Saturday, April 02, 2005

Spar wid me

Saturday all-belts class, and I manage to get the boys to go with me with bribes of extra Easter candy. I have told them both that I'm not signing them up for the test unless they work extra hard this week.

Master Hughes is out of town; Justin Wasson takes the class. Robbie really looks up to him. He is a teen black belt--he's got good presence--he's calm and responsible.

Class is small, but goes smoothly until Robbie falls while doing combination kicking. He falls often, I think because he doesn' t yet have much control. This fall makes a good deal of noise--both the noise of Robbie falling and the noise of him crying! He yells with hurt and frustration. Mr. Wasson checks him out and Robbie goes back to sit on the chairs for a while--it turns out for the rest of class.

After some working out, Mr. Wasson yells out "get your sparring gear."

I put on Robbie's mitts and leg pads after trying to pry him out onto the floor. No go. I think his ego is as bruised as his hip. Neither of my children has much in the way of perseverence or indomitable spirit yet.

Eli borrows sparring gear from the cabinet, and we all get in a circle. What's next? I wonder.

"This is Round Robin sparring," explains Mr. Wasson. Two people will spar; the rest will act as judges, watching to see if anyone gets a hit. We can hit on the front of the torso and the back of the head only.

June is called up first. She is a tall, strong green belt.

"Who would you like to spar with?" asks Mr. Wasson.

June looks at me. "You," she says.

I feel honored and scared. June towers over me. But I decide I'll let it be a good practice: my first real sparring match.

I try moving in close and trying back-of-the-head roundhouse kicks. I can't really remember what else to do! She scores on me twice, and the match is over.

I survive.

Later on, Eli is called up. He chooses a green belt about his size, June's son. I'm not sure what to expect from him. But he is fierce! When Mr. Wasson calls "Si-Jah" Eli moves in fast with a great combination of kicks! He scores, and they begin again. Before Mr. Wasson calls them to Chun-Bee, Eli does a little dance, each time. Then he moves in quickly and fearlessly.

This delights me! My little serious, sensitive guy, fighting like a bee! Everyone else notices his adeptness, too, including Robbie, whose interest has been piqued.

Last exercise: flying side kicks against the heavy bag. I hit each one, fair and square. Eric, a junior brown belt, gives me a thumbs up. "Great kick!" I have good form, but even with all my body weight thrown into it, I can't make the back slam and shudder against the frame like some of the bigger students can.

Robbie joins us for this last part. He loves yelling and flying at that bag. When we shake the teachers' hand at the end, Robbie goes around again and tells Justin and Jason (the other black belt there) "you guys did great kicks!"

I fill out the test forms. Eli has proven his mettle. I'm hoping that Robbie will work hard this week and focus. It's been hard for him to do that. While I fill out forms, the boys talk to Mr. Wasson. "Show us your form!" they ask. He does--it's impressive. I only recognize a few of the movements.

We leave, Eli elated, and Robbie more hopeful.

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