Friday, March 31, 2006


I've never been able to do this before. Not even as a child.

I want one of those "Splits Club" patches for my gi!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Too much?

A friend heard about my varied activities (ballet, TKD) and said to me: "How do you have time for all that?"

When people say this (and I've heard it more than once!), I sometimes feel a bit guilty, like there's something else I should be doing with my time.

So after she said that, I figured out exactly how much time I spend.

TKD--2 classes a week @ 1 hour each, plus 1/2 hour each time for stretching, practicing forms. Total: 3 hours/week.

Ballet--2 classes a week @1 1/2 hour each. Total: 3 hours/week.

So I'm spending 6 hours a week on physical activities. Is that a lot? More than that "1/2 hour a day" recommendation from . . . some agency.

I justified it this way to myself. I don't watch any television. I figure that most people watch, oh, maybe 2 hours a day? So I'm saving my TV-watching time and spending it on TKD and ballet. Plus, I don't pay the $65/month cable fee and can spend money on my lessons.

So there.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Fighting Films

Bruce gets to take his turn going to a conference this weekend, so, as usual, I'm stocking up on some DVDs.

So far, they're movies about fighting. I got The Twilight Samurai, an older Japanse film that looked like it had a decent story line as well as some fighting. One reviewer said:

This is an awesome film. The quality of the film as well as the story line and acting are excellent. It provides a brief glimpse into the true Samurai life of feudal Japan. Not the typical martial arts movie, but a true rendering of life for people in that era. A good mix of story with excellent fight scenes and a love interest. Those who are students of the martial arts will appreciate the sword work. This film will not disappoint.

And I got Million Dollar Baby, which I did not see in the theatre.

(Actually, I very rarely see movies in the theatre. We wait for movies to come out on DVD and use our babysitting nights for live entertainment like music or plays or parties!)

So have any of you seen any really good martial arts movies that I might like? They have to have a reasonable storyline as well as interesting fighting! Post a suggestion!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Monday: Three Things

1. Coming back . . . again. It's hard to keep leaving TKD and coming back after a week's absence! I'm glad to be back, yet I really notice the little things I've lost. Anything that I've recently memorized, for example.

I stumble through my forms, have some trouble with stances, and even feel a bit awkward at basic moves. I try not to get frustrated. This was the last time I'll miss class for a week, so I'll catch up. At least that's what I tell myself.

2. Tornado. My new kick is the front tornado kick, though Master Hughes seems to think we brown belts also know the reverse tornado kick. Ms. Pryor showed me last time I was here and I was getting it before I left . . . but that was a week ago.

Tonight, I'm clumsily trying it during combination kicking; then I stop.

"Do you actually use the tornado kick in sparring," I ask Justin, my partner at the time.

"Not much," he says. "I did use it in a tournament where you got 3 points for a jumping kick to the head."

I try again, and he stops me.

"Use a roundhouse."

"The second kick?" I ask. The tornado kick is like a tour jete' in ballet: one leg goes up, you turn, and before the first leg comes down, the second goes up, too. But a tornado kick is . . . scarier to look at.

"Yeah, a roundhouse," he says. "That will make a loud slap when it hits the pads." He shows me.

This makes more sense. I'm better at a roundhouse kick than at an outside-inside (crescent) kick.

"OK. This seems more useful. I guess I'll learn it," I tell him.

3. Bat. As Brian and I are going over our forms after class, a bat flies through the back room where we are. It flutters around the room, then out into the dojang.

"I'm leaving," says Matthew, with wide eyes.

"He's not after you," I tell him. "Those bats eat insects."

I love bats. I'm not sure why. I guess I'm a mammalphile.

The bat disappears, maybe back up into the attic.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Kicking Butt and Martial Ballet

I'm continuing my theme of "reality-based" or "street" fighting at TKD, mostly so I can respond to something Mike wrote to me.

He told me that the reason he beganKung Fu is so that he could, and I'm paraphrasing, learn to kick some butt. He was 17 when he started martial arts, and he assured me that kicking butt is one of a very few things that 17-year-old boys find interesting . . . I'll let you guess what he said the others were (or maybe Mike will post a comment here!)

It was his desire to learn how to beat people up that got him the dedication and focus he needed to excel in Kung Fu.

Hmm. That seems to match up with the focus of those articles in Black Belt, which seems to be primarily aimed at male martial artists.

But Ms. Pryor often points out to us that people learn martial arts for many different reasons. I didn't start martial arts so I could learn to kick butt. I started TKD because it looked both graceful and strong (I love that combination). Martial artists also learn how to focus during a performance, and I knew I wanted to work on that. The fighting part wasn't very interesting to me until I'd been doing TKD about 6 months.

Having people in our class with varied reasons for studying martial arts is a good thing, though. It allows different people's strengths and interests to support others in their areas of weakness. It adds a certain richness to the class that, say, Brian knows so much about self-defense, Justin is studying Kung Fu, I am a dancer.

Speaking of being a dancer, one article in Black Belt had a completely different angle from the many "reality" fighting articles around it. Columnist Floyd Burk wrote about Jhoon Rhee, a taekwondo Black Belt Hall of Fame member and "the martial art's most benevolent master." In the picture, he looks like a Yoda of a guy, an older Korean martial artist. The cutline for the photo says "The philosophy of Jhoon Rhee holds that the practice of taekwondo offers much more than skill at self-defense; it also serves as a means of artistic expression." (italics mine)

Burk says that Rhee believes that taekwondo hould not be primarily used for combat. He quotes the master:

When the practitioner puts effort into his taekwondo training and seeks to perfect his movement, he is doing a beautiful martial ballet.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Fear in the Martial arts magazine

Yesteday I posted about a martial arts book. Today, my post is about a magazine.

Brian loaned me the newest edition of Black Belt magazine--dropped it by Saturday before I got back, in fact. He liked this one a lot because of all the self-defense stuff in it. "Stuff you can actually use," he said.

The magazine did seem to have self-defense as a theme this month! There were seven articles mostly concerned with self-defense! Yes, I counted. Of course, they weren't all labeled "self-defense." There were other terms, most notably "reality-based fighting" and "street fighting."

Now I don't know whose "reality" these people are talking about or which streets they're walking (and fighting) on, but I have to say, I haven't had much call to learn "gun grabbing." Or to defend myself against violent prisoners (as the article "Martial Arts Behind Bars addresses). Both those articles seemed mostly addressed at police officers and military folks (OK, it's Brian's reality they're talking about!).

There might be some time in my life (or in the life of someone at our dojang besides Brian) when we might possibly need to know "Ground Survival" (grappling, I think) or how to use head locks to beat "an attacker." But it seems so completely unlikely that it would probably be more useful if we spent that time learning how to talk someone out of driving drunk or how to do the Heimlich maneuver.

But this "reality-based," "personal protection" approach echoes the ads these magazines run, too (I wrote about ads in Black Belt last month).

So here's my question. Do men, young men especially, frequently got into situations where they need to defend themselves, or know how to do street fighting, or prove themselves by beating someone up? Or are the martial arts and this martial arts magazine doing some fearmongering in order to increase participation in classes?

Saturday, March 25, 2006

TKD and books

This post comes to you from the Palmer House Hotel in downtown Chicago. My professional conference, the Conference on College Composition and Communication, is here this year, and I'll be presenting a paper with a student in just a few hours.

One of the most enjoyable parts of the conference is visiting the Exhibit Hall, where publishers bring books for us to look at--textbooks, scholarly works, books about writing, novels, poetry, whatever they think we might want to use in our classes. I told one publisher I was spending more time buying books than I was attending panels! Not quite true, but . . .

I found a really cool book yesterday: Dojo Wisdom for Writers by Jennifer Lawler.

Yes, that's the same Jennifer Lawler who has published books about Tae Kwon Do, and her dojo is really the dojang!

This is what the back cover says:

When black belt Jennifer Lawler first started training in the martial arts, she never imagined that learning how to kick people would teach her how to become a more accomplished and successful writer. But soon she discovered that the skills she was honing in the dojo--how to focus, stay disciplined, and persevere--would also help her realize her dreams off the mat.

There are chapters like "Find Your Teacher," "Keep the beginner's mind," and "Smile when you spar."

I'm looking forward to reading it, even though I am a bit miffed that someone wrote this book before I did!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Gone again

In a few short hours I'll be taking off for another trip, this one to a conference in Chicago. I've got my warm coat, hat, and gloves, thanks to KickerChick's warning about the cold Chicago wind! I've looked up the addresses of Ann Sathers and Gino's East in case we have time to go out for some Chicago food. And I plan to make time for an art museum visit, maybe the Contemporary.

So another break from TKD. When I return, it'll be two weeks until my next promotional test. Then I better work hard to get myself ready.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


So is this a pathetic board or what?

A few months ago our school started using these boards as a way for everyone to keep track of how much work they'd put in before each test. The idea was that each week, you'd go through all the moves on the board, and have a black belt initial it to show you've practiced all the forms you know, plus your new kick, stances, 3&1 steps, etc. By the time a test rolls around, your board is supposed to have initials for each week of classes between that test and the one before.

As you can see, I'm way behind.

Reasons for this:
1. We were in London for a week +. I missed class then.
2. The water ski team has been arriving at our dojang right after class on Monday. After class is when I usually go through my forms for black belts. I've been unable to do this.
3. It's hard to be a martial artist and a mom.

This last reason is hard to write and to acknowledge. I am the taekwondomom, of course. But I'm not sure that tae kwon do and mom really go together, at least not for me, at least not right now.

When I started TKD, I was doing it with my children, so it was part of our family time and not a burden on them or on Bruce. But now, I'm doing it alone. Every night when I go over is a night when I'm not sitting at the family dinner table and hanging out with my guys in the evening. I don't really mind, as I hang out with them after school, but I think it's hard on them.

I could go over early, as some of my classmates remind me :-) But that's hard for me--I need to get supper started (it seems like it's my night to cook Mondays) plus I like to chat with Bruce for a bit when he gets home (5:20 or later) and by the time I get out the door it's 5:45.

We probably all have to struggle to make sure we have time for the things we love. Being a parent or a worker or a student--all those things kind of get in the way of being an artist of any kind. That's not really so pathetic; just frustrating sometimes.

Official Dance Debut . . .

It's official. Mike and I will be dancing in the Ballet Academy recital in June!

Suki has even found some fun music for us, "After Midnight" from the Chicago soundtrack. You can listen to a clip if you search for the soundtrack on

None of our other adult ballet classmates will be able to make it, so it'll be a pas de deux.

The music starts out quietly with some simple (but fun) piano music. So we'll start our piece with some simple ballet choreography. As it goes along, it becomes more jazzy, so we'll be able to do some ballroom moves and jazzy choreography. Suki said "It has a good story-line." I agree, and I like the idea of blending jazz with ballet for our number. I studied jazz and modern dance when I was in high school and college, and I enjoyed it. Plus, it's not as serious as ballet can be!

And here's something cool: we'll be dancing at the Paramount Theatre downtown, a beautiful, 100-plus-year-old theatre where our symphony usually plays! Wow!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Monday blues

Monday night, and I'm feeling distracted, as I often do. I'm still catching up from being gone in London. And this week, I'm going to a conference in Chicago where I'm presenting a paper. I think I'll get everything done.

But TKD is always a good place to get away from those sorts of worries. Once I'm lined up with everyone else, stretching, kicking, doing basic movements, the worries fade into the background. I guess it's a good thing that tae kwon do isn't completely second nature to me. I like having to focus on it like this. It's calming, somehow, to focus completely on what you're doing right now, to be in the moment.

It's a good Monday night workout--besides the usual warm ups, we work on forms and combination kicking. I help out a couple of new people (new people!), one of whom is a mom. I hope that they feel welcome and keep coming to class.

After class, Brian challenges me to some combination kicking. We start, but have to quit early because of the water-skiers.

For the past few weeks, the local water-ski team has been using our dojang for who-knows-what. They arrive right as class is ending on Monday, which is kind of a pain. I always like to go through forms or practice sparring after class, and this makes it impossible.

Also, the group doesn't have a set of keys to lock up when they go. Ms. Pryor is going to stay or drive back when they're done, but she's tired. I volunteer to lock up and she gives me the keys.

It's not that I want to do it--in fact, it's not really the kind of thing I like to do: going out in a cold dark night to turn lights off and fiddle around with doors and locks. But my house is close to the dojang, and Ms. Pryor should be resting after her surgery. Besides, as a brown belt, I feel it's good for me to help out however I can.

I go home, and get the call that the skiers are done around 9. Locking up is easy, and some of the dads have stayed around. They shine flashlights on the locks and wait until the tricky front door is locked before they go.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

TKD evangelism

After class today there was a meeting of the "Leadership Group." While I'm not officially a member of this group, Master Hughes has told me he'd like me to get involved.

"If you're not a member, you can come and observe today," said Ms. Pryor. So I did.

The discussion was centered on the issue of getting more new students for our school. I was glad to hear this being discussed. Attendance has been dropping off for a while. As I've said before, we've lost a number of black belts, and there are few new students. Today, until Jason arrived, I was the lowest belt.

The children wanted to have "bring a buddy to TKD day." Which isn't a bad idea. Others suggested getting involved in more demos. Ms. Pryor wanted to know how to get the word out to the media about our activities, and I told her I could write press releases (I wrote some last year after our students went to tournaments).

Pam asked "what were we doing before that we're not doing now?" That was a good question. I wanted to ask "how did everyone here find out about this school?"

Our family started because of a great deal on the first two months of lessons offered through the local community college. I wonder if our school is still doing that. . . and I wonder what else would be a good way to promote our school and TKD to our community.

So here's my question to you readers: How did you find out about your TKD school? What got you going there?

And if you don't do martial arts, how did you get started in whatever it is you love to do?

Friday, March 17, 2006

My Bag

OK, this might look like a strange bag for a martial artist. Yes, that's a pair of pointe shoes on it.
I got this bag as a Christmas present from my sister-in-law in 2004, right before I started TKD. Once I got a uniform, I needed something to carry it in, and this bag was pressed into service. It's nice and roomy--probably more room that I need for my ballet togs anyway; they're kind of compact.

The pointe shoes in the outside are actually formed by ballet words! How appropriate for a word nerd like me. Justin was having fun the other evening trying to read the French terms. "Port de bras--the way you wear your arms?" he asked. "I think it means how you carry your arms," I explained. I also showed him and Brian what it meant by rond de jamb ("circle of the leg") and pas de chat ("steps of a cat").

Ballet terms sound funny when translated. Suki says it must be odd to French ballet students who know what they mean. "Half-fold and fold," the teacher says (the literal translation of demi-plie, plie).

Inside the bag
I keep my uniform in here, neatly folded, then rolled. I also keep a few Hanes boys' t-shirts which I wear underneath. I have my current board to be signed, my sparring pads, and Dove face-wash wipes (we have no shower at our dojang).

In the outside pocket I keep hand lotion, band-aids, lip balm, and my hair things. I also have a little coin purse for my earrings, ring, and watch. And a few temporary tattoos for days when I need a bit of visual courage.

I think the little brown belt key ring on the zipper adds a bit of credibility to my bag. It was a birthday gift from Matthew and Brian--thanks guys!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


I got home today and found a letter in my mailbox--a real letter in an envelope in my real, brass mailbox! The letter was from my friend Ewa who lives in Poland and who reads this blog. Ewa, your letter made my day! I feel like a lucky woman!

Ewa and I met 25 years ago (can it be that long?) when we were both studying German at the Goethe Institute in Murnau, a small town at the base of the alps. I was a naive 18-year old, and Ewa was 20-something and recently-married. We became good friends, going on hikes together, sharing meals, and talking (Ewa's English is great). We've kept in touch since then with annual Christmas cards/letters and, once, a phone call.

It was a delightful letter, filled with news about her life, updates on her two sons, and details about a vacation she's now enjoying. I look forward to answering her--this time I have her e-mail. I feel so lucky to have kept a friend that long, and through all the changes of my life: moves, jobs, grad school, motherhood.

Ewa also said something that made me feel especially lucky. Her job and commute keep her so busy that she has to work hard to squeeze in her exercise, reading, and writing. She thinks I'm lucky to have time for ballet, TKD, and blogging. I realize now, as I often do when talking to others, that my odd job/life arrangements have made me lucky.

At first when I got this part-time teaching job at the college, it seemed like a step down from my dreams. Part-time teaching? I'd hoped to teach full-time. But as I got used to it (and motherhood--Robbie was born about a month after I defended my dissertation), I realized that a part-time job might be OK.

Those first few years were tough, financially. But now, we're doing OK on 1 1/2 incomes. I've found creative outlets through freelancing (which pays!) and creative writing (I wrote columns about parenting before I started this blog). Having time to write on my own has definitely improved my teaching, too.

Not only that, I have time for other odd things, like ballet and TKD. If I had a full-time job, I'd have to choose one or the other, and probably give up freelancing!

Of course, I'm also lucky to be living in a small city with a 5-minute commute. Sure, it's not as exciting, culturally, as a big city like London or Chicago, but there are plenty of things to do: I don't even get to all the cultural events I want to attend HERE!

It's good to be reminded sometimes of how lucky I am, how much of my ability to write, do TKD, have a creative existance is due to circumstances beyond my control. And some of these circumstances initially seemed unfortunate! What good fortune that they turned out to be lucky for me!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

London Photos!

Indulge me for a while. I'd like to share some photos from our London trip. Little to do with TKD, but much to do with being a mom!

Here is Robbie outside Westminster Abbey, the church of royalty. Many kings and queens are buried here, and the gothic architecture is breathtaking, inside and out.

The boys loved the parks, despite the weather. We visted St. James park, an old park right in the middle of London (in front of Buckingham Palace) three times while we were there!

They also loved the tube. Here they are at our station.

I loved the Globe Theatre. As I entered the reconstruction of Shakespeare's theatre, I gasped! WOW! The tour guide said "Many people are awed by being in this theatre." Yup!

In the museum, they had Shakespeare sonnets in different languages. Here's a sonnet in Korean ("Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?")

If you want to see more pictures or hear more stories, you'll have to stop by my house for tea!

Back to TKD Monday night

I realize as I'm driving over that it's been exactly 2 weeks since I've been to TKD class. I wonder if I'll remember anything.

As I pull in to the parking lot I see Ms. Pryor's little red Vibe. I'm glad her reappearance was not just temporary! I dash up the stairs and see her in the dojang. She's wearing jeans and a sweatshirt, not her uniform; apparently she's had some surgery and is taking it easy.

But she leads the class today with her relentless energy, high demands, new moves. We do our warm-up kicks in circles rather than rows, and then we move on to some new sparring techniques, a fake-then-roundhouse combination that's tricky but fun.

About half-way through, she's getting worn out. We are given time to "work on whatever you need to work on." Brian and I agree to go through forms, but Tyler asks if we can help him with step sparring. Mindy and Jessica want help, too. "I don't know any of them," says Jessica, a young junior black belt.

So Brian and I teach step sparring, which is cool because it's something I actually know pretty well! I work with Jessica, and he helps the older students.

At the end of class (after flying side kicks! my favorite!), Ms. Pryor says that she had been gone because she thought she needed a change, but had come back because she loved teaching. I'm glad for her dedication, and I understand how teaching can have such a pull. It's nice to be able to teach something you know, which is what I did with step sparring this evening. But for me, I need to be learning, too; I wouldn't want to JUST teach. I can see how it would be hard for black belts to keep feeling challenged.

It'll be Saturday before I'm back, but at least I have ballet twice before then.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Home again

We returned last night from our week-long trip to London, exhausted but happy. I think everyone enjoyed it--for different reasons.

For me, it was a return to my favorite city in the world, a city I'd first visited in 1980, then 1988 and 1989, and 1993. As I wrote about a week ago here, those last three visits were working visits, and I stayed for more than just a week. In 88 and 89, I taught at a summer school outside London, near Windsor and popped up to the big city now and then. In 1993, I co-chaperoned a college trip to London for the month of January.

This time was especially fun--showing my guys the sites! Eli loved the historical and royal connections. As we went through Westminster Abbey, he told us about the Kings and Queens who are buried there. Robbie loved the Tube (underground railway system) and anything having to do with weapons: rusted old swords from Anglo-Saxon times, a jousting pole about 15 feet long, guns. We gave Bruce a day to himself when he visited Ben Franklin's London home and did a Beatles walk.

I was just happy to BE there again, walking the streets, strolling by the Thames, seeing theatre (two shows!), eating McVities tea biscuits, and sharing the historical sites with the family. I was also thrilled to be able to see a few things I hadn't before: the new Globe Theatre (a replica of Shakespeare's theatre), the Museum of London, the Natural History Museum, and London from the deck of a Thames boat.

Yeah, I have photos. I'll post a few here over the next week or so.

And now it's time to get back to TKD--class tomorrow. I'm hoping to squeeze in a workout today at the Y in between laundry, cleaning the house, and grocery shopping so I won't be in too bad of shape (luckily London is a walking city, so we all stayed fit!).

Friday, March 03, 2006

On our way!

We've had our lunch, packed our bags, and gone over the lists ("feed cat, get key to neighbor, cancel newspaper"). Just about ready to head off on our trip.

Next time I post, I'll be in London. At least I hope I have a chance to post there! It'll be my e-postcard to you, my blog readers. I'll probably check my college e-mail, too, if you want to send a note.

We'll see if I notice any martial arts aspects to my favorite city! I'm looking forward to seeing the castles, swords, celtic armor, uniforms, churches, monuments . . .

A teacher returns

Ms. Pryor, our 4th dan teacher, returned to our dojang Wednesday night.

I had two feelings about that: one--I wished I'd been there! and two--I hope she'll stay.

She's been gone from the school since December--she and Master Hughes had a personal falling-out, and they both thought it best for her to stay away for a while.

Her absence affected people enormously--especially the women. During that time, I had numerous conversations in the women's changing room about it. We were discouraged and missed her intense teaching style, her focus on cardio workouts, and her wonderful one-on-one teaching. Some women were so discouraged they talked about quitting.

It's not that we don't have good teaching when she's gone. Master Hughes is an excellent teacher, and Justin does a great job, too. But many of our other adult black belts have gone, and with a big school like ours (sometimes classes can be 30 or more people), one or two adult black belts just isn't enough for the kind of attention we need.

And there's something very encouraging about having a woman black belt lead the class. At least to us women.

Ms. Pryor is about my age, about my size, she started TKD as an adult. And she is an amazing martial artist. For me, anyway, she is a role model and mentor for me in a way that Master Hughes could never be, as good a teacher as he is.

I'm not sure the men quite understand how important Ms. Pryor is to us women. Maybe it has to do with the fact that martial arts are mostly male-dominated--in number and approach. Though there are many women at our school, the men still outnumber us (as do the children!). And, as Floyd Burk wrote in the March issue of Black Belt Magazine (thanks to Brian for loaning it to me), there are lingering stereotypes about women:

They're weak, they can't fight, they don't deserve their rank . . . None of which is true . . .

Even though we know these statements aren't true, I am sure that many of us sometimes wonder if they are. Well, I do, anyway. Fighting isn't natural to me: I never fought--physically--as a child. My instinct is to talk or walk away (which is probably safer, but nonetheless it's a tendency I have to work against when I spar).

But having Ms. Pryor there--someone who's a champion at sparring, whose forms are powerful and strong, someone who cares about helping all of us--that makes a big difference to me.

On, one person wrote about what made him stay in TKD once he became a black belt.

I wasn't sure what I was supposed to be focusing on, or how to improve. So I asked one of the older black belts for advice and he took me under his wing. I got the impression that part of being in the black belt club is adopting a mentor. He gave me detailed and personalized tips on my technique, and made sure I had all the instructional materials he could find.

With one more master teacher at our school, maybe the rest of us who are moving toward black belt and those who've achieved it can find a mentor to help us develop as martial artists.

Thursday, March 02, 2006


My car had that wonderful sawdust and woodworking smell in it when I drove home after class the other day. This is why:

I've got boards!

Apparently there was a sale on 1x12x8' boards, so Brian bought a few and sawed them up for me. They're all ready to be broken, and I'm glad to have a generous friend with a saw!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Another art?

There's a discussion thread going on at one of my favorite websites,, about what makes black belts stay at a school . . . or leave.

Actually, I began the thread. "If you've stayed, what keeps you there? And if you've left a school, why did you leave," I asked.

Many responded in this way:

We had a few leave to train in other arts. Myself included (I'm not a BB yet), but I came back. I still cross-train though.

I notice, too, that many of the people who post on this website list other martial arts besides Tae Kwon Do, like Jujitsu, Tang Soo Do, Song Moo Kwan TKD. I don't even know what most of those are!

When I began martial arts, I had this idea that I would like to try different ones. The Jade Tiger Dojo's demonstrations at the Ren Faire were fascinating--they do Japanese martial arts like aikido with its graceful sweeping moves and throws. The uniforms are beautiful, too.
Here's what they wear for both Aikido and Kendo (swords). The flowing pants are called Hakama.
Problem with Aikido, of course, is that you have to fall down to do it. Maybe it would be good to learn how to fall correctly. Maybe then I wouldn't worry about it.

Jade Tiger also teaches samurai sword--at the Faire, they did forms with the sword, and test-cutting.

In the Karateforums discussion many people mentioned weapons training as a little something extra that might keep black belts at a school. That sword stuff is very beautiful. Maybe I'll want to learn it someday.