Saturday, March 19, 2005

Boards, Forms, and Moms

I get to all-belts class and it seems quiet--I realize it's because Master Hughes is not there. He seems to add a note of party to the class.

I work out with Brian for a bit--we try out Palgwe 2--and then Ms. Pryor calls out:
"Everyone come up and get a board. We're going to get breaking out of the way first."

I grab a 1x12x12 board out of the bin and head to the back of the dojang. Black belts are recruited to hold boards, and children break first, their 1x12x6 boards snapping smartly. Then it's the adults' turn.

Robbie has told me that green belts break with a jump reverse kick, so I watch with interest as the other Brian goes up to break. He springs into the air, spinning around, and thrusting his foot out. The board cracks.

It's my turn, so I go up with my board. I try to remember what Mr. Houtz has been telling me, but it's different to try a kick when there's a solid wooden board in front of you. I try a few times with no luck. Ms. Pryor gives me a bit of advice each time. Finally she says "You need to lean into it. You can't just kick. You have to throw your body into it." This makes sense. I'm not strong enough to crack a board with just my leg muscles, but if I put my weight into it . . .

I prepare, breathe, focus, ki-yap, turn, and break! I end up falling into the board holders, but they don't mind. "That's the way you're supposed to do it."

Stacy has to break two boards. She's a bit worried; ever since she broke her foot instead of the board, she says she's board-shy. "For the higher belt board breaks, you really need strength as well as technique, and I'm just not that strong." I commiserate. "And neither of us has much weight to throw behind our kicks," I say.

After we're done breaking, Brian and I practice our forms again, and this time a new student joins us. Her name is Amy, and she's done Tae Kwon Do before, but she's starting again and hoping for a double promotion at the test. Amy is smaller than I am, elven almost, with short spiky hair and an earring in the top of her ear. We work on Dan Gun and Palgwe 2, but stop every so often to watch board breaking.

A couple of cool ones:

Justin is standing on his hands. Two black belts hold a board near his feet. He takes aim, a practice upside-down kick, and then kicks for real. The board breaks! We all clap. "He must have made that one up," I say to Brian.

Four black belts have their hands on a stack of three boards. They stand, two on each side, legs braced, arms straight, faces turned. Ms. Pryor stands, focuses, ki-yaps twice and flies into the stack of boards in a flying side kick. The boards crack and fly up. Ms. Pryor lands in the midst of the black belts.

After breaking we line up and do our forms, starting with Chon ji. We go "by count," which means that Ms. Pryor can stop and wander the aisles ("like Master Hughes," says Robbie, who is sitting with me as I write this). Then the children leave and we do Palgwe 1. Then Dan Gun. Then Palgwe 2.

Forms are not aerobic, but I am tired as we finish. Something about the exertion of getting it righ, perhaps, or maybe just the force of the kicks and blocks and punches. It was just what I needed at this point to get my forms nice and smooth.

Lots of moms at class today. Stacy is there, as is Pam. Jane Fisher is there with her video camera; she tapes Stacy doing the blue belt form so she can watch it as she practices for the test. There's another couple of moms there, too, a woman named June and someone else I don't know. I think it's the only time when grown up women outnumber grown up men!

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