This journal for 2002 continues my studies at Allen's Taekwondo in Cary, NC. At the end of last year I earned my 1st Degree Black Belt Decided!!!
Due to the long term nature of black belt promotion, the concept I've used of a "path" to the next belt is going away. I'll note my promotions, but won't really stress them, as they are of less importance than my overall travels. Not that promoting isn't important, but the lack of testings every two months changes the focus of my journal.
Things haven't been going as well the past three weeks. The curse of having a child in school has struck with a vengeance! Day after Christmas I came down with a cold that turned into a sinus infection. It got bad enough it spread to my throat! Thankfully modern antibiotics wipe this stuff pretty quickly.
Then when I figure it's all done my sore throat comes back. Afraid that the infection had returned, I waited 2-1/2 hours in the doctor's office to be told it's viral -- basically just a minor cold.
So this week has been a blah week. I missed class on Wednesday and Thursday because I was so tired -- I haven't rested well and this cold has taken its toll on me. Today (Saturday) I was going to go to class. I laid down on the couch at 10:30AM and napped for 2-1/2 hours. Scratch going to class. Hopefully things will be better by Monday.
But I did put some effort in on a workout today. For my first mid-term test in 2-1/2 months I must demonstrate half of my form. Doesn't sound like much??? Well, Shim Jun is 81 moves -- nearly twice the size of each of my last four forms!!! To make things more interesting, the complexity is much greater. This is proving to be an good challenge.
Now that I'm a black belt, most techniques are now done one-handed. In the past everything was two-handed, even if the second hand was doing nothing more than going back into chamber. But we don't do that any more, so it's necessary that I un-learn some deeply seated things.
Oh, well. If it was easy it wouldn't be worth doing.
Oddly enough, I've had a LOT of people ask me what I'm going to do next. As in, will I continue with TKD??? It appears that those outside the martial arts don't realize that my journey is really just beginning. The last 2-1/2 years of effort have simply been a warmup for what is yet to come. The idea of quitting now is so odd that I just stare blankly at people when they ask me this question.
Right now I have NO clue what my long term goals really are. Short term is easy -- I'm going to test for my red (instructor) collar, possibly as early as March. The next 18+ months will take me to 2nd Degree Black Belt Recommended, and another 6 to 12 months after that should see me at 2nd Degree Decided. After that it is a minimum of 2 years to 3rd Degree Black, and a minimum of 3 years to 4th Degree Black. [Mind you that these are minimum times -- adding 1+ years each onto the time to reach each belt is probably reasonable!]
Let's add this up: 2 to 2-1/2 years to make 2D, followed by 2 to 3 years to make 3rd, and 3 to 4 years to make 4th. That come out 7 to 9-1/2 years to reach 4th Degree Black. I do believe that is far enough out for planning!
Plus I'm taking Combat Hapkido and Chong Hun, and working on my instructor's credential. Guess that's enough to keep me busy ...
I've been a bad boy. It's been nearly six weeks since I last wrote in my journal. It hasn't been that I have had nothing to say. There have been many days when I thought about what to day. It's mostly been a matter of time -- not having time to write when I had the ambition.
So I'm planning on writing a number of entries over the next week or so, catching up on everything I want to say.
At first the level of difficulty of the Black belt material was a bit overwhelming. First thing I had to do was un-learn using two hands for all techniques. Most Black belt techniques (excepting double and twin techniques) are done with one hand. The urge to pull the other hand back into chamber was sometimes overwhelming. And other times I was concentrating so hard on not using two hands that I lost track of what I was doing.
Plus we work on advanced kicks, one per month. First it was the "triple kick". This kick appears to be a triple jump front kick. In reality, the first kick is done on the ground, the second is in the air, and the third is (more or less) in the air. It's really a speed drill.
Now we are working on the jump 360 side kick. THIS one is not easy! I'm at the point now where I can make the jump, but I can't get the kick out while in the air. Oh, well. Just a matter of practice!
But the form is cool. It flows smoother than a colored belt form, and includes a few new techniques. But the hardest part is that most of it is done with single-handed techniques. But nearly two months of practice are starting to make everything work. I'm responsible for only half the form at my first mid-term next month, and I'm learning the second half first. Makes it more interesting.
Mr. Wegmann has changed a few things starting with the 1Ds from the December 2001 testing. Instead of mid-terming every 6 months we get to mid-term every 3 months. Not sure of the rationale for this, although I'm guessing that he has learned that maybe 6 months is too long a time for 1Ds to go without sampling. This way if something is off it only costs us 3 months instead of 6 (in terms of promoting to 2R).
Personally, I was looking forward to testing every 6 months instead of every 3. But that is still better than testing every 2. :-)
The old mid-term schedule was (times are minimums):
The revised testing schedule has added new Mid-terms at the 3 month, 9, month, and 15 month points. Each of these mid-terms requires less material, in that we only have to know half the material of the succeeding test:
We spent the first month+ after the December Black Belt Spectacular learning the last half of Shim Jun. I'm supposed to work on that on my own from now on. Not a big deal, as I'm used to working on forms on my own.
The past few weeks we started on the second half of the Single Sshang Jeol Bong form. This is not easy! But I have discovered that success is coming with steady practice. At first the hard thing was doing swivels (flipping the chuks around my hand). Now it is passing it behind my neck. But it is coming. I'll be ready to mid-term next month if I work hard on it.
Mr. Wegmann and Miss Beddow came up with an extra perk for the SWAT team -- we are learning kama!
From a practical POV, this is absolutely worthless. I don't carry kama with me, I'm unlikely to carry kama with me, and if I did carry kama with me, I'd probably get arrested if I ever used them on someone (even the wooden practice ones we are learning on).
But besides those minor points this is so cool! Kama may not be practical, but they are fun, and they look fantastic. As much as part of me is focusing hard on the practical aspects of the martial arts, some times we have to do things just for fun!
I took my SWAT III test yesterday. I *think* I passed it, but am sure I blew one of the one-steps. Miss Beddow picks a one-step from each belt and we have to do them. I knew the Songahm 1-3 one-steps cold, and was semi-confident of the Songahm 5 one-steps. I studied hard on the Songahm 4 one-steps, but my mind went blank when I got there. Hopefully it won't be counted too badly against me.
I thought I was going to be able to test for my Red collar soon, but it appears that Mr. Wegmann has jacked up the requirements for it. Previously our SWAT level didn't apply to the collars. You could take the test for the Red collar while a SWAT I. But it appears he has changed that -- I may have to be something like SWAT VI before I can test. That means 200 classes of teaching.
To be perfectly honest, I can't argue with that. When I found out that there was no real SWAT requirement for the Red collar, it didn't really make sense to me. Getting the collar seemed too easy for what it signifies. So if I have to wait another 9 months to test it really isn't that big a deal.
Back at the end of September 2001 I re-signed my agreement for the Master's Club, a three year commitment. This enabled me to take Hapkido, Chong Hun, and DCS. After that, if I had time there is a weapons class on Friday nights ...
I really enjoy the Hapkido. It is very different from TKD, in that it is far more practical and less graceful. Since I've been taking it I've learned that I like knocking people down and beating upon them. AND I've learned that I don't mind other people doing it to me!
No -- I'm not some S&M sicko. ;-)
But I do get a thrill when a technique works on a big guy. And I am pleased that I can use the same technique on a woman or boy without hurting them (too much -- some Hapkido techniques just have to hurt). The pleasure I get in using a technique while controlling it is wonderful. I'm actually far more pleased by my level of control than I am by my ability when I take a large guy down.
Mr. Wegmann uses me a lot as a practice dummy -- I get various techniques demonstrated on me. Not that I'm in to pain, but I know he feels comfortable in demonstrating these techniques upon me. Plus he can show how these techniques really work upon a larger man.
So I'm looking forward to the test next month. I hope I'll be allowed to test, as I'm ready to begin the Yellow belt material.
The Chong Hun material is interesting, as it is very different from Songahm TKD. Chong Hun is a power style, with explosive, powerful techniques. In contrast Songahm is graceful and smooth. I believe that knowing both is beneficial to my long-term growth.
Right now I've learned my form (Chon Gi) and half of my one-steps. I still need to learn the other two one-steps and a sparring segment. Not sure I'll get that down before the next test. I'm hoping so, 'cuz otherwise I'm going to be bored half way through the next testing cycle.
The DCS (Defensive Combat Systems), so far, is all Thai Kick Boxing. Very strong, powerful techniques. Very different from Songahm, or even Chong Hun. At first I wasn't sure I was going to like it. I'm still not sure it's really all that practical (for me at least), but it is a VERY good workout.
I'm really dripping when I'm done with class. Of course, by the time I've started the DCS class Monday nights, I've already SWATed two classes and taken an all-adults class, an instructor's class, and Hapkido. ANYONE would be tired after all that.
I know I won't be ready for the DCS test. And I can't say that I care all that much. It's worth more for conditioning than anything else, so I'm taking it for what it is worth to me.
Even if I wasn't studying to be an instructor, this would still all be enough to keep me busy ...
Lot of things have happened since my last entry. Last Thursday I passed both my Combat Hapkido and DCS tests, so I'm Yellow belt in both. I was out of town for the Black Belt Spectacular last weekend, so I'll take a makeup exam in a couple of weeks at the colored belt testing. I was supposed to take the makeup Chong Hun test tonight, but Mr. Wegmann was not there, so I'll do it next week.
And ... the advanced instructor training is changing. It's becoming better defined and is being transformed into a two year program that will take a student from Level 0 (Red collar) to at least Level 1 (Red/Black collar). I like that -- it provides definite goals and time frames.
What I don't like is the cost -- $2,000 for the two year course. Broken up into a down payment and 23 follow-up payments, the cost is something like $150 for the down payment and $80.xx per month for the remaining 23 months. THAT may not fly too well with the wife.
We're already paying $90/month for my training plus another $70 for the boys, now in Tiny Tigers. That adds up to $160/month. Heaping another $80 on that is definitely not going to fly with the wife.
Plus the SWAT and "Professional Instructor" classes are moving to Friday nights. THAT conflicts with my schedule.
So it doesn't look like I'm going to be continuing with the SWAT program much longer ...
I've been a bad boy -- I haven't written anything in 6 weeks. Not that I haven't had anything to say; I just haven't gotten around to it.
So far tonight I've gone through all the files that comprise my web site and ensured that they all had consistent headers. Fairly tedious stuff, but I was pretty sloppy in some things. That is now fixed.
Plus I added a journal entry menu and internal links for this page. Based upon what I've written so far, this file will be HUGE by the time I make 2R, so the internal links will make navigation much easier. Now on to TKD ...
A lot has happened in the past 6 weeks. I missed my first Black Belt mid-term 'cuz I was out of town. I was supposed to make it up at the next colored belt testing, but missed that 'cuz I was quite ill. Then I was supposed to make it up at the Fuquay-Varina colored belt testing, and missed that one 'cuz I was recovering from my illness (lower intestinal bug; it made me so nauseaus that I didn't eat for 6 days).
So I'll test in June at the next Black Belt testing. So I'm already three months behind the schedule for making 2R.
Surprisingly enough, that doesn't really bother me. As much as I like the idea of earning 2R, I'd still much rather do a good job that squeak through. My nunchuk for has improved a LOT in just the past few weeks, so I feel that I am better off taking the extra time.
I've got a lot more to say, but out of time tonight ...
The really big change is that I have permanently switched to the Fuquay-Varina school.
I've been thinking about this for quite a while, but I've held off. Up until last June I was training in Fuquay on Tuesday nights, when Mr. Wegmann was there. But the classes kept getting more and more crowded, and I was proving a liability. So I stopped going there.
But now Fuquay has graduated it's first Black Belts and started a BB program with special classes. So I made the decision to switch.
I'm glad I did. I figured it out -- Cary is a 34 mile round trip, and I was going to class 2 to 4 times per week. That adds up to a whopping 68 to 136 miles per week on the truck, or over 5,000 miles annually! YIKES!!!
The Fuquay-Varina school, OTOH, is a 9 mile round trip. I'm in class 3 or 4 times per week, so that adds up to 27 to 36 miles per week, a LOT less wear-n-tear that driving to Cary. Plus I don't have to deal with Cary traffic around Crossroads or the Cary Towne Center Mall. Not going there is worth a LOT!
On the negative side, Fuquay does not have a Chung Hun class, and is not expected to have one in the foreseeable future. But the weapons class is on Saturday instead of Friday, so now I can attend it!!!
So I've traded Chong Hun for the weapons class. I'd say that is a good trade ...
Again I've been bad about making journal entries. And it is not like I don't have anything to say. If anything, I'm bubbling over with things to say. Just a matter of sitting down and typing ...
The big news is that my mid-term was last weekend, yet I declined to test. Mr. Wegmann taught class in Fuquay last Tuesday evening, and he had some valid criticism regarding my seong-je-bong form. Basically he said it needed work and I'd have to train like a mad-man to be ready for the test.
I gave it a lot of thought and decided he was right. My form did need work, mostly due to not practicing enough. So I decided to decline this test, with the idea that I'd get off my dead butt and do some serious training before the next mid-term.
I could have tried to cram good technique in, but that violates my personal rules. I'm not here to make rank as fast as I can. Rather, I'm here to become the best that I can. Cramming at the last minute to pass the test just ain't there!
So ... I'm cranking ahead, getting ready for the next mid-term. We shall see.
A lot has happened since I wrote last. I finally had my first mid-term at the Allen Tournament a week and a half ago. I think I did OK. Not spectacular, but ok. Which is fine ...
I tested for Orange belt in Hapkido at the end of July and passed. This material is getting more interesting ... I really like it.
Also in July, I joined the Professional Instructor Program in Fuquay. There was a steep discount on price, probably to jump-start the team here. Instead of $2,000 it's costing $900 -- basically at-cost. At that price Lorraine agreed I couldn't pass it up. I have been accepted into the program (had to send into National) and will be getting a new dobak with a red collar soon. This is the L0 instructor classification.
So, again, I'm attending an instructor's class each week. This class is a bit different, in that the final result will be educating me to test for the L1 instructor classification. I believe the collar changes from Red to Red/Black.
I don't believe I've mentioned it before, but my boys started the Tiny Tigers program in February. In June they earned their Orange Recommended belts and moved to the Tiger Transition class. Both are perking along fine, and just earned their Orange Decided belts. I'm proud of both of them!
Once again, I've been a VERY bad boy about keeping up with my journal entries. Not that I don't have anything to say. If anything, it's quite the opposite. It's more a case of not having the time to do anything about it when I'm thinking of it. I often think of journal entries when driving home from work. But when I get home Lorraine, Patrick, & Eric draw on my time so I forget about writing an entry until the following day -- while driving home from work ...
I had my second mid-term tonight. Three more to do and I test for 2R. One mid-term after that and I test for 2D!!! Another year and a half to go.
Once more, I was really worried about tonight's test. Form and sparring were no biggies. I had no worries about them. Also, I do VERY well with my sshang jeol bong form (nun-chuks). Except when I'm doing it in front of an audience. But that wasn't my real worry.
Once again breaks are my nemesis.
I was planning on doing the front kick, side kick, round kick combination. I do the front & side kicks quite easily. But I continue to have problems with the round kick. Again, it's a matter of penetration of the board. I wallop it right on target with enough force to knock three big guys back a step, but my kick stops at the board so it doesn't break.
As I explained to one of my fellow students, Rob, the problem is BTE. Between The Ears.
The problem is entirely mental. I can break that board with front kicks, jump front kicks, side kicks, jump side kicks, reverse jump side kicks, reverse elbows, palm heels, and upset knifehand strikes ... but I still mess up on the round kick.
Last Wednesday I was practicing my breaks, and doing fairly poorly. My mind was not focused so I actually did poorly with my front and side kick breaks. I managed to hit one of my holders, Chris, in the fingers at least twice. I finally did the breaks, but not well. First attempt at a round kick was SOOOO pitiful I'm embarrassed to admit it.
Mr. Changho asked me why I didn't try another combination, and suggested the Jump Reverse Side Kick (JRSK) & Upset Knifehand Strike (UKS) combination.
Originally, a year ago, I had been very nervous about trying the JRSK, so I passed on this combination. But a year as a black belt has made some significant changes in me (all for the good), so I figure, "why not try"?
I got myself lined up for the JRSK and tried it. First try didn't penetrate. Lined up again and blew through it. Mr. Changho had me do it twice more. Again, no problems.
I lined up for the UKS. BLAM! Straight through the board. Lined it up again. BLAM! Another success.
COOL! I'm set for the test!
Saturday we're doing breaks again. I had a failure on my first JRSK. Too close to the board. Line up and do it again. Success!!! Four tries at UKS with my right hand and two with my left. All fail to break the board. Sheesh!!!
Wednesday night, trying it again. First two attempts at the JRSK fail. Too close to the board. Fix distance and blow it apart.
FOUR more tries at UKS and fail. My hand is saying bad things to me. [If the board breaks the hand stings a bit. But if it does not break? OUCH!
So I'm freaking about this. I meditate before the test and calm down. Form goes well. Sshang jeol bong goes well -- had a few minor bobbles on the first half but overall it went ok. Sparring went very well. Got some compliments on my techniques.
I held for the Red/Black breaks and then it's my turn. I get the boards lined up, and then Mr. Wegmann has the holders change their grips. I verify that the board are in position and it's time to go. Mr. Whited bows me in.
I was going to do the UKS first, but change my mind. I know I can do the JRSK so I prefer to do that first. Best to start with a success. I line up, spin, jump and kick.
I step over to the other station, position myself, step out into a VERY wide front stand, and hit it. Again ...
I think I broke most of Chris' ribs!!! Or maybe I just re-started his heart! Talk about a cardial thump! LOL!!!
Thankfully I didn't do him any serious damage. I guess I was so tensed up that my hand didn't slow appreciably after blowing through the board. :-)
Odd, but my success tonight means more because I was afraid I would fail. If it had been a no-brainer I wouldn't have gotten as much out of it.
I've been teaching my boys the appreciation of a close game. It's far more exciting and interesting if the game is close until the very end. It heightens the excitement and makes it really worth doing.
I guess my test was the same. If I hadn't been so afraid of failure the success I am enjoying would not mean anywhere near as much as it does right now.
Copyright 1999-2008 Bryan Fazekas