Saturday, April 08, 2006


So I'm home, flattened by today's promotional exam (literally--I'm taking a post-exam nap on the couch) when the guys come in from some errands.

"How'd the test go?" Bruce asks.

"Not great," I say.

"Well, you didn't have all that much time to practice for it," he says.

And he's right, of course. You can tell from my board, which has lots of empty spaces, that I haven't been at class a whole lot. With the trip to London and the conference in March, it's been tough to get to the dojang.

Memorable test moments:
1. We're packed close together in our rows when we're asked to do our forms. Because test day we're lined up by height, I'm between two people with different forms from mine. Every time I turn to do a move, I'm practically on top of someone. I hop back or wait a moment before executing moves, but ty about the third turn, I'm thrown off enough to forget where I'm going on Palgwe 5. I want to just wait until everyone's done and then do my form.

Any advice on what to do in this situation? Wait? Move back? Make your moves smaller?

2. I get to spar with Mindy, a high green belt 20-something, which ends up being quite a treat. She's quick, strong, and flexible. "You're good at sparring!" I tell her. "We should practice together more often!"

"I didn't used to care for sparring," she tells me, "until I got to be a green belt. Now I feel like I know what to do."

"Same with me," I say.

3. Breaking goes badly. I'll post a picture of my arm tomorrow. I line up for my elbow strike, but something doesn't feel right. Still, I focus and breathe. Then I strike. The board is still whole, and my arm smarts.

I try one more time (I've done this before!), but with no luck.

"I need to get Master Hughes," I tell Paul, my black-belt judge.

Master Hughes gives me advice, but my arm is already so sore, I can't manage a front break. He stops me and has me do a back elbow strike. Matthew, who's appeared with a big smile and his Sponge Bob camera, has caught it on film. His presence reminds me to show indomitable spirit. I need that reminder as I go back to my place with a smarting arm, silently vowing to make sure to have someone check my stance, etc. for any future breaks with my arms. My poor "boarderline normal density" bones are not cut out for this.

4. Ms. Pryor has the adults do our 3 & 1-step sparring. Luckily, Brian's my partner--the familiarity helps me as she asks us to do random numbers ("White belt 4. Yellow belt 1") We have to stop and think about them since they're out of order, but we do OK.

5. We get to celebrate Justin's birthday after class! His mom has brought a cake with 18 candles. The children and a few adults gather around for candle lighting and wish-making, etc. Then he cuts the cake with the ceremonial sword. Nice to end with a celebration!

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