Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Bumps and Bruises

Oh how I ache. I'm used to seeing these types of pictures on Striking Thoughts because Bob does TKD. Those bruises are just from knife hand blocks.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Brown Day 1

I think I felt different. Kinda like, "Am I good enough for this?" and "Oh hell yeah, I went through the gauntlet!" The gang was giving me a lot of respect though, which was nice.

The brown belt against my red gi looked gross. Oh well, at least the little kids won't be calling me Santa Claus anymore.

Class had six last night and we worked very hard. I'm still drained from Tuesday so class felt very difficult, but I swear everyone was working harder than usual. Lots of knife hand blocks and spinning back kicks. Got some great pointers that I was able to immediately work on.

Still tired, still sore today. Not much to write about..

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

New Brown!!!

I thought it lasted an hour, but I was told it was only 40 minutes.

I thought I was going to puke about halfway, but I didn't.

I thought I was going to remember some strategy, but I couldn't remember how to spell Tang Soo Do.

Teacher called me earlier in the day and told me the basic format of the test, but I can honestly say that it didn't prepare me for what was coming up. We had a standard class for the first hour which I found exhausting anyway. My notorious bad breathing (breath holding) exhibiting itself right away. We broke for a fairly long time (20 minutes) which I didn't realize I should have been appreciating a bit more, then it was test time. Teacher, Teacher Slim and Teacher G sat in chairs at the head of the room. Teacher ran me through every kick, block and strike, sometimes mixing them with movement or not and then I did our first kata/hyung, Kecho hyung Ill Boo and our seventh, Pyung Ahn Sa Dan. Might I add that I was incredible.

Teacher then passed the exam to Teacher G. This was the unknown element. I've only seen Teacher G about three times in the last five years and his background is incredibly hard style. He ran me through multiple exercises with pads and movement and then threw in push-ups and back up again. I was pretty much going to puke and keep thinking to myself, "Can I do this?" or "This is got to end soon" unfortunately it didn't. He kept going to point where I was going to drop. It was precisely the feeling I had on a cardiac stress test, but there I could stop. Here I could not.

Next was Teacher Slim. With a silly grin he asked me to spell Tang Soo Do. Mentally, I was, "no problem, and I love you for giving me a break," but we I tried to speak there wasn't enough blood or O2 in my brain to carry it off. I gather it was t-a-n long pause s-o really long pause d-o. He couldn't stop giggling I couldn't figure out what I'd missed.

Teacher was the final portion of the of evening's festivities. Sparring. I wasn't even really sure if we were going to spar since I was so exhausted, but that's what happened. First it was Nilon, the man that loves to scrap. In his credit I will say that he didn't try any of his normal "invent a move" crap and stuck to the program. Second was Lux. During the first hour we had been doing minimal impact work, so this was a big change and I thought he did really great for a new guy. Then Beard. I knew he wasn't going to pull any punches when he palm heeled my cheek. Well I honestly didn't mind at that point and gave as good as I got. My last bout was with Teacher who came onto me quickly, but the irony was that I was ready for that. I laid into him as hard as I could manage and the worse thing that came from that was him popping my ear with a flat hand. Ouch = ringing.

They had me bow, gave me a belt and then we went down the street for a beer. I had to drive down the block because I could barely walk.

My favorite line from the evening was from Teacher, "I told you to fight them, not beat them!"

Monday, July 21, 2008

Test Prep Interlude

I met with New Guy yesterday for a test tune up. He's got a great eye for detail. We went over my kata and refined as much as we could. We also discussed kumite strategy. I feel a lot better. I think just talking about it with an informed party reduced a lot of my anxiety.

I asked about his background. He has five Brown Belts! He's been studying since his early teens and never got to stay in one place long enough to get his black belt. Dang.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Test Prep

The test is in two weeks.

I totally wasn't feeling any anxiety about it until I started writing about it. Thankfully Teacher appears to be constructing class to address my weak points in order to prepare me. We worked on a deceptively simple/complex forward chained attack. If I didn't come out of the kick properly balanced then the rest of the chain fell apart due to bad distancing.

We worked on Pyung Ahn Sa Dan, which is the kata he wants me to perform. Super critical eye time. He pointed out a few things that cleaned up some moves, but I found even more that needs to be addressed in the next week. Yikes. I tried it this morning and I totally fell apart. I need to warm up more maybe...

The last part of class was dedicated to Rondori and he partnered me with New, new guy. I may have mentioned before that his presence is about the most awesome thing to happen in class for a long time. He brings in a vitality and energy that is incredibly refreshing.

At the end of class I mentioned to Teacher that NNG likes working with kids! He had heard that and I think he was quite enthusiastic about it as well. Finally we have someone who loves teaching and loves teaching kids.

Holy crap update! I just got off the phone with Teacher. He wants to move the test up to next Tuesday so Teacher Slim can watch/particpate. Where's my 02!!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


That was a break.

You know when it happens, but you deny it because in only hurts for a few seconds.

We were practicing roundhouses with focus mitts as the target. Teacher was holding it at whatever distance he saw fit and it was a bit too close for me so my foot went under the mitt and my pinky toe did not. Crack.

I feel like I'm walking with a eggplant in my shoe.

The news - we got a new guy whom I'll call NNG (new new guy) until a name surfaces for him. He's got a Brown Belt in Kenwa-kai karate. I'd forgotten how nice it was to have someone to do stuff with who actually knows what to do. Insanely pleasurable.

At the end of class Teacher says that testing will occur in the next couple of weeks - gulp. That actually sounded specific.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Ah hah

When I got my green belt, Teacher pulled me aside and said that all the "ah-hah" moments I'd been experiencing were going to become less and less frequent. Sure enough the plateau of experience vs. refinement set in and over the last year or so things have slowed down significantly enough to allow me to focus on improving all the small things.

Last night I got a new version of the "ah-hah." We were do a move that looks simple and is very effective, but the execution took two hours to learn. As usual anything with taking someone's balance and keeping your own is something I find very challenging. Last night was no exception, but Teacher was able to break down everything I wasn't doing and give me a metaphor or some correction to constantly refine the work. But the end of the night it was if I had 20 little ah-hahs. Nice feeling to see and feel such quick progress.

The move was to block a straight punch, move in a bit and get the blocking arm to grab the punching arm elbow. While Uki is still in forward movement continue to pull them off balance and give them an uppercut to the floating ribs. We then did three variations of follow up, but they all a foot movement, elbow lock and a shoulder guide. One throws the person. One drives them to the floor and one retains the locked arm and requires us to shoot our feet out and ride the person down to the floor. Hard work! Sore knees! Excitement!

I also added a few pictures to the slideshow of last weeks show off for my Dad.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Bruise Randori

On Tuesday I could only attend half the class as my parents were coming in that evening so I came early to the kids class to help out/participate. After enduring that for awhile (you have to really take the long view on their progress) the class finished and I was doing jumping jacks when Nilon came in and, I swear to you, only did two stretches before he came up me all bug-eyed.

He was ready to go and I figured it would be a nice warm up, so on to Randori. However, this wasn't our regular slow, light impact kind. His first two strikes were pretty powerful and after that I knew I had to be careful as well as pay sharp attention. Nilon is hyper-aggressive and almost half my age so his advantages lay in his ability to produce a continuous attack and excellent fitness. His weakness is a lack of skill and virtually no kicking. I've never seen anyone so allergic to stretching their legs, but it's to my benefit in this case.

So we started and I have to say in all fairness it was really fun. As much as it can be painful it reminds me of how much I have learned and how I might do in a real-life situation. A kind of verification and feedback on how I've progressed in my own eyes. Well, I got cocky right off and didn't bother to protect my head and caught a spinning back fist across the chops. Again I was thankful that he doesn't look first or aim because if that caught me across the eye or brow I would have been out like a light. Thankfully, it didn't do anything, but he actually was concerned about his shot.

I shook my head and it was back on. Since I'm about 5 or 6 inches taller I have a nice reach, but he doesn't mind moving in and using elbows. I backed out and circled and used my legs for some head kicks. Round house to the noggin - point to me. I figured I'd do that for a bit and set up a pattern, but I was too slow. He moved in on a midsection roundhouse and used both arms elbow down to stop my kick. I think we all know this is a horrible block because he had to take all the shock in the shoulders in an upward motion, but I really came out bad because it felt like I had slammed leg into two pointy bits of metal. A little bit later Nilon stopped the action on his own!

Although I felt like I had taken the worst of it, he was dripping sweat from every pore. I guess he felt he got what he needed and was done. I turned to Teacher and asked how long we'd been at it. I asked this because I can never guess how long the action is - it could be 30 seconds or five minutes - when I'm in the mix I can never tell. 3 minutes he replied. Not bad. I wasn't huffing and puffing, but the elbows on the leg were starting to make my leg puff up.

We ended up doing Katas for the next hour to continue to knock the rust off and I could really feel that leg groaning. I took the ibuprofen when I got home. It's still sensitive two days later. Ouch.

Your Clothes, Book Cast With 100%

  At 6:05am I looked at my phone quizzically while trying to wake up.  My SaBomNim (master teacher), who is legally blind, sent me the messa...