Wednesday, May 25, 2011


My first years in TSD were marked with frequent “Aha!” moments. Over time those became sporadic as the learning of new skills was overtaken by the refinement of those very same skills. 

As of the last few years they have become far and few between.  I was warned of this by Teacher and haven’t really thought about it much until something struggled to the surface about three weeks ago.  Teacher is very clever and adaptable at times so a move he promotes may not exactly come from the Big Tang Soo Do book or his older practiced styles.  However, he’ll do them if they work and have a minimum of cons. 

So about three weeks ago we were working on entering our opponents space using the simple zenkutsu stance.  At first I was uncomfortable with giving my back to the opponent, but with the proper loading and speed I believe it to be a great set up for a throw. 

After a few weeks of testing this out it dawned upon me that I needed to try this out somewhat formally.  Bob, at Striking Thoughts, acted as a Catalyst via some email discussions about being tall and trying to throw. 

Here you can see a big dork talk about it:

Super Awesome Horribleness


The second realization was that experience does have a place!  One of the young guys in class, Ken, is incredibly gifted.  I only have to show him a technique once and he does it perfectly.  However when I tell him why we do it that way he gives the look that guys in the video have – blank, but humoring the happy lummox. 

When Teacher and I were reviewing the evening he put it this way: “Anybody can shoot a gun.  A person with innate talent can shoot well, but if you ask them to shoot in the rain, in the wind, while someone is shooting at them it’s a different story.  That’s why Blackbelt mills can be construed as dangerous.  The give the belt based on physical ability, but not necessarily the rationale behind what’s occurring or the wisdom to use any of the knowledge correctly.” 

All in all – a wonderful night.

Friday, May 20, 2011

On Thinking And Being

It is a rare thing that I have anything near to what I would call “clarity of thought”.  I imagine it would be like having the same train of thought for more than a few minutes at a time.  Although I’m self-diagnosing I am pretty sure I was one of those kids who was squirrelly and distracted all their lives that was later to be called ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) by the medical establishment.  Thankfully I had a parent that was very good with behavior management, but I remember the struggle of trying to focus during years of school, but having to contend a mind that flew about like a flock of birds on the wind. 

Over the years I was able to develop some skills to contend with that inability and found that several things really helped.  One of those being Martials arts or some intense physical activity.  Ironically reading did the same thing assuming that I like the material of course. 

So when I sit down to type about what happened the night before I can only recall a few of things we did and get very frustrated over the fact that I can’t recall the things I did successfully or why they worked.

When I add stress to the mix my mind gets even worse.  A common occurrence is that I will try to do to things at once and end up spinning in place – literally.  The result of having two competing thoughts turn into action.  My wife knows when I’m out of control when she saw me go in one direction and then the other and finally end up spinning on the ball of one foot. 

This lack of mental cohesion has increased because my wife is leaving for three months to go to an immersive language school out of the country and my single co-worker is leaving for a month’s vacation.  

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not not good with singularity, but I usually do just fine after the first week.  I just have to create a routine and stick to it.  A personal kata that doesn’t require a lot of thought.  Not a great way to go through life, but at least the plants get watered and I remember to cook for myself now and then. 


Class notes from last week. 

Storm got his first green stripe.  Teacher is going to test him once a month to get him up to his real rank.  His take on our first kata was pretty cool because it looked like it was all TKD instead of TSD. 

Teacher reintroduced the low horse stance.  60 seconds of thighs parallel to the ground.  Followed by massive kicking exercises.  Bad ass!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Backfist To The Dome

I don't know about the folks out there, but there is a couple of moves that have an automatic follow-up move. The one I see most (and also do myself) is a side kick that's followed up with a spinning back fist. We do it so often that when we are sparring we almost automatically raise our arm to block when someone even hints at doing a move after a failed side kick.

That being said, during the evening's sparring I neglected to raise my hand to block since I figured two things; 1. that my opponent was too far away and 2. he could control his strike. I was wrong on both accounts. Dave is my height but must have slightly longer arms. So the back fist did come and I did not have my hand up. Dave also did not have the control I would have liked to see. This led to a perfect placement of his two knuckles on my side of my head at the hat line.

I had to shake that off but I swear I could feel the fluid filling the new dent in my dome. Before I went to sleep I looked into the mirror hoping that I would have a nice bruise the next morning. Unfortunately just a little headache and nothing to show for it.
Class had a total of three students last night. This is a classic dilemma for our town. We rarely have sunshine, but we've had it for 3 days in a row and that means we'll lose class numbers fast. So Dave, Ken and me practiced two step sparring and regular sparring for two hours. Super fun, but tiring. Teacher broke it up a bit by having us do something along the lines of an Aikido exercise. Uke strikes and we block and take the hand. At the same time we turn fully to capture and allow Uke to keep moving (and helping him) and then set up a wrist lock for a throw. This is usually the Kotegoeshi (wrist twist), but with our variation.

In the few Aikido classes I've been in the move is usually performed with the Uke at arms length so he can't punch you. Whereas we keep Uke close to us and use an elbow in the face to "soften" him. It give us a lot of power, but it keeps Uke close so if the move isn't done well then you get bashed.

Teacher then had us move to practicing blocks and grabs at real speed. This is something I don't feel I do particularly well, but this practice was excellent and I was able to move reasonably well and get a few positive grips and move into a serviceable lock.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Las Manos de Piedra y Sangre

What with all the hullabaloo around the last couple of UFC fights in which the winner employed a front kick to end the match, has made me dying to integrate the move into our sparring. It’s not that we don’t use it all the time, but the simplicity of the move and my innate flexibility in that area really calls to me.

The only problem is that Teacher has been somewhat reticent to reintroduce sparring because of the plethora of plebeians (I love alliteration). For some reason we had a very light class last night and it was mostly experienced folks. That means that we’d have a better possibility to spar if Teacher ran out of energy making up class content. Luck was on our side as we had ten minutes of class left after practicing kata for 30 minutes.

I got to spar with one of wonder twins and found to my dismay that a slowly performed front kick is easily blocked. What made it worse was his block was horrible. Normally performed the downward block would be more than adequate to stop my half strength kick. However the Twin either didn’t see the kick starting or he started the block really late. Regardless, the top of my foot met up with his elbow while it was faced downwards.

It’s not that this kind of thing doesn’t happen all the time, but for whatever reason my foot got his elbow just right. And by that I mean wrong. When I was getting out of the shower this morning I noticed the obvious swelling and tenderness. Even my wife took a second glance at the apparent blob on top of my foot.

The second match was with the new guy, Storm. He holds a black belt in TKD and doesn’t really used his hands very much in sparring which makes me think he must be from a sports based school. Anyway our interactions would go between badly timed hand exchanges or hopping up and down closely waiting for an opening for a well placed kick. His youth and vigor definitely won out.

The title of the post is supposed to say “hands of stone and blood”, but I’m really unsure of my Spanish. But you have to admit even if incorrect it sounds great. The rationale behind the title is that I’ve been going through a hand hardening regimen for a couple of years now. Not that it’s much, but I was hoping to lead to a more solid foundation for my mitts.

It’s three steps now days. I have a brick that I backfist and punch (very lightly) 40 to 50 times, I do all my push ups on my first two knuckles (also the same striking spot) and finally added in finger pushups in the last year. I presumed that it would lead to a harder hand and stronger wrist. Since I’ve neglected the knife hand edge strikes in this regimen it appears that it’s the weakest link. During the sparring last night where our blocks seemed poorly timed I ended up blocking with the back of my hand toward the knife edge. Now I’ve got some nice hand bruises to go along my skins, forearms and foot.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Lucky Wishbone

I was standing in a moderately deep stance as Swimmer went into zenkutsu (lower stance with one leg bent and the other straight) between my legs.  With a sharp twist of her shoulders my front leg went out and forward and my rear was already kind of straight and going no where.  My only escape was to fall backward and hope that I could take the stretch I didn’t seem built for.  Mental screaming ensued. 

It seemed like a nice evening, filled with bonhomie, laughter and effervescent spirit.  This should be a warning after all this time; it usually means that focus isn’t on the mark and something is going to get mangled.  The first sign – me blocking a kick with an open hand and jamming my ring finger.  Nothing bad, but it stung liked I bent it sideways.  I was being over dramatic as usual. 

Next, as we working on weapons attacks I took a escrima stick from Dave as he swung for my head, but I messed up the technique and we became tangled and the stick fell from his grasp and clocked me on the head.  I had to do a few moments of the pain dance before I get back into focus. 

The third and final was working with Swimmer.  Teacher is very slow about introducing throws into the class, but today was a natural lead in.  We were to enter our partners stance and basically trip them with a shoulder twist and slight hip move.  Swimmer was doing fantastic until Teacher changed her footing and then the wishbone occurred.  I’d like to say that I’m overacting, but it hurts so much because I don’t think my hips joints can move beyond what we are asking of them.  It’s not that my groin gets pulled either.  It’s just pure pain.  I rolled on to my back and just gritted my teeth.  I didn’t care what I looked like, but just like always the intense pain stops in a few moments, but it’s actually hard to stand up and remain standing.  After about two minutes I’m ready to go.  Frustrating, because it’s really effective and I’m not really I can produce a counter. 

Teacher finished the class by reminding us that although we were having a really fun time we needed to be concentrating on breathing and focus.  I feel like that was my responsibility somewhat since I set the mood during stretching and warm up.  I’ll have to concentrate on being a bit more serious. 

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...