Saturday, September 30, 2006

Another tournament


It had been billed as the "Battle of Iowa" by its promoters, so a lot of us were intrigued by the tournament being held at the community college near us. Master Hughes didn't recommend it for our school--the school that was holding the tournament was known for Olympic sparring, and we do point sparring.

So a bunch of us went as observers.

I got there early this morning--I wanted to see the black belt Kum Do forms. There was a whole flock of Kum Do students with short-sleeved jackets and flowing hakama pants. Most of them were teen-aged boys.

Though Robbie and his friend Jacob had taken some Kum Do classes at our dojang, I had never seen Kum Do forms before. They're really nice--dance-like, with the martial artist spinning and jumping all while holding the sword. There are strikes, thrusts, and blocks with the sword. Beautiful, really.

Despite its billing, this tournament wasn't that large. It was no bigger than the one I attended last week, and I saw hardly any women; certainly very few "senior colored belts."

"That's the way it usually is," Master Hughes has said to me.

Mystery Form
Another thing I really enjoyed was watching some new forms that I've never seen before. A few martial artists with red belts (apparently, that's the equivalent of a brown belt) did a form that I now want to learn. I don't know the name of the form--maybe one of you readers can help me out. It involved at least 2 cat stances.

And there were some great kicks in it, including one that was either a jump front snap kick, or a front tornado.

Anyone know what it might be? And where I could find the directions? It's certainly not a Palwe or a Chun-Ji form, or I would have recognized it.

TKD Friends

It was good to hang out (briefly, as I had to go back for my college's homecoming celebration) with my friends from the dojang while watching. A bunch of us got together later for a cookout at Master Hughes's house--he is a wonderful host--generous and fun. My favorite thing was laughing at all the funny stories people had to tell and jumping on Master Hughes's trampoline with the children!

Don't you wish I'd taken pictures?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Conversation about sparring

Hey everyone--be sure to go back and read the comments that have been posted about sparring at the tournament--there are lots of interesting insights, including Justin's story from his perspective.

If anyone has any more to say, please feel free to comment!

Ain't I tough?

"Bruise? Oh, this one on my arm? I got it last night at tae kwon do class. I was sparring a 17-year-old boy and blocked his killer wheel kick. Then I reversed kicked him right in the gut."

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Our guys face tough sparring . . .

"Guys always have to be reminded about light to no contact, don't they?" I muse aloud to the people near me at the tournament.

I'm standing at the side of the black belt men 18-34 sparring ring where Justin is sparring. They're really going at it--I can hear the thuds of foot on chest.

"Well, you know the rules are different for black belt men," replies someone from another dojang.

They are? And there's Justin, his first time in this category, with no helmet.

After one match, I trot over to give Justin his water.

"So what's up? Why are they hitting so hard? Are the rules different for black belts?" I ask after determining that he's basically OK.

"I don't know," says Justin. He points out that he's been getting hit pretty hard, even when he blocks. This has never happened at other tournaments.

"Yeah," I say. "And I saw you score lots of points on him--right at his belt--that they didn't call."

I'm puzzled. The rules on the registration form say nothing about hard contact or olympic sparring . . . hmm.

Actually I'd seen a rougher side of the sport earlier that day when I was watching John, who sparred in the 14-17 year old BB category. A couple of times they had to stop the match when boys got the wind knocked out of them.

Justin is called out for another match right away. He pours some of the water on his head and goes out. He's ready--still energetic and tough. Still, being the mom-type, I'm a bit nervous.

This opponent is even rougher. He makes a hooking kick to the head, somehow getting past Justin's block, and, despite falling a couple of times, manages to deliver a killer clout to Justin's midsection. There's a moment for Justin to catch his breath, and I stand there shocked, but they then go on. Eventually, the opponent kicks Justin in the face so hard that he draws blood.

The match is stopped while the judge examines the cut in Justin's mouth. I go over with a washcloth and the water once the match is over. This seems insane!

Justin's taking all this pretty stoically, despite being puzzled by the seeming change in rules. He mentions something about showing his wounds to his buddies this evening! James (who's 11) wants to get in the ring, too! "I wanna go fight that guy," he says. Guys!

Still, I'm wondering if I should have said something. I am the taekwondomom, after all, and, being a mom, I don't want the guys to get hurt unnecessarily. But I'm not a black belt, and this is my first "away" tournament--what could I say?

Did these judges forget the rules? Are there different rules for black belt men? Or was there some sort of eerie testosterone surge that caused brief insanity today?

Later, I tell Ms. Pryor about the match and ask her about the rules for male black belt sparring in traditional Tae Kwon Do.

"Yeah, that happens at some tournaments," she says. "As long as they don't really injure someone, they'll just keep going."

I'm not sure what I think of this. The guys seemed to be OK with it. I'm glad it's not that way with women, though Ms. Pryor had pointed out that even women black belts spar harder.

Any thoughts about this--especially from those of you who do point sparring? It seems like it takes more skill to control kicks than to go all out. But maybe this is some kind of safe fighting place where people (men) can really go at it. Do we (or men) need that? I don't think I do!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Tourney Photo Essay

Here are some photos from the tournament. I could give a blow-by-blow narration, but I think these pictures are worth 1000 words, so I'll only need to use a few!

I wish I had a photo of the sign that greeted us when we entered the gym. It said

Children $3
Adults $5
Athletes $30

Huh? I thought. Then: Oh, they mean me--I'm an athlete!

Here's Justin getting ready to do his form.

I thought he did well, but I must not have been watching at a crucial moment which involved exhaling and a piece of gum which probably swayed the judges. . . ! Justin got a lot of mileage out of that story!

Justin also had the misfortune of having to do his form alongside someone who hissed. That seems to be one variety of doing TKD: breathing loudly, even hissing, on each move. I found it distracting.

I didn't get any good photos of his boardbreak, but he got a medal.

Ms. Pryor won a first in forms (everyone commented on how powerful and awesome she looked. She also did an awesome boardbreak: palm strike, then 3 boards with a flying sidekick! (I got a picture, but it didn't turn out, alas.)

She got 2nd for her break, right behind someone who did a different technique on each board. "I guess they weren't looking for power," she said.

That was one thing I noticed at the tournament: that the judgements on the competition were very subjective--especially forms. People did their forms in very different ways. Besides the hissing, I noticed shallow front stances, back stances with the front foot up on tiptoe, and other odd stuff that Master Hughes would never allow. I guess I always thought they were dead wrong. Apparently, it's more a matter of choice.

When I did my form, I thought I did just fine: my form had flow, was accurate and powerful. I got a 3rd place. "She was more animated than you were," said Ms. Pryor of Laura, the winner. "The judges were watching her more."

So now I've learned something: at a tournament where accuracy might mean different things to different schools, you have to work much harder on dramatic presentation.

I think that was what Ms. Pryor was trying to tell me when she talked about flow.

Having different people from different schools was fun. I made it my mission to go out and meet people, especially people in my class, the "senior women colored belts" or women over 35. There were about 10 of us, a friendly, encouraging group! It was fun to find out what got everyone involved (for many, it was "I got tired of just watching my kids do it")

Some of our group did quite well! Here are Lauri and Laura--both were in the forms championship--and Laura won--the colored belt forms champion! We told her that the belt would go with just about any outfit.

Later, we got to spar--always my favorite event! It was fun sparring women--who would remember that light-to-no-contact rule, and who were all about the same height!

I was pleased to get a 1st in sparring. My only regret--that Ms. Pryor wasn't there to see me! I had hoped there would be a sparring championship for colored belts (I had been eyeing the younger women and wishing I could spar them, too), but, alas, there was not.

Here I am with my medals: 3rd in forms, 3rd in breaking, 1st in sparring.

I will write more and share more pictures tomorrow. So far, I've shared the satisfying and enjoyable moments of the tournament, but there were some frustrating moments that occurred when I was watching our young men spar. I'll share those next time.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Tournament: the short report

Yesterday's tournament was exciting, satisfying, and frustrating, in turns! I have photos that I would like to post, but I'll have to do that from my computer at the college--my computer at home has a broken . . . plug-in thingee (sorry for the technical terms).

So here's the brief version:

I accomplished my tourament goals, which were:

1. Meet other women my age who are doing TKD. I made it my goal to introduce myself to women who looked like they were my age. There were a nice group of us--about 10 or so "Senior Women" (35 and up) colored belts, and we had a good time together! Photos and more details later.

2. Be a good representative for our dojang. Besides introducing myself to people, I tried to use my best etiquette (I even coached some of the senior women on etiquette in the ring), be a good sport, and help out when needed. I even got to hold boards and time/keep score during a sparring match!

3. Win at sparring. I love sparring. I wanted to spar and do well. I did!--I got a first place in sparring! Only regret: Ms. Pryor and Master Hughes had left by that time, so they didn't see me.

4. This one was added after I had trouble breaking Wednesday--Don't get injured breaking. I didn't. Nor did I actually break. More on that later, too.

I will post a fuller account with illustrations, soon.

Friday, September 22, 2006

One Last Practice

James, Justin, and I had one last practice at the dojang before tomorrow's tournament.

James (he's about 12 years old, a 2nd degree BB) mostly worked on his breaking set up. He couldn't decide what to do. "I know! I'll do a tornado kick! Then an elbow strike . . . " "I know! I'll do a roundhouse speed break . . .!" His practice breaks weren't working for him--I think this made it hard for him to decide what to do.

Justin also worked on his breaks. He wanted to make sure he could do the reverse hook speed break he'd planned on doing. He did it three times this evening, and each time, he seemed surprised! It's one cool-looking break--the broken part of the board just goes flying.

I went through my form, Toi-Gye a few times, trying to make sure my flow was good, that I was looking before each turn, and that my stances were nice and neat.

We're as ready as we're going to be . . .


Has anyone seen this movie yet--? It's just out in my hometown--maybe this is its opening weekend everywhere.

I'd like to see it. The review I read has me intrigued. Apparently the movie is "story-driven," not "fight-driven." To me that's good. Even if fighting's good, I'm a sucker for a good story! Also, the review I read compared Jet Li's fighting to the moves of a Merce Cunningham dancer. Cunningham is an avant garde modern dance guy. This is a good sign.

One review suggested that the movie, except for one scene, is not only interesting for adults, but it would be appropriate and inspiring for young people. So maybe I can take Robbie.

Maybe my TKD friends will want to go.

The movie has a cool website, too.

If anyone sees it, feel free to send your review!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Buddy Taping

So how did my injured toe make it through the grueling practice last night, you ask?

It survived due to buddy taping.

Taping the injured toe to one next to it was recommended to me by Ms. Pryor--also by Miss Chris and my officemate at work!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Sometimes the board wins

OK, I'll get the bad news out of the way first.

I brought 3 boards to class tonight so I could practice breaking for the tournament. I figured I'd do breaks that always work for me every time. I chose palm strike, back elbow, and reverse kick. I have always done well with those.

But tonight, I had lots of trouble! I didn't break with those hand techniques at all :-( Well, every board has its day.

I must say that I gave those boards an advantage: I set them up badly. One reason I wanted to practice breaking is so I could practice setting up! I NEVER set up my own breaks. We don't do breaking very often (fine with me) and I don't trust myself to set them up. So I just ask people to set up my boards at tests. Safer that way.

But I did my own set up and I did it badly. Master Hughes told me why the palm strike wasn't working: My arm wasn't fully extended when I hit the board. Well, that's because I'd set up up too close to me! I think I had the same problem with the back elbow board.

Now I know!

There is some good news, though.

My forms went well, especially Toi-Gye, which I'll do in the tournament. I really thought about what Ms. Pryor said about getting a flow and imagining myself fighting an opponent. I watched her carefully when she did her form. And this time, I felt the flow in my form when I did it! I hope it's noticeable. I hope the fact that my W-blocks are slightly uneven is NOT noticeable.

We also sparred. I sparred Brian, then Dillon, both challenging partners. Then I got to spar Ms. Pryor! I could feel my adrenaline soar: I really wanted to do well. And I think I did. I actually scored a few! Granted, she scored a bunch, but still.

"Good job," she said after we were done. I don't think she says that lightly.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


So what am I doing at home today at 11 a.m. when I should be at ballet?

My feet hurt. I don't think I could do ballet today.

Not only does my jammed toe hurt, but my right pinkie toe is sore, and that old sore ankle is bothering me.


Well, all of these things are temporary, and that's what keeps me from really getting down! My plan for the day: go to the Y and practice my form in the mirror, then have a swim. I can do that with sore feet!

Ms. Pryor gave me interesting advice on my form. Whereas Brian A. told me some moves I wasn't getting quite right (very helpful), she gave me more of an overall evaluation.

"Your form is too rigid. You need to think about flow rather than emphasizing each movement equally. You need to take that form and make it your own."

Wow. That's similar to what I tell my students about writing!

So that's what I'm going to work on: making Toi-Gye flow, making it my own form.

Monday, September 18, 2006


Last night when I was sparring with Brian, I jammed a toe. It hurt enough for me to hop around for a while, but I figured it was no big deal. I've jammed toes and fingers before, and it's not usually a problem. I just went back to sparring.

But by the time I got home, my toe, the middle one on my left foot, was black and blue. Not swollen, but certainly sore and nasty-looking.

I iced it. That's all I could remember of the advice I've gotten on jammed digits before. And I didn't walk around too much. Bruce took pity on me while I lounged on the bed with an ice pack on my toe.

"You never hurt yourself like this in ballet," he pointed out. This is true.

This morning, I was able to walk OK, but that's not saying much as that middle toe doesn't really do too much. It was still black and blue.

I'm lucky when it comes to athletic injuries. Our college has a new program in Athletic Training, and the clinic is just downstairs from my office. I decided to take advantage of the expertise and stop by for a free diagnosis, to see if I needed to make a doctor's appointment.

Holly, a student studying from an anatomy book at the desk there, told me that "the certifieds" were out at games, and that she wasn't allowed to diagnose without them being there. But she looked at my toe.

"How could I tell if it were broken?" I asked.

"Flick the end of it. If it hurts, it's definitely broken."

I flicked. It didn't hurt.

Holly told me that even if that toe was broken, it wasn't likely that a doctor would do anything about it. "It doesn't move much, so it doesn't need a cast or splint to heal," she told me. "It will just take time, no matter what happened. You can be active as long as it doesn't hurt."

I'm glad about that. I would be really bummed if I was going to have to spend a few weeks in a cast, or with crutches. Of course, there would be the fun of telling people I'd gotten hurt sparring :-)

Still, this is really untimely! With only 5 days left until the tournament, I'm not sure I'll be in shape to compete.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

When I Spar

At our workout today, I noticed something about the way I spar. Maybe I've noticed this before, too:

If I'm sparring someone who's my equal or who's not as good as I am, I'm able to use combinations (some of my faves: fake sidekick then fast hook/roundhouse to head; axe with quick front kick follow up; roundhouse middle, high, middle). This is what Master Hughes trains us to do. "Use combinations," he'll yell. "Don't just roundhouse, roundhouse, roundhouse!"

But if I'm overmatched, as I was by Justin today, I go into defensive mode, watching for openings and just zooming in with quick roundhouses. And getting kicked.

I don't think that's nearly as effective.

Sparring's tricky. And fun. One thing that makes it fun is that each sparring match is different. You have to shift your techniques to fit the situation.

When I spar Brian, for example, my high to-the-head kicks don't work. He's too tall. (Though I did land one 2-pointer right on his forehead today!) I spend a lot of time dodging his lethal axe kicks and moving in for quick punches and kicks to the chest.

With someone like Pam, I can try out my kicks to the head--she's just a few inches taller than I am. I'm a little quicker than she is, but she has an awesome wheel kick that comes out of nowhere, so I need to be alert to that.

I think the trick is to feel confident enough sparring that you don't always have to be on the defensive. Then you can try out combinations you think will work.

You need to be confident enough so that you can think, period! Sometimes when I'm sparring I forget to think. And breathe. Gotta work on that.

Hey, any advice or encouragement would be appreciated! Especially because we found out today that the tournament is NEXT weekend, not in two weeks like we'd thought. Yikes.

Getting ready together

During class
"Master Hughes has approved the Jung's tournament for our school," Ms. Pryor told me yesterday in class.

"So you'll be going?" I asked.

"Yes," she said. "He knew I really wanted to compete."

I'm glad--both for myself and for her. And actually, for our whole school! What an exciting thing for us all to work toward.

So for part of class today, we worked on tournament etiquette: when and how to bow, what to do when your name's called, etc.

After class
Some of us stayed around after class, too. I'd decided that each week, I'd do my form for a different black belt and ask for advice. Saturday, Brian A. watched and gave me some good hints, including correcting some moves I had wrong: that double block in Toi-Gye is in horse stance, not back stance! Glad I found that out!

It was nice to hang out after class. Brian's kids skittered around, cheerful just to be in the dojang with their dad.

I wish I'd got a photo of one thing I often see them do. Brian lets them each punch him in the stomach a few times just for practice! He can take it now, but wait until that little Matty is 10 or 12! But what a great dad. It's fun to watch him and his kids interact. You can tell they all love each other and enjoy each other's company. I enjoy being around them.

Justin was there, home from the university for the weekend. We were all very glad to see him. He had sent an e-mail to me saying he had "great news"--it turns out he'll be teaching kickboxing at the U, and has been asked to teach TKD there, too! What a great opportunity (and great way to make money).

Justin's getting ready for the tournament. I took some photos of him doing his forms: Robbie would have done a movie. That would have worked better. But these photos capture a bit of his power and precision. And the blurring shows his quick movements :-)

A few of us are getting ready to practice again today--in fact in just a few minutes. It's nice to have something to work for and friends to work out with.

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!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

New Students!

Our advertising campaign(s) are working! We've had a number of new students join our dojang in the past few weeks. Most of them are children, but there is one teen and one adult.

It's so exciting to see the new people come in and start at our school. They join us at the beginning of class for the first moves (riding horse stance, middle punch). Now, we have 3 or 4 rows of 7 each, and the ki-haps of this group fill the room!

Master Hughes himself usually takes the new students aside to show them the basics while the rest of us work out. He's so great with children. He said to me "I tell everyone they need to remember what it was like when they first got here." Yes, I remember: being excited and nervous and overwhelmed and feeling the power of all the students doing basic moves together. Wanting to be part of it alll!

I hope these new people, children and adults, will stick with TKD.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

School Spirit

"I think we're lucky to have such great teachers here. Master Hughes is an excellent instructor, and so is Ms. Pryor--they make a great team because they both help us work on different things."

Those were my thoughts about our dojang after an excellent class on Monday.

"Yeah, I've looked in at other schools, like the one in the mall," said Brian A. "I can tell that the instruction isn't as good as here. And most people don't do forms as well as we do at this school." Brian's been to some tournaments, so he's seen people from all over do forms.

I'm glad to hear that our students do well at forms. That gives me a sense of pride in our dojang.

I haven't seen martial artists from other schools--except for Dojokan with their samurai arts. I'd like to see other people do TKD and I'd like to talk to others about their martial arts studies. And I guess I'd like to see how our students compare with others.

Maybe if I get to go to a tournament soon, I'll have that chance.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Cool night, long warm-up

I noticed something today when I got to the dojang: it wasn't hot in there.

The past several months it's been pretty darn hot up there. Even when we run the big AC units, you get sweaty just walking across the room.

Today it felt pleasant. What a nice change, I thought.

Well, yeah. Until you start trying to stretch out. I'd forgotten what cold muscles feel like!

That nasty hot, humid weather we all hate is great stretching weather! When it gets cooler, I can just feel that my muscles are tighter.

Ms. Pryor asked me to lead stretching today. I worked the class through our usual stretches, maybe taking a bit more time. I reminded everyone about the dangers of cool weather--especially "for those of us who are older than . . . say, 20" :-)

Some intense work on forms, kicking, and sparring warmed us up very nicely, though.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Photo with a Famous Guy

"Matt Hughes is going to be out at the mall today. Stop by and get his autograph or get your picture taken with him."

This was the buzz at our dojang yesterday. To be quite honest, I'd never heard of Matt Hughes until last month's Black Belt magazine had 2 articles featuring him. Apparently, he just won some kind of mixed martial arts tournament.

He looks like a wrestler to me.

Clearly, not on the same martial arts page as I am. The mixed martial arts tourneys seem to be martial arts as "sports entertainment." That's not where I am.

And besides, I had a date to see another famous person and get his autograph . . .

Yep, that's me and one of my heroes, Roger Swain, who gave a talk at the local garden show! He autographed my copy of his book "Groundwork" that my brother gave me years ago.

Much more of an interesting guy than a UFC champion . . . to me anyway. If you want to hear about my encounter with the famous man in red suspenders, send me an email!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Breaking Test

Today, Ms. Pryor was back at the dojang; so was Mr. Carter, who said he'd been out with pneumonia. I got some good coaching from both of them. Mr. Carter helped me and Brian with our form and Ms. Pryor helped me work on my reverse tornado kick.

At the end of class, we lined up and Ms. Pryor got a couple of boards. Mr. Carter and Brian A. held them up.

"Jump reverse kicks. Just one chance. Tyler."

The next-senior black-belt, Tyler, a junior BB, went up to try the jump reverse break. He couldn't do it, so John tried. Then Dillon, Patrick, Stephanie, etc. etc. Ms. Pryor worked her way down the ranks.

Eventually it was my turn. I'd been hoping someone would break it so I wouldn't have to go up there. But something about having done that break before gave me confidence.

I went up there, focused, jumped, and broke the boards!

Just about knocked down Brian A. as I went through, too!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Expert Ads for TKD

Master Hughes has signed up for a series of advertisements in our local paper. They have a cool format, called "Ask the Expert." Though they are actually ads, they look like a Q and A-type column, with an expert in a field answering questions people might have about it.

I told Master H. that I'd be glad to help write up some of these. Seems only fair. I don't think I'd be much help with our new remodeling project at the dojang (putting in a new women's changing room), but maybe I can share my writing skills!

I wrote up a few of them on spec. which I'll show him. I'm trying to gather up some ideas for questions--what might the general public like to know about TKD? Any ideas, anyone? What would you like to ask?

Here's one I wrote. They have to be "600 characters" which adds up to about 80-100 words.

Why do people in Tae Kwon Do break boards?

Breaking boards takes excellent kicking or striking technique. The boards won’t break if we don’t kick or strike properly. So we break boards to show that our technique is perfect. Breaking boards is also exciting! It gives our students a sense of pride and self-confidence. All this takes competent and knowledgeable instruction: the black belt teachers at Hughes Tae Kwon Do help students learn perfect technique—so that board will snap! Get started for only $19.99 for your first month.

Oh, I also like this one I wrote. What do you think?
Is Tae Kwon Do good for children with ADHD?

Studies have shown that people with ADHD respond very well to the discipline and focus learned in Tae Kwon Do. Tae Kwon Do also teaches self-restraint and tolerance. And of course, it’s great exercise for the high-energy child. It’s important to find a teacher who has these goals as a high priority. Hughes Tae Kwon Do has had extensive experience with all kinds of children and offers TKD classes for everyone, ages 3 to adult. Get started for only $19.99 for your first month.

So, blog-readers, send me any ideas for questions to write about!

Thursday, September 07, 2006


There are new people in ballet this fall. And they are really new, some haven't had ballet experience, and some are just moving up from lower classes.

It's nice to have bigger classes--then I don't worry that the school will cancel adult ballet, as I worried last year when the classes averaged around 4 people. Tuesday, there were abouat 8. But it seems like we're having to change the content of the class.

Last year when Suki added a 2nd adult ballet class on Tues., she made that class a kind of advanced class. It was a great challenge to really dance and push ourselves to learn new things.

Now that we have new folks, we are slowing back down. Tuesday, we learned how to do chainé turns. And glissades. Those are both incredibly basic ballet moves. Because of that, too, we didn't get to do much of a petit allegro or any grand allegro at all. So basically, very little actual dancing. I left without even having broken much of a sweat.

The owner of the studio was there, too, and he was kind of watching the class. Later I wonder if there was some kind of executive decision to make the class more "new person friendly" so that more people would take it. The class also ended at 12:15, rather than going on until 12:30 (Suki used to say "I'll give you that extra 15 minutes for free.") Today was much the same.

I suppose I should just be glad to have 2 ballet classes a week. No other studio in town offers adult ballet. It's just frustrating--I was reaching a certain level and now can't dance up to it.

And speaking of changes, where has Ms. Pryor been?

As we got in line at the end of class to shake hands, Brian whispered to me that he wondered if he and Master Hughes had had a falling out because Master Hughes wouldn't allow her to enter the local tournaments. I said "Well, I wouldn't blame her then."

But I sure hope that's not the case. I hope I see her back in class soon. And I hope he decides it would be cool to see her kick some butt in that tournament!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

TKD Mom, the movie

It's true! I'm in a movie--breaking boards!

Probably lots of you are in movies--those movies friends and relatives make at your promotional tests. So now I am, too!

I came home after a great TKD workout with a DVD from Brian A., who supervised the filming of the test and edited the footage for us. After the kids were in bed, I popped it into my DVD player and watched.

It was almost like being at the test again. There I was, in my living room, watching the group go through basic moves, and cheering on everyone as they did their board breaks. And it was cool to see myself breaking boards, of course.

I'll see if I can post a bit of the video footage on this blog. If not, you'll just have to imagine it! Or stop by and I'll let you borrow it!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Skater Mom

[sorry about the delay in adding these photos. I'm having trouble posting pictures on Blogger.]

Robbie got new roller blades last week. He'd found some old ones in the garage that didn't fit, so we traded them in for these new ones. He loves them and skates in the driveway, in the street, and at my college ("It's great to skate there, except when the students are having passing time!")

This evening, I asked if he'd like to skate with me around the little urban lake a mile or so from here. He was up for it. So he got his new skates and I got my ratty old ones--a pair I'd picked up at a rummage sale for $1--and we went over.

The night was beautiful! After a few days of unsettled weather, the sky was a deep blue with nice backlit pinkish-orange clouds and a HUGE low, waxing gibbous moon.

But skating was . . . painful! With those old, ratty, cheap skates, it felt like I was skating uphill the entire way! Robbie zoomed ahead, then doubled back to give me a push now and then, both of us laughing the entire time. We got passed by lots of bikers, and passed a man with his old dog. Barely passed them.

Eventually, one of my wheels got jammed, and skating got well nigh impossible. We were almost all the way around the lake by then, so I pulled off the skates and my socks and walked back barefoot.

This is what happened to those skates.

So the big question is: do I invest in a decent pair of rollerblades to keep up with my energetic son? Or does taekwondomom have enough to keep her busy and active already?

As Robbie told me when I tucked him in tonight, "Mom, I guess this just proves that you get what you pay for."

Monday, September 04, 2006

Holiday Workout

I didn't know if I'd get a TKD workout in this weekend. I also didn't know if I'd get to see Justin, who was home from the university for the weekend.

Turns out I got to do both! Justin and I had a nice TKD workout today before he went back to school.

Neither of us had keys to the dojang, and I couldn't locate anyone with keys. So we went over to my college and worked out in the big gym. We went through all the forms I know and sparred a bit, too.

I was glad to be able to visit with Justin and hear about college. He's kept in touch via email and IM, but I prefer talking face to face. I had many many questions to ask, and Justin had lots to say about classes, tennis club, dorm life, and some upcoming tournaments. There's one up near his university in a couple weeks that he hopes to attend.

That first semester at college is a tough one--getting uprooted from home, living on your own, getting to know new people. "I don't really have friends at college yet," said Justin. It takes time to make good friends; you have to make do with acquaintances at a time when good friends would help make the transition.

But he seems to be doing well academically, no surprise there. He especially likes French. "The teacher speaks entirely in French," he said, thrilled.

The workout was great. I needed to go over those forms! Doing forms with Justin always improves my power--his moves are quite powerful and I pick that up from him. It's always fun to spar, too, though I caught a foot to the face. I must have also gotten hit in the knee, too, as it's sore and a bit puffy.

Still, a good workout and a great visit!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Martial Arts Demo

I keep thinking about TKDRocker's martial arts demo competition and about our dojang's push to get new students.

I've come to the conclusion that it would help us to have a demo team with some choreographed moves and an "emcee" to introduce people to TKD and to our school. Besides, having a demo team would be another great way to use our TKD skills and gain a greater sense of togetherness and teamwork.

This weekend, I got to see one of my favorite martial arts demos, the samurai arts dojo doing their demo at the Renaissance Faire! We now have 2 ren faires a year near our small city--one in May and one Labor Day weekend. Dojokan (formerly known as Jade Tiger) was at both.

I love their demo.

Here they are demonstrating some self-defense tactics. I think these moves are choreographed, maybe like our 3 and 1 step sparring. They were doing them with the bo when I arrived, but I didn't get my camera out in time to photograph.

Look at the nice uniforms, backdrop, and banners. I like those. Adds a sense of atmosphere and professionalism to the demo, as well as being nice to look at.

They also have music! Here are their drum and flute, which play before the demo (to summon faire-goers) and during some of it.

A great touch.

I didn't get photos of their info table, which has brochures and maps etc. They also have a little games area, where children can play swords with foam boppers and throw leather throwing stars. I think it's a great idea to have some hands-on aspect to a demo, too.

If our school had a nice standard demo figured out, it would be easy to go to fairs, faires, festivals, etc. and make more people aware of martial arts and our school.

We had a good time at the faire. It wasn't all watching the samurai.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Some really cool blogs

Hey, everyone: tkdrocker has started up her blog again! Have you seen it? It's called Rockin' Out to Tae Kwon do and it's at

A somewhat recent entry is about a June tournament. I was fascinated by the "demo team" competition she describes--I wish our school had a demo team and that tournaments around here included demo team competition. Seems like demonstrations are a neat combination of performance and teaching, two things I enjoy.

TKDrocker is also embarking on the ultimate black belt challenge--you might want to check that out, too.

Miss Chris also has a cool site, One Crazy Chick, at She's a brown belt in Karate and writes about how her studies as a martial artist intersect with her experiences as a person with M.S. She's also a mom: I guess she's a karatemom.

Check out these blogs and drop these folks a line if you have time. And if you have a cool blog, or know of one, drop me a line!


My ankle feels worse after my physical therapy appointment and exercises.

Maybe it was the tough TKD class Wednesday. As I was leaving the dojang, it felt fine. But when I got out of the car at home (after just a 5 minute drive), I could barely limp up the driveway. Spent the rest of the evening with an ice pack on my foot.

The next day (yesterday, Thursday) was ballet. I wasn't sure if I'd be in decent shape to dance, but it was OK by then. I didn't do much in the way of jumps, and afterwards, it was somewhat achy.

I can feel it today--it's a bit stiff.

The physical therapist did say that it would be a while before I noticed a change. I wonder if she meant that it would get worse before it gets better. Anyone out there ever have PT? Is that the way it works?