Bryan's Martial Arts Journal -- 2003

This journal for 2003 continues my studies at Vision Taekwondo in Fuquay-Varina, NC. Last year I changed schools from Allen's TKD in Cary to Vision TKD in F-V. Michael Wegmann is the chief instructor in Cary, and owns Vision TKD, so I didn't really change schools -- I changed location. Vision TKD is a LOT closer for me, 9.5 miles round trip vs. 35 miles to Cary and back.

Journal Entries

23 Jan 2003
05 Feb 2003

20 Apr 2003
05 Jun 2003

26 Jul 2003
28 Jul 2003

30 Jul 2003
12 Aug 2003

23 January 2003

Been doing some cool things the past month. We started in again on doing the jump 360 side kicks. Maybe I understand better, maybe I'm more coordinated now, but either way I'm starting to get it. It's all making sense. But it's going to take more time and practice to get it down.

We also started bahng mahng ee (fighting stick) this month. I like it a lot more than ssahng jeol bong. Not as flashy, but certainly far more practical.

The Professional Instructor Training Program has changed, as well. Corporate has mandated a new format for the structure and it appears to be a better level of organization. One change is that we're now broken up into study groups -- this is a great idea!

To help facilitate this I've created a section on this web site for it. I'll be posting material and assignments as they are given to us. This will help the other students and help me to reinforce the material.

05 February 2003

Black Belt class really kicked my butt tonight! Mr. Gailes decided we had done more than enough Shim Jung and ssahng jeol bong form, so he decided we would work on basics tonight.

When he announced that I think that some of the lesser experienced people thought we'd be doing side kicks and front kicks and stuff. We did. Sort of. Actually all that and more.

Actually, Mr. Gailes proved tonight that he is quite sadistic. When he said "basic", he meant kick combinations. That can be a VERY loaded expression ...

We started out simple enough. Inner Crescent kick, Reverse Crescent kick. Repeated across the floor. Then add a Jump Reverse Crescent kick and do it again.

To be perfectly honest, I lost track of all the combinations we did. The one that stands out was Step Jump Spin Crescent kick, Spin Crescent kick, Butterfly kick (Spin Jump Inner Crescent kick), Jump Spin Crescent kick, Reverse Crescent kick.

A few of those is better than drugs, with no side effects and perfectly legal! :-)

The last 15 minutes of class we chose up partners and did kicking drills. Front kick and touch the partner's belt knot. Add a Round kick. Add a Side kick. Add a Reverse Crescent kick. As I said above, very sadistic!

My hips are saying very bad things to me right now. Tomorrow morning they're going to say even worse things to me ...

This was a great class! :-)

20 April 2003

I received two very nice compliments yesterday. One was about my taekwondo skills, and the other was about my teaching.

The taekwondo compliment was during sparring class. Frank is probably the fastest guy I know. His feet are like lightning and he is able to throw two or more kicks so fast that I barely see the second one coming. Unfortunately barely may not be enough to block it! :-)

After I finished a round he mentioned to me that I was noticeably faster than I had been. I felt really good about that, especially because I have been working on speed drills, trying to improve my speed through practice. I thought I was reacting a bit faster, but for Frank to notice??? Made me feel really good.

Right after the Protech class I received another compliment from a parent. She mentioned that her husband had attended the colored belt testing last week, and he had mentioned my conduct to her.

He liked the way I did the self-defense with the kids, setting them at ease even though I'm a LOT bigger than they are (I'm not a small guy, currently 240 lbs), and making it realistic. I push all students to make the self defense realistic. If they ever need this stuff it needs to be fast and instinctive, so I try to emphasize that.

As good as Frank's compliment made me feel about my technique, I'm actually happier about the compliment regarding my skill with the kids.

As much as I might fantasize about being the next Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, or Jackie Chan -- I don't see that happening. I am happy that I am improving myself, in strength, flexibility, and now speed. But I don't see myself as one of the guys who jumps over five people to break a board, or does 540 side kicks. These are not personal goals, so they aren't important to me.

Outside of my own physical fitness, I see my real contribution being the people I teach. I think I have a good eye for technique and appear very capable of teaching it. Students appear to like me and enjoy the classes I teach, so I count myself as a success there.

While I may not be the next Bruce Lee, one of my students might. THAT is a goal to work for, and is why the compliment about my work with the kids means so much to me.

05 June 2003

Taekwondo-wise, not much happening recently. I'm getting better at my forms, both Shim Jung and the bahng mahng ee form, and I've been practicing the ssahng jeol bong form. In the Pro Tech class we're doing double ssahng jeol bong, and that is helping my handling a lot.

My fourth midterm is on Saturday. I'm ready for it. Next one, in August, is my pre-test, and if all goes well I'll test for 2R in December!

Two weeks ago I started a new weight routine. I'm on assignment at Cisco now, and they have a VERY nice exercise room that is open to contractors! Not only is it available, but it is staffed by exercise physiologists and interns. Everyone I've worked with so far appears very knowledgeable.

I made an appointment for a preliminary visit, and they measured me in just about every way possible. Then I had to ride an exercise bike for 12 minutes while they monitored me. My aerobic capacity is 32% above average for my age! Plus I had to do stomach crunches and pushups.

They plugged the numbers into a program and it produced a fairly comprehensive report. Basically it told me what I already know -- I need to lose 40 lbs! But it was nice to have it confirmed professionally. :-)

So I started a weight routine. I arrive at Cisco at 6AM each morning, do my lifting routine, stretching, and abdominal exercises, take a shower, and I'm at my desk by 7AM. Can't beat that.

Lorraine's happy, 'cuz I'm less noisy in the mornings, and gone sooner (so I don't disturb her). I'm happy 'cuz I'm doing what I want to do, which is get into and stick with a program.

My incentive to keep this up??? If nothing else, traffic. Leaving at 5:30AM the trip is 25-27 minutes, door-to-door. At 6:00AM it's 28-32 minutes, at 6:30AM it's 35-45, and I don't want to know what traffic is like at 7:00AM!

So far I like it. After two weeks I've noticed about a half inch difference in my wasteline.

26 July 2003

I'm really proud of Patrick & Eric. Both are doing very well in class, and will be testing for Purple Recommended in just a couple of weeks. Since moving them from the Tiger Transition class into the Kids class both have shown significant improvement in many areas.

Eric has always shown good focus in class. Not that he has always toed the line, but overall he behaved better in class than most of the other kids. But since moving into the Kids class his focus has increased even more. At age 6 (well, nearly 7) he shows more focus than kids four years older than he is. He's definitely a role model.

His sparring has also improved significantly. His ability to protect himself is much better, and his targeting is very good. But the thing that impresses me most is his control. Not only does he do well against kids much bigger than he is, he also shows excellent control when sparring kids younger and/or smaller than he is.

That is the mark of a great martial artist. I couldn't be more proud of him.

Patrick has shown even more dramatic improvement since moving to the Kids class. His level of focus in the Tiger Transition class was fairly poor. If anyone was goofing off it was probably him. He was also quite lazy, being unwilling to kick higher than ankle level. I expected him to cause problems in the Kids class ...

But from the first his focus rose dramatically to previously unseen heights! He pays attention (for the most part, as well as any five year old), and he doesn't act up at all! I am so proud of him!

I taught the boys to play hacky sack, using a balloon instead of a bean bag. It proved interesting, since I discovered that both boys can kick at head level (for them). Patrick really surprised me, as getting him to kick above belt level is often difficult. So I told him that now I know he can kick at head level I expect him to do it all the time! :-)

I'm glad I got the boys into TKD. In addition to giving us something to do together, it also gives me a chance to control who their peers are. Beating peer pressure is sometimes impossible. So my solution is to provide them with good peers, plus good role models. All the adults they interact with, especially Joe Gailes, are good role models. Hopefully when they get to the age when dear old Dad is too stupid to be listened to, they'll still pay attention to the role models TKD is providing.

28 July 2003

Finally had my fourth mid-term on Saturday. I was supposed to have it last month, but had conflicts so I couldn't do it. Mr. Gailes had me do it solo, instead of in front of an audience.

Which was OK. He knows I do fine in front of an audience, and since he's my primary instructor he sees me doing my material all the time. So the mid-term was somewhat anti-climatic. Or was it?

Knowing that someone is grading you always gives the performance an edge that it might not have otherwise. Even though it was just Mr. Gailes & I, I still felt some pressure that helped me put more into it. Outside of a couple of bobbles in Shim Jun, I did well.

My single bahng mahng ee form really flowed. I did better than I have ever done before. Mr. Gailes remarked that I should compete in weapons at the tournaments. He thought my form was that good. So I may consider it this year.

I want to do tournaments this year. As a collared instructor I can shoot for state champ. I don't think my form or sparring are good enough to seriously be a contender for state champ, but my bahng mahng ee form may be. Time will tell.

So I passed my fourth mid-term. 22 August is my practice test, and if all goes well I test for 2R in December ...

30 July 2003

I had a chance to do something the other night that I have been wanting to try for a while: I tried to break two black boards with an upset knife hand.

The last few times I did this break against a black board I went through it so easily it was almost ludicrous. So I reasoned that doing two should be feasible. Rob & Dee held for me. Everything was set so I hit the board. And my hand bounced off!!!

Damn that hurt! Well, my hand didn't exactly bounce off, but it certainly didn't go through. Some of the pegs that hold the two halves of the front board together pulled out of their sockets, but not a break.

Ok. Let's line everything up carefully and try it again. Same result. Rob looked at me and said, "Mr. Fazekas, promise me that you'll never hit me like that!". Even if I didn't break the boards, I still hit them with enough force to rock two big guys! :-O

So what went wrong? I've gone through one like it was butter. At my mid-term last December I went through the board so easily that I hit Chris (one of my holders) hard enough to just about knock him down.

The answer is reinforcement. The space between the boards (caused by the way they are constructed) causes the back board to reinforce the front board. It's possible to break, but it requires a LOT of force. Far more than what I hit it with.

But the experiment wasn't a failure. I learned something new about board breaking.

12 August 2003

The boys have surprised me a lot in the past two days. Both have surprised me, in very different ways.

Due to Eric being in soccer practice on Mondays for the next couple of months, it's just Patrick & I at the Monday sparring class. [This probably doesn't have much to do with the story, but I'm just providing a little background.] As much as Patrick enjoys sparring class, he's been a rather indifferent sparrer [Is "sparrer" a word??? Well, it is now! :-) ] Sometimes he likes to gallop around, and he doesn't always try very hard. Getting him to keep his kicks above the belt is quite difficult.

But yesterday??? It's like he was a different child. He was charging in, using lots of hands and actually being close enough to hit with his kicks! [One of his habits is to throw kicks from 10 feet away, whose only chance of damaging an opponent would be if the breeze caused a head cold.] And all of this with excellent control -- he wasn't hitting too hard! Patrick has NEVER sparred this well before.

His last match was against Alexis, a boy his same age & size. Alexis is a very quiet boy who shows lots of promise. He and his two sisters are very good students, and he does well in sparring.

Well, Patrick and Alexis were like wildcats going after each other. Fists and feet were flying! But both kept good control and no injuries occurred. Pretty impressive from a pair of 5 year olds! I was so proud of the aggressiveness AND the control Patrick showed!

Tonight was his graduation -- he received his Purple Belt Recommended. At the graduation the students all demonstrated their techniques, and Patrick showed excellent attitude, focus, & technique.

Eric was not in good spirits tonight. This was his second day of second grade, and he was clearly very tired. He was having trouble focusing and was just out of sorts.

But he kept his composure and did his form well. His technique is about the best I've seen for seven year olds. There are a couple of boys who are a year or two older who can match his technique, but none of the seven year olds can.

I was proud of him holding himself together so well, as tired and out of sorts as he was. To non-parents this doesn't seem like much of an accomplishment, but children under 10 don't always do well in stressful situations, or when they're not at their peak. For Eric to keep his composure and not cry from frustration was a wonderful thing.

The graduation went well, better than last time. Mr. Wegmann and Mr. Gailes have instituted a different testing schema for colored belts. "Testing" is done the week before the "graduation", and is done in class. Instead of doing the testing all at one time by belt grouping, it's done over the course of a week in class. Then if anyone has a failure it's not quite as public.

Granted, at the colored belt level failures typically occur only in Brown & Red belts, and invariably due to a failure to break boards. Although Purple and Blue break boards at testing, they have as many tries as necessary to break the board, vs. 3 tries maximum for Brown, Red, and Black belts. There are no failures below Brown belt. [Personally I disagree with this policy, but I'm something of a purist, and I'm not trying to make a profit running a school.]

At graduation night the students demonstrate for the audience, but if invited to graduation they know they've already passed and will be promoted to the next rank. Note: Testing is per usual for Black belts.

The last graduation was the first under this system, and to me it was anti-climatic. To me there was no real feeling of accomplishment, and Lorraine agreed with my assessment. If I had been testing I would not have felt that I accomplished anything. Success under at least some pressure means more to me.

But this time it was smoother. It felt good and Lorraine agreed with my assessment. It looks like this new method is a winner ...

Copyright 1999-2008 Bryan Fazekas