Sunday, March 30, 2008

What? There's a new post here?

Hello there people!

Yes, it's been rather quiet here at the Other Journal, and for good reason. I haven't been to TKD classes in a month. Even though I can't pay for lessons other than Drew's right now, and had the offer to continue training anyway, life has been just a huge mess. It's really not fun with "real life" gets in the way, but rather than get into the messy details (and believe me, if you knew the details, you'd think it was a South American soap opera or something), I'll just leave it at saying that it's been a terrible past month or so. To summarize, we had a house guest who, while a decent house guest, overstayed his welcome. Then, the bigger problems had to do with a property my husband owns and rents out, and it continues to be a problem, but we are hoping we are starting to see the end of the tunnel with that soon. As a result, I'd have to sacrifice my training time. It's okay for the most part, because the property issues are much more important right now. And I have needed a break. But I think I need to get back into the swing of things. I have been practicing my form, but told SW that I was opting out of this cycle's testing, even though she said I could still do it. It was only this past week that I was able to tell her about the insanity going on, because we, even as friends, haven't had much of a chance to catch up lately. But anyway, this cycle was a major mid-term, and while I'm sure I could pull it off, I don't think I would so a great job, just a good one, and I'm a slight perfectionist that way. I'd rather do my best than my "okay/passable". I think I'll try back again after tax time, as the graduation/testing is on tax day. My knee needed the break, my lungs needed the break, and I, for sanity reasons, needed the break. But I miss my friends, and I think I do need more exercise again, so I need to make time in the near future.

In the meantime, Drew has been continuing. This past week has been pretty good, since we have been on spring break for regular school, so things were rather quiet in do-jahng, which was good for Drew. Not as much sound overload, and he was able to concentrate a little better. Of course, he still has problems focusing, and he loves to watch himself in the mirror a little too much and makes faces at himself, but I supposed that's part of his immaturity as well as him being 6 1/2. But he's doing so much better in class, and not having meltdowns like he used to have. Even the other day, while I was talking to SW, he was starting to have a minor meltdown because he couldn't get his chest protector off, but someone else helped him, and it was nipped in the bud quickly. He's starting to help put his gear on and off himself, which is good. He's made a lot of progress overall. He knows most of the whole form, even if he only has to know half. And, he's learning to get less frustrated when things don't happen instantly for him, like learning some new board breaks. Of course, it helps that the instructors are patient with him, and he does get it eventually. I remind him that some of this stuff take practice, and as long as he tries his best and keeps trying, he'll eventually get better.

Things have been good enough, both in the do-jahng and at home with the reduction of meltdowns that I feel like I'm starting to have a "normal" kid. And believe me, that's a HUGE relief. Yes, I still have to put things in place to make sure that life runs more smoothly for him, and do my best to diffuse the meltdowns quickly and put him in his place when needed. But when proposing the idea of TKD Boot Camp to him, Drew was actually open to the idea. A year ago, I don't think he would've lasted. But this year, I think he can do it. SW and I discussed it, and she thought it'd work out great for him. He will have just gotten his purple belt earlier that month, and she said that getting his blue at boot camp would be an excellent transition. I still have to figure out the financial logistics of it all, but I will. He may also go to TKD fun camp too, which Drew was saying, OH YEAH, I want to do that again. The good thing about doing those is that even if I can't pay for it all up front, SW knows we are good for the money, and I will give her as much as I can when I can, and that I will consistently give her something. I've always been good that way. So both TKD Boot camp AND TKD fun camp (half day of TKD and half day of fun stuff?). Can't beat that! I'm just glad Drew is going to be mature enough to do boot camp if we can swing it schedule-wise. And that he's up to it! That's progress in itself.

So, that's what's been happening here. I wish I was getting this midterm out of the way, but I didn't feel like I had practiced enough, especially since this midterm was all about board breaks. The rest of it would've been fine. But it's not a race. And I DO want to get this particular midterm out of the way, because the sooner it's out of the way, the sooner I can move onto using the BME instead of the SJB for weapons. (We know how much I love SJB--NOT!) And in looking ahead with the midterms (I have a list of the requirements right here at my desk to refer to), I also get inside and outside flow/joint locks and JB to do before testing for my second degree, and even double BME drills for the 2BD rank test, so that should be good. It's something to look forward to, at least.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Hey! Watch where you swing that thing!

I haven't been feeling 100% lately. I don't know if it's stress starting to take a toll on my health just making me feel worn down, or what. But I really wasn't up to doing double classes tonight. So, I just attended Instructor class, which was pretty full tonight. I actually got to the school a litle late that I could've just joined in late, but I was just trying to escape home for a while, so I was talking with a new/transferred mom (her son just transferred to our school) and Sandy's daughter, J. I was kind of glad, as it looks like SW was really putting everyone through the ringer tonight! I did pay attention when she was doing forms with the 1BDs, as she was reviewing one section with them regarding the hand loads in the last segment of the form. Hopefully, I'll remember.

Instructor class was actually fun tonight. It's kind of nice when we don't have to work on our forms, and we learn something new that we could be teaching the kids. In this case, this cycle, SW has been teaching new "freestyle" forms in SJB and JB to the kids, and we got to learn the form. Hooray! I get to use something other than that damn SJB! ('Cause we all know how much I LUUUUUUV the SJB-- NOT!!). So tonight, we were learning the new JB/Bo staff "freestyle". Let's see if I remember it and can describe it.... It starts with a reverse figure 8 while held in both hands, then a #3 strike, then a one handed figure eight with another #3 strike, then the over the head #4 then back to #3 strikes (what Drew was practicing yesterday), then some sort of step back and turn around and strike, then a big over the head and turn with a strike, a #7 then #8, then (the part I was having major trouble with) 3 figure eights with my right hand, 2 "twirls" in front and while turning, 1 twirl behind me, and land in that #3 strike again. The home stretch was the easy part! #4 strike, #8, #7, #3, then take a step back while doing a #6, and then stab in a rear stance. I might be forgetting something, but that was the main jist.

My biggest problem was the "twirls"-- for which I can't think of a better word for what was done. It's something that has never been formally taught to me by SW, only by just about everybody else. It's basically doing a hand over hand to spin the JB either right in front of you, or behind you. I think one thing I have to remember is that the left hand is always on top-- that's a good start. I think I just really have to practice this one. It's not required of me right now, but it will be in time. Strike lines and some easy passes I can do. But these "twirls" are just near impossible for me. It shouldn't be this hard! But as I told SW that I was fairly confuzzled about it all, she said, "Trust me, it really isn't as easy as it looks." Then again, I need to do things and be shown things in super slow motion more times than most. But once I get it and it clicks, OH, it clicks! I was just thankful that I was picking up most of it, and that I was paired with some of the more experienced people to help me through it.

I have to admit, if I wasn't feeling so bleeh lately, and my knee cooperated more, I'd enjoy TKD a lot more, and I could see myself taking class more often. I dunno. I don't know what's wrong with me, that part of me doesn't want to go, and part of me does want to go. Part of me wants to be able to go out there, and help teach. Part of me is happy to be on the sidelines. It's hard to explain.

I was just glad to have a change of pace for class, and actually learning something new, especially with a weapon that I like, was good. I need a change up now and then.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

We really need to remember the earplugs

Tonight was Drew's turn. He really tried to be a trooper early in the game. The kids are still yelling too loud at times, and he did stand up for himself. EL, who was helping out in class, even told the kids that it's okay to be enthusiastic when answering up, but they didn't have to yell. Well, she tried, and I thanked her for it. It got to be too much that Drew had to sit out for a little bit, as he was grabbing his ear and saying he was getting a headache behind his ear when it got to be too much. There's one kid in particular, T, whom you see in his eyes that he knows that his overly loud answering bothers Drew, and he has this evil gleam in his eyes looking over at Drew when he does it. He always positions himself next to Drew, just to irk him. Even tonight, Drew said he was going to ignore the kids when they yelled too much, but he just couldn't. I tell you, sensory integration disorder really sucks. But he tried, and I really, REALLY need to remember to bring his earplugs with him to muffle the sound so he can handle it. I know that one of the other student assistants, LS, tried again to work with him, which I appreciate a lot. He seems to respond to her, which is good.

I was talking to one of the dads tonight, and I figured out that as far as I can tell, Drew is the next to youngest in the class, even if he's not the lowest ranked (he's definitely one of the lower ones, though). His daughter is the youngest at age 4, and she's the same rank as Drew (she came up through another school then transferred). Part of the problem is that Drew is only 6 years old. (Okay, he'd correct me and say 6 1/2.) However, he's as big as the 8 and 9 year olds, so very often, people don't understand why he acts immature and such. Well, let's see, most ADHD and children with speech deficiencies tend to be more immature anyway. And well, he IS younger than everyone else there (with the exception of the four year old)! What do you expect! It seems like only those parents who have been with him the whole time, and the staff really understand how far he's come over the years. I mean, he started almost 3 years ago come this spring. Oh yes, he's come a long way, but like I said, most people don't realize it, and don't know what he's had to do to get to where he is now. He's never been in the SA classes-- he's always been put in the mainstream classes. For a child who started this venture at 3 1/2 and had JUST started to learn how to talk at that point, plus the sensory and ADHD stuff (although we didn't know of the latter of those two until last year), that HAD to be difficult. But he's persevered. And it's still hard for him to get through class sometimes, yet he does.

Anyway, let me get off my soapbox for a moment.

Okay, as I was saying...

Drew really loves JB. They were working on the move where you switch sides and duck back a little so as to get a high hit, but not hit your own face. He got the hang of it last week when they showed it, so he was goofing off a little, but he could do it while some other kids still struggled with it. And sparring, well, again, he was paired up with another kid who decided that it was time free-for-all time. Well, it wasn't just him that was like that, several kids were like that, but he's a higher belt as well as older. So, I saw that the next round, Drew sparred with the assistant who was trying to help him earlier, LS. She got him good, but he was having fun with it as she'd kick him in the head a few times, and he'd rally back. As he was getting his gear off, I think he finds that he likes sparring the instructors, or at least much older kids who are bigger than him, because he gets that balance of him being able to go all out a little, plus they present him with a challenge, and I think he likes that.

I think the thing I'm discovering in the last few weeks, however, is that SW doesn't teach at any point in that class at all. Not that she has to do that. She'll teach the W-O-Y class at the same time, and hypes that up, especially for those new parents who are watching. And for business purposes, I can understand that. She is the draw there, so she needs to perform and show these people early on that this is what's expected, and that she's good at what she does, so when they bump up they are prepared. But part of me just wishes that she'd see what's going on at this color belt class that Drew is in. I know she can't pay particular attention to him, but when she's there, he pays better attention, and she'll dole out justice much more quickly than these teenage girls who are instructors, no matter how good they are. If I had the time and money for private lessons, I'd do it. Yet at the same time, he needs the social interaction that happens with class. Even though TKD is supposed to teach the kids courtesy and respect for others, there are still bullies in his class. He could easily be a bully himself, but I really try to work hard to make sure that he's not, yet will stand up for himself. I just wish that SW wasn't talking it up with the bullies' parents because they put multiple kids in her school. It irks me. I know Drew is not an easy child to deal with, but if courtesy and respect really isn't practiced unless she is in the kids' faces, then what's the point? There are times I want to help out in that class, so I can lecture the kids in a generic way, and show them that "evil Ma'am"'s got NOTHING on Mrs. V (that's me). As I mentioned, I run my Cub Scout den like a TKD class, and the kids are much more respectful in there than they are where it really should be happening. I don't say anything to SW because, well, I really don't think she's going to do anything about it, and probably would think I'm whining or something.

Sorry, back on the soapbox. Can you tell this really bothers me, week after week?

I'm probably only going to take one class tomorrow, as my BIL is coming in very late tonight to visit for 3 weeks, and tomorrow will be our first night together, so rather than take two classes, just one will be fine. Maybe I'll just go on Saturday or something. I dunno. I'm not unhappy with my school. I guess it's just that I'm not always happy with how things are handled, and it's only because of staffing shortages, and because I am mentally worn out by the place sometimes. It's still very much like another home to me, as I like to talk to other parents and students and such. But sometimes, oh, it's just a little too dysfunctional for my taste. It's not as bad as other places, I remind myself. And we're not transferring. I just don't feel like my family -- either Drew or I-- get the attention we need to do better. Even me. I'm just left on my own more often than not, so it's discouraging, especially when I'm bored. I know I need help with some elements of my form, and I'm just not going to be getting it. Bleeh.

Earplugs. Gotta remember the earplugs.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Gumdo isn't a soup, and other tricks too.

I unexpectedly attended a seminar at the ATA last night that my friend Sandy had somewhat talked me into going to. See, normally on a Friday night, I'm off playing Den Leader for Drew's Tiger Cub Scout group. But, I cancelled out meeting, and I had a free night. I had thought about going to the Haidong Gumdo seminar, which I had taken last year, but when Sandy asked if she could borrow my sword, I said she could use it, and I'd just have a free night. Then, here we are, emailing each other at midnight, and she convinces me to go, as she can also borrow a sword from SW. Fine, I'll go!

I get there an hour early-- by accident. I thought that the seminar started at 6:30 PM, but it started at 7:30 PM. I could've taken the 6:30 class, but man, it was packed, and well, I just wasn't up to it. Instead, I chatted with some moms and caught up with them. I had planned on doing some knitting, since I had it with me instead. I think the social time was more helpful to me and my mental state than doing the class or knitting.

Class started, and both the instructors who taught it last year taught it to us. It was all basics, and that's fine. I'm glad I had done the seminar last year and done a cycle of sword a year ago, as it helped me understand it much better this year. It was a more simplified seminar than last year, since a)it was mostly younger kids, and b)it was only an hour this time instead of a two and a half hour seminar. (If it wasn't 2 1/2 hrs last year, it was at least two hours.) AS irked me, as he was like, "Oh, I know this stuff," but he'd goof off and not focus, and wield his wooden sword, and wouldn't watch was he was doing, and not pay attention at all. Pretty bad for a 15 year old! Some of the stretches were a little easier, and in a conversation after the seminar, one of the instructors and I were discussing knee issues, and she said that this form was easier on the knees than regular TKD. (She is a 1st degree in Songham TKD, being, as SW would say, a non-training student of hers.) It's something to think about. It's also very intensive on the upper body. Although it's never been formally diagnosed, based on my son, I think I have a very mild case of upper body hypotonia, which is that I have denser muscles and they tire out more easily, so it's harder for me to build upper body strength. But it's something to think about for the future if my knee really gets bad enough. So it was a good night, and I caught up on all sorts of ATA gossip and news and hanging out a little with Sandy.

Today was a good class day for Drew overall. In forms class, he had the wiggles as usual, and I actually sat and knit, trying not to pay attention. From what I could tell from the few times I glanced up, he was doing pretty well. During drills, they were working on doing double round kicks, namely doing two round kicks without putting your foot down. The idea is that the first is high, and the second is higher. The boy he was paired up with during drills was older, and he didn't seem to always understand that the pad had to go a little higher, especially if Drew was doing the second kick higher. Oh well. BP, who was teaching the class noticed, and I heard him compliment Drew for doing some great kicks. Drew really is very good when he puts his mind to it. I'll have to tell you about his sidekick demo in a moment outside the ATA, but I'll tell you that later.

In the meantime, since this cycle the kids can do either single SJB or JB, Drew chose JB (aka bo staff) for this cycle, as it's his favorite weapon. Granted, he swings it around a little too much, but he's getting better control of it. I was a little surprised that he wanted to stay for weapons class, but that was fine by me-- we didn't have any special plans for the day, and if he stays, more power to him if he wants to learn. Today, they were trying to teach the kids how to do something whereby with one hand they flip the staff around their hand and catch it. You heard a lot of plopping sounds echoing off the mats from the kids trying not to hit each other and dropping their JBs on the floor a lot. BP also made sure that they learned to do it with both hands. With some practice, Drew was actually getting the hang of it, and was very excited to demonstrate it to me. I think as he starts to pay attention more, and not get as frustrated in practicing, he is getting better, and is starting to enjoy it. He was in a good mood when he got out of the weapons class, which is always the preferred way to have Drew after class-- happy.

The sidekick story now. Yesterday, I had to go to the chiropractor for an adjustment. The partner who saw me yesterday is also a certified sports chiropractor, and knows some extra advanced techniques to help with some sports injuries, and so I mentioned the fact that after doing some sidekick stuff about a month ago or so, my right hip joint was still bothering me, and asked if he could check it out. Now, this partner also has his own 1st degree black belt in TKD, so he understands all the lingo and jargon that I throw at him, and if I say that we were doing all these sidekick exercises, then he has a better idea of which muscle group area to target when doing his exam. Since Drew's school is quite nearby, I had picked him up from school before the appointment, and brought him along to the "back doctor", since he's quite familiar with them, and that way, I didn't have to worry about him. He's often the doctor's helper for Mom. Well, yesterday, I was explaining that it was some sidekick stuff that did this to me a while back, and Drew starts to explain in great detail how to do a sidekick, as in a sidekick break, since SW had just taught him the other day how to do it. He remembered his "T" (foot positioning), and his chamber and rechamber, and whoosh! I could even hear his kick even though I was not looking at him directly, just listening. Dr. L was very impressed and was like, "WOW! He's got really good form, doesn't he?" Proudly, I could tell him that I agreed. Drew was also proud to tell him that he was a green belt now, and Dr. L said it showed, and that in turn made Drew proud of himself.

It's taken a very long time to get Drew to this point, where he's actually starting to not mind classes, and focus better, and really start to make some significant progress. I'm glad that I didn't let him quit entirely, as it's starting to pay off. I still feel that if we can get him to focus more, not get so frustrated, and really listen and do what he's told, he can really be an outstanding martial artist. He's got some of his mother's dancing genes in him, which means that he's very fluid in his actions, and he sees how it can all come together as if it were a dance and how smooth it looks when everything is done right. He still has a long way to go towards his black belt, and once he turns 7, he won't be a Tiny Tiger anymore, and won't get help from an instructor during testing, and he'll need to learn the full form, not just the half form. That will be a big challenge for him. But I think with some patience, he'll get through it fine. By the summer, he should be getting his purple belt, which is just shy of halfway through the curriculum. If he continues through the summer, or goes to boot camp, he will be halfway through. Then, it will be at least one more year, hopefully, until he gets his black belt. Yeah, I think age 8 will be a good age to get a black belt for him. But we'll see. I'm not going to push anything, but I am definitely encouraged by not only this year, but especially more recent events for him.