Thursday, November 29, 2007

It ain't pretty, but it's not expected to be yet

Yesterday was all about getting back into the swing of things after taking a week (or two) off from classes. It was a little hard, not because I was still recovering from Thanksgiving dinner still, but rather just getting into the swing of things, and both my knees were acting up. I had braces on BOTH knees, and eventually, that didn't help much.

The morning class was rather...dry. We were all cracking our old bones in there from non-use for the last week or so. One missing player was Sandy. Man, I really missed her in there. As I think I've mentioned before, she and I seem to operate in class similarly, insofar as we are not afraid to really kick or hit with some force, and be able to take that force too. I think that's why we are often paired up with each other, as well as pretty much being the same rank as well (I think she's a half cycle ahead of me in most cases these days.) Anyway, I worked with SH yesterday, who I know got her 1BD before either Sandy or I, yet she seems to take her sweet time in getting from rank to rank, midterm to midterm. She is a tiny, petite, skinny woman who is about my age, but I am about twice her weight and at least a foot taller than her. When we did drills together, I told her not to be afraid of really putting some OOMPH into her punches and kicks on the pads I was holding, and well, her OOMPH wasn't too OOMPHy. Like many of the women in class, it was rather passive. You could still get a workout just moving about, but I'm so used to Sandy, and being able to put more muscle into it. I felt like I couldn't put as much force into my hit because I might hurt SH! Oh well.

So SH and I worked on the form next. She is working on the same midterm as I am, namely the first, and she's thinking of skipping this testing. We got the rest of the first half yesterday, and it wasn't so bad, but somehow she felt she couldn't memorize it in two weeks. I dunno. I think I can memorize it easily enough, but I know it's not going to be pretty. I know there are glitches in how I do it, and how well I do it. There is a jump hook kick which I can do, but again, I'm sure it doesn't look good. There's one spot where I didn't know there was a positioning step before going to do a section on the other side (you do a bunch of steps on one side, then the other side), and I know I'm still not getting that right. But it's a minor thing for now. SW said not to worry about it too much right now, as there's plenty of time to tweak things. For once, I'm listening. I usually work fairly hard to make what I've learned so far to be as close to flawless as I possibly can, but this time, since this will be the same form I'll be doing for the next two years or so, I'm not too worried about it. It's just the first half that I need to know at this point, and that's fine.

Drew skipped Monday's class. I agreed to it because I think he has issues with RA, and so do I. The last time he was in class with RA, RA was disciplining him, and said for Drew either to get back in line, or he could leave. That was a big mistake. First, you never give Drew the option of leaving because second, Drew will always take that option to leave. SW knows better, and she told me that herself, that you can't give Drew that option, because she realized that herself. He doesn't give her as many problems because he knows that he can't pull that with her. She'll yell at him all she wants until he complies. But she'll never give him an out. A timeout, perhaps, but not an out from class. Anyway, he seemed to do okay overall yesterday. During his class, she had me help for a little bit, as there was something like 20 kids in his class! And she had three different forms to work on, so after she got the majority of them set up with me, then she could take care of the other kids. All I had to do was make sure that each kid who was assigned a segment, remembered to lead the class in their segment. I didn't have to know the form (I couldn't remember it, since it had been quite a while since I had done Songahm #4), but all I had to do was make sure the kids kept up, didn't cause trouble, keep them in line, make corrections when needed, etc. Hey, it was good instruction training, and I was used as the example at instructor class later. I missed Drew's sparring, as usual, but from an earlier conversation I had with SW, she feels that he's got a lot of power, which is good, but he needs to learn to control it better. She also feels that he's at an age where some movements are still kind of clumsy/gangly because of his age, so she's not worried about his finesse quite yet. Since he's very big for his age (there are kids 3 years older than him in the class, and he's still bigger than them!), she said some of it what comes with the territory of being big for his age and being younger than everyone else that size. Oh well.

The other two classes I took were fine overall. No big whoop. I worked with a 2nd degree teen whom I'll call BB, and he's a little mousy, and not in leadership (most people who are black belts are leadership, but there are still some few that remain in Masters Club), but he's nice enough. Even in my decrepit state, he and I could get our drills done quickly and efficiently, and I could keep up with him, or at least he was being patient with me, perhaps! At least he could pack some OOMPH into his kicks in the drills, so it was nice to be able to work with someone who could handle that. I spent most of the time working on my form, although I have to say, that even with two knee braces on, doing the jump kicks that I have to do in this form thusfar were already starting to take a toll on my knees. Not good. I can only imagine how my knees would have felt today if I hadn't been wearing my braces. (I probably wouldn't be walking today, even though they are still a little achy.) Black Belt Mama has been talking over the past few weeks about how she's doing all this PT so she can avoid surgery. Me, I WANT surgery. I've been plagued with this for years. It isn't as bad as it was a year ago, which was post-accident, but I feel this is something that's been going on for about 10 years now, and even with PT, it never gets 100% better, or even 90% better. After PT, I just had killer quads, but my knee still hurt, and my PT yelled at me for not telling him. Well, he didn't ask! I just did what I was told to do at my sessions. So I wish someone would just fix this, let me to post-operative PT, and get back to where I was a long time ago. I wouldn't be surprised if knee replacement surgery is in my future at some point. Anyhow, I digress. Since my knees were starting to smart from the jumping (oh, and I didn't mention that we had to do all these deep knee lunges in the morning too, did I?), I just would mark the jumps as best as I could. It was hard, because I'd look so lame not doing them, but I have to do what I have to do to preserve my ability to still walk when I can! We didn't do sparring (YAY!), but we did weapons and board breaks. In weapons, JZ told me that I was not doing my handover in the lasso right when I swing it around my neck. I've been doing it that was since time began and no one has ever corrected me! I'm also thinking that for me, my arms were just out of shape and practice from doing it, so that's why I was goofing up. I just have to put the time in again to work on that blasted SJB form. I really am not a big fan of the SJB (numchakas), can you tell? I did watch JZ show MP what the whole 2nd degree SN/kama form looked like, and OH, it is such a beautiful sight to see. Not only because JZ does it well, but I LOVE kamas. I think they are my favorite weapon. And I don't get to use them anymore except if I want to do XMA, so I have to continue to think about that, and learn some more moves from JZ! ;-) Board breaking wasn't bad. I did a knifehand, but it took a few tries because I hadn't done it in a while, but I got it. SW kept holding the board at an angle I'm not used to doing, but whatever. She's the boss.

Instructor class was okay. It was BU and I (the only adults doing this part) and most of the teens working on teaching method stuff, of which I did the actual thing earlier that evening (see the part with Drew's class above). It was just something where the instructor would tell you what order the kids knew the sequence, and you wouldn't have to know the form yourself, and just keep the students going. Well, we used the current set of one-steps to work on this, and we would switch up teens to lead or do student segments. Half the time it was where BU and I had to keep the teens in line, even though we didn't have to lead the group. Part of the problem is some kids are mousier than others, so they need to step it up a notch to have their presence be known, whether it be as an instructor trainee, or just as a student! Even I was reminding the little ones that when they would say what their segment was, they had to say it loud and clear for everyone to hear, because if anyone was forgetting that part of the form, they just had to listen-- provided that segment person was speaking up! Some of the teens also get rowdy, and let me tell you, if I had had another turn being "leader", I would have had them do about 25 pushups for not focusing on what they are supposed to be doing. One of them is a 3rd degree, and he couldn't even be bothered to know the names of his classmates in this class. He'd just snap his fingers, when the assignment was to say who'd come next. I told him to at least say Ma'am or Sir if he didn't know their name, but it was pretty shameful that people who are in his TKD classes were people that he couldn't be bothered to learn their names. And he wants to be an instructor? I didn't know all the names of the little kids earlier, but at least SW wrote them down for me, and after one round of doing the form, I knew who was who! Pretty pitiful.

I was glad to be done at the end, because I don't think my knees could take any more for the night without it getting ugly. But, the good news in all of this is that a)I've got all the parts of my half-form now, so all I need to do is practice it so I at least have the sequence down, and b)as an adult, it's good to know that I know how to command a class and discipline when I need to. The kids in Drew's class seemed to really listen and pay attention when I would talk to them and remind them of what they needed to do. I know I'm famous for being goofy and silly in class myself, but at the same time, when there's work to be done, it still gets done.

So, I think I need to watch the DVD of my form. I'll have to see if there's a YouTube version of it somewhere so you can see it, for those of you who are not ATA'ers. It's different in that where I was used to doing all arm movements in doubles (using both hands), now I'm learning single handed loads and punches, and it's HARD to readjust. Being a newbie black belt really is so much like being a white belt all over again. I've said it before, but it still feels that way right now.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Is my subconscious trying to tell me something?

Well, after I got the opportunity to take the week off from work, and I was giving Drew a week's break, I decided I need a break too. Just for the week. Besides, I'm not in that much of a rush with getting my next belt, so if I'm not ready this cycle, I'm not ready. No biggie.

So imagine my surprise this morning as I'm trying to sleep in on a Sunday morning, the day before the craziness of life ensuing again, that I have a dream about TKD. I was back in the do-jahng, and it looked like it was being remodelled or something, but just mildly. It was a weekday daytime class, and for some reason, there was a class for the aikido people or some other group in the back. Usually we have the whole place to ourselves. Again, no biggie, things change. Somehow, the walls were covered with these huge dropcloth like curtains, with the red and blue stripes we currently have on the wall. So it's almost like they are doing the remodelling due to the dropcloth curtains, but at the same time the curtains are decorative in an attempt to make the place still look presentable during repairs. What really got me about it was that there are mirrors in the front set of mats, but not in the back, and the curtains covered up the mirrors. I've worked without mirrors plenty of times before, so that in and of itself didn't bother me, but somehow this bothered me. Then, the other class left, and I could go practice my poom-sae (kata) on the back mats. Somehow, the curtains back there didn't have the stripes, and suddenly, I felt like I was in this all white box with no windows or doors or sense of what was up or down or whatever. It was really disconcerting to not know how close or far away the walls were. I haven't quite learned half my form yet, but having been away, the dream continued where I would practice what I did know already. For some reason, perhaps being in this weird mat/room, I would be struggling with this one load. I was able to do my form, but for some reason the load into a double outer forearm block was proving difficult, and somehow I knew it wasn't as difficult as it was in trying. It was as if my limbs were made of lead, and I just couldn't cross my hands the right way every time, or I'd constantly be getting confused. It was weird.

I woke up at that point, happy to see I wasn't in this mind boggling room, and knowing that while it'll be a little bit of a push to get the ol'brain back into gear to remember my form when I take my next class, I remember a lot more than my dream was purporting.

I wonder what it all means?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Putting things in perspective

You know, I have a few TKD people around me who are too smart for my own good. But thankfully, I have them around to put me in my place, or help me see what really matters.

Yesterday was the usual whirlwind of three classes for the day, plus Drew's class. Drew's classes have been okay for the most part. There's not a lot to report, other than he was asked to leave class for the first time for this year on Monday. I think RA needs to figure out how to get Drew to participate, and not give him the option of "participate or you can go", because Drew will always go. I wasn't happy with him, but he did make a choice. And maybe it was better that we left when we did, rather than have him rebel and meltdown for the rest of class. He was proud of his new roundkick break that he has now, however. ;-)

For me, I was reviewing and learning more for Shim Jun. What I have down isn't too pretty looking at all, but heck, I've only been doing it a couple weeks, after all. And I have to remember that I only have to have the first half for December, and I have, what, a total of 2 years to perfect it once I have the whole thing? So, I'm just trying to make sure that I have the sequence of moves down before I tweak them, and make them look more presentable than they are now. Maybe it's because I've been getting over this sinus infection thingy, but I'm just very tired and worn. I think I might have also pulled something in my good knee in the morning exercises, which doesn't help. So, during the evening classes, yes, I am now up to TWO knee braces, one for each knee. The bad knee still gets the heavy duty one, but the good knee is now needing support as well. Woe is me who is falling apart at the knees! I got through it though. Had a good sparring session, even though I was pretty winded by the end. There's nothing like having to spar two teenage boys who are 3rd degrees and old enough to be your teenage children when you are an old, newly christened 1st degree like myself. I got a few good hits in, so that was good.

I also tried a new board break. Well, it was new in the sense of me doing it on a different side and trying it. One of the board break choices for 1st degrees is doing a front, side and roundkick combination. Sounds easy enough, but the catch is that one of the kicks can't be on your "dominant" side. So, while all through your color belt training, you may have only used one foot for all your foot breaks, at this level, at least one has to be with the opposite foot. I know, I hear you. You already know that I have an opposite break, that left footed roundkick, so the rest is easy peasy. Well, this is true. However, when I would try to figure out the best way to do the break to incorporate that left foot, it just seemed easier if I did a second kick with the left as well. After all, I should be able to do that as a 1st degree now anyway. So, since I still have a lot of time before I have a required break at testing, I figured I'd start playing with some new foot breaks. Last night, I tried a sidekick with my left foot for the first time. And I'm happy to report that it broke on the first try. Go me! :-) Yup, one practice try, and right into an actual break. I was happy about that.

But I think the best part of the night was the conversation I had with NK. Now, for those of you who don't know, NK is one of SW's teen instructors, one of the highest ranked instructors in our school, and a very accomplished competitor. She's ranked in the Top Ten for her rank and age in the WORLD. She also has held several state championships over time. So, you could say she's been around the TKD block a bit. She asked me how the tournament went, and I recounted my story. When she asked who the 2nd degree in my ring was, she was familiar with the woman, and basically said that it was totally unfair for that woman to be in the ring, as a)she had twice as much experience than almost anyone in that ring, and b) she was an instructor at HER school, and practiced and taught every single day, and was in Top Ten, or something like that as well. Man, I was competing against THAT? That definitely put it in perspective. Now, Sandy had also told me about some of these other ladies, as she's one to check out the competition more closely. Sandy pointed out that we were the greenest black belts of our ring, and upon further thought, I really was the newest black belt there. I didn't have a prayer, really! And while NK was saying much of the same things of putting it in perspective as Sandy did, I think she understood on a different level, because she IS competitive like me. NK is not going to go to a tournament unless she thinks she has a chance at placing. And she said that the big "A" tournament last spring was the first time that she hadn't placed in anything for the first time, so she knew how I felt completely. I don't think that it was a matter than Sandy didn't appreciate how I felt, because she did. But I think NK appreciated it more having been in the same circumstance, and looking at it initially the same way, if that makes sense. I felt a little more encouraged, too, because even though NK is young enough to be my daughter, she is still my instructor, and she understands my limits as well as my capabilites better than most people, and how to get there as well. So when one of the World Top Ten tells you about not placing last year in a big local tournament and it being the first time she didn't place at all? Yeah, she understands that feeling of defeat very well.

I'm still debating whether to go in on Saturday just for the early morning forms class. I might go just because that's where I need the most practice. But I'm where I need to be, more or less, in the form. I'll think about it. There aren't any other local tournaments (other than an Interschool that I probably won't be able to go to due to Cub Scouts in December) until at least February or March, so I have time. And maybe I won't do well in that one either, but at least I'll know what the competition is like, and I'll have more time to practice.

Monday, November 12, 2007

All a-buzz

John V always has a very insightful way of looking at all things martial arts. I admire his way of being very practical when it comes to how martial arts-- any discipline-- should be approached and how certain lessons can apply to "real" life.

So, I was rather amused, and educated as usual, with his most recent entry, Got Energy?. The last paragraph is the kicker (no pun intended). A must read! :-) It picked my spirits up, that's for sure.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


I knew I shouldn't have gone. I knew deep down I wasn't going to be prepared, and that I could be an adult about it, and went in with the attitude of knowing I wasn't going to place most likely. Yeah, it all sounds good enough. But it was terrible.

Now, please note, I am NOT a morning person. And I had to get up earlier than I normally do even to get Drew ready for school. I had to leave at the time I normally have to get up! So, I dragged myself out of bed, and got out on time, only grabbing an instant breakfast drink for breakfast upon running out the door. I got there (and got a decent parking spot) about 5 minutes before there was the Black Belt meeting, which was the whole reason that we were there that early. However, most of it was directed to those who were certified to judge, and neither Sandy or I are certified to judge. But it's good to know what the judges had to be reminded of, even though most of it was stuff that I knew already. So after that was dismissed, they lined us up immediately, and we got our group assignment. There were 5 women who were 30-something 1st degrees, and 1 woman in the same age who was in the 2nd degree with no other competitors her age, so she was put with us. So we had a total of 6. Sandy and I went to hang out with our some of our tourney friends from NY state, and I knit a little. We then had to sit through the Opening Ceremonies. This is pure torture, really. It's all this brouhaha where, especially since the Grandmaster was making an appearance, we had to sit on the cold, hard floor with no back support, and listen to this person and that person being honored, and the Grandmaster getting gifts from Korea (I would think that this guy makes enough money and goes to enough of these things to be able to get his own nice stuff, and goes to Korea enough to not need to get gifts FROM Korea, DUH), but then they almost forgot this demo team demonstration which was decent. It just took FOREVER. Since after the long ceremony that was dragged out was too long, especially for the number of people there (or not there, as the case would be), we were assigned to our ring, and we lined up.

Well, let's see if I could give a summary. In forms - there was initially a tie for 1st, and a three-way tie for 3rd. Well, I was in the 3-way tie for third, and I felt like I had really done the best performance of CJ#2 I'd ever done, considering I was very tired after doing the first performance. Sandy was also in that group. Neither of us were third. Weapons, for me, was a total disaster. While I knew my form, there was another ring of guys next to us that were sparring and well, it was distracting. Between that and nerves, I just messed up left and right. When the judges gave the scores for me, I actually thanked them for their kindness, because I felt that the scores they gave me, which were on the lower end of the midrange, were generous. I would've put my scores on the low end. I guess it was because I, at least, knew where I messed up, and I did tell them I just learned the form a week ago. But it was horrible. I didn't expect to speed through it, and I didn't, but I knew the form cold, and I had been practicing every day. Things I goofed up on were the parts that I could do with ease. I did significantly better in my living room than I did there. It was the worst weapons showing I'd ever done, and I've never not ranked in weapons before. Lastly was sparring. I didn't think I'd get through that either, but since I had done badly in the first two events, I thought, okay, I still have a shot. I thought that more when I was paired up with this woman who was barely 5 feet tall. Cool, the head kicks should get her. Sure enough (and even she said she didn't know how she did it), she got at least one kick in the head to ME, and she won that match, eventually placing 3rd.

Okay, so in the end, Sandy and I didn't place in anything in traditional. She had won 1st in XMA the night before, so she had something. So as all the awards are handed out, she and I were the only ones not to place at this ring. But then it happened. They had one more award, namely a Spirit award. She and I, I felt, had been cheering and yelling and being supportive as anyone. Remember, there were only 6 people in the whole ring. She had already gotten an award the night before, not that the judges would've known that. But who got the Spirit award? If you guessed Sandy, you would be correct. So everyone in that ring-- except me-- got some sort of award or acknowledgement. Just thinking about it is getting me upset again.

I've never attended a tournament where I didn't think I'd place, even if it was 3rd. I will not deny that those who did place high didn't deserve it-- they were very good, and I felt a little out of my league, but figured that I hadn't gone there to win. But guess what? I DID go to win. Since I didn't place, and I was under no obligation to do any judging, I left. I said my goodbyes to Sandy, but I was so ready to go. I was that upset. I even saw that the table where Grandmaster was sitting was not busy, so I thought for a fleeting second to go get my photo taken with him, just to say I did it. But I had already changed out of my gi jacket into a TKD sweatshirt, and I just felt that I wasn't up to it. I got in the car, and came home, crying just about the whole way home.

Now, you might be thinking, "Hey, you're an adult. You shouldn't be upset like that. You should be a good loser, as you knew what you were getting into. All is fair in a competition like that." But I discovered something about myself. I don't like losing. Or at least not getting any recognition. Of 6 people in my ring, 5 people got some sort of recognition. I did not. If it had been a bigger ring, well, it'd be a matter of misery loves company. I wouldn't be alone in my defeat and lack of recognition. But I spent a freaking $60 just to enter, drive an hour away at an ungodly hour, put my best effort in (okay, weapons didn't work out, but hell, the forms I definitely did), and came out with absolutely nothing. It was SO not worth going. I knew it was a bad idea to go in so fresh off my new belt testing, but no. I had to talk myself into going for the sake of the competition, not for winning. I've always done well in some way, come away with something. This is the first time since I ever started competing that I have come home empty handed. I feel so defeated and worthless right now. Totally worthless. Oh, and then if it weren't for EL, I wouldn't have known that introductory stance would've been wrong, and then I didn't know that if I didn't have my state champion uniform (which I don't have yet, because, you know, that costs a lot of money), I was supposed to bring a copy of the state stats to show that I was a state champion. Like anybody told me that part! NOBODY TOLD ME. That pissed me off, especially since my instructor is the RCT, and she should have told me, and she didn't. She's never told me. It might not have mattered when it came to getting a "bye" in sparring, but it's the principle of the thing.

This has definitely made me question whether it's worth me continuing to compete. I've always gone thinking that I could rank, that I had a shot. Even this time, even if my weapons ended up being a mess (which is was the worst it has ever been), I thought that my form was pretty solid, and I had a decent shot at sparring. But nope. I think I've learned not to enter a competition if I don't think I'm ready. It's a waste of my time and money anyway otherwise. I've also learned that while it might not be adult of me, I am a poor loser. I don't like feeling defeated. I have so many other things working against me, I don't need anything else to be dragging down what little ego I have.

This may have been my last tournament. That's how much the experience soured me. If I'm still crying about it 4 hours after I left the arena, then it's not a good thing.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A little bit of old, a little bit of new

Part of what's difficult right now, being a newly minted black belt, is that I don't know a whole lot of black belt stuff. And I have a competition on Saturday. So, I need to start learning new information, while still retaining the old information for just a little bit longer.

Morning class was good. As usual, Sandy and I were paired up. We were doing this one set of drills that involved these really long resistance bands. And of course, the two of us being a little too...creative, were teasing each other about figuring out how to do some sort of Bruce Lee/Jackie Chan move to whip that thing around the other and trap them. (Heck, I'm just giggling to myself about it.) We were just being really silly, but still doing out drills too. SW had to tell us to "Focus, children!" Hee hee. What good is class if there's no fun involved now and then? I worked on the weapons form, and got some fine tuning tips, and got the parts of Shim Jun, the new form that I'm learning, reinforced. I still don't feel very confident with it, but I think it's because it's learning new techniques with the one handed stuff that throws me off.

Much of my regular evening class was the same sort of thing. I didn't really work on my weapons form much because I know the whole thing already, so JZ gave me a few more steps of the Shim Jun to do. There's a jump hook kick that lands with a new arm base move that's, well, HARD. Done separately, I could kind of do it, but with hand/foot timing, oh man. Good thing I have a few years to learn and tweak this! I also had a 3rd degree teenage guy land on his butt trying to pull some sort of spin kick on me. Ha! Don't mess with me! (Nah, it was more like, "Don't go too hard on the old lady!") Board breaking was pretty good too. I actually tried breaking with a sidekick. Well, that's not so unusual, as much as I was trying it with my left foot! The sisters held the board for me to practice and then try. I am so glad to see them start to blossom and really get into the leadership roles. When I first met them, being color belts several cycles ahead of me, they were both so timid and shy. Over time, they have started coming out of their shells, and are always asking me if I need help with my form, hold my boards for breaking, want to pair up with me for sparring, etc. I think part of it is that they trust me, thus request it from me, and of course, I don't have a problem complying. But I broke it after 2-3 tries. Not bad for a first time!

Instructor class was good. We did this one drill to show how to keep kids occupied who might be doing different forms. SW asked me to be an example of the camo thru red kids, like Drew, so I started jumping up and down like I was Drew, and it got a good chuckle from the group, as we all know how bouncy my kid is. The rest of the time, those of us competing were encouraged to help each other in critiquing any last minute tweaks. EL suggested that we pair up, and I did my CJ#2 for her, as that's what I'm competing with since I've only just started to learn Shim Jun. She said overall, it's very good, and that it was just some hand things like keeping fingers tight and such that I just had to remember. Coming from her, who's been on the tournament circult for a LONG time, and really knows what she's looking at, I took that as a compliment. And that was considering that I was doing my form in a very tired physical and mental state of being! So, I generally left feeling okay about what needs to be done for Saturday, even if I don't place, that I can give a pretty good showing.

I think learning Shim Jun will be good. You don't learn all of it in one cycle, like you did with color belt forms, but rather over two or three, which is good. But knowing me, I'll learn a lot of it quickly. It's times like this that I wish I could fast-track with my curriculum. But, more time to acquire the form means more time to get it right and fix the nuances as I go. I know I don't do it well right now. But I just was shown the first 15-16 moves (I think) of 80+ moves. And I tend to be a slight...perfectionist? Maybe that's not the best word, but close enough. Okay, I know I'm not great, but I do my best to do as close to a flawless job as I can. There's no rush in getting to my 2nd degree. I think I just don't want to be bored! I felt like tonight -- and Saturday too-- in learning this new form, that I have to sweep away the cobwebs from the part of my brain that needs to truly use my best cognitive abilities to keep track of it all. My brain hasn't been used like that in a while in TKD class, so while it's a little frustrating, I'm not down about it (yet), and I think the challenge is good.

Drew also had class tonight. I knew that there were a lot of kids in his class that were older, but I didn't realize how many of them were closer to 9 years old! He's REALLY young, and one of the lowest ranked in there, but he perseveres. I know they were doing an exercise where each kid had a segment, and he'd zone out when it ws his turn, and the kids were a mix of annoyed that he'd forget and those who were trying to help him remember, and I think he got frustrated with that. He didn't put the full effort he could after a while. But he continued, and didn't meltdown. He didn't put in the full effort he had earlier in class, but he still kept going. That in itself is progress. He also felt good because he did a front kick board break on the first try, which was good. He needs to start having some confidence in doing foot breaks, and I think he was getting frustrated on Monday when trying to do a sidekick. He behaved a little better with his SJB this week. I even practiced a little, and tried showing him a 360 release. He was getting the basic idea, as it's a hard thing to do. I still have to practice it! Sure enough, SW was showing the kids how to do it in class, so he had a slight head start. I didn't see him spar, but I get the impression from him that he's starting to improve with his control a little more. I could be wrong. But it's all little steps in the right direction. I'll take that over big steps -- or little steps-- in the wrong direction.

I guess now my TKD focus for the next few days will be making sure that I retain the amount of Shim Jun that I've learned thusfar, continuing to practice the SJB form, and keep CJ#2 fresh for Saturday. And as we say in both Cub Scouts and TKD, I just need to "do my best."

Monday, November 05, 2007

Practice makes perfect, or so they say

Not much to report here. Drew had class today. He went into class in a dour mood, and came out, well, not as dour. I think the time change yesterday has thrown him, as well as his dear old mom, off. I think despite what he says, Drew does much better when one of the adults stays on top of him as he's learning his form. RA fixed a part of his form today, and he was doing much better as a result. I still try not to watch class, but I admit I still look up from time to time. He's having problems with the figure 8s with his SJB, but he's like his mom with that one. That one took me a while. He also finally started working on a sidekick break. It took him many tries before he got it, but he did. I made a slight fuss, but he said that was why he didn't like foot breaks, because he's not as good at them. I reminded him that sidekick ones were really hard for me too for a long time. He had one round of sparring, and he's continuing to improve, as his control is getting better. I think he's starting to grow up a little with that.

As for me, no classes tonight, but then again, I usually don't do Mondays. I sit and knit during Drew's classes. I started working on the heel of a second sock! ;-) But other than a few interruptions from SW and NM, I keep to myself. However, since I am still undecided as to whether I'm going to the regional tournament on Saturday or not (due to mild illness-- not sure if I have a sinus infection that I'm working through, and I feel like I have jet lag even though I haven't gone anywhere. Perhaps it's the time change too?). I spent a good part of my night practicing the weapons form. I mean, I don't have to compete in the weapons form, it's optional. However, I was state champ in weapons, so it'd seem kinda dumb not to compete. Naturally, it's doing a form I just learned and got the hang of the sequence in the last few days, I can't do one of the moves well (the inverted throw), and I don't have the footing well, and it's not my best weapon, so why set myself up for disaster? I guess I have to figure this out by the end of the week. :-S This is what's weird....I know I have to take my time doing this form. If I rush, I screw up more. That seems okay. The weird part is that I was reviewing the move before the inverted throw (around the world/lasso) into the inverted throw, and a few times, I'd practice it on my dominant side with my eyes closed, taking my time. I literally can do the blind throw blind, but as soon as I open my eyes, I start to screw up! What's with that?? Alternately, if I watch myself doing it in my reflection (I was checking myself in my patio door), I could get it. I dunno...I think I need more practice.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

First Day of 1st Degree Training

I haven't been to classes since the tournament last week. I just needed a week off, and with Halloween, the day I usually go, being closed for the day, I took full advantage of that. I don't normally go on Saturdays these days, but with a regional tournament in a week, I thought it might be prudent to at least get some more guidance in the weapons form.

But first, I started to learn my new poom-sae/form. I believe it's called Shim Jun, but I'll have to double check that, since that might be the 2nd degree form's name. I forget. There are 80-something moves in it, which is twice as long as Chung Jung #2, which is the last color belt form I did. I get to compete with CJ#2 for next week, because there's a 6 month grace period for new black belts, so believe me, I'm taking advantage of that, since mine is still newly minted! So anyway, I'm not sure exactly how they count the number of moves I learned today, but one of the biggest changes that you start learning as a black belt is single arm movements. Before, as a color belt, you had to do big reaches, and always do things with both hands. For example, before as a color belt, you'd "load" a back fisted punch by crossing your arms in front parallel to each other, and the bottom hand would extend for the punch, and the other hand would pull back to beside your rib cage. Today, one of the moves was a backfist, but the difference was that just the punching hand would load, facing in an inverted way from before, and you'd just pop the punch out and not move the other hand. That'll take some getting used to! But what we learned so far was fairly easy. I was told the next section was the more challenging part of it, so we'll see. I have to keep what I learned today in my head while still retaining CJ#2 for another week or so, so we'll see how that goes! I know hand and foot timing is more critical at this level too, so I can totally appreciate why SW harped on it so much, at least on me, when still a color belt.

We had a short break (2nd degree form class), and during that time BU, who was on the sidelines due to a sinus infection while his son WU took class, helped me start to work on the 1st degree SJB form. It's pretty easy, but it's remember the sequence of things, and some of the little things that go along with it.

After the break, then it was time for the 1st degree weapons class. There was another kid who got his black belt the same night I did (he was at an earlier testing), so theoretically, he and I would be learning the first half of the SJB weapons form for the next testing. When Ben, who was teaching, asked how much we needed to know or how much we knew, I said I knew most of it, but I had to learn the whole thing for competition next week. Ben raised his eyebrows, but understood, when I reminded him that I knew that basically if I knew the first half, the second half was the same thing in reverse, after all, and he agreed. So, Ben and I reviewed the sequence a few times, and then we went over the little nuances (foot timing in moving, for example), and I think after a while, I did get the hang of it. I think the major hangups I have are doing the inverted catch move (that's hard for anyone, but I could use the practice more so I don't think about it), and getting used to using the weapon on my left side, aka my less dominant side. I'm not TOO bad on that side, but some moves just feel awkward, that's all. But I think if I work on it every day until tournament next week, I should be okay.

I wasn't even going to venture into sparring today or board breaking. Well, we know of my love affair with sparring-- NOT! I think as long as I'm fairly limber and pace myself, I'll be okay in sparring. And as far as board breaking, I don't think it'll be a problem. One of the combinations that you can do involves three breaks, namely a front kick, side kick and round kick. The catch is that one of the breaks needs to be with the opposite foot of the other ones. Since most people do all of their breaks with the same foot, this presents a challenge. But for me-- piece of cake! Remember, I was already doing a combination using opposite feet for the promotion break to 1st degree, so adding another kick with the dominant foot will be nothing! Of course, I'll still have to practice these, but it won't be so bad. Another combination to choose is a knifehand break with a running jump side over 2 obstacles! I like the knifehand break, but don't think I'll be doing THAT one anytime soon!

So, my first true venture out as a 1st degree black belt in training wasn't too bad. Of course, I took it easy. I know one thing that concerned me a little was that Ben mentioned that with the idea of me learning my SJB form-- the whole thing-- in one week vs. 2-3 cycles, I'm going to be bored, and it's too bad that I can't just learn the whole regular form quickly, and promote faster, but SW really goes by the rules pretty strictly when it comes to promotion. I agreed, as believe me, I understand only too well what he's saying. But I reminded him that the new form will take some time to learn, and since that's pretty new, that will keep things interesting for a while, fortunately. And I'm used to being bored, but knowing SW, she'll make sure that boredom will be turned into how I can super fine tune my moves for competition. I know her. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. Ben had said to me and another kid during forms class earlier that in color belt, you may have been able to get away with some sloppy stuff (I wasn't), but as a black belt, you're not supposed to get away with any of that stuff, so learning the fine tuning early will help. I think I've already been trained with that mentality.