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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A conversation from last night

Little Man (who is 5):

"Mommy, when are we going to have a day when we can stay home all day and all night and stay in our pajamas and do nothing?"

Apparently, we really need that vacation we're going on next week.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Thoughts on Father's Day

A bit late, but we were quite busy on the day of.

There are many, many reasons I stay in TKD, but only one reason I walked into that school in the first place: my son. His father and I were separated at that time, and his contributions to the work of parenting have ever consisted almost solely of funding and genetic material. At three years old, my son was obviously bright, but undisciplined and unfocussed. A sweet, loving boy, but clearly in need of a strong male role model. When my sister told me about the school, and the people she’d met there, and how it could help him, I thought I would try it out.

Because we went and stuck with it, my son has more focus and discipline. He has a group of peers to train with, and a group of older kids to learn from. He is part of something bigger than himself; he knows what it means to practice and work hard and see the reward from it. But most importantly, he has in The Man Who Loves Us a good, kind, generous, honorable man to call Dad, to play with, to learn from, to look up to. He didn’t have to love both of us, but he did, and I couldn’t be more grateful to have him in our lives. Happy Father’s Day, darling.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Brown Recommended

I did it. I didn’t drop from exhaustion, though I kind of wanted to (5-6 hours is not enough sleep!!), I remembered my whole form (though I almost forgot the name…), and I broke both boards in two tries or less.

Now I am in what feels like the home stretch – the point in the advanced color belt program in which I now get two belts of each of the two remaining colors: one recommended (with a yellow stripe), and one decided (with a black stripe). Best case, I’m still ten months away from a black belt. If I can do another rank camp in January, I’ll shave off another two months.

This week has improved my technique, my physical condition, and most importantly, my confidence. I feel better about my abilities than I have in a long time.

This weekend I get the reward of going to visit some of my favorite people! I have a whole gaggle of cousins and assorted other family members who live roughly four hours away. We are leaving this afternoon, and we are so excited to see everyone!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Rank Camp Day 4

Since I learned my whole form, and didn’t barf or fall down from exhaustion, I consider last night a success. And I’m less sore today than I was yesterday.

I was surprised, many months ago, to discover how political TKD is, but now that I think about it I realize I shouldn’t be surprised at all. There is a considerable amount of politics involved in any large organization, and there aren’t any more or less in ours than any other. And even more should be expected in an organization with military origins, a particular hierarchy, and rules for conduct; especially when there is so much room to move within the hierarchy.

The constant shifting of rank and titles, especially in individual schools and the more local parts of the organization, creates an interesting social situation. If you aren’t constantly moving forward, people with less experience can easily pass you. I’m in that situation now, where because of my own long and winding journey, I have to defer to people who started studying martial arts after I did. I have to watch them get their black belts, and know that I’m still nearly a year away, and I can’t tell you how frustrating that is. It takes an effort of will to swallow my pride and take direction from someone who is younger both in years and in the sport, and know that I should because they outrank me. But just like in the rest of life, you can’t stand still. You’re either moving forward or you’re falling back.

This rank camp (and hopefully I’ll have an opportunity to do another one in six months) will help a little bit in catching up, but the sting of watching others pass me by is unavoidable at this point. This is what makes my journey mine. Every delay, every injury, every mental and emotional hurdle I have to jump will make my black belt that much more meaningful.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Rank Camp Day 3

I am sore, but not really any more sore than I’ve been in the past… it’s a good feeling, that ache that tells me I’ve pushed my muscles a bit further than they wanted to go. The worst part is the sleepiness. Just about the time we’re getting started each night is when I’m usually already in bed…

It will be worth it. I keep telling myself that.

When I tie on a brown belt after only being a blue belt for a week, it will be worth it.

When I get my black belt by March instead of July, it will be worth it.

When I see the improvements in my technique from a week of repetition and focused training, it will be worth it.

When I can be an example of hard work and perseverance to my son, it is worth it.

One of my classmates said last night that her decision to attend rank camp has nothing to do with jumping a belt. For her, it’s to get an infusion of that passion and motivation that keeps us going on our journey. I didn’t sign up to get that, but I’m getting it anyway. Thank you, Mr. H, for giving me a chance to remind myself why I love this sport.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Rank Camp Day 2

I survived the first night. Surprisingly, I have the full use of all of my limbs and my face is not (yet) hitting my keyboard, although I see a search for caffeine in my near future. Since I typically head to bed just after I get Little Man off to dreamland, 11 pm is obscenely late for me to be out on a school night. But as I said, it’s worth it.

Last night we spent a large portion of the two hours working on technique, which is far less glamorous than it sounds. It just means we do the same move over and over again until we get better at it. I must have done 8 dozen round kicks, but the improvement is already starting to show. Whether I can lift my legs to do them again tonight is another story.

The other thing we did last night is learn the first several moves of our forms. There are beginner, intermediate, and advanced students taking this Rank Camp, so our lucky instructor gets to learn (or brush up on) and then teach three different forms. The form I have to learn is called Hwa Rang (pronounced Hwa-wrong, with an audible h and a rolling r).

What’s that you say? I get to learn a form with the same name as one of my favorite characters on one of the (very) few video games I enjoyed playing as a kid? Geeky coolness!!

If you’re a child of the 80’s (like me), you probably played some Tekken growing up. Maybe you played Streetfighter or Mortal Kombat, but if you were really cool, you played Tekken. If you are indeed cool, you probably remember a certain young TaeKwonDo master named Hwoarang. Yes, pronounced exactly the same way as the form I’m learning. I suspect they got their name from the same entity. The Hwarang were a group of youth trained in martial arts in the Silla kingdom of ancient Korea.  

Therefore, I am geeking out. I might have to practice saying the name of my form in the Tekken-announcer voice.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Rank Camp Day 1

Eventually, I will go back and start at the beginning, but today I'm going to start with where I am right now, and that's Day 1 of my first Rank Camp, which will allow me to jump from the blue belt I just earned last week to a brown belt.

You don't have to be a student of martial arts to understand the craziness that is Rank Camp. You just have to have been a student of anything, ever. Rank Camp takes two months of material and crams it into one week - or in my case, since I have a prior obligation on the last two days, four days. That's right kids, I'm gonna learn 8 weeks worth of TKD material in four days. Starting at 9pm tonight, because in addition to being a martial arts student, I'm a working mom.

This week might be a blur of exhaustion and grumpiness, but on Thursday night when I realize the goal of shaving another two months off of my journey to black belt, it will be worth it.