second time, I aimed for one of my holders' heads. ;-) And it worked.

And THAT, my friends, made me feel like I was back on top. After the struggles of that run-jump-sidekick thing that I had to do last cycle, to conquer this break, which for a long while was a big struggle as well, gave me some confidence again. I'm glad I saved this one for later, and got the nasty board break in last cycle for this belt out of the way. And the foot change was not what I expected, but in talking to RA, he said it's actually not as uncommon as one would think, and it does make sense.

TKD never comes 100% easy for me. There are some aspects that have, and some that haven't. I do work hard to break old dancing habits in favor of new TKD ones. I work hard to do my best, and to do things correctly, so as not to get into bad habits for when I'm a higher rank (although I've fallen into that trap a few times already and gotten out), but to be a better martial artist. There's a reason that you need to do things a certain way, to prevent injury, and well, if they were actually used for their original intended purpose, then they would achieve what it's supposed to achieve. I think the fact that I compete has made me aware of that as well. I can't be sloppy or just run through a form. The more precision that I can put into it, the better my chances at scoring well will be.

So, my self-confidence is back up again. I think last cycle took a toll on me, especially with that board break. Doing IW#2 again, so far, is easy as far as relearning the form, but now expectations are higher, so I want to be sure that I can keep a high standard of doing things. Soon enough, I will have to keep up even more with the big black belts because I will be one myself!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Because I'm a glutton for punishment.

Classes today weren't too bad. This morning's class had the usual suspects, but Sandy came along too. Class is always so much easier and fun when Sandy's around. She helps with keeping things moving, at least in making sure I work more, and keeps me on track. ;-) We worked on sparring combinations whereby we didn't have to get our gear on (yay!), doing first a #3 round, #2 round, then progressing to doing the same but adding a reverse hook or crescent as a 3rd step. It was good. I'm going to have to think about doing that sort of thing more when actually sparring. And since Sandy and I are starting to both work on DSJB, we both showed each other what we had learned on our own (or in our own classes, to be exact), and then worked on all the information together. I showed her the stuff I learned last week, and she showed me something where you alternate that underarm tuck and move it to the alternating hands of the V and back. Sandy showed me this one move that's really cool. It's actually a juggling trick, but it's where you flip the SJB downwards in a swing that throws it back forward towards your shoulder and you catch it. She can do it with one hand and not as well with the other. I can't do it with either hand, but she was showing me how to do it with at least one hand.

When she showed SW, SW gave us a challenge. It was basically something whereby you learn to do the 360(degree) release on a diagnonal. She showed us how to do it with one SJB to do a triangle throwing in that release move, and then she showed us the two handed whereby you just go across the body on a diagonal and the hands alternate (one is up while the other is down, and vice versa). Oh, what did I get myself into? Conceptually, it's an easy enough idea, and it's an easy way to show a lot of flash. But ohhhhhhh maaaaaannnnnn. I've got the hang of it a little bit with my right hand, but as usual, the left hand is generally uncooperative. Blast.

Fast forward to tonight. Before class, I decide, since I got there early and there weren't a lot of people there, I'd work on this new move. SW noticed, and teased me playfully about it. I was getting the hang of it a little bit more, but heck if this is another one that's going to take me a few weeks to get the hang of it. We reviewed the sparring material again, and we worked on our forms and weapons. I did get another section of IW#2 today. Gosh darn it if there seems to be some sort of hook kick with every section! I have really been having a difficult time with stationary kicks in forms as of late, or mostly stationary. For example, the section that we are doing now is where you do a low knife hand while in a closed stance, and immediately go into a #1 sidekick, #3 hook kick combination before ending with a double knifehand block. I can do it, but does it look pretty? Not exactly. I know more now. I need to be more conscientious about how the kicks are executed overall. Most importantly, and I started having this problem during the last cycle, but I seem to be losing my balance a lot more. You'd think the opposite would be true, but nay, it's not. I lose my balance more now. Perhaps it's because I'm being more thoughtful about what I'm doing now than the first time around. I don't know. Sometimes I think it's something whereby I'm getting unused to standing on mats vs. a flat floor. I don't know.

So, the DSJB challenge has already been kicked up a notch. It should keep things interesting. Now, I also have to work on my board breaks. I haven't done any since the week of graduation, and that was 3 weeks ago, so I need to get moving on that. I have a round kick to get done with a new foot, after all, so you KNOW I'll be at board breaking class on Saturday!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Check it out now!

The red arrows are for me, and the green arrows are for Sandy.
NJ State Stats 050407
ATA NJ State Stats for Color Belts 30-39 as of 5/4/2007

WOO-HOO! I have worked hard at that! Sandy has done very well too, and had she been able to go to the last interschool, she could've easily tied for 3rd in Weapons. I think she did much better overall than I did, considering that this was her first season competing, and she started about 6 months ago. We didn't expect to see the stats for the woman named "Dawn" on there. We're not sure who she is, but we think she's the woman who beat both of us at the last regional and came in first at the big A tournament. She might not have had her leadership status as of the A tourney, hence why she doesn't have the points to reflect that win.

But WOW! It looks like I'm poised to be a state champ! I've never been a state champ, let alone a champ, in just about anything on this level. So many people in my school take these rankings and their former state champ positions (or current one, depending on who it is) for granted. I don't. I worked pretty hard for this one. And I came from behind, since the 2nd place person was at Nationals last year, from what we can figure, and had megapoints for one competition. I went to three regionals, and 4 interschools. I would've gone to more regionals if I could, but had some conflicts. Penelope reminded me that it ain't over until it's over, as the tallies could continue until the end of May. :-S Don't tell me that! Hence, why I said I'm poised to win. I really am excited.

Sandy and I were already talking about the next season, which starts in June. We are both in a slight dilemma, as we will only be color belts for a short time before we are competing as black belts. But, as I pointed out to her, I don't think the main person who had all those points (Deborah D) competes anymore, as she hasn't been around for a while at any of the last few regionals. Not to say she might not pop up at Nationals again, but who knows? Even so, Sandy started out in December, almost halfway through the season, and still ranked 2nd in two categories, and almost tied for 3rd in the other one. Who's to say that either of us might not do as well in our first year of competition? I have only a slight chance, as of August I will be 39 (Yikes!), and will only be able to compete as a black belt 30-something for a few months before being bumped to the 40-something group. So, we'll see what happens.

But had to share! :-P

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Done for the week!

Well, as far as classes. I feel like a slight slacker. Last week, the first week of the cycle, instead of working on new material, I worked on the old form and my SN routine for the interschool. Because I won't be around for the weekend, doing something with my son tomorrow night, and I missed class this morning as I shifted my work schedule around to accomodate an interview, I did a double class tonight. It wasn't too bad. I was pretty tired, and I took out my contacts prematurely today (wore them for the interview today), because I can't see a thing without my glasses, and I can't wear my glasses with my headgear on, so I felt a little loopy when I first put them back on again. I learned the first two sections (again) of IW#2, and it's coming back. Or, let's put it this way, the first section came right back, then second I didn't remember, but it came VERY easily. It was a piece of cake! I even realized I was doing something wrong because it felt wrong, and after asking for the correction, turns out my instincts were right. Maybe I am becoming a black belt in the making after all.

Instructor class was fun, because we had two new additions! Kristin and Megan C. joined the class, as they have applied for leadership! Hooray! I know their mom wanted them in, but with them, I think they waited until they hit black belt level and felt comfortable that they made it that far. These girls started out so shy and timid, and while they still are to some degree, they have certainly started to emerge out of their chrysalis to become martial arts butterflies. :-) I've worked with these girls for quite a while now. I think being part of the leadership program will give them more confidence as time goes on. I think they had a good time in class, where they saw it was different than the regular classes they've been attending all this time, and they were told upfront that there were no pressures on them to suddenly be expected to be instructors at this point. Being that belt wise I'm lower but collar wise I'm higher, I think they will feel comfortable knowing they are not entirely the bottom of the barrel, so to speak. They know they can lean on me too.

I also had the opportunity, after learning some sparring drill techniques, to practice what I had learned in class earlier with my form, but also finally learn something with the DSJB (double ssahng-jeh-bang or double numchucks). I learned 3 drills. The first one was basically doing the V-strike with both at once, three times. The second involved tucking each under an armpit, then rolling it back and starting over three times. The third was taking both together to swing in a V over my left shoulder, then down and over the right shoulder, and then separate and doing the drill from the second drill only once. So far, so good. It's pretty easy. (You know, one of these days, I should take video and post it!) So I felt good doing something else. It keeps it challenging, at least, or at least different. Next cycle is going to be so boring, I'm sure, so gotta keep it real while I can! So that was good.

Ironically enough, I just realized that I hadn't worked on my board break this week. Oh well! There's always next week.

So, that's it for this week's classes! While I will still be going to work (unless a last minute interview comes up), no more classes for a bit. I'll be walking my feet off on Saturday at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival (don't laugh! I'm a knitter, so it makes total sense!),so I'll still have my exercise. ;-)

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Blogging against Disabilities Discriminations Day

I said I'd do it, and here I am. Since this is my TKD blog, I thought I'd write about this subject, at least here, from a TKD point of view.

My son, as many know, has some disabilities. They mostly have to do with speech, some global motor control, low muscle tone, sensory integration dysfunction and some emotional/learning issues. While his disabilities may not be as severe as someone who is obviously cognitively or physically disabled, it is still difficult for the reason that it isn't always that obvious until you have to deal with him on a constant basis. When you first encounter him, you figure that he's generally a normal kid, albeit he speaks a little more slowly and immaturely compared to his peers.

Drew is a kid who needs a lot of OT type activities so that he can stay focused. When he was a toddler, I'd bring him to kiddie gym classes and music participation classes so he could get up and jump and dance and run. He loved it. But, one grows out of that, and you start trying to figure out what else he could do. Before he was even born, I had always figured out that I wanted a son to take martial arts, as I figured that martial arts has similar self-discipline as ballet did, which worked for me as a child who didn't know she had sensory issues herself.

So when I came across the ATA school where we go, I was happy to find a place that showed things the way I expected a class to be. I had taken him to a trial of a class that was a gymnastics/karate class at a Little Gym, but I felt the teacher talked more than the kids did, and it wasn't what I was looking for. I was looking for something that was more traditional, but wasn't a boot camp. So I found the school we are at now, and I am glad for the choice. I don't know about other TKD or martial arts schools, but the ATA actually promotes working with special needs kids. When I saw that the class before Drew's preschool class WAS the special needs class, and saw kids who had disabilities that were much more impactful than his, I knew I had picked the right school. I mean, if they could work with kids that were profoundly autistic, or had Downs, or other things along those lines,then they could work with my kid for sure. And believe me, they have been MORE than patient with him over the years!

I think what has also impressed me about the ATA is that it's not limited to outreaching to the cognitively/mentally disabled. There are two young ladies in particular that impress the hell out of me at our school, because both are physically disabled due to one reason or another, and yet both take regular classes. (Yes, you know who you are Em and Pen!) Emily either works from her walker or her wheelchair, where Penelope chooses to work from her wheelchair alone. Emily has been the women's World Champion for many years, but she proves herself every time you see her. She knows her stuff very well, as if she were a walking encyclopedia of ATA rules and TKD. She's been taught to learn how steps and positioning in all aspects of TKD as if she were a typical person, because she wants to teach and thus understands how to tell someone like me how to fix a foot position, or remembers stances better than me even if she doesn't do all of it herself. She is due to get her 3rd degree belt in the fall, and she's definitely earned it. She's also earned her orange belt in Gumdo as well, so she's pretty accomplished already, and I have a feeling she's just getting started. Pen just started about a year ago with TKD, and her willpower and dedication is such to be envied. Due to being a college student, she has to do some of her TKD studies on her own, and since there are some slight variances in how the form is taught to herto accomodate her position in her chair, that can't be easy. But, as she tells me, she practices EVERY form and one-step all the time so she doesn't lose it. I can't even do that! While she is still a color belt like me (well, a slightly lower rank as she started after I did), she proves herself every time as more than capable of doing what's expected of her and more. She is a force to be reckoned with in the making, I fear. ;-) She is going to be an awesome black belt!

Between both of these ladies and my son, they have shown me that nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it. Yes, there may be some adaptions that need to be made, but in the grand scheme of things, they are minor. I would easily say that Em and Pen are more dedicated martial artists than I am on any given day, and it shows. They would have earned my respect even if they were not wheelchair bound. And that's the whole point now, isn't it? People with disabilities are no different in their hearts than any of the rest of us, even if they have some variant that makes them different in the way they can move or think.

This is why I like the idea that the special needs class at our school is called the "Special Abilities" class. In my mind, it always meant to emphasize the idea that while there are other things that go on to impede the normal progressing of learning, it's the special things that these kids and people CAN do that make them what they are, and that's where the emphasis should be. :-)