Everything I know about martial arts tournaments I learned watching bad karate movies

Okay so a certain pair of Tang Soo Do instructors, who shall remain nameless, have convinced me to consider entering a TSDMA interschool tournament. Naturally, when it was announced that there would be a special class session to go over tournament etiquette and explain to clueless n00bs like myself what was expected, I resolved to attend. Doing so, I meet some new people, and I made some discoveries over the course of visiting four tournament prep stations:

1) Apparently, “air bo” is not a recognized weapons form.

As a white belt, I’m technically not really even supposed to be doing weapons training yet so I’m not sure that I could even enter this category in tournament. I learned a little of the basic bo hyung with Miss Zaharevich, but not nearly enough to take to competition. For now, I’ll keep working on my “air bo” until I start real bo training in earnest when I regain my green.

2) I can break faux boards. Note to self:  Must do more of that.

I have no idea how the reusable breaking boards compare to real wood but who doesn’t love breaking stuff? Trying to focus power in a technique is one thing hitting a bag or pad; it’s something altogether different following through a real break. I stuck with a simple elbow technique but would like to try others when there is more time to experiment.

3) I can score points sparring. Just not against Ms Novicky.

Actually scoring points in a sparring match was a pleasant surprise. Particularly since it was the first time I had even put all of my sparring gear on at the same time. My first match ended with me losing but with a respectable 2-3 score. My second match was entirely one-sided. I don’t think I scored a single point. Not that I stood much chance of scoring any points on her anyway but I’m still struggling with my inhibitions about hitting a woman. In this context, that’s just wrong and disrespectful of my opponent and I have to get over it.

4) I can forget half of a basic hyung on a moment’s notice and mangle it horribly.

The hyung station was the worst. Of course, it’s the one I expected to have the least trouble with.  I was prepared to bring on my best pyang ahn cho dan.  The soo dos at the end are still a bit awkward, but there are several weeks between now and the tournament.

Problem. Apparently, white belts don’t do pyang ahn cho dan.  They’re expected to stick with one of the basic hyung; I went with ki cho hyung il bu since we’d done it in warm ups and who could possibly possibly screw it up?  This guy could. Monumentally. Hodor.

conscious-competence-learning-matrix-animation-ppt-slideThere’s a learning paradigm about consciousness and competence. Before we learn a skill, we are unconscious-incompetent; we don’t even know that we don’t know the skill.  As new learners, we learn what it is we don’t know; conscious-incompetent. With practice we reach conscious-competence; we can do the skill with effort as long as we concentrate on it.  The goal is to reach unconscious-competence; performing the skill naturally without having to concentrate on each aspect of the skill. The paradigm is cyclic as increased competence reveals subtleties that were previously hidden and can be further honed.

Today’s lesson in humility was learning how easily it is to slip back from conscious-competence to conscious-mind-boggling-incompetence when focus is lost.

5) My ninja invisibility skills do not work on Mrs. Krantz.

At the very end of the class, individuals and groups performed various hyung starting with and incredibly complex black belt hyung by Mr. Pomes the younger and wending through groups of similar belts.  I was mercifully spared doing hyung with the 7 year old, 30 pound, second and third gup orange belts and thought I might just slide by as the only white belt and the only adult below green belt. Not a chance.

In fairness, my ninja skills have had better days.  I was called up alone but given the option to have some company for support.  I’m pretty sure I could have named any hyung through chil sung e lo and that would have been acceptable at this point.  My first instinct was to try pyang ahn cho dan but I knew I had to redeem my earlier ki cho hyung il bu.

There was a certain symmetry in starting with a very complex hyung executed by a black belt and ending with the first basic hyung by a white belt and I can only hope I did it justice that time around.

Exercise on this day: Ahneso Phakuro Cha Gi: 32 Kicks (L&R) · Ahp Cha Gi: 32 Kicks (L&R) · Crunches: 20 · Hyung: Ki Cho Hyung Il Bo · Leg-raises: 20 · Push-ups: 20 · Sparring · Tollyo Cha Gi: 32 Kicks (L&R) · Yup Cha Gi: 32 Kicks (L&R)

Bantam Rec Center Twice in One Day!

So I managed to start and end my day in different ends of the same building.  I spent the morning sitting on what I’m convinced was a repurposed church pew outside the State’s Attorney’s office waiting for him to dismiss my “driving a vehicle with suspended registration” charge.   (He did.  It was an annoying clerical error at DMV that cost me three days off from work to deal with…)  Seven hours later I was back at the opposite corner of the same building for Tang Soo Do class.

In all fairness, Kyo Sa Krantz did warn us that it was going to be sparring drills and he meant it!  A good workout was had by all and I plowed on like a rogue Hodor with a limp.  (Note to self: Mr. Dingwell does brutal warm-ups.  Just like doing burpees, any kind of “get down, get back up again” style exercise is high on wear and tear.  It’s not the years that getcha, it’s the mileage!)

Some exercise counts for today are unapologetically estimated including work from class. Squats may be off the list for a while altogether.

Exercise on this day: Ahneso Phakuro Cha Gi: 32 Kicks (L&R) · Ahp Cha Gi: 32 Kicks (L&R) · Crunches: 18 · Leg-raises: 18 · Push-ups: 18 · Sparring (Distance Drills) · Tollyo Cha Gi: 32 Kicks (L&R) · Yup Cha Gi: 32 Kicks (L&R)

Respect & Obedience

Once again life has supplied the choice of this week’s tenet for discussion.  In this case, the related pair that share one place in the list of 7 Tenets; Respect and Obediance.

Respect • 경의
Obedience • 복종

re·spect noun \ri-ˈspekt\

: a feeling of admiring someone or something that is good, valuable, important, etc.

: a feeling or understanding that someone or something is important, serious, etc., and should be treated in an appropriate way

: a particular way of thinking about or looking at something

obe·di·ence noun \ō-ˈbē-dē-ən(t)s, ə-\

:  an act or instance of obeying

:  the quality or state of being obedient

(I’m terribly behind in my posting so I’m going to post this prematurely as a place holder and to at least get it out on time.  My thoughts on the subject are in my head but just not quite getting to my fingers at this moment.)

Respect and obedience take on a very complex and different perspective when you’re an adult. We start out as children with a very prescriptive version of “respect”. Respect your parents, respect your teacher, respect your Scoutmaster,  respect your elders, respect the police, respect G-d, and so on.  As kids, respect is only slightly differenced from fear and unquestioning obedience to authority.


With time and experience comes the revelation that true respect must be earned along with the notion that it is possible — even desirable — to question authority.  By desirable I don’t mean the ’60s anarchist version of Question Authority(tm) but the kind of reasoned skepticism advocated by Ben Franklin: “It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority. “

As adults we, hopefully, recognize that we are responsible for which figures we recognize as authorities worthy of our respect or our obedience; whether those figures are individual people, professions worthy of respect, or wholly abstract authorities like the law.  With this recognition also comes the realization that we sometimes need to show respect (or at least its poor cousin, deference) to people we don’t respect because they hold positions that we respect in the abstract. Sometimes we have to respect the title even if we don’t respect the title holder.

But there is another, more subtle, aspect of respect that bears consideration and that’s the respect between peers.

(to be continued…)




Exercise on this day: Ahneso Phakuro Cha Gi: 32 Kicks (L&R) · Ahp Cha Gi: 32 Kicks (L&R) · Tollyo Cha Gi: 32 Kicks (L&R) · Yup Cha Gi: 32 Kicks (L&R)

At least there’s no Tang Soo Two-Step. I hope.

Today’s class had some new twists on One-Step Sparring; namely doing the Intermediate versions and also the Three-Step Sparring versions.  I’m not sure where my head was because I had a devil of a time getting even the simple one-steps right and the three-steps were worse.  There is some consolation in that working combinations seemed to go better today although I still need to get better with recognizing the spoken Korean terms for hand techniques.

It also seems that my Chil Sung E Lo is getting worse with practice.  Must do something about that if I’m going to have it down with sufficient competency by the end of March and the next gup shim sa.

I’ve intentionally cut back on my level of participation in the 20,000 to keep from overtaxing my knee. Hopefully it’s just a matter of needing to work into a higher level of exercise more slowly and not a sign that it’ll need to be replaced sooner rather than later…  I only got around to doing half my kicks today but will be satisfied with that on top of class.  Tomorrow needs to see all of them finished.

The first inter-school tournament of the season is coming up in March.  Still working on getting up the chutzpah to enter.  We’ll see.

Exercise on this day: Ahneso Phakuro Cha Gi: 16 Kicks (L&R) · Ahp Cha Gi: 16 Kicks (L&R) · Combos · Hyung: Ki Cho Hyung Il Bo, Pyang Ahn Cho Dan, Chil Sung E Lo · One-Step Sparring (Intermediate) · Three-Step Sparring · Tollyo Cha Gi: 16 Kicks (L&R) · Yup Cha Gi: 16 Kicks (L&R)


Last week had some frustrating events that suggested that Self Control might be the tenet to discuss next.

Self Control • 자제심

self–con·trol  noun \ˈself-kən-ˈtroll\

: control over your feelings or actions

:  restraint exercised over one’s own impulses, emotions, or desires

This week’s exercise in self-control involved remembering that the trooper who issued me a summons for driving a vehicle with a suspended registration was not the one responsible for the administrative snafu that got it erroneously suspended in the first place.  Not the trooper, not the DMV minion who neglected to send out any notice of suspension back in June, not the guy who answered the insurance line at  DMV and immediately lifted the suspension, and not even the state’s attorney I’ll have to deal with in court in a couple of weeks to get the bogus charge dismissed.

As easy as it would have been to go off on any of them, there would be no point in it.  Somebody at DMV made a clerical error, it cost me some aggravation and a couple of days of work. It’s not the end of the world and I’m not going to let it waste any more of my time and energy than it absolutely has to.


Exercise on this day: Ahneso Phakuro Cha Gi: 32 Kicks (L&R) · Ahp Cha Gi: 32 Kicks (L&R) · Crunches: 16 · Leg-raises: 16 · Push-ups: 16 · Squats: 16 · Tollyo Cha Gi: 32 Kicks (L&R) · Yup Cha Gi: 32 Kicks (L&R)

Not the Best Way to Start the Day (Or the Year)

Today started out normally enough.  Coffee, shower, shave, dress for work, more coffee to go.  Things didn’t start to go downhill until the colorful red and blue lights lit up behind me on the way to work. First off, kudos to the trooper for being a consummate professional and making an unpleasant situation as palatable as possible.  Turns out he’s from my home town. Go figure. Continue reading Not the Best Way to Start the Day (Or the Year)

Exercise on this day: Ahneso Phakuro Cha Gi: 32 Kicks (L&R) · Ahp Cha Gi: 32 Kicks (L&R) · Crunches: 14 · Leg-raises: 14 · Push-ups: 14 · Squats: 14 · Tollyo Cha Gi: 32 Kicks (L&R) · Yup Cha Gi: 32 Kicks (L&R)


Okay, so it’s technically not an epiphany if you already knew about it… Round may be a shape but it’s not a good one to be in.


Another day towards the 20,000. It’s going to be a very long year.

Exercise on this day: Ahneso Phakuro Cha Gi: 32 Kicks (L&R) · Ahp Cha Gi: 32 Kicks (L&R) · Crunches: 14 · Leg-raises: 14 · Push-ups: 14 · Squats: 14 · Tollyo Cha Gi: 32 Kicks (L&R) · Yup Cha Gi: 32 Kicks (L&R)