Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The family that trains together ...

... sprains together?

Well, let's hope not. As of last week, Christine has begun training in Tang Soo Do, so now my entire family is training in our art, including my mom. And with my brother, sis-in-law, and their kids all training in Tae Kwan Do, we are quite the martial arts contingent. We're running the gamut of gup levels -- I'm 7th, Miranda and my mom are 8th, Trevor is 9th, and Christine is 10th. Hopefully, Trevor will apply himself and will be able to test come September, which will probably result in he and Christine reaching 8th gup (orange belt) together, and advancing on a similar schedule. I think that would be good for his confidence.

As for Christine, I think she's going to be very good at this. I caught the last few minutes of her first session on the mat and she looked great. She did a lot of cardio kickboxing a couple of years back, so she's fairly comfortable with a lot of our basic kicking styles (front kick and side kick, in particular, although I'm sure that the hip rotation for side kick is somewhat different). She's having the usual beginners difficulties with hand preparation, but that's 100% to be expected and she'll have a breakthrough on it real soon, just like everyone else does.

She already wants to learn "the ass kickin' stuff," which I explained will take a little while. From my experience, you get a little "ass kickin' stuff" at 8th gup -- intermediate one steps 1-4 and cross hand grabs 1 and 2 are both pretty fun in their way -- but you don't really start into the techniques that are obviously and clearly oriented around causing serious physical harm until 7th gup. Since advancing, everything I've learned has been almost startlingly brutal: Intermediate one steps 5-8 (7 and 8 in particular -- something about that part where you drive your elbow down into the back of their neck/top of their back really seems a bit harsh. But in a good way!), the next couple of crosshand grabs (all wrist twists and locks with elbows being thrown all over the place), and in particular the newest form I've learned (Pyong Ahn Ee Dan) are very clearly offensive and oriented around causing serious damage to an opponent. So much of the previous techniques I learned were sort of vague in their application -- really more oriented around teaching body movement techniques, weight shifting, things like that. This new stuff is clear in its intent and design.

Direct and damaging. Brutal, even. Incredibly cool stuff, really.

I sometimes see stuff online from other martial arts practitioners who really question (or even sometimes flat out mock) the practical application and necessity of things like one-steps and forms. The more I learn, the more I think that these are people who just miss the forest for the trees. While the likelihood of ever being able to actually defending yourself against an attack by executing all of the movements of, say, intermediate one step #7 (outside/inside crescent kick, side kick, center punch, grab back of neck and slam face into knee, bring opposing elbow down onto back of neck while dropping into a horse stance -- or is it a side stance? I think it's a horse stance...) is fairly low, realizing that these one steps are actually constructed of a series of independent and separate techniques, any of which could potentially be used independent of each other in a self-defense scenario, is pretty much the entire point.

Same goes for forms. I mean, anyone who looks at forms as strictly a self defense practice exercise is, I think, missing out on something that has become by far my favorite part of my training. But from a strictly practical perspective I suppose they can seem like a waste of time. I mean, how likely is it that you'd encounter a scenario where multiple opponents attack you from the precise locations that would enable you to execute a form as a matter of self defense? But it seems to me that there is tremendous practicality in learning the series of movements and transitions between different techniques as a meditative exercise as well as for offense/defense purposes. As you get better at performing your forms without having to sit there and count them out in your head, isn't that indicative of your growing confidence and ability to execute individual and combined techniques without wasting time thinking about them?

So anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing my wife out there kickin' ass. She'll start sparring within a month or so, I imagine, and will probably be testing for her orange belt come late September. After that, it should get really interesting! I can't say that I really want to watch her spar others -- I know that if I see her take a hit or two that I feel is unfair or due to a lack of control I'll want to jump in and knock someone's block off. I'll need to be aware of that attitude, since all it would do is undermine her confidence and my own relationship with my fellow students.

As for sparring each other, I have no idea what that'll be like. I think it could get a little too personal, too easily. It just seems like it could cross a weird line in our relationship -- I'm not physically aggressive, but I am physically imposing. I'm nearly twice her size, body mass-wise, and a solid 10-11 inches taller than her. And I've been told that when I spar I tend to be a bit ... well, kind of scary and intense. I don't really mean to be, and aside from the occasional light thump to the abdomen I've never thrown a shot that really hurt anyone, but I guess I come off as threatening. I worry that she might have a hard time separating my "on mat" behavior from our "off mat" relationship if I come off as too domineering, too aggressive, too threatening when sparring her.

Sigh. Time will tell, I guess. As we progress I'll need to try to feel the situation out and search my feelings a bit more. I expect that I'll be having a discussion with Master Nunan about this sometime in the future, though -- I just don't know what the appropriate boundaries are for couples who train together. Or if there should be boundaries at all.

Mood: Anxious (leaving for St. Louis for a work trip in a couple of hours)
Now Playing: Nada

1 comment:

Nadine - said...

Good for you and your family that you are all into martial arts.

It's not only about punching and kicking. It's also about health and fitness.

My interest in martial art brought me to writing a post titled "Martial Arts and Your Health" in my blog.

I also linked you up there so others can see how enjoy you are with martial arts.

Have a nice day!