Saturday, August 04, 2007

There's a reason Martial Artists don't wear high heels

Now, I'm sure John at Martial Views could find a whole history and precidence for wearing high heels or high shoes in some form of martial arts, but I do have to say, I'm glad it's not required for any of the styles that myself or most of my readers practice! I'll explain why in a moment.

I haven't been posting all that much lately simply because, well, there hasn't been a lot to post about. My main concentration in the last few classes I've been taking has been board breaking. While I don't have to get my board breaks in the first try for this testing (you still get points for the 2nd or 3rd try, just less of them), the better I do them this time, the less I have to worry if I mess up on something else. The more points overall, the better in each thing-- forms, weapons, sparring, and board break. If I mess up on any of them, it won't be a total tragedy, but it'll be more pressure when I go to the following testing for my actual black belt. So, the more I get the technique down now for the midterm, the more relaxed the BIG testing will be.

My form is fine right now. The only things I really need to work on has to do with nit-picky things, like where the ki-haps go, making sure I am more consistent with stances (which is hard with a bad knee, but as long as I maintain a constant half bend that's at the best of my ability, that helps), where my head looks during or before a move, etc. Nothing that can't be fixed quickly, or completely by the time big testing comes around. Weapons, again, got the routine down. Piece of cake. Sparring-- I just do it, and have been using moves that were at this level for a long time, so not worried about that. So, it's been the board breaks that I've wanted to work on, since those have hardly been touched in all these weeks.

My jump-front kick is fine. I only have to work on making sure I have a full chamber in the kick before I actually extend for the kick. I also have to get a better judgement on distance. It's hard being a 5'10" woman with long legs who has a hard time judging the distance of how close or far she should be compared to others who are generally shorter than her (men included!). But those are simple tweaks compared to me getting the hang of the back elbow. Last weekend, I went to board breaking specialty class, just so I could work on it. I didn't feel I was getting very far, as WS was trying to advise me (she's a 2nd degree, but she's not in leadership thus not trained as an instructor in any way), and she was giving me wrong advice. Ben and Jason, who ARE instructors, were having a hard time getting a word in edgewise with her yapping her mouth. Well, I was starting to home in on some points, like it's an elbow straight back, almost against my body, vs. just a swing backwards.

Because I felt like I was getting nowhere fast, I made sure to tell SW in my morning class I had this week, and told her that WS was telling me stuff, and she said don't listen, and I responded that I took it with a grain of salt, but that's why I was asking her directly for help. Turns out that we got part of it right last weekend, which was the arm positioning-- at least Ben and Jason got that part fixed. Turns out that the biggest part of my problem was distance and stance, especially stance. I didn't understand that when you do the back elbow, you are stepping into a deep back stance, and thus having to turn your foot out. So my natural ballerina instinct to turn my foot out is actually allowable in this instance! :-) Then, the way to figure out the distance is to set the board up with me IN the back stance, and then take the step up to the ready position. It's that simple. I can actually be a little closer than I think I should be for the break.

Having learned those big tweaks, I went to board breaking class today. I spent most of the class just doing nothing but working on the break against a pad, and MZ telling what tweaks to make, like come a little closer, that time the arm went out instead of straight, etc. If you do it enough times, like with anything, you start to get a rhythm, and you start feeling the difference when you do it well, and when you do it just okay. I took a break to help hold board for a kid going for his 2nd degree (I think he's going for his 2nd degree) who's doing the running jump side kick over 2 obstacles. Yes, I actually don't have a problem holding for that, believe it or not. I've done it enough times. You just hold the board correctly and tightly and turn your head away so you don't get kicked in the teeth, and you're fine. Sure, I've had a few bruised fingers sometimes, but not today. So then, SW and MZ held for me. The set up the board, I lined up, and took a deep breath, making sure that I remembered to do it straight behind me, and get that deep knee bend in. CRRACK! The board broke (plastic, mind you, too, so it had to be exact)! Right there on the first try! OH I was so happy and relieved. SW is very good at fine tuning something like that and giving direction. She's never steered me wrong with a board break yet.

Now, the problem with high heels, that I was afraid of dealing with in any breaking-- or class circumstance. On Thursday, I had two interviews at the local university. Okay, Princeton University. Anyway, I went to the interviews as I should-- nice suit, looking like the professional I'd like to think that I am. However, the pair of heels that I had are very old. Like more than a decade old. (I know that I had them before meeting my husband, and I met him almost 11 years ago.) While they looked great on the outside still, they were rather worn on the inside. Add to that, these days I'm not used to wearing heels, but I can usually manage. It's not like they were super high heels-- only 2", as again if I wore anything higher, they'd be recruiting me for a basketball team. Anyway, I was trodding around campus, and along the main street in front of the campus for a good portion of the day, on one of the hottest days of the summer, to boot. The shoes just were not working for me. I could feel the pain get worse and worse. I would sit down now and then, and even at one point I was walking down the street in my stocking feet, as even THAT felt better as long as I didn't stop and burn my feet on the pavement. I did try to stop at some shoe stores. Found some really comfortable heels, but they were $200. Now, if they were $100, I would've splurged, but not for $200. Found another store, but my choices were ballerina flats or 4" heels. I can be a glutton for punishment, but not for that. I got the flats, so they protected my feet, but my feet were still in bad shape. Needless to say, I did switch back to the heels just for my second interview, and then switched back to drive home. As soon as I got home, I changed and went straight into our pool, especially so I could cool off my feet! Damage done: a popped blister on my left "ring finger" toe, a popped blister on my right Achilles heel, and two blisters starting to form on the balls of both feet, especially my left one. And near blisters-- just very sore toes-- on both feet. I really didn't know how this would fare for me trying to do TKD, so natually I put bandaids on my blisters to protect them, and have worn nothing but my comfy Teva Sandals (highly recommended!) since, and that's helped tremendously. The heel and toe blisters are still healing, but they haven't affected my board breaking or TKD yet. The muscles in the arches of my feet, however, are also still healing, as I would tense up my feet as they were hurting that day it happened, and I just try to stretch them out again. I can walk fairly normally again, but still, they hurt.

Thus, if you wear high heels, make sure they are comfortable, so you can do martial arts later! It's a hard lesson to learn! ;-)


John Vesia said...

Well now, isn't that a coincidence! I was just researching geta - traditional Japanese footwear, when I read your post. And you're in luck, you can get 'em with detachable stiletto heels! Treat yourself to a pair when you get your black belt.

Miss Chris said...

I never liked holding the board. I couldn't hold it hard enough anyway. You must have some serious upper body strength!