Saturday, February 05, 2005

Something New to Learn

I go to Saturday's All Belts class alone this week. Robbie found it a bit too intense when we went together last time. I don't blame him. It is pretty intense.

Ms. Pryor is the teacher for this class, as she was last time. She is a very serious and earnest person, a little taller than I am, maybe a few years older. She tells us she's been feeling under the weather this week because of tests she had to undergo. Ms. Pryor is a thyroid cancer survivor, and her doctor told her this week that she doesn' t have to be tested anymore! As a spectator of cancer survival, I feel like clapping for her, but I don't see anyone else who understands the importance of this statement.

One black belt in the front row raises his hand. "Since you're feeling tired, does that mean you won't work us until we're mummified? Ma'am?"

No smile from Ms. Pryor. "My brain is still working. I'll let you black belts help me demonstrate so you can get a good workout."

Besides being extremely intense, Ms. Pryor is not as patient as the other teachers--I hear her say "now why did you do that?" with a slight edge of frustration as she supervises a boy practicing black belt moves. However, she is quiet and patient with us lower belts, correcting my back stance and gently moving an orange belt's arm for a block. She even rewards me by telling me "you really know your form" after I do Chun Jee.

Luckily, today's class seems to focus mostly on kicking. My legs are strong from ballet, and I'm having a good balance day, so it's not so bad. We practice "power roundhouse" kicks, hopping across the floor on one foot (kicking the other one over and over without setting it down), and slow motion kicks with partners. I am feeling grateful for modern dance training; I use the same techniques I use when doing a lateral T.

After class, we're all huffing and sweating. In the women's room, two moms, Stacey and Pam, talk with me about the test. Suddenly it becomes apparent that I have not learned one part of my test, something called Palgwe 1, which is another kind of form. "I don't remember that from watching Robbie's test," I say. But then I realize I was only watching Robbie, not the adults during the test, and only adults have to learn both TaeGuek forms and Palgwe.

(By the way, there's a really good explanation of how those two different versions of forms came about on a cool website I discovered. I guess it has something to do with nationalism. Check out the story here.)

Anyway, Stacy is concerned. "Maybe you shouldn't take the test. You need to know the Palgwe. They'll have you do it in front of everyone."

I don't know. It doesn't worry me. "I'll learn it this week," I tell her. "If not, I guess I'll have to skip that part of the test." Stacey thinks this is reasonable and quickly shows me the form in the changing room.

On my way home, I realize that this is an extra challenge I need. Mr. Houtz was trying to challenge me with a new break technique last week. Now I have a new form to learn.

I have the directions for Palgwe 1 now--from the website I linked earlier. I'll practice at home and run it by Mr. Houtz. Maybe I should be worried but I'm not. Now if it were a different breaking technique . . . :-O

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