Friday, May 30, 2008

Good medications and surviving Mr. Lee

I know I haven't posted much lately, but there really hasn't been much to post, even with my return back to classes. Graduation/testing are coming up in a couple of weeks, so that push to get all your material crammed into your head and everything practiced so that you do okay is going on at the TKD school. For me, most of it's pretty boring, and won't start to get interesting again until the next cycle, when I FINALLY get to switch weapons to BME.

Drew's been doing well generally. He's paying attention in class, and behaving himself, not getting too out of control during sparring. He's doing well enough with forms that he's leaning towards bypassing his permission to do one last Tiny Tiger testing and going for a full testing instead. He's turning 7 next week, which is when you are no longer a Tiny Tiger that performs half the form along with an instructor and gets half a belt for the effort. Since his birthday was so close to graduation, SW said she could test him one last time as a TT, which was an option for Drew. But I think he likes the second half of the form, and he knows it (or at least I think he knows most of it), so I asked if he wanted to do the whole form in a group with the other higher belts instead, and he said yes. I've given him options to bail back into the TT since it's the last time he can, but he's stuck with his answer. As long as he's doing it in a group with the other boys, I think he'll be okay. He'll still be able to watch the other kids a bit, but I think he generally knows the form anyway. Hopefully he'll be helping to lead them instead.

I have only two big things that I've been working on, namely my 20 second freestyle for weapons and my board breaks. I think my form is about as good as it's going to get at the moment. Knowing my kihaps and smoothing out transitions are the only stumbling blocks in my form at the moment (like the spin hook kick is an awkward transition), so the others can take some precedence. Wednesday night was the first time that I actually set up my three breaking stations for my testing board break. I was thankful that SW was teaching that night and made sure that I got the practice in, because, as I said, while I've practiced individual breaks, I hadn't set up the stations before to know how I wanted to set them up for distance, etc. For a first time, it wasn't too bad. I think everyone must think I have legs a mile long or something, because they kept standing too far away, and I'd have to pull them in closer. The only mistake I made in setting them up the first time was angling the board for my round kick. (Oh, the combination break I'm doing is a sidekick with my left foot, a roundkick with my left foot, and a front kick with my right foot.) Once I got that, it was fine. So today, I was able to get another chance to practice and set up, and while I didn't get the sidekick on the first shot (I did on the second), I got the angle of the roundkick right this time, and the frontkick was a snap (literally and figuratively). And to think this is all on plastic boards, which I hate, of course, but that's the way midterms go, unfortunately. If I could do wood, you know I...would. ;-)

Drew delayed going to class until tonight, since we don't have Cub Scouts again until September, and said instead of Tuesday class, he wanted to go to Friday class with Mr. Lee. (I can use that instead since that's a pretty common name for a TKD teacher, if you think about it! :-P But really, that's his name.) Neither Drew nor I had seen Mr. Lee in a while, so he was impressed to see how much Drew had grown, and I'm sure he was impressed with how much better Drew behaved compared to the last time he saw him. One thing about Mr. Lee is that you either love him or hate him as an instructor. Personally, he's a sweetie and I certainly consider him a friend. Really nice guy. As an instructor, he's brutal. Drew loves going to class with him, and I generally tend to avoid his classes, because they are too aerobic for my asthma. But, I think that due to taking some better asthma meds and allergy meds as of late (OTC Zyrtec for the allergies, and the Symbicort with my Singulair for the asthma), I've been able to breathe a little more easily and having been having asthma attacks as readily as before. Anyway, both Drew and I took the class with Mr. Lee today. And I can say I survived it. I'll probably be feeling it in the morning, but I'm sure I'll be okay. I was able to keep up for pretty much the entire class. I'll admit that I didn't do sparring tonight, since I didn't want to overdue it, and by the time I finished my boardbreaking, there wasn't a lot of time for me to gear up, it was just as well. I had done a lot more aerobic work tonight than I usually do, and kept up, so I was happy enough.

I also made a change in my 20 second freestyle. There's a transition that I was making to get the SJB from my left hand to my right that I didn't like, and I changed it to something going around my neck instead. Much easier, and looks more razzle dazzle. And you know I'm all about the razzle dazzle. I can't wait to be done with this damn thing! And since Sandy has lent me her nicer BME for a while, it'll be nice to work with a better balanced weapon when I get to it next cycle. I need to learn the whole form by August. I'm sure it can be done, but I technically don't have to learn the whole form just yet. I'd only have to learn it for competition purposes. So I have to think about that. If I learn it all now, then I'm going to be bored again. At least I think I will be bored again. Then again, BME is a much nicer weapons that I like, so perhaps it won't. I guess I'll have to see.

I've taken my two classes this week, but Drew hasn't, so he's going to forms class in the morning. I'm actually feeling okay enough with my board breaks in the last two days that I don't feel like I need to take boardbreaking class tomorrow. I think getting in a few more practices next week will be fine. As long as I break the boards within three tries, I'm fine, and both of the practices I've done, I've done it in two, so that's not bad. I'm not over-confident, mind you. But at the same time, I've practiced the individual breaks enough times over the years that they are second nature, and by just focusing, I can usually get the job done within those three tries. And seeing that on the first attempt to set up the boards I was doing fine, I'm feeling okay about it. I just have to take my time, that's all.

So, that's the update for now. We're both sailing along for the most part, and just trying to make our way to the next graduation. After that, I'll be continuing classes through the summer, while Drew will do Boot Camp the week after graduation, and then take the rest of the summer off until school starts again. We just have to push ourselves in the next couple of weeks to make it through!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Plugging away and ice cream

Not much to say for today. I went to Drew's class as he asked me to, and I didn't mind doing color belt stuff, because it keeps that stuff fresh if I should even go for my next collar, as well as it's just good for a workout. Somehow the Tuesday classes, which used to be small, have ended up being huge. There were about 20+ people in there, 3 of us being adults. We're a little more adaptable. The kids all seemed out of sorts tonight in general, and just couldn't get with the program. Some were attentive, but most weren't, and most just seemed unfocused. NK was a little pissed about it, understandably, so she took sparring away (Yay! I mean, AWWWWW...) I will say that Drew general stayed focused. You had to snap him into place a few times, but not much. There were actually kids who were worse behaved than him! There was one boy whom NK actually had him sit on the side until he could behave. And it wasn't Drew!!!! He was proud of that when I pointed that out. We did split the class in half, and Drew went with JZ while I stayed with NK. I had to choice to work on my own stuff, but I was fine doing the color belt stuff. I also helped with board breaking rather than do it myself. The one little boy who has transferred in from Pennington wanted to do an elbow break, but he was doing it completely backwards. I had to show him the basics, and eventually, he got it. Oy. Makes you wonder what they were teaching over there with certain instructors. :-S So many from there have transferred to Princeton it isn't even funny. Anyway, after class, I asked Drew how he behaved when he went to JZ's side, and he said he was very well behaved. I asked him if I could verify that with JZ, and sure enough, she did. She said his focus was really good today, and she high-fived him. I'm glad. As I've said before, it's only taken 3 years to get him to this point! But he felt good, too, that he was one of the better behaved kids in class, and considering he's the youngest boy there and behaved better than some of the older boys, he was proud of himself, which he should be. He's starting to make that connection in focusing in class and good behavior result in confidence and a job well done. Yay. To reward him for his good behavior, in which he told his dad on the phone that "you would be impressed, Dad" (LOL), I took him for some ice cream at a Carvel that just reopened as a treat. He was very happy to earn a Crazy Cotton Candy ice cream cone. (Yes, that is a flavor evidentally.)

In the meantime, I was just reading an article in Yahoo that says that in a few years, a musical about Bruce Lee is going to be produced for Broadway. At first I thought that was one of the most ridiculous things I had ever read. I think it's because my first thought would be the traditional musical comedy genre. But after reading the description, it could be pulled off, if done more like a musical drama, more in line with "Les Miserables" (not comedic at all, having seen it at least 2 or 3 times) or a later Andrew Lloyd Webber production or something like that. I guess we'll have to wait and see what happens, whether it's actually decent or a farce. It's certainly something to think about. How would YOU translate the Bruce Lee story into a Broadway musical?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Smash the Pumpkin

It seems to be a reoccurring thing that Drew wants me in class at the same time as him. He used to have fits if I tried to be in class with him to keep him under control, and finally I gave up, and let the teachers try to do their job. It's always been hard to not say something from the sidelines, but I would be nipped in the bud too many times, and I'd just get frustrated, because as his mom, I do know what works and how to get him to comply more often than not.

This whole year has been a growing year for Drew. This time last year, he not even taking classes, because he had such behavior problems. It was a nightmarish time. Being in TKD Fun Camp helped, because SW set a precedence with some personal attention that made him understand that his behavior wasn't going to be tolerated, and she'd be giving him timeouts (with my permission) often at first, but less as time went along. All year, both in school and at home, he's slowly but surely been coming around. Being that he has ADHD and all, it's still a problem to keep him focused all the time, but he's come a LONG way from a year ago. Some of it might even just be maturity as well, but it's been a better year as we all persevered.

Today was a good example of that. Drew actually likes having me in class. Not that we weren't bonded before, but now we're much closer than before, and it's finally clicked that having a mom with a 1st degree black belt is very cool, and that she's an instructor trainee/in leadership helps in that he can get individual attention as well. I can say to him, "Drew, pay attention," more often to keep him focused than the instructor can during class. He likes working with me as a partner, and I can make sure that things he's been doing wrong and overlooked get corrected.

He's been making good progress in In Wha #2. I know for me, I like it MUCH better than In Wha #1, and it appears he's starting to agree with that as well. Since I was in class, and RA was teaching, we worked on a few of the hand movements that were the "tricky" parts to the latest section. But since I was in class, RA made sure to single me out, and make me do 1st degree stuff, rather than just go get a workout doing color belt stuff. That's fine, I didn't mind. I just didn't feel he HAD to feel obligated to do that. Whatever. Anyway, since we were by the mirrors, there were a few times that I had to remind Drew to pay attention, and he would listen and do so until he was distracted again. But for the most part, he stayed focused. After doing a few drills with the arm parts that were the "tricky parts", I was sent off to work on my form with JK along with a 1BR, which was fine. I didn't need as much attention, and I did do my form a few times. JK gave me a few recommendations on some things that needed smoothing out, but he said that otherwise it was looking good. I pretty much know the worst parts of what I do, which is mostly the jump kicks and the two spin hook kicks. A lot of that has to do with my bad knee.

But anyway, I was separated from Drew, and I didn't hear him being yelled at to focus or anything. The section of IW#2 that they were doing was the "Show the cookie, take the cookie away, smash the pumpkin" part of the form. Drew really took to that section, as he learned it this past week, and he's really getting that section down. Then again, he's getting all the sections down.

Before you knew it, class had ended (it's only a half hour class), and I can from the other floor and we bowed out of class. I asked how he did, and he said he behaved himself very well. LS, who was at the front desk, said he really behaved himself well today, and even RA said that he was doing really well today. RA said he was getting tired by the end of class, but he was doing great. Drew even returned RA's high five when offered, which is not something he used to do in the past.

I think it's not only that Drew is finally behaving in class, which has been 3 years in coming (yes, we started with this whole TKD thing 3 years ago already), but I think the whole TKD thing is starting to click for him. He's starting to actually pay attention and learn the forms and the new moves. He's actually starting to see that with each graduation, he gets to a new goal of getting to the next level of learning. He's starting to feel personal success not only in being recognized in behaving better in class, but also in learning the information and acting like a much better example of the black belt attitude. And that's what makes me happy. He's finally starting to like TKD. I don't believe in pushing children, but sometimes they do need to be strongly nudged. I did give Drew some breaks from TKD. He's even getting one for most of the summer. He'll have the intensive "boot camp" at the end of June, but then he won't be taking regular classes for the summer (hence why he's going to boot camp). He'll get a full belt in one week, which is cool. When he returns in September, he'll be at the halfway mark in his color belt curriculum. So, depending on how ready he is, perhaps this time next year, or at the summer of next year, he'll be ready to test for his black belt.

Yeah, having Drew's favorite part, "smash the pumpkin", and understanding it, and knowing the form and where that goes, is priceless.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


You know I tend to be a glutton for punishment. I'm fortunate that I have an instructor that will run you hard, very hard, but will never run you so ragged that you totally break down. And thank goodness for that, because in taking three classes (or most of three classes), I could barely stand up and had to be careful driving home I was so tired!

At first, I took class with Drew. He's doing better, and I found that when I take class, generally he behaves better. So I asked him if he wanted me in class, and he said yes, so I asked SW if I could take class with him, and she said sure. There was one other black belt kid in the class (he was at the same level as me, but now he's one cycle ahead of me) and otherwise, all color belts. Well, the first drills were all about running drills, and SW told me I didn't have to run. She knows it's hard for me, with the weight and asthma, as well as just returning and being out of shape. But, at least for the first few rounds, I did run, and could keep up with the kids for the most part. But then there was a point where I was really getting winded, and she said I could take a break or step out, and it was good timing. She doesn't expect me to keep up with kids who are anywhere between ages 6 and 10 in energy level, thankfully! But for the most post, the rest of it I pretty much did the same as the kids. I didn't do sparring because a) I was tired and still needed to take two more classes, and b) it was taking too much time to get Drew ready let alone get myself ready, and to spar kids, so it was just as well. I didn't break any boards either, and I think I really need to get into board breaking class if I am going to prepare for my midterm in a month. Seriously! Anyway, during the sparring, I was watching Drew during the first round, and he was up against the black belt kid, who's about the same height as he is. (I think the other kid is a few years older as well, by maybe 2 or 3 years.) The other kid popped Drew with at least two kicks in the head, which fortunately Drew just shook off. SW advised him to better protect his face, and he did, but it was a delayed reaction. I yelled, "Kick HIM in the head, Drew!" and sure enough, he got his own kick in the head to the black belt. Boy, did he feel proud! In the last round, he got a hard kick just shy of his groin (thank goodness for "fighting underwear", as we call it), and he started to cry, because it hurt understandably. But I was able to distract him in reminding him that he kicked a black belt in the head successfully, and that worked well. He was proud of himself.

The second class was really big. The big joke of the night was that a) if you owned a Y chromosome, you generally were going to be a troublemaker for the night, and b) if you had said Y chromosome and were either a 2nd or 3rd degree black belt, it was a guarantee you were going to be a troublemaker. SW often says that her worst behaved children are the high ranked adults in the school-- and she's right! (I'm one of them these days, but not as bad as some others for sure.) We did more of the same drills that were done in the Master's (Drew's) class, but also had some time to work on our own stuff. I got some good sparring in, but I didn't go into it as fully as I could since I was starting to wear out. But it was still a fun class.

Leadership was good too. She talked about the drills that we were doing, and also did some more self-defense sparring techniques, and that was interesting. You can imagine that by the end of the night, I was spent.

It's a good tired, don't get me wrong. And I'm sure that there are a few body parts that will be feeling it more tomorrow. I know my knees are feeling it tonight, but I think the new inhalent prescription I'm trying has been helping, as my wheezing wasn't as bad as usual. I know I have to work out more, and at least, I'm getting started back into that direction. I think I need to get to more classes, but I think I'll have to start that after the next graduation when our schedule changes with the end of the school year. I gotta get back on track.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

First night back

Well, no one had to perform CPR, so that's a good way to start! :-P

I arrived for my double classes, thinking that there might be a possibility that I wouldn't stay for both, depending how I got through the first class. Well, I made it through the first class alright. We did some drills in the beginning to warm up, and then we practiced forms. It was a large class, and I was stuck with a bunch of 10 year old boys. Oh joy. As usual, I ended up having to do things on my own, although NK made sure to check on me at least once to make sure I remember the form. I do remember it--I do it at least once a day while waiting for Drew at the bus stop, so I didn't forget. But I was tired already-- I'm not used to doing this after a long day. I practiced my SJB, as I have one more cycle with that. Well, I really need more help with that than the form. I remember it, but I still suck at it. I just want to get through this midterm so I can be DONE with it. Board breaking, which I REALLY haven't done for a long time, went okay. I did a sidekick with my left foot. Got it on the 2nd try, since I need to get back into judging my spacing in relation to the board as I approach it. We then did sparring. I did alright with that too.

So that was that for the regular class. Except for one thing.

Click on this sentence, and you'll find out what happened to me during drills.

Yes. That happened to me. Either the pants, which are all cotton, have shrunk a lot, or I've gotten heavier, or both. :-S How embarassing! Fortunately, my jacket is long enough to cover my tushie, and I was able to get a spare lightweight pair from SW. I could've gotten it for myself if she said so-- I didn't want to just grab it. But she first gave me a pair that was too small. I knew exactly what size I needed, so that's what I ended up getting. Oh well. I have two lightweight pairs now. She said she could order me a heavyweight pair, but I guess I'll have to see if that's really what I want, or at least wait until the fall for the heavyweight pair. The warm weather is coming, and I tend to get extra hot! ;-) But I survived, and just jumped right back into class as soon as I changed. I'll have to take a photo of the damage when I'm not so tired.

Instructor class was very small. It was just four of us, well, five if you count JK, who is training to get his red/black collar-- possibly even his red/black/red, I'm not sure. Anyway, he's working on bumping up officially. So it was me and a bunch of teenage boys, except for one who is a little older, maybe college age? Anyway, we worked on the one steps for S#3, which includes my favorite, "Pizza Dude". So we worked on that, and then worked on S#3, which I could do, but it's been a long while since I've done it. We also worked on the new "freestyle" BME, which isn't too bad. It's good that I learn it so I can help Drew figure some of this stuff out. While he can do whatever he wants, it would help if he knew SOME of it, at least. It went well, and a little slower paced, so that was good. After class, I asked SW if I could start learning the 1BD's BME form, even though I'm on the 3rd midterm, because I'm thinking of competing in August, and I'd rather learn and do the BME form than SJB, knowing how much I suck at SJB and would have half a chance at BME, since I like that weapon better. Heck, I'm thinking of even investing in a new BME just to have a better balanced weapon. SW also just got back from a ProTech camp (Weapons camp), and among the new "toys" she has, she has...I don't remember the exact name, but it was something like a "wind bo". If you ever watch the Avatar on Nickelodeon, it's just like his weapon-- it's collapsible, and when extended and whipped around, it makes a great whipping, windy sound. Ma'am learned about being an Air Bender! (I know, Mom Geek.) So that was cool.

So, despite the mishap, I got through. But I have to say, I AM tired. So on that note, I'm going to bed!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Back in the saddle

Well, while Thursday was technically the first day of May, thus the first eligible day of going back to classes, I decided to start back today. And yes, black belt classes are early in the morning, but sorry, Saturday is usually one of the few mornings (Sunday being the other day) that I can try to sleep in a little, so I certainly try. I still needed to get back into it, so I asked Drew if he minded if I took his color belt forms class with him, and he was cool with that. He's better about that sort of thing now. I also figured that since I really haven't been working out since February, even though I've practiced my own form now and then, that starting with a lower rank class was a good way of getting warmed up again on this stuff.

I partnered up with Drew, because a)he wanted it, and b) I knew that I could keep better tabs on him and getting him to cooperate and do what he's supposed to do. We were working on #1 hook kicks, then the hook kicks followed by a round kick. It's not difficult for me, but it's part of their form, and I have hook kicks in my form too, so it worked. I discovered in the process that while I think Drew understands what's required of him, he's not executing it quite right. He swings his leg out to do the hook, rather than the proper execution, which is doing a sidekick, then bringing the "hook" in to kick the pad. The other thing was that instead of hitting the pad with his heel, he was slapping the pad with the whole bottom of his foot. Maybe this is part of his "global" apraxia that he has, whereby his motor planning is not exactly that good. I would show him on his foot where he had to hit, and yet he'd still slap the pad with his foot. Oh well. The other thing was that he wasn't holding the pad correctly. Nobody ever seems to bother to show him. And granted, he was holding for an adult,and that's harder, but he was doing things like not stabilizing his hands or arms, not holding it straight back after the kick is executed (so I'd miss the pad altogether), and holding it near his face (which is a safety hazard). JK asked if it would be helpful if he held for me, being that he's a teenager at adult size, so it'd be easier for him, and Drew got frustrated and walked away. I got my drills in, but it was okay. I had a talk with Drew later and explained that JK was only trying to help, and that it IS hard to hold for a grownup, and it just takes practice.

After the drills, we learned the new segment to IW#2, which incorporated the hook kick/roundkick combination in it. Between BP, who was leading that part of the class and myself, we were able to keep Drew on track. RA was also helping to teach the class, and just to make it more interesting for the kids, he made it into a slight contest. He wanted to see who could do it the best, and he had a tie for doing it in the first direction. The prize was that the person who "won" got to choose which instructor had to do 10 pushups. The boy who got it had JK do it, and the boy got to count the pushups out. The kids liked that. So, RA had them do it on the other side to see who could do it the best. This time around, RA decided to let the best improved person do it, and he chose Drew! Oh, Drew was very excited, but he earned it, for sure. He chose RA, and was very excited that he could do that, as well as be recognized for his good work. BP was relieved that none of the kids picked him! :-P At the end of class, Drew asked if there were any stars or awards that needed to be delivered, I think because he was hoping he'd be rewarded with something. RA decided that since all the kids did well today in class, they all got paper stars, which Drew hasn't gotten one in a long time. (If you get 10 paper stars for good behavior in class, then you get a fabric one for your uniform.) Drew was very excited. When another little boy asked if they could trade stars, just because they were different colors, Drew said sure, and did it happily. He really had a good class.

I had a good class too. My balance is a little off, as I discovered in the drills, but otherwise I've still got it. Not that I've been away THAT long. But it was a good class to go into so I could work on my teaching skills as well get back into the active swing of things, instead of just being on the sidelines. I think Drew is finally starting to make the connection and not be jealous of the fact that I have my 1BD already, and he doesn't. He's catching up, slowly, but surely. By this time next year, hopefully he'll be getting closer to his own 1st degree black belt, so that will be good. And upon hearing that, I think he's starting to feel better and like TKD better too.

When I told him he did a good job today, and I asked him why I thought he did better today and why RA thought he was the most improved, he replied, "Because I participated." That was a good observation. He really WAS participating, and that's a big part of it. He also felt that he had good manners and I reminded him that he had better FOCUS. I also reminded him that if he does all of that all the time, he's going to continue to do really well and be great in TKD. He might think he's good in TKD and knows everything, but sometimes what he does is almost right, and the instructors-- and Mom-- can help him get it ALL right, so he needs to continue to listen and learn. He seemed agreeable to that. At least for now. ;-)

So, I think I'm back to a good start. It was slow and easy, but I still felt like I had a good workout without overdoing it right off the bat. I'm a lot more out of shape than I thought I was, so it's going to be a little tough for a while, but I'm ready. And perhaps if I continue to do this with Drew and be his "mentor" in some classes, then I think he'll start to improve too.

It was cute last night, as we were waiting for Cub Scouts, we bumped into our new neighbor, Mihak, who studies Kung Fu and was going to class with his bo staff. Drew was excited to show Mihak the amount of IW#2 that he knew already, and Mihak was gracious enough to say, "Good job!" (he's a teenager himself). I think when Drew does focus and participates, as he said, he really does enjoy TKD. It's when he doesn't do those things that it's not good.