Halloween has passed, the Hootenanny was a smashing success, and now I can finally settle down and relax a bit for the first time in what seems like months. Seriously. I don't think I've had a weekend or weeknight since my 3rd gup test (back on September 22nd) where I just got to chill out and relax. Actually that extends to several weeks prior to my test, since I was spending all my free time in the few weeks prior to the test getting myself ready.
So, what's that? 3+ months of busy business. Damn. No wonder I feel so shot this week.
So, this weekend I finally have a couple of days with nothing that NEEDS doing. And what do I do? I volunteer to work as a ring coordinator at a Tang Soo Do tournament that is being held by one of the dojangs in my area, as a favor to my instructor.
Now, this may not sound like "taking a day off and relaxing" to most folks, but in my terms it's going easy on myself, as I've chosen not to actually compete in this tournament, just to help keep things running smoothly. I know myself, and I know that if I'd decided to compete I would have killed myself the last few weeks trying to prepare my current "highest level" form, bassai, for competition. I take forms very seriously, and I know that I'm incapable of approaching a tournament performance of a form with anything less than total commitment to preparation. Piling tournament preparation in on top of the final stages of Halloween party prep would have been disastrous.
So, in those terms, just taking a day to go and help coordinate a tournament and hang with friends while they compete is taking it easy! I think it will be fun, and chances are it will be a pretty small tournament and will end fairly early anyhow. And this way I'm actively supporting and participating in organization events without killing myself in the process, which I'd have to say is something of a win/win.
As for right now, I'm kind of stuck at home. Miranda's got a cold or bad allergies or something, and Christine had to do a half-day of substitute teaching, so I had to stick around the house this morning and keep an eye on Miranda until her Mom can swing back and pick her up around 11:30 or so. Not a big deal, really -- I can do work email from home, so I'm not a total waste this AM. Unfortunately I don't have access to my design and layout software so I can't get any real honest-to-goodness WORK done, but I should be able to get a bunch accomplished once I get into the office later today. So, for now, I do email. And blog.
So, now that things are back to a manageable level of standard day-to-day insanity, I've finally been able to really start focusing back in on my training and evaluating my progress on my new 3rg gup level techniques. Compared with some previous gup level training transitions, this one doesn't feel as though it is as heavy on curriculum, at least at first. One new hyung (bassai), a few new ho sin sul (wrist and hand grab defense techniques -- 2 "one hand from the side" grabs, using a natural and an unnatural grip, and 2 "both hands grabbed from the back"), a few new il soo sik dae ryun (one step sparring techniques -- numbers 15-18, though I'm pretty sure I only need to know 15 and 16 for my next test...). Plus I'm finally beginning to learn jump spin kicks "for real," meaning that whereas I previously was encourage to give them a try and see how well I could do them when the senior students were training, they are now a required part of my training time in class.
So, progress so far is pretty solid, I'd say. Working on bassai has been a challenge, to say the least. This is a tough and complicated form, gorgeous and fascinating to perform but not easy by any stretch of the imagination. Usually I can get a form memorized (i.e. I know and can perform all the movements in the sequence accurately, if not well) in a week or so, but with bassai it took nearly 3 weeks. Partly this was due to just being over-committed and not having enough time to put in extra time in the dojang and the gym to pin it down, but partly it's simply because it's a complicated form. It took me longer to get all of the basic movements locked into memory than any form previously. But I've been working it pretty regularly and solidly for about 2 weeks now and it's really coming along. I wouldn't call it competition-ready or anything, but I know it well enough to continue working on it.
The wrist grab techniques are also going well, although the two-from-the-back grabs are frustrating -- there's one where I have to sort of pinwheel my arms while turning around where I just can't seem to figure out the right time to transition my grip. Still, it's coming along and isn't presenting any challenges that can't be solved with guidance, repetition, and patience. More or less the same situation I face with my new one-steps: 15 and 16 are a bit complex, but I'm getting them down, and 17 and 18 are presenting some problems with hand placement and whatnot, but nothing I don't feel won't resolve itself with time and attention.
Which leaves the jump spin kicks, which are proving to be a source of much frustration.
Some of them I can do fairly easily, if not with anything resembling style or grace, but I have some serious issues with almost any of the kicks that require me to kick with my left leg while pushing off of the ground with my right. While my right leg kicks tend to actually get me pretty far off the ground, for some reason I am very gun-shy about jumping with my right leg and tend to rarely get more than a few inches of air when doing left-leg jump spin techniques. A big part of it comes from the ongoing referred pain problems I have on that side -- nothing nearly as bad as it was this time last year, but still I have to deal with pain emanating down the inside of my right thigh on a pretty constant basis. I think this pain has an annoying side effect of making me a bit over-aware of potential injury to that leg, and as a result I am prone to over-thinking and hesitating when using techniques that put a lot of pressure on it. This will be something of an ongoing issue, I'm afraid, and something I will probably have to deal with at length over the coming year or so.
One other unexpected challenge I've encountered with my kicks, though, is a frustrating sense of lack of control when performing them with a partner. One thing I've always been good at is maintaining a safe distance when performing techniques with partners. I've got a really good feel for where my hands and feet are in proximity to my partners body, and as a result I tend to just sort of "know" when I'm close but not quite touching them. So, as a result, I've always been able to get my kicks and punches within 3-4 inches of my partners face without hitting them with almost no real difficulty.
But with jump spin kicks this is not the case -- I don't feel any of the sense of control and instinctive understanding of where my hands and feet (feet especially!) are when I've both spun around AND jumped into the air, and as a result I'm often either a) coming dangerously close to kicking my partners in the head or face or b) throwing the technique poorly due to a sense of fear that I will do a).
Happily for everyone involved I haven't actually kicked anyone (yet). I'm fairly good at knowing that I'm too close when I begin to throw the kick and can pull it back in time, blowing the technique but also not hurting anyone. All in all, the better outcome. And last ngiht I felt I made some very good progress on maintaining safe distance from my partner while also managing to fumble my way through the techniques with something approaching adequacy. But of all the things I've learned since testing for 3rd gup I can tell that the jump spin kicks will present the largest ongoing challenge in the next stages of my training.
Hard stuff. But fun. And after all, as Master Reilly is apt to say,"Tang Soo Do isn't supposed to be easy. If it was easy, we'd call it ... Tae Kwan Do!"
Now Playing: Beethoven, "The Complete Piano Sonatas"