Relax Grasshopper

Well, my 6 year old and my husband got their blue belts on Saturday, and here I sit still an orange belt. My daughter Em was invited to a party that interfered with the belt test. I chose to take her to the party and we’ll test this coming Saturday. If you knew the heartbreak she and I went through last year after our move, you’d understand why I didn’t put Tae Kwon Do first. Last year at this time, she was lucky to have one friend, and now finally this year she has several. I feel it’s my duty to make sure that she cultivates whatever friendships she has. The thing that I find interesting (but not surprising), is out of the four people at the party, she was the only girl. She takes after her mother.

Anyhoo, I am SO done with the orange belt requirements and I’m ready to move on. The one thing I have a problem with, and I’m so glad that it isn’t part of the test, is sparring. Almost every class we practice paired up applications with your typical etiquette. One side attacks and the other defends, and you stop. Then the same side attacks and defends, usually about 6 times in a row, then we switch sides so the other side attacks. Rinse and repeat. It’s structured, we are usually doing it to a count the instructor is giving. This part, I have no problem with. It’s when we move on to one to one that my brain seizes up and I suddenly am the worst partner to have in the room. In one to one, we start like we do with paired up applications, but then instead of the pause between “sets”, we keep going, usually using only kicks. Instead of relaxing into it, I tense up and I can only jump back or evade, counterattacking doesn’t come naturally to me. I seem too concerned about foot positions and I can’t think of what kick works with what stance I’m in. So I wind up doing the same kick over and over. I’m not sure how to overcome this obstacle. It doesn’t help that this usually happens in the last 15 minutes of a 45 minute class when the sweat is dripping off of me and I’m totally sucking wind. One black belt (who I like the most) is tall and tends to come right at me. Usually I can’t do much more than block his attacks, forget about counterattacking. I’m not sure how much of this is inexperience. A more advanced student in the class had so much patience with me. I felt near tears and told him I was struggling, and he kindly told me just to slow it down. I think I’m going to try practicing with my husband at least once a week at home and see if I can’t get more comfortable with it.

And Grandmaster, gotta love him, seems the most intuitive man. I was getting my gear off after class and he comes up to me and says “You are going to make a great black belt!” I don’t know if he realized I needed that encouragement at that moment, or if he finally got a good look at how I was doing. Grandmaster doesn’t normally lead class. It’s usually his daughter or another black belt who lead, but he took over today. We were going over Poomsae since a lot of people had to learn a new one after testing last weekend, and other than a few minor tweaks, he seemed pleased with my forms. Steve had a private lesson with him tonight and he told him to ask me to consider taking a private lesson or two a month with him. He told Steve that I was really good, but with a little extra one on one practice I could be great. It feels good to have my hard work recognized. It makes me wish I could fast track to black belt, but I believe that the structure that is currently in place (3 months + between belts after orange belt) is a benefit. Mostly because by the time we are testing for black belt, we have to have learned and perform everything from white belt up. From memory. Without mistakes.

It’s something I’m going to be thinking about for a while. I’ve always been above average at whatever activity I choose to do, whether it is softball or spinning yarn. Having someone believe I can be great at something is a hell of a pat on the back. And so the countdown begins until October of 2010. Keeping my current schedule, that will be my first opportunity to test for black belt.

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Back to the Beginning

If you look at my links you’ll see I’ve linked to people who were there when I started blogging as Psychobabble. I felt it was time to come full circle.

Fight Quest

Have you seen this show on Discovery Channel?

From the site:

A blend of cultural immersion and good old-fashioned smackdown, the series follows seasoned mixed martial arts fighter Jimmy Smith and 25-year-old rookie Doug Anderson as they travel the globe, adding fight styles from Kali to kickboxing to their repertoire.

In each episode, Jimmy and Doug will explore a new location identified with a style of fighting, such as kung fu in Dengfeng, China, and boxing in Mexico City, Mexico. There, after first immersing themselves in the sounds, smells and tastes of the local scene, the two guys will separate to train with local masters of that method — sometimes an ancient art of combat, and other times a modern form of butt-kicking. After several days of intense instruction, Jimmy and Doug will each face off against a local in a no-holds-barred test of skill.

The fighting is real. The injuries are real. In the end, only the best will win.

I’m thoroughly hooked. At first I thought it was two typical testosterone junkies trying to get themselves killed, but the more I watch it the more I like it. It’s become a permanent fixture on my DVR.

These two guys travel the world to learn about traditional fight styles in different countries. They go through 5 days of training then it culminates with them fighting experts in whatever style they studied.

Ok, so maybe they are testosterone junkies, but it makes for good television.

Weight-Loss Challenge

This is my second round for the Weight-Loss Challenge. Last time I lost 12 lbs in 12 weeks. I’m hoping to lose about another 10. That would put me around 160 lbs on my 5’8″ frame. Not skinny by any standards, but I would be comfortable there.

Funny thing about my weight loss. Almost 2 years ago I weighed in at my all-time high, 209 lbs. I’ll find a picture to post soon. As of last night, I’m down to 172 and happier than I have been in a long time. Strange thing is, I never went on a diet. I’m not sure what changed, but I find that I no longer live to eat, but eat to live. I don’t eat unless I’m hungry, and if I’m craving a cookie, I’ll have 2-3 and be done with them. I’m certain that having less stress in my life is a huge reason I lost the weight. Sometime early last year it started coming off slowly and I don’t remember changing anything with my habits. I’ve lost 38 lbs and two pant sizes in about a year and a half and it’s one of the first times I think it’s actually going to stay off. The main reason being that I haven’t actually dieted. Nothing is being denied. I cook with butter and oil, I try not to eat any “fake” foods (margarine, artificial sweeteners, etc.), and if I want to eat something, I eat it, I just don’t feel the need to clean my plate or go for seconds.

Now that I’m practicing Tae Kwon Do, it’s the first time that I have regular, intense exercise as part of my life and I don’t feel like I have to work at it. I enjoy it, and still do after several months. It doesn’t hurt that even when I really, really don’t feel like going, I go anyway because I know I will feel so much better for it afterwards, which I always do.

Update: Ok, this is the best I could do so far. My husband has one I need to get from him that is better (worse?). This was at around 209 lbs. last year.

Laundry Day

Ugh, it’s painful to see that belly. I was probably sucking it in too. I’ll have to find (or take) a picture of me recently that shows the difference. Maybe I should just stage another shot like this one.  I still have the top and pants I think, might be an interesting experiment.

When Did I Lose My Mind?

I ask myself that after every Monday night at the dojang.  My 6 year old has class at for a half-hour and I participate in that class, including running laps and kick/punch drill as warmup.  Then I have about a half-hour break until Poomsae for 5-10 minutes, then 10-20 minutes of our Ab/Weight-Loss class.  For 10-20 minutes we rotate between running, leg lifts, punching, sit-ups and push-ups with no break.  My heart rate stays high and I always break a sweat.  It’s somewhere in here that my deodorant starts to fail.  Immediately afterward is our adult class lasting 45 minutes.  By the end of the evening I am spent, but feel so good.  On a typical Monday I will run 36 laps around the dojang (yes I counted).

Soccer Mom by Day, Ninja by Night

Just getting this here blog thing set up.  I have a friend who refers to my Tae Kwon Do classes as “ninja training”, hence the title of the blog.