Bryan's Martial Arts Journal -- 2001

This journal for 2001 continues my studies at Allen's Taekwondo in Cary, NC. At the end of last year I had just earned my Red belt Recommended.

Journal Entries

Path to Red Belt Rec., cont.
15 Jan 2001
18 Jan 2001
23 Feb 2001
Path to Red Belt Dec.
24 Feb 2001
13 Mar 2001
20 Mar 2001

28 Mar 2001
12 Apr 2001
16 Apr 2001
Path to 1st Black Belt Rec.
18 Apr 2001
16 May 2001
22 May 2001
13 Jun 2001

19 Jun 2001
11 Jul 2001
18 Jul 2001
11 Aug 2001
17 Aug 2001
04 Sep 2001
10 Sep 2001
17 Sep 2001

19 Sep 2001
01 Nov 2001
Path to 1st Black Belt Dec.
05 Nov 2001
05 Dec 2001
Path to 2nd Black Belt Rec.
20 Dec 2001

Path to Red Belt Recommended, continued

15 Jan 2001

The past few weeks have been interesting. Due to the new floor being installed in Cary, the school was closed week before last. So that week I attended sessions in Fuquay-Varina.

Both nights Mr. Gailes taught the class -- a different focus from Mr. Wegmann's classes. Mr. Wegmann tends to focus on material. Each cycle we learn our basics, then we work on our form, then our one-steps or sparring segments (depending upon belt level), and finally self-defense.

Mr. Gailes has focused heavily on the basics. I did a lot of basics I hadn't really done in a long time. It was good. We spoke for a while after class the one night, and Mr. Gailes explained his philosophy. Basically, he believes in working hard on the basics. If you have them down pat everything else should be (relatively) easy.

But at the same time, there is more to martial arts than that. The forms for Brown and Red belts are relatively easy, but include some very odd combinations that really make me feel off balance. That is an important thing for my future growth -- making the difficult simple through practice. I could do basics for 10 hours a day for 30 years and not learn some of the things I am learning by doing Chung Jung 1.

I suspect Mr. Gailes will probably agree with me. We didn't exactly discuss this particular topic, but we will in the future.

18 January 2001

I attended class in Fuquay-Varina again tonight. Mr. Changho taught class.

We did 500 kicks tonight. That's right -- 500!

It took nearly 40 minutes to do them, since we took no breaks. We started out simple, #1 Front kicks, and did 10 with each leg. Then we did #2 Round kicks, again 10 with each leg. [For those who can't count, we're up to 40 kicks so far.] I figured, "gee, this won't be too bad!".

We did more basic-type kicks, until the count hit 100. Then we did 10 military-type pushups [leader counts to 4, down on 1, up on 2, down on 3, up on 4 (except he doesn't count, we do). So the count goes 1-2-3-1, 1-2-3-2, 1-2-3-3, etc.] Again I tell myself, "gee, this isn't so hard!".

Wrong, wrong, WRONG.

Mr. Changho had this all planned out. He had notes written down as to how many of what kicks we should do, in what order. At first he didn't refer to his notes much. After the count passed 100 he needed to refer to them more.

We started doing combination kicks. At first, not too bad -- things like hook kick, round kick with the same foot. Then round kick, hook kick with the same foot. That gets tougher and requires more energy. At the 200 mark I realized this was NOT going to be easy. Actually, the 10 military pushup we did counted as a break (at least in comparison to the kicks).

It went down hill from there. By the time we hit the 400 mark my energy levels were flagging. The last 100 kicks weren't really kicks. It was an effort by me to make it look like I was kicking while not falling over.

For the last 10 minutes of class we worked on forms and one steps. I fear I didn't impress Mr. Changho with the energy of my kicks. My jump kicks were technically jump kicks, as I did leave the floor with both feet at the same time. But it might have been tough to get a sheet of paper between my feet and the floor.

After class I put my sneakers on and sat on the bench by the door for 10 minutes. I needed that time to recharge my batteries so I could get up and walk to the truck.

Mr. Changho said we're doing 600 kicks next week. I'm definitely going to make that class!

23 February 2001

Tomorrow I test. I'm feeling good going into this one. I think I know my material better than for any previous belt. Guess I'll found out tomorrow.

Path to Red Belt Decided

24 February 2001

As I said after my last testing: WAHHOOOOOOOO!

Obviously I passed my test for Red belt Recommended!

As with my last test, I really knew my material. I had all my forms down cold, and my sparring segments as well. I knew all the meanings of everything (including the segment count for all my old forms). Of course, Mr. Wegmann didn't ask any questions. Oh, well. I am not going to complain!

I got an ovation for my self defense today. It was an evasion from a rear headlock. I broke free, spun, delivered a stunning slap to neck, a backfist across the face, and ended with a flip. I guess I made it look so realistic that the audience started cheering!

Then Craig did me. I told him to beat me up, and he sure did! When he flipped me he ripped my goggles and sweat band off! He got an ovation. We were both quite pleased.

So -- another good testing. I'm looking forward to the next few months.

13 March 2001

I've had a slight setback in my training. Today (Tuesday) is the first day I've felt good in a week. I'm recovering from a "peri-anal abscess". Ayup -- that means "infection-in-the-butt". In my case, the right cheek!

Mine was pretty serious. It was a full infection, lots of mixed fevers and chills, and lots of slumber time. Those are the usual reactions to an infection.

Sunday I had to have it lanced. Sounds simple, and it really is. Actually it was kind of funny -- I'm lying on my stomach on a table, she's working on my butt, and we're chatting away. She shot my butt up with Novocain, and proceeded to stab me in a couple of likely spots with a long thin scalpel, trying to locate the main pocket of infection so she could make a cut the pus could drain through. Our conversation went something like:

"Nope. I've stuck you twice, and while I've got some drainage, I'm sure I haven't found the main pocket yet. Sorry, dear, but I'm going to have to stick you again"

"No problem. It isn't like I can feel this (thank God!)."

"This spot looks pretty likely. AHHHHH! That was it. It's draining great now!"

Actually, the conversation was much longer than that, but I'm providing just the Reader's Digest version for everyone's edification. I was actually pretty blasť about it, especially for someone with a horror of being cut open. But the anticipation of the procedure was far worse than the actuality. Besides, I think I was beyond terror, so little could bother me! ;-)

Yesterday I was still feeling pretty bad, and getting a lot of drainage. (Pretty damned gross, actually!) But today (Tuesday) I'm feeling pretty good, with little or no drainage, and the swelling in my butt has gone down. I CAN ACTUALLY SIT! Unless you've been in a position where you can't sit, you probably can't understand the relief of being able to sit! Hopefully I'll be back in class on Saturday.

20 March 2001

Nope -- I didn't make it to class on Saturday. I gave it a lot of thought and decided to wait until Monday (yesterday). It was probably a good idea. I did OK in class on Monday, far better than I would have on Saturday.

But on Saturday I picked up my new dobak. My "freebie" that I got when I signed up is pretty beat, so I decided it was time to replace it. The new one is a serious heavy weight uniform, it must weigh 4 times what my freebie does. Now I have to get it tailored, as the legs and sleeves are way to long. I was going to do it myself, but after spending that much on the uniform, I decided a few more dollars to have it done right is worthwhile.

Last night and tonight we worked on our breaks for the next test. I have to do a reverse elbow (which I've done at every testing since Purple belt) and a jump side kick!

When we first learned the jump side kick, I was quite positive I would NEVER be able to do one properly. It seemed like the most useless thing to learn, given my abilities. Well, I've surprised myself. I'm actually doing the kick well! Maybe there is a little hope for me! ;-)

28 March 2001

I broke the black board!!!

A few months ago Mr. Wegmann purchased some new rebreakable boards. The existing ones were a few years old and had been broken thousands of times. In essence, they were pretty beat. So he got new ones from a different manufacturer.

These new boards are stiff! We're talking seriously tough to break! When we advanced students were practicing our breaks last week, no one could break the new black boards with a kick. [Side Note: The boards are different colors, denoting different strengths. The black boards in question are supposed to be the equivalent of 2-1/4 regular wooden boards.] We all plowed straight through them with reverse elbows and back elbows, but no kicks broke.

My kick this time is a jump side kick. Basically it's a running #2 jump side kick, where I run up, swing the back leg up in front of my body and chamber for a side kick, jumping into the air as I chamber, and then the kick flies and breaks the board. At least in theory. In practice, it just didn't work. Of the four tries I had, two hit perfectly aimed on the crease in the board, but failed to break. Two big guys were holding the board with a third guy backing them up -- I managed to knock them all back a step, but the board didn't break.

Mr. Wegmann told us that we would ALL be required to break the new black boards at testing in April. No using the old black boards (actually they are white with black handles). At first I was devastated. I was sure I'd get a no change solely because I couldn't break that board.

Then I knocked off the self-pity and analyzed the situation. I hit the board perfectly square and it didn't break. Since the board breaks as expected when hit with a reverse elbow, the board is obviously breakable, so obviously I am doing something wrong. [Analysis is a wonderful thing!]

So I started examining all the possible causes of the problem. The one thing I could determine I was doing wrong was the technique of my side kick. From practice I could tell that I was hitting with the side of the foot, but more towards the ball of the foot than the heel.

A proper side kick requires that the hip is "turned over" while chambering so that the butt is pointing at the target. The striking surface is the outside edge of the foot, but more towards the heel. At full extension the leg should be a straight line from hip to heel. So . . . for the past week I've been working on getting my hip turned over far enough. It took a bit of effort, especially on a jump kick, 'cuz it feels like I'm jumping at my target, butt-first!

But my practice paid off! I did my kick tonight and blew straight through that board! Yayyyy!

There is something to be said for using the correct technique when executing any strike or block . . .

12 April 2001

I made a decision last week that kind of surprised me. I've decided to become an instructor.

I've been thinking about it for a while, ever since I found out Harold was in the program. Then when he got his red piping (passed first level in becoming an instructor) I started thinking harder. So last Saturday I spoke with Miss Beddow, asking her some details about it. Everything sounded good, so I met with Mr. Wegmann after class Monday night.

I will need to attend SWAT meeting every Saturday (or at least as many Saturdays as I can). Plus I need to teach at least one class per week, preferrably two. So . . . I'm going to be leaving work at 3:45 PM on Mondays and arriving at the school no later than 4:30. Then I'll be teaching private lessons until 5:15 and then helping out with the children's Novice II class. Then I attend MY class and go home. :-)

This works out well, as it has minimal impact upon family life. When I attend the Monday class, I go straight from work and have to kill time before my class. This way I've got something to do. But the Saturday afternoon SWAT class is going to be a pain. THAT is going to be a running conflict, 'cuz it's a ways after the 11:30 adult class and 12:15 sparring class. (1:45) Oh, well. I guess everything can't be easy.

The requirements for the first level is relatively simple. I have to demonstrate knowledge of the nine colored belt forms (Songahm 1-5, In-Wha 1-2, Choong Jung 1-2) and one-steps for the first five belts. The forms are easy, 'cuz I have to know them to pass my black belt test in a few short months. The one-steps will be more effort, but nothing that a bit of studying and perseverance can't influence.

So this journal will take on a new complexity as I record not only my journey as a student, but my secondary journey as an instructor.

16 April 2001

Well, the test is in two days. I'm confident about this one. I know my material. With the exception of the sparring segments I've did everything for the last test, and the sparring segments have proven easy to remember. The only iffy thing is my jump side kick break. But if I don't let myself get too nervous I'll do fine!

Path to 1st Degree Black Belt Recommended

18 April 2001

[Note: I was upset with myself after my testing, as this journal entry implies. I knew my material better than I did for any test prior to this one, yet I made a couple of fundamental mistakes. Not bad enough to receive a no-change, but bad enough to make myself fairly unhappy. Sometimes my self-expectations are a bit much.]

The test tonight went fairly well.

Bull! It went damned well! I'm being pessimistic and overly self-critical and unfair to myself! Right now I'm down on myself because my performance wasn't perfect (or at least close enough to fool myself).

If anyone has noticed, I'm often too critical of myself. My performance wasn't perfect, but I was far from failing! At no point did I feel that I was in danger of a no-change, so I sure can't fault myself on that! :-)

OK. So what did I do wrong? The red belts test last, and my legs were a stiff when my turn came. Plus I hate anticipation, so my nerves got to me a bit. I was more nervous that I should have been, so my performance for Choong Jung 1 was less than optimal. I started to goof up the third segment. But then I recovered and finished strong.

What did I do right??? We had seven red belts testing, so Mr. Wegmann had three of us do Choong Jung 1 and then sit back down. He called up the other four and had them do it. Then he call us (first group) back up and all seven of us did Songahm 1-3. My legs were limbered up and my nerves fine, so I did a very good job on all three forms. My techniques were strong, my stances deep. I have every right to be proud of my performance.

Then we did our sparring segments and self defense. Again, I gave a solid performance and knew my material. Finally we did sparring, and again I did well. I tried a few combination kicks I hadn't tried before, and did well.

Finally we did breaks. I did mine last. Not only last for the red belts, but the last technique of the entire testing! My nerves got to me again -- at least a bit. I measured off for the jump side kick, then turned around and placed my holders for the reverse elbow strike. The idea was to do the reverse elbow, then turn around and immediately do the jump side kick.

My reverse elbow blew through the board as if it wasn't even there. That one was no worry! I turned and ran up for second break. I jumped up, turned my hip over, and kicked! And hit the board about 4" too low!!!!

But I broke the board!

Why did the board break??? Because I did the kick correctly. I turned my hip over and when the edge of my heel hit the board the leg was a perfectly straight line from hip to the bottom of my foot! Since the kick was done correctly it had more than enough power to blow the board in half, even hitting it as low as I did.

Part of me was self-critical because my targeting was off, the only time since my first try at this break. Every other try has been right on target, or close enough that it didn't matter. But earlier I wasn't doing the kick correctly, so I wasn't breaking the board. This time I proved that even with imperfect targeting a well execute kick will do the job!

So now I'm proud of myself! This journal has proven very valuable to me, especially now. I've managed to talk myself through an overly self-critical moment and help myself to enjoy a true personal victory!

16 May 2001

I've been a bad boy. It's been a month since my last entry!

Right now things are going well. In the past few weeks we've been working on our basic techniques. For the hand techniques, that's pretty much a no brainer. The kicking techniques . . . well . . . that is a different story.

Our Red belt kicks are Jump Hook kicks #1-4 and the reverse/spin Jump Hook kicks, plus the Butterfly kick (Reverse Jump Inner Crescent kick). Mr. Wegmann stated that the #4 Jump Hook kick is nearly physically impossible, so he doesn't require it of us. I am not complaining. I can visualize the kick, but I can't visualize myself doing it! :-)

I really hate the #1 and #2. I always feel like a poor ballet dancer when I'm doing them. The #3 (like most #3 kicks) isn't too bad. I can actually do a decent job of it. The Reverse/Spin kicks are mixed success. But like ALL jump kicks, these babies suck a lot of energy out of you!

I've relearned Choong Jung 2 fairly quickly. I've been bad and haven't practiced it since I made Brown Decided, so I had a bit of trouble at first. There are a couple of transitions that are tricky.

Most of the techniques in the forms since Purple belt have not been all that difficult to do. The problems have been some of the combinations and the transitions from one technique to the next. I believe that these forms are designed the way they are to include awkward stuff. If we can make the awkward look natural and graceful, think about what we can do with the simple stuff!

SWATing has been interesting. I'm starting to get the hang of it, and am beginning to make myself useful during class. Right now my biggest contribution is practice dummy.

No -- that doesn't mean Mr. Hess practices techniques and take downs on me. It means that I have to demonstrate good technique to the class. On Monday the Intermediate students were practicing Songahm 1. Their technique was "OK", but not really. Most were going through the motions but putting no spirit, energy, or enthusiasm into it.

So ... Mr. Hess gave the students (mostly pre-teens or barely teens) a pep talk and then had me get up in front of the class. He gave me a big build up on doing the form correctly. And then we started, with all the students staring at me.

I put on a show. I made my stances extra deep and put 120% power into all my techniques. It was pretty impressive . . . until we got the turnaround and I totally lost my concentration and flubbed that part of the form! ;-O

Fortunately for me, the students were all turning around so no one saw it! ROFL!

Mistakes like that will help keep the swelling of my head down enough so I can fit it through most doorways! ;-)

I've been practicing steadily for my Black belt test, which will hopefully be at the Allen's tournament on August 25th. Right now I know ALL my forms! YAYYYYYYY!!! Now I need to perfect them and make sure I can do them instinctively. Since I've only got three months to do that in, I need to get cranking!

22 May 2001

I'm feeling really good about my forms. Yesterday after class the training floor was free, so I started with Songahm 1 and went all the way through Choong Jung 2. That took a lot out of me. Plus I didn't start out with full strength.

Monday's I help teach private children's lessons at 4:30PM and a Novice 2 & Intermediate children's class at 5:15. Then I have my class at 6PM. So I started out tired.

But I was able to do full speed and power through Songahm 5. In Wha 1 & 2 I did with a fair amount of power. Choong Jung 1 & 2 I limped through. So . . . this means I've got a ways to go, in terms of stamina. But the fact that I made it as far as I did when starting out tired is a good sign.

So I'm pleased with myself. I have all the forms memorized (although I won't say that I don't need improvement!) and I'm able to make it through all of them in a row, with no rest breaks. Now I have the rest of May, plus all of June, July, & August to prepare. [Of course, this assumes that I'll make Red/Black at the end of June and that I'll be allowed to test at the Allen's tournament in August!] One hurdle at a time.

The only thing I'm concerned about at my next testing is the one thing I was concerned about at my last testing: board breaks!

We practiced round kicks last night and tonight, and tonight I had four chances to break with a round kick. I failed all four times. So I've got a ways to go . . . and this time I know right now what I'm doing wrong.

My biggest problem is that I'm stopping at the board. The kick has to go through!!! and not stop at the board itself. In addition, I have to work on technique, same as last time. I need to chamber better and to make the kick flatter. Tonight I was kicking at an upward angle, and that takes away some of the power.

Plus I have to hit with the ball of the foot. Somehow, on one kick I hit with the outside edge of the foot, just behind the little toe. So . . . I have my foot iced as I type. The best-learned lessons are the most painful! :-)

Thankfully I have sufficient time to learn the break so I'm confident I'll do well.

13 June 2001

Testing is closer than I care to think about . . .

The next test is supposed to be next Wednesday (20 June), but I have a conflict so Mr. Wegmann said I could test Monday after class. In most ways I'm ready, but there is always a sticky spot.

In my case, the sticky spot is breaks. I know my forms. For this test I have to know Songahm 1-4 and Choong Jung 2. [I'm prepping for my red collar, a milestone in the instructor's training, so I already have Songahm 1-5, In Wha 1-2, and Choong Jung 1-2 down cold!]. I know my sparring segments well, and self defense this time is a pretty cool one, so I have that one nailed down.

But those damned breaks are a pain. I have to do palm heel and round kick breaks. I did the palm heel before at either Purple or Blue, and had no problem with it. But this time around, it's proving to be difficult. Part of it is the new rebreakable boards we got a while ago. They're solid black, and in addition to being physically tougher break, I think part of the problem is that I'm not focusing on them as well. THAT should be easy enough to fix. At the test I'll be so pumped I'll blow through the board.

So I'm not too worried about that. But the round kick break is proving difficult. I've got good power and targeting. The problem is apparently technique. I'm doing a few things incorrectly so the board isn't breaking. Mr. Hess (the senior) gave me some tips after I tried breaking in class tonight. Mr. Hess (the junior) told me we would break again in class on Saturday, so I'll be able to try the tips then.

There is value in all of this -- it's certainly keeping me from getting over confident about anything. Realistically, this is good. Over confidence is a killer. Plus if it was too easy for my I wouldn't appreciate it as much.

In any case, I'll find out on Monday . . .

19 June 2001

Looks like this "path" is going to be a bit longer than anticipated.

I was supposed to test yesterday (Monday). When I arrived at the school at 4PM to SWAT the 4:30 and 5:15 classes, Miss Beddow asked me if I wanted to test tomorrow (today, Tuesday) instead. She & Mr. Wegmann believed I could use another class of breaking practice (and since I agreed, not to mention that I'd bow to their suggestion anyway) I said OK.

We didn't have time in class for me to break, so several of us stayed for additional breaking practice. I did NOT do well.

After 15 or so unsuccessful attempts we ended the session. Then I made the decision to decline to test this cycle. My feet are hurting (part of the problem) and I realize I have a fear of the black board (the other 90% of the problem). So there was little point in testing when I knew all of my material except the round kick break.

No Break -- No Promotion. A fairly simple rule, one that I agree with.

Last night I was disappointed in myself. The reason I can't break that black board exists only in my head. I have the physical technique to do it. I've broken brown several times. But I flinch from the black board. I am afraid of it.

Since last night I've realized that I need the break (from TKD)(pun intended). I've been pounding on new material for two years now, and I'm burned out. An extra cycle of working on material I already know will give me the chance to chill out and relax. Then in another month when we start on breaks again, I'll be up to it.

Plus my feet will, too. I've suffered injuries to both feet several times in the past few months. The top of my left foot apparently enjoys smacking hard against bone. The rest of me thinks it sucks! But my foot seems to enjoy it. It must -- 'cuz it does it every sparring class. And my right foot is beaten up from repeated bad break attempts.

So . . . a little bit more time and I'll do fine. I would MUCH prefer to earn my Red/Black belt rather than "receive" it. It's been too much work to accept anything less.

I've considered the possibility that part of the problem is that I'm NOT ready for my Black belt. At least I don't feel I am. I may need more time before I am ready for my Black belt.

Maybe I don't have a realistic expectation of what a Black belt really is. But in any case, while I was mowing the lawn this afternoon (my favorite time for deep thoughts) I understood that I was not meeting my own inner most expectations. So . . . an extra couple of months gives me time to live up to my own expectations.

11 July 2001

Yesterday I had my monthly trip down to Morehead City. Three hours down and three hours back. Makes for a long trip. So I made constructive use of my time.

During the trip I calculated and re-calculated the segment counts for all my forms. That means I mentally did each form, counting the moves in each segment of each form. And I did it repeatedly until I knew all the segment counts and could quickly rattle them off.

Doesn't sound like much fun? Well, three hour stretches in the truck can be pretty monotonous, so I was able to accomplish something useful while avoiding utter boredom! :-)

So . . . I now know my segment counts for all nine forms!

On a slightly different note, I had a bad day at work today. Not that I had problems with the job itself; rather I received word that the client was cutting the budget for our project so we would be reducing staff.

Six months ago that wouldn't have made much difference, as we would simply have moved those people to other projects. But the market is so soft right now that we may not have other projects for the displaced people. They could be facing layoffs.

Although I'm not responsible for the jobs of these people, they are my people, as I am the project manager. I feel responsible for them, even when there is nothing I can do. [And I sure have wracked my brain trying to come up with alternatives!]

So I was feeling fairly grumpy and out of sorts when I got home. I did NOT feel like going to class. I made up a fair number of excuses to myself to avoid going. But in the end, I went anyway.

I'm glad that I did. During the drive to class I got over being grumpy and started thinking about what resources I have available to me should I get laid off (currently a remote possibility). Then I got to thinking that if the worst should happen to my people, I can provide them with a good reference (they are all good quality workers) and can provide some pointers to places to look for other jobs.

By the time I got to class I was in a better frame of mind. Then we did our warm-ups, and I was grouped with the Red/Black belts, working on all our forms. I was placed with this group 'cuz I know all my forms, and some people had a few gaps I could help with.

The workout was a strenuous one. Doing forms over and over again, full speed and power, is seriously draining. I needed the practice, and I needed the exertion. By the time class ended I was in a great frame of mind, wanting to rush home and write this journal entry.

If I had stayed home I probably would have played with the boys a bit, and then curled up with a book or played with the computer. I would not have had all the good thoughts I had tonight, nor would I have burned off my anger and anxiety through physical activity. Basically, going to class turned my bad day into a good one.

18 July 2001

Tonight was a helluva workout!

At the beginning of class Mr. Wegmann told Mr. Shaihks (sp?) to warm us up and make us sweat! So he followed those instructions to the letter! I haven't had a warm up that tough in a while.

Then we started forms. At first we did it at our own pace. Then Mr. Shaihks took over and really worked us. It was tiring!

Finally Mr. Wegmann called a break and I thought class was done. Nope. He called all the Red/Blacks to demonstrate in front of the class. I had a sudden lack of sense, 'cuz I asked him if he wanted me as well!

Mr. Wegmann announced that we all knew the lower forms well, so we started with Songahm 5, followed by In Wha 1 & 2, and finally Choong Jung 1. I was fine until Choong Jung 1, but half way through it my legs began to shake. I had had a tiring class, and then doing those forms full speed and power was almost too much.

After Choong Jung 1 I expected him to announce that we'd do Choong Jung 2 next. Thankfully we ran out of time (or maybe he took pity). I was so afraid that I was going to collapse and embarrass him publicly. :-)

But it was excellent practice, working like that when I was nearly exhausted. I need more of that!

To make things worse, I resumed my lifting schedule Tuesday, so my chest and shoulders were somewhat sore. Oh, well. Got to get started some time!

11 August 2001

I've been a bad boy and haven't been keeping my journal up. It's been nearly a month since my last entry.

Testing is Wednesday and I've been worried about passing. It's the same subject: the round kick break. (Plus my palm heels haven't been up to snuff either).

There is no reason why I can't do the round kick break. I have MORE than enough power -- enough power to knock three large men back a step without breaking the board. It's all been in my head. I'm afraid of that blankety-blank black board!

Today after regular and sparring classes, while waiting through a black belt class for the SWAT class, Harold and I were talking. We discussed breaking and I described my problem with the round kick break. He offered ALL kinds of solutions, offering to help me through it (Harold is definitely a good guy).

But more time spent kicking x-ray paper, target bags and heavy bags just isn't going to help. I do my kicks perfectly on those. Targeting is perfect (not just bragging -- I hit exactly on the spot I'm aiming for, 9 times out of 10!) Lots of power, more than enough, and I kick straight through the target.

But when I get to the board I kick differently. I don't kick *through* the target; I stop at it! My need is to ignore the board and kick to a point past it. If I can do that the board will break.

Today, near the end of the black belt class, they did breaks, 'cuz testing time is close at hand. Miss Beddow needed holders, so the adults waiting for the SWAT class were asked to help. I held for several breaks. There were a few minutes remaining in class, and Mr. Wegmann asked if I would like to break. OBVIOUSLY, I said yes! I need all the practice I can get!

I lined up for my breaks and did the palm heel. And failed. Oh, joy! What a start!

OK. So I squared off for the round kick break. Harold was one of my holders, so I touched a spot on his arm and told him that was my aiming point. [I chose a spot which when kicked at, would include in the kick's trajectory the proper point on the board to break it.]

I stepped off my proper distance, kicked, and broke the board cleanly!!!!


Then I failed to break the palm heel twice more. Miss Beddow told me I wasn't snapping fast enough and to try one more time. So I got in proper position and blew straight through the board!!!

I was very pleased with myself. I'm set for testing Wednesday night. [But I'll probably do the palm heel with my left hand, as I did something to my wrist when I broke the board. It's tender and stiff, so I'm icing it. Makes typing interesting . . .]

There are times when I ask myself WHY I do this to myself, repeatedly. Oddly enough I just don't have a rational answer. :-)

17 August 2001

I did something new the other night -- got my first no change!

It's actually kind of funny. When the Red belts were called up to test I discovered my left leg was asleep! I had to do Choong Jung 2 with my leg tingling. Guess I didn't do too badly, although I knew I could do better! Then the lower rank forms (Songahm 1 - 4) went well, as did my sparring segments and self defense. Finally was the breaks.

Miss Beddow told Mr. Wegmann that I had hurt my wrist (sprained it during a break a few weeks ago), so he told me I could do a reverse elbow strike instead. I had been stressing big time about the palm heel break. I was so nerved up that when I did the reverse elbow I blew straight through the board and hit one of the holders in the stomach! Thankfully he's a big guy so I didn't do any real damage.

Then I did my round kick break. Or more to the point, I did NOT do my break. Serious bummer! :-(

I lined up and selected a target point on one of the holder's arms. The idea is to disengage my focus from the board and select a target such that the correct point on the board is in the arc of the kick. My last three tries using this technique have been successful, so I was sure I could do it.

I threw the kick, and as I threw it my focus shifted from the arm to the board. I hit it with enough force to knock the holders back a full step, but didn't break it. So I had two more tries -- and in each case I made the same mistake. I just couldn't keep my focus off that board!

The problem is that when my focus is on the board my kick stops there. If I focus past the board the kick travels through the board and it breaks.

Needless to say, I was fairly unhappy with myself. But not as upset as I thought I might be. I knew what my mistake was and can now work on fixing it.

Mr. Wegmann told me I can re-test in October, and if I pass I'll test for 1st Degree Black Decided in December with my buddies. Normally the time from 1st Recommended to 1st Decided is 4 to 6 months. However, Mr. Wegmann is aware I've been working hard on my material since February, so he knows I'll be ready. If anything, I'm more ready for the test that will promote me to 1st Decided than I am for 1st Recommended.

For 1st Decided I need to demonstrate the 9 colored belt forms, which I've been working on for the past 2+ years. Plus I need to demonstrate breaks (large choice, but I'll probably choose jump front kick and backwards elbow).

For 1st Recommended I need to demonstrate my rank form, the first 4 colored belt forms (this much is NO problem), 3 sparring segments, self defense, plus breaks (round kick and palm heel). I'm more confident about the forms than I am the other material, so the (supposedly) harder test is probably easier for me.

In any case, I'm psyched to test!

04 September 2001

Yesterday was my first day back in class. I managed to hurt myself again. Not sure how I did it, but I apparently pulled a muscle in my lower left groin. Not real bad, but enough to make me feel I needed to go to the doctor get it checked. [Typically I go to the doctor to get my death certificate signed!]

It was bad enough that I missed the tournament on 25 August. My lower abdomen/groin was hurting enough I didn't feel it was worth trying (spent part of the day sleeping, my favorite form of healing!). To add insult to injury, I had also caught a cold so my head felt like a balloon. Thankfully it was a short duration cold, so I was feeling good by Sunday evening.

But I'm back, so life is good!

10 September 2001

Thankfully my healing appears pretty much complete. No more pains in the groin. I'm still wondering what I did to provoke that injury???

Mr. Wegmann talked to me tonight about re-upping my contract. He wants me to join the Master's Club. I attended the last Master's Club testing just after my last Songahm test, and I really liked what I saw. I think he could tell how much I was interested.

The Master's Club is more expensive (about $18 more a month), but it allows me a lot more. In addition to unlimited Songahm TKD classes, I also can take the Combat Hapkido, Chong Hun TKD, Master's Club (different programs, including training in various weapons), and Cardio Kickboxing. [The school web site also lists WTF TKD, but I haven't heard of anyone doing that.]

The Hapkido is what really interests me. It's very different from TKD, and much more oriented towards practical use. Got to talk it over with the wife and see what she thinks!

17 September 2001

Tonight was my first night of Hapkido. Made for a very tiring night.

Mondays are long days. I get up at 5:15 AM, and arrive at work around 6:30 AM. I work until 3:45 PM and drive to Allen's. I change into my dobak and get ready for my first class.

At 4:30 I SWAT a children's Beginner and Novice 1 class (White, Orange, & Yellow belts), and at 5:15 I SWAT an children's Intermediate class (Purple & Blue belts). These classes are not all that strenuous for me, but the do take energy.

At 6:00 an all adults class begins. Now my workout begins. Generally I'm all stretched out from the previous two classes, and fairly well warmed up. But this one takes a lot out of me. Part of that is how I'm doing my forms now.

Back in early August Harold brought in his video camera, and we videotaped Harold, Craig, & myself doing all 9 colored belt forms. Then we watched ourselves . . .

. . . and I discovered that my kicks were generally good, but my hand techniques totally lacked any oomph or snap! The forms that I had believe should look pretty darned good were . . . lackluster. Technically there but totally lacking in interest.

OTOH, Mr. Whited did his Chong Hun forms, and EVERY technique, hand and foot, snapped! I watched him do his form and then watched it again on video. His performance showed me what I lacked and what I needed to do to correct that lack.

SO -- I've been putting full energy into my techniques. I'm not yet snapping things the way he does, but I've made a dramatic improvement. I've got more distance to travel in this area, but at least I'm on my way.

But there is a cost -- workouts that I used to find "merely" tiring are really whipping my butt! But the improvement I'm gaining is worth it!

Back to my original storyline about Monday nights . . .

So anyway, the 6:00 class is pretty exhausting. Mr. Wegmann has begun again the 6:45 PM instructor's class. This is different from the Saturday afternoon SWAT class in that it is by invitation only -- the smaller group of people in this class are probably going to get their teaching collars. So it's part lecture and part practice. Gives me a bit of a rest, but not totally.

Then comes the 7:30 PM Hapkido class. In some ways it isn't as physically demanding as TKD, as there is less constant movement. But after the four previous classes, it does wear on me. This is a long night, but I'm able to do a lot of things I couldn't do otherwise if they were spread over different nights.

19 September 2001

We started out class tonight with forms. Getting kind of tired of doing forms. It will be nice when we learn our sparring segments.

Part way through class Mr. Wegmann had us practice our breaks. My right wrist is still twinging a bit from spraining it two months ago while doing a palm heel break. So Mr. Wegmann told me I could do a reverse elbow if the wrist wasn't up to it.

So we practiced through most of the rest of the class, beating up pads. Mr. Wegmann told us we'd break tonight, but we had pretty much reached the end of class so I figured there'd be no time.

He calls out for everyone to break and has everyone sit at the end of the room. GREAT! He's going to give me the opportunity to fail to do the round kick break in front of the class. Oh, well. That's what I did at the last test, so this is really no big deal.

Did my reverse elbow break with no problem. Didn't even register that the board was even there. [I completely ignore the board and simply execute the technique through the space where the board is supposed to be. If I do this I don't really notice the board.]

But I'm still nervous about the round kick break. My first attempt fails.

OK. I take a couple of deep breaths and calm my mind. Mr. Singleton was holding for me, so I selected a point on his arm as my target, positioned myself in my stance, took a deep breath, and kicked.

Blew straight through the board as if it wasn't there.

Mr. Wegmann told me that it was the best round kick he had ever seen me throw, under any conditions. When I sat down a couple of the other students told that the kick was "perfect", "classic", etc. I was sure proud of myself.

It's all a matter of keeping my focus off the board -- which is what I failed to do at my last testing. But I know I can do it. Just got to keep calm and just do it!

01 November 2001

I've been a bad boy again -- haven't updated my journal in over a month.

Have to admit I'm pretty bummed out right now. About a month ago I pulled the periformis (sp?) muscle in my right hip. Hip? Actually the damned muscle is in my butt! I did a good job -- for the first 3-1/2 weeks I couldn't reach far enough down to put on my own socks. I had to have Lorraine do it for me every morning. If nothing else, it proves she loves me! :-)

Mr. Wegmann has been waiting patiently for me to heal up so I can take a make up test. I have full range of motion back, but the muscles of the right leg are weak and fatigue easily. I can actually execute right kicks ok, but the leg is not strong enough so kicks with my left leg are poor 'cuz the right does not provide a good base.

If all goes well I will test next week. Mr. Wegmann has offered to let me do the jump front kick instead of the round kick, but I think I'll do the round kick anyway. I haven't had any practice with the jump front kick and know I can do the round kick break if I can defocus the board. We shall see . . .

Path to 1st Degree Black Belt Decided

05 November 2001

Well -- since you're reading a new "Path" we know what happened!!! I passed!!! YAYYYYYY!

I arrived at the school today at 4PM to prepare for SWATting my two children's classes. Mr. Wegmann asked me if I wanted to do my makeup test tonight. I didn't really feel ready for it but realized that any problems I had were mostly in my head, so I figured let's do it!

Half way through my second children's class I lost my voice. Had a bit of a sore throat and couldn't talk. Drank some water and bummed a couple of Advil off Mr. Wegmann.

Thankfully it worked. A short while later my voice returned and so did my energy. I completed the children's class and then went on to my class. During class I worked on my material and prepped for the test. At the end of class Mr. Wegmann called me up for the makeup test.

At Red Decided I am responsible for my rank form, 4 lower forms, 3 sparring segments, 1 self defense, sparring, and 2 board breaks. Mr. Wegmann had me do my rank form, one lower form, the self defense, and sparring. He wasn't really interested in any of the above. He's seen me do it all repeatedly and knows I can do it.

The real point of interest was round kick break -- which I blew at the last testing. Nothing else mattered except that break.

I did the reverse elbow break, and did it strongly enough that I hit a holder in the stomach. Fortunately I didn't do any real damage to him.

Then I moved to the second station and lined up for the round kick. I selected a point on one holder's arm, took a breath, and kicked!!! I kept my focus on the target point and off the board. I blew through the board so hard I hit the holder in the stomach!!! If I had selected a target point on his spine I could have hit that I kicked so hard!!! [Fortunately I didn't hurt him!]

So I promoted.

Needless to say I'm a happy camper. Plus I already have conditional permission to test for 1st degree Black Decided in December! Normally there is a 4 to 6 month period between Recommended and Decided, but Mr. Wegmann knows that I know all my material, so (assuming I don't blow it) I will test in another 6 weeks!

05 December 2001

I've been working on the material for my next test on 15 December -- 10 short days from now. So far it's been no big deal -- it's been all the colored belt forms, material I've been working on as an entire set since last February. Not trying to be arrogant or anything, but as far as this material goes I'm ready!

Last Wednesday we practiced for our breaks. I'm doing the rear elbow and jump front kick combination. There are something like 4 other combos to choose from, but each has a technique I'm not comfortable doing -- not yet anyway. So I'm doing the combo most people do. This should really be a no-brainer. I know I can do both breaks. So tonight we practiced a bit, and then did the real thing. I did three attempts at each station and failed. With the rear elbow, it was technique problems. My first two attempts picked my holders off their feet, so power wasn't an issue! :-O

My third attempt was good, but I couldn't break. So Mr. Wegmann had me swap out the board I was breaking (a brand new board that had been broken exactly once) and use an older black board. Blew straight through it!

Then I did my jump front kick one more time -- and blew it. Mr. Wegmann asked me to make sure I came in on Saturday. Testing is the following Saturday ...

After class we did a few breaks and I asked some of the guys to hold for me again. First attempt failed. I realized I was stopping at the board, instead of going through it.

Gee -- when has this happened before???

So I tried again, attempting to focus above the board. Failed.

Take a deep breath, drop lower in my front stance. IGNORE THE BOARD!

WHAM!!! Straight through the board!

Cool. I know I can do this and I just proved it. It's just a matter of keeping my focus off the board and kicking basically as high a I can. Saturday will be good practice.

Path to 2nd Degree Black Belt Recommended

20 December 2001

WAHOOOOOOO!!!! I actually did it! 2-1/2 years of work culminated in an excellent performance on my part!!! WOW!!! Five days later it's still somewhat hard to believe!

One of the things we had to do was to write a letter to Mr. Wegmann. He told me that there was no mandated format or topic. I could write anything I wanted. Of course, it makes sense that I have to describe why I deserve my Black Belt. So I thought it through for a couple of days. After discarding several ideas, I decided to concentrate on my attitude, and how I have demonstrated Black Belt attitude and positive thinking. Following is the text of the letter I turned in.

My letter to Mr. Wegman has been moved to a folder under the My Journal folder in the menu.

Click here to view the letter, or click the link in the menu at:

Martial Arts | My Journal | Dan Essays

In writing the letter I learned a few things about myself, and realized that I understand more than I thought I did. But I also understand how little I know so far. Funny, but in the 5 days I've been a Black Belt I am beginning to realize just how much I don't know (yet).

My understanding of how little understanding I currently have is proof of my wisdom ... :-)

Copyright 1999-2008 Bryan Fazekas