Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Giving and Taking

As I'm waiting around after TKD Monday night (Brian has some boards for me) I'm feeling a bit discouraged. It seems like it's been a while since I've felt like I've really had a good, serious workout at TKD. Since before the test, at least. Tonight, I barely broke a sweat, and it's been like that for a couple of weeks.

I'm not sure why.

I review my evening at the dojang.

Seems like everyone wants something from the taekwondomom when I arrive at the dojang, tonight and every class day. Girls ask me how I like their braids in the changing room. Someone asks me to tie her belt. Some days, the teens tell me about their activities (an upcoming game or track meet, a test or paper due), other days, someone else wants to show me a bruise (Laying on of Hands is often the silent request. It's what moms do to Make it Better)

Patrick's dad's been in a car accident this week, so I talk with him a while. Brittany wants to tell me about her ski trip. The TKD women are here today, anticipating Ms. Prior's supposed imminent arrival back at our school, and that needs to be discussed.

I like this part of being here, connecting with my classmates, hearing about their lives, giving out a touch here, a pat on the head there. But tonight, more than once I glance over at Brian and Aimee, who are working on our new form. I barely even get my stretches in before Master Hughes claps his hands "Line up everyone."

We've got new classmates today, a mom and her two boys. They stand at the back, not yet in uniforms, following along as best they can. During some kicking practice, I'm paired up with the mom. I'm glad to do it. I love to teach. I walk her through the side kick and roundhouse kick, and encourage her in her attempts. Still, I'm teaching more than working out. But when one's a brown belt, it's expected. Especially when there are so few adult black belts.

Can't stay after class to go through forms on Mondays anymore. The city's waterski team is using our gym for winter workouts. So we get our boards signed and troop out past the crowd of unfamiliar faces. In the changing room, the TKD women talk about Ms. Pryor: how we miss her killer workouts, the cardio stuff, her sparring advice. Her absence was especially hard tonight, when we had a big class, and Justin, Chelsea, and Stacey weren't there to help with teaching.

What I need
I'm a brown belt now. My education in TKD is becoming serious. I want to keep learning. I want to improve. Yet with a dearth of adult black belts at our school, and with only one Master teacher at our school, I feel like the opportunity to be challenged and mentored is spread very thin.

(In TKD, you're considered a "Master" after you've gotten to your 4th dan, your 4th test past the black belt tests. Ms. Pryor reached 4th dan this summer. Master Hughes is 7th dan.)

Right now, I'm getting one end of being a brown belt: the opportunity to help teach, help, and reach out to other students. I like this part a lot; I love to teach, I love to feel that connection with my classmates. But I'm feeling a bit depleted. As a writer, I know that your ability to write will dry up if you don't give yourself a chance to replenish your creativity--with reading, trips to museums, walks in the park, music, dance.

I would guess it's the same with learning a martial art. If you're always teaching, helping, giving--you'll run out of your ability to practice the art. You'll run dry.

The big question: how to keep myself motivated; how to get the instruction, training, and mentoring I need as I continue to learn; how to balance teaching and learning.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

The bag fought back

We practiced kicking on our heavy bag yesterday. I do not like the heavy bag; it hurts to kick that thing! Yesterday was no different--the first time I was up to do a roundhouse on it, I hurt my foot.

"Ow!" I hopped away, rubbing the top of my foot where I'd jammed my toes.

"You're not supposed to kick it with your foot," someone said. "You're supposed to hit with your shin."

Well, I wish someone had told me that before I got this bruise!

Friday, February 24, 2006

An upcoming trip

One week from today, I won't be here at this computer.

I'll be on my way to London with my family.

We're taking our spring break to go and visit my sister and her family, who are living there this year (and last), teaching at an American school.

I'm looking forward to the trip, of course. It's been a while since I've been to London--I was a chaparone on a month-long college trip to London back in '93. And in the summers of '88 and '89, I taught at a boarding school/summer camp outside of London, near Windsor. But I haven't been back since then--didn't really want to go back until I could bring my guys with me. And now I am.

So we'll be gone for a week--Saturday to Saturday. I'll try to post from overseas at least once, with some kind of martial arts report (swords? castles? knights? I don't know!)

But for now, I'm anticipating the trip, going over plans of what to visit, considering what to pack, getting together our passports, walking shoes, umbrellas, and notebooks. (Of course we're all going to keep travel journals!) And while I'm getting everything ready, I'm also wondering what the week-long absence will mean for my various activities.

I'll miss 2 ballet classes, just one week. But as I noticed this week, one week of absence means a lot. And I'll miss Sat., Mon., Sat. for TKD. That's a good deal of training. Luckily, the next test isn't until April. Still, I promised Brian I would practice my new form, Chung(Joong?)-Gun in the apartment where we're staying. And maybe I'll see what I can find out about TKD in the UK!

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Tuesday I went back to ballet after a week off. My foot was feeling better, though still somewhat stiff, so I figured it was safe to go back if I took it easy.

It's always great to get back to ballet, but if you've been away for any length of time--even for a week--it's great AND frustrating. I felt clumsy and a bit stiff, though it was great fun to do the combinations--a graceful adagio, a sprightly petite allegro, and a swooping grand allegro.

Still. It didn't seem fair that after only a week, I'd be having a bit of trouble with arabesque balances and turning assembles.

"It's not like I didn't do anything," I said to Suki. "I swam twice and did Pilates at home."

But Suki seemed to think that cross-training has its limits.

"When I was getting ready to do The Nutcracker, I used to take class every day and do barre at home," she told me. "I asked the director if I should also start walking to work out instead, and she said that it would be better just to do more ballet."

(Suki was always the Sugar Plum Fairy in our city's Nutcracker productions a number of years ago.)

I still like my varied activities. I find that the weeks I get in a swim at the Y, I feel like I'm better for cardio--like for those "across the floor" activities in both ballet and TKD, in sparring, and for leaps and jumps in ballet. When I'm regularly doing ballet, it pays off in my flexibility in TKD.

Plus, the variety is fun!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


My helmet is on the floor and not on my head because that's where it usually is.

I don't wear this particular piece of equipment. I'm not sure exactly why. I do value my head.

I guess part of the deal is that none of the adults wear helmets when sparring in class.

Our school is ITF Tae Kwon Do which means (among other things) that sparring for us is "light to no contact;" in other words, you can score just by touching your opponent in the scoring areas.

Other schools are WTF, which is like the Tae Kwon Do in the Olympics. To score, you must inflict a "trembling blow" to your opponent, a blow that actually makes the person move from its force. Or so I understand.

So at our school, you have to have very good control of your kicks and punches--hit too hard, and you'll get a warning.

Children always wear helmets during sparring at our school. They don't have very good control, so head shots might be somewhat dangerous. If they're sparring someone bigger than they are, their heads are vulnerable, too.

I suppose that might go for me, too, as I'm a good 6" shorter than most of the men I spar.

Maybe I should start wearing that helmet.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Another year . . . wiser

At TKD this evening, I figured there was no sense in hiding the fact that my birthday was yesterday. After all, Brian knew, so the jig was up.

(The exact date had been revealed in a "how old are you" conversation we had a long while ago when we were deciding which of us was senior. I'm older than Brian by a little over a month, so I'm senior. He does not let me forget this fact.)

At our school, we celebrate the birthdays of children by singing to them, and then sending them "down the gauntlet," two rows of people who are allowed to swat them as they run by. The children usually bring treats, too.

Jessica had a birthday tonight, too, so she went first. She's 9, which surprised me. She's tall for her age! And a junior black belt, too!

I brought treats (good chocolate) & enjoyed the singing, but informed Master Hughes that I would WALK down the gauntlet and hand out treats.

"Middle aged women don't run the gauntlet," I explained. "I'm starting a new tradition."

A good tradition, to celebrate with the TKD gang. Not everyone likes birthdays, or wants people to know about theirs, but the way I see it, a celebration is always fun, especially in mid-February!

I'm 44 by the way. "Four times my age," says Robbie. I don't usually refer to myself as "a middle-aged woman" except for rhetorical purposes, like convincing people not to swat me!

More photos

Couple more pictures from the belt ceremony.

And here's a movie I did of Justin doing a speed break. He may post it on his website, too.

Sunday, February 19, 2006


On the one hand
I always look for Ms. Pryor's car when I come to class on Saturday. She used to teach Saturdays; seems like it would be a good day for her to come back if she were going to come back.

But her little Vibe wasn't there, as usual.

Nor are the vehicles of many of my TKD friends--Brian's Jeep isn't there, nor is Brian A.'s white van, or June's big vehicle with out-of-state plates.

When I get upstairs, Justin is there, but looks down. Another friend looks like she's going to quit Tae Kwon Do--Chelsea. I'm shocked. Chelsea is one of our best young black belts.

"Why is she going to quit?"

"I don't know. She's a teenager," says Justin. And lots of his other friends have gone to another school. Today, with many of my classmates missing from class, I have a small sense of what it must be like.

On the other hand
Robbie is with me today, dressed in his uniform. He's happy to be at the dojang. "Is Justin teaching?" he asks before we go in. "Yes. He always teaches on Saturday," I answer. "Good," says Robbie.

Also, Master Hughes stays around after the children's class for a bit. We are talking about the fact that I need to do a "hand technique" for one of my next board breaks. I'm worried.

"Look at these bones," I say, rolling up a sleeve to show my thin arm. "My doctor says they're just barely normal in terms of density."

Master Hughes isn't worried. He and Justin tell me that I'll be able to do a front elbow break. They show me how to do it. "I don't know," I say. It seems doubtful.

Master Hughes goes off and returns with . . . a board.

"OK. You need to coach me through this," I tell them. They show me the way to stand (deep front stance) how to hold my arms and hands (one fist in the other palm, elbows out).

They hold the board out. I focus, breathe, ki-hap, and break the board.

"Ouch!" Oops. I bow and thank them. "It's amazing what I can do!" I tell them.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Brown Belts: Dangerous stuff

While we sat on the floor at the belt ceremony Wednesday, Brian and I whispered back and forth about the meaning of our new belt.

"A brown belt seems very significant," I said.

"It means we need to buckle down and get to work," he replied.

We've been doing Tae Kwon Do for over a year now. For me, the moves are now seeming more like second nature, not awkward and strange. (Though the new move introduced with each form usually feels tricky for a while.) Maybe I'm beginning to master this art.

At our school, more is expected from brown belts. They're expected to help teach, to be there for work days when the dojang is cleaned, to generally be ready to assist whenever necessary.

Master Hughes called the high blue belts up separate from the low blue belts.

"I'm calling you up separately because this is a big step for you," he explained. "Do you know the meaning of the brown belt?"

Brian and I did, but we waited, since Master Hughes was looking at little Jacob, the junior blue belt up with us. He didn't know.

"It means danger!"

We got the new belts, which were, as usual, stiff and creased. But we'll be wearing them for a while. Now we are "3rd temporary" brown belts. We'll move through 3rd permanent, 2nd temporary, etc. etc. over the next year, getting black tape to mark our progress as we test. At some point, we'll get a brown belt with a black stripe along one edge.

I can't believe I've made it this far.

Here are some pictures from the evening.

Patrick getting his stripe from Justin. I believe Patrick will be up for his temporary Black Belt next test.
Me and Brian. Am I really that short? Here are Mindy and Jamie doing Mindy's new form.
Master Hughes with some of his proud and happy students!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

TKD Mom spars

Blogger has been on the fritz the last couple of days, and I've been too busy to fiddle with it. But here are a couple of photos from the test--me sparring!

And another. This is me responding to my photographer's suggestion to "look fierce, Mom!"

Monday, February 13, 2006

Inflamed Bursa

That's what's going on with my foot: I have inflamed bursa.

Today as I was limping through the halls at work I suddenly remembered that our college has sports medicine people to take care of all the athletes. Why not have one of them look at my foot?

I went downstairs in my building (the Rhetoric Department offices are locate in the gym; go figure) and found Debbie, one of the trainers, in one of the Athletic Training rooms. She had a desk in the corner; there were also a couple of examination tables, rolls of tape, cupboards with signs on them (bandages, wraps), a sink, and ice buckets. I felt out of my element: I'm not an athlete.

Or maybe I am.

I introduced myself. "I'm faculty here, and I wondered if you could look at a sports injury I have. I've injured my foot doing Tae Kwon Do."

"Sure. Hop up on the table."

She looked at the injured foot, compared it with the uninjured one, and prodded a bit, "does this hurt?"

It turns out I have inflamed bursa. The heel area has are two of these little fluid-filled pads between tendons and bone, and both of mine on my right foot are inflamed, filled with more fluid than necessary.

"This can happen when you get a lot of . . . um. . . blunt trauma," said Debbie.

Yeah, kicking a pad, is kind of blunt trauma.

She told me that basically all I could do was to wait for the bursa to drain. Since compression can aid this process, she wrapped my foot with an ace bandage, showing me how to do it on my own (tighter near the bottom, looser at the top) to help the fluid move out.

"Would massage help?" Hey, why not? A medically necessary massage might be nice!

"Efflurage or milking massage might help it drain. But it will only help if the leg is at a 45-90 degree angle," she told me, demonstrating how I'd have to hold my leg up, pointing up toward the ceiling. Yeesh.

"And you need to cut back on your activity, especially anything that stretches that tendon."

So I'm walking around now with this ace bandage on (feels good, actually), wondering if I should go to ballet tomorrow. Maybe I should just swim this week. Good thing there's no TKD classes this week until Saturday.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

"How do you think your test went?"

At some point during each test, or sometimes during the belt ceremony, someone always asks this. Usually, I say "OK," because that's how my test usually goes. In the past, I haven't always done that well at the test--I've done better in classes before the test than I have in the cauldron of test day with everyone doing different forms and nerves on edge.

But the test I did in December went very well. I was focused, didn't forget important moves, broke on the first try. So now I have this experience of a "good test" in my mind, and I want to repeat it.

This time? Well, it's OK.

Getting Focus
I arrive a bit later than I wanted to. I get my uniform on; my hair's already in a French Braid (a bit nicer than my usual practical ponytail). I greet a few people and then spot Master Hughes.

"I'm injured," I tell him. "Any advice?" I show him my heel. It's still black and blue, but the swelling's gone down. The black and blue part is only at the edges.

He looks at it. "How does it feel?"

"Better than it was before. I think I'm going to try and break with it."

"Break on the first try," he tells me. Yeah. That's my plan.

I have time to run through Palgwe 5 with Brian, and then we have to line up. There are lots of children, so I'm not in the first or second row. I'm right in the middle, and Brian lines up directly behind me. Very reassuring.

After some brief warm-ups and kicking, we do Chun Jee with eyes closed. Ik. I accidentally punch Patrick, who's on my right, at one point. "Sorry," I say. I end up facing the correct direction, at least.

Our newer forms go fine, though I feel a bit constrained by space as I move through Yul Gok. Robbie is filming with my digital camera over at my right.

I'm glad that Pam is my first sparring partner. I like her controlled, focused style of sparring. We both do well. Then Master Hughes has us switch partners. I get Jason. Yikes. He's one of the younger teens, with long arms and legs, strength, and not much control. I get in a few points, then one of his kicks catches me square on the face. I see stars for a minute, and the blow brings tears to my eyes. He's terribly sorry.

"Are you OK?" he asks.

"Yeah. I think so. I'm fine," I say, willing my nose not to bleed. I have to say my focus isn't that good through the rest of sparring.

Board Breaking
This goes better than I expect. My leg swings over the board the first time.

"You went up, not across," says Master Hughes. Figures he's watching when I whiff.

"I have breaking angst," I say. I do. I'm worried about my heel.

But I try again. I look at the board, focus, breathe and kick. It snaps, easily.

And I see something that I haven't noticed before. Brian A. and Frank hold the board at a bit of an angle, not perpendicular to me. I wonder if that's why I injured myself; pad holders always hold it straight out when we practice. Hmm.

Stacey is my judge at this test. It's nice to talk to her during the oral part, the questioning. She's very encouraging and praises my board break. Wow.

We all shake hands, including Robbie, who joins the line after me (I'm glad he feels part of this group!)

He and I chat with Justin, who has also volunteered to help with our dojang's official website. Justin has designing experience; I'm a word nerd. Seems like a good partnership. Justin demonstrates a handstand in his suit. Robbie is impressed.

So maybe the test was better than OK. I think I'm getting better at focusing in a pressure "performance" situation, which was one of my goals for learning a martial art.

Despite the pretty good test and the fact that Robbie is there, there is still a sense that something, someone is missing. I miss Ms. Pryor's presence at the test. I just like the way her teaching style and Master Hughes's compliment each other. I keep hoping that things work out so that she can come back soon.

Pictures soon. I think Robbie also made another movie.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Movie and Pictures: practicing for the test

Usually I'm the photographer, so this time it was cool to have someone else--Robbie--take pictures at TKD. Hope you enjoy these!

Here are a couple of me and Matthew sparring. He's a tiger! Didn't seem at all concerned that I was about a foot taller than he is. "Get in there and punch," I told him (it's the advice I give all children about sparring with someone taller.)

Look at Matthew's great flexibility!
OK, so first, I spar with Matthew, a foot smaller than I am. Next, I'm matched up with Frank, a foot taller than I am! Crazy. It can only happen in this cool place, the dojang. Robbie, Mr. Technology, wanted to make a movie with my digital camera, so he did. If you click on this link, Jane Spars Frank, you can see it (you need QuickTime, but it's easy to download).

Frank is a challenge to spar. His arms and legs are so long, it's hard to get close enough to score. But as you can see from the movie, I got a few points!

I sparred two people, but we didn't get very much time to do it. I hadn't sparred in quite a while, and didn't feel like I got to try my best techniques because of the odd height differentials. So after class, I asked Brian if he wanted to spar with me. He did.

It's fun sparring Brian. He definitely has a height advantage. But I'm quick and have good balance. We each scored points, though Brian got more 2-pointers (kicks to the head) than I did, obviously!

Afterwards, I realized that I hadn't even used a couple of my favorite techniques. It's funny how you get rusty when not practicing stuff like this.

The sparring match lasted for quite a while. We left the dojang sweaty and exhausted, but happy. "You're not going to write about this on your blog, are you," Brian joked. Well of course!

Sparring is good. Very good.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Robbie Returns

So I'm getting ready to go to TKD last night and Robbie says "Hey Mom, I'm going to go with you."


Robbie used to do TKD. In fact, he and Eli started before I did, back in October of 2004. They did great for a while, then they started to drag their feet about it and complain. They quit right around last March or April. Robbie'd gotten to his green belt; Eli to his orange.

And now Robbie wants to go back!

So he did. He didn't get out his unform, but wore his white belt with his regular clothes. And it actually worked out really well. The new family was there, Mom, Amy, and two kids,Kaitlin and Cole, so I had Robbie work out with them and show them the step side-kick. He liked that. He also remembered Chun Ji (though his stances were pretty sloppy).

"I'm going to keep going," he told me. "It's getting boring to be home. And I want to get strong."

I certainly hope he keeps with TKD this time, but I'm going to let him decide. No sense in me dragging him there again. But if he wants to do it, and is willing to take instruction, that'll be great.

I'm facing that tricky parental balancing act: how much should you push them, how much should you let them take the initiative. My favorite activity at that age, and the only physical activity that I was pretty good at, was riding. And my parents did NOT push that at all. They disliked horses and the horsey scene. So maybe there's something in not pushing.

When we got back, before his bath, Robbie stood out in the hall in front of the mirror with his shirt off. "I'm buff. I'm buff," he said.

He didn't spar during that section of the class. Instead, he took pictures and a movie with my camera. I'll post them tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


"You've got a big bruise."

Brian and I are at the Y for a quick mid-week run-through of our forms and he's looking at my right heel. It's been bothering me all day; I couldn't even wear shoes and had to get out my backless clogs.

"I guess I didn't notice," I say. But I do now. My whole heel, from above the ankle on down, is black and blue. Last night, I'd spent quite a while working on my hooking kick, kicking the pad over and over. I can't believe that hitting the pad could do that to a foot.

"You should ice it," says Brian. "Soak your foot in a bucket of ice water. That's what I do every night." He's got plantar fascitis.

Yeesh. That does not sound pleasant.

At home, I find one of those ice bag thingees that I got from the hospital after a recent minor surgery. I stuff it with ice and tie it around my foot.

"What's on your foot, mom?" Robbie asks.

"Ice bag," I say. "I was practicing my hook kick on the pad last night and got a nasty bruise."

"You got injured from a pad? Mom, that's pretty pathetic."

Yeah. I know.


Most of the interesting things at TKD happened after class was over last night.

This is not to say that class wasn't good. It was. Master Hughes had us go through Chun Ji, then watched us do our forms. I did fine, except for a few minor problems--Master Hughes corrected my hand position ("that thumb needs to be like the trigger of a gun").

We worked on combination kicking, too. My partner was Nolan, and I'm very glad I wasn't sparring him. Those young teens (boys) just have no control over their kicks. I could tell that I would have probably gotten hit by him if I'd been sparring. And he could kick high, too, so it might have been my head.

My hook kick is still not the best. We practiced kicking for a while, and my heel is feeling the consequences this morning--I'm wearing clogs because it hurt too much to have shoes on. I think I'm not doing the kick right.

Master Hughes helped me again, patiently, and gave me lots of encouragement. "You'll get it," he said. OK. I want to get it once, to break for the test, and I'll never use it to break again. Like the wheel kick.

Mid-way through warmups, Master Hughes asked me if I'd ever done the Tango. "Not yet," I said. He said that he'd been at a Tango class over the weekend, and that he'd enjoyed it.

Later, after he helped me with my hooking kick, he told me about dancing with a ballet studio. "Mr. Houtz got me into that," he said. He talked about lifting dancers up, demonstrating behind me. "Oh, like this," I said, and put his hands on my hips. "Go ahead." He did a nice lift! Of course, strong guys have a tendency to lift too long, rather than just assist the dancer in her jump.

Actually, I bet many of the men (and boys) at our school would be excellent at ballet. Like ballet, TKD teaches strength and graceful movement, not to mention how to work with another person. Still, I don't know if they could get past the stereotypes about ballet!

I hadn't noticed, but at the end of class, a woman had appeared with a nice video camera. As we were getting boards signed, etc., she was talking with Master Hughes. Apparently, she's from the community college where Stacey works, and she was working on a little feature piece about Stacey's life in TKD.

Stacey wasn't there last night, but the filmer wanted to look around and make sure her camera would work in this light. Master Hughes volunteered to be a model, and demonstrated lots of cool moves. I took pictures, but, as usual, my digital camera didn't really capture the action.

Domestic Dude
After class, I also showed Justin how to sew a button on his suit. I told him that sewing on a button was "a life skill." Brian A. agreed. "I sewed up these pants," he said, showing us the nice, neat hem he'd made on a sewing machine. We assured Justin that women find this kind of domestic competence to be an attractive quality in men.

Testing when you're ready
The taekwondomom also had a conversation with Cavio last night. I asked her if she was going to be at the test on Saturday to judge. She wasn't sure, and she wasn't completely happy with the way testing is done at our school.

"Two months just isn't enough time to master two forms and a new kick."

"What was it like at your old school?" I asked.

"I was at the school for two months before I even got my white belt," she said. "And it took 3 months to get my yellow, and another three months to get my orange. I was there 7 1/2 years before I got my black belt, and they thought that was fast."

"So was testing every three months, or did they tell you when you could test?" I asked.

"My instructor told me when I was ready. Then the tests were small, maybe 8 people testing and 4 judges."

I like this idea, especially the individualized approach.

When I was in graduate school, I worried a bit about passing my oral exam for my doctorate, and also about passing the defense of my dissertation (that's the long, scholarly paper one writes as a doctoral candidate). But my advisor told me, "I won't let you take the orals until I think you're ready to pass." So I just read and studied until I was told I could take the test.

For this test, I feel like I'm ready. I should ask Master Hughes if he thinks I'm really ready to pass.

Sunday, February 05, 2006


I feel more confident about my hooking kick. If I practice it once or twice before breaking at the test, I'm pretty sure my leg won't do a ronde de jamb en l'air, the ballet move that it resembles.

Seems like to learn the hooking kick, I had to unlearn a bit of ballet.

Master Hughes has said that to me before when he's commented on my horse stance. I often look like I'm doing a wide second position, with a nice turn out, rather than having legs and feet face forward.

In ballet, I'm having to unlearn, too. When I want to do a beat, that move where dancers tap their legs and feet together in the air while doing a jump, I have to unlearn the simple flutter kick that I do when swimming laps. My legs want to go back and forth rather than cross and uncross.

It's not even as easy as that, as I want to continue ballet and swimming while still being able to do hook kicks and beats. I guess it's not so much "unlearning" as it is learning to know which move goes with which context.

When I learned German in college, it was much the same. I'd learned French in high school, so when I first began German, I'd try to answer the question "Was heisst du?" but "Je m'appelle Jane" would come out instead of "Ich heisse Jane"! Eventually, the German replaced French--and then I could only speak French with great effort. It made me truly admire those who are bi-and tri-lingual.

Maybe that's the way it is with physical activities: it's like learning a new language for the body. I hope I can become tri-lingual!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

One week before the test . . .

. . . and there weren't that many people at class. Maybe 18 or so. Brian and I were in the 2nd row, right behind the black belts.

"We're moving up," I said. And of course, it's true.

Still, it's odd that so many people missed the Saturday class before the test.

When I filled out my test application before class, I noticed that there's a space there for you to list how many classes you've been to since the last test. I wonder if anyone in our school fills that out. I for one do not know how many classes I've attended since December 10!

There's been a line of discussion in Karateforums.com on how long it takes to be a black belt. One thread of that discussion is on whether schools should record hours of class taken, not weeks of class taken. Another thread argues that some people just learn quicker, so each person can be judged ready for a black belt test at different times.

Master Hughes has often said that tests used to be 3 months apart, not 2. Sometimes I think that wouldn't be a bad idea. But for this test, when I've been getting in an extra practice per week with Brian (and a couple of extra practices with Justin way back in late December), I feel more ready than I usually do.

Dylan led the class, and did a very nice job. He did very well--serious and competent at leading the basic stuff. Justin was the teacher today, but he stood by and gave Dylan suggestions. It was a good mentoring situation, I thought. We all miss Ms. Pryor's intense Saturday workouts, but we're doing OK for now.

Dylan gave us a nice long time to spar, which I liked--for the practice and for the cardio workout that sparring always gives. We worked on 1 and 3 step sparring, too. Everyone there was really working hard, so the game of tag at the end of class was comic relief--fast running and yelling by all, and amusing acrobatic tags by Brian A (who was "it.")

Working hard, playing hard. Those who were there today knew it was time to get ready for that test, making this hour on a Saturday morning really count.

[note: this post didn't get posted on 2-4 as planned; they were working on the system over at Blogger.com]

Thursday, February 02, 2006


It's not fancy, but it works. I feel like a real ballerina now.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


I'm thinking about orange belt step sparring today.

This is another trick to help me memorize all I have to memorize for the upcoming test.

Ms. Pryor says, "Even if you can't practice, you can still think about the steps during the day."

Memorization is the hardest part of TKD for me these days. There's so much to know and remember. As Brian always says "repetition is a form of learning." Yeah. But it's hard to get to more classes to practice--for me anyway. Wednesday evening class doesn't work for me.

So Brian and I decided to try and work out at another time. (It's been hard for him to get to class, too--he works on Saturday and can't always get away.) We both have odd working schedules with some free time during the day. For the past couple weeks, we've been meeting on Wednesday mornings to run through the forms and step sparring. I can tell it's helping me.

We meet after we get our kids to school and work out at the college's racquetball center. Today, besides step sparring and forms, we worked on that hook kick. My legs had completely forgotten how to do it since Master Hughes showed me on Monday. Arrgh!

Still, going through everything was useful, and fun, too, since Brian has a good sense of humor. Lots of joking around about "old brains," and laughter when we forget parts of a form.

Anyway, I decided to just think about orange belt step sparring today. I've got white and yellow down. I need to get orange.

#1. block/punch, block/punch, grab arm, step back, roundhouse
#2. jump to side, jump front snap kick, 3 punches
#3 . . . . .