Thursday, January 17, 2008


Somehow the David Bowie song, "Changes" is going through my head as I write this. The lyrics don't apply, but the title certainly does.

On Tuesday, Drew's class was not so great. He's had much worse classes, but it wasn't a good one. He was getting in trouble for not cooperating during pad drill, but he was the worst of the class-- everyone in there was not cooperating. He got through the class, albeit very grumpy, but was holding his own. One thing he was very proud of, but I didn't see, was that he's been practicing a fancy kick that he saw in one of his Hot Wheels DVD during a fight scene. He decided to try to use it in sparring, and SW noticed. She told him that he was evidentally doing a butterfly kick, which is a fairly advanced jump kick. I don't think they start to teach that until you are at least a second degree. So, he left on a high note on that.

Wednesday was busy for both of us. My morning class went alright. I was paired with WS, when I wanted to be paired with KW instead. WS and KW are second degrees, and well, KW is the stronger student. WS is, as I've said, this weak little thing that can get the job done, but in pad drills, I basically have to tap the pad, and can't put any force into what I do, because she'll just fall over. Whereas KW-- wow-- she is one of the best martial artists at our school, when she comes. She takes periods of time off, as she's more dedicated to her kids' schedule than her own, but she doesn't miss a beat. Instead, she was paired up with a white belt. Bleeh. I don't get as much of a workout when I'm stuck with WS. This is one reason that I miss Sandy! Anyway, the drills of the week, both in my classes and Drew's classes have dealt with side kicks, and man, my hips were sore last night. But in the morning class, I was the only first degree there, so as usual, I had to work on my material on my own. SW has a lot of people in the beginner ranks right now, so she spends most of her time with them. There are a lot of white belts in there right now, so they need the extra attention. I did get some refinements, as I have some difficulties with two transitions, and I'm still getting the whole form memorized. I don't have any idea where the ki-haps go, but that's, as I often say, the icing on the cake. She remembered that I'm only in my 2nd midterm (out of about 12 that I have to do before getting to 2nd degree), so she didn't seem too worried right now, and said that my main objective right now was memorization of the form. I think part of it was because I said that I really wanted to work on the form, but I don't feel like I will be anywhere near competition form by April. She feels I should still go, because it's good for the practice. I don't want to go if I feel I'm not even good! At least the last one, I felt confident that while my weapons were bad, at least my 1BR form was still good (and the last time I did it was the best I had ever done it), and sparring would give me a chance. Oh well.

During the first evening class, KW had come in to help, and she was very nervous because it was the first time that she was leading a class. Yes, there were some flaws in what she did, but overall it went well. She should have moved some people around and paired people up. I was paired up with an 11 year old boy, and another large woman, SP, who is a camo belt, was paired up with Mr. Blue Belt. He's not really a good match for anyone smaller than him or well, as sexist as this sounds, with a woman. Fortunately, KW caught onto him fast, and told him that he was putting WAY too much power and energy into what was just a drill, and fortunately he listened. But I could see poor SP having a Dickens of a time dealing with him. And I felt, for the second class in a row, that I wasn't getting the kind of workout I should have gotten because I wasn't really paired up with someone who was at the same level. But at least when we went to practice our forms and weapons, I was with my "girls", the C sisters and one of the G brothers, so I had good company,and they could help me out with getting some of the kinks out of my form. Because of lots of kicked fingers and extra sore hips from teaching sidekicks all day, SW asked for help with board holding. She confessed to me later that she said she really didn't want to hold for the brown boards, because those guys are way too rough and powerful, and she didn't think she could hold up. For blue and green boards, with a strong helper (like myself), then she could do some. Naturally, I stepped up to the plate. She could still advise with the breaks. She's very good at verbally explaining exactly what you have to do to adjust if you don't make the break. Since I was the last one, she and Dr. T (he's so funny) held for me. I learned a new break, since I'm trying a few new things out. It was the start of an upset knifehand break. She had me do it like an upset hammerfist first. It went through on the second try, which is pretty cool. I think if I try it again, I'll be able to do it open handed. Sparring was not all that eventful, but Dr. T was disappointed that I didn't spar him, as I'm one of the few women who can keep up with him to some degree, and he's always waiting to get kicked in the head. ;-)

Instructor class was a little interesting. She split us into groups, and each group was to give a mini demonstration and talk about a life skill. Well, at our school, we don't talk much about life skills (goals, respect, discipline, etc.), but rather act through example or mention it in passing through example. We don't lecture about it that much necessarily. I was paired up with EL and AS. It was an interesting match up. EL knows her stuff very well, and it was she that told me, when it was my turn to teach, that I did really well but didn't really talk about the life skills we were supposed to be working on much. According to her, at certification camps, they really harp on that point a lot, so it's just something to work on, but otherwise, I did a good job. For her, the only criticism I had, and I think it's only because she is in a wheelchair and naturally doesn't think of it right away, is reminding the students where their beginning and landing foot should be if they are doing a foot drill, such as, start with right leg back, and it should land in the front, bring it to the back again, etc. That's an easy adjustment, and she agreed that she forgot about that. Oh, but AS. Now, I know the kid has a lot of learning diabilities and such, but this wasn't rocket science. He chose to teach a jumping slide side kick, which we had done in the class before. That was fine. But, all he had to do, at the most basic level, was to demonstrate it and break down the kick (chamber, slide jump, kick, rechamber). Again, not rocket science. He just couldn't do it. I was trying to get him to think how he would break it down. In the end, the "student" (me) was teaching the teacher how to teach. EL told me after a bit that I needed to let him figure it out, but I think she forgets how much prompting he needs. We both also had it a little hard because being that she's SA, she expects that we would be able to come up with an adaption for her. Well, that's asking a little much. For me, for the kick AS was trying to do, I would have her do the jump in the chair and knifehand (the latter of which she explained was the wheelchair sidekick). Evidentally, that's not correct, but at least it would have been a good guess, and she would have done it. AS could even come up with that. But I don't think it's fair that she would expect that. Our school is a little exceptional in that we do have a lot of SA kids in there, and SW has been working with them for MANY years, and we're still learning how to teach abled kids. But oh, working with AS was worse than trying to pull teeth! He just had no clue whatsoever. Even when I went last, EL was critiquing about the life skills stuff, and he was stuck talking about that. It took three attempts by me to steer him back to simply giving his own critique-- "A, go back to the beginning. What did you think about MY performance? You agree with [EL]? OK, that's fine. Is there any good or bad things about my performance that she left out?" I mean, THAT basic. I applaud the kid for trying, but man, I don't think he'll ever be able to be a full-time instructor. He literally just doesn't have the mind for it!

So, it was a long day of classes, but they went okay.

But, I know you are saying, okay, Windsornot, this sounds like a fairly typical entry from you. What's "changing", as the subject heading implies? Well, it's this: Thursday, January 17th, 2008 is my last day working at the ATA. I've been looking for a new job for almost a year for financial reasons. While there was some great flexbility in having this part-time job, the pay was less than desirable, and for a while now, especially recently, we've really needed to start pinching pennies. An agency which I had applied to a while ago called me on Monday offering me a temp position at a local healthcare philanthropy foundation (a very big, well known one, in fact) that is only one mile from my house, still giving me part-time hours, is more in line with the kind of work that I'm trained and have experience in doing, and the biggest part is that they are paying me more than twice the hourly rate that I'm getting at the ATA. How could I say no? I figured out that even when I took out taxes and even my TKD tuition funds from the paychecks, the net from the new one would be about 5-6 times more than what I'm taking home now. I start very shortly, and I'm looking forward to it. Since my employment is no longer tied to my training, if I want to take that long awaited break that I wanted to take back right after I got my black belt, I could without any guilt now. I'm not going to, since there's a regional tourney in April, and I really need to train for that. I'm thinking that if I give Drew the summer off, I'll take the summer off too. I have been training for almost 2 1/2 years nonstop, so I think I need a slight breather in a while. We'll see. But it's kind of the end of an era. I've worked for SW for almost a year and a half. She was already recruiting my replacement yesterday after my morning class, which is fine. Starting ther was a good place to get my feet wet again in the work world. At least it was in a familiar place with familiar faces, and that helped. The new job is going to be a total surprise. New place, new faces, etc. I'm a little nervous about it, but I've been assured that I'm more than qualified for the position, so it should be fairly easy for me. Even NM was happy for me, and said that she was glad that I could move on. She was also nice enough to tell me that a lot of people had always said kind comments about me being helpful while doing my Front Desk duties over time, so that was nice to hear. Part of me will miss the familiarity of being there, as the ATA is one of my "other homes". But, it's also time for a change of pace and a new challenge. And while I'm very nervous about that, I need to remind myself that I am a Black Belt. When I put my mind to it, I can meet any challenge I choose.

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