Bryan's Martial Arts Journal -- 2000

This journal for 2000 continues my studies at Allen's Taekwondo in Cary, NC. At the end of last year I had just earned my Green belt.

Journal Entries

Path to Green Belt, cont.
04 Jan 2000
13 Jan 2000
15 Feb 2000
16 Feb 2000
25 Feb 2000
Path to Purple Belt
28 Feb 2000
09 Mar 2000

23 Mar 2000
06 Apr 2000
17 Apr 2000
20 Apr 2000
26 Apr 2000
Path to Blue Belt
14 May 2000
27 May 2000
30 May 2000

11 Jun 2000
21 Jun 2000
Path to Brown Belt Rec.
24 Jun 2000
28 Jun 2000
03 Jul 2000
28 Jul 2000
21 Aug 2000
14 Oct 2000

21 Oct 2000
Path to Brown Belt Dec.
30 Oct 2000
01 Dec 2000
11 Dec 2000
Path to Red Belt Rec.
14 Dec 2000
28 Dec 2000
31 Dec 2000

Path to Green Belt, continued

04 January 2000

There is nothing like pain to remind you that you're alive.

I was able to attend the Friday morning class last week. Mr. Wegmann informed us that he would guarantee that we would not be able to say that our last workout of 1999 was a wimpy one, or words to that effect. Then he proceeded to give us one helluva workout!

The warm up was brutal, and then we started doing line kicking drills. Hadn't done them in a long time -- they hurt! When we were done my lungs were on fire and everything hurt. Plus I was so out of energy I questioned my own ability to stand.

Next we broke up by belt for forms. There were a full FIVE of us in class, so we had plenty of room. It also made for good personalized instructions. Mr. Wegmann gave me excellent tips on doing my form better. I got a lot out of it, and working it while exhausted does have its benefits. I'm not sure what those benefits are, but there must be some! ;-)

Our wrap up was punishing. We did what he called "5 sets of 5" : 5 jumping jacks, 5 push ups, 5 stomach crunches, 5 punches -- repeated 5 times. WOW did that hurt. I was still hurting Sunday morning.

Then last night, our first workout of 2000, he apparently decided to start us on the same vein we left the old year in. Before class I tried to explain to Craig what last week's class was like, and pretty much failed. Half way through class he understood. :-)

Instead of working on forms we did basics. Even exhausted as I was, I still found the energy to do reverse and spin side kicks. I was actually at the point where I was so exhausted that it didn't even hurt. Guess that was the point of it. I really hope he keeps up these brutal workouts -- as much as they hurt, they're getting me into shape.

Good news -- the Fuquay-Varina school opens 1 February! The better news is that it is in the building across the street from Stephen's Ace hardware, 5 minutes from home. The bad news is that it will initially open as a white belt school -- no upper belts.

But on Monday nights there will be an open workout run my Mr. Wegmann, so I can skip my Monday night commute to Cary. Eventually, after less than a year, the first students will make Purple belt. At that point the school will open up to upper belts. I'm looking forward to that. I'm also hoping the schedule will allow me to make 3 classes per week.

Right now I'd love to attend 3 classes, but time constraints prevent me from doing it. Lorraine needs my help with the boys, and I don't really want to sacrifice my time with them. That is far more important than class.

13 January 2000

Last night's warm-up was the least brutal of the last 3 weeks, for which I was thankful. Monday night's warm-up was nearly as brutal as the last class of '99. Miss Beddows has learned her sadism very well. I'm quite impressed. ;-)

But the workouts are having an effect. I'm definitely getting into better shape.

I had a conversation last weekend with my friend Ed, who is a body builder and is working on becoming a personal trainer. We discussed weight loss and he said some things that, although I'd heard them before, just didn't impress themselves on my consciousness as well as they should of.

I've heard people say that it doesn't matter what you eat as long as you work out enough. Ed said that was bull@^*%. Weight loss only comes when you burn more calories than you take in. So the more calories you take in, the more effort is required to burn them. This is absolute common sense, but as they say, common sense ain't as common as it should be.

Ed also mentioned something about how the body processes various things. We burn calories digesting various substances, and proteins and carbohydrates are more difficult to digest. So eating a higher percentage of them actually helps offset the calories taken in. Fat, OTOH, requires few or no calories to digest, so reducing the amount of fat eaten is good.

So my new resolution is to pay more attention to what I eat. In the past few days I've made efforts to ensure that I don't over eat, and I'm eating less of the "junk" and more fruits and vegetables, which have fewer calories.

The one thing I am NOT doing is eliminating all "bad" foods. Common sense and previous experience tell me that if I do, I'm going to break down at some point and binge. So I'm not denying myself; merely reducing the portions and frequency. NO WAY am I giving up fried chicken -- I'll simply eat it less often, which does have the benefit of making it taste better when I do! ;-)

It will be important to see if I can continue doing this.

15 February 2000

I've been a bad boy. I haven't updated this page in over a month! Guess I just haven't had all that much new stuff to say.

It certainly isn't that I haven't been training. Except the week we had the snowfall (January 24-28) I've made my two classes per week. If anything, I'm learning my Camo belt material faster and better than I have previous belts. I'm far more confident in my form, and the one-steps seem to be coming easier.

As I mentioned to Mr. Gailes earlier tonight, I've been doing more mental practice. When I'm driving to and from work I do my forms and my one-steps in my head, and this reinforces the material better -- which only makes sense. Mr. Gailes had me do my form several times, where he devoted 100% of his attention to me. He had a few minor suggestions, but said that I was doing the form better than some upper belts did. My stances, especially my middle stance, are nice and deep, and my techniques are crisp.

Nope -- not going to let this go to my head!!! As with everything else in my life, I can't rest on my laurels in TKD. Not to belittle Mr. Gailes' praise, but what it really means to me is that I *am* accomplishing what I set out to do. Instead of dreaming ahead of future belts, I want to be my best at whatever belt I'm currently at. Although my long term goal is Black belt, my real concerns right now are only in testing for Green belt.

In general I like to set goals just barely out of reach, so that if I do reach the goal I know I've done very well. And if I just miss the goal I have enough realism to accept the fact that I've done a good job. So his praise means that I'm accomplishing my goal, possibly even surpassing it. Now the next step is to avoid backsliding!

16 February 2000

Last night was the first night at the new ATA school in Fuquay-Varina. This is really cool, 'cuz it's only 4-1/2 miles from home, and last night I made it there in 7 minutes, as opposed to 25-30 minutes to get to the Cary school. Unfortunately, it's starting out as a white belt school, meaning that they are only taking new students.

The chief instructor, Mr. Gailes, tests for his Black belt 1st degree Recommended this month. He's been through the ATA instructor training, and in the past few months I've received a fair amount of training from him. He definitely knows what he's doing. I suspect that the school is opening as a white belt school solely due to Mr. Gailes' relative inexperience as a chief instructor. According to Mr. Wegmann, when the first students reach Purple belt, the school will open up to higher ranking belts and I'll be able to move there as my permanent school.

So how could I train there last night? Mr. Wegmann is teaching an all adults colored belt class every Tuesday. This means that one class a week I can go to Fuquay, but for all other classes I have to drive to Cary. This is also cool, 'cuz it eliminates one trip to Cary each week.

Besides, the training in Fuquay is more personalized. Last night there was one new white belt in addition to myself. I enjoyed some VERY personalized attention, which can only benefit me. As time goes on the class may attract more upper belts, but most of the upper belts in the Cary school don't live in the Fuquay area, so the class will probably remain small until the school grows its own colored belts.

Then there is the fact that I'm likely to be one of Mr. Gailes' first black belts, possibly even THE first. In the Cary school there are dozens of black belts who have been with Mr. Wegmann for years. As a student with a current tenure of 6 months, I'm sure I don't make too big a blip on Mr. Wegmann's radar. Not that I don't get the attention I need; rather he's got long term personal relationships with his long term students. They exist larger in his mind and are more likely to get tighter attention. This is simply human nature, and certainly doesn't reflect badly on Mr. Wegmann, who is an excellent teacher.

So, as one of Mr. Gailes' most senior students *I* will develop a strong relationship with him, and eventually enjoy the benefits that the long term students in Cary do. Of course, this works only as long as *I* continue to work hard. Never can rest on the laurels! :-)

At the same time, it's a bit more nerve wracking to receive the more personal attention. At a younger age I'm not sure I would have handled it well. It's a bit like working with the boss staring over your shoulder. But the big difference is that the instructors are there to teach and to help, and a boss staring over your shoulder is there to annoy! ;-)

Over the past two months Mr. Gailes and Mr. Hess have been giving me a LOT of good tips, and corrected sloppy techniques and incorrect behavior. THIS is one of the main reasons I'm currently doing as well as I am. As I told Mr. Gailes last night, I'm always open to constructive criticism!

25 February 2000

Tomorrow I test for my Green belt. I'm really looking forward to it, as I feel that I know my material far better than I have for previous belts. Although I've enjoyed Camo belt, far more than my previous belts. I think it has to do with being better, physically, at everything.

My kicks are getting higher, especially my crescents. That may have to do with the fact that our one-steps use crescent kicks pretty heavily. But in any case, mine are nearly at face height.

Path to Purple Belt

28 February 2000

As expected, I passed my test for Green belt on Saturday. Not that I'm getting arrogant or over confident; rather, I knew my material better than I had for all my previous tests.

The new technique I'm using -- practicing my forms and one-steps in my heads while driving -- is working out quite well. I maintain a better memory for my techniques, and it helps eliminate some of the boredom of the drive. Since I'm not spending as much real practice time trying to remember the sequence of techniques I have more time to devote to improving my techniques. So I think I'm doing better.

At the same time, I should be doing better. I've been practicing for 8 months, so there should be improvement from belt to belt. Plus, there is the fact that I do pay attention to the tips given me. A week ago Sunday Miss Beddow mentioned I should be doing a better back stance during Songahm 4, and as a result I'm putting more emphasis on all my stances. Last week Mr. Gailes recommended I put more force into the techniques of my form and one-steps. MAJOR improvement, as I watch myself in the mirrors in Cary.

Mr. Gailes is a good teacher. He had one white belt, Shawn, test on Saturday. Of the four white belts who tested, Shawn was by far the most accomplished. Some of that is native skill, but the cleanness with which he executed his techniques was definitely a result of working intensely with Mr. Gailes.

09 March 2000

This is proving to be the toughest set of material so far. The hand techniques are nothing significant, but the kicks! Oh, wow! For the first time I'm getting into material that I've never done before. The Green belt kicks are the Reverse/Spin Crescent and Jump Side Kicks. These are kicking my butt!

I've been concentrating on the Crescent kicks. Mr. Gailes worked with me for a bit after class on Tuesday, and last night I got some more tips from Mr. Wegmann. I'm actually starting to get the idea. I've found two secrets to the kick: Eye Contact and Solid Sole (two of the elements of balance). If I spin around most of the way before I throw the kick, and if I rotate the supporting foot while keeping it flat on the floor, the kick seems to work. Going to be a LOT more effort to master this one.

I finally found something about the ATA I don't like -- in sparring the head is NOT a target for punches, although it is for kicks. From my POV, this is terrible. While sparring in class, I've noticed that many people keep their guard lower as there is less need to protect the head. As a result they're learning a bad habit, and are likely to get nailed in a real fight.

In one way this is making it tough for me -- when I see someone's head WIDE open, it's hard not to throw a punch or ridgehand. Sure, I could kick to the head, but right now my opponent would have to be laying on the ground for that to work. :-)

23 March 2000

I've been in a real slump the last few weeks. I'm having a hard time really getting into my Green belt material. Not that I'm having any trouble making myself go to class -- if anything I'm more enthusiastic about going to class. I'm just not enjoying the material as much.

Maybe part of it is that this material is FAR more difficult than anything previously. For one thing, every technique I've done prior to Green belt was something I already knew. Maybe the specifics of execution were a bit different, but I knew the technique.

So I guess this means I'm being a wimp. It isn't easy, so I'm not happy? Nawwww. That isn't it. Nothing has been that easy. I'm fighting the effects of being seriously overweight, and that is proving to be a big factor. This may be nothing more than a slump, and I may be making more out of it than it deserves.

Last night (Wednesday) I had to do my form in front of the class. That was good, especially since I learned it Tuesday night! I felt good getting up and doing it. I was nervous, but not that nervous, and I did OK. Plus I'm getting better at my reverse/spin crescents. I'm finding that the step kicks are easier, probably because I'm spinning myself farther around. Previously I noted that the farther around I spin before doing the kick, the better. This is proving itself out.

06 April 2000

Hopefully my slump is over. Last week was a good week, and this week was even better. Tuesday I was working on my form in class, and my technique was definitely there. I was putting full power into the techniques and really snapping them. Of course, doing that is massively tiring, and when testing for something like Black belt, when I may have to do every form I know, I probably couldn't keep that up. (At the same time, it looks like working on my stamina is crucial).

What has probably helped me is that I'm getting better about working out at home. Getting only one or two 30 minute workouts in addition to 2 classes per week is simply insufficient. Recently I'm working out 3 days a week, in sessions of 30 to 45 minutes. (I don't work out on class days). And Lorraine and I are lifting more consistently, hitting 3 days per week. I think the weight training helps a lot.

Plus I'm practicing my old forms, as I did last fall. Now that I'm over the slump of learning my new material, I do my one-steps and forms a bit, and then concentrate on doing my old forms. Keeping this up will be crucial for when I train for Black belt. At that stage there is FAR too much new material to learn, so the more I remember of my early stuff, the better.

Last Saturday was the Grand Opening of the Fuquay-Varina school. It was definitely cool. The board break for the Project Action Foundation was incredible. Never seen so much breaking in so short a time. Even more impressive was Master Allen's demo: 4 boards, no spacers, one round kick. He didn't even prep for it. He simply walked up to the boards and kicked them. WOW! Then he did a triple break, jumping up and breaking 3 separate boards with front kicks -- before hitting the ground. I have trouble executing *1* kick when jumping up, much less breaking a board with the kick.

The only down side was Mr. Gailes got hurt in the demo. I was holding the board for him to do a jump side kick. The jump and break were perfect -- his landing less so. He tore some ligaments in his knee, and is in a cast for a bit and is going to need surgery. The only bright side is that he could have been hurt worse.

17 April 2000

Working on the reverse/spin crescent kicks has really helped my reverse/spin side kicks. As a result of all the effort, I've learned to spin around farther. One of the "elements of balance" is eye-contact, and you can't make eye contact if you don't spin around far enough. So now that I'm spinning farther my kicks are more controlled, and I'm retaining my balance -- more often than not. Not that I've attained god-like status, just that I'm seeing improvement. The end is NOT in sight.

Got hurt last week while sparring Harold. He's relatively new to sparring, and is putting full force into his kicks. Since he outweighs me by a significant amount, and is quite strong, he's very hard hitting. I was forced to reinvent my sparring style to more of a reactive mode. I had to wait for him to attack and then try to hit him at a vulnerable point. His kicks were too painful otherwise.

Anyway, at one point we smashed shins together. I'm still sore and swollen 5 days later.

We discussed it afterwards, and he didn't realize he was hitting so hard. We discussed how to spar without killing your opponent. I'm glad he is a reasonable person and wants to avoid hurting anyone.

I've also discovered that my efforts are paying off. We took the kids to the Zoological Park in Asheboro yesterday, which means a LOT of walking. I made it through the day, pushing Patrick in a stroller with a heavy diaper bag on it, without getting too winded. I was able to enjoy the zoo.

20 April 2000

Class last night was very interesting. Since a lot of people needed their third stripe, we worked on self-defense and one-steps. For one-steps I worked with Craig & Harold. We formed a triangle and then went 'round the circle' switching partners. Then we'd switch and go the other way.

Part way through Miss Beddow had us stop that and play the "One-Step Game". For this we square off and then the defender ki-hups to signal the at the attacker should attack. But instead of executing all three one-steps in order, the attacker calls out the number of the one-step to do, and immediately attacks. This exercise is basically designed to increase reaction speed.

For whatever reason, we just couldn't get it! Craig & I kept responding to #1s and #2s as if it there were a #3 one-step. This makes some sense, as the attack is a #3 jump side kick (#3 side kick) or a reserve side kick. [The attack for Green belt One-Step #3 is a #3 jump side kick, but Harold hasn't learned that kick yet so when attacking he does a #3 side kick instead. Works just as well.]

The attacks for #1 and #2 are punches, and the attack for #3 is some type of kick -- this has been true for all belt levels up to Green. So we seemed to naturally assume the worst and defend against the kick. We were laughing pretty loudly at our own ineptness!

Then Mr. Wegman came over, wondering what laughter was about. We explained, and he decided we'd try a different game. Harold, Craig, & I formed a semi-circle with Mr. Wegmann in the center. He designated one of us to attack for one-step #1, another for #2, and the third for #3. We'd square off, and Mr. Wegmann would ki-hup. The first person would attack him. Then he's square off and ki-hup again and the second person would attack. And again for #3.

We practiced this for a bit with Mr. Wegman acting as the third person outside of the circle. It was a VERY interesting variation on our basic techniques.

Then he signaled for everyone to stop, and told us to take a seat at the end of the class room. All except Harold, Craig, & I. We got to demonstrate our proficiency in this alternate way of doing one-steps. It was great. No nervousness on my part. We each got an ovation, and Mr. Wegmann told us we got our third stripe.

Other people needing stripes got up and did their material in front of the class. I like doing this, as it gives us practice for our testings in a less stressful setting.

When the two black belts demonstrated their forms, Mr. Wegmann got up and did his form for his next testing, which is some time this year. I was impressed. It has a LOT of moves, and some were quite complex. His ability is amazing, and he sets a great example for all of us. I hope to be even half that good when I've put 15 years in!

Then Mr. Wegmann did a demo of doing White belt one-steps with no breaks in between. He'd ki-hup and his opponent would attack for #1. Then without changing position he'd ki-hup and the opponent would attack for #2. Finally he ki-huped for the attack for #3.

Finally, he and Miss Beddow did the same thing, but with continuous attacks. He ki-huped for the attack for #1. As soon as the defense was completed Miss Beddow attacked for #2, and then for #3. It was very smooth and strongly resembled a choreographed fight scene from a martial arts movie. Definitely cool.

I definitely enjoy watching the senior instructors do demonstrations. It gives us a good look at what results hard practice can produce, and fills me with inspiration.

26 April 2000

Hopefully this will be my last entry in the Path to Purple belt. The test is Saturday and I feel good about the material. Techniques are looking and feeling good, and my confidence is high.

Path to Blue Belt

14 May 2000

I passed my test for Purple belt two weeks ago. Nothing too surprising about that, as I knew my material quite well. I also had very little nervousness while performing. Practice seems to help with that.

This was the best testing I've had, in terms of knowing the material and demonstrating good technique. Or at least that is MY opinion. Can't say for sure that Mr. Wegman would agree, but hopefully he would.

The test for Blue belt -- well -- THAT is another story. There is enough material here for us to take two testing periods. But Mr. Wegmann stated that adults who are willing to work hard can do it in one testing period. Looks like I'm going to be busting my butt.

27 May 2000

I have to admit I'm worried about the test for Blue belt. I'm going to be doing ALL the material for the Purple Decided and Blue Recommended tests in one test, and it's a LOT. The list of basic techniques is as long as those for any two of the previous belts, and we're responsible for 16 kicks -- Hook kicks #1-4, Reverse/Spin/Step Reverse/Step Spin Hook kicks, Jump Crescent kicks #1-4, and Jump Round kicks #1-4.

Instead of 3 one-steps, we're responsible for 6 sparring segments. Plus two board breaks, In Wha #1 (new form, 44 moves), and Songahm #1 (White belt form, 18 moves).

Mr. Gailes and Ms. Beddow both said that Purple belt is a make-or-break point. Here things get seriously tough to weed out the less serious candidates. From the amount of material, and its relative difficulty, I can understand what they mean.

The test for Blue belt marks the end of the commitment for 1 year students, or for those 6 month students who renewed. A perfect point for people to quit if they think the going has gotten too tough.

In addition to the heavy load of new techniques to learn, the grading gets tougher at this point. More is expected of us in terms of cleanness and completeness of technique. Fortunately, Mr. Gailes has been coaching me a bit on what to expect, and what details to really concentrate on.

Wednesday night he really grilled us on exactly proper technique. We repeated stuff 10 or 15 times. But this is good. I'd much rather have him grill us now that fail a test. So I told him as much.

In a previous session months ago, Mr. Changho offered criticism of my form. He started out by saying, "I'm really picking a nit on this one, but . . .". I politely told him that I welcomed his criticism and wanted my techniques to be perfect.

Funny, but after writing all the above, I'm now feeling more confident regarding the Blue belt test. Yeah -- there is a lot of material, but it isn't anything I can't handle. Just a matter of putting in sufficient effort.

30 May 2000

This is a crowded week. Due to the holiday there were no regular classes on Monday, but Mr. Gailes ran an open class anyway. Then I had class tonight in Fuquay, and I'll be going to class in Cary tomorrow.

But I definitely need the classes. The material for my next test, as I indicated previously, is extensive. But as of tonight I've got all my basics -- got my stripe tonight! Now I've got the second half of my form to learn, plus 6 sparring segments.

It's a lot, but the more I think about it, the more confident I become. After this week I have 3 full weeks until the next scheduled test, and that is enough time for me to learn the material and hone it.

11 June 2000

I'm worried and not worried at the same time about this next test. Last Wednesday I learned the rest of my form and tested for my form stripe the same night. Kind of rushed. Then yesterday I learned the all three parts of the "A" sparring segment. Just got the "B" segment to go.

With two weeks to go before the test, from one POV it sounds like I've got it all covered. Yet it doesn't feel that way.

I feel like I've got so far to go and no time to do it in. Exactly like I felt at White belt going to Orange.

But I think I know what the difference is -- it's how early in the cycle I learn the material. With previous belts I learned the material relatively early, and had additional weeks to hone my techniques and to get really comfortable with the material. Here it feels like I'm learning things at the last minute and rushing to even remember everything.

Not that I'm trying to "blame" anyone, but I think the instruction is a bit off this cycle. It's been difficult, with Mr. Gailes out because of the damage to his knee, and the repeated surgeries he's had. People from Cary have had to make up the slack in Fuquay. I think we've had less instructors recently, so there's the feeling of less personal attention.

Not that I think the instruction has gone down hill or anything. More a case of a low point in the natural fluctuation things.

It's also possible that it is all me. I'm aware that Purple belt is a "make or break" point. Here I have far more material to learn, and I'm aware that critiquing of my techniques is FAR more stringent. So it could all be in my head, in how I perceive things. Next time I see Craig I'll have to ask him how he feels about it.

21 June 2000

Tonight was my last class before the test. I attended class last Saturday, and then Monday, Tuesday, & Wednesday (today). I was seriously nervous about the test. Until last night I was fairly sure I'd blow the B Sparring segments.

But everything seemed to come together at the last moment. It reminds me of Linear Algebra. I made it through week 13 of the semester, getting good grades on the weekly quizzes, but no really understanding the material and how it all fit together. Then in that 13th week it all seemed to just come together. Kind of amazing. But as I did then, I'm sure not complaining now.

Hopefully this will be my last journal entry in Path to Blue belt. Unlike previous weeks, my confidence level is up! I feel good about this one.

Path to Brown Belt Recommended

24 June 2000

Since I'm writing this, I obviously passed my test for Blue belt. But for the first time since starting Songahm TKD, I'm quite dissatisfied with my performance at this testing.

Forms I did fine -- both Songahm 1 and In Wha 1. I did well at my self defense, my sparring was sufficient, and my breaks were killer. But my sparring segments -- as far as I am concerned, I screwed up.

I was so nervous that I'm lucky I was able to do them at all. I think the difference here was time. The past few belts, I've known my material half way through the testing cycle, so I had a full half-cycle to hone it. This time I learned the segments late in the cycle and just couldn't get them down pat.

But I don't feel so bad -- the other purple belts were also worried. Craig (who was out of town today, so he's testing next week) is going for Purple Decided instead of Blue Recommended. Kyle just barely got his B segment down (last night) and was nervous. Obviously I was busy so I couldn't watch him, so I have no idea how well he did, although he passed, too.

Blue belt is another similar situation. I need to decide a week or so before the test if I'm going to go for Brown Recommended or Blue Decided. Given my performance today, I'm strongly leaning towards Blue Decided ...

28 June 2000

I've been thinking it over pretty heavily, and have come to a decision. At the next testing -- assuming I'm allowed to test -- unless I'm really confident of my material to qualify for Brown Belt Recommended, I'm going to skip testing and wait another testing cycle.

Apparently I've got the option of testing for Blue Belt Decided instead of Brown Belt Recommended, but I question that value of that. As Blue Belt Recommended, I'm responsible for In Wha #1, Songahm #1, Sparring Segment A, free sparring, and a Side Kick board break. As Blue Belt Decided I'm responsible for In Wha #1, Songahm #1 & #2, Sparring Segment B, free sparring, and a Front Kick board break.

I already know Songahm #2 (Orange Belt form), I now free spar at every belt, and I'm confident I can do the board breaks, so that leaves only Sparring Segment B as the difference. I can't see spending $40 for a test that is going to give me a striped belt, but really doesn't offer anything. If I'm not confident of my material, then I just wait another cycle, save $40, and (hopefully) give a good performance at the testing.

So we shall see. I'll know a week before testing whether or not I'm ready, and make my decision then.

03 July 2000

WOW! The material for Blue belt is a LOT tougher than that for Purple belt. Not just tougher -- there's a lot more of it. We have 9 hand basics and 10 kicks!

The hand basics are not tough. But the number is a bit overwhelming -- although nothing that can't be handled. It's the kicks are difficult.

Turns out the Black Belt Club Student Handbook is out of date. It lists Jump Crescent Kicks #1-4 as a basic technique for Purple belt. But we didn't learn it at Purple belt and I never had a chance to ask anyone why. So I now have to do Jump Crescent Kicks #1-4, (Step) Jump Reverse/Spin Crescent kicks, and (Step) Reverse Round Kicks.

That assumes that the book is correct. I need to talk to Mr. Wegmann and get the correct material for each belt. I don't like having the book be out of date ...

28 July 2000

Just read my previous entries in this path. Talk about a negative attitude! My attitude is better now, but the prognosis is still the same. If I'm not satisfied with my techniques two weeks before the test, I'm going to skip this test and wait until the October testing.

Funny thing is that I'm confident that I'll be allowed to test this time. Back at the beginning of this month (July 2000) I was overwhelmed by the difficulty of the jump crescents and jump reverse/spin crescents. Now I'm actually confident about them. Gee, it's amazing what a *bit* of practice will do for you. ;-)

Overall my jump kicks are a LOT better. With each belt and each new kick I'm leaving new "tricks and tips", and that is what is making the difference. Oh, and as I mentioned above, more practice seems to help a bit as well! :-)

I know 5 of the 8 segments of my form. I'm not worried about that at all. Nor am I worried about sparring, or my breaks. Breaks for Blue belt are Front and Side kicks, and my kicks are certainly powerful enough to plow through a board. Haven't learned my self defense yet, but again, that's not a worry.

My worry is those frigging sparring segments. The problem I had with Purple Belt was that the segments were similar enough that I confused them. I also learned them late in the testing cycle so I didn't have time enough to hone them. So my fear is that Blue belt will be a repetition of Purple Belt. Or maybe I should relax and burn that bridge when I come to it?

21 August 2000

I don't have to worry about testing next week -- I'm not going to have permission to test.

Three weeks ago I hurt my left foot in sparring. I threw a round kick, and my opponent blocked it with a downward elbow. The top of my boot peeled back and he caught me right at the base of the 2nd and 3rd toes with the point of his elbow. He didn't feel a thing, but I hopped around like my foot was on fire! (which it was!)

After a few minutes rest I thought I was OK. It looked like just a minor bruise, and I iced my foot when I got home. The next afternoon my foot was feeling funny, and when I examined the toes they were all swollen and kind of misshapen. Oh, great! I broke 'em!

So I splinted 'em with the handle of a spoon from Wendy's, which worked just fine. This was a Sunday. By Wednesday, things were feeling abnormal. I've broken toes before, and this felt different.

Friday I finally got around to seeing a doctor. He examined me, and I could tell that he thought the toes were broken. So we x-rayed them.

Surprisingly enough, no breaks!!! The doctor did say that I had the worst soft tissue damage, short of a break, that he had ever seen. He told me to keep 'em splinted for a few more days and to take it easy.

Fortunately, I was doing pretty well by the following Tuesday, although I wasn't up to a regular workout. But Wednesday I was able to do a short workout on my own, and attended class Friday morning. But it cost me two weeks of training I just couldn't afford ...

But at the same time, I was doubting if I would test even if Mr. Wegmann gave me permission. So this really solves the problem for me! ;-)

I don't feel bad about not testing. If anything, the extra couple of months will help to guarantee that I do great when I do test!

14 October 2000

WOW! I've been a bad boy. Haven't updated this in nearly two months!!!

A lot of things have changed in the past two months. For one thing, I started learning HTML -- I mean really learning it, rather than just using Microsoft Word as a crutch. In the process I discovered just how bad an HTML editor Word is. So I started reformatting all my pages and tweaking them by hand. The end result is better and certainly easier to maintain, but it's a lot of work.

21 October 2000

Next Saturday is the test. I know my material, but I'm very nervous about it!

Path to Brown Belt Decided

30 October 2000

Again, since I'm writing this, I obviously passed my test for Brown belt Recommended. I did better this time than I did for Blue belt, but I'm still not happy with my performance.

Again, I did my forms fine, Songahm 1 & 2, and In Wha 1. Self defense wasn't as good -- I was too nervous. Sparring was adequate, and my breaks were good. BUT -- again the sparring segments were pitiful.

There is something about the sparring segment that throws me off. I have such a hard time learning them. I've got to figure this out or I'm doomed!

01 December 2000

I've been a VERY bad boy! It's been a month since I've updated this page! Even worse, I haven't posted it yet! Better get on the ball!

After reading my previous entries, I realize I haven't mentioned block training at all!!!

After the August testing (which I skipped 'cuz I wasn't ready) Mr. Wegmann shifted both the Cary &Fuquay schools to a "block training" system. This means that instead of teaching the material belt-by-belt, the material is grouped into "blocks", reducing the number of groups to be taught.

In the past, the adult classes have been broken into as many as 11 groups, one for each colored belt ranking (white, orange, yellow, camo, green, purple, blue, brown, red, red/black, &black). Given that we have 2 or 3 instructors per class, that doesn't give any one group all that much of an instructor's attention. [This isn't criticism -- it's reality!]

Instead of doing it belt-by-belt, Mr. Wegmann is breaking the material into "blocks", where a block is defined by two colored belt ranks, excepting white. This means that instead of 11 groups in class, we have 6 (Beginner: white, Novice 1: orange/yellow, Novice 2: camo/green, Intermediate: purple/blue, Advanced: brown/red, Black Belt: red/black & black). With three instructors per class (the norm in Cary) each group has 50% of the instructor's attention.

Each block works through the material for the belts in reverse order. So for Novice 1 students, the material alternates Yellow, Orange. So depending on which cycle a student begins on, they might learn Yellow belt material before Orange.

For Intermediate and Advanced students, the mix gets more confusing. For Advanced students, we started with material for Red Decided last cycle. This cycle we have learned Red Recommended; next cycle we learn Brown Decided, and after that Brown Recommended, and then we start at Red Decided again.

So I, as a current Brown belt Recommended, am learning Red Recommended. Next cycle I'll learn Brown Decided (as a Brown Decided). Then, as a Red Recommended I'll learn Brown Recommended, and finally as a Red Decided I'll learn Red Decided.

Confusing??? It really isn't. And since we've gotten used to it, it makes a lot of sense, as we have more devoted time from each instructor. It is working better (IMO).

11 December 2000

Things are starting to click for me.

I've been having a helluva time learning the sparring segments. But this is weird, as the sparring segments aren't any harder than one-steps or forms. This difficulty on my part has proven annoying and inexplicable! I can remember a 46 move form, but I can't seem to grasp a 6 move sparring segment!

But now I think I've figured it out. Each sparring segment is anywhere from 4 to 12 moves long. I've been trying to memorize each one as a block, and this is where the difficulty lies. The segments for a given belt are somewhat similar, so they're easy to confuse.

So I'm treating each block of three sparring segments like a form. I memorize them in chunks (like form segments), and do them sequentially. Maybe it's just me, but this has proven to be the ice breaker -- I taught myself to remember the three Red belt Recommended segments in about 15 minutes -- once I figured out the memory triggers!

Path to Red Belt Recommended

14 December 2000


I tested for Red belt Recommended tonight and passed! [Of course, since I've started this new chapter in my saga it's pretty obvious that I passed! ;-) ]

Tonight I was pleased with my efforts!!! In the past two belts (Blue & Purple) I managed to screw up the sparring segments, and nervousness over the segments managed to spill over into my forms and self defense. But tonight I had the material down pat and my nervousness was minimal!

Not that I gave the most stellar performance of the entire testing. I'm not and never will be the best student. There are too many other people with far more ability. But that doesn't bother me. I'm not in competition with anyone else, and I'm earning each belt on my own.

When I was younger that would have bothered me. I wanted to be the best. Now I've realized that "being the best" really doesn't matter. What does matter is that I give it my best effort. And yes -- tonight I gave a very good effort and am quite pleased with myself!

Of course, Monday is a new class with all new material, so it isn't like I can rest on my laurels!!! :-)

28 December 2000

The past few weeks I've been completely restructuring my web site, changing it to a frame-based layout. Navigation should be easier and maintenance (since I'm not including links in as many places) should also be easier. My HTML is getting' a lot stronger, so the restructuring is going faster and faster.

As I've restructured things, I've been reading through my old entries. WOW!!! Such negativity. The past six months have been one unending litany of "gee, this is hard!".

Well, to be fair to myself -- yes, it has been hard. It might have helped if I had practiced more (as I did in the weeks prior to my last test). When I have sufficient practice I learn better (well, DUH).

On Saturday (when we were painting the Cary school, I volunteered to help) Mr. Wegmann mentioned that the last Black belt testing had been brutal, but that it should be. I certainly can't argue with that. If it's easy, it isn't worth much.

At the last testing a Red Recommended and a Red Decided both received a no-change. The Red (R) belt blew his breaks, and the Red (D) blew several of his older forms and his breaks. In the past, we've had virtually no no-changes. But it's obvious that failure is possible.

So ... I've been thinking about how brutal the black belt testing will be. I will need to do each of my old forms, and will be given minimal rest breaks. The stamina required to do this is going to be critical. So I've decided to re-start practicing my old material, and to work on doing each form from Songahm 1 to Chun Jung 2 with no breaks. It's going to take me months to build up the stamina to be able to do this, but if I don't get started now, I won't be ready for the test.

Assuming I don't blow a test in the mean time, I can expect to test for Black Belt 1st Degree Decided at the end of October 2001. That is ten months away, and that certainly isn't much time!

So I mentioned this to Mr. Orlowsky (sp?) last night at class. My idea is to get the older people together for "stamina building" classes. The plan is to work on the older material (forms) to make sure they are up to snuff, and to work at doing each of them without breaks in between. He agreed that it is a good plan.

Not that the younger people wouldn't benefit just as much from this, but it's often difficult to convince them that the effort is necessary. Those of us in our 30's and 40's are forced to recognize our limitations, so we also have an easier time recognizing the importance of proper preparation. Hopefully I'll have no problem convincing the others that this is a good idea.

All we will need is a good place to work out ...

31 December 2000

I attended the sparring class yesterday for the first time. Each Saturday afternoon there is an adult class dedicated to sparring. I've been trying to attend one since the class was instituted in September, but my scheduling hasn't allowed it. Yesterday's class was a good one, and I'm looking forward to attending future ones.

I got clobbered yesterday. One of the senior black belts is a slightly built young guy, probably 8" shorter than I am and 1/3 my weight. He (literally) kicked me apart. MAN! Is he flexible! He kicked me in the head three times! That foot flies!

I also got kicked in the gut on the right side, three times. Everyone I sparred except Mr. Hess managed to nail me in that same spot. Kind of sore this morning.

A topic came up with one of the purple belts about how hard we hit. He's a heavy set guy, like me, and his kicks and punches were pretty hard. Some of the people we were sparring are much smaller, and we really don't want to hurt anyone -- at least not in class in a non-confrontational situation.

Typically I pull my kicks and punches. I throw them full force but stop them before they connect. But I suspect that I may still be putting in too much force. So I've got something to consider for future sparring sessions.

Copyright 1999-2008 Bryan Fazekas