Friday, June 13, 2008

Jaw Clenched, Eyes Fixed on the Horizon

This vacation can't come soon enough.

I have to say, it's been a very long time since I felt this close to just flat out freaking out. Tearing my hair out or screaming into a pillow. Just losing it for a few minutes. The last couple of weeks have been a completely insane blur of things to do, places to go, people to see, tasks to accomplish, goals to reach, list items to check off, and so on. Tons of stuff at work, and a seemingly never ending series of extracurricular requirements, social obligations, unanticipated challenges and monetary surprises, appointments both expected and otherwise, and honey-do's, day after day after day.

It's getting to the point where I have a constant sense of apprehension, like I think I left the stove on All The Time. No matter how many things I take care of, I still end up feeling like Sisyphus, and I just sort of wait for the boulder to roll back down the hill so I can get right back to pushing it again. And again. And again.

So yeah, Napa and San Francisco are looking mighty nice right about now. Two more days of work, two weekend days full of activities and company and then some very much needed downtime. I just have to put one foot in front of the other until I get there.


Tang Soo Do training has been an interesting challenge the last couple of weeks. One of the things I've encountered frequently over the past few years is this occasional and periodic sense utter lack of accomplishment, where suddenly something that I'd previously felt I was doing quite well becomes difficult, or clumsy, or awkward, or just plain bad. I find I most often encounter this with kicks, although sometimes my line drill techniques get hit with it as well.

At first I wrote it off to loss of confidence -- just the usual self-doubt creeping, my perfectionist streak undermining my progress. But actually I've come to think it's a more concrete thing, linked directly to progression and improvement in technique. Basically, I think I sometimes start doing one part of body movement better -- rip rotation, say, or perhaps keeping my head and torso more vertically oriented during kicking instead of leaning over to achieve height -- and as a result all the techniques associated with that movement get thrown off.

For example, after having gotten comfortable performing, say, a jump spin wheel kick where I sort of leaned over so that the kick went higher, the sensation of doing the kick while not leaning so much is remarkably different and new. It seems like a small adjustment, but it makes the entire motion feel unfamiliar, and in a sense I have to learn the whole thing again. Obviously I pick it up more quickly the second (or third, or fourth ...) time around, but these periods of "re-learning" tend to impact pretty much every one of a type of technique (right now it's hitting all of my spin or jump-spin kicking techniques, for example) so the overall effect is a feeling of complete and utter inadequacy. Very frustrating.

On top of this, I'm continuing to encounter difficulties getting Chil Sung Sam Rho ready for the Nationals next month. I mean, I know the form inside-out -- it's not a problem of knowledge or memorization. The challenges are 100% performance related. Chil Sungs continue to be difficult for me to perform properly, their sense of flow and relaxation coupled with burst of power a sort of impenetrably complex Gordian knot that can't seem to either unravel or cut.

My Chil Sung Sam Rho is, I'd say, pretty solid, technically. I move well, perform each independent technique accurately and with fairly good form. If performing it were purely a technical exercise I think I'd be doing great. But I just haven't developed the insight into the form that enables me to perform it with anything resembling shin chook, yet. As Sa Bom Nim put it the other night, my Sam Rho looks robotic. It needs more flow, more grace. It's looking more Pyang Ahn than Chil Sung.

"Robotic" -- that stung.

So, I'm at a bit of a loss. I keep practicing it, keep plugging away, hoping that a door will open, that a light will come on and I'll gain some insight into the form that enables me to connect with the more gentle and flowing aspects of it. I can see where they should be, but even though I think I'm performing with a sense of relaxation it's clear that this is not coming through in my actual movements. This happened with the previous Chil Sungs I learned, -- Ee Rho taking a few weeks to get comfortable, and Ill Rho taking a solid 3 months -- and Sam Rho is providing the biggest challenge yet. I can only imagine that, unless I cross some sort of threshold and gain some insight into Shin Chook, this will continue to be the primary obstacle to progression for me as I move forward to Dan and beyond.

Mood: Kinda fried
Now Playing: Coldplay, "Viva la Vida"

Monday, June 02, 2008

Man! Getting a Vacation!

Well, we finally just bit the bullet and planned ourselves a couple of vacations for the summer. To kick things off Christine and I will be treating ourselves to a week away in mid-June, spending 3 nights in Napa Valley and then another 3 nights in San Francisco. It's not the Rome trip we'd hoped for, but with the dollar sucking so badly internationally that's just going to have to wait a little while. Anyway, I've never been to California, and my wife and I have a something of a love affair with food and wine so wine country is a natural fit.

We're starting things off by staying at the Silverado Resort in Napa, planning an entire day at a mud baths/mineral springs/massage spa in Calistoga the first day, winery tours with a private driver for 4-5 hours on the second day, general bouncing about on the last day before heading back into San Francisco.

Once in SF we'll stay at the Hotel Nikko, where we'll have one of the hoity-toity top floor rooms, with the restricted access elevator and all the looking down our noses at the lower classes that entails: View of the city or bay from our hotel room, wine/cheese reception each night, breakfast each morning, pool and spa access gratis, etc. As for what we'll be doing there, I've got my eye on a walking "Ghosts of Chinatown" tour our first night after which it'll be general foodie tourism -- Christine is doing the majority of the planning on that leg of the trip. My obsession with All Things Eastern means I really want to spend some time lurking around Chinatown in general (it's only 5-6 blocks from our hotel -- an Asian themed hotel, of course... -- so this shouldn't be too difficult). A number of amazing restaurants, some notable lounges, and Alcatraz are on the short list, but otherwise it's all in her hands. 3 nights in San Francisco, returning home that Monday.

Not long after that Christine and Trevor have their 3rd gup test, and then it's July 4th, followed by our family vacation. We're planning a 7-8 day visit to New York/Rhode Island -- New York City for a couple of days, followed by a long weekend with my aunt and uncle up in Rhode Island. My sister-in-law has decided that she is going to bring my kids to a Mets game while we are there, so Christine and I (who are pretty much completely uninterested in baseball) will get an afternoon and evening to ourselves, during which we'll probably head down to catch a show on or off Broadway. Then it's my aunt and uncles condo in Rhode Island -- pool, beach, lobster, wine.... mmmmmmm.

After that it's Nationals in Dallas, and then my 1st gup test just a couple of weeks later, the morning after my 16th wedding anniversary. The kids aren't even out of school yet and already summer is looking packed.


Training the past week or so was a bit hit-and-miss. My instructor and his wife treated themselves to a trip to Ireland for their 10th wedding anniversary, so we've been on a non-standard class schedule since Memorial Day weekend. The dojang was closed for the holiday after which we had guest instructors, with highly varying teaching styles, and pretty spotty student attendance as would be expected.

When Sa Bom Nim is away many students take the opportunity to take a training break, so class makeup was pretty uneven as a result -- adults classes composed of 8-10 students, but ranging from white belt all the way up to ee dan was pretty much the norm. We've tried to stick with our usual training regimen -- with the upcoming tests, missing training opportunities is just not a great idea -- but the alternate schedule has made it much harder to get all of the classes in that we would normally attend. I'll be picking Sa Bom Nim and Mrs. Nunan up at the airport tonight, and normal classes resume tomorrow, so that'll be a good thing. Definitely looking forward to getting things back to normal!

Mood: Ready to go home....
Now Playing: B-52s, "Funplex"