Thursday, September 27, 2007

Breaking the pattern of failure

Well, as you saw in my last post, a milestone has been made. I got to change my break for my black belt testing, which is not done often, and so far, it seems to be the better choice. But first, a slight rewind...

Okay, I think I mostly already talked about the morning class from yesterday, so I'll continue with the rest of the day. It's a lot when you are at the school for the majority of the day, and you are not even an instructor! After returning later after work, I was here for 3 classes-- one for Drew, and 2 for myself. I forgot my knitting so that I had something to do, so I ended up watching most of his class. He did have two small meltdowns which I was able to handle. The first was where SW wanted some more orderly conduct of all the students, whereby she didn't want anyone running on or off the mats to enter or exit class. She wanted her last class to exit the mats completely before Drew's class could walk on, and that's WALK, not run. Drew was closest to her, and she got a little stern with him, but it wasn't anything major, and it didn't apply ONLY to him. Well, he took it personally, and I had to get him back in, explaining that she was telling everyone, and only happened to stop him because he was closest to her, etc. He went back in, and was fine for a while until they were doing "suicide drills", which is where the kids have to run to another kid holding a pad, and they have to kick up their knees for 30 seconds, then run to the other side of the room, where yet another kid would be holding a pad to do 30 seconds of punches, then they'd have to go to the center of the room and do pushups and mountain climbers, and keep going until the instructor told the kids to switch. It's really exhausting, but I think Drew got out of the pattern and started to meltdown because he didn't want to do a part that he was told to do again. So, I had him come over, and gave him the option of a) going right back into class, or b) taking a 2 minute break, but then had to go right back in. He sighed and said, "Okay," and went right back in, and was fine for the rest of class as far as I knew. I had to start my 2nd class of the day while he was sparring, and his dad brought him home afterwards. But I did hear SW throw out two compliments to Drew while sparring, so I think he was fine after that. He really does like sparring, and he is pretty good at it for his age. He's not afraid to get in there. In the last 24 hours, he's also rediscovered the Power Rangers, so some of that is coming back into play, for better or worse. :-S

My second class generally went okay. It's nice when there's another adult (and a tall guy, at that) to do drills with, as he's about as limber (or lack thereof) as I am, even though he's a higher rank. Working with the kids is hard sometimes, because unless they are teenagers the same size as me, they can't handle the power that I put behind a kick or punch. Anyhow, when we broke up into groups for practicing forms, I was put with a green belt, since we are doing the same form. This would normally not be a problem, but I had to teach a segment. Actually, that wasn't the problem either, although I cannot attest to my teaching abilities. The student was exceptional, as in she was more the exception than the rule. The reason? I believe JJ has been diagnosed with Asperger's or she's somewhere on the autistic spectrum. I know she's been in special abilities classes as it is. Well, I usually don't have a problem with working with an SA kid. I've always loved working with the Downs kids who were in class because they are just so cute and willing to learn, and somehow I am able to connect with them. But the ones who can't always make the connection as fully are much harder. I did my best to slow things down, and give her examples, and do the steps with her. Every person, abled or differently abled, has a different way of learning. My problem was that I really didn't understand her way of learning, and SW had to step in to correct me once or twice in how to work with JJ. For example, in trying to show her how to do a back horizontal elbow, I started using the example of elbowing someone like her brother as if to say, "Back off, bro!". Well, she didn't like that, and her mom (thank goodness) explained that JJ doesn't like to think of hitting her brother. Okay, let's think of another way...okay, the door is stuck, and you have to bang it open with your elbow. Her mom seemed to think that was a better example. SW stepped in and just counted the steps out. :-S Oh well. Like I'd know that's what's best for JJ? Exactly. Any other kid, I think they would've understood the analogies. At least another one I did use to teach JJ the segment we had for last night was showing the platter of cookies or serving the pizza. When teaching what was supposed to be a reverse hook kick (the one I struggle with in the form a bit due to my own balancing issues), I just taught her a reverse side instead. She doesn't do a lot of stuff perfectly anyway, and the concept behind the reverse sidekick is the same as the hook, just more simplified. SW was okay with that. I apologized to SW for not doing as well as probably either of us liked, but she said it was fine, and that's how you learn, and with JJ, it is a little different, so I felt a little better. When we all did board breaks, since it's technically hand week, and I'm working on two kicks for testing, I just pulled out my plastic board, and decided, okay, let me practice another break I haven't done in a while. So AS held the board on his own (successfully I might add), and I did a knifehand break. Did it on the first try. :-) I've still got it! Sparring was exhausting, but I had some good partners, including JJ, EL and WU, which were all good matches for me for the night.

Instructor class was fine. I was the only regular employee there, so there was no meeting afterwards, but there was a good review of S#2 and the one-steps, and drills with those, then we worked on our own material. As you can imagine, working on my own on my form again was a little better since I could go at my own pace, but still tiring. I also working on my BME drills, which I have down pretty well. KC, one of "my girls" (the twins), helped me review my BME blocks to make sure I was doing them correctly if there was an actual opponents vs. just doing them in the air like in drills, to ensure I was doing them right, which helped. When it came to board breaking, I got the chance to work on this new board break combination again. We set up for the round kick, and no problem-- it broke on the first try. The reverse side break took two tries this time, but that's okay. Considering I had just learned it that morning, I thought that was pretty darn good. I also examined my boards. Both were as close down the middle as you could probably get, so I was happy. As I said yesterday, my confidence is surely restored, and I feel like NOW I can go to testing and not feel like there's a chance to fail. I was really quite fearful of this, to the point that I didn't know if I wanted my family to come and watch. If I broke, then great, but if I didn't, humiliation all the way around. That won't happen now. We get three chances to break the boards, so if I can easily break the roundkick one in one try, and do the reverse side one in less than 3 tries as I did yesterday, I'm going to be FINE.

The pattern of failure and misery is broken. Now I can more confidently work on getting that reverse sidekick down to getting in one shot, and the rest is fine.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Confidence restored

Just a short post, as I'm bored at work (did my "to-do" list), but do want to share. I'd normally wait until later, since Drew has another class, and today is triple class day. (Yes, I take 3 classes in one day. I know, glutton for punishment.)

Today, feeling better then last week, I was able to get more accomplished. My knees are still bothering me something fierce, but I think it will be okay, since I've officially changed my board break. Now, normally, you wouldn't do that, but after yesterday's discussion with SW, I was glad she approved, and was ready to help me get into the swing of it in class today.

It turns out, as I described how I predicted my break would be, that THIS will work! My roundkick break with my left is much stronger now that when I had to use it to break for rank before (thankfully!), and with a slight foot adjustment on my foot positioning when I land, I can spin around and make that reverse side kick. So, I practiced on wood, naturally, since I want to test on that (and I'm allowed to choose), and worked on the round kick first. No problem. Still have that, which is good considering I haven't done it in quite a while. Then there was the setup for the reverse sidekick. SW is incredibly skilled in giving directions on what to do and how to tweak what you are doing. First try, missed the board entirely! I knew as I did it that I didn't pivot enough around and didn't kick straight back. Second try, I made contact, but it was off center too much. Third time was the charm. POP! It broke about as close as you can get down the middle on a first try. SW was pleased too, as she pointed out that considering that this was the first time doing this break, to break it on the 3rd try was pretty good. And so with that, my confidence is restored in myself, and I have a new board break combo to work on that I'm sure will be ready for testing in a month. SW did point out too that I think too much when I break, so she was directing me to just keep moving.

More later...but YAY!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Almost exactly one month and counting....

Testing days are on October 23rd and 24th, and naturally, I'm going for the 24th. Prolong the agony as long as possible, and I usually have class at that same time, and with the busy week we usually have, it's better to just stick to routine as much as possible. Anyway...

Drew finally had his first Monday class. We got there on time and everything. SW was teaching, and well, she was a lot tougher than usual. I don't know if it's because things have become too lax for her liking over the past year that, as she said, she's being the "mean teacher/instructor" again, or if she was trying to impress this tough couple from South Africa that were checking out her style. Nonetheless, I was really afraid that Drew might crack at some point, that she was being too strict. Since I had to leave early to attend Cub Scout leader training (4 hours long with only 1-10 minute break! Yikes!), I actually watched class, which I normally don't do. She had them start out with an exercise which she's done with us older kids,;-), which is do a jab-cross with a kihap to her count, switch sides, reverse it, then do the same thing adding a front kick after the punch combo, and reversing. Much to my surprise, although it shouldn't have been, Drew did great! He didn't get carried away and silly, and his punches and kicks were strong. When he glanced my way, I gave him an approving smile and a thumbs up. He was happy. She also tried working with them doing the hook kick, then the reverse hook. Now, I understand the breakdown of how to do it, and in drills, I can do it. However, the reason she was teaching it was that it's in CJ#2. Sure enough, I have a hard time putting it into motion and making it look good. I've worked on it for 3 cycles over the past year, and it's never looked "pretty", or at least it never felt like it looked pretty. Anyway, Drew needed a bathroom break, and was allowed to go, and I had to help him because he had 3 layers on-- undies, jock strap (to put cup in later), and of course, his uniform pants. So I went with him just to help. Yeah, I'm that kind of mom. Soon after he joined back in class, and I had to leave. I asked SW if he was okay for the rest of class, and she said yeah, he was fine. Was concerned about not remembering where his gear bag was, but otherwise was fine. WHEW! He seems to be listening and holding up okay in class so far. He complains about going, but I remind him that he promised he would go in 1st grade, and once he's there, he's fine. I think also that having those weeks at fun camp where it was a battle of the wills and SW won, so he knows not to cross her because he won't win. That's part of what I suspect. I think they are also keeping him interested and moving, and that always helps. He seems a little more enthusiastic about doing it once he's there, and he likes to show off his skills. I wish he was more mature and that I could put him in Leadership, because if we didn't have the scheduling conflict with Scouts, I'd take him to do XMA, I mean ATA Xtreme. Maybe by the time we get to the point that he's ready for that, there won't be a scheduling conflict.

In the meantime, today I finally asked SW that dreaded question about the back elbow break, and the possibility of changing my board break for testing. She explained that the horizontal break was not a back elbow break at all, and that's why she enforced the one she does, and she doesn't understand why other schools allow that. It was at that point that SHE suggested trying out a different breaking combo. I was relieved! As I told her, I was afraid that she'd say that it was too late in the process to do that. She felt that it would be prudent, as she wants me to feel confident about my breaks and succeed. She felt that someone with my height and body shape/weight distribution, that the round kick/reverse side kick combo would work out better. It's a fairly common black belt rank testing break, but I hate to admit it, but she's right (she usually is about these things, and that's why she's the 4th degree and I'm not). Now, what makes things interesting is that most people break with the same foot on both of those. Not me. I break with my left foot for my round kick, but usually do side kick breaks with my right. While I will be working with her on how to do it properly, I was figuring out the timing and positioning of doing these, knowing how to do a reverse side kick, at least, and I think that alternate foot combination will work well. If I kick with my left foot, I naturally land with my foot in front, from which I would immediately be in the right stance to make that reverse body spin, to set up to kick behind me with the right. I really think it'll work, but we'll see when I try it out in class tomorrow.

Tonight, I talked with JC about the testing, and the breaks and all that. I told him that originally I had wanted to have him, Drew, my parents, etc. come to my testing, but now I'm not so sure because of this lack of confidence. Until I feel like I can do this break, I'm afraid of failing in front of all these people. If I fail, I have to wait until December before I can test again, and mentally and emotionally I'm not up to that either. I'm bored out of my skull with the stuff I'm working on. I have worked long and hard to have a mere board break hold me back. It sucks. He said he'd still like to come if he can, and I said I'll wing it. It's one thing to have Pen and Sandy come, as they've seen me during the trip up, so to speak, and they are classmates, so they know what it's like. But to perform for your husband, and your parents? Different story. And I hadn't told him this yet (but will as soon as I finish typing this), Drew has expressed to me that he's not happy that I'm getting my black belt. I don't know if it's jealousy or what it is, but he said it makes him unhappy that I'm so far ahead. Granted, I originally did start out behind him,but between SW changing her rules about when kids advance, and him taking breaks, well, he IS behind, and part of that is him. If he hadn't taken such long breaks, he'd probably be a blue belt by now, about halfway through the system or so. Instead, the next testing, he's going to be going for his full camo belt. He still has 6 more belts after that. Things will speed up a little more once he turns 7 next year (and bigger expectations), as he still only has to do half of the form now, but at 7 he'll have to do the whole form. That's if he continues to stick with this, which I hope he does. I'm not sure about how to deal with that. Part of my thinking is that I shouldn't have him come to my testing, and just go alone because it's been a trip all on my own for the most part anyway. Just do it under the radar, so to speak, without drawing a lot of attention to it for him. I don't know. I'm going to have to think about it.

So, tomorrow I will have to really limber up again, and work hard for this. I want this to work too badly. I don't want to be stuck as a 1BR any longer than I have to be. I want that 1BD designation too badly. I still have some of that cold, but I'm not as weak and feeling like a dead fish like I was a week ago. I need to push myself a little more. I guess that's what being a black belt is about.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Highs and Lows

While I write this the day after we took classes, I must warn that I think I'm getting sick. I'm not sure if it's a cold or allergies or both, but instead of getting better, I'm getting worse. That fun runny nose thing and coughing, thus not being able to breathe.

Yesterday, I was feeling more run-down, and my chest hurt from the congestion, but the runny nose and coughing hadn't kicked in yet in earnest. I only took one class yesterday, since I had Back to School night for Drew, and well, that's more important than instructor class anytime.

Remember the two boys I said I couldn't stand, and the one who gave me the bad bruise the other day? Well, guess whose mother just started as a white belt in our classes? Yes, you guessed. Oh man. She seems like a nice enough person, but man, I've noticed that she's one of those moms who drops off the kids, then leaves, and picks them up after class, so she's never had any idea of what they do (and both kids are 1st degree black belts, and worse, just joined leadership, but they don't act or do things like black belts). So, she was paired up with the other white belt mom, who "outranked" her by a stripe already, SV, but SV has a better clue about things because she's stayed for classes more often with her son, who's still a color belt. Sandy and I were paired up, which is a good pairing always. And WS was on her own with SW, which was fine. We generally went over some drills, and then Sandy and I worked on our forms together, and then I worked on my weapons drills while she worked on her competition routines since she's competing in DE on Saturday. She's going to be fine, as she's very good. Then, we worked on board breaking. I got two pieces of wood out, as it was review week, as I feel I still don't have a handle on spacing between boards, etc. So, SW held the board for the kick, and WS and Sandy held the board for the back elbow break.

Now, I wasn't feeling good anyway, so I just wanted to get things over with. But then it started. WS wouldn't shut her freaking trap. She's telling me how to set up the elbow board, and I know perfectly well how to do it. SHE was setting it up wrong, at least as far as where the grain would go. She also kept holding it up too high. I'm tall, but I'm not THAT tall. She's not a usual board holder, so I didn't like her telling me what to do, especially after I was having problems. I would tell her to let me set it up where I want, and let me learn from my mistakes if the case warranted. There was even a point where SW firmly reminded her that there should only be one person correcting her, and implied that it was herself, which is absolutely true, and I knew that. WS doesn't seem to remember that more often than not, and it's maddening. Now, when it comes to holding boards, I definitely trust Sandy implicitly. I KNOW she knows what she is doing. Now, it was bad enough that the break just weren't happening, and I'm sure a good portion of it was that I just physically wasn't up to it. But the worst happened, and I'm pretty sure it's WS's fault, but not Sandy's in the least. WS kept raising her board, and I kept lowering. On my last try, I put a lot of power into it. Now, I might not have done the break right (the board didn't break anyway), but it was set so high that in hitting it, the bottom of the board bruised the part of my arm above my elbow, and then I have a brush-burn type scrape on my elbow itself. It's quite visible, believe me, and it's right where you would lean on your arm to rest it or prop yourself up with it. It smarts like hell! While there is a good possibility that I messed up in setting up the board, I swear that WS moved it at the last moment. I really do, because I'm sure I set it lower. I stopped after that, because it hurt too much, and I was tired. NOW...when it was WS's turn to break, she was complaining that *I* moved the board for her hammerfist. Being much more practiced than her in holding boards, I know I didn't. And I never said anything out loud about her moving MY boards. But I thought she had some nerve. I really hope that one of these days, SW will sit down with her, and despite WS being one of her higher ranked students in the school, will finally put WS in her place about the fact that she has no authority, no matter what rank she is, over SW or any instructor since WS is not an instructor herself. In that respect, I outrank her, even though I'm still a color belt, and I'm the one who's been taking instructor classes for a year and a half, not her. While she means well, she doesn't know what she's doing, and thus an injury, like mine, can occur. She constantly is also like, "Well, XYZ teacher has us do this...". My dear, this is ABC teacher, and who cares what XYZ teacher does. You do it ABC's way in ABC's class, and that's that. She really is getting on too many people's nerves.

So those were the lows. I'm fine with forms and weapons, it's this damn board break. I'm tempted, yes, even this late in the game, to switch breaks since I'm having this much of a problem. I don't want to wait another whole cycle if I don't get the breaks. That would mean December. No, I need to get it done in October's testing. I'm just too mentally and emotionally ready to move on to new material.

The highs are better. Not as "dramatic", but better. While we missed the Monday class for Drew, I did get him there on time for the Wednesday class. Again, I stayed out of the way. NK did pull me aside, and asked me if she did the right thing last week with him when he did have that moment when he pulled out. I assured her that everything was fine, and she was perfectly fine with what she did, and filled her in on some things that we are working on with Drew's communication to help her help him. She was relieved, and Drew started in class. There was one moment when I did pipe up, because he was supposed to be working on something on his own, and he was scraping the mirror with his JB, and he kept doing it. I was afraid of him doing damage, so I just piped up for a moment, but otherwise, I stayed out of things. JC came to pick him up when sparring started, as I had to go to the Back to School night at school. JC said that towards the end, Drew was pretty tired, and started to pull out of class without melting down. SW tried to get him just to keep going for 30 more seconds, but he just wanted to sit, and so he did. He almost forgot to bow out and made a slight fuss, but nothing too bad. So, again, I see that as progress. He tried to fight me about going in the first place, but I reminded him that he promised that in 1st grade he'd start going again, and he didn't argue the point after that. And once he was in there, I didn't hear him getting in trouble or anything like that, so I think he's starting to adapt again. At least he can't say it's totally boring, because a lot of it is new stuff for him. The only thing I did remind NK as well was that it's only his 2nd week back after a 6 month absence, and he's doing the hardest color belt form (figures, huh?), and he's probably the lowest ranked one in the class, so remember to give him some slack, and she was fine with that, and understood to talk to him if he showed signs of feeling stressed about it. He's off to a better start, I think, and that's good. He was also so proud that he did his palm heel break in one shot that night, which was a first, and the joy and pride in his eyes were priceless. I was proud of him too, and made sure he knew it.

So, we'll have to see what happens on Saturday, and which class I take. I should take board breaking only, as that's my main weakness, and sparring to help with the battle of the bulge, but I don't know what's going on with JC's schedule, and my elbow is NOT going to be ready by then, I'm sure. :-S

Good luck to Sandy at the DE Regional Tournament on Saturday! Kick some butt and take names, baby!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

You know you're a bad employee when...

You know you're a bad TKD employee when you bring your own kid for class, and you have the class time completely wrong, that he shows up 15 minutes before class ENDS rather than 15 minutes early. Such was yesterday. To be honest, other than the Basic intro classes for the pipsqueaks and the Cubs class times, I don't have the other times memorized. For some reason, I thought Mondays and Wednesdays had the same time for the upper level pipsqueak color belts, so I was rushing around trying to get dinner into Drew's tummy and get him out the door, only to find that the kids were working on weapons. Huh? I checked the schedule, and his class time on Mondays is an hour earlier. Crap. Well, so much for that! Drew was happy that he couldn't take class. I really can't take him to a makeup class this week, so oh well. He'll go tomorrow. I'll be missing some of my evening classes tomorrow due to Back to School night, so oh well again. I just hope I have the energy. I think I'm coming down with something. :-S

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Should've just jumped in a pool instead

While today is a lovely fall day, around the 60s with quite the breeze, my workout today was such that I ended up looking almost as if I had jumped in the pool with my clothes on.

Drew and I had made the agreement last week that Saturday classes would be limited to sparring and forms. Now, we know how much I love sparring, but since I'm trying to lose weight, and that's the most cardio class of all, I decided I'd take it with him. We got there, I got his gear on, then mine, and I was paired up with RG, whom I've mentioned before. He's a kid that I'm guessing is about 12 years old, and while the lights are on, nobody's home. Seriously. I know Pen knows whom I'm talking about, because we've wondered if he AND his brother JG don't have it all together, but RG is MUCH worse. He's one of those kids that you wonder if he's really a special needs kid whose parents are in huge denial. Seriously. (And I'm speaking as a parent of a special needs kid!) Anyway, RG's big problem is he doesn't do what he's told for the exercise, and he uses all power, no control. So for the drill, all we were supposed to do is do a round kick that the other person would block, and then it would be reversed, so the other person would do it. Simple enough. Now granted, it was an agility drill, but he just kept kicking me and kicking me. I couldn't block fast enough. And the kicks were twisted front kicks (that's not a legitimate kick), not a round kick in any sense of the word, and he was kicking too damn hard. I mean, even in a tournament situation or anything that we do, yes you can make contact, and sometimes it can even be hard contact, but it's not supposed to be "injure the other person because you're too rough and don't know control" time. Part of the whole exercise is control. I kept telling him that to fix the kick and not do it so hard, and he'd listen for about 5 seconds, and then it was back to what he was doing. There finally was a moment when I wasn't ready, and he walloped me in the arm. I did block, but I don't have forearm pads (nobody does), but I could feel that it was going to probably result in a really nasty bruise completely up and down my forearm. It was right on the bone. (And while no bruise has appeared yet, my whole forearm is still sore to the touch.) I said something to RA, that somebody was being a little too rough, and he assured me that we would switch partners soon enough. Thank you! I'm going to tell them in the future to not pair me up with this kid again. I lose my patience with him, and he's too rough. I don't need to deal with that. My next partner was WU, who is 13 and a sweetie pie kid from Leadership. Now, here's a kid who's a lot easier to work with, because he'll keep you moving and watching, but he has CONTROL, which is the whole key. He was patient with me, which he always is, and he was more interested in getting the sequences down than power. Hello, that was the whole idea! I'm glad at least ONE kid understood what was going on. Thank you WU! Next, I had little Joshua, who's Drew's age but has been doing this longer because he started a few cycles earlier, and he hasn't stopped on and off like Drew. He's my little buddy, but we had fun having to spar each other, even though he's 6. He's fast!

In the meantime, during class, Drew stopped and walked out of class, and he refused to join in. Bleeh. He stepped out, and then when he'd sit on the side still in his gear after a while, I told him he had to either get back in class, or take his gear off and put it away. He chose the latter. {SIGH} Later in talking to him, and naturally, I had to pull it out of him, he said Joshua, who was his partner, was being too rough. Rather than tell an instructor, he just walked out instead. He now understands that it's okay to say that the other person is being too rough, because while you are supposed to be learning power and control and the moves, safety is first, and I don't want him to feel that he's uncomfortable or unsafe.

It was then time for forms class. I wasn't going to take it because I know the form VERY well. And if I were to work on it, I would've had to have gone to the early morning classes for the 1BRs and 1BDs. He refused. Just flat out refused. GRR. I asked him, and again with some prompting, he said he felt uncomfortable in that class too, that he actually preferred being in the bigger classes. There were about 9-11 kids there, and he felt that was too small a group. Whatever. Maybe a forms-only class is too intimidating for him. I suspect that's part of the problem too. He said the class was too hard. So rather than force him and make a scene, I listened to what he had to say, and we packed up our things and left. Due to the busy weekly schedule we have, I had to make him choose an extra day instead of Saturday to go to classes, and he chose Mondays. So he has classes on Mondays and Wednesdays, and I have classes on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Tuesdays he has something else, and Fridays he has Cub Scouts. I think that accounts for a fairly busy weekly schedule, for him AND me.

In talking to Drew later, I think he's not feeling that confident yet about being back in class, and that's okay. The instructors are being pretty patient with him so far, especially SW. I've explained to Drew that it's perfectly okay for him to tell them it's hard, and that he's having trouble, because that's why they are there. If they are going too fast, then he has to tell them that, etc. I *know* they would take extra time to help him. I asked Drew if he'd want to come in the mornings with me on Saturday, and he could get a one-on-one lesson by himself with one of the teachers while I took my class, and he said no. He wanted to take classes with lots of kids. I think it's because it's easier to copy LOTS of kids than just a handful. I also reminded him it's his first week back, so it's going to take some time and practice. Practice is something that Drew really doesn't like to do. He likes everything to come to him instantly. I think that's an ADHD thing, because at his age, I was like that too. (Still am to some degree like that.) I know he's pretty good at this when he puts his mind to it, and I don't want him to feel as forced as before. I am trying to see how I can pull out what he's thinking more, have him articulate his thoughts better so we can help him succeed and progress. We'll get there, I'm sure.

So, Mondays and Wednesdays it is for Drew. We'll see how that goes.

Anyway, so why did I title this post as needing to jump in the pool instead? Because when sparring class was done, I was soaked. I had sweat dripping off my nose. My hair was so wet (and it's not long, but it's not real short like the guys either) that it looked completely wet. Even Drew noticed as I got off my gear how hot and wet I was. It was almost like I jumped in the pool, except my clothes, for the most part, still appeared dry. Now that's a workout! And something Becky would appreciate-- I was the only girl in the class. ;-) Hmm. Guess I should get used to that. I think the only reason I'll continue sparring classes, if at all if Drew isn't taking them anymore, is to get that good of a workout. I AM trying to lose weight, after all.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Bad Sushi

(For those of you in the know, you know I HAD to give this post this title. LOL!)

Tonight was supposed to be Sandy's testing for her black belt. Pen and I arrived in the nick of time to watch it start. There were 5 student testing, and they did a quickie warm up, and then the instructor, Mr. S, (aka as CS,) called Sandy up to start doing her forms. Sandy performed IW#1, the first of her four forms she had to do, and after she finished that one, CS bowed her out, and excused himself, because he thought he was going to be sick. Oh great. So a few minutes pass, and no sign of CS. One of the other students in Sandy's class is an MD (as in, he's a doctor), so he went to check on him, and then HE was taking a while. Finally the last male adult student went to check on them, and came back telling us that CS wasn't doing well at all. Dr. N and CS came back finally after quite a while, and CS said that he was sorry, but they would have to reschedule testing, because he was just feeling too sick. So, there you go. No black belt for Sandy tonight. I think we were all disappointed, but under the circumstances, it was understandable. The thing was that a) at least we know he didn't get sick as a reaction to Sandy's form! and b)well, CS's nickname is Sushi (it sounds a little like his last name), so in that sense, hence the subject of this post being "bad Sushi". :-P I know, I'm too funny for my own good sometimes. heh heh heh

So, Sandy, her husband and daughter, Pen and I went out for dinner, and then Sandy's husband had to go, so it was us ladies just chatting the night away. We really had a lot of fun, catching up especially with Pen since we hadn't actually SEEN her for 6 months or so (although we've been corresponding via blogs and such). I think we could've gone all night if Sandy didn't have to bring her daughter home, Pen having to get back to college, and me, well, not staying out too late. (Although JC didn't mind.)

There are a few things that I concluded tonight. Sandy's forms make people sick. No-- I'm just kidding, Sandy! But seriously, both these ladies that are my friends are my friends, and in some ways my extended family because of TKD. I wouldn't have known them if it weren't for TKD. And man, we GOSSIPED all night about this and that with our do-jahngs, and info we had from various sources, but we also talked about other things too. It was the kind of night that I really enjoy, being with other adults who have some common interests, have a great sense of humor, and are smart and witty enough to indulge in some great conversation. I even had an audience for my jokes! ;-)

So, I'm still glad for my TKD experiences, because even if I'm not training, I have friends from there to spend my time both in and out of the class. That's cool.

Now, we just have to figure out when Sandy's next attempt at testing will be! In the meantime, my black belt was received in the school's mail today, and it's now hanging up, waiting to be earned. Just 6 weeks or so left of training....

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Solo, and I'm just too tired

You know I've said this before, but I'll say it again. Sometimes, I'm a glutton for punishment. Really I am. I also know when to say when, but still...

I started in the morning class, and I think I held up okay. We did this one exercise whereby we were doing partner stretches, where you put your foot on your partner's shoulder, and then you stretch as they stand up. Of course, I was paired up with Sandy, who is significantly shorter than I am. For her stretches, I had to do a lunge kind of thing for her appropriate height to stretch. For me, she had to almost lift my foot over her head! (Not quite though!) That stretching was great. It was reminiscent of ballet stretching. We worked on forms and weapons, and I worked on my board break again. This is "foot week", so I worked on the jump front kick that I have to do for graduation. Since I have to test on wood, I have to practice on wood. My main problem with that break appears to be that I don't chamber enough on the kicking leg, but I can continue to work on that. I got a good workout, for sure.

Today was Drew's first solo day in class. Just like the first day of school, I was a little nervous about how he'd be. I really tried to stay out of the way during class and felt I had to intervene only once, and it really wasn't bad, but rather just a re-direct. There was an across-the-floor drill that Drew had done quickly and sloppy, so NK, who was teaching, made him go back to do it again. Now, just so you know, she wasn't singling him out-- she was doing that to any of the kids who weren't doing the drill correctly. He got frustrated, but rather than have a total meltdown, he just went and sat in the front window ledge (don't worry, it's only about a foot or two off the floor), and he sat pouting, but not crying or anything. When he didn't come back to the front of the room to stretch, I went back and talked to him. He told me he didn't like the exercise, so he just decided to stop doing it and wait. When I asked him if he wanted to start back into class, he literally jumped at the opportunity, and joined right back in, which I was happy about. I "ignored" him for the rest of class. I stayed in this little nook of the do-jahng where I was with the other parents, but I couldn't see what he was doing because he was in the back of the group, or at least far back enough that I'd have to get up out of my place to see him even in the mirrors. After getting him geared up in his sparring gear, I was already late for my NEXT class, but NK said that she'd start and it was okay for me to change and get Drew ready first. Cool. So I did, and shortly after I changed, JC came in to pick Drew up. I told him where to put Drew's gear afterwards. SW told me later that Drew was very good and said to her, "Ma'am, my dad's here, so I think I'm supposed to go." SW assured him that I had just told JC that he had a few more minutes, and that it was okay. He complied with no problem. That was good to hear. I asked SW tonight later how he did, and she was satisfied with his behavior when he sat out, because he didn't have a blowout like he had in the past, because she'd rather he did that than the meltdown. She was also amused but pleased with him questioning when he was supposed to leave, but overall she was pleased with his behavior today. As you can imagine, it was a great relief to me! :-)

Well, as he was finishing up, and his dad was taking him home, I was starting my long night. We did some full situps. I can do lots of crunches like nobody's business, but to have someone hold down your feet and do full situps? Well, if you were minimally 60 lbs overweight and asthmatic, do you think it would be easy? I didn't think so. And it wasn't. But I got it done, and NK was my patient partner. We did some more drills, and I got through those, but again, very cardio heavy. We finally got to work on weapons and forms, some more. I finally learned the last drill for testing, which is a snake block/interception with the BME. It's where you block a #2 strike (hand to weapon), and then you loop your hand over and under the striker's arm, put them in a joint lock of sorts, and bop them on the head (or I did it on the shoulder for class safety) with the butt end of your weapon. It took a few tries, but I got the hang of it. Board breaking went okay, so I'm feeling okay if, again, I get that chamber in that kicking leg going. Sparring was very tiring. I think I lost a few pounds just in sweat.

Instructor's class was good. We reviewed some of those things I needed to do for my BME drills, which helped to reinforce the concepts, and so when we went to work on our own information, then I could just work on that by itself. I think I have the main jist of the drills, but there's no flow to it right now, so I think there are some adjustments that need to be made, but I have time for that. We went to board breaking again, and I tried to break on plastic to save some trees. I could tell after a few tries I was just too tired. After all, I was now on my 3rd class for the day, and 2nd class in a row. Just as I had made that decision, SW was ordering me to stop so I wouldn't lose confidence in what I was doing. When it comes to the jump front kick, I'm more confident in that break, even though that was the one I was having more problems with at the last testing, than the elbow break. I knew I was getting tired, and it wasn't going to happen. I haven't lost confidence in it yet, but yes, I will have to spend a lot of money on practicing breaking on wood boards. That's fine. I can live with that.

So, you can understand why I feel too tired. 3 classes at full steam (or as close to that) in one day! My knee and my feet were also starting to protest, so I'm glad that I won't be doing more until Saturday. Hopefully I will have lost another pound just from this workout. ;-) I'm more glad that Drew had a good start in regular class. I'm just hoping that like regular school, he continues to have a good start, and it lasts throughout the year.

Tomorrow is Sandy's big testing for 1BD, (and for you non-ATA'ers, for her full 1st degree black belt), and I'm confident that she's going to do fine. Her school is requiring her to do a LOT more than I'm required to do, and honestly, there are things, like her board breaks to pass, that aren't standard ATA curriculum at all. But, at least she's going to be ahead of the game in the end, and she'll be great. PS is going to be there too, so that will be great to see her as well! Big day tomorrow for her!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Busy First Week Back

As mentioned, the family and I are back from vacation, and no sooner do we finish shaking out the sand in our sandals that we are back at school, and that not only means Drew starting 1st grade, but also me going back to work, starting TKD classes again, and Drew restarting TKD classes as well. He promised that he'd start back in September when 1st grade started, and he kept his promise without complaint.

Wednesday's classes were alright. WS (not to be mistaken for SW) was back again, after a short reprieve, and instantly was driving us nuts. Fortunately, I got partnered up with SV, who is a fellow mom and a white belt, and that seemed better. ES and WS got partnered up, and that was a better match that way too. I spent the better part of that class working on three main things. First, SW had me fine tuning some parts of my form, namely this one part of a roundkick/sidekick/double inner forearm block. The kick combination is one that I can do, but I find it doesn't look good unless I do it quickly, otherwise I lose my balance. I think it's the darn mats we have are too squishy. If I was standing on a truly flat floor, then no problem. But the bigger problem is, sure enough, that double inner forearm block. Theoretically, it's not hard to do, but I've been doing it wrong, so it's kind of hard to break a habit, but I was having problems with it anyway. It always felt awkward somehow. So, I was working on that. Next, I learned the "digs" for my BME form. Heck, I learned almost all my BME form for the first part except the last part, which is fine. The form-- or should I say, drills-- are the 9 strike lines, 3 defense blocks for a #1 strike, then these 3 "digs" which are blocks then disarms for a #5 strike, and 3 "snake" disarms, which I haven't learned yet, but I'm told that they are easy. Lastly, I went to work on my back elbow break. Well, let me tell you, I hate those plastic boards sometimes. Or maybe I was still fairly stiff and out of shape from vacation. No matter. I would step back into that back stance, pull back that elbow, and it would not budge. The first few times, SW told me my elbow was more out to the side than close to my body, but even after adjusting that, and ensuring I was in a back stance, she said I was doing it right, but somehow the follow through wasn't happening. Oh well. That was fine, and I understood that it's something I'll have to work on.

Wednesday night's class was very much a repeat of the last class I had before I left for vacation, but just more people in the class to do it. Each person had one step or move from the current beginner level form to learn (I believe it's Songahm #2) to learn, and then we did the whole form as a group, each barking out their segment. It's a method to use in a class when you are short on help, and at the same time teaches the kids how to be self reliant in learning the form as well. I practiced my form some more, and that was that pretty much.

Today was Drew's first day back in about 7 months. It's amazing how quickly 7 months goes by sometimes! Being that it's Saturday, that means specialty classes. Now that I'm a bootleg 1st degree BB, technically, I should be taking classes with the 1BDs, not the color belts. But because the color belts are doing the same form this cycle, I decided it'd be fine if I went to his classes instead. FINALLY, he's out of the white/orange/yellow classes and he's an intermediate level, so he can work on "big kid" stuff! The first class we both took is more Drew's favorite than mine-- sparring. I decided to take it because right now, I'm trying to lose weight, and heaven knows if you want to do some heavy duty sweating, take a sparring class. I was Drew's partner for most of the class, which was fine. It helped his acclimate back into the environment, and he seemed to hold his own when we had to get different partners to spar using the actual things we practiced. Next was forms class. Well, I know the whole form, and we were only doing the first 6 steps/segment 1, and the last section, which is the end. All the kids had seen it before except Drew, who'd only seen me practice it now and then at home. He actually held his own again very well. He made a few mistakes, but they weren't too bad considering, and he was able to keep up with the other kids. There was one part of the warm up for that class that he did start to get frustrated about. We were slowly building up to doing a #3 jump roundkick. He does them all the time unconsciously, but when they broke it down, he started to get a little confused. RA worked with him and said don't worry about doing 5 of them with the group, just do one with me, and I'll slow it WAY down. It took about 2 tries before he got the hang of it, and then he was fine. WHEW. Weapons class is where things started to break down a bit. Drew started okay with warmups, and was having fun, and then the group split into two groups-- JBs (bo staffs) and SJBs (numchakas). Well, I'm doing neither, and like I said earlier, I can learn the "snake" block later-- no rush, and I'm starting to learn the 1BD SJB form, but I'd be the only one, so I decided just to do JB with Drew, just to make sure I could keep tabs on him. Good thing I did. Ben P was teaching, and he taught us the first part of the "freestyle", but then he decided to make it interesting and taught us a helicopter move. Essentially, it involved just taking the JB in your hand with a spin above your head, but the JB spins in your hand as it's flat, so it's like a release move. You then stop the spin by simply closing your hand, and then tucking it under your arm. Well, Drew started to get it, but he'd drop his JB a lot. But then again, all of us were. Heck, I even whacked my nose at one point. Drew got very frustrated, and started to have a meltdown. I gave him the choice of a) stopping his crying and tantrum and just continue to practice until he gets better, or b) stopping class there and sitting quietly in the sidelines. He chose the latter. He did stay well behaved after that on the sidelines, and I did check to see if he had calmed down and wanted to start back, and he said no, and that was fine. At his stage of the game, weapons are still optional, not required at all, so if he felt he was better off not participating, then that was fine. It was one of those cases of me knowing when to pick my battle with him. He sat patiently while I took board breaking class, which he chose to opt out of again, and behaved himself. I chose to practice on some real wood (since I have that option at testing), just to see what would happen, and to hopefully boost my confidence again. It worked. It was a clean break, but not perfectly down the middle, but that's okay. It broke, and that's what counts! So I'm feeling better about that break. I think it's the darn plastic. And I'm not as stiff when doing my back stance as I was on Wednesday.

So, we survived our first week back, from vacation, and at all in Drew's case. I still have to figure out when to bring Drew for regular class during the week, and he and I decided that we'd only come for sparring and forms on Saturdays, as in the end, those are what's most important at his level right now. That's fine by me. I need to get his confidence back, get him in the swing of things, get his mental attitude adjusted that he'll cooperate and not have meltdowns during class. That's a tall order, but that's the goal. I really think he has a better knack for this than most kids if he can focus-- and not have a meltdown. I mean, we almost had two today, but we were able to reel him in enough, and prevent disasters. I don't want to take away from the other kids because of his behavior, and today, we were able to control that. But we got through, and as I reminded him a few times today during the various classes, he didn't need to worry about how good he was, because he's been away from it for a long time, and it was only his first day back, so he needed to take it easy on himself.

Let's hope this is the start of getting Drew back on track, and he'll not only make it through this first cycle and get his full camo belt in October, but that by the end of the school year when he turns 7, he'll be ready to start learning his full forms and be on the fast track to his black belt. (He should be, by my estimation, a full blue belt, I think, by then.)

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Back from short break

Hello all!

I just returned from a week long vacation in Myrtle Beach. I'll just say it wasn't that great a vacation, nor was it the worst. It had its good and bad moments. But oddly enough, as much as I've felt burnt out lately from TKD, I still made it a point to try to find the MB ATA (I found it, but it's a club, not a school, so I couldn't go and buy a t-shirt from them to wear to my classes on t-shirt days), and I actually practiced my form/kata at the beach at least once or twice. Not too bad, huh? I did have one night that was going so badly that I felt I NEEDED to be at a class. I had so much anger built up that I felt like that energy would be better off put towards a sparring match, or something like that. I actually was surprised at myself that there I was, taking a complete break, and I WANTED to go to class. So, I think that means that while I think I still feel a little burned out, I'm in a better mental state to go to class now. I'll probably start back in a few days, although I have to start back to work on Tuesday. Bleeh. But, gotta start back sometime...

Drew is supposed to be starting back now, now that's it's September. That was the agreement, and he's sticking to it. I decided not to start him right off the bat with the first week of school, but I'll start him on Saturday, and he and I can take the same class, as this cycle they are doing the same form as I'm doing now. At least that way he can get back into the groove with Mom alongside him. I know the form inside and out, but this will be, well, very much a challenge for him, even if he only has to learn half the form. I keep assuring him he's not in the "baby" group anymore, so it will be better. I hope he believes me! I would like to see him progress, as I think that getting into the swing of it again will be a good way of putting his energy into something positive, but I do think he has a natural knack for it, and without learning anything new, he'll never grow in the process, and he WILL get bored, as he did before.

So that's what's new.

Oh, and I couldn't get a photo, but I thought of John V's conversation about "Losing My Religion" while in MB, as we passed on one particular main street a sign for a school that promoted "Christian Taekwondo". I dunno, it made my husband and I laugh. We really didn't think a place like that would actually exist, but evidentally it does!

Until next time, when atrophied muscles are put back to the test again...;-)