Category Archives: Taekwondo

Crazy with a purple belt

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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.

My purple belt.

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?”

“Sumul yeoseot.”

He nodded. “Good.”

If anything, I earned points in that moment.

The YouTube video that helped us learn.

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.

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Guess who’s limping again?

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Okay, even I admit this is getting ridiculous.

In Taekwondo, we were doing jump spin crescent kicks. Sounds cool, doesn’t? Looks cool, too.

When Sensei does it. When I do it, I look like I’m having a mid-air seizure.

But I land on my toes.

Not in a graceful ballerina way, but in a, “Crunch. There go my toes,” way.

One particular toe clearly took the brunt of it. The pinky toe is like, “Thanks, brah.” Purple toe: “No prob. You took the hit last time.” Pinky: “Chah right I did!” Purple: “Total bummer, dude.” Pinky: “For suuuuure.”

No idea why my toes are 90’s male stoners.

Aside from the above, I had planned to stop posting bruise pics, but I was oddly excited to discover not a bruise, but a bump!

An actual, genuine bump! I do remember my arm hurting during Jiu-Jitsu, but don’t know exactly what happened to it.

This did eventually turn into a delightfully colorful bruise.

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Rolling vs Sparring

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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.

And stood there.

“What do I do?”

“Clinch me.”

Ugh! Face palm!

Visual interlude:

I often rate my workout based on how messy my hair is afterward. When taking this pic of my sloppy hair for you, I decided to have fun with the mirrors. You’re welcome.

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Fight or Flight

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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?

Think I could outrun a bad guy at that speed? (This is also a nod to fans of The Office.)

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.

Now. Let’s talk T-shirts, shall we?

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Wednesday night’s class

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My shoulders hurt after Monday’s Jiu-Jitsu class, so Tuesday night I thought to myself: I gotta bandage my shoulders before tomorrow’s class.

Wednesday morning: I gotta bandage my shoulder’s before tonight’s class.

Wednesday afternoon: I gotta bandage my shoulder’s before tonight’s class.

Wednesday night’s class: I didn’t bandage my shoulders.

Because I simply refuse to wear the thick hot heavy gi top, much to Jiu-Jitsu purple belt blog buddy Tom’s consternation, I knew my shoulders were going to take a hit.

It was 80 degrees yesterday, okay?! And even hotter in the gym. I put both fists up to bump Surfer Dudes 1 and 2 as I slid between them against the wall.

“It’s hot in here,” remarked SD2.

“No kidding,” I said.

“Hi, Betsy,” said SD1, clearly harboring no grudge for last class’s rear naked choke.

This class was Elbow Escape, which requires “shrimping:” moving away from your opponent by pushing off the floor with one foot and rotating on the opposite shoulder. Basically, we’re curling then straightening our bodies to move backwards, much like how a shrimp swims when it wants to get away quickly.

To add injury to injury, Instructor had everyone lay down and practice shrimping from one side of the room to the other and back again. I was feeling the sting immediately. Here’s where the gi top would’ve helped, but I had planned to have pre-bandaged shoulders! And that was before I knew this class would involve any shrimping, let alone a TON of shrimping.

The elbow escape itself requires not one but three shrimps, or in my case, four. My opponent was on the short side, so I needed to shrimp an extra time to create space for my foot to get out from behind his knee.

This one’s not as bad. Some spots are scabbed over.

And I’ve been remiss in posting pics for “What’s! That! Bruise!?” so here’s an elbow.

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Crazy with a Green Belt

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One blog name suggestion during the “contest” was “Crazy with a Yellow Belt.” If we had gone with that, it would need to be updated now.

The green belt test was not nearly as embarrassing as my yellow belt test. Did I still screw something up?

Of course I did.

When the testing was complete, Sensei instructed my partner and me to return to our starting line. I began jogging to the spot I’d been seated before being called up for the test. I realized halfway there that he meant our starting line from which we DID the test.

I turned around and smiled at him sheepishly as I returned to the appropriate line. Fortunately, he smiled back. It’s a good thing we’re friends or he might have instead been irritated, annoyed, or given me a reproving look.

I later considered that it pays to be a nice, friendly person. That greases the skids of forgiveness for my flubs. If I weren’t nice, he might have reacted differently. I synthesized that thought process down into this text exchange:

Soon after, the girls and I got the flu. I was worried we might have spread it to him, so I gave him a heads up and suggested he take preventative measures. Then it occurred to me that I had an opportunity to get back at him for his snark and maybe get a leg up for a change. Here’s what I wrote post-testing, pre-belt ceremony:

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Watching the sunrise through the Jiu-Jitsu window

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Watching the sunrise through the Jiu-Jitsu window

I woke up early and failed to fall back asleep. When I looked at the clock 35 minutes later, I realized the morning class started in 30 minutes.

Could I make it? Did I want to get up? Not really. If I did would I have time to eat? There was that one Saturday class where I woke up too late to eat much and nearly passed out. Ironically, today’s class was the same lesson.

Finally, with 20 minutes until class started, I flung the blankets from me.

It was still fully night when I left, which was disappointing. I wanted some spectacular sunrise, especially after Chatter Master’s enticing propaganda piece for mornings. (I know that was directed at me, CM!) I ate most of a banana on the way and a couple gulps of Muscle Milk.

The moon when I arrived, on time. The gym was still dark. I thought, Are you kidding me? Is class actually canceled this morning when I finally get up for it? But then Instructor rolled up a few minutes late, and several others poured from their cars, lying in wait, as I was.

I recognized three people from other classes. (Where has Timmy/Andre been hiding? Haven’t seen him in months.) One older gentleman with brown hair I strongly suspect is dyed, was milling, so I offered to practice with him. (Look at me go! So much easier when there are only a handful of students.)

This was Older Gentleman’s (OG’s?) fifth class. I couldn’t help but think, “Aww. I remember when it was my fifth class.” Suddenly I was Nate the Great commiserating with THIS guy about how difficult it was when *I* first started.

In fact, I was the most senior student there. My, how the tables have turned. I was actually teaching THIS guy how to do the moves, such as the basic trap and roll. When I did it to him, a guy much bigger than me, he said, “Wow. I didn’t think you’d be able to do that.”

Jiu-Jitsu, baby!

Jumping ahead briefly to the end of class, it was his turn to try to throw me off, but I got my hooks in and hands out for base, switching from side to side as he tried to roll me this way and that, exhausting himself until he gave up. “Wow,” he said again in a tone of, “This stuff really works.” I threw my arms overhead in triumph. (Like I should’ve done with Andre.)

I’ve always thought 5’6″ 130-pound Instructor was the poster child for the effectiveness of Jiu-Jitsu, but move over, buddy!

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The first rule of Fight Club…

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I’ve mentioned that I teach middle and high school girls self defense after school once a week. My Partner in Crime (PiC) teaches the boys. We’ve been doing this in a classroom, pushing the desks and chairs off the to side, and laying mats on the floor. The teacher of that room often comes in, carefully skirting the mats (we have a strict no shoes on the mat rule) to get something from his desk.

It’s also the classroom where teacher meetings are usually held. One afternoon the principal got on the intercom to announce a teacher meeting. Just before he could say which room to meet in, this particular teacher rushed into the principal’s office and said, “Not the 8th grade! They’re doing Fight Club in there!”

I was so glad someone witnessed this and told me about it later.

Before weather was less permissive, we stretched the mats out on the grass in the courtyard. Frequently teachers, sometimes parents, would walk by, staring. It undoubtedly looked weird. I’d wave to them from the ground as I had their child or student locked up in Punch Box Stage 1, for instance.

“Nothing to see here. Just teaching your sweet girl how to hurt people.” (Didn’t actually say that. But it was implied.)

Recently a girl showed up late so one of my students got her up to speed. “Come here. Let me show you. First you do this, this, then this, this,” etc.

I stood there watching, hands clasped to my chest, fighting back tears (just kidding), but I was so very very proud.

~~~

Because I brought Neighbor to class, Instructor offered me a free t-shirt with the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu logo and the name of our local gym. He didn’t have an adult small, so he offered me a child’s large.

The child’s large was too big for me.

I relayed this story to PiC. He said, “You need to eat more.”

Ya think?

So he prescribed me this “diet:”

I shared the t-shirt story with another friend and told him of PiC’s prescribed milkshake routine to bulk up. He said, “Well, yeah,” and pointed at my arm.

So I punched him in his biceps.

He rubbed it. “That was a good hit.”

Because he knows I do Jiu-Jitsu, I told him, “That was my Taekwondo training. And if it bruises, I want to see it.”

I texted this story to my sensei because I realized afterward that I had proper form without having to think about it. I thought he’d be proud. Instead:

I also told him about my other friend and the milkshake diet. He responded:

It’s great that both my martial arts instructors are funny.

So I’ve been trying to eat more and drink my milkshakes, which are quite yummy. Too bad they are meant to be in addition to other meals, but they usually wind up being the meal.

Then, of course, because nothing can go my way for long, this happened:

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What do I need to throw into a volcano?

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Message to my Jiu-Jitsu instructor:

So here’s what happened NOW.

On Wednesday afternoons, a buddy and I co-teach a self defense class at our kids’ school. He works with the guys; I work with the girls. I was teaching the Elevator Sweep (originally mentioned here, though I had the name wrong), when the girl stuck her arm out last second and rolled me over onto it. I got up, paused, breathed, and this should tell you how much it hurt: I used a CLICHE!!

“That’s gonna leave a mark,” I said.

I’m so ashamed.

Her arm was fine, but by side hurt worse than my gnarly ugly foot.

One week after “The Incident.”

So far I have been to class twice this month. Twice!

Every 20 classes, you get a white stripe on your belt. (Anyone else hearing Seven Nation Army in your head all of a sudden? M?) In my last class, Sweaty/Indifferent Man earned his fourth stripe, and we all clapped. Instructor then pointed at me with a broad smile and said, “You’re next.”

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