Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Small class

Finally, a Ninja Kids class that is not cancelled due to bad weather! But today there are just 4 people there: Patrick and three Nesmiths. Eli is in a surprisingly good mood. For the first time in weeks, he didn't say "But I don't WANT to go to Tae Kwon Do! I'm not going." He bounces into the gym and skips from end to end.

I'm not feeling very focused today. Maybe it's the small class--there is something to be said about critical mass of students. My legs and arms feel like noodles, which is particularly evident to me when I practice the one form I know, Chun Jee. I make mistakes, too. Maybe it's the low barometer. Maybe the time of month.

We take a break in the middle of class, and the boys all go over to the row of hulking weight-training machines along the wall. There must be 10 or 12 machines, all standing in front of the mirrors. My boys try out various machines. Eli sits on top of one, Robbie tries to work one ofone with pullies and one with levers. I point at the mirrors.

"Hey," I say to Mr. Houtz, the teacher. "Did you know this used to be a ballet studio?"

"Yeah, it was run by Gil McNaughton," he replies. "Actually, I took some dance classes when it was a studio. "

"You're a dancer?! I didn't know that!" This seems like a good thing.

When we go back to the class, Robbie and Patrick put on their sparring gear and go to it. It's Robbie's first time with the gear. Eli fiddles around; he's lost interest. Mr. Houtz and I work on combination kicking, a precursor to sparring. He shows me some different combinations.

"Step forward and fake the punch, then do your roundhouse. You'll catch them off guard." He makes it look easy. I don't like the stepping forward bit. I feel too vulnerable, not aggressive enough. It's all counterintuitive, I joke to him, showing him what feels more natural (turn around and walk away). But I try it again anyway. I try to think of it as a dance move.

Suddenly we realize that Patrick and Robbie have been sparring for some time. They kick and punch, dodge and turn, moving around the gym. Patrick, who's a high blue belt, clearly has the upper hand, but everyone cheers Robbie on. He's concentrating hard and gets in a few kicks. wHen they stop, he practically falls to the ground with exhaustion. "I don't like sparring," he says. I think he's just tired, but also wonder what you need to be good at it--sparring and Taekowndo. Aggressiveness? Self-confidence? Just some good moves?

No comments: