My girls and I are now officially halfway to our black belts in Taekwondo.
I thought it would be fun to jazz up our testing and surprise Sensei by counting off our 25 warm up jumping jacks in Korean instead of English.
I can’t tell you how excited I was to see his face when we began: “Hana, dhul, set, net, daseot…” I imagined him, eyebrows raised, failing to fight down a smile.
And how did he respond?
With nary a flinch. When we finished, he said, “Okay, next drill…”
Zero acknowledgement whatsoever!
I was so disappointed.
During testing of the form itself, two people test at once. Because it’s always been my style to mess something up, I turned right when I was supposed to turn left. Fortunately, I had the sense of mind to course correct and continue unfazed.
On the way out, I said to Sensei, “I trust you were looking at the other person when I messed up?”
“Yes. I didn’t see your 17 mistakes.”
So he CAN still be funny.
“Furthermore,” I continued, “how can we count in Korean and you not react at all?”
“I can react with my ears. I heard you. And was that to earn bonus points?”
“Well, if it helps.”
“Do you know the next number, or did you only learn what you needed?”
He nodded. “Good.”
If anything, I earned points in that moment.
BTW, I was out of town for several days. You know how when you board a plane, there’s that patch of walkway from airport to airplane where there’s no AC? When I stood in that spot, waiting my turn to board, I thought, “Whew! What is this heat?!” So I checked my phone.
One part of last night’s Jiu-Jitsu lesson involved utilizing the triangle choke if your arm bar fails. Instructor emphasized trapping your opponent’s head while doing so. “It’s like a balloon. If you let go, it floats away. You don’t want it to float away because then you have to spend another $50 to get another one for your kid at Disneyland.”
The funny visual aside, I was reminded of the triangle choke class where I kept forgetting to trap my opponent’s head. He’d pop it up and say, “Your balloon is getting away.” Then I realized my partner from that class was standing next to me. I looked at him to find him looking at me, clearly thinking the same thing. We quietly chuckled.
Another nice thing: the guys greeting me by name and with a smile. One such gentleman I hadn’t met, but he still said, “Hello, Betsy,” with a friendly smile. Yes, I know his name now. It’s an uncommon one, so that makes it easier to remember. There are three pairs of people with the same name, and one name being utilized by three people. One of those is Li’l Trejo. Maybe I should just call him that instead to vary things up. Do you think he’d mind?
Quick martial arts lesson: Rolling is to Jiu-Jitsu as Sparring is to Taekwondo.
Quick blog lesson: Instructor is to Jiu-Jitsu as Sensei is to Taekwondo.
I’m now at the point of my Jiu-Jitsu journey where I get to attend Reflex and Development class. Your opponent gives indicators like step back, push away, post a leg up, etc., to let you know what move you need to do.
Often I ask, “What do I do?” because I’m not very good at this. The answer is usually Arm Bar or Elevator Sweep or Americana.
“Oh, right, yeah,” I’ll say then do the move.
At the start of 99% of the regular classes, we practice The Clinch. It’s a standing move that leads to getting the bad guy on the ground. We do this so often, I could sleep through this part of class.
Then in Reflex and Development, Instructor stood in front of me.
My Jiu-Jitsu instructor explained how to trap someone’s arm when they go for a punch so you can more easily roll them over and get on top of the fight. Someone asked, “What if the other person doesn’t try to punch you? How will you trap their arm then?”
“You can say something like, ‘You hit like a kid!’ That will make them want to punch you.”
He didn’t say “like a girl” because I’m here.
Then Instructor added, “I would’ve said, ‘You hit like a girl,’ but Betsy’s here and she hit me once and it wasn’t fun.”
The guys on either side turned to look at me, but I kept my face forward and smiled. I’ve never hit Instructor! But it was funny.
Also funny: when Instructor leaned sideways to demonstrate something and said, “I didn’t have my V8 today… That used to be a thing.”
One guy on the other end of the line stuck his head out, looking at the rest of us with a giant grin that bit back a laugh. Everyone else ignored him, but I caught the smile and sent it right back. Seeing other people enjoy Instructor’s jokes is almost as much fun as the jokes themselves.
The Return of Surfer Dude
Remember when I named my first practice partner Surfer Dude because he had the look of one, not because I knew he surfed? Another guy was talking to him about his big yellow van. After class, I saw the van. There was a wet suit hanging to dry over a side mirror and these stickers on the back.
Relating to Li’l Trejo
Thanks to Mark reminding me of a Disturbed song, I was able to say to Li’l Trejo, “Guess what song I heard on the way here. I’ll give you a clue… maybe. ‘Oh-wa-ah-ah-ah.'”
“Oh! Down with the Sickness,” he said immediately.
“You got it! I wasn’t sure I could do that well enough.”
“No, it was great. That was the song that got me into Disturbed. When I first heard it, I said, ‘Mom, Dad, you gotta get me this CD.’ They got me the clean version. I had to wait until later to get the real version.”
How young IS this guy?
There was a moment after a class when I could’ve said something to Instructor about ET’s extra attention, but he was intently working at his computer, logging our classes, maybe. Lots of room for human error there. His expression carried with it an invisible “Do not disturb” sign around his neck, so I let it go.
At the start of the next class, everyone moved away from the wall to partner up except for me, ET a few feet to my right, and Lopez a few feet to my left. I gave ET an apologetic smile as I stepped toward Lopez. ET threw his arm up in a “what the heck?” gesture. But because there were an odd number of people and Lopez is an upper belt, Instructor pulled him from me, put me with ET, and had Lopez roam the room, assisting as needed.
I’ve realized a few things about ET: 1. He’s harmless. He did make some comment about how something would make me “just a little bit prettier.” I missed the first part of what he said. I ignore half of what he says anyway. But clearly there was only one response I could give to this:
No, I’m not talking about the famous movie where the people in space suits freaked me out as a kid. I’m talking about Enthusiastic Teen whose fervor in our Jiu-Jitsu classes has taken a turn.
I used to see ET sparingly, but he’s been showing up more often than not lately. Because we don’t bring out the best in each other, I try to avoid him. Thankfully, the next class after the scolding was when Jack the Black Belt volunteered to work with me. However, near the end of class, we did a musical chairs-type thing, which led me to interact with ET. I told him what happened after the “Ugh. I got ET” comment. He grabbed both my hands and said, “I am so so sorry you got in trouble.” Then he said more and tried to grab my hands again, but I wouldn’t let him.
ET is becoming a problem.
In the next class, I arrived a bit late and so lined up at the end. ET stuck his head out from farther down the line to look at me, but I averted my eyes. At a pause in instruction, he moved to stand next to me.
ET is becoming a problem.
When instruction was over, ET asked, “Want to work together?” I wasn’t prepared for how to say no, so I felt I had no choice but to agree. He’s sort of difficult to work with in that he messes around too much.
He did, however, teach me (or rather remind me of) a valuable hook technique (I forget the name) that helped me lift his leg, which is probably about half my entire body weight, so I could sneak my leg out from behind his.
“Nice, Betsy. Using the ___ hook,” Instructor said as he walked by on his rounds.
(This title is a throwback to “Betsy gets silly,” but since this Jiu-Jitsu post will obviously not be as pleasant, I’m adding happy pictures to take the edge off. You’re welcome. 🙂 )
At the start of class, I was standing near Jack the Black (belt) when it was time for Instructor to pair people up.
“I want Jack,” I said, sort of quietly, since demanding your partner isn’t done. But I did want to work with Jack. I hope he was flattered.
Unfortunately, at roughly the same time, Instructor was calling over Enthusiastic Teen (ET) to partner with me. He knows we’ve worked together in the past.
We also give each other a hard time for kicks, so I said, “Ugh, I got ET.”
ET didn’t even flinch as he stepped up next to me.
Instructor changed his mind and put me with someone from the old days. My first impression back then was that this guy was worse than Indifferent Man and more like Trying-To-Ignore-My-Presence-Man. Or maybe Uncomfortable Man, as in, he didn’t like me being there. But whatever. He seems more used to me now, and we got on alright, except for him being a bit Drake-like in the squashing me department. Fortunately, no lasting damage, but I did say, “Oooff,” a couple times, and some “Urggh”s, and various assorted painful groans.
I went down an Amazon T-shirt rabbit hole. Throughout this post are pics of the two shirts you overwhelmingly voted for last time (immediately below) and several more for your consideration and entertainment. Let me know which are your faves. I will purchase one of them, but know that my vote counts triple. 😉
A blogger shared with me what she overheard on a podcast discussing martial arts:
“The guest had suggested that when ladies learn martial arts (like JJ) it can help them have more confidence and experience to fight with an attacker (sounded like a good point) but then Rogan noted that it would take years and years of training and then even with that – ‘basic anatomy’ plays a role in determining how most women would do if fighting with an attacker.”
“So while great for self defense and good for mind and body coordination and stability – the best advice is for people to put distance between themselves and the attacker (as opposed to someone with a certain level belt assuming they can take down someone twice their size).”
This is a good reality check. And I don’t disagree. Sure, I found it a little discouraging, but then I thought about my reasons for doing Jiu-Jitsu and Taekwondo:
Am I expecting to get attacked at every turn? No.
Do I intend to don a cape and spandex to fight crime vigilante-style? No.
Do I think it would be nice to have some ability to defend myself should I need it? Yes.
Am I largely just doing this for the fun of it? Also, yes.
Do I enjoy the challenge of learning something hard? Yes. (It helps that I have realistic expectations of myself. I never thought I’d be a natural at this.)
Does it give me greater confidence in general? Yes.
Is teaching what I’ve learned to middle school girls fun, fulfilling, and challenging? Yes.
Do they enjoy the class for all or most of those reasons above? I believe so, yes.
It has been pointed out to me more than once that the best option, when viable, is to simply run away. I joked that I should hang up my gi and work on my speed instead.
How am I doing?
I saw an interview with actor Ed O’Neill (Married… with Children, Modern Family), who has a black belt in Ju-Jitsu. He used his knowledge twice to put a rear naked choke (RNC) on men who had become unruly. This move is a good go-to, and I’ve already proven that I can, with a bit of struggle, successfully get the job done on a male blue belt (Surfer Dude 1). I don’t hope to need this skill in real life, but if I do, I’ll have it.
Fun side note: Hubs and I recently saw The Lost City. Brad Pitt used the RNC on several bad guys. I whispered to Hubby, “He’s using perfect technique. It’s nice the writers did their research.” Later in the film, Channing Tatum tries to imitate Pitt, but does so humorously wrong and unsuccessfully. It was a cute movie, and I’ve been a fan of Sandra Bullock ever since While You Were Sleeping.
The guy who said I have the perfect limbs for crushing someone’s life out (Be still my heart) was the only one unpartnered when I arrived for Saturday’s class. I was glad I’d already met him during the Triangle Choke class, as that made this much easier.
“Looks like it’s you and me,” I said on approach.
“Let’s do it,” he said with a nod.
This man is my new Timmy/Andre in general size, except Andre was careful with me. (Despite that whole bending my foot backward incident.) This New Andre, whom I’ll call Drake, heavily dragged his leg over mine multiple times (as expected, I’m feeling it today) and gave me a knee to the stomach. I said “Oof” many times and a couple of “Ow”s.
Still a nice guy, he was at least trying to not hurt me.
At one point he said, “You got Draked.”
Somehow, in the moment, I found it funny. Now, I just find it as lame as lame can be. I hope to avoid partnering with him in future classes.
After class, I had an opportunity to “relate” to Li’l Trejo.
“I saw a Korn sticker on your water bottle a while back,” I told him.
“Yeah.” He smiled.
“One time after class, I turned on the radio and a Korn song was playing. So I cranked it up and drove fast. Then I got stopped at a light.”
“Oh,” he grimaced.
“I was like, doesn’t this light know I just came from Jiu-Jitsu? I need to GO!”
He smiled in understanding. “I like metal like Korn and Disturbed…”
I nodded in recognition. Disturbed has a cool cover of The Sound of Silence. Don’t ask me to name any other songs. And I only knew I was listening to Korn because I used Shazam, a song recognition app.
Li’l Trejo continued with other band names foreign to me. “I just love music.”
“Me too,” I said.
“Not a lot of girls like Korn. It’s rad that you do.”