Breaking boards is fun until they hit back. . .

I'm finally getting around to posting about my last class of the year. Okay, here we go!

On the 9th, we had a different kind of class. A party and fun night. One of the instructors brought in at least two trees worth of boards. I'm not kidding. Well, it seemed like that because during stretching and exercises, he, another instructor, another student and I went outside and carried in big stacks of them. It looked like a little forest by the time we piled them all up. Some might say he overdid it -- bringing all he did -- but I can proudly say that our class broke all of them by the end of the night.

Before we made our way through those boards (pun intended), we finished up with our warm up and the four black belts demonstrated some things we don't normally see in class. There was a little Tai Chi and its application in self defense, and then a self defense demo from our only female black belt that regularly comes to class. But my personal favorite was the escrima demonstration. Oh, wow did that look cool! On a side note, we don't start weapons training until 1st dan, so that's why is it was even more exciting for me.

After the demos, we started with breaking. Our class is mostly made up of kids 7-13, and they all elected me to be the first student to break. How thoughtful of them to volunteer me like that. I felt so loved. [/end sarcasm] I thought it was rather funny actually. I didn't mind. I've gotten the chance to break once before and none of them had because a long while since we've done it -- so yeah. Anyway, I broke the first with a hammerfist, and then they were all eager to have a turn.

Someone brought a Sharpie, so we all signed our boards after we broke them. I broke four in all. One with a hammerfist, one with a punch, and one with a. . .straight or vertical punch I think it was called. My last was with a front snap kick (that gave me a good bit of trouble, but I got it finally).

We started wrapping class up, and I wanted to break one last board. The younger kids kept going to the front and they broke maybe 5-7 each. I let them go, but wanted to get to 5 before the night ended. We were almost out of boards, but our brown belt was still up there breaking. He handed me one and I laid it down between two concrete blocks. Well stupid me tried to break it against the grain on the first try. Major ouch. If you've broken boards before, you know what that's like. Well, it made a nice, loud thunk and needless to say -- did not break. Well, the brown belt and one of my instructors hears this lovely sound and they realize what happened. Talk about embarrassing.

So I tried it again, still hitting with a hammerfist. And guess what? It didn't break either. Now my hand is starting to throb a lot. So my instructor comes back over to help. He has me try it again with the same result. Now he gets down on my level (I'm on my knees) and talks to me and tells me that I'm slowing down before I'm hitting the thing. The other black belt had broke three boards without spacing earlier and he asks me: "When did I break the boards?" I was the only one out of the three that had no clue as to what he was talking about. The answer was 'before he had even gotten up there to break. He had already broken them in his mind.' Now it's come down to me hesitating because I'm not completely, absolutely sure I can break this thing. My first instructor has me close my eyes and visualize the board already broken. When I open my eyes, he tells me to give it one last shot. "Don't hold back. Be sure of yourself. Go through the board." Well, I'm determined to break this thing no matter if I'm whacking at it all night. I want to break it. So I give it that one last shot and. . ."Thunk." The sound of defeat. *sighs*

Well, my first instructor says that's enough for tonight and breaks it. He said that it was the best board of the night. A board that you'd build a house with. That didn't make me feel much better. I was disappointed in myself. It was just a piece of wood and I couldn't break it.

Before talking to my instructors, I didn't really know what they meant when they said that I was hesitating because I was unsure of myself. I see now what they meant. In certain areas of Tae Kwon Do I feel very confident in how I do and how I can teach things. But in other areas like board breaking and sparring, I'm not. This is only the second time I've broken, so I was second guessing myself.

But even after a swollen and bruised hand from that attempted break, I feel more determined than ever to improve in my sparring and even in future breaking. I want it so much that I just can't wait for January's class. I want to learn and do.

One of the black belts told me that my worst enemy is myself. My passion is for martial arts and I am determined to overcome my worst enemy: myself.

Until next time,


End of the Year Party

Wow. It seems like I haven't updated this in forever. Probably because I haven't. Anyway, finals are going to be over on the 16th, so I should have a little more free time to post here.

Now back to the good stuff of this post. This Tuesday, on December 9th, we're going to be having a end of the year party / fun night for everyone in class. We won't have another class until January 8th which is a really long time for me. I actually wouldn't mind going up until the 23rd being the obsessive person I am about martial arts. That's probably just me though. Everyone else will be enjoying their Christmas break, but I'll be having a mental breakdown from not being in class. Okay, okay. I'm overexaggerating. I won't have a mental breakdown. But it's going to be very hard.

See I'm the kind of person who's week feels out of balance if I don't have/go to Tae Kwon Do. It just feels wrong and I feel really strange. Now I'll try to make it up by practicing my kicks, self defense techniques, forms and the like, but it's just not the same.

Now I'm going off on bunny trails. Sorry about that. Back to the end of year party.

So anyway, this class is going to be a special treat for a lot of the newer students because we're going to be doing some board breaking too. Our school doesn't emphasize board breaking, so we only get to do this kind of thing about once a year. Most everyone in the class has joined within the past two years, and that means that most of them have not even had the chance to break.
We're also going to do a lot of other fun stuff. I know people are going to bring snacks and drinks, but I don't know what the instructors have planned. They did mention games and something about a volleyball and a tennis ball. Hm. . .

I'm so excited about class because it's not often that we just get to go to class and have a party and play games and do breaks. Sometimes we do have games, but the first half of the class will be concentrated on forms or something similar. You know, the regular things you associate with a martial arts class.

I'm just really looking forward to this Tuesday. I'll update this blog with details of what we did as soon as I get the chance to.

After rambling on like this, I already have an idea for my next post. Guess I'll be working on that soon. But until then, I'll leave you with a quote from one of my favorite martial arts movies, The Karate Kid.

"Balance is key. Balance good, karate good. Everything good. Balance bad, better pack up, go home."

Excited. . .about t-shirts?

It's been a while since I've been this excited about a t-shirt. But this is no ordinary 100% cotton piece of fabric. It's not going to be shoved to one side of the closet to be forgotten about, or get left on the floor until I remember to put in the wash. Let me tell you why this shirt is so special. This past Tuesday at the end of Tae Kwon Do class, one of my instructors brought in a box full of our. . .drum roll please. . .class t-shirts!

For several years, we've had two options. 1. Wear a white shirt and sweat pants (for beginners) or the white -- what do you call them? The pants that go with our gi. Gi pants. There. That's what I'm calling them for the sake of this post. 2. Wear the full uniform that would better be suited for a class set in Alaska. Or Antarctica. Or somewhere freezing cold like that. Not good for a sweltering hot day in the south.

But now we have a third option. A class t-shirt that isn't white. I've disliked wearing all white from my first class because the moment you sit on the ground to do exercises, or fall down during sparring, that white uniform picks up whatever nasty stuff is on the ground. Right now I have a black streak on the knee of my pants that just won't come off no matter what I do to it.

We've been waiting about two months since we were first told we were getting this third option. I've been so excited about them coming in, and tomorrow, I'll be able to wear it for the first time! I guess the reason that I'm so happy about a t-shirt is that I just really like being able to proudly display my school. I just feel so included and the whole class just seems more unified now. It's hard to explain, but maybe it's because a t-shirt feels so official? I'm probably known to most as the 'girl with a thousand t-shirts.' Well, that's my unoffical name at least. I have dozens of the things and they're so comfortable! Well anyway, I'm just really proud of my school right now.

Oh, and I need to include some pictures! I took a few today of the design on the front and back. Let's see if this works. . .

This first one is the image on the front. It's pretty small (the picture makes it look big) and on the left side. It shows two sparring figures. If you look closely, you can see one doing an axe kick.

The second one is on the other side. It's a good deal bigger than the front and spreads out almost over the whole back of the shirt.

Dojang Revelations

Okay. I’ll admit that some — or most rather — of these won’t be revelations. Just some simple, little insights into the martial arts world and the things we have to face when we train. As I think of more, I’ll add them to the list. If you think of any, please feel free to share.

1. You will never know just how dirty that smooth, nice looking gym floor is until you put your shoes on at the end of class and notice the bottom of your feet. Gross.
2. When one forgets to go over said gym floor with a broom at the beginning of class, the gi/dobok makes a good substitute.
3. After having now-stained-with-black pants, one will remember to sweep the floor next time.
4. 100 degree weather and a long-sleeved, thick gi/dobok does not in any way, shape, or form make sense.
5. Accidentally leaving the jacket part at home is a perfectly good way of getting out of wearing it.
6. Cutting off the sleeves and coming to class in your new sleeveless fashion statement is not.
7. Just say no to long sleeves.
8. Always remember to tie the drawstrings of the pants tightly. No, we would not like to see a display of your underwear during class.
9. Tying your belt for the first time is much harder than the other students make it look.
10. Little kids and patience just do not go together.
11. Especially when said kids are just starting out and learning the ‘boring, repetitive basics’.
12. And especially when you have a frustrated not-as-experienced blue belt who’s ready to pull out her hair – from attempting to teach little Daniel-san these ‘boring, repetitive basics’..
13. Pushups seem to be a good motivator for the kid who’s more interested in twirling around than paying attention to the instructor.
14. In fact, pushups are good motivators for just about any in-class disruption
15. "No, little white belt. I am not impressed with your Daniel-san / Jackie Chan / Chuck Norris imitation and gymnastics routine. Any previous notions of doing things like that in class should be promptly left outside the building, to be picked up at a later date — or better yet, never at all."

Wincing and Trying Not to Show It. Ah, the Joys of Class Exercise!

Well, you can tell right off the bat where I'm headed with this entry. I'm talking about exercise and the soreness that comes the next day after a really good workout. I think the degree of soreness I feel all depends on who is leading the class in the twenty minute or so warmups and exercises. Well, it depends on who is leading and what kind of workout they decide to give us. IE: If it's a day where we will be doing a lot of kicking, we will do lots of leg stretching.
Who leads the exercises depends on several factors. One: Which students are there. Two: Which instructors are there. And Three: Um. . .of course! Whatever the head instructor feels like having us do. That's definitely an important part right there.
Anyway,exercises can be really fun at times. They can also be very routine. Then there are the times when a student feels like running up and smacking the person in the front for trying to ‘work them to death’. I know I’ve had times when I’ve felt that way. But you didn’t hear that from me. Shhh! Don’t tell.
Sometimes everything goes very smoothly. Other days can be frustrating. I can feel the difference in how everything goes whenever I’ve been out of class for even a week. I can tell because I’m unable to stretch as far as I did the last time.
Well, on this class night, I definitely rediscovered some muscles I haven’t exactly been aware of. Most of the time the other blue belt or I lead the beginning workout. This night though, we had one of the instructors lead. She had us do several of the regular things that I include in my routine workout at first. But then, throughout the warmup, we did several new stretches, mostly focusing on the legs, to get us ready for a kicking night.
At the time, I noticed that I was able to go further in my stretches. Especially the butterfly (?) stretch. I was able to pull my head down to my feet. I didn’t think much of it during the time, but continued through the rest of the exercises, and through the rest of our two hour class with no problems. But the next morning. . .
Surprise, surprise!
I noticed the soreness as soon as I woke up. My first thought was "Ow, this hurts." Throughout the day, the constant soreness grew to being annoying. All those exercises based around the legs and kicking really got to me.
The pain reminded me of the night before. Usually, if we have had a more-strenuous-than-usual workout, one of the instructors will announce to the class that we need to do some light stretching when we get home so we won’t be sore in the morning. Well, no one announced this after class. Now the white belts might not have known, but all the colored belts, including me, should have remembered to do this. And as a responsible teen, I knew that I should have. I really did think about it. But once I plopped onto the couch and dropped my sparring gear beside me, all thoughts of a light stretch disappeared into the back corner of my mind.
Serves me right, I guess.
Well, I’m sure that being sore for the remainder of the week will serve as a good reminder to follow my instructor’s advice next time. Ow. . .yes, I believe it will. On the positive side, I actually like feeling sore — to a degree. It lets me know that the previous night’s practice was really productive. I’m trying to work on the same things that we covered in class so I will build those muscles up.

Oh, and another positive thing I almost forgot to add. . .we may be getting our class t-shirts at tomorrow’s class! I’m very excited about that for a couple reasons. The first is that I love to support my school and would love a martial arts t-shirt. The second is that we can opt to wear the class t-shirt and not the long-sleeved, hot, scorching, thick full uniform. I just wish we could have gotten them earlier in the summer.

Regular Updates

I've been reading a couple martial arts blogs over the past month or so, and it's really motivated me to get this one going again. I'm in the middle of a post now, and hopefully I'll have that up by the beginning of the new week.

I'm hoping to start posting as regularly as college allows me to. I'll be writing about a variety of topics regarding martial arts, and my own journey in Tae Kwon Do!

Special thanks to 'Martial Arts Mom' for her wonderful posts! If you have a moment, please take a look at her blog over at:



respect -- noun: high or special regard : Esteem. The quality or state of being esteemed

Respect. It's what we martial artists hear a lot about in class. It's something that's learned from day one. You may or may not learn to respect your elders outside of the dojang, but while there you learn so much more about it in depth.

Respect is something that is taught in many martial arts schools, but really it is earned over time. Sure I can respect the fact that there is a black belt tied around my instructors' waist. Obviously he/she knows a whole lot more than me about the art I'm studying. Hopefully they earned it the right way through many years of training, and not through some McDojo. And that's something that I don't need to question myself. I know that they earned their rank.

But to respect someone does not just mean to respect their rank or status. It's something much more. I guess you could say that respect comes with trust. They go hand in hand with each other. But back to my earlier point. What else do I mean about respect if it's not just for their status?

I mean that I respect my instructors for their character. I've seen them in action living by Christian values and teaching others the same. I've seen them come to class diligently without complaint week after week, year after year. And they don't even get paid for it. They come and teach because they love the art and want us to learn. They have servant attitudes that model what Christ would have them to do and we can see that through their actions. They praise us when we do something good and correct when there's something wrong. They are patient, kind, honest, trustworthy. . .and I could use a multitude of other adjectives.

My instructors are role models to me. I want to be like them. They have gained my respect not from being X Dan black belt, but for being who they are.


My Story Part 2

Okay, well now I'm going to pick up where I left off.

"...I don't think it was too long until I was tested for my green stripe."

Anway, so now I'm taking from Mr. S and Mr. H in the gym of a local church. There's a pretty good number of students (about 10-20) that are also in the same class.

To make a long story short -- class went on as usual and I hung out at green belt with stripe for quite awhile. I won't go into anymore details on that part. We moved to another church and stayed there for quite a bit, then were moved to the gym, and then finally to the side building where there is a small gym that's used for the church's lunchroom.

This past December, me and a younger boy tested for our blue and yellow belts respectively. What was so great was that although we were the only two students there on the last class before Christmas holiday, five black belts showed up. Actually, we weren't even going to be tested until the next year, but thankfully the instructors changed their minds. :)

So now it's back to the present. It's the month of June 2008 and we are still in that little side building. Our class has grown quite a bit and we average at least 8-10 students at the very least every Tuesday. I'm the highest ranking belt right now seeing as the other blue belt tested in January. We're having more and more black belts starting to come besides our regular ones. This past week we had five and eleven students. I'm currently in the process of training for my brown belt (3rd kyu) and I hope to reach that sometime this year. In the meantime, I have my hands full with learning, teaching, and practicing at home (which I need to do more of). Oh, and we're having a red belt from GA come in this Saturday to test for his 1st Dan! *excited*

There's my somewhat rushed story. Believe me, I could have gone into a lot more detail.


My story

Well I thought I would get this up and running with a little info and some stats on me, myself, and I. :P

I love the martial arts and the art that I am studying right now is Tae Kwon Do. I go to class once a week on Tuesdays from 6:30 to about 8:30 pm. I am the ranking student as a blue belt (4th kyu) and am hoping to earn my brown later on this year.

I started out taking TKD from Mr. O when I was about ten years old because I had become interested in it and some of my friends had already started six months before. Anyway, I went up through the ranks and ended up at orange belt (7th kyu). I loved the class but unfortunately the instructor moved and the class disbanded. :( (We'll call this School A)

So some time went by and me and the same friends who had gotten me interested in the first place were invited by a guy who was in our guitar class to come to his Tae Kwon Do class at a local church. We all ended up going and met the instructors, Mr. S (3rd dan) and Mr. H (1st dan). This class started at 6:45 and lasted until about 8:30ish. (We'll call this one School B) Now being 12 at the time, I was a bit cocky and I went home quite peeved and irritated because this one was (as my friend and I called it) stretchersize, they called things different than what I was used to hearing them called, and class went on differently. I thought that School A was better and I didn't like this one at all. I said that I hated it and didn't want to come back.

But my mom got me to change my mind and continue coming. Don't know how she did that but I did. Anyway, so I started at School B and went through learning what this class had to offer. Still, I was not too pleased with it all and so there were times where I would skip class a couple weeks in a row.

I started liking School B after a while and began enjoying going to class. I don't know where the change came from but came it did. After awhile I heard that Mr. O's class was getting started again by a new teacher.

On that note, I started doing both classes and went all the way to blue belt (5th kyu) in School A. Note to self, this was not a good idea for me. I started comparing the two and ended up disliking School A for a variety of reasons. 1. The classes were shorter. Only about an hour instead of the 2+ at the other. 2. Everything just got so routine and kind of boring. and 3. The partner I had for drills and practice didn't like being paired up with me and made it painful. I finally got fed up with it all and quit.

After dropping out of School A, I threw myself headlong into TKD with Mr. S and H. I don't think it was too long until I was tested for a stripe on my green belt.

Okay, well I think that's enough basics for right now. I'll finish up later.

My first post

Well here I am starting off with a new blog. My others I just got bored with I guess, so I'm starting off with a new one and will hopefully remember to post here. *oops*

Anyway, this blog is going to be for my thoughts, journal entries, meaningful quotes etc. Anything that has to do with the martial arts and my personal favorite -- Tae Kwon Do in which I am currently a blue belt. Here I will reminisce about the day's class or rant about my pet peeves or whatever is on my mind at the moment.

So, cheers on my new blog!