Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Three sparring injuries from tonight's all-belts class:

* 2 dime-sized blisters on the sole of my right foot, and
* 1 egg-sized bruise above my ankle on the inside of my right leg.

I am very discouraged about the blisters. I was being VERY careful about my feet, especially the right one where I had that inflamed tendon (missed ballet because of it last week).

Tomorrow morning I have ballet. I really do not want to miss it because of these blisters. I soaked them and put bandaids on them. I wonder if there's more I could do. Kickerchick or Ellen or any of you athletes out there--any ideas?

Informative Video

Found a nice video at the public library--which caused my boys to once again say "You're obsessed."

It's called Mystic Origins of the Martial Arts, dated 1998 from A&E. Watched a bit of it last night. It gives some nice (though brief) history of the martial arts and some footage of people doing Kung Fu, Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Brazilian Jujitsu, etc. It's not an instructional video; more of a documentary.

And I've learned about Wan Hyo from watching it. That's the name of my new form, and it's also the name of a historical warrior in Korea. His name means "enlightened one."

For those blog readers from CR, I'll get this video back to the library within the next week in case you're interested!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

She stops whining

I'll stop whining about how hard it is to remember forms I learned for earlier promotional exams. Here's my Low Threshold Application for form maintanance (LTA means it doesn't require much extra work and will produce good results).

Instead of chatting and doing yoga before class starts, I'll warm up with old Palgwe and ITF forms.

OK. Maybe after I chat and stretch a bit.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

First Row

I was in the front row at All-Belts class today! (We line up by rank; the highest ranks go in front.)

OK. There were only 2 1/4 rows.

But I was later asked to do Palgwe 1, and I had to go to the side because I did not remember it.

Well, geez. We never practice those old forms. What am I supposed to do, practice it at home?

Of course the answer is Yes. I am just not that dedicated, though! It seems to me that being a good martial artist is kind of like having a web site (or so I gather). Making it is the easy part . . . maintaining them, now that's where it gets hard. Just like maintaing forms.

Still, workout was fun. Aimee and Heidi were back. Aimee said that our new form Won Hyo made here feel "like a klutz." I agree; it's an awkward form, but I'm getting used to it. I like that feeling of getting better at something, and the the feeling of moving and working out in TKD.

Our new white belts broke for the first time today. There was much applause.

Friday, June 24, 2005


Got these photos from Brian. The first is me doing a wheel kick at the demo at the factory. Looks cool, but the board did not break! Oh well.

Here's another of me and my "greenbelt siblings. "

Sparring is like Writing

"You need to do your combinations!"

This is advice for sparring. In other words, when you spar someone, you need to do kicks in combinations of 2 or 3, not just one kick at a time.

But my thought Wednesday night is that I can't just do the same combinations every time. I had to use different kinds of techniques for Pam, who is strong and fearless; Kevin, who is tall, but not flexible; and Jane F. who is slower, but has good endurance.

If someone is tall, can't do head kicks. I try to get inside and punch. If they're slow, I just move fast. If they're quick and fast, I try those head kicks.

Kind of like writing. Writing is not writing is not writing, as someone said. You need to do it differently, depending on the situation. For this blog, I write fast and use a conversational style. For class materials, I need to be very organized. For the Gazette, I have to make room for source quotes.

Still, I need to learn some good sparring combinations. Maybe different ones for different situations. And I need to learn how to conserve energy so I don't get totally knackered!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Back to the dojang

I looked at myself in the mirror this morning and my eyes were bloodshot! I've been at a technology conference for 3 days and I've been spending way too much time staring at screens.

Got home just in time for all-belts, though, a great workout. The hot weather (in the 90s) makes stretching easier--Master Hughes wandered by twice to push my stretches just a bit more.

"Hey, why don't you pick on him?" I joke, pointing to Kevin.

"Naw, he's a nice guy," says Master H.

We work on forms, and Brian and I make some progress getting Won Hyo down. That one has some tricky moves. Earlier, we showed Frank and Kevin Do San, and got some tips from Ms. Pryor.

At the end, Master Hughes calls out "get your sparring gear on."

It's been a while since I've sparred, and I feel out of it. I don't remember what kinds of combinations work, but I throw myself into it, scoring a few on each partner (including some kicks to the head), and getting seriously winded.

It's nice to be back.

Got some photos from Brian--will try to scan them in the next day or two and post them here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Hello Technology and Learning folks!

Hello to any of you who are reading this from the Iowa Technology and Learning conference. Welcome to my blog. Feel free to look around here. Some of the pictures are interesting.--there are several of me breaking boards!

I know some of you are interested in doing blogs. Using is very easy. Talk to me if you want to know more.

Feel free to post a reply to any posting. Click on "Comments" in blue below, then click on "Post a comment" in the next view.

You can post a response to this: are you a student of anything now? what new thing have you learned to do recently?

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Karateforums posting.

Once again, I was enjoying reading some postings at People are still posting replies to a question I made a while ago.

Another topic intrigued me: Is TKD effective? It was about whether TKD was good for streetfighting. I read a bunch of posts, and they bugged me. So I posted a reply, and I wonder if people will read it and what they'll think.

This is what I said.

I don't know, maybe I'm way off here, but isn't one of the purposes of martial arts to be the kind of person who DOESN'T get into fights?

I'm not talking about true self-defense here, fighting because someone else has made the first move. I'm talking about adding to violence on the street or whereever just because you can--because you are a powerful weapon and you want to use this to get at people who bug you or threaten you or whatever.

I really don't think that's the purpose of martial arts.

My instructor, who is 7th dan and in his early 50s, says he is very proud of the fact that he never had to use TKD on the street until about 10 years ago when two guys jumped on him on a city street. He says he was easily able to "immobilize" both and get away, but what he's really proud of is that he went so long without fighting.

It seems like if we do martial arts right, we learn how to be calm in a hot situation, how to have self-control, how to respect others, even how to walk away from an insult. We know we can use force, and we can if we have to. But it should take a LOT more for us to "have to" use force.

Any thoughts on this at all?

Here's the link if you're interested in reading what everyone says.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

New forms

After my odd dream last night, I'm wary when I go to all-belts. But when I get there, I see Master Hughes and Ms. Pryor, both. They briefly talk and smile as Master Hughes leaves, carrying a suit on a hanger. Something still feels awkward to me, but I'm somewhat reassured.

Only about 15 people are there, and Ms. Pryor leads us. We warm up with some grueling kicking exercises, then get right to learning our new forms.

"Jane, can you help Frank with Do San?" Ms. Pryor asks.

"Sure," I reply.

I'm honored to be teaching a form. I help Frank go through the moves of my most recnet form. Then Nancy helps me learn my new form, which, as usual, seems impossible. They always do at first. Nancy and I agree that it was Chun Jee, the very first and simplest form, that was the most difficult to learn.

Then we work on our new kicks. I want to work on my (awful) wheel kick, but Ms. Pryor tells me I need to learn the new one, a jump reverse kick. I practice over and over into a bag, feeling klutzy and weak.

"OK. Everyone come get a board," says Ms. Pryor.


Yup. She has us break with our new kicks! It takes me 3 tries, but I get the jump reverse kick break! I would guess that teaching technique is for building self-confidence. Doug Sr., a white belt dad, breaks with a step side kick. Applause.

"Hey Doug, was that your first break?" I ask.


We applaud again.

After class, two children, Michelle and Raidon, come up to me. They want to help me with my form.

"OK guys!" I say. "I need help."

They busily show me how to do the moves, one on each side. They must love to be the teacher for a change.

Class ends, and I feel a bit better about things. Still, I wonder if we'll ever hear the story about test day from Master Hughes or Ms. Pryor.

Dreaming TKD

I had a TKD dream last night.

In it, I go to All-belts class and the dojang is filled with spectators in folding chairs. A few students are warming up here and there. I look and look for someone I know. I am especially looking for Ms. Pryor. Then I leave and wander the streets of downtown Cedar Rapids.

TKD is on my mind now because of something I heard at the belt ceremony in the women's changing room: that Ms. Pryor did not test for her next Dan as she was supposed to. She'd invited guests who'd left our school with others to start a new school. Mr. Hughes would not let them stay, and Ms. Pryor left with them.

This story upset me--I was upset with Master Hughes but I was also confused--something about that situation must have upset him, as he is usually so generous. But from talking to him, I believe he is also more sensitive than you might guess from his boistrous, outgoing manner.

But as Aimee pointed out, I don't know the whole story. Good reminder. Usually, I'm the one to say that.

Someone said "If Ms. Pryor leaves, I don't know what I'll do."

I don't know what I'd do either. I'm sure that's where those dreams came from.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Heavy bag

I want one of these.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Belt Ceremony Photos

I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. Let me know if you need any explanation.

This one is Master Hughes encouraging us to keep studying martial arts.

I have to tell you that Stacy in the picture below just got her black belt. This is a tremendous accomplishment.

Here I am with my cohort, Aimee and Brian.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Not About TKD

More about writing and blogs.

Before I fell asleep last night I was thinking about the anonymity issue I raised earlier here, that is, how it affects me to have my fellow TKD students reading what I write about our classes.

I discussed this with my brother, who sent me the following reflections (Bill, I hope you don't mind me quoting your e-mail!):

. . . as to the blog concept, it is something I am constantly aware of (or try to be) when I am posting to my fishing or woodworking groups. Both are archived for public consumption, so whatever I post can potentially exist for centuries. So when I post something, I try to
think two things, 1. how would I feel if this were on the front page of the New York Times and 2. what will someone (or I!) think of it if I read it again in 20 years?

Well, I couldn't have said it better.

I guess I don't think of this blog as a web log--I think of it as a web column, or web columns: a place to publish reflective personal writing for public reading. Kind of like when I wrote occasional guest columns about being a mom for our local paper a while back: you have to be brave and honest and observant, but you also need to be careful and fair.

And, hey, this blog is also for public conversation--feel free to post your thoughts about blogging, or TKD, or parenting! Or send me a regular email, as many of you like to do.

And welcome to the new anonymous poster who left an erudite response to my posting about obsessions!

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Demo in a factory

Our promotional exams were odd this month. Master Hughes had a call from a nearby manufacturing company that wanted us to do a TKD demonstration at their health fair. So participating in the demo served as our promotional exam!

I'm always up for something new, so I was glad to do it.

I took the guys with me as Bruce was out of town.

When we got there, we found that, yes, we'd be doing our demonstration on the factory floor! Master Hughes had warned us that it would be a concrete floor, and we should wear shoes. The floor was also (and not surprisingly) dirty, so the shoes kept our feet clean.

Still, it was odd doing TKD there. It was hot and noisy. Huge stacks of corrulgated cardboard boxes surrounded us. An industrial-sized fan blew on us.

But people looked up when Master Hughes called us to attention with his commanding "Cheryot!" We did really quick run-throughs of some elements of our class--warm ups, punches, kicks. Master Hughes kept it moving.

He's told us several times that he was once part of a TKD demonstration team--I'd sure like to know more about that. What did they do, who watched, who sponsored the team? Anyway, that's probably how he knew how to keep things moving.

I didn't do all that well. It was very hard to move in shoes! My stances were all off, and so were my kicks. I couldn't break with the wheel kick ("I think it's your shoes," said Master H.), and even had trouble with the reverse kick. The heat made it hard for me to concentrate. Still, it was cool to be showing new people what we do.

Here is the only photo I have. It's Braiden breaking with a reverse kick.

There's a picture of me I need to get, too. June gave Master Hughes her digital camera, and he was taking lots of photos, including one of me. I'll see if I can get it from her.

Belt ceremony Wednesday. I do want to go. I was unable to get to the black belt test on Saturday after the demo, and I want to congratulate Stacy and Ms. Pryor, who I am certain passed their tests!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Not Anonymous

Lots of blogs have a kind of anonymity. It was actually a suggestion in an article I read--don't use people's real names because they might get mad.

My blog isn't anonymous because I'm not writing it to complain about my workplace or divulge juicy secrets about someone's life. It is what it is: the story of my encounter with Tae Kwon Do and more broadly, the story of how learning something new changes a person's perspective.

Aimee asked me for the address of the blog and I gave it to her. (Hi Aimee!) Now both she and Brian can read this. I think I'm OK with that.

Having people I write about read my blog makes me a bit uneasy. It's not that I'm going to write something bad about them, it's just that I'm writing about my OWN perceptions of class, and of people they know, and, OK, about them. My perceptions may not be their own. That's why I've been a bit hesitant to share this blog with people from my school. I want to stay honest in my reflections, not to be held back by worrying about what someone will think.

I'll just have to see how or if my blog changes, knowing people in the dojang are reading this. Who knows: maybe some of them will post comments (that would be great!) to add their perspectives. Maybe they'll start their own blogs!

Will I share it with others? I don't know yet.

Writing TKD

Besides this blog, I've been doing some other TKD writing: finally editing the Hughes brochure.

I went in while the kids were at swim lessons yesterday (after I was sure Eli would be OK) and worked on it in the office, standing at the counter. The document is on Word Pro, which is similar to Publisher, but I don't think as useful. I mostly worked on eliminating errors and making the writing consistent. Then I ran out to get the kids home from lessons.

I did get a bit of a workout in--got there in time to do my forms. Master Hughes was giving Aimee some tips on her form, so I listened intently: be sure the inside-outside block is really a block, for example, by bringing the arm out and around.

We also did some sparring--I'm guessing that was our test for sparring as I'm not sure we'll be able to do it at the demonstration. (I suppose I could spar Brian--that might actually be amusing to the watchers!) I said when I was done that I was SURE that sparring is the world's best workout--I was panting and sweating, as was everyone else!

At the end, a few people did their breaks. I listened and watched as Master Hughes gave Aimee tips on the wheel kick. Another student--can't remember his name said that he loved the wheel kick.

"I broke two boards with that and was getting ready to try again--I didn't even feel my foot going through the boards!"

Wow. Hope that happens to me Saturday.

After class, I stayed to finish the brochure. Master Hughes kept me company and I showed him the changes. I think it looks fine--and we can revise it again in fall.

Here's the first paragraph:
Tae Kwon Do is a Korean Martial Art that emphasizes training with hands and feet to improve the mind and body. Tae means foot, Kwon means hand, Do means art. Along with the physical skills that are taught, students develop self-confidence and discipline. Overall, Tae Kwon Do helps people live a better life.

I can live with that simple definition. I'm glad it's the first paragraph of our brochure.

Brave Boy

I think I mentioned that my kids are taking a break from TKD. I signed them up for swimming lessons, which didn't go over too well at first, especially with Eli.

At age 8, Eli has never taken swimming lessons before. He's never learned to put his head underwater, either. He gets a bit frantic at the pool when he's splashed, and is pretty limited in what he can do.

After the initial resistance, Eli decided that he did want to learn to swim. So I was able to get them to the pool without much trouble. Robbie actually likes swimming lessons, and has taken them since he was 5, about once a year, so he jumped right in.

Eli, on the other hand, had some trouble. He didn't cry or cling to me, as he would have were he younger. But once in the water, he spent most of the rest of the lesson slowly climbing out of the pool--hanging on the side, then perched on the edge, then scootching back on the pool deck. From where I was watching in the balcony, I could see the teacher talking to him, and Eli shaking his head no, no, no I don't want to.

He cried after that first lesson. "It was cold," he sobbed. "I don't want to learn to swim."

I remember cold pools from when I was 8. That was when I started lessons, too, at an outside pool in Cleveland at 9 in the morning. Talk about cold. My lips would turn blue. But it seems to me I basically liked it.

Eli was really resistant, but I didn't want him to quit. So I told him what I wanted him to get out of the class.

"I just want you to learn two thing: how to swim underwater and how to float a little," I told him. "And I want you to try two things next time: stay in the pool, and say 'OK, I'll try' when the teacher asks you to do something."

And I added a bribe. If he did those two things, I'd take him to the coin shop in a nearby town. I said nothing about purchases, but what Eli really likes to do is talk to the owners of places like that.

It worked. On Wednesday, Eli stayed in the pool. He let the teacher pull him around on a kickboard; then he swam by himself with it.

He was very proud of himself. I was proud too. I think he was both scared and cold before, and he tried anyway. That's bravery.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


Yesteday, Eli took a "Martial Arts for Children" book out of my hands.

"No more martial arts books for you," he said. "You're obsessed."

I do have a tendency to get VERY into things: horses, LOTR, for example. But I wonder, Is writing about TKD on this blog causing me to be obsessed? Am I obsessed?

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Just doin' it

One of those days when I just don't feel like exercising. I wouldn't go to all-belts if I actually thought about it, but I don't think about it. I have it scheduled. I grab my bag and go.

It's a humid day and the 2nd floor dojang is hot, but they've got the big ACs running. I realize I've forgotten my water and my checkbook (test is next week) . . . argh. I leave my test app with Master Hughes. At the top I write "IOU $35 for test fees, $1 for water, $3 for board." I also leave the brochure with my editing marks on it. "Let me edit this for you before we do our demonstration," I plead. Master Hughes does not seem to see the importance. Clearly, he does not understand the power of correct punctuation.

Once in the dojang, I see people I like to see: Pam and the new white belt, Jamie. Stacy and Ms. Pryor. Brian is there--must have gotten away from work for a bit. Aimee and Heidi come in.
"I went to bed early last night, by 10:30," Aimee says. "I'm getting old." Brian and I exchange a look and laugh at her.

You know, when you're feeling lazy, there's nothing like a nice routine at the beginning of the workout. Bowing when you enter the dojang. The usual beginning horse-stance-middle-punch. Stretches. Then there's nothing like some new exercises. Today Master Hughes had us work on blocking techniques.

"Use the strongest part of your arm to do that block: your elbow," he says. He demonstrates, folding his arm way around the other arm and sliding it off to execute a block. Aimee and I decide we'd probably just do a quick break-away and run!

We also practice breaking. I'm glad. I've only just learned to do the wheel kick, and can't imagein breaking with it. Ms. Pryor encourages me and gives me tips. Master Hughes walks by after an unsuccessful try and reminds me to let use torque.

"Turn your body and let your leg catch up with it. That'll give you power."

I think about it, breathe, focus, breathe, and do it. The board breaks. My heel hurts from 4 attempts and a break, but I've done it. Later, it's fun to chat with Stacy and Ms. Pryor while we sit and watch the other breaks: Jason breaks with a flat palm, Justin tries his handstand kick, but then breaks with a punch-speed-break.

At the end we practice combination kicking. I'm paired up with Jim, Chelsea's powerful and intense dad, who's a blue belt. That's OK. I'm not actually sparring. I practice working fast and kicking high, which would be my only hope if I actually were to spar him. His kicks are strong and accurate; he compliments me on my kicks. Class ends with Master Hughes reminding us of the demonstration.

When it comes to workouts, if you think about it too much, there's no way you'd do it. I've found that about myself anyway! To get myself to swim, I treat myself to sleeping in and skip my shower. I'm rested then, and I feel the need of getting wet! Sometimes the only way to get to a workout is to trick oneself--or just do it.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Parenting advice?

It's been so interesting reading people's responses to my post on Karateforums. I got this post today, and it made me realize that not everyone sees parenting in the same way:

You are the parent, here. If you feel that training is worthwhile, and is doing them good, make them go. I'm consistently surprised how many parents say "I can't make them do it." Why not? Can you make them get up and go to school? Brush their teeth? Do their homework? Then you can make them train too, if you see value in it.

I don't know about you, but I don't "make" my kids do anything. I haven't since they were tiny and I could pick them up and move them to where I want to go. Coercion is not my MO, and I don't think it's the way most people operate either. Certainly not the parents who wrote in before this one, and whom I quoted in my last blog entry.

My children go to school when they "don't feel like it." They brush their teeth. They get off the computer. But I wouldn't say it's because I "made" them do it.

I think my role as a parent is to create a structure around my children--a structure consisting of love, mercy, humor, forgiveness, and, of course RULES. That structure helps my children learn to make the right choices. Sometimes I have to remind them quite strongly about this structure. Sometimes they're mad about it. But they need it and I think they like it.

Yesterday, Robbie wanted to go off and play with his friend Jacob B. after school. They had some nebulous plan of going to the park to meet his grandmother, and then going back to Jacob's house when the grandmother went home . . . ! I don't know the parents, I don't know where they live, I didn't even know if Jacob's mom would be at his house.

I explained this to Robbie, reminded him of the structure of love and rules that I have for him. He was very mad, slammed the car door, and fussed very angrily for a while. But I did not "make" him get into the car or leave his friend. By the time we got to the library (our original after-school destination) he was happily telling me about what he did in school.

Maybe this parenting style sounds permissive. I don't think so. I cannot see how a coercive style would work with a strong-willed, high energy, intelligent boy like Robbie, or with a sensitive, different-drummer, intelligent boy like Eli.

Actually, I can't imagine how it would work with anyone. There's a dad at TKD who is "making" his 10-year-old boy learn the Palgwe forms so he can be a full black belt. But the boy is reacting in a passive-agressive way: he's deliberately not listening to the instructor. Ms. Pryor even came over and told the dad this, just after the boy's dad told me he was "making" his son do the extra work. I don't know if the dad saw the connection.

I'm not going to "make" my boys continue TKD when they're ready to stop. Because I'm the mom here.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Advice and Reflections on Taking Breaks

I love For me, someone who a)has lots of questions, and b) loves to write, it's a great place to be part of a grand conversation about martial arts.

I've had lots of good, thoughtful responses to the question I posed about taking a break from TKD. Most of it's not about TKD, really, but about good parenting.

I asked if it would be a good idea for my kids to take a break from TKD since they've clearly either lost or misplaced interest. Here are some excerpts from people's responses:

I have gone through this with my kids. I don't think that there is one answer, and that no answer is right or wrong. Each kid is different.

I know how much a person can gain from studying the martial arts and it is frustrating to see students lose interest when I know what the prize is, but you can't make them see it, they have to see it for themselves; and when it deteriorates into a battle at home and in the dojang it is counter-productive. My hope for them is that they regain their interest and return to reap the benefits. I always leave the door open.

The 'worst' thing you can do, is say, "You've got to take the class."
Forcing the kid to take the class, is not a way to 'encourage them to have FUN'...

It wouldn't hurt to have a heart to heart talk WITH them about TKD... kind of try to guage WHAT their true intentions/wishes are...
If they want to pass on classes for a bit... and would rather just 'occasionally run through their forms' informally to 'keep in good TKD shape'... that'd be great right there.

TKD 'should' be a WELCOME companion for life... not a 'chore' we force on ourselves or on kids.