I'm Back!

I didn't expect to put my blog on hold for this long, and in the summer no less! I'm back now and I won't be taking a month long blogging break in the foreseeable future. Before I get back to the topic I've been planning to write about, I want to share some of my experiences over the past month.

Last week I was able to attend my first tournament. Our school does not compete in tournaments, but our sister school does. I found out that they were going to be competing when my instructor mentioned it after class on Tuesday. No one ended up going with me, but I met up with our sister school at the tournament and was able to sit and watch. I stayed only for the daytime events of point and semi-knockout sparring. As a(n) unfortunate result of sitting there, I inevitably caught the tournament bug. I am a fairly competitive person to begin with, and after a while, I was itching to jump up and join in the fun. After all, who could just sit there and observe the whole time and be happy with that? Especially when there were only a few women in the division I would be in. Not I. I decided right then and there that I will be there in full uniform competing next year. There aren't many tournaments in my area unless I go out of state, but I think I can wait to compete in one until next year's tourney rolls around again. Maybe. We'll see.

Let's see....what else? Oh! On Tuesday night, I was asked by Mr. Mc to teach his Thursday night class because he wasn't going to be able to be there. My other instructor who also teaches on Thursday was also going to be absent that night, leaving myself as the lead teacher.

Fast forward to tonight. . . I showed up at the church early and began putting up the chairs since they were all set out from Sunday. No one but the instructors shows up a half hour early like I do, so I had extra time to consider what I was going to teach my students for the night. It's hard to plan for this class because attendance has been. . . interesting. On some days there are only two students and other days there are fifteen. Since I had no other help and since I knew the class was mostly comprised of kids 6 and up, I was hoping for a number that fell somewhere in the middle.

I ended up having nine students. One yellow belt with stripe, two white belts with stripes, four white belts, one new kid, and one brand new adult. I ran them through a quick warmup and some punching, then asked my yellow belt to take the new kid to one side and go over basics with him. The white belts are looking at testing for stripes next week, so I worked with my group on what they have to know for their test -- Basic Blocks and Punches. The hour long class flew by before I knew it. I was racing back and forth along the line, correcting positioning and giving some how-to on the techniques to the new woman while still trying to keep the kids engaged. I'm telling you, that was hard work! She picked up on the basics pretty quickly, having watched her son (the new kid) last week in class. This was a huge relief to me. I would have preferred to separate the kids and adults, but we just don't have that option right now. If I and my instructors could just figure out how to get the sideline parents to join in with their kids, then maybe we could do that.

Anyway, back to class. It was getting close to time to dismiss, so I had everyone come circle up for a speed drill. I'll try to be as concise as I can in explaining how this works. Okay, so Student A starts off by standing in a horse stance in front of Student B. A then punches at B. B has their hands up by their ears and attempts to touch Student A's punch -- not by slapping out at it, but by keeping the arms in close to the body and (as I explained it to the new kid tonight) moving your hands/arms like a windshield wiper. The kids always seem to enjoy speed drills, and after I walked around making sure that the students were doing the drill correctly, some of them literally bounced up to me, eager to take a turn at punching me.

Lastly, I had them get in a circle once more and then explained the rules for the next game/drill. I've never been told the name of this 'game' other than its a sparring type game, but it's pretty fun. The kids hold their knee up to their chest and then bounce around, trying to knock each other over or mess up the other person's balance so they let go of their knee. If they fall or let go of their knee, they're out. Note to self, wear the kids out before letting them play this, or they'll end up twice as hyper than they were to begin with. Oh, and also make sure to tell said children not to run into each other head on because catching a knee to the stomach or chin is not ideal.

After we finished up with the games, I had them line back up. We ended class with punches, then I dismissed them for the night, however, I asked the yellow belt to stay because I wanted to work with him on some things for his green belt test. I have to say that even though I like working with kids, the younger they are, the more drained I am by the end of class. Some of them want to talk the whole time I'm teaching and so I have to raise my voice. A couple seem to not hear what I'm saying and I have to physically move them to where they need to be. Finally, most of them have problems with recognizing their right hand from their left at some point or another. So after class, it was refreshing to work with an 11 year old yellow belt who was attentive, made corrections when I told him what he needed to do differently and asked questions when he didn't understand something.

Overall though, it was a really good night. There's only been a few times when I've had to lead a class by myself. Most of the time it's been when my instructors have been late because of work, so I only have to lead the class for part of the night. The couple times I have had to lead the whole class have been days when there were only a couple of students who were much older than the kids I taught tonight. Tonight's class was a good learning experience for me. When I've helped teach students on Tuesday night, I've only had a small group. I had to concentrate on keeping them focused and interested while my instructors where working with the other students. Teaching and keeping up with a whole class who are looking to you as THE instructor is completely different.


Felicia said...

Sounds like a good class! Bet you were exhausted after, right?!?

Welcome back, BTW - and sending good vibes in advance of your first ever tourney next year :-)

Frank said...

Wow! Welcome back!! Good luck, if you decide to compete! Sounds like your class went really well. Good job!! :-)

Ariel said...

Felicia: It was a good class! I was happy about how it went. And yes. I was definitely exhausted afterwards. Thanks for sending the good vibes! I can always use them. =)

Frank: It's good to be back. Thank you! I'm anxiously waiting for the tournament to roll around again. I really need to work on getting better at sparring before then though. Thanks!

SueC said...

Sounds like you handled things really well Ariel - well done! Not sure I'd like to handle a class all on my own just yet, which is just as well because the club's insurance requires that a black belt is always present!

Frank said...

Ariel, we sparred last night! It was GREAT!!! Check out my latest blog. :-)