Saturday, July 15, 2006

Heat Index

"Is that real?"

I'm at class and Master Hughes is examining my ankle.

"No, it's temporary," I tell him. "It says 'health.' It's a blessing for my ankle, which has been bothering me."

It's hot hot hot outside today (90 degrees by 10 am) but the air conditioners are roaring in our dojang. Just a small group today, mostly black and brown belts--who else would be crazy enough to come on a day like this? But we get in a good workout.

We do some stretching, some basic moves, some kicks. Then Master Hughes has us sit at the back. He calls us up one by one to "set up breaks." We have 30 seconds to set up three holders so that we can do 3 breaks, one after another.

There are no boards, just pads, but still. Even pretend breaking is nerve-wracking. When he calls my name, I stifle a whimper and go up. I talk through my breaks ("Hmm . . . how about a palm strike, reverse kick, and then an axe kick . . ." ). Then, with some loud kihaps, I "break" my "boards" . . . or maybe not.

It's a good idea, though. Maybe learning to set up boards is almost as important as actually breaking them--getting the distances and angles right without help. Oh yes, and deciding what you're going to do.

At the end, we spar. I do OK against John and Paul.

"You fight facing forward," I tell Paul. He is a big guy--so a big target. But maybe he doesn't need to turn sideways. "You have intimidation on your side. I just have speed!" I say.

When I spar with Ms. Pryor (always a treat--I learn a lot), I have to change my approach. She fights like I do, fast and with high kicks, but way better! I think I would have been out after about 5 seconds! But Master Hughes compliments my control.

"If someone has good control of their legs, they can use balance to get in double kicks. Work with that strength," he says to me, in front of everyone, at the end.

There'll be an informal practice tomorrow at 11. I'm flattered to be invited. I might drop by after church.

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