Tuesday Class - Body Conditioning

We had a great class on Tuesday with only advanced belts in attendance. Two green belts, two blue belts and myself.

Mr. G led a very thorough warmup that focused on joints. He told us we would be working on some hand techniques and some sparring tonight.

I love when we spend time working on sparring, so I was happy when he announced this. I've been nervous about the tournament coming up in September, so the more time I spend improving on the things I'm not so good at the better.

Some of these things that I'm focusing on are:

Being light on my feet, being more mobile, moving in and out of the close range and the kicking range effectively, using angles and not being so linear, using more combinations, and getting in good, solid shots.

Anyway, after the warmup, we moved on to some hand technique combinations. We began in a side stance and our sequence was jab to the face, reverse punch low, then slide forward and ridgehand to the back of the neck. We tried not so much for speed, but to flow from one technique to the next.

Once we starting getting comfortable with the combo, Mr. G added in a backfist to the head, then an elbow smash after that. I think several of us had a lightbulb moment when he brought up the elbow smash - because it's the exact technique that's in Pyung Ahn 4. I knew what the technique did in the form, but used in this format that I could see myself using in a spar put in in an entirely different perspective.

Finally, Mr. G had us pair up for conditioning drills. The green belts were paired together and so were the blue belts. That left me to be paired up with Mr. G. I did a mental fist pump at hearing this. Precise control and form are important to not hurting uke when kicking or punching them, and I knew that with Mr. G, improper form and lack of control would not be an issue.

We faced our partner and were told that we were to throw twenty-five instep kicks to the stomach. Side A would throw a kick, then Side B, and repeat. No one was to throw full power kicks since we're not at that point yet. We were still to make good contact though, and the person being kicked had to kiai so they wouldn't get the air knocked out of them.

I settled into my side stance and held my guard up. The kicks stung, but it was nothing I couldn't deal with. A good kiai, tightening up the stomach muscles, and having a solid stance helped. There were a few times that Mr. G had to tell me "Too high" when I kicked him, so the next time I made sure to point my knee and land the kick a little lower. We finished before everyone else, so we ended up doing about thirty or so kicks total.

Next, we did ball of the foot roundhouse kicks. These hurt more, because you're striking with a smaller surface and the kick penetrates more.

Mr. Mc then set up a drill for a straight punch. Side A would step forward with an overhand punch. Side B would step forward and block/strike, then do a straight punch to the stomach. I was paired up with Mr. Mc for this one. After several turns of this, he told me that I was really putting a lot into the strike to block the overhand punch.

Things were going well until. . . I stepped forward with my right foot at the same time as Mr. Mc stepped forward with his left. The angle that our feet collided was just so that we both said "Ow" (or something to that degree) and paused to assess the situation. I had bent back the toenail of his big toe. He asked me if I had any collateral damage. There was a slight stinging at the end of my toe, but I said I didn't think so. I picked my foot up anyway and saw a nice cut at the end of my second toe. A flap of skin was still attached and I saw some blood under the skin. We looked at the cut and it didn't look like it was going to bleed out, so we changed how we were stepping so that it wouldn't happen again. A minute later, I looked down to see that blood was about to drip on the floor. I grabbed a paper towel and dabbed it away, then went back to continue the drill. Before we started, I checked my toe again. More blood. Another paper towel, and then I went to bandage my toe up since it couldn't behave on its own. After that, we continued with the drill with no problems.

Mr. Mc and I finished before the rest, so I suggested that we do some leg kicks. I wanted to get used to those kinds of shots to the leg for the semi-knockdown tournament, so we ended up doing about eight or ten roundhouse kicks to the back of the thigh. Oh. My. Gosh. Those kicks hurt! It wasn't just "tap" kind of kick either. It was a "wham!" kind of kick. It went something like this:


*Thinking* That did not feel good....






"Okay, that's enough!"

After we finished, Mr. G decided that it would be a good idea to work on.... you guessed it - leg kicks! Thankfully, I was paired up with one of the 11-12 y/o green belts, so the contact was turned down.

Mr. G told us that we would be going home sore and bruised. He was right. I now have a nice purple bruise just above my belly button. Don't get me wrong. I like bruises. They are fun to look at and poke at (Yes, I am weird). The only thing was that when I went to bed, every time I turned, that bruise, and the smaller ones on my arms reminded me that they were there. Also, the cut on my foot is driving me insane. It's a little thing, but it's a pain! Even with the band-aid on to keep the flap of skin from catching on the floor, it still hurts every time I put weight on that foot. I'm walking around gingerly now, willing it to go ahead and close up right now. I need to be able to kick things (and people) with that foot and slide smoothly when I do my forms. Ugh.

Complaining aside, Tuesday night was fun! I still want to work more on conditioning and hope we do more partner drills like this in class.

Point and Semi-Knockdown Sparring. Well, THAT Was Different!

Tuesday night, we had several visitors from our sister class work out with us. We worked on something in class that was new to me.

Point Sparring and Semi-Knockdown Sparring.

You see, our class does not focus on tournaments or tournament style sparring. In fact, other than a few of the black belts, no one in our class has ever competed in a tournament. Last year, I went to my first one and observed, as several of the students from our sister class were competing. I mentioned in this post that the next time the tournament rolled around, I would be there in uniform to compete.

We went over rules first. From what I remember, most of the details were about scoring and the ring itself. Stay in the ring. You get two warnings (I think) before the refs start docking points for jumping out. If one foot is out of the ring and you earn a point, your other foot has to land inside the ring for it to count. Things like that.

So now I have to not only guard and attack, but also be aware of the boundaries at all times or I'll eventually get points docked? That sucks.

After several minutes more of rules, we finally had a chance to spar. I watched a couple before it was my turn and man, were those points called quick! It was spar, spar, point! Reset. Spar, point! Reset, rinse, and repeat. Mr. G and Mr. R.S., who were acting as judges, stressed that only solid techniques would be counted as points. Air techniques, grazing the person with the tip of the gloves, and weak, sloppy techniques would not be counted. Everyone had to make their techniques count.

Finally, it was my turn. I went against blue belt C and was thrilled to be able to spar against another female student for once! It's been way too long since there's been an adult woman in class besides myself. My usual sparring partners are kids or male gup ranks / black belts. We touched gloves, and "Hajime!" was called. I found out immediately that point sparring is all about being quick! Being fast and explosive is something that I'm not exactly good at. Yet. I'm working on it. Right now I think too much and analyze everything which means that I'm spending more time thinking than moving.

Soooo, the end result was that I lost 3-0. I was disappointed about losing but I looked at it as a good learning experience. In continuous sparring, which is what we normally do in class, I don't think much of taking a glancing or decent shot in order to get in and give a better one. In point sparring though, that first shot that I might take before I give mine would be a point in the favor of my opponent in many cases. It was hard to get out of that mentality. Point sparring is a game. A game of tag. Whoever tags first usually wins.

When the black belts announced that a few of us would be working on semi-knockdown sparring, I nearly started bouncing on the balls of my feet. This was what I had been wanting to do ever since I announced to my instructors that I wanted to compete in kumite.

There weren't as many rules to this one, or at least it didn't seem like it. Stay in bounds and don't punch to the head were really about it. Instead of points being called, it was a continuous slug fest. beating. spar. Mr. G and Mr. R.S. demonstrated how a round would go.

Intense doesn't even begin to describe it. Gone was the familiar side stance that we normally use. In its place was a strong, forward facing stance. Since punches to the head are illegal, both people stay in a super close range to each other. I'm used to moving in and out of the punching range, not staying right in it. Punches to the body and shin kicks to the legs are the staple techniques. A few other kicks were thrown, but punches and shin kicks dominated. This video is a good portrayal of what semi-knockdown is like:

Once again, I sparred C. Before we began, I was told that she had experience in semi-knockdown sparring. Duly noted. We assumed our stances facing each other, and then "Hajime" was called. She immediately closed the distance and started hitting. From that point on, I was out of my comfort zone. It was completely foreign to me to stay put in that close range, even though I'm most comfortable with my hand techniques and that is what I use the most. Mr. G had to keep pushing me forward, as I was doing a lot of backpedaling.

I sparred Ms. S. next, and only then did I start feeling a little more comfortable, though my stamina was nearly on empty during the last part of that second round. I still need a LOT of time doing this kind of sparring to get a good handle on it. The tournament is a little over a month away, so I need to really need to spar as often as I can, and also work on improving my conditioning and stamina as much as I can.

All in all, it was a good night of sparring.

I Overdid It

I overdid it.

Monday, I went to Zumba at church. This was only my second week back after a good month or so break. I'm only able to go to one class a week because the other two classes happen to be at the same time as Tae Kwon Do. I had already paid in soreness for my gusto in doing the songs I was familiar with last week, so it didn't occur to me at the time to not push myself more than normal for the entire hour.

That was mistake number one.

My second mistake was adding Tae Kwon Do practice to the mix after I got back home. I took a shower, changed, and pushed the furniture out of my practice space in the living room. My hips have been feeling really tight lately and I can tell that my stretch is not as good on my roundhouse kicks, so I researched and found a few stretches that would help loosen my hips. After doing several of those, I decided to warm up with my forms. The first five were okay, but the muscles in my legs were starting to complain about the deep stances. There's a position in Pyung Ahn 2 that makes that form my least favorite of all of the Pyung Ahn forms. You have to almost go to a lunge, your back knee hovering a few inches off the ground as you scoop a kick with your arm. I tried to go down, but my muscles decided they had had enough.

After that, I moved on to kicks. I practiced front snap, roundhouse, side, crescent, and reverse crescent in the air, then did some combinations. Finally, I moved on to some shadow sparring, emphasizing being mobile and throwing fluid combinations. After a good five minutes of this, I threw a low roundhouse kick and my hamstring seized up. "Okay, that's enough," I said, and stopped for the night.

When I got up the next day, my thighs were sore and feeling weak. They ached the. Entire. Day. I realized that the multitude of lunges at Zumba plus my extra practice did it.

Well, as luck would have it, Tae Kwon Do class was that night, AND we had several visitors from our sister class work out with us. Mr. R.S., Ms. J.S., a blue belt, a green belt, and a yellow belt. After a quick warmup, the green belts, blue belts, and I started on Pyung Ahn 2. Oh goody. The form I had trouble with the night before. I will not mention that I was the one who chose the form for the class to do.... Nope, not mentioning that fact.

Anyway, we had to hold stance frequently for minutes at a time because Mr. G and Mr. R.S. decided to pick us apart on the details of the form. My legs were shaking the entire time. Not good. I tried my best to stay in the stance and keep my knees bent, and it took all of my willpower to not drop my hands or come out of those stances. I was relieved when we finished with the form and moved on to something else.

So, lesson learned. Don't push yourself too much when you're starting back in something you haven't done for a while, and don't further antagonize your muscles by trying a bunch of new stretches and practicing extra without giving your body a chance to adjust. Ease into it. Don't try to do too much in one day.