Bryan's Martial Arts Journal -- 2007

This year sees Patrick, Eric & I continuing our training in Soo Bahk Do with Sa Bom Nim Bannard!


Journal Entries

06 Jan 2007
26 Jan 2007
12 Feb 2007
21 Mar 2007
28 Apr 2007
06 May 2007
08 May 2007
09 May 2007
10 May 2007

19 May 2007
08 Jun 2007
23 Jul 2007
26 Jul 2007
28 Jul 2007
17 Aug 2007
21 Aug 2007
24 Aug 2007
29 Aug 2007

05 Sep 2007
01 Oct 2007
14 Oct 2007
19 Oct 2007
26 Oct 2007
02 Nov 2007
04 Nov 2007
21 Dec 2007
28 Dec 2007


06 January 2007

I'm facing another tough decision -- Patrick wants to quit Soo Bahk Do again. He's had some bad nights in recent weeks, where he and I had a conversation after class about his lack of focus, not paying attention, and sighing VERY loudly when he got tired.

After a few classes of him breaking the collective chung shin tong il of the class numerous times, he started doing pushups after class, 10 for each time he disrupted class. One night he did 50 ...

So he complained that SBD was "too hard" and he didn't want to do it any more.

I thought it through, thinking about what happened 1-1/2 years ago when he quit, and a year ago when he restarted. I came to the conclusion that I was going to force him to stick with it. I expected an argument with Lorraine about it, and more hassles from him, but decided to following my instincts on this one.

Surprisingly enough, there has been no fireworks -- YET! Patrick was told he had to do some type of physical activity, and he decided to rejoin soccer. We've agreed to revisit this topic in 6 weeks, and that Patrick will continue SBD until then.

I'm keeping the peace for now, but I'm going to hold my ground on this one ... Patrick regrets the 6 months of training he lost when he quit the first time. I know we'll just have a repeat of that. Time will tell.

26 January 2007

In the three weeks since my last journal entry Patrick has turned around! He passed his test for 4th Gup and is very excited about training. In April he'll test for 3rd Gup and (hopefully) get his Red Belt!

Last night Patrick's focus was fantastic. He was working hard on all through class and was an outstanding student! On the way home I asked him if he still wanted to quit SBD. He said no, he was glad he didn't.

I explained that everyone goes through slumps. Some times we lose interest for a while, but it's a temporary thing. I told him that I had planned on keeping him in SBD, as I was sure he'd change his mind and be unhappy that he quit. Patrick said he was glad I didn't let him quit.

YAYYY!

Last night I didn't want to go to class. Work has been terribly stressful in the past three months, and I've been putting in a LOT more hours. Most of the over-40 hours have been from home, but it's still hard on the brain. My focus has been terrible -- I've had such a hard time learning new material. Things go in one ear and straight out the other without touching anything in between! <SIGH>

But as I explained to Patrick, I was glad I went to class last night -- it was a great class and I felt much better afterwards! That's one of the reasons I decided to teach the 6PM children's class -- it gives me a commitment that I can't just ignore, and once I'm at the studio I'll train!

There have been a few nights when I was so beat down from work that I felt like sitting out the 6:30PM adult class, but at the end of the 6PM class I made myself roll into the new class and keep going. If I didn't have the 6PM class (and the boys) to get me there, I probably would not have trained regularly these past months. That would have been a mistake, especially as the exertion has burned away a lot of my professional frustration.

The problem with "taking a break" is that it's too easy to not start again. I had to stop training because of my groin injury at the August 2003 Allen's tournament, and never got going again, although in this case it was initially partially due to the way Mr. Wegman started treating me after I declined to sign up for a much more expensive membership. I lost a lot that year and have vowed to not let it happen again.

My focus is returning -- I was able to learn the entire sequence for Nai Hanji Chodan last night! We started it last August, but my focus was not there -- a combination of worry about my mother (who died in December) and stress from work.

I'm starting the healing process following Mom's death, and as part of that I'm handling the stress of work a lot better. I've got a long way to go, but this is a good sign.

On the plus side, I'm testing for Chodan in early May and have that to focus on, to keep me going!

12 February 2007

SBN Bannard has been working me hard on hyung the past few weeks. Last week we beat on Passai. This is brutal training!

I now understand why the Kwan Jang Nim (Hwang Kee) included Passai in SBD training.

Everything we do, with few exceptions, involves hip (huri) training. The huri is the basis for everything, so virtually all training involves huri. Some hyung emphasize various things, making each a teaching tool for various facets of the huri.

Passai emphasizes things that none of the Ki Cho, Pyung Ahn, or Chil Sung hyung teach (well, the ones I know so far). To perform it correctly we must be in a deep stance, and we really have to push the huri, so position is critical.

Added to that are speed control and tension & relaxation. This hyung really pushes me on so many fronts. By the time I test for Cho Dan in May I'll perform it well, but I won't really have it perfected for years!

While most other hyung flow at a fairly regular pace, Passai varies dramatically between fast and slow. Some combination must be performed quickly, requiring that we make the individual moves distinct so they don't blur together. Watching SBN Bannard perform is amazing, as his moves are crisp and distinct, yet the speed is high. [Granted, he's been doing this hyung for 30+ years so it's normal to expect a lot, but still ...]

Naihanji Chodan is similar in that it emphasizes things the other series of hyung don't. Given the others as a basis the huri used in some places in Naihanji is unorthodox. Some moves are pure huri, with no arm movement -- all huri. As with Passai I understand at a basic level why the Kwan Jang Nim included this in our material.

21 March 2007

My Dan Shim Sa is coming up faster and faster. I don't deny I'm terribly afraid I'm going to mess things up.

Chil Sung Il Ro Hyung, Chil Sun Sam Ro Hyung, and Yuk Ro Chodan (Du Moon) are no problem. I've been doing them for more than a year and feel comfortable that I know the sequence well and appear to be doing fine on technique.

Passai & Naihanji??? I've got the sequence down, but am having trouble with technique! Things just are flowing smoothly and I keep messing up. Naihanji is all huri, and each time I perform it goof something up. Passai is oddly paced and I also screw something up each time I perform it.

Ho Sin Sool??? I know 'em all, but keep goofing up which one is which. I get them out of order and seem to have a terrible time with memorizing the order.

Il Soo Sik??? Ahhh! Something I am doing right! I've had these down well, and while SBN Bannard has periodic tweaks for me, things are going well.

I think I'm going to do fine at the testing, but am certainly nervous about it!

28 April 2007

YOW! Testing is coming up faster and faster! I'm getting even more nervous, if that is possible!

It's been *5* weeks since I last wrote in this journal. I've been training hard, working in some special sessions with SBN Bannard and Maria. We've done sample tests, going through everything.

My confidence in everything *was* improving. I've got the sequence down cold for everything and felt confident that my technique was solid!

At our last special workout SBN Bannard pretty much criticized everything I did! It felt like I did nothing right, including some of the basics! Arrrggghhh!

No -- he wasn't abusive -- we were fine tuning things. This is good! It means that the big and medium stuff was in good shape, so we were working at the little stuff. It was good, it just felt like I was doing nothing right. But I'm still nervous about the test!

06 May 2007

Well ... the Dan Shim Sa is done!

I know I did well, although *how* well is open to debate. I'm pretty positive I didn't fail outright. It's a matter of whether or not I'll need to re-test certain parts in 3 to 6 months. I'm not sure how long before I find out if I passed. SBN Bannard knows, but it's custom to keep the Dan candidates sweating a bit -- it helps build humility!

Yeah, I goofed on a few things, but overall I'm satisfied with my demonstration. Yeah, I could have done better, but at any testing I've always felt that way. Something about the sheer terror of demonstrating in front of hundreds of spectators plus the testing board just puts a crimp in things! ROFL!

Jose, my partner yesterday, was good to work with. He didn't flinch or hold back when I was demonstrating on him, and I did my best to return the favor. Having a good partner makes the demonstration easier!

The only thing we didn't jive well on was sparring. I tried to do some give-and-take to enable us both to demonstrate, but we weren't both quite on the same page. But given everything, I'd gladly have him as a partner again!

The clinic before the Shim Sa was interesting. Taught by SBN Clyde of Virginia, we started out with good huri work. I could see that some of this was a new concept to some of the junior members but it appeared that most of the Dan candidates were versed in it. While I didn't learn anything new, I did get a different take on the subject -- each instructor can teach the same information and yet put a different slant and/or emphasis on it.

From the huri work we morphed into Shim Gung work, the visualization of the meaning behind hyung. This proved very stimulating!

At the end we were broken into groups of two -- luck would have it that I was paired with Maria. The 1st Gup teams were told to use a section from Chil Sung Sam Ro Hyung:

We tried several different imaginings and finally settled on a jang bong (long staff) attack. The initial Sang Dan Mahkee blocks an overhead strike while attacking with the Choong Jung Kong Kyuk. Then the attacker executes a low section attack to the knees, requiring the defender to jump the jang bong. Landing close to the attacker the push shoves the attacker away.

None of the other 1st Gup groups came any where near close to our solution, but some were imaginative. It was a good session and showed that there are a lot of interpretations for all move sequences! This also keeps our moves "real" and creates interest in doing them well. Next time I warm up the 6:30 class I'm going to do a short unit on visualization!

08 May 2007

I had a blast from the past tonight! Part way through class someone walked into the dojang -- looked familiar to me -- took a moment to place him -- Darryl Clark from Vision Taekwondo!

Darryl has an non-typical spelling for his first name, which I just cannot remember! Once I figure out what it is I'll fix this journal, but until then I'll spell it "Darryl".

I last saw Darryl about a year ago in Target -- at that time he was going to teach a class for Vision TKD at the Holly Springs Community Center. If that went well Mr. Wegman was likely to open a studio in Holly Springs.

Since then Darryl was replaced by someone else, and the class at the Community Center folded shortly thereafter. Then Mr. Wegman shifted him to Cary, where there was a miscommunication over instructions. Mr. Wegman got angry (which in retrospect seemed like his first reaction to many things) and Darryl quit.

I asked about Joe Gailes at F-V Vision TKD -- Mr. Wegman recently dismissed him over what sounded like crap, and then called Darryl, apologized for the harsh words and asked him to take over F-V. Darryl told him "no".

Yow! Sounds like the same situation I walked away from 2-1/2 years ago ... again validates my decision to leave! Bad for Vision TKD, but great for Bannard Soo Bahk Do! Darryl is joining us! Great to have him on board!

09 May 2007

Last night I started the 6:30 class following the plan set by the clinic on Saturday -- we did visualization using Ki Cho Hyung Il Bu. The idea was to visualize attackers and respond accordingly, making the hyung "real".

Then SBN Bannard finished his last patient and joined the class, choosing to follow my lead, but upping the ante.

Instead of using our minds, he put Corina in the middle, with everyone else around her. She did Ki Cho Hyung Il Bu with us attacking her, and her responding accordingly! Then we worked our way up the ranks, each person doing a different hyung to change the pace. It was a LOT of fun, and it was instructive!

Then we did a similar exercise with ho sin sool, putting one person in the middle and everyone else attacking in turn. That was also instructive, making our self defense VERY real! While difficult and some what intimidating, it puts our training in a realistic perspective, having to perform in non-standard ways.

Side Note: Maria looks great in a Dan dobak! I found that out because SBN Bannard told us we passed our tests and Maria was trying on a dobak in preparation for ordering hers! YAYYYY!

I need to order my new dobak -- I kept my current one with the plan to order a Dan dobak after the testing (assuming I'd pass!) -- my dobak is ripping out at the seams, shredding at the edges, and in desperate need of replacing!

10 May 2007

Funny -- I go for months without an entry and then get pumped up and do four in five days!

Having Dan members in the class is going to drive changes in the dojang. Maria & I need a specific Dan class to address our needs.

One of the realities of ANY class is that it moves at the speed of the slowest member of the class. White belts tend to receive the lion's share of the instructor's attention -- they have so much to learn in a short amount of time, and to keep them coming we must make them feel comfortable. No White belts means eventually no students at all so attention must be paid to keeping them training.

At the same time, the upper ranks MUST have training on the proper level or they will not gain the knowledge and skill for their promotions!

Dan training is so far above the beginner training that a separate class is a must. So we're going to have to figure out when SBN Bannard, Maria, and I can all meet on a regular basis. While I'm not thrilled with having to drive to Cary a 3rd night of the week, to progress and be ready to test for 2nd Dan in two years it's a must.

Plus -- Dan candidates need more specialized training to prepare them for their test. I did fine, but feel that the end was far too rushed, and my comfort level about being ready to test came FAR too late in the process. This isn't criticism of anyone; rather it's a "lessons learned" reaction that is similar to what should happen at my work (but doesn't always).

I suggested to SBN Bannard that we invite Dan candidates to the Dan class three to six months before their testing. This gives them a higher level of training and ensures that the "little" things, proper use of huri and technique, are addressed early. This will make the test a lot less stressful. It won't eliminate all the stress, but it will reduce it to the "normal" butterflies.

Another change is that a 5:30 class for younger children will start, with Darryl teaching (I think!). Having 4 yo's in a class with 9 yo's means that the class moves far to slowly for the older kids, and may not be as much "fun" for the younger kids. This has needed breaking up, but there's been no one to each the 5:30 class. If this works as I expect it should benefit the school overall.

The changes will be interesting to participate in.

I had a thought the other night -- since Mr. Gailes is no longer with Vision TKD, it would be nice if he was interested in training with us! Don't know if that could happen, but it's nice to think about!

19 May 2007

Tuesday started my new education as a Dan. SBN Bannard taught me the tanto, knife defenses. There are five required for testing for 2nd Dan, countering the five primary angles of knife attack. At the Shim Sa I watched the 1st Dans intently, since in two years I'll be in their place. The knife defenses were of real interest to me, and the instruction on Tuesday made sense of what I witnessed at the Shim Sa.

It also made me realize that some of what I witnessed was good technique, and some wasn't. While he didn't say anything directly or even indirectly, I sensed that SBN was a bit displeased with some of what he witnessed at the Shim Sa. I also sense that prior to my next Shim Sa he's going to raise the bar for me significantly!

I've had the feeling that his expectations for Maria & me were above what is generally expected for 1st Dan candidates. That's ok with me -- as I've stated in the past, I want to pass each test with flying colors! A "barely" pass does not meet my expectations for myself, so having a higher bar to pass is great!

I am NOT a great martial artist. That doesn't mean I'm not good, just that I don't stand out in any positive way from "the pack". Granted, anyone who passes the Soo Bahk Do testing for 1st Dan is head-and-shoulders above non-practitioners in terms of discipline, effort, and ability -- but among my martial artist peers, I'm not exceptional.

I understand this and accept it -- not to denigrate myself, but to accept the reality of who I am and what I can do. So SBN Bannard grooming me harder than strictly necessary gives me the chance to stand out in a way I never would without that level of training.

Am I too hard on myself??? That is a distinct possibility. The other night Marquise, a new student, was impressed by my round house kick when I demonstrated for him. Not with the height, which was solar plexus height -- but by the fact that I snapped the kick out and locked it for a moment before retracting it. It had never dawned on me that such a simple thing might be viewed as impressive by beginners. It also dawned on me, not for the first time, that I judge myself against a personal ideal of SBD perfection rather than against reality. Working with SBN Bannard may give me a false sense of where I need to be -- I see what he does, things I cannot yet do, and may unconsciously judge myself against that unfair standard. That's something I need to ruminate on.

On a different note, Darryl attended his first class Thursday, coming in his Vision TKD dobak. I use my old dobak for working out at home, but seeing him in his brought back strong memories. It was great to see him!

During the 6PM class I worked Patrick, Eric, & Marquise on basics, doing line drills for the entire class. Then I started the 6:30 class with the same thing, teaching the philosophy of what we do and why we do it, along with the physical part.

When SBN Bannard came in he followed my line of teaching, taking it into more detail (per usual). Darryl REALLY got into the detailed instruction, including background and philosophy on using the huri. "Seminar" best describes what we did that night, rather than a physical workout. If it wasn't for the last bit of class when we performed Ki Cho Hyung Il Bu together, I don't think I would have sweat at all!

While the kids found the class boring since it was mental training rather physical, it was great for adults, especially Darryl. Adults can often learn a concept and later apply it to other things. For kids that's harder to do, they need things tied together as part of the instruction, rather than learning the concept separately and applying it later through their own understanding.

Darryl brings a different energy to the class -- not the physical energy of Ben and Corina, but the a mental energy of wanting to learn everything and do it well! This is a great addition, especially for the adults.

Seeing Darryl in the ATA instructor dobak brought back fond memories. I recently read someone's thoughts on dobaks. All the bright patches and belts and collars are designed to impress viewers, and are a selling tool for the school. Everyone wants the fruit salad so they stick with training, buy more expensive training packages, etc.

The simple fact is that the Songahm dobaks are far more impressive than Soo Bahk Do simple white dobaks. Even the Dan dobaks, with Midnight Blue edging on collar, sleeve, and bottom hem -- just not as impressive as Darryl's instructor dobak with the red collar, Black Belt Club patches on the shoulders, training chevrons on the sleeves, etc.

Impressiveness sells. That is part of why the ATA is so successful. I think of the ATA as the "Microsoft" of the martial arts industry -- not a better product, but by far the best marketing.

It's not just the dobaks -- the hyung are designed to be impressive -- people with poor technique look good performing them! [To be fair, the hyung also are solid teaching materials, so they are NOT one dimensional sales aids.]

Now that I think about it, that is a solid reason why SBD has not progressed farther in terms of market share. It's a superior art compared to most of its peers, but since the art isn't designed as a marketing aid, it doesn't grab people. Add the fact that it's significantly harder to learn than TKD, the lower market share is no surprise.

I need to ruminate further on this ...

08 June 2007

The BIG news is that I received my 1st Dan Certificate & Belt Tuesday! YAYYYY!

Even though I knew I passed, I felt a great deal of excitement when SBN Bannard presented my certificate and belt. Putting that dobak on??? At first glance it's just a dobak. I've worn many in my career ...

... but it's different in a way I can't explain! Thursday night I put the dobak on 10 minutes early just because I wanted to wear it! I'm acting like a little kid!

Class Thursday night was brutal. SBN Bannard got into one of his "reaction time" mind frames. We worked on reaction time, doing block-counterstrike moves.

It was painful, starting with block and counterstrike with the other hand. Then we did block and counterstrike with the same hand, and then added ahp chanugi. Maria & I got the worst of it as SBN Bannard expected good hip on EVERYTHING. Yeah, VERY brutal!

It was a great class -- we need these more often!

As I've said previously, SBN Bannard is the first instructor I've had who has taught me how to quicker, faster. Drills like these make us faster, and they make the huri work every time. That (huri) becomes so ingrained we can't react any other way. Granted, I'm not at that point yet, but yesterday moved me a step closer!

23 July 2007

A LOT has occurred since my last journal entry -- I quit my job (eliminating a HUGE amount of stress!), spent almost 2 weeks in Upstate NY with my Dad, and started a new job after the vacation. The change in stress levels should make my training far easier.

I really like wearing my Dan dobak & belt, but being a Dan member means more scrutiny -- SBN expects my best effort 100% of the time. I supposed that's fair -- I do represent the Federation now ... :-)

But it's good -- it keeps me more on my toes and I can't argue that isn't good!

Last week I learned the beginning of Shin To (sp?), but the Arch of Forgetfulness took its toll on my way out -- I remembered the first 2 moves but could not remember the 3rd! Tonight SBN Bannard helped me through it and I worked it hard so I remember. My frame of mind is better than it has been in nearly a year, so memorization is coming MUCH easier!

26 July 2007

The other night SBN Bannard and I discussed my working towards Kyo Sa, the first level of instructor certification. I had planned to do it, but given the up front cost ($200) and the requirement to attend a certain number of Federation sponsored events each year to keep current, I questioned doing it.

When with Vision TKD I signed up for the Instructor Certification program, spending a large sum of money on the materials, new instructor uniform, etc. When all was said and done I walked away from it and never tested for the second level of certification.

In reflecting upon the long-term cost of the SBD instructor certification, I realized I needed to figure out what I was going to do with it. It was NOT worth the money to get the certification and then do nothing with it.

I don't have the ambition to open a school. I don't have and no desire to make the time that such a commitment requires, and it will definitely take time. I'm teaching the children's class for SBN, but that's a freebie and not worth the cost of the certification.

SBN Bannard spoke of growing the school, and the idea of opening more nights a week with him there on some nights and me on others, in a paid capacity.

That made me think. Not that I'm *that* interested in the money; rather that any sort of payment for my time eliminates one of the reasons against the certification.

I'm going to have to think about this further ...

28 July 2007

I had an interesting discussion with Patrick Thursday night. I worked the boys HARD on basic technique -- theirs is sloppy and down-right incorrect in spots. We've been working this for more than 6 on months but I don't seem to be able to elicit improvements from them.

At the end we worked Ahp Chanugi -- Patrick does a good kick when he does it slow but when he speeds it up he does a punt-type kick. No real force.

So I worked him hard on it. I could tell he was getting more and more frustrated, red in the face, and almost to the verge of tears. Ok, time to back down ... I asked him if he was mad at himself for not getting it right. He replied that he was mad at me for making him keep kicking when he was doing it right.

Ok. Definitely the message is NOT getting through ...

So I asked the question, "If you're doing it right, why do I keep making you do it and making improvements?" That didn't get through -- from his POV he was doing it right, and I was just being a jerk.

This argument could go on forever with no positive result. Thinking fast, I changed the subject: "How many techniques do I know how to do correctly?"

Ahhhh! I could see the wheels turning behind his eyes as he started mentally counting techniques. I let him go about 20 seconds and cut short his process.

"ZERO."

"Huh?"

"I know how to do ZERO techniques correctly."

"Huh?" I had definitely diverted his attention from his frustration!

"I don't know how to do anything correctly. But I keep working towards making everything correct, everything better. How many things does SBN Bannard do correctly?"

"None!" Wonderful! I got the message through!

"SBN Bannard does things better than I do, but he's still learning, still getting better, still working to do things correctly. Why is my belt Midnight Blue rather than black?"

"Because the black belt means that you're a master and you know it all." YAYYY! He remembered *that* discussion!

"Exactly! This is a student's belt. It means I'm still learning. SBN Bannard's belt is blue because his is a student's belt. Is the Kwan Jang Nim's belt a student belt?"

Lots of hesitation there -- finally Patrick said, "Yes", although the idea was obviously disconcerting to him.

"Yes! Kwan Jang Nim Hwang is also constantly learning, constantly improving himself. It never ends. The Founder was improving himself up to the day he passed away. We can always make ourselves better."

After that we went back to kicking practice, Patrick's mood now a positive one, cheerfully accepting my help to make his techniques better.

17 August 2007

We got some new students in recent weeks. Michael (age 12?) has transferred from a Tang Soo Do school in Apex. He was out of training for a while and there are differences in material between his old school and us. He's wearing a yellow belt -- got a fair amount to brush him up on before we can award him an orange belt.

William is a different case. He's about 5 and is a poster child for ADHD.

Yow! Keeping him standing in one spot without moving for more than 10 seconds presents a challenge. But it's good in terms of my overall training. If I can manage to teach him anything I have accomplished a LOT!

21 August 2007

The past few weeks have been interesting. I learned the sequence for Shinto (new hyung) faster than expected. Also, SBN commented that while I was learning I was demonstrating better technique than he expected at that point!

Yayyy! That means I'm learning to apply old lessons to new techniques!

From what I've gathered from SBN the past 2+ years is the SBD method is to teach the flow, the sequence of techniques first. Once that is learned the student is taught more and more detail, depending upon rank and ability.

A 10th Gup is taught Ki Cho Hyung Il Bu and Ee Bu. Demonstrating knowledge of the sequence is typically sufficient to promote to 9th Gup.

At 9th Gup the student is taught Ki Cho Hung Sam Bu, and also more detailed technique, e.g., beginnings of proper contraction and expansion, crossing elbows, etc. [SBN teaches this a 10th Gup, but it appears that this is not essential for promoting.] The new technique(s) apply to all three hyung, not just the new one. This continues on with each rank to 1st Gup, where good knowledge and demonstration of contraction & expansion, tension & relaxation, etc is required for promotion to 1st Dan.

As a Dan member the process appears to remain the same. I'm expected to first learn the sequence, then refine the techniques based upon what I know to that point, plus integrating new things learned as a 1st Dan.

Sounds simple, huh? It does sound that way, until we consider that as a 1st Dan my level of knowledge should be numerous orders of magnitude above that of a 10th Gup! The sheer number of things I have to apply to that "simple" sequence is daunting!

Well, it could be. But if the instruction I've received has been good enough, and my practice has been good enough, the lessons will often apply themselves. I some times try to do Songahm 1 -- and I can, SBD-style. I can force myself to do it ATA-style, but it takes concentration and SBD slips into the techniques no matter how hard I try to avoid it.

This is good -- it means that my SBD lessons are integrated into my "process" enough that I don't have to even think about it to do most of it. I take that back -- this is great!

24 August 2007

Tuesday night I made a comment that made SBN Bannard laugh. At the end of class he asked if we had any questions (which he often asks), and further asked if we had learned anything.

I told him and the class that I had increased the list of things I do not know.

SBN started the real Dan training. Since receiving our new rank Maria & I have done more than Gup training, but so far it feels like he's acclimating Maria & I to our position. Tuesday things changed abruptly.

During class it felt like I did nothing right. Everything I did resulted in a correction. Yow! That gets frustrating, and once the frustration starts it just builds with each additional correction.

Well, it builds until I adjust my thinking. I forced myself to concentrate on the improvements, not on the correction. Not on the thought that I can't do anything right.

Which brings me back to the conversation I had with Patrick some weeks ago about what techniques we do right. Looks like I better practice what I preached! :-)

29 August 2007

Last night was yet another interesting class. SBN Bannard worked Maria & I HARD on cleaning up Shin To. We've got the flow down so it's time to work on technique.

As any black belt realizes, most of what we learn as Gups is either updated or replaced by Dan-level technique. This was certainly true in Songahm TKD, and holds true in SBD. It's often comical when newly minted Dans realize that their years of training were prep work, designed to teach them how to train. At 1st Dan training truly begins!

Although SBN attempted to fix or tweak a number of things last night, the one that stands out in my mind is my back stance. Turns out it has needed improvement for some time, and last night was the beginning of the "fix".

He worked me on that stance for at least 10 minutes. It felt like nothing I did was quite right. It got extremely frustrating, with him telling me how to change and/or physically moving me into place. But nothing seemed quite right, I just couldn't get it!

This gives me an appreciation for working with Eric & Patrick. They get frustrated by my comments on their technique, and it seems that week after week, month after month, my message to them is not being received.

What I'd like them to do is watch SBN training Maria & I. If they can see what *I* go through in *my* training, it may make it easier for them to accept when I do the same to them.

Perfection isn't easy ... not that I'm any where near perfection! :-)

05 September 2007

Our Dan education continued last night and we had a blast from the past!

Sean has rejoined class, teaching part of the 6PM class and attending the 6:30 class. He hasn't trained since last fall and it's nice to see him back in class!

SBN Bannard continues teaching Dan concepts. In Chil Sung Sam Ro Hyung we have two moves where we simultaneously execute Sang Dan Mahkee and an upper cut-type punch (not sure of Korean name) to the solar plexus or ribs. Previously I had doubts regarding the usefulness of this combination.

Last night we used it as part of a sequence. For the first time I could visualize using it, and could now see the usage of hip in the process. The block is almost incidental to the strike! The block protects the head while simultaneously driving in a stunning blow. The hip drives both moves, splitting the energy neatly.

Patrick wanted to try some of the Dan techniques and was disappointed when SBN had him doing other things. When Patrick asked why he couldn't do it SBN answered, "Because you're not a Dan".

I don't believe Patrick understood the answer, but it made sense to me. The hip moves here require an understanding that Patrick doesn't have yet. Soon, another 1-1/2 years, and he will ...

01 October 2007

The past month has seen more and more advanced concepts added to my training. The other night I learned something new regarding Ha Dan Mahkee.

Anyone would think that after 3 years of Soo Bahk Do training, preceded by 20+ intermittent Taekwondo training, I'd know how to do a low/down block, right? I've learned to NOT assume anything.

The other night SBN Bannard corrected Maria and I when doing basics. We were practicing Ha Dan Mahkee -- he told us to push our hips forward when executing.

This isn't all that different from what he's told us in the past. As red belts SBN told us to move our bodies from intermediate posture forward to a front stance as we execute the block. This moves us closer to the attacker so that we can counter-attack, and puts out mass into the block, magnifying the strength. For red belts this is an important concept.

But changing the emphasis of the movement, from the entire body to the huri? That increases the power while improving stability. When executing the technique with that minor change I could feel a difference. The change in the focal point lowered my stance, gave me more control of the movement, and increased the power.

Some of these Dan concepts are so trivial, yet so powerful. I'm almost afraid to know what we will learn as Edans ...

14 October 2007

Last week we did a different slant on old stuff. SBN Bannard had 4 of us stand back to back ...

... and we performed Ki Cho Hyung Il Bu. It was interesting performing the hyung, moving out from the center, and then moving back in. For the most part we managed to end where we started, although for the kids (Patrick & Vivi) it was a bit disconcerting to punch so close to each other.

We did several hyung (Ki Cho Hyung Ee & Sam Bu, Chil Sung Ee Ro Hyung), all by the count. Then we went back to Il Bu and went at our own pace. That didn't last long ...

SBN then had us begin execution, one person at a time, one move at a time. As expected we ran into each other eventually. That emphasized the point -- we MUST execute in synchronization or hit each other!

Maria & I understood this "minor" concept, but it really drove it home for the kids. Maria & I had been exhaling noisily to provide cues for the others, and after this instruction point Patrick & Vivi did as well. Things worked out nicely!

Of course, once that lesson was learned he changed the landscape -- by turning off the lights. We worked in all but complete darkness, making it impossible to see each other. He flicked the lights on occasionally to make sure we were all where we needed to be, and overall it was a success!

It also made the class more interesting, something necessary to keep students over the long term. Advanced ranks can usually find a focus in the material, but for lower ranks (especially children) it helps to add new things to change the routine.

I personally find the group exercises fun -- it adds a challenge, and helps make sure we know the material. The others in close proximity makes concentration more difficult, so we MUST know our material well to be able to perform.

At Vision TKD Mr. Wegman had us form a triangle with one person inside. One inside person was the defender and the other three were attackers. The first attacker would kihap! and attack for the first one-step for that rank. Then the second would kihap! and attack for the second one-step for that rank, and finally the third person would kihap! and attack in turn. The first night we did that my group demonstrated before the entire school. It was some what frightening to be up in front of everyone like that, and exhilarating as well! But it took a rather dry sequence of techniques for the individual and turned it into a group activity that was far more interesting, and helped drive home the need to know the techniques well! [One-steps are partner activities, but the knowledge of how to perform the attacker and defender roles is often practiced solo.]

I need to do things like this with the children's 6:00 class. But it's far more difficult as the smaller children typically don't have the memorization or confidence to do drill like this. I'll need to think about what other things I can do to make it interesting ...

19 October 2007

The colored belt testing was last Thursday -- it showed some very bright spots!

Vivi, a new student who transferred in from CN as a 7th Gup, is working out well. She's got a great attitude, a willingness to try -- she performed well.

Michael, a new student who transferred from a Tang Soo Do school, some times doesn't focus well, but that night he was "on"! I'm hoping he'll continue to do well!

The Whites all did well, as expected. As a group they are all solid students.

Eric performed at his usual standard. We need to work on huri, but his memorization is excellent and he generally performs well. I've been working with him on using his huri properly -- we've made a lot of improvement but, of course, there's more to work on.

I have been riding Patrick's butt on proper technique the past 6 months. Some nights I've been a real bastard to him, working him again and again on points. Problem is he does not practice on his own, only when I make him practice. He enjoys class, but like soccer he doesn't want to practice except in a group.

Thursday night he was also "on"! While not flawless I could see huge improvements in his technique -- SBN Bannard apparently saw that as well.

But he has his lazy times -- during sparring he was throwing kicks to the knee, like he couldn't get his feet up. I spoke up and specified no kicks below the belt -- suddenly he's kicking head height!

In reviewing my notes from the testing I realized that they indicate as much about what the school as a whole needs to focus on as well as what the students do. Basics and hyung all were well done. SBN Bannard works us hard on knowing how to perform the techniques, both singly and in combinations. He really pushes usage of huri in all things.

OTOH, Il Soo Sik and Ho Sin Sool were not as good. A number of people had memorization problems. Some cases it was mixing things up, one Il Soo Sik with another. In other cases it was just mixing up.

Eric & Patrick did well in this regard, but I work with them at home and they have practiced with each other (when I badger them about it) so it's not a surprise. But for the other students it's a problem.

I'm making it my personal mission to spend at least 10 minute in class each week working on Il Soo Sik or Ho Sin Sool.

26 October 2007

As I promised myself, I'm going ahead with my resolution to put more into Il Soo Sik and Ho Sin Sool training. Instead of trying to teach new things (which I shouldn't -- that's SBN Bannard's choice) I'm focused on improving what we already should know.

Tuesday we worked on Il Soo Sik Il Bon through Sa Bon. For everyone in class that night this material is old "stuff". Everyone knows it (or they should!) and memorization is solid. I took a page from SBN's book (which he got from Kwan Jang Nim Hwang) and used old material to teach and reinforce concepts.

First part of class we did bag work -- working yup podo chagi, ahp chanugi, and dollyo chagi. Correct technique on these is an on-going issue and is worth addressing from time to time, even with students who know it. Plus I wanted to tire people out a bit, making them more relaxed when we got to Il Soo Sik.

Then we worked Il Bon through Sa Bon, first ensuring that memorization was correct. Next I started addressing specific points, making sure that people were stepping forward with the correct foot, crossing elbows, using huri. I remember when I first learned these -- foot positioning for kicks kept biting me. I'm not surprised that others have the same problem.

Especially with kids we can perform the same technique just so many times before the boredom threshold looms. Once we hit that point I shifted gears. I established Il Soo Sik as the focus of the class so I kept at it -- just changing the teaching method.

Back with Vision TKD we sometimes did one-steps in groups -- one person in the center with others around him, so that the center person did all three one-steps for that belt rank, one after the other, each time facing a different direction and a different attacker.

SBN Bannard has used this same teaching mechanism before, although if I recall correctly we did the same one each time. Instead of that we did Il Bon and Ee Bon, with the second attacker in different positions. It was an experiment to see what would work. It turned out that having one attack in front and one behind worked best.

This turned out to be a winner -- we got more practice on Il Bon and Ee Bon, Sam Bon and Sa Bon -- while keeping boredom at bay! On the way home Patrick commented that he really enjoyed doing it that way!

In an upcoming class I want to do the same thing with *4* attackers, and have the defending perform the first four Il Soo Sik. For future iterations I may have the defender perform out whichever one is called out rather than in order.

02 November 2007

Last night was a pain. Literally.

I've been having lower back pains since August and SBN Bannard has been treating me. I've been good about stretching every day, doing hamstring, periformis, and upper back stretches. Yesterday everything was tight in my lower back and the techniques we did initially (kicks) inflamed it. At one point I had to bow out of class and stretch. After that I held bags for kicking but didn't do anything to aggravate things.

At the end of class we did Ki Cho Hyung Il Bu, working on stances -- we put tape on the floor and without looking down had to try to end in the same spot we started. Per usual I consistently ended 6" behind where I started. I think I'm changing distance on one of the big turns and that's messing things up. I will do some work at home with Patrick or Eric putting tape down where I make turns to see if I'm consistent.

I made it through the hyung, but it I could tell I was pushing my luck. Another iteration would have been too much. Oddly, though -- my back felt relatively fine this morning -- moderately painful as usual. No hint of the strain last night put on it. Needless to say, this is getting old!

We're going to Myrtle Beach today for SBN Brown's workout on the beach tomorrow. I'm hoping this will work out for me ...

04 November 2007

Yesterday was our first Beach Camp in Myrtle Beach. Lorraine questioned how well we would survive doing SBD for 6 or 7 hours, and of course Patrick immediately said he didn't want to go. It would be too hard.

I told him that he was going -- period. No arguments. No whining. Just go and participate.

Sound like I'm a hard-ass Dad with no feelings for my child?

If so that means you have no children, or have no comprehension of a parent understanding their child. If you're waiting for me to go on ...

I explained to Lorraine that it's not intensive SBD like we do in the classroom, only for 6+ hours instead of one. It's a variety of classes, some technical, some fun ... but broken up so that everyone will both learn something and have fun. Given that attendees ranged from 2 months to 30+ years of Soo Bahk Do training, it's got to be low key for everyone to have fun ... but technical enough to justify the time.

I'm pleased to say that our Masters (Brown, Bannard, Hilbourn, and Clyde) know what they're doing and met all criteria!

We started out with SBN Clyde teaching a breathing class. There are 8 exercises -- we did 4, which was a perfect amount. Any less would have felt too light, and any more would have overwhelmed a lot of the junior members (age and SBD-experience). Thankfully my back held us well during this.

Then SBN Hilbourn presented the breakfast fruit dissertation, where we considered the fruit (oranges and bananas), life, and SBD training. This got people thinking ...

Unfortunately my back stiffened up during this time, making me wonder how well the remainder of the day would go. Needless to say I was not enchanted with the idea of sitting on the sidelines as an observer!

The next session was also taught by SBN Clyde -- we did interesting takes on self defense. It was all techniques that we (at least the Red Belts and Dans) should know, but applied in different ways. We did some cool take downs -- the sand provided a good cushion for falling!

Unfortunately we wore most of what was on the beach!

After a short break SBN Brown taught a Jang Bong session. For many of the students this was new, although for SBN Bannard's students it wasn't. We do a bit once in a while, and my boys and I practice at home.

While I said it wasn't new to me -- that doesn't mean I didn't get value from it. Each different instructor brings a different energy to the lesson, so even the same lesson becomes different for that reason. SBN Brown teaches with a different emphasis, making it clear that there's more than one way to do things. I learned a new way to hold the jang bong and improved my knowledge.

Near the end he told us to work on our own -- pick a hyung and figure out how to do it with a jang bong. Eric chose Du Moon and Patrick chose Chil Sung Sam Ro Hyung, while I chose Nahanjai Chodan. SBN Brown told us that the Chil Sung hyung were among the hardest to adapt, so trust Patrick to go in that direction! After a bit we all had the opportunity to demonstrate what we did. Eric & Patrick went first -- and while I freely admit I'm biased, I believe they did the best job of everyone, me included!

Then we broke for lunch and reconvened for the final session taught by SBN Bannard. Since this was a full group session (the two post-breakfast sessions were divided into White through Green, and Red and Dans) we started out with some advanced SBD techniques. Practicing on a smooth floor makes for good technique, but working in shifting sands makes for better balance! Going down the beach was tough! Once we were warmed up we did partner drills, using self defense combinations that we often use in class.

Lorraine commented that it didn't look like we did anything special. From a technique POV we didn't. Everything we did was standard for SBN Bannard's class. But for the other students these particular combinations were new, so they received a good lesson. And us? We all worked with people we had never worked with before -- the energy is different and it was fun working with new people.

I worked with a teenaged Red belt, Chris. He was a bit frustrated when he wasn't getting stuff, but he changed his mind when we started doing throws. He was launching himself when I threw him -- I think he's got a good (if painful) future as a stunt man! It wasn't quite typical SBD training, but he was having fun so I couldn't complain.

At the end we broke the kids off and all the adults did a Tai Chi session. That proved enjoyable -- SBN Bannard has a Tai Chi class at his studio Monday nights at 7PM. I need to figure a way to get there for that!

Yes -- we had a great time!

Back to me being a hard-ass Dad. I know Patrick well enough to know that he complains about anything new. If I don't make him try things he'll never try anything new, or anything he doesn't succeed at on the first try. He's told me at least 10 times since the event ended that we HAVE to do it again next year!

21 December 2007

Years ago when I trained with Bailey's TKD we would spend an entire class working on a single topic. The one that always comes to mind is defense against a round house kick. Unlike other kicks this one is hard to stop. Side kicks and round kicks can be deflected, but round house kicks are suck a broad attack that cannot be deflected. Well, not to MY knowledge.

So at Bailey's we learned techniques for avoiding them. Ducking high kicks worked fine, as did simply stepping back out of range or sideways away from the kick. I later used these techniques to good effect at Vision TKD.

As good as these techniques were they don't fit SBD. Well, ducking works but if the kick is misjudged it means I've made my head a better, lower target. Stepping back also works, but leaves me with no response to the attack -- I'm out of range of a good counter attack. Side stepping also works, but the way we executed it left no margin for a good counter attack. All in all, not SBD defenses!

SBN Bannard always talks of accepting, receiving, deflecting, and returning the attacker's energy. The other night he demonstrated this in a fashion that was almost unbelievable. For a demonstration we traded round house kicks, contracting back with elbows crossed to received the energy of the kick. On the 4th exchange instead of contracting back he expanded forward, hooking his elbow under my kicking leg, pushing his other arm against my shoulder, and basically dumping me on the ground! WOW! Never saw it coming and I was on the floor before I even knew the situation had changed!

We worked on this for a while, and it still seemed like magic, taking a powerful kick and literally reversing the energy and dumping the attacker (potentially) on their head!

After a few repetitions I understood how it works. Timing is absolutely critical! Although the attacker is moving forward they must stop moving to execute the round house kick. The defender must catch the kick right after this point, while the kick is 3/4 extended. At this point the forward energy is transformed into kick energy and the leg is still rising. The defender can easily deflect the kick and literally send it back in the direction it came from. SBN said that in practice we can turn an attacker into a cartwheel starting with their head. This could be a disabling move or a fatal one, depending on how the attacker is bounced onto their head!

I'm not sure which amazes me more -- how this technique works or that I figured out HOW it works so quickly. This is an indication that my training is progressing better than I believed!

A week before this class I watched a Chuck Norris movie, Logan's Honor. In the movie an aging Chuck Norris used similar techniques to take the bad guys out. To me it was great martial arts, while to others it approaches magic.

28 December 2007

Each December I try to make my last journal entry of the year something profound. In the past I've had varied results, and I'll need distance to determine if this year's entry makes the grade ...

I realize I've had this subconscious expectation that Dan training is going to be different from Gup training. By different I mean something that a knowledgeable outsider can look at and say, "that is Dan level training".

But I haven't had that. With Vision TKD the training for Dans was different. New hyung (which was expected), weapons training, and new techniques. The longest Gup hyung was 46 moves -- 1st Dan was 81! Plus 100 move jang bong and bong mahnee (sp?) hyung. Everything was visibly different!

But with SBD the training is NOT all that visibly different. Yes, we learned new hyung, but they aren't all that visibly different from what I've done before. Tanto (knife) defense and sleep grip defenses are new, but VERY similar to what we learned as Gups.

In the past month I've realized that the training IS different -- and it has been differing, but slowly enough that I didn't recognize it as different until I compared it to last spring's training!

Other than working on Peet Chagi we haven't learned any new techniques, but we've been refining the ones we have already learned. I've been getting different feedback on my techniques, critiquing designed to make subtle but important changes in the use of hip.

The hyung? On the surface not all that different, but I can feel my stances getting lower and stronger. The second half of Shinto is done mostly in a crane stance, teaching and reinforcing balance. Jong Jool is performed very low, making stronger legs and strong hips. I haven't yet learned Nahanjai Eedan yet, but from what I've seen in the book (Tang Soo Do Volume 2) it's an extension of Nahanjai Chodan which is all about huri!

In terms of basic techniques we're not learning new ones. We've established our "tool box", and while I expect additions will be made the emphasis is on learning to use the tools properly. In this regard this is something FAR different from any of my previous training. TKD taught me to block, kick, and punch -- SBD teaches me to defend myself! There's a universe of difference between the two!


Copyright 1999-2008 Bryan Fazekas