Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Maybe Not

Lest my last post give the idea that I can now do flawless wheel kicks, I'll disabuse you of any such notion. I can't. I think I've just begun to learn that I needed to let my torso 'lie down' during the last portion to the kick, making it easier for the leg to spin levelly.

I had such a frustrating time yesterday retesting on the wheel kick. So, for the last few days, I've been retesting on all the techniques which needed improvement from my last test, and yesterday I ventured to do wheel kick. Result: I've passed wheel kick on one leg. I still find it very hard to keep my leg level all the way. I hate the initial jerking motion you have to give yourself to start spinning. There must be some more efficient way to do it, it feels so forced. And I'm not able to do the initial lift of the leg for long enough. A very helpful brown belt was helping me retest. I chose him because he's very good, and gives good advice. Also, he doesn't just easily pass you on the retest. By the end of it, I was almost in tears from the strain in my side of doing it over and over again. I also feel I am still doing something wrong if it is such a strain. But what?

I'm rather depressed today also because during the last few classes my side stitch has been bothering me again. Its quite bad when I walk uphill. It started in November and has been there on and off. Kidney stones were ruled out, and I scare myself thinking that its something like a ruptured liver from sparring. It would be nice if I could get some kind of scan done to set my mind at ease. But that is easier said than done. In November, they told me to come back again if it bothered me, and I hate this back and forth we have to do. I told them it could have come from an injury during sparring, so why can't they just take some kind of scan? It would really set my mind at ease. My focus has been really bad as I worry about this during class a lot. Its entirely possible that I just strained my diaphragm (or my side or something), and the stress of not knowing what it is (not to mention the stress of job-hunting) is at the bottom of perpetuating it. I am going to go and cry.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Look Ma, I Can Wheel Kick

Today we were practicing a combination where you spin stomp kick and then do a wheel kick. And something just clicked and for the first time, so that I felt myself doing a wheel kick the right way! It was as if a channel had opened directly from my brain to my leg and information was flowing freely along it -- it really felt like that. I think what I finally got was how to separate the motion of my upper body and my leg so they are at 180 degrees during the 'wheel' portion of the kick. Actually, I couldn't make out what I was doing differently to achieve this, so it seems a bit magical at this point. I have to think of a better way to explain, perhaps in pictures. Anyway, finally some kind of missing piece was put in place. I hope I don't lose it!

What's fascinating to me is how there is a kind of subconscious learning going on all the time, perhaps from watching others, perhaps from doing it wrongly and it feeling wrong. Then at some point, there is a threshold where the subconscious learning becomes enough to translate into action.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Combinations to Practice

1. Reverse punch with right hand -- pivot body before starting punch, then hook with left -- keep elbow on level with hand.

2. Side kick -- remember to have knee pointing down, then cock leg back so knee is pointing down, and kick again.

3. (??not-sure-of-name??) front kick -- cock leg close to body and then a high front kick moving foot from up to down (the idea being to surprise your opponent by bringing the kick down from above).

4. Reverse punch with right, front kick with right, then step across side kick -- remember to have legs cross before kick.

5. Side kick (left leg) then back kick (right leg).


6. Quarter front kick with right (right foot lands ahead), jab with left, roundhouse with right leg.

7. Front kick (right leg from behind) then back kick (left leg).

8. Knife hand (scythe motion) with right hand from behind -- keeping feet almost fixed, twist until torso faces left while doing this, then backfist with right, then hook with left.

9. Front stomp kick -- cock left thigh up, move leg high and in an outward circle, jab with right hand, then roundhouse with left leg.

When sparring:
Remember to counterattack when opponent's attack fails, since they are vulnerable at this time, instead of both just waiting to try again, as if by agreement!

Turning Kicks

I don't know if its because of the long break or something else, but I am having a lot of trouble with my spinning type kicks like tornado kicks or wheel kicks. I seem to have developed a mental block as well. Every time I do it in class, I find myself thinking...I'm acrobatically challenged, you need to be young and flexible to do this...and feeling that I'll have to resign myself to doing them terribly. Rather frustrating, as I'm not sure how to improve.

Recovery from Sprained Knee and Jammed Toe

I've been wanting to write this post for a while, but always put it off because I wasn't actively thinking of my injuries anymore. This is mainly for all the people who wind up here searching for injured knee or toe. Older posts (1, 2, 3) mention how I got hurt and what I was doing about it. But this post is about the recovery.

I strained/sprained(?) my knee some weeks into starting Taekwondo. For about three weeks it felt 'out of joint' (whatever that means), it hurt and twinged while walking on it, and would get worse when I went to class. I combined trying to rest and journalling about my anxieties at that time regarding my knee and other things going on in life. The pain gradually started subsiding after three weeks and I missed only 1 or 2 classes because of it, because I used to force myself to go, really. Two things: at the time it was getting better, I jammed my toe and promptly the residual knee pain disappeared as I was totally focussed on and terribly worried about my toe. Second, looking back, the recovery was speeded up when I stopped obsessing about when I'd be able to participate properly in class. I'm also glad I tried to go to class and do what I could. This wasn't without anxiety: the worry of making it worse, the worry of telling my teacher that I couldn't participate fully. In hindsight, I think being active helped.

At this point I jammed my toe while one-step sparring one night. It subsided in two to three weeks. Close to two weeks after the incident, I had to travel to San Francisco, and spent an afternoon walking around Chinatown, without any ill effects. After this, recovery was almost immediate. Going to class was certainly worry inducing. I was most afraid of it being smooshed by someone again, or delaying the recovery. Again, though it didn't seem so easy then, in hindsight, it helped to keep going to class. As time progressed, I noticed that my toe felt less and less worse after a class. This definitely increased my confidence about it getting better.

Oh...and though I rested and iced and elevated initially, I didn't continue after a few days, and I did no other physical therapy than trying to keep going to class, and trying to keep up my daily routine.