Saturday, October 27, 2012

Walking Wounded

I haven't had much to say about TKD lately. It's been going well and progressing fairly smoothly, and I suppose there just hasn't been anything so interesting that I felt like sharing. But, today was the first day of a pretty full weekend of TKD and it seemed like a perfect opportunity to share.

I've been having an ongoing issue with my left foot. Due to post-surger(ies) remodeling of my foot, being barefoot is generally not good for me. Consequently, due to being barefoot almost always for TKD, I've been experiencing quite a bit more pain (and swelling) than usual. I ice and elevate as much as I can when it's inflamed, but it's now seeming to be a perpetual kind of pain. Unfortunately, there isn't much I can do about it medically. My only option would be yet another surgery to remove the fat pad and scar tissue on the bottom of my foot. Which is only ever a temporary solution because, oh yeah, another surgery just means MORE scar tissue.... Plus I have no interest in being crutches. Nor do I even have medical insurance. So... basically I just have to deal with it the best I can, since I'm not willing to give up taekwon do.

Anyway, all that being said: tonight at sparring one of my partners accidentally stepped REALLY HARD on my left foot. He didn't mean to, and he could see instantly how much it hurt and felt really bad. I shrugged it off because I didn't want to make him feel any worse, but it was so painful to even put my weight on it. But, I'm testing tomorrow for my orange belt and NEEDED to finish sparring because I was being assessed on it. So my very next (though thankfully final) sparring match was against Mr Saxton. I pushed through the pain as best I could, but he knew I was in pain and I'm sure he could tell a difference from my usual sparring. All I can do is hope that I did well enough.

I iced my foot as soon as I got home and for as long as possible before going to work, and I'll ice it again in the morning. Between that and some medicine I'm hoping I'll be able to get through testing smoothly. I REALLY want my orange belt.  It's been an extra long while in coming.... And, my mom is testing for her advanced white belt!

Tomorrow evening is our school's annual Halloween party, which I'm excited about. I have an awesome homemade costume, that I hope will win a prize. There's even a silly forms contest where you compete in your costume to Halloween music. I may or may not do that, because my costume is a bit cumbersome, but we'll see.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

S[p]ar Wars and Yo[g]a

Two weeks ago I competed in my first TKD tournament--an in-house event called 'Spar Wars.'  It was a relatively small affair, and only one competitor was there representing another school.  This meant it was mostly familiar faces and a slightly less stressful first tourney experience for me.  It also meant that in my division there were only two of us; me and an orange belt woman.  She is a sweetie and someone I always enjoy sparring with because I learn a lot from her.  She also has probably 6 months more experience than me... so it wasn't too surprising that she won all four events.  I almost won the soft sword (or light sabre, if you will) fight because it was entirely new to her, but then she caught on quick and came back from behind to beat me.  But, hey, at least since there were only two of us it meant I came away from my first tournament with 4 silver medals! ;-)

I've noticed several different times since starting TKD just how much doing yoga has been beneficial to my martial arts.  It was only recently that I've come to notice that the reverse is true as well.  The TKD has improved my strength, balance, and flexibility immensely.  Poses that use to be/seem impossible are now possible, and those that use to be weak or wobbly are now solid.  Even my awareness of my own body (which I already thought was quite good due in part to the yoga) has improved.  I was struck today while in resting pose by how vividly I could feel my heart beat AND feel each pump of the blood  moving out from my heart and into my limbs, tracking it all the way to my fingers and toes.  Very cool.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

What's kickin'?

Now that I have my yellow belt I'm learning quite a few new kicks.  These include crescents, axe kicks, spinning backs, and some jumping kicks.  It's nice having a new challenge and I'm enjoying it a lot.  I don't know if it's from my background in sports like soccer and rugby, but it seems like I'm picking it up pretty quickly!

The biggest surprise (to me) is that I can actually do jump kicks that I would have previously sworn impossible.  I've always joked about how big girls don't exactly jump/fly well....  Even launching off my left foot isn't too bad, with the exception of the retreating front thrust.  That one, well, let's just say it's going to take some extra practice.  I think it MAY be a matter of mental block more than any actual impairment caused by the scar tissue, etc.

The kick that's giving me the hardest time (for now, at least) is not even a jumping kick.  It's a switch step axe kick.  The whole switch step thing is my first problem.  It's supposed to be very smooth and without the upper body moving much at all, so that just the feet switch places enough to bring you closer to your target.  I haven't quite figured out how to get that smoothness down.  The other issue was just pointed out to me last night while we were kicking against the pads to work on targeting.  After the switch step and DURING the actual kick I'm supposed to be rotating my hips to become square to the target.  It's that rotation in the hips that should get my leg to the target area, not a purposely reaching/diagonal motion with the leg like I'd been doing.  Oops.

The location of the classes here in town has moved.  The major upshot is that we no longer have to deal with the weird sticky rubbery floor any more.  We're back on a thinly carpeted floor more like the one in the main dojang.  The only downside to the new space is that we no longer have mirrors.  I don't generally take much notice of the mirrors anyway, BUT now that I'm working on all of these new kicks it was a really useful tool for checking my technique against Mr Saxton and/or the other students.  Still, glad to be rid of the sticky floor!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

How do you say yellow in Korean?

I got my yellow belt today!!!  It was a much smaller testing class this time than my first one, I think maybe 7 of us.  I was also the only 'adult' in the bunch.  Funny enough, this meant that I was actually in the back row of a group photo for once!  My nerves were somewhat better this time around, but there were still butterflies.  I guess I had no real reason to worry, as my entire testing went pretty smoothly.

The best part was that I broke my board on the first try!  I have to agree with Mr Saxton 100% about the wooden boards being easier to break than the re-breakable ones... and I have the bruised ankle to prove it.  If that bit of painful practice yesterday was what helped me with today, then at least it was worth it.  It made me laugh when Mrs Saxton said my break today made her nervous for Mr Saxton (who was holding the board) and he admitted the same.

I even got to redeem myself with regards to counting.  This time I was entirely prepared and smoothly rattled off the numbers through ten in Korean.  I suspect my pronunciation may have left a little to be desired, but at least I actually know them now!

I've been really impressed over the last 6 months by how supportive everyone is at CMA; the instructors, my fellow students, and even (or especially) their families.  It was quite obvious today when everyone applauded/cheered/encouraged each student.  That atmosphere certainly helps to foster one's 'Indomitable Spirit.'  It definitely inspires me to keep going!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Getting some color (hopefully)

I found out yesterday during class that I'm testing in a week. On the 16th, to be specific. Okay, yes, I knew I was on the list to test this month but I guess I thought it would be toward the end of the month. Now I'm already nervous. It doesn't help that I once again had issues today with two of my more troublesome self defenses. I thought I FINALLY had them down. I also choked when I was asked to perform my form alone. I couldn't help but be annoyed with myself because I KNOW the form. I just get so nervous at being the center of attention! Still, I have to just get over myself and do it. If they believe I'm ready, then I trust their opinion. Now I just gotta remember to find out what break I'm doing. And this time I'm prepared for counting in Korean!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Start Your Weekend Right

Okay, so I teased my mom that the next post would be entitled 'Wooden Spoons and Foam Balls' but I changed my mind.  I will explain that title though, since they were some fun training bits and pieces. 

The wooden spoon bit happened at home when my mom asked me to help her run through the white belt self defenses.  Since I had no interest in holding a real knife (even of the butter variety) at my mother, I grabbed a wooden spoon and held it by the business end so that the handle jutted out like a knife blade.  Of course, being who we are, we both ended up dissolving into laughter several times at my choice of fake 'knife.'  (It could also be the fake scaredy cat face she makes whilst DOING the knife defense that was causing the larger part of my own laughter...)

As for the foam balls, that was a blocking exercise courtesy of Mr Saxton.  It was a little like dodge ball, TKD style!  We each took turns standing basically against or very close to the wall while two foam balls were thrown at us in strategic places.  Ideally, we were meant to use our blocking techniques to deflect the balls as though they were fists.  I believe the exercise was meant to not only improve technique, but also speed.  I particularly enjoyed this drill!  Then again, I always enjoyed regular dodge ball as well.

Friday evenings are our weekly sparring sessions.  According to Mr Saxton, he thinks getting beaten up is the best way to start one's weekend.  I'm inclined to agree, even though these sessions actually fall in the middle of my own work week.  It's nice to go and sweat/work off any lingering frustrations and tire myself out in a good way.  I might have mentioned it before, but I'm really pleasantly surprised at just how much I actually enjoy sparring now.  I can even tell that I'm slowly but surely improving!  I got some nice compliments last night, which was awesome.  Even my stamina seemed vastly better than the last sparring session I went to.

Later today, we're going to march in a local parade.  We're going to be representing the school; wearing our uniforms and practicing punches, kicks, and blocks.  It should be fun.  I'm glad to be able to do it, since I missed our big picnic event on Memorial Day due to work.  Now I just have to figure out when I'm going to get some sleep... :-/

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Last Sunday I took part in a 4-hour systema seminar.  It was pretty interesting, and I learned all kinds of new (and occasionally strange) ways to move/use my body.  It also meant all sorts of rolling around on the floor, dodging attacks, and being thrown.  All in all, it added up to one SERIOUSLY sore body just a few hours later... and the next few days.  Then on Tuesday in class, I got to do even more of the same with my already achy body.

Friday's class was good.  My body finally felt back to normal.  I have a really solid grasp on Taeguk Il Jong now, and am just working on making sure the moves are crisp and powerful.  Even my self defenses went much better this week than they have been.  I've got three of the five pretty well covered.  The other two defenses involve the live hand technique, which I can't seem to get quite right.  Mrs Saxton gave me some pointers last week that I think finally sunk in and helped me understand, so it took me considerably less tries yesterday to get it right!  I'm glad my self defenses are starting to come along, because I'll be testing in June (date still unknown)... and I still feel like I need a lot more practice.

I'm trying to get myself back into the running habit I had before I moved.  I can tell during sparring that my endurance has slipped quite a lot.  So, that means lacing up and hitting the pavement/sand at least 2-3 times a week.  Hopefully I'll find myself enjoying it again the way I'd started to in Charlotte.  Once I got over the clumsiness and learned to pace myself, I discovered that running was actually kind of fun and even cathartic.  I have no doubt it could be that way here too.  Plus, the views (not to mention the air quality) are infinitely better here!!