Friday, September 15, 2006

Inspiration to Compete . . .

At one point during class Wednesday night, which Ms. Pryor led, Master Hughes walked into the dojang carrying his video projector. He set it up on the stage and, at the end of class, had us all sit down.

What he showed was a video of a seminar our school had put together back in 1994--with guest speaker--and performer--Bill Wallace.

Bill Wallace, for those of you outside the TKD world, was a many-times national champion in TKD sparring. He is known as "superfoot" because of his kicking speed and expertise. We saw that expertise in the video--that guy could really get his foot going FAST! Roundhouse, hook kick, side kick, all in quick succession, so quick that no opponent would have a chance.

It was fun to watch Bill Wallace. But what was more fun for me was to watch a demonstration that came BEFORE Wallace took the stage, a demo by Master Hughes himself.

"You look about 12 years younger!" said Brian to Master Hughes. But there he was, our head teacher, doing a powerful form and an awesome flying side kick to break a board. It was inspirational.

So, inspired, I waited after class to talk to Master Hughes. I've been wanting to ask him about participating in a tournament for a while.

I had an idea of what he'd say. His usual policy on the local tournaments, which he's made plain during class is "you can go, but they don't support our tournament, so I don't see why we should support theirs." In other words: we can go, but he won't be there with us.

And that was his response to me that evening. He recommended which tournament I should attend, and then restated his policy.

"Justin and I can be representatives for our school," I told him (Justin's also planning on attending the tournament Master Hughes recommended). "Maybe we can make some connections so that people will know us and be more willing to attend any events our school has."

Then I asked him another question. "Will you go to the tournament? I would feel better if you or Ms. Pryor could be there, too."

I wasn't sure what to expect from this question.

Master Hughes surprised by what he said next. "I've actually been thinking about calling Kang [the organizer of one of the tournaments] to see if it would be OK for me to attend his tournament."

It seems like Master Hughes has been reconsidering his usual policy.

I was glad to hear this. It seems like it's a step in the right direction--toward some kind of reconciliation among the "odd ducks" (Master Hughes's term) and proud leaders among the local TKD school masters. It's probably a risky step for Master Hughes in the high-competition world of getting and keeping TKD students, too. I hope that it all pays off in some way for him as well as for our students.

And now I need to get ready for a tournament!

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