This year sees Eric & I continuing our training in Soo Bahk Do with Sa Bom Nim Bannard!
My final journal entry of 2005 was rather profound. I've tried to come up with something equally profound to start 2006, but can't do it. So I'll settle for a simple retelling of events of the past couple of days.
Last night Eric & I went downstairs to our newly finished (well, finished enough to use!) training room. Last weekend I installed the puzzle mat in the main room of the basement, so we have an area 14' x 16' dedicated as a workout room. I put 1" puzzle mat over 1/2" of 8lb carpet padding, making a VERY nice surface to work on. It's a bit slippery and is taking time to get used to, but once we're comfortable on this we'll be comfortable on many surfaces.
Anyway, Eric & I went downstairs. I made Patrick join us. He grumbled a lot, but joined us anyway (not that he really had any choice!). We all put on old dobaks (it's amazing how light my old ATA 12 oz dobak is in contrast to my 14 oz SBD dobak!!!). I did that more to put us in the martial arts training frame of mind. There's something special about putting a dobak on that changes our outlook, for the time we wear it.
We did hyung training last night, especially working on use of hip. We took our digital camera with us, and videoed each other and reviewed the results. I have to admit that my performance is a bit sad. I can use a LOT of improvement.
But the bright side is that I've identified areas to work on, so now I can improve them! I suspected that would be the case -- I was in a similar situation 4 years ago with I was with Allen's TKD. We video-taped ourselves and found the result to be less than pleasant! But the camera does not lie, so when I see something I'm not happy with I truly understand that it needs fixing.
Patrick was the real eye opener! He remembers so much of his SBD material, surprising after been out of it for 6 months! Afterwards he said he was glad he worked with us. I have such hopes of getting him active again!
This morning we went back downstairs -- this time took our jang bong (staffs). We practiced Ki Cho Hyung Il Bu (Basic Form #1), Ee Bu, and Sam Bu, and took stabs at doing Pyung Ahn Chodan as well. Eric has a flair for this, which is VERY nice to see. Patrick was bit rusty, but he did quite well and didn't get frustrated the way he did in the past when a technique eluded him.
I have such high hopes that he'll rejoin us. I miss having him with Eric & I on Tuesdays and Thursdays!
A minor miracle has occurred! Patrick has rejoined Bannard Soo Bahk Do!
After grumbling the first time, he willingly went to the workout room with Eric & I for practice, and enjoyed putting on his dobak. We talked about it a bit and he said he did NOT want to rejoin SBD class. Yet each time we practiced he had a good time, and surprisingly enough, his memory of his hyung, Il Soo Sik, & Ho Sin Sool was very good. A bit rusty, but still very good.
Finally I talked him into trying it for 2 months, and if he decided to quit at the end of that time I promised I wouldn't bug him about it.
His first class back (17 January) didn't appear to go as well for him. SBN Bannard worked our butts off. At the end of class it was hard decision -- wash my dobak or burn it (if it would burn!)? :-O
But I asked Patrick, while on the way home, if he enjoyed class. He said he really liked and it and was glad he was back.
Huh. I'll admit I was dumbfounded -- he fought so hard against rejoining, and then he loves it? Oh, well. That's kids ...
We have two new students in the 6PM class, and may be getting two more, bringing the total to 6 students, plus Patrick & Eric. I used the boys for demos several times, and put them in the middle of the line instead of their place on the far right (their POV), as their senior status in the class mandates. I put them where the younger students could see them, and made the point of stating that they are the example.
Want to see a couple of boys, 8 & 9, puff up and hold good stances? That sure did it!
Neither is good at consistently holding position. Instead of holding position at Chun Bi or their last position, they tend to play with their hair, rub their noses, etc. Griping at them or threatening them with pushups? Totally ineffective.
Putting them in front of lower ranks and telling them publicly that they are the example??? ROFL!!! Nothing like pride to get someone to snap to attention!!! Doesn't have to be children -- adults do it, too! ROFL!
I am VERY proud of my sons. Both are doing well, and I'm thrilled to have Patrick back with us. I think he missed our time together. Granted, I DID make a point of mentioning, off-and-on, that Eric & I had a good time together. And Eric chimed in and flaunted his time alone with me (Eric's goal was to get Patrick back into SBD rather than one-up his brother, not that they don't do that to each other...).
Whatever it took, Patrick is back in class!
Testing is in 2 weeks. I made a point of discussing it with Patrick -- he's only been back a few weeks so I STRONGLY doubt that SBN Bannard would promote him that soon, regardless of his memorization and/or technique. Thankfully Patrick is cool with that.
Tonight SBN Bannard mentioned that testing is in 2 weeks and wanted to know what questions people have. Patrick sticks his hand up, bows appropriately and tells SBN Bannard, "I won't be testing because I haven't been back long enough and I'm not ready".
Part of me wanted to drop through the floor, because the instructor tells the student they can test, not the other way round (although Patrick was specifying that he was NOT ready to test). I was trained to the understanding that if you need to ask, the answer is "no".
The other part of me was proud of Patrick for accepting that he wasn't ready to test, and being fine with publicly stating that!
SBN Bannard took it in stride and complemented Patrick on his recognition that he wasn't ready. Granted, I'd expect a different response to an adult student, but his response to a child of 8 was perfect!
When Patrick's 2 month commitment is up I expect he'll stick with SBN.
Oddly enough, memorization has been a problem for me. With the ATA I managed to remember 389 moves in 10 hyung, plus an additional 150 (or so) moves in various Il Soo Sik (one steps) and sparring segments, plus two 99 move weapon hyung.
The SBD hyung I currently know (9) consist of 223 moves (by my count), just over one half the total number of moves in the Songahm hyung. At first I was disheartened by how I confused parts of the various SBD hyung so easily!
After a bit the answer became obvious to me. The Songahm hyung have the advantage of being all very different. They're all so different it makes it easy to remember the sequence once anyone gets started. Each of the 10 I know start with a different move, so things flow from there.
There are a LOT of moves to remember, but once started the rest of the hyung comes to mind quite easily. When told to perform a hyung, I simply made sure I knew what the first move was, and after that I was set!
OTOH, the SBD hyung have a LOT of commonality. Of the 9 I know, 4 start with "turn left into a left front stance executing left Ha Dahn Mahk Kee". So unlike the Songahm hyung, knowing the starting move of the hyung doesn't necessarily provide a clue for what comes next! <G> To make things harder, many have parts that are similar to or exactly duplicate parts of other hyung.
Not so oddly the hyung I get least confused on all start with different moves!
I ran into the same problem with the Songahm sparring segments that are used instead of Il Soo Sik for Purple through Red belts. So many of them were similar that I confused them. My final solution was to treat each set of 3 sparring segments as 3 segments of a mini-hyung. Then I learned the entire set as a group, recogonizing each sparring segment as a part of the whole. This helped me find my mental mark and remember.
I need to do the same thing with the SBD hyung. It might help to spend a full 30 minutes at a time working each hyung, associating the name with entire sequence in my mind.
Testing was tonight. It started as a strange night, as Eric & Patrick are both sick, so both stayed home. [Patrick just rejoined SBD class so he's not eligible to test, and Eric will need a makeup test in the next week or two.] Driving to SBD class by myself was definitely unusual!
I taught the 6PM class, per usual. Jordan was there, plus a new boy Hunter. Hunter is about 4 and didn't take to me very well. Fortunately he knows Shaun well and would work with him, so I let Shaun handle him.
Victoria was early for the testing, so she joined the class and worked out with Jordan. It made for a rather interesting class, although from an organizational POV it failed rather miserably. :-O
Then came testing -- just three of us were there tonight, and we were done in about an hour. It went rather smoothly, although I messed up 2 out of 3 Ho Sin Sool again. It's funny -- I was all set on them, but when it came time to do them my thoughts scattered in all possible directions!
Oh, well -- it's not a real testing if nothing goes wrong! :-)
After the testing last night SBN Bannard & I spoke a bit, and I shared a bit of my dawning realization with him.
One of the early tasks he set me was to teach myself to perform the Songahm hyung using SBD technique. At first it didn't work well, but as my knowledge of SBD grew, it worked better. I've done the five Songahm hyung, figuring that was enough for now.
Before Christmas I decided part of the difficulty I had was that the Songahm hyung did not "flow" the way the SBD hyung do. SBN Bannard has been talking about that in recent months, trying to teach me to feel the flow of the moves, and how my body should move easily from one to the next.
As my knowledge and understanding of the flow have grown, so has my realization that the Songahm hyung do flow. In some cases it's a bit different from SBD, but as I better learn to apply SBD techniques to the Songahm material, the better they seem to flow.
I suspect that early on Songahm TKD utilized the hip the way SBD does. However, it's a LOT harder to teach, especially to large groups of beginners! So as the ATA grew and as growth took on a larger part of the picture vs. the martial art, I suspect that teaching usage of the hip fell by the wayside. Oh -- it's still there some place, but given that my primary instructor as a Songahm 1st Dan was but a year or so ahead of me, he couldn't teach me more than HE had been taught.
My first priority right now is making sure I've got my material memorized well enough that I can concentrate on making it better. As that comes into place I'm going to devote more time to adapting the Songahm hyung to Soo Bahk Do techniques. That exercise should help develop my understanding of what I've learned.
purpose: something set up as an object or end to be attained.
It's a common word that I hear all the time. Business & political leaders talk about it, I hear it at work -- it's used in many contexts ALL the time. It's very possible that we hear it so much that it loses it's importance, simply because we don't think about what it really means.
Tuesday night, at the end of class, Sa Bom Nim Bannard made a few remarks that have changed the meaning and importance of that word, an impact that will last the remainder of my life. He spoke for 3 or 4 minutes, and while I won't claim to be able to repeat his words verbatim, I can relay their import to me. He spoke as much about lack of purpose as he did presence of purpose.
Purpose is created when we have a goal to work toward. This can be our next rank, instructor certification, learning to do a technique properly, etc. It also applies to the world outside of the dojang, things such as working towards a promotion at work, graduating to the next grade in school, or goals of lesser scope such as completing an assignment on time.
Everyone talks of these things -- every leader in every venue speaks of goals. How did SBN Bannard's words differ? He stated the negative impact created by having no purpose.
Humans need things to focus on -- it's part of our nature. Without a clearly defined purpose we focus on other things: individual tasks, problems, difficulties, etc. Without a purpose to focus on, obstacles grow in importance to become the purpose, so we end up "fighting individual fires" rather than putting out the blaze (my words, not his).
Individually the tasks that are part of the effort to fulfill a purpose may be meaningless. Without the purpose to bind them together and give them shape, control, and direction, all that effort to complete those tasks becomes a mindless waste of time.
In my training I see the problems caused by having no purpose. One instance is my inability to memorize the Il Soo Sik. I've got the first eight down cold, the next four fairly well, but have failed to memorize the last six. In reality, there are not eighteen to remember -- there are nine, since they are grouped in pairs. Il Soo Sik Il Bon and Ee Bon are the same technique, Il Bon executed to the right, Ee Bon to the left -- mirror images of each other. So the memorization task is even less than it appears.
I have focused on my failure to memorize them. That created another obstacle and impacts my ability to memorize. I've let an obstacle become not the task; it's become the entire world.
I've also let myself get distracted, so my efforts get wasted. One problem I have is that when working out with the boys I tend to get distracted in correcting their technique. We start out working on Il Soo Sik and shift into something else, so the original intent of the session is diverted.
I need to treat our workout sessions like I would a meeting at work. If I'm running the meeting there is ALWAYS an agenda that is published in advance. It defines the topics of the meeting, gives everyone a chance to prepare, and sets our success criteria -- when we have discussed all items and either closed them or created action items for the next meeting we have met our goals and fulfilled the purpose of that meeting.
So I need to set a lesson plan, whether it's for the boys and me, or just me. I need to literally write it down and check off each item as I complete it.
In recent months my job has been boring and unfulfilling. The project I'm not is in testing mode, and due to the client situation we're doing as much new development as we are identifying and correcting defects. [I'm currently on a project developing a new web application using Microsoft Visual Studio.NET.]
We have no test plan and my offer to write one was declined. So I'm going from page to page, testing for basic functionality where the requirements change frequently, sometimes on a daily basis. There is no completion to testing, as each time I sign off on a page new requirements change that page so I'm back to square one. My efforts, the efforts of everyone on the project, all lack purpose.
I'm not in charge and I cannot give the project focus or direction. What I can do is set my own purpose and focus on it, which helps me avoid focusing on the changing requirements and overall lack of direction. This will help me get the sense of accomplishment that I so badly need.
Sometimes I am amused by how what I learn in the dojang melds so well with what I do outside the dojang. The class management skills I learned in the ATA instructor certification program work quite well in the business place and the home. And meeting management skills I learned at work also function well at home and in the dojang.
And SBN Bannard's words on Purpose, and more importantly, it's lack -- they have given me a tool to get through a difficult project, and by extension a tool to handle the situations I'm in throughout my life.
We had yet another great class last night. Some times I define a great class by new concepts that are introduced. Other times I define the greatness by the techniques taught. Last night I learned nothing new -- SBN Bannard simply pushed us all very hard and made us all reach farther than we had before.
Last night we concentrated on kicking. We didn't do basic kicks -- almost everything was Ee Dan or Dwi (jump or spinning).
It really was simply a chance to work on what we already knew. He didn't teach anything new -- at least for me and the other seniors -- the juniors might have picked up new concepts, although I was tightly focused on my training so I didn't necessarily hear everything going on in class.
Without saying much he pushed us hard -- we all were faster, higher, and just better than we had been before. My ee dan dollyo chagi (jump round house kicks) were higher -- I use my huri to throw myself higher in the air and to put more power into the kick. Interesting that the more I used the huri to gain height the better I was positioned to use it in the opposite direction to power the kick!
My inside-out kicks were consistently higher than I had done before; I've gotten that high, but not for that many kicks in a row! My spinning inside-out kicks were also significantly better.
Twice when executing spin hook kicks I ripped the pad out of Sean's hand and flung it clear across the room. I need to emphasize that kick more -- for me it's a powerhouse.
Others in class also did great. I held a pad over my head and Sean hit it solidly with a Ee Dan Ahp Chanugi (jump front kick). To put this in perspective -- I'm 5'7", Sean is a few inches shorter. Granted, he's 14 but he's got an incredible reach!
Eric's spinning hook kicks are a model. I was solidly impressed with the grace, accuracy, and power that he consistently displays. Patrick worked with Victoria, who at 16 is twice his age, and she's close to twice his height. He's worked with her in the recent past (teaching her how to do Pyung Ahn Cho Dan) and worked well with her last night. This is a real confidence builder for him!
Side note: Last week I put out a notice to the Federation asking for articles for the next Connection, our newsletter. This will be the first issue with me as the editor!
As often happens, I've been a BAD boy -- I haven't posted in 6 weeks. Well, since my goal is to publish as least once per calendar month, I'm still in the ballpark! :-)
In recent weeks we've really been working Ho Sin Sool. This is a good change -- in the past we'd work Ho Sin Sool once a month or so. Given that it's more difficult to do this by ourselves, it wasn't quite enough. We (and I mean pretty much everyone!) just weren't remembering it well.
SBN Bannard recognized this and made the effort to do a large block on Ho Sin Sool. We've also done large blocks on Il Soo Sik, so I think this is a new teaching pattern. Not that SBN Bannard needs my approval (<g>), but I believe working the material in larger blocks will improve student retention of material. I know it helps me!
We've had some classes devoted solely to Ho Sin Sool, while others were mixed. That's great, as it breaks things up yet gives us concentrated instruction on the Ho Sin Sool.
What we're doing reminds me somewhat of the ATA teaching style, where we would concentrate on a segment of material for an extended period of time. While I have my differences with the ATA, the overall teaching structure is excellent. For example, the stripe system for the colored belts, which tells the instructor what material the various students have been taught, really made class management easier. [packing 3 or 4 months of material into 6 weeks did NOT make life easier, but I've grouched about that in other places so I won't repeat myself here. <G>]
Sean (SBN Bannard's son) is testing for Chodan in 2 weeks. He's been doing a LOT of cramming on material, part of which has been done in class. Twice we've gone through the Basics part of the Chodan test, good practice for all of us. It's certainly challenging, especially from an endurance POV!
It also gives me advance notice of what I'll be going through, hopefully next fall. SBN Bannard thinks I'll be ready ...
My first thought when he mentioned it (in early February) was "NO WAY!". It's funny -- a year+ ago I figured I'd have no problem testing for Chodan at the year mark, but at the year+ mark I'm disbelieving that I'll be ready at the 2 year mark! ROFL! It's been an interesting journey, the past year and a half!
But in thinking it over, I do believe I'll be ready. I know all 18 Il Soo Sik (well, I've got them memorized!) and need some clean up work. I know most of the Ho Sin Sool and need some clean up work. So that leaves hyung for material to learn.
I already know Ki Cho Hyung Il Bu, Ki Cho Hyung Ee Bu, Ki Cho Hyung Sam Bu, Pyung Ahn Cho Dan, Chil Sung Ee Ro, Pyung Ahn Sam Dan, and Chil Sung Il Ro. Plus a couple others (Pyung Ahn Ee Dan & Pyung Ahn Sa Dan) which aren't on the test (at least I don't believe so).
We're currently learning Chil Sung Sam Ro, and I know Du Mun, which isn't listed on the hyung list for Chodan but SBN Bannard has been working us on. That leaves Yuk Ro Chodan, Naihanji Cho Dan, and Passai for me to learn.
Note: the last 2 are marked as optional, but SBN Bannard doesn't appear to believe in optional. Personally, that is cool -- *I* would not want to have to admit to the testing panel that I didn't know material -- "optional" or not!
Sean demonstrated a hyung at the last testing, I believe it was Naihanji Chodan. It's not that much material to learn, not all that many moves.
Yeah, right! That hyung is a hip exercise -- EVERYTHING is hip! He performed it with Mr. Boyd -- not to denigrate Sean, but the difference in their performances was marked! That makes sense -- Mr. Boyd is a Sam Dan who has been working this hyung for years, while Sean learned it relatively recently. But the differences are screaming at me that there is FAR more to correctly performing the hyung than memorizing the moves and performing them in correct sequence.
With brings me to my real point -- I can easily learn all the remaining material by the end of June, probably sooner with a bit of extra effort. But that leaves me with only 4 months to build enough expertise to perform the material passably (I first wrote "correctly" but I'm not arrogant enough to think I'll reach that level in the next year or two <G>). Yow! That isn't much time, not to really demonstrate hip!
I'll know by September if I'm going to be ready or not. If it's "not", well, there's another testing next April! :-)
SBN Bannard brought back interesting news from the Dan testing held last weekend in Myrtle Beach. The Kwan Jang Nim is cool with my testing for Dan early, but instead of testing for 3rd Gup next week he wants me to test for 1st Gup!
YOW! My first thought was "that is totally impossible!".
My second thought was even less positive! There's just too much to do for the 1st Gup test -- there's no way I can learn it in a week!
OK. Chill out!
Once I thought it through, I realized that it isn't impossible. Difficult -- Yes! Impossible -- No! Let's look at what's required, given that I'm ready for 3rd Gup:
Requirements for 3rd Gup
Requirements for 1st Gup
Chil Sung Il Ro Hyung
Chil Sung Sam Ro Hyung
Il Soo Sik Dae Ryun
#11 - #14
#15 - #18
Ja Yu Dae Ryun
Ho Sin Sool
Back & Side Grips
Jang Kwon Kong Kyuk (Palm Heel strike) or
Kap Kwon Kong Kyuk (back fist strike) or
Il Soo Sik are not a concern. I've recently devoted time to nailing them down, so I'm good on all 18. I CAN improve my memorization so that my recall is instant rather than requiring a few seconds thought, but again, that's not a show stopper.
Free sparring is not a problem -- got to do that at every test. I'll be better at it in 6 months, but that's not an area of concern for this test.
My Ho Sin Sool are ragged for the back and side grips, since I wasn't responsible for them yet and concentrated on the ones I was responsible for. But that's something I can clean up before Thursday. No real problem here.
Breaks are not an issue, either. I've never broken with Kap Kwon Kong Kyuk or Dwi Hu Ri Gi, but last November I hadn't broken with a Yuk Soo Do (ridge hand strike) either, and that went ok. My confidence level here is good. In the past with the ATA I had problems with breaks, but now that I know how to use the hip properly, this will not be a problem. [Which isn't to say that I can't improve, but these breaks will not be a problem!]
That leaves hyung ...
I learned Chil Sung Sam Ro Hyung last Thursday. I've been introduced to it before, but we didn't put consistent effort into it and *I* did not practice it immediately to embed it in my memory. Now I've got incentive!
Eric & I worked on Chil Sung Sam Ro Hyung earlier today. My memorization of it is good, but will get even better with more practice. I'm not going to have it down totally cold by Thursday, but will have it well enough to pass.
More importantly, SBN Bannard hammered on how to use the hip in this hyung, and THAT I do have memorized, and can demonstrate it! Not that my demonstration will be perfect, but it will show that I was listening! :-)
That leaves Yuk Ro Cho Dan, which I do not know. SBN Bannard may choose to not test me on it Thursday; instead he'll put it off for a couple of weeks, and make my passing conditional. I've got more than enough maturity AND incentive to get that one memorized! LOL!
So testing Thursday is going to be rough, but it should be a good demonstration of my intent.
What is not certain is when I will test for Cho Dan. SBN Bannard was hoping I'd test this fall, but one of the SBN mentioned the idea of doing it next spring (a year from now). So SBN Bannard will have to clarify this with the Kwan Jang Nim. Although I'd like to test this fall and will be ready for it, I'll be even more ready a year from now.
On a different note, Sean Bannard earned his Cho Dan. He's now a 1st Dan.
According to SBN Bannard, Sean's performance at the testing was stellar. During discussions by the testing panel after the testing there was NO question by any that Sean passed. SBN Bannard was so proud!
This week he proved to be different in class. In the past his focus wasn't always there, and he'd let things distract him. Now he's a Dan Member and it's taking it utterly seriously! This is good -- I really hope he keeps it up -- as he is now he's a real asset to the school and a good role model for the younger students, which includes Patrick & Eric!
Testing was last night rather than last Thursday. Apparently a few people were a bit ragged on a few things, so SBN Bannard put it off to this week.
Fine with me -- we spent Thursday going over material, and I learned some valuable lessons in Ho Sin Sool! It was definitely worth my time!
Testing was relatively easy. I've been practicing harder in the past few months, so my knowledge of my material was better than ever. The extra weekend helped me clean up Chil Sung Sam Ro Hyung -- my performance last night looked good -- at least Eric thought so. :-)
Oh! Yuk Ro Cho Dan??? I did a web search on it last week -- turns out that Yuk Ro Cho Dan is another name for Du Mun, so I already knew it! I should have realized that SBN Bannard was on top of the situation. ROFL!
I purchased the wood for last night's breaks. Ran to Lowes after work and bought two 8' sections of 1"x12", took 'em home, and cut 'em up. Did about equal parts of 10" and 5" wide board, with a handful of 2" boards for the little kids.
Turns out these boards were HARD! I broke first with a Dwi Hu Ri Gi (long spinning back kick). This is NOT my best kick -- I can perform it ok, but my control is lacking. To make it worse, Eric & Jesse held for me -- so in addition to everything else I had to worry about killing my board holders!
My first try was iffy -- I was too worried about hurting the boys. My second try didn't have enough spin. The third one went through it.
Then Maria was up. She just couldn't break the board. After numerous tries SBN Bannard had her try a few other techniques, finally ending with a Yup Podo Chagi (side kick). That finally broke it, after a painful and probably somewhat embarrassing time for Maria. I felt so bad for her!
Then Jesse tried to break -- Edan Dwi Chagi (jump back kick). He couldn't break that board. No one else did either.
Finally SBN Bannard had a parent (BIG guy) and I held 4 boards for a Edan Dwi Chagi. He couldn't break 'em either! This is a guy who broke **7** at his last testing!
SBN Bannard finally broke *1*. Those were hard boards -- I'm thinking about getting different boards for next class -- SBN may want to let people try breaking again, if for nothing else to build their confidence.
In any case, I think I did well last night. This was the easiest test I've had since joining Bannard Soo Bahk Do. But the next test??? That one's going to be brutal. I've got a LOT of practicing to do before the test. As much as I'd like to do it this fall I won't be disappointed if I am asked to test next spring, a year from now! :-)
So much for writing at least one journal entry each month ... [No, this time I'm not upset with myself, more bemused than anything ... ]
What has happened in the last three months??? LOTS!
Well, my jump from 4th Gup to 1st Gup was approved, and since I passed that test I'm now a 1st Gup, cleared to test for 1st Dan. When will I test for 1st Dan? Standard period is 1 year, which should be next April (2007). SBN Bannard asked permission for me to test this fall but it was apparently denied.
Oddly enough, that's ok with me. As much as I want my Dan, even more I want to give an excellent performance. I have two hyung to learn for the testing -- not an issue in any way, shape, or form! But to demonstrate proper use of hip? Well ... while I can be ready in November, I'll be a lot more confident if I test in April. I'd rather wait and make a better showing!
After the last test Eric needed his Green collar swapped for a Red, and Patrick needed a Green collar. I decided to put the collar on my uniform, as I will need it for the Dan test. So far SBN Bannard has not required me to put a collar on my uniform, and I have worn my ATA Black belt since joining the school in December 2004. But my uniform is dying -- it's taken one helluva beating during the past 1-3/4 years. I was hoping to make it last until my Dan test so I could order a blue collared uniform to replace it.
The collar hides the ragged original collar underneath, although the pants are the bigger issue -- the waistband is shredding! I may end up using the pant from my old 12 oz uniform (oz is material weight, current uniform is 14 oz - small number difference, BIG weight difference!) if the pants die before the testing.
After the last testing (when I earned 1st gup) SBN Bannard asked me to wear Red belt instead of my Black belt. My first response was surprise, then afterwards, to my chagrin, I was a bit offended! It felt as if something was taken away from me!
Shortly there after my generally good common sense re-asserted itself. If SBN Bannard asked me to wear a lesser belt there had to be a good reason!
In the months since then I've adjusted to the different belt. I keep my Black belt in my uniform bag, but automatically put the Red belt on. After my good sense reasserted itself I remembered that it's just a belt and doesn't represent anything other than the hard work I've put into it. If anything, I'm proud of my Red belt! The Black belt was a holdover from my previous life -- the Red belt reflects what I've earned in this one.
Eric is now 3rd Gup, so he won't test until November. Starting at 3rd Gup the 3 month progression slows down. It requires two testing cycles (6 months) to go from 3rd to 2nd Gup, and another 2 cycles to go from 2nd to 1st Gup. Then at 1st Gup it requires 4 cycles (12 months) before testing for 1st Dan.
Partrick is 6th Gup (Green belt) so he tests next week. He quit last year just before a test, and came back this year just before a test. He was out 6 months but missed 3 testing cycles, so he's now 9 months behind Eric. I've made a point of telling him that it doesn't matter -- all that matters is that he's back in SBD and working hard!
Tonight SBN asked me how I was doing. From the way he asked I realized he didn't mean the standard greeting -- he asked something more. When I showed my puzzlement he explained further -- was I ok with the Red belt?
I was astonished that he asked that. Obviously I adjusted to the new belt well enough that it didn't dawn on me to be an expected question! If anything I'm more proud of my Red collar than I was of my Black belt! ROFL!
He mentioned his reasons for asking me to wear the Red belt, which included that it properly matched my Red collar. It also keeps me in visual sync with the other 1st gup in the class -- we test together for 1st Dan next spring. He said a few other things, but I fuzzed out and don't remember exactly what he said.
SBN ended by telling me I could wear my Black belt if I wanted. I must admit that surprised me even more! I said that I was happy wearing the Red belt.
The thing I find most interesting is that I don't want to wear the Black belt again. I'm satisfied wearing this Red belt until I earn my midnight blue. Funny that two nights ago I wrote an entry regarding the ATA Black belt, and now I'm offered the opportunity to wear it.
I was willing to put on a White belt nearly two years ago, and nothing has changed since then -- not in respect to anything that matters.
SBN also told me that while he had not received permission for me to test this fall, he also had not been told "no". I need to think about this ...
Last Thursday it was just Maria, Patrick, and me in class. A bunch of new White belts started recently, so the adult class has been focusing on the basic materials for 10th Gup. SBN apologized to us for focusing on newbies and not covering our material. My reply was that while teaching the beginners their material it's been good review for us, and we've been working very hard on the huri. So he HAS been addressing our material.
I'm probably more paranoid than I need to be, but I'm concerned FAR more about use of hip at the Dan testing than I am in the memorization of the material. Here's why:
Last week Eric, Patrick, & I went through all our hyung in order, without a break. This is quite a few hyung!
Eric doesn't need to know Du Mun yet, but being himself, he pays attention when I'm doing it so he knows. Patrick will need to know Chil Sung Il Ro Hyung after his test, but he already knows it. [This doesn't mean that neither boy doesn't need some clean up, but they've got the sequences memorized and can make a fairly good showing of it.] Patrick sat out Chil Sung Sam Ro Hyung, but I had him step through Du Mun with us.
I know the eighteen Il Soo Sik Dae Ryun (one-steps) and all the various Ho Sin Sool (self defense), so "all" I have to learn is two hyung: Naihanji Chodan and Passai, and I'm currently learning Naihanji. If I cannot have both memorized by the end of September, WELL in advance of the testing, I don't deserve to wear ANY belt, including White! :-O
Thursday night SBN ran us through the basics for the Dan testing, pretty much in the order I remember from when we prepared Sean for his test last spring, and from the Dan test I observed a year before that.
The first thing I noticed is that I lack conditioning. While I'm in better condition than when I started 1-3/4 years ago, I need more for the test. Building endurance takes time, so November would be pushing it. Not impossible, but still an aggressive schedule.
Most importantly, I need better use of hip. Things I thought I was doing well I received significant correction on. My first thought was utter dismay -- my second was "pay attention!".
For the longest time Eric & Patrick would get SOOO mad at me when I corrected them on technique. "I know how to do it!" was their immediate response, and my comeback was "If you were doing it right I wouldn't need to correct you!".
Being a semi-wise adult, my response of dismay was quite different from the boys', although the words were almost the same. MY statement was "I thought I knew how to do this!".
So I've got work to do, improving my technique!
I have considered the possibility that SBN Bannard expects more from us that is really necessary to pass the Dan test. I also consider that in the Masters discussion following the test, when the question "Is discussion required regarding Bryan Fazekas promoting?" (or however it's phrased) is asked I want ALL hands raised!
I declined to pursue testing this fall. I've got too much to do and want to make the best showing possible -- six additional months of training will provide that.
My decision to not try to test for Chodan this fall has proven to be for the best.
I've got a lot of negative things going on in my personal life. The big one is that my Mom has lung cancer. It's stage 4, meaning that it's spread beyond the lungs into bones, so it's bad. She's undergoing radiation and chemo -- if it works and puts the cancer into remission she's got 2 to 5 years -- if it doesn't she's got a matter of months.
My brothers and sisters have been taking turns coming to NY for a week or so, giving Dad some relief. Last Saturday I took my turn, coming to NY for a week to help Dad take care of Mom. We hoped it was enough, as between visits there was a week or so that Dad was alone.
Don't get me wrong -- this isn't a chore -- it's all of us doing what needs doing to take care of Mom & Dad. We're scattered from CA to FL to NC to VA, with one sibling stil in NY 1-1/2 hours from "home". This isn't easy on any level, but we're all adjusting our personal lives to do it.
Mom broke her arm and has it in a sling -- she's in a lot of pain so she's taking pain killers (hydrocodone) every 4 hours around the clock. In addition her arm prevents her from doing a lot of personal activities, so Dad has to help her with everything that cannot be done one handed. To make it worse, the radiation and chemo pretty much stop her body's healing process (each attacks fast dividing cells), so her arm is little better than it was when it was broken in July.
So we're not really in NY taking care of Mom -- we're taking care of Dad.
I arrived on 16 September to stay for a week, intending to return home yesterday (23 September). Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, Dad collapsed Wednesday at lunch. He was starting to eat lunch and simply slumped forward in his chair. After being totally unresponsive for 5 seconds or so he sat up and appeared just fine. Minute or two later he did it again.
Oddly enough, I calmly dialed 911 and calmly gave them a detailed description of the patient and situation. I was freaking out inside but knew that the 911 operator needed clear info to be able to help.
John, my niece's husband (an LPN), arrived first and started treating Dad. Then EMTs showed up and finally the ambulance, and they carted him off to St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Utica. I took Mom down and we met with the doctor, who said Dad needed a pacemaker. His pulse was 32 ... yet he still filled out the admittance paperwork himself! [Yeah, he's tough!]
That surgery was Thursday. It was successful, but his blood pressure has remained VERY high, so they've kept him to get it down and keep it down. I saw him today and he's in better spirits AND his blood pressure is down to acceptable levels, and if all goes well he'll come home tomorrow.
WHEW! This has been a rough week. I'm still in NY taking care of Mom. I think I can stay until next Saturday, but will have to see. It will depend upon my work situation AND if we have coverage for Mom. I'm not leaving if we don't have someone to cover her.
I ended up coming home on Thursday, 28 September. I really needed to be at work that Friday and Denise was able to stay the weekend with Mom, so that worked out. Dad is in a rehab center being tested and trained to deal with his pacemaker. Lorraine & Patrick will arrive at Mom's tomorrow -- Patrick will stay with L's parents (he's tracked out of school) and L will help Mom for the next 1-1/2 weeks. This leaves Eric & I at home.
I learned the first part of Passai this week, about 40% of the hyung. I'm REALLY glad I decided to not even try to test this fall -- between Passai and Naihanji Chodan I've got my hands full in training. While I believe I could be ready if I worked on it hard enough, I'd rather wait the extra time and test in the spring. I'll be a lot less tense and will do better -- and the extra 6 months of huri training won't hurt, either!
I also need to practice my Il Soo Sik -- while I know them all my memorization isn't good enough that I have instant recall of each. My Ho Sin Sool??? Memorization there is not good enough -- with some I REALLY have to think about it, so I need more practice!
All-in-all, an extra 6 months will do me well!
The past month has been good. Mom & Dad are both doing better -- Dad is home from rehab and Mom is not requiring the constant care -- her pain is reduced and better managed. They are not requiring the constant care so it's easing the burden on the family., which is good for everyone.
This month has also confirmed yet again that I made the right decision in declining to test for Dan this fall (assuming that I'd be permitted at all).
I started learning Naihanji before I went to NY -- I can remember the very beginning of it, but since I didn't dedicate time immediately I didn't establish it in my mind. I need to start almost from scratch on this one.
Since I got back we've been working on Passai -- this one is also proving difficult, both in memorization and in the technique. It is an animal hyung -- we're emulating the cobra, so transitions are slow and techniques fast. Plus it really emphasizes the hip, probably why The Founder chose it.
I've got about 2/3 memorized utilizing hip -- meaning that I'm using the hip where needed, not that I don't have a long way to go in perfecting this hyung. Another 6 months will make a HUGE difference, which is why I'm again glad that I'm not attempting to cram this in for the Fall testing!
SBN Bannard has stated that Maria and I need to work on technique before the testing -- we both need a bit more "snap" in our technique. I need to video myself to embarrass myself enough to improve things. :-)
I've been talking to Patrick & Eric about focus in class, little things like holding the last position and not moving. Last Tuesday they both did poorly in this -- we had a terse conversation on the way home.
Funny -- I read How to Win Friends and Influence People about once a year, yet I failed to utilize one point made early in the book: People don't usually care about things that are important to others; they care about things that are important to themselves. This point leads my thinking at work -- but I failed to use it here.
Threats, pleading, and punishment only do so much -- if a person desires something it happens more readily than because of any other reason.
So I changed tactics. On the way to class Thursday we spoke of it again, but instead of discussing why *I* need them to show focus, we discussed why they should want to. I emphasized that the younger students are watching Eric & Patrick and asked if they wanted to be a bad role model.
In class I didn't give their focus a chance to slip -- as soon as one of the beginners started dancing around instead of standing at attention, I pointed to Eric & Patrick and commented how strong they looked, holding their position and not moving.
This had two benefits:
Pleasings results occurred! Patrick & Eric showed great focus thoughout class, and the beginners showed strong improvement in focus!
In discussion on the way home, I commented to Patrick & Eric that their demonstration of focus did more to improve the discipline of the other students than ANYTHING I could have done! I could talk, plead, punish (assuming we did punishments in class), but nothing got better results than giving those small boys the desire to be like their seniors! Dale Carnegie was SOOOO right in everything he wrote.
Tomorrow night on the way to class we're going to rehash the results of Thursday's class. This will reinforce the concept of focus in my boys' minds and set them up for another great display!
Yet again my boys made me proud of them!
I really enjoy working with motivated beginners. They bring an enthusiasm to class that can be very different from that of the upper belts. We currently have two groups of White belts, one of which I'll mention today.
Elizabeth, Jim, & Marshall joined class a couple of months ago, parents and a 7 yo son. Marshall attends the 6PM class, and sometimes part of the 6:30 class depending up on his homework, what we're doing, and his attention span.
Marshall likes to try new things. When practicing drills I often start Eric & Patrick out with the white belt techniques and then direct them to perform edan and dwi variationes (jump & turning/spinning). Marshall is more than willing to try the new things out so I encourage him. He was working hard on edan ahp cha nugi last night!
He's also my barometer. When I see him getting bored with a drill I realize it's time to start wrapping it up and move on to something more fun. For the kids we have to balance "fun" and "drill". Drills are necessary to instill proficiency of technique, but it's not a lot of fun so I intermix it with fun activities, and I always try to end with a fun activity. The last thing done is remembered best, so if the kids remember enjoying class they want to come back. Marshall tells me when to switch tracks without ever saying a word.
Jim & Elizabeth both bring energy to class. Elizabeth isn't exactly a bubbly person, but that's the kind of energy she brings. Usually her face displays determination; often she's got a smile to go with it. It's funny to see someone working out hard and smiling, but that's what people often see on my face! She picks things up rather quickly, a nice trait. More importantly she shares her energy with those around her.
Jim doesn't pick things up as quickly, but he's clearly devoting himself to SBD. His face often displays grim determination, although when something clicks for him a smile makes its appearance! His efforts will serve him well on his way to earning his Dan -- the ability to buckle down and make something happen is often the surest way to success in any endeavor. And it's working for him -- I see significantly improvement in just the last few weeks.
It's as I told Dave (another beginner) tonight -- we hear explanations and understand what the words mean, but we sometimes initially lack the ability to internalize the real meaning behind the words. It takes time, practice, and effort -- then unexpectedly we reach an epiphany where suddenly the lightbulb turns on and we truly understand!
I believe this is what happened for Jim recently -- something "clicked" for him, and it shows in his stances and technique. It's great to see that happen!
His energy contribution to class isn't as obvious. His is more the stolid kind, unwavering. When it's a hard workout and everyone is on their last reserves, it's hard to keep position and hold stance. But when we glance around and see someone else, clearly just as exhausted, yet unwaveringly holding position, hands up and eyes forward and intense, THAT helps us stay the course.
While I'd like to see every white belt stay with SBD and earn their Dan, I'm really hoping this family does.
The second new "group" of beginners is Dave and Deanna.
I haven't formed any solid impressions of Deanna yet. She doesn't say much, but usually has a slight smile on her face and can REALLY concentrate on things. I have a feeling that she'll go far if she wants to.
Dave has a friendly intensity about him. He seems really into SBD and the training, and I don't believe things will ever get too tough for him.
He and Deanna bring an energy to the class that's kind of a cross between Elizabeth and Jim. Neither one nor the other, more of a hybrid.
It's great having so many different types of energy in the class. Especially with Patrick & Eric buckling down, it makes class a LOT more enjoyable -- with so much energy we all do better!
I've suggested to SBN Bannard that he call some of the students who previously dropped out. Given the current energy in the class it may be that we can get a few back and the energy will keep them.
It's amazing that another year has passed. I'm hoping to write something profound to round out 2006, but have no clue (yet) if I'll succeed. Time will tell ...
The past few months have been traumatic, in a non-martial arts way. Mom's condition deteriorated rapidly, resulting in her death from cancer on 15 December. I was in Florida the weekend before, visiting my sister -- my oldest brother called Sunday morning and reported Mom's condition was bad. I cut my visit short and headed for NY, stopping home to handle some business that had to be done. Not a pleasant way to prep for Christmas. I'm still recovering from this event and expect it to color my life for months. To be honest it will color my life for years, but I hope to mostly recover in some months.
Again, it was good that I declined to attempt a Dan test this fall. My training since September has been minimal -- I have attended all possible classes, but haven't put in the time at home. If I get a 30 minute workout at home each week I'm lucky, and during the periods I was in NY (2 weeks in September, 1 week at Thanksgiving, and 2 weeks in December) I trained not at all. Yesterday's class, which SBN Bannard made a Dan testing prep class, nearly wiped me out.
Last night's "testing" was brutal. Patrick, Eric, & I were the only attendees so SBN Bannard took the opportunity to focus on my needs, going through a mock "basics" part of a Dan testing. I haven't trained in two weeks so it was brutal for me -- the boys are children (ages 9 and 10) so it was tough on them as well.
At the point I was about out of energy that part ended and we moved onto hyung. First we worked on Chil Sung Il Ro Hyung -- SBN Bannard dinged me on details I wasn't even aware of! Nope -- I'm not complaining! Boiled down his corrections were:
Nothing I didn't already know, but I became aware of things that I hadn't previously noticed. As previously noted in my journal, some times we're not ready to learn things, and when we are things appear out of the blue. Like a lightbulb turning suddenly on! :-)
Then we moved on to Chil Sung Sam Ro Hyung. This one we spent a LOT of time on, or at least it felt that way. I couldn't make it through 3 moves without having to stop and receive correction on something!
Nope -- I'm not taking this personally either. Well, I AM taking it personally, but in a positive sense! SBN fixed far more last night than I imagine he realizes! Many of his points were specific, but I *think* I can generalize them to improve other areas. Again, it goes back to the three primary points above, plus adding a new one:
The end of Chil Sung Sam Ro Hyung has four groin strikes, yuk soo do to the front and soo do to the rear. I never realized how poorly I was performing these techniques! Now I understand far more than I did before!
Side note on teaching: A common statement by students of ALL ranks is, "my instructor pays too much attention to the XXX belts and not enough attention to me!"
Any class containing more than one rank will result in an inequality of instruction. In any given class some rank will be slighted in favor of a different rank. Seniors will feel that too much time is spent on basics for the lower ranks, and lower ranks will feel bewildered by the instructions to the upper ranks. Some times this is a faultly perception; some times it is true!
That said, we've had a lot of beginners start in the past three months, so a fair amount of time has been spent on instilling basic information. From my POV this is useful to the upper ranks as it ensures we know our basics correctly. At the same time we are not focusing on the details required to improve upper belts. Sounds like I'm complaining about not enough time spent on me in class, right?
Nope. It's just a faulty perception. I believe that in the past few months I've picked up enough knowledge that the lessons I learned last night made it through the skull bone into my brain. Prior to last night I might not have been receptive to the instruction, and it's likely that I've already been taught at least part of what I learned last night, but I wasn't ready for it.
In that respect I'm winding 2006 up with a great gain in knowledge!
I've also noticed in the past month that my front kicks are greatly improved! I'm getting an extension on the kicks that I didn't previously get and my balance is much better. This is a great thing, especially since the front kick is one of the most useful kicks -- it's fast and it's great for stopping an opponent -- blocking while striking, an important facet of Soo Bahk Do!
This one point makes my efforts in 2006 reach a positive conclusion -- if nothing else improved I'd still be pleased by my progress in this one area!
Copyright 1999-2008 Bryan Fazekas