Sunday, December 30, 2007

You never quite lose it altogether

It's funny how people, especially kids, who aren't doing martial arts, find it incredibly cool when they see that you can do it, and actually see you demonstrate it, even if it's in a minor way.

Today Drew had a friend over who LOOOOVES Star Wars. He has two toy lightsabers, and Drew got one from Santa for Christmas. I made sure that the friend brought his so that Drew could actually have a little duel with him with an equal toy rather than galavanting around swishing at nothing and nearly hitting other things instead. There were rules, of course, that I made sure that the boys followed while they played, which were no-brainers for the rest of us-- don't actually swipe at a person, don't put the saber in someone's face, don't hit but if you do don't hit hard, etc. Basically, keep it to saber on saber action, and keep good control of your weapon, as simple as that. At one point, they wanted me to play, so since I didn't have my sword with me (it's kept at the school), I used my BME, which is a little shorter than what they had, but sufficed nicely. When I did the simple "roll down/roll up" action with my wrist, the friend said, "COOL! How'd 'ya do that?" It's one of those no-brainer things that you learn when you learn how to use a BME, but granted, once it becomes a natural thing, it does look pretty cool. I showed them some basics of gumdo, and then were teaching him the basic strike lines. It was cute, because when his mom came to get him, the boy remembered some of them pretty well, and she was impressed by his little display. I think he also thought it was cool that somebody else's mom would play lightsabers and know some cool "tricks" to make it look real showy like in the movies.

So, while I haven't used a BME in a while (I will again in a few cycles), you never quite lose those skills altogether. I might not be a master swordsperson by any means, or anything close to being that good in BME, but it's cool when you can impress a little kid like that with basic strike lines stuff. ;-) Makes you feel appreciated, and he also appreciated that his friend Drew was learning this stuff too. He liked seeing Drew's #3 jump round kick that he likes to do. It IS impressive looking.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Proof of support, holiday style

It's a slightly sparse Christmas this year for us. Oh, my son doesn't know the difference, but the hubby and I didn't spend a lot on each other due to watching our finances. From him, I got a cool webcam that I've been wanting for my notebook PC (maybe I can start making practice videos of my forms!). But the other one, in many respects, meant more.

As you all know, I earned my 1st degree black belt back in October. Due to mess-ups at the ATA headquarters, I did not receive my black belt certificate until about a week or two ago. After showing my husband the certificate, I put it on top of his bookcase, which is a pretty safe place, for safekeeping.

So, on Christmas Day, I open up the Webcam, cool, and then I pick up another present. It feels like a frame, but I can't imagine what it could be. Once I opened it, I saw that he had gotten my black belt certificate framed in a beautiful walnut colored frame, very classic. He wanted to show me that he was proud of my accomplishment, and he wants me to be able to display it, so he got the framing done. It meant a lot to me that he understood how seriously I take it, and that he was proud of me-- enough to get that framing done. Now, we just have to figure out where to put this beautiful frame in our home-- somewhere that displays it proudly.

I hope all that celebrate Christmas enjoy the season, and for those who don't, please share the sentiments of peace, joy, happiness and camaraderie that Christmas brings with those around you. I believe that even if you don't celebrate Christmas, the sentiments and ideas that are supposed to be brought to the season are ones that ALL of us should abide. Feliz Navidad, Joyeax Noel, and Merry Christmas to all!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Holiday Hooky

Well, with the exception of the class I went to this morning, Drew and I are playing hooky from TKD classes this week. We have no classes next week (yay!). So I think that constitutes another nice little break. Even SW said that even though this is not a "fun week" (whereby we don't have to do the regular curriculum), most likely nobody's going to remember this week's material after the break anyway, so that made me feel like it was okay. Between that and the fact that Drew is battling a cold (it started out as pinkeye on Sunday, and then bad congestion all yesterday through the night), PLUS I have a ton of things to do to prepare for the holidays, it made sense. Between teachers, me taking off on Friday, and having a big family to-do here at my house at lunchtime on Saturday, I have just to much to do. After that, leading up to Christmas, it's all downhill-- it'll be easier. So until then, it's the mad rush!

But I can take a moment to at least talk about my solitary class on the day that I normally take three classes. I do have to start by saying that it's nice to be in the black belt category rather than still with the color belts. The color belts in our adult day class are all beginners, and while I always appreciated people being patient with me at that stage and I do my best to do the same for those under me, I do like having the challenges of being a black belt more. I was working with the only white belt, MG. While she's been a parent of a special abilities child there for a long time, she is discovering, like many adults who start after their children, that it's not as easy as it looks, not that her son does very much compared with your average kid, as he has both cognitive disabilities and mild physical disabilities. But he tries! :-) His mom is doing her best, but it just seems like she doesn't get it completely nonetheless. Granted, she was being challenged today, but even getting a basic chamber-extension-rechamber concept was hard. Today, we were warming up with crescent kicks, and the whole concept eluded her, and I couldn't understand why. That was one of the easiest ones that I remember learning early on. Easy to remember too-- a crescent kick is like a crescent moon, so it's something where the leg is brought "over the moon", as I like to say, but with chambering and rechambering. For whatever reason, she wouldn't extend her kick that far either. She also had a hard time with the concept of a roundkick against a pad being with the upper flat part of your foot, like on the foot knuckles. She kept hitting everything with her toes. Between her crescents and her roundkicks, they looked the same. I tried to be helpful and encouraging as much as I could, and she was able to get it. She was very complementary about my performance at graduation last week, which I was surprised by that, but appreciative. But as a black belt, when I had to do drills and she held the pad, I had different things to do than she did which were a little more challenging.

One of them was doing a spin reverse hook kick. (Yes, I can hear you laughing already, Sandy.) I wasn't making the full spin when I practiced, so it was more like doing a #3 reverse hook kick rather than a #3 reverse spin hook kick. Think 180 degrees vs 360 degrees around. Yeah, now you have it. I had the basic concept down though, and that was what was important. As a result, we all started on the next sections of our form, or new forms as the case might be for some. For me, it was starting to learn the second half of my form. I started by practicing the first half, which I think I have down fairly well. I'm sure there's room for improvement here and there, lots of tweaking, but I have the jist of it, after all. I got the next parts in two segments. In the first new part, there's something where you do a rear stance where you do a slow upset ridgehand, pull it back and then do a slow spearhand. Well, duh on me, as first, I had to ask ES to go over it with me after I was shown, since being that I'm an old woman with all this Christmas stuff going through my head right now, it wasn't sinking in right away. (In my favor, however, I only had to be shown the segments twice before I got the hang of them, rather than 5 times, so that must be an improvement!). The second DUH was that I was facing a mirror, because I could watch myself to see if I was doing it right. There's times that I've mentioned where I know I'm doing something right, but it doesn't "feel pretty", meaning that it might be correct, but it doesn't feel like I'm looking correct in my own mind. So just looking in the mirror I could see if I was doing it correctly. The second segment I got was with the spin hook kick. Ah, so THAT'S where it goes. I found that if I used a little speed to get around, like a little bit of momentum to make the spin, I could make it around without a problem. The issue was that I knew it was not "pretty". It felt off. I know I was generally executing it correctly, but I'm sure that it could look a lot better. So, I spent a lot of time just working on that hand bit with the upset ridge hand/spear hand thing, and that spin hook kick. (No, I did not get dizzy. It's all about spotting, and I used to have to do 3-5 spins in ballet pirouettes nonstop when I was a kid, so this is nothing!) I didn't work on weapons, just so I could get through these next two sections that I was given. It's not too bad. I'll have to check to see how far along in the form I am, but I think I'm making decent progress, at least for the first day.

So, I have my work cut out for me in the next two weeks. I need to work on streamlining the sequencing of moves so that it's smooth, as well as just get the moves down and make them look good! As I said to ES, as she was doing her upset ridgehand one way, and SW was doing it another (and you go by the way SW does it, as she's the instructor), but I want to get as many of the nuances down now, since this is the form I'll be competing with for the next couple of years. If I learn them the right way now, it'll be easier for me later.

MG was feeling a little flabbergasted about watching what I was doing, and thinking that she couldn't get there. As I explained to her, it took 2 years of classes and lots and lots and lots of practice to get where I am now. Some of the drills we did I could have done quickly, but they would've been sloppy. I usually take my time because I want to get it right and look good. Speed comes later. Accuracy is more important, and so doing axe kicks (another drill that we all did today) comes more easily simply because there were nights last year where even though I wasn't required to do them yet, it was part of some leadership classes, and I was drilled, and drilled and drilled until I was ready to collapse, but now they are pretty easy for me to do as a result. So it's just a matter of time and practice. I just hope that some more of this will start to click for her soon. There is no set timeline to get your black belt, but with plenty of good instruction and lots of practice, and no rushing how you practice, it will all come together. Hopefully she saw that my patience and willingness to help her and not make her feel pressured will help her succeed.

So, now I'm done taking a quick to figure out dinner, and then it'll be another baking marathon tonight!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

First of a long line of midterms, and a new belt

Tonight was graduation/testing night. Both Drew and I tested. It was a bigger deal for Drew than it was for me, because he was going for a new belt, and I wasn't. Y'see, now that I'm a black belt, I have about 12 testing cycles to go through before I'm eligible, provided that I don't take a big break, before I test for my second degree belt. There are 10 midterms, of which 2 are big ones where you go for the points you need to promote, your "bootleg" test to 2BR (second recommended), and then your final rank test. Of those 10 midterms, I was doing Midterm #1.

Anyway, it was a more important night for Drew. He was bumping up from full camo belt to half-camo, half-green. (Next belt, as you guessed, is full green.) But before the graduation, which was a pretty small group compared to usual, Drew had a slight run-in with another kid. All the kids were on the back floor, "practicing" with their weapons (meaning some were legitimately practicing, some were half practicing, and some were just goofing off). Drew falls in the category between half-practicing and not exactly practicing. Anyway, I wasn't watching, as I was getting myself prepared to do some knitting while I watched everything, and this dad comes up to me and lets me know that Drew hurt his kid. Oh great. The kid was holding his mouth. Supposedly, Drew was chasing the kid and hit him with his SJB. Now for those of you not in the know, EVERYONE in the school uses the super padded foam weapons. Even so, if you get whacked with one of those things, even in doing to yourself by accident when practicing, it hurts! Drew told me one story, and the story the dad told me wasn't implausible, but I can't believe Drew was 100% at fault. A lot of the kids were not behaving like angels there. Too many people just don't understand that Drew is the littlest one there, and doesn't always have the maturity that the other kids have, even if he looks at least 2 years older than he is. Anyhow, I assured the dad that I would speak to Drew. Drew got upset, but he was willing to apologize to the kid. The problem was that the kid was in the bathroom with his dad. (He got hit in the mouth, and cut his lip.) Drew is NOT a malicious kid. Immature, impulsive-- absolutely. Malicious- never. Of course, at that moment, that's when SW told the kids to line up. When the kid came out a few minutes later, I apologized to him for Drew, and assured him that Drew did try to apologize because he didn't mean to hurt him, and he would try to say sorry to him later. Drew told me later that he did try to say something to the kid several times, but the kid would ignore him or he didn't hear him. I assured Drew that as long as he didn't mean it, and he did try to apologize, then that was fine, but he wasn't going to play with his SJB that way EVER AGAIN.

Anyway, other than that, he had a good night. It was probably the first testing that I've seen him with the most poise-- for him. When he was called up to do his form, being that he's still a Tiny Tiger, he only has to do half, and with an instructor. He was the only one called up. So, except for an instructor, he had to be up there all by himself. And that being said, it proved that he was the youngest one there, as only TTs do it the way he had to do it. Anyway, it wasn't perfect, but he did a really good job. His movements have a certain crispness to them, even if they are not exactly the right moves, if that makes sense. He had good jumps, he has the "pop" in his punches and other hand movements and kicks. He did great. Then, he had to wait until later to do his weapons. After the earlier incident, he originally was going to abandon doing it, but he changed his mind. He had a hard time keeping it still while he was waiting, but then again, remember, he's ADHD- he's hard to keep still, period! But once he was able to get up and do his weapon, he was back on track, and he felt good, and he was trying to do some tricks. It was cute. When he had to do the sparring, I was a little fearful, as he was paired with JV, the little boy who kicked Drew in the head several weeks earlier. Before he went out to the floor to spar, I reminded him that graduation sparring is "no contact", which meant no touching, so he needed to work on doing that. So off they went! I was surprised to see that Drew did maintain his control, and was doing well. Then, JV kicked Drew in the head again. It was more like a tap this time, so he was doing his best to keep his control too (he's a lot taller than Drew). Of course, Drew protested, or at least very loudly alerted the judges there, "Hey, NO CONTACT!" :-) But he was fine, and he did well. And that was that. He was very proud, in the end, that he got his new belt, and that he got another silver star for his uniform.

Here's the boy with his new belt now!
Another fierce face!

I don't know why he feels that he has to look so tough and fierce when he is taking a TKD photo. Maybe he thinks that he seems more powerful if he does that. I dunno. It's not something I encourage. He actually did have a smile on his face, and he was very proud of his achievements.

As for myself, there's not much to say. I had to do half of my form, half of my weapons form, and spar. I did my form with another 1st degree, but it was a kid I'm guessing was no more than 8 or 9 years old, and he was speeding through. I didn't care. I was going to take my time. I did have to ask some of the teen instructors where the kihaps were, because I never learned where they were (after the 2nd set of punches, and after the knifehand strike near the end of that half), and I was able to get them in at the right time. I went commando with the knee braces (horrors!), but I did fine, because I hadn't overdone it. My weapons form was also done at MY pace, not some kid's pace, and as a result, I know it was done right. I know he didn't do his V-strike correctly, and I made a point to do mine correctly, because SW had made it a point to demonstrate the correct way of doing it. Oh well. In sparring, I went up against ES again, like last time. She kept me moving, but it's never that exciting to go up against her. I did kick her in the head, by accident. I was trying to clear her head with my foot, and well, I missed. Oops. I didn't hit her hard. But then I heard Drew's words come from ES-- "Hey, no contact!" ;-) She knew that I had better control, of course, and I explained that I wasn't meaning to hit her head, that my aim was bad, and I didn't stretch as much as I thought I was able to do. No biggie. So, it was all said and done. It was probably one of the easiest testings I've ever done. Perhaps it's because I didn't feel the pressure of the last few. So, it was a fairly pleasant evening.

I think for Drew, who I'm much more concerned about his progress right now, he really does enjoy TKD. I think he's just an overly sensitive kid, due to all his learning disabilities, and so the littlest thing can set him off, and then he'll say he hates TKD. But when he's in there, he loves it, and that's all he does when he plays at home. So I know deep down he does like it. But he's still little, and it will take him time to get to the point where he has true "black belt" poise.

At bedtime tonight, Drew told me that another kid whose name he didn't know thought that Drew was in Leadership, when he knows he's only in Masters. We talked about it a little bit, and he understands-- and agrees-- that he's not ready for Leadership yet. But he's definitely got a lot of the right raw materials for it. Give him until next school year, or when he gets his black belt, or when he turns 8-- whichever seems right at the time-- and then we'll talk. I know it's a long climb, but he's going to be a great martial artist someday. I feel it in my creaky old bones. He made me proud tonight.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Joyful night

Two entries in one day...can you stand it? ;-)

Last night before we left Instructor class, EL asked me if I could come to her second attempt at getting her 3rd degree belt. She said that pretty much no one else could make it, and it would mean a lot if I could come. Usually Thursdays are relatively free days for me, so I told her that I couldn't make any promises, but I would certainly try. EL had to test at KC's school, as SW is not a high enough rank herself to be able to pass EL to the next rank.

I did make the attempt, and I got there after things got started, but she was one of the last to go, so I didn't miss anything. It was just me, her parents, and one of her dad's cousins who came the last time as well. She did her form fine, and she said she missed a section of her weapons form. Oh well. I guess they didn't notice, since KC has about a million people out on the floor at the same time. I mean, SW does too, but it's more like a half million vs. a million. The one thing I noticed about the students at KC's school is that they do their forms a little differently, and well, I think the students at our school have more snap to what they do, in general. Anyway, then EL did her sparring. She was in her chair, and KC matched her up with a very tall teenager. Well, as we joked after she was done, it was a good thing she sparred with me yesterday, as that kid was at least as big as me, so she got some good "long legs" practice! LOL

Then the big moment-- board breaking. No pun intended, but this is literally what makes or breaks it if you pass or not. The one thing both EL and I were noticing with the other students was that almost nobody was aiming for the centers of the board. There was a lot of plastic being used (plastic boards, that is), and the set ups that the kids were doing were just whacked out. They made no sense. Just their whole methodology just looked like almost none of them had done that many breaks, or had practiced all that much. It wasn't where if they didn't get the break on the 1st try that they just had tweak boards-- they would majorly move them! The holders were also not good, because if a break wasn't done, they wouldn't just hold the board where it was. The more it's kept still from where the person places it, from my own experience on both sides of the board (holding and kicking), the more success the person will have if the board is already set up correctly, and less injuries too.

Well, EL's turn came up. I reminded her before she went up about the placement of her second board, as she made a mistake with it last night, and also told her from watching all these other people trying to break boards, very few were doing it, but she could definitely pound it out. I also suggested that she punch the hell out of those things, even if it meant breaking her wrist. She agreed, in jest! ;-) So, she set up her boards, and man, I don't think her board holders were the best, but she was setting it up fine, at least, as long as they held it where she put it! She bowed in, and made her first attempt at each board. A "thunk" was heard on each board. So she set up the boards again while KC watched another kid make an attempt. One thing I don't like about this scenario at KC's testings is that she makes each kid wait for so long between attempts, that it really gives the person testing enough time to psyche themselves out. I was afraid of that happening with EL. When it was EL's turn again, I just did my best to send her a karmic/psychic message across the room of, "Don't think about it, just GO!". While I don't know if she heard me or not, WHAM! went the first board. There was applause. But then, there was the break with which she was having the most difficulty in practices. Deep breath....WHAM!!! As soon as she broke that second board, I jumped to my feet punching the air with a big, "YEAH!!!!!!!!" and of course, she got general applause for breaking. Well, I couldn't contain my excitement, naturally. I know how bummed she was when she didn't break at her last testing, and she's worked so hard for this testing that it was a joyful relief that she did it. Changing over from her chair to her walker really made a huge difference, and fortunately she figured that one out.

I could stay long afterwards, but I had to get a photo with my cell phone of the happy new 3rd degree black belt. And this is only a half smile for the night! ;-) She even asked her mom afterwards, "Can I squee now?" because she is that happy and excited, and for good reason. She really earned this one. EL is admirable just in the fact that all her limbs don't work the same as the average person, so she has to work that much harder right off the bat to do the forms and everything else. But she loves this sport, and she's not a World Champion for nothing! She puts every ounce of her soul into what she does when she does TKD, and it shows. And she's a good example for persevering when the chips are down. She could have let her difficulties from the last testing get her down and psyche her out. She didn't let that happen. She was much calmer this time around, and she did much better, with a very positive outcome.

So congrats to the newest 3rd degree black belt at my do-jahng! :-)
Emily-- the new 3rd degree!
EL-- showing only about HALF of her happiness and pride of her accomplishment!

Another fun filled Wednesday

I was pretty wiped out, as usual, from a long Wednesday. Morning class was alright. It's not quite as fun since Sandy's not there. She's out of commission for a while, doctor's orders, because her ankle is THAT messed up. She has to go to PT, but other than that, she is supposed to keep off it as much as possible. At least the timing is good, because December is usually a pretty dead month once graduation is done. It feels a little odd, even though it's a small class, that I'm now one of the high ranks as a black belt now. It's amazing how the change of status really does change things, even if it's a little bit. We have two new moms who have joined the morning class. One started last week, and one started this week. At least they have partners to move along together. I had nobody until Sandy came along!

Drew is holding in there. SW and I had a conversation about the day before, and she assured me, as I suspected, that his crying jag with the board breaking was just a 6 year old thing. I figured as much. She said he was still following everyone in the class when doing the form, but once she made some small adjustment comments to the class (without singling him out, although others were doing it too), he was keeping up pretty well, she felt. Sparring is still an issue, which reared its ugly head in Wednesday's class. He was doing well until sparring. He was paired up with another boy who's about 8 named CG. CG is big for his age as well, and well, a little more gawky with his movements, and he doesn't seem very mature for his age. Well, both of them were kicking each other's shins rather than getting in the higher kicks, and NK separated them and reminded them of the rules. They went at it again, including face punches. She reminds them again. Next time they are getting into it, they are evidentally mad at each other and wrestling! Grrr. So, she separated them, and told them both to take off their gear because they were done, especially since they couldn't play by the rules. Simple enough. Well, it got Drew into a crying jag where he couldn't stop (he could've been tired too), and by that time, my class had started, but JC was there. I knew he could handle whatever was the problem. I saw later that the kids were bowing out, but no Drew. I think JC just did what he had to do, and got Drew out of there. Sometimes that's the best thing to do, and after I heard the whole story, it was the best thing to do to get Drew out of there. Drew is not a violent kid, mind you, he really isn't. But, he's just 6 1/2, and still figuring out the solidness of his body, and controlling it and such. There are a couple kids like that, so he's not the only one. He just ends up going up against those kids. He was fine, but he just has to learn better control-- of his body, and his temper. He's still a work in progress.

My regular class in the evening was fine. Some of the drills that we've been doing in the last two weeks have been very intensive on the knees, and that hasn't helped. It's gotten to a point for the last two weeks that my *good* knee is starting to have problems. That's not good at all. Geez. Just what I need. So, I don't do any jumping, and I think I have to really watch it with some of the sparring drills we've been doing, because a lot of them have been lunge and duck-and-weave type drills and they are killer to my knees. Oh well. I am pretty sure I have my half-form down for both regular form and weapons, as it's just a matter of continuing to practice. I don't need to break any boards this time around, but I did do a front kick break with my opposite (read: left) foot, to try it out, and it was a no-brainer. I also had some decent sparring rounds, although I was totally exhausted. The best round was with Dr. P, who's just a lot of fun to hang out with, and a very good martial artist. He's one of those few who never went into leadership, yet is approaching his 3rd degree soon. He's very good. He's about my age, and we were sharing old geezer aches, and he didn't realize that I'm a big kicker, and usually go for the ribs and head in combos. (I don't think I've sparred him too often, and it's been a while.) So we had a pretty decent bout, to say the least. He got some good punches in, and he said I did pretty well, all things considered. It was good.

Instructor class was mostly about talking about how to deal with situations much like what happened with Drew. I volunteered the information about Drew, because I'm the first to admit, unlike most parents, that he can be a problem kid sometimes. SW had mentioned another ADHD kid, and things that we had to change in attitude that had been working for Drew to apply to this other kid, as well as other children who try to get out of doing their work in class or behaving. In that respect, I think people are glad that I'm not in denial about my kid, and they know it's okay if he's disciplined another way. They all know that Drew is not a bad kid, but one who doesn't know how to control his actions very well, and that's part of the reason he's there. So, the kids in the class were asking, so, if a kid does this, how do you handle that? What are the options? Being the only parent in the group (as well as adult), I could give them both the parent perspective AND the ATA perspective, and how they really do work together. So that was a good class too, not too stressful on the knees!

Graduation is next week. I think Drew and I will be fine. Just have to practice between now and then. ;-)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Trying out Tuesdays

Since our Tuesdays have been freeing up, and Drew had..."issues"...with RA (I don't understand his problem with RA completely, but whatever), I decided that we'd try out Tuesday classes instead, just to see if it worked out differently. SW had told me that it was typically a smaller class than the Monday and Wednesday classes, so it was worth a try so that way she could keep a closer eye on him...and no RA. (He doesn't work on Tuesdays.)

Sure enough, it was a smaller class. Compared to last Wednesday's class of about 20-24 kids, today was only about 9 kids. MUCH BETTER. One of the things that SW was getting after the kids about was "happy feet" (think of the movie with the penguin, where he couldn't keep his feet still for very long). She said she was not singling anyone out, but I know one of the main culprits was Drew. He's always wiggling around. He's gotten better over the years, but there's still plenty of room for improvement. I think what I most liked seeing today was that he was able to keep up with the older kids and higher belts today. He still travelled a little too much-- some of that "happy feet" at work, but it wasn't as bad as usual. I was just glad that he was keeping up for the full form as much as he was. I suspect that he won't do the whole form, and he'll still only do half (which means with help) at testing next week, but oh well. I think he MIGHT be capable of doing it, but then again, maybe he's not quite mature enough for it yet. Hard to say. I'll let SW make the call this time. During weapons, well, at least he didn't hit anyone with his SJB! SW had them working on 20 second freestyles. It's funny to watch the kids, because some use a "form" that SW sometimes teaches. Drew has always wanted to do his own thing, and some of the moves are still a little hard for him. I think he improvises pretty well, otherwise. But in his last improvisation, he did about 5-6 V-strike moves in a row-- FAST -- and it looked like it would hurt! But he was fine and proud of his achievement. It just made me laugh to watch it.

Things started to fall apart at board breaking. This is a year of new experiences, that's for sure. And it's a time for learning things the hard way, and learning how to mature. In board breaking, he decided to work on his roundkick break again. It just wasn't happening. He'd kick and kick, and JZ tried to help him figure out the problem, but it just wasn't happening. He walked away and came over to me (who had his gear bag) crying. He was upset and disappointed in himself, and frustrated. I told him after everyone else had a try, maybe he could asked SW or JZ to try again. He still wasn't hitting the mark. This upset him more. I, first, had to get him to calm down, because he was getting hysterical. Once I got him calmed a little more, I pointed out another boy in his class who was a black belt who wasn't getting his board broken today either. I explained that I don't break the board often too, he just doesn't see it because he isn't in class with me, but he could ask SV (who was there next to me, as her son is in Drew's class) or Ma'am, and they could tell him that it happens, and sometimes we have off days, and it's just like a game. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I got him in his sparring gear, and he didn't seem too bad after that. He was a little grumpy when they had to bow out, but I didn't rush him out the door. I just gave him some hugs and assurances, and as he's telling me that he doesn't want to take TKD anymore, I reminded him that graduation is next week and he gets a new belt. (He often gets tournaments and graduation mixed up. As long as he gets something, he's happy.) Once I said that, he perked up a bit, and agreed to at least go through next week. He'll be fine. He was fine until the board break failure. If he had broken the board tonight, he would've been fine. There would be no issue.

I'm thinking after graduation, since we only have a week before having a week-long winter break at the TKD school, I'm going to give him that week before off too. Unless he WANTS to go, of course. But I think he needs another break. He needs to enjoy Christmas and be a kid with a few less things to worry about, like learning his form. If I can give him these mini breaks like this, I think it's less stress on him, and he will still learn. As we are often reminded, there is no timetable in getting your black belt, and Drew is certainly proof of that. I want him to feel success, even if he has to feel defeat first, like today's board breaking exercise, along the way.