captain’s taekwondo log. star date something or other end of april, twenty twelve.
international night has come and gone, and the demo team pulled off the event with plenty of flair. the crowd was very amped up and gave back lots of energy, to such an intense degree that a few people were rattled by the intensity of it and missed a step here or there. tests your focus a bit when the crowd is so ready to laugh, or cheer, and to do it all with much volume. they were applauding just our march out and right face and bow. but it was a good spot on the bill, going out second, after a drum performance. that was who we followed last korea night, too. it’s perfect. drums are rousing and exciting for everyone. the players, the audience, us coming in after. the entire building is humming when the drums are done. plus we go out second, so nobody is tired or sleepy yet. everyone has eaten, and is settled and ready to enjoy the show.
it was a bit awkward having a full dress rehearsal five or six hours before our slot. it left a big hole in the schedule on a brilliant, warm, sunday. and it was hard to fill that time with anything because of the anticipation. a few of us chilled together after rehearsal and before the demo; took a ride out on one of the local mountains, back road, parked, sat on a bench looking over pastures and sheep and drank a beer. then we went back to someone’s house and had a couple tequila shots. that seemed to ease the tension and get us laughing and ready. it’s a big energetic deal, this spending weeks prepping for a 15 minute slot of high torque performance in front of thousands. we were loose enough when we began, which is good.
i pulled off the combo break i’d been practicing for about 6 months: (left leg) crescent kick into (right leg) jumping reverse turning kick. woo! first time i wanted to do it, i was denied because my technique wasn’t up to par. it takes a lot to do a combo like this…you put so much energy and focus into the one kick, just to pull it off with power and speed and some degree of finesse–but it’s a whole new ballgame to do two in a row. you have to maintain the balance and power throughout the transition. not just have it in place for the first kick, but ready to go after you’ve broken that first board. for a while, just launching the left leg crescent kick to head level with enough power to do a speed break (board only secured on one side) took so much power from me that i was not able to be in a proper stance with power left over to do a jumping reverse turning kick. not without settling and setting up for a second–which master lee doesn’t want in these types of combos. he wants one to flow right into the other. the real life practical application of this combo break is a slapping kick (inside crescent kick) to the face, and then a thrusting kick (jumping reverse turning kick) to the ribcage/solar plexus. one, two, just like that.*
it wasn’t a perfect grade–i was about 2 inches lower on my jump than i wanted to be–but i broke both boards (the first into three pieces), and i landed in fighting/sparring stance facing the direction i started in, without pausing between kicks. it was good enough for me to feel happy with it.
notice the high tuck on the second kick. that’s an evolution in this kick for me. my jumping reverse turning kick has become less of a corkscrewing from the ground up (the first time i filmed this on video i’d say, now, that it was a hop reverse turning kick more than a true jumping reverse turning kick), and more of a jump and and then BAM, legs pop out in opposite directions, aiding and being a part of the turning around motion. but that takes time. and i’ve been working hard on that kick since testing for chodanbo. so it’s gradually been changing, as kicks do when practiced. i’ve gone from throwing my arms out to counterbalance my spin, to using it effectively in sparring, to adding it to effective combo breaks (above) with better tuck and extension, and the next improvement will be to do all that but while keeping my hands up. it’s better to have them just at your sides loosely (above) than flung out as a counter balance, but ideal technique would require they be in fists in front of you. so there’s still room for growth, as is always the case in these things. and i’ve come a whole long way from these days!!
*of course, we are told to stick with low kicks for real life situations. the crescent kick is especially risky, due to so much force being sent to a place high above your center of gravity while on only one leg. a little gravel or misstep and you are on your ass, or winded on your back. though, make no mistake: it can be a very effective kick, as it’s hard to see coming when done right. i’ve seen yellow belts knock each other out with this kick. (lack of control as a lower belt; we’re not supposed to be hitting each other in the face with these in the dojang!)
that’s what always strikes me when i watch martial arts and these highly trained masters like jackie chan and jet li, and even lesser fighters. audiences get so used to seeing people pull off multiple kicks in a fight and i wonder if they have any idea how many years of training and sweat and pain go into just the ability to do two or three advanced kicks in a row–with good power, speed, and balance. i wonder if they know how much power and focused will it takes to perform them, even after all that training. i guess by now i have an inkling, and so my appreciation truly deepens when i see those who have trained so much show their skills (with the full understanding of how kicks and action is dramatized and played up in the hands of the cinematographer and editor.)
anyway, i’m rambling a bit now.
HEAL THE DEAL
there was no break after international night, and we’ve moved directly into “Go” mode for korea night. these are two of the three biggest shows we do all year, almost back to back. i hurt my knee a little on international night, during my action scene with K. i get my ass kicked in this action (an action i designed), and that’s proper, because the scene involves me attacking a woman carrying a purse. so K knocks me down various times, tiger mouth strike to the throat, knife self defense #4, and so on. on one of my falls to the ground, i banged the corner of my knee. such a tender little spot there. this has hobbled me a bit in the interim. we have someone else warming up on deck with a combo kick in case my knee is still wobbly on korea night. in practices meanwhile, i’ve been not doing any kicks that rely on the sturdiness of that knee too much. which means gesturing (with kihap) in warmup where i would normally be kicking. it happens. martial artists are used to injury. you just hope it happens superficially, and not in a way that requires surgery or months of down time.
so in the house, now, we have a garage space. this has been designated as mostly dojang space. there is a washer/dryer area and bikes will be stored in the garage as well, but most of it will be dojang area. i’ll get mats/tiles for the floor, hang up the flags, my certificates, hang my medals, put up a shelf for pads, and bring in a B.O.B. dummy and a kids sized kicking bag. i might even take advantage of the beams and hang a heavy bag from the ceiling. it’s a big enough space to work the long staff, and do poomsae, though on some forms you may have to compensate, not sure, haven’t tested them all out in there yet.
either way, it’s pretty exciting, and another indication of how much this new joint allows us to spread out, breathe, and have room to take care of ourselves and our spirits.
EBB AND FLOW
i’ve definitely pulled back on the intensity of training since taking my black belt test. it feels natural. you put out such an intense will and effort for so long, and you don’t lag too much on your training in that time. granted, i took a 12 year break between the first two years and the second two! but in those periods, it was go go go. spring, summer, winter, and fall. pushing through pain. ignoring your own inner voices bemoaning the effort. riding a bike in december rain to the dojang. letting nothing stop you. reshaping the way your mind thinks and your body works.
i think back to when i began training. first day without cigarettes. i was 26, i think. it was SO demanding and so exhausting. just lunged into it. new lifestyle. i would come to work after training and in the first week of white belt days i was so wiped out from the sudden demands that i remember climbing back into the office after asking to workers to cover for me, and passed out under the desk, out of sight on the carpet. that’s how much energy i was putting out in this new discipline. and the slog. the long, long slog in those periods. just keeping on showing up. even when bored. even when sore. even when tired. even on weekends, even on friday nights. getting out on that mat, and into that ring, even when anxious, scared, unsure, untested. facing fear after fear after fear. meeting challenge after challenge after challenge, until you are reborn. reforged into something new. culminating in a super high energy, super high emotion, super life-force-demanding hours-long test to show the dojang how all that training manifests within you, demonstrated with all the focus and intensity you can manage.
the concrete break is the exclamation point and conclusion to the test. after that is a cool down period where master lee speaks directly to all of you as you stand at ease and then everyone hugs, cheers, laughs, cries, and so on.
and then, after that, i just needed a breather. truth is, i would’ve liked to take a few weeks off. just completely. but being involved with the demo team has kept me there at the very least 2 – 4 times a week. but that’s okay. even so, i’ve put on a few pounds. which is cool. a rhythm to these things.
i think once things settle in the house (finish painting, moving, get in a new routine) i’ll get back to a few good cardio workouts a week, as was the case for so long. but no rush. cool down when its time, pick up intensity when its time.
right now the house and my artwork are front and center, and that’s cool. also, i’ve been picking up the guitar every day for at least a few minutes. i want to coax back my finger calluses so i can jam on the guitar without having my hand hurt like a newbie. it will only take a week or so to do that. i can feel them beginning already.
it’s exciting, knowing that master lee is in korea right now, picking up my black belt (along with the belts of others). he’s a little bit of a big deal in the upper/inner circles of korean taekwondo…which was only really clear after traveling with him in korea. i think he’s also the official taekwondo liaison to the US for Kukkiwon (world TKD HQ). i didn’t know until last week or so that upon the completion of black belt tests twice a year, he travels to korea to personally have the belts made, and then brings them back to the USA. pretty wild!
may 5 is when belts and ranks will be awarded.
now, time to paint.
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- 04.29.12 / 11am