Thursday, March 29, 2007

To Watch for While Sparring

Today we practiced the following while sparring (or as much as I can remember).

Is opponent on front foot or back? He's on front if rear leg is under backside. If he's on front leg, he can do front leg kicks. Otherwise not.

Move away from front foot side kicks. But after the kick, move close enough quickly so that opponent doesn't have enough time to chamber kick and hit again.

Block roundhouse kicks and move inside to punch since his front is exposed.

Counter front foot quarter kicks with a front foot side kick.

Try countering reverse punch with spin stomp kick.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Whon Hyo

I have started learning my next form Whon Hyo. I think this is my favorite yet. Its more complex than the others I've learnt so far, Chonji, Dan Gun and Do San. It might be I feel that just because its new.

This is the first pattern with side kicks. In the front foot side kick, from the fighting stance, say with the left foot forward, you pivot on your right foot while turning to the right, and chambering the left knee by bending and pointing it downward towards the floor. The back foot side kick is from the front stance. Say you have your right leg at the back. The first step is to lift your right leg high while bending the knee, towards your torso/shoulder. This is the chamber. Next, you pull your torso back while extending the leg in a kick. At the instant of the kick, the standing foot pivots, and you end up in the side kick position.

We used to practice the back foot side kick a lot when we were just beginning, but in class now, we mostly practice the front foot, just because we rarely start in the front stance. So my back foot side kick is a bit rusty, but its not a very easy kick either. So I'm glad to see its in the form, and I'll be getting some practice at it.

I saw a video of a person doing Whon Hyo here. We use more exaggerated low stances and a lot more pivoting motion of the hips while blocking. Power from the hips is one of the things that my teacher emphasises a lot, the other being really deep stances, the idea being that the deeper you are, the more stable, and the harder it is for someone to push you over.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Exercise => Mental Strength

Something a friend, TT, said to me:

In yoga, the poses are not an end in themselves. Their purpose is to prepare the mind-body for the rigors of meditation.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

More Thoughts on Testing (Or, Its Not Just Me!)

It seems our school's way of doing tests is different from what I've heard about elsewhere. When we test, *most* people don't pass the the first try, especially all the way up to brown belt. On our last test for a green stripe, only one person out of about 10 or 12 passed right away. I'm not sure whether black belt candidates also go through testing and retesting, or whether they are expected to be more perfect.

Anyway, I don't know whether our system is good or bad. On the one hand it seems that we test *very* frequently, at least in the lower belts. We get good feedback about what we need to improve, and retesting and improving one's technique continues over the course of the next few weeks or sometimes months. So its certainly good practice for perfecting your technique, which is hard to do in a huge group during class. On the other hand, during testing, there is always this rise and excitement about testing, and then the fall of disappointment on not passing. I would think it kind of bums you out, time after time.


I have mixed feelings about this test. In January, I'd made it one of my goals to pass my next test on the first try. That didn't happen, but I can tell that I have made a lot of improvement, and its no longer as much a matter of chance that I do well. I feel that I've got more power and better stances while doing my forms, which was lacking last time. And the kicks that I know the right techniques for, I can do well, its just a matter of saying the important points to myself in my head. So on the whole, my feeling is kind of bittersweet.

The white belts tested first. There were about 12 of them. I tested with a group of 7 other yellow belts. The start of the test threw me off a bit. First, my teacher called out our names, and of course completely stumbled on mine. It made me feel kind of bad and alien, I have to say. Yes, its long and unfamiliar looking but its not *that* hard.

We lined up in front of the judges, who sit in a row. I saw my judge take a look and something on my sheet, which had my name and rank, and laugh a bit. He then pointed out something to the person on his left, and smiled and then to the person on the right, and smile a bit again. Weird. I caught my judges eye and looked a but puzzled about what it was. I thought he was pointing out that I'd written my rank as 'yellow belt with green stripe'. Why was that funny? Were they laughing at me or my inexperience? Was I not supposed to write green stripe? Should I just have written yellow belt? I kept asking myself this crap and feeling slightly embarrassed. Finally, the test started. First, a sequence of different punches. Then spin stomp kick (huh!, I wasn't expecting that), sliding side kick, sliding roundhouse, hook kick, spin hook kick and finally a sequence of kicks -- double side kick, back kick, reverse punch.

We then performed out highest form Do San and the lowest, Chon Ji twice each. For sparring, we got paired off and my pair was last, since I was shortest. So I got a bit of time to catch my breath. My sparring match started out well, I managed to roundhouse kick my opponent, and got 2 points (I think for the very first time in a match). After that, I didn't do as well. My opponent would stand and wait a bit, not making the first move. Tired of this, I'd make the first move, and he would quickly move in and punch or kick. This happened a couple of times, and that was the end of that.

The last part of the test was breaking a single board with a back kick (this was our groups very first board break ever). My kick was feeling decent, but I didn't manage to break the board. After my second try, which hit one of the board holders fingers, my teacher said to me, "Well, you're done for today, and so is he." All the other 7 people broke it. So I'll be doing that again while retesting.

Finally, the results of my test were that I have to retest:

* hand combinations, since my hook punches are too wide
* spin stomp kick (! there it is again, it seems this is my nemesis)
* hook kick (my lift is good, but I need to flip it out better)
* spin hook kick (make it faster)
* Do San (Need to lock knees on punches, knifehands at the end shouldn't come over head. Backfists need a little work. Speed and power fine (yay!)).

The comments I received for free sparring were: Be more aggressive with your kicks. Try something other than roundhouse.

Reading over this, I realize I make it sound like everything was negative. I did get some comments on what was good:

* sliding side kick: very nice, could slide a little more
* sliding roundhouse: good, release foot a little sooner

...and that's all folks.

After the yellow belt test, a few blue belts and a brown belt tested for stripes. Then two blue belts tested for their brown belt.

After this we had our sparring seminar, which consisted of everyone who wanted to spar fighting against one of the three people on the team which had come to visit. One of the differences in their style was a lot more punching.

The testing ended with one brown belt testing for his black belt. He was first tested on all the forms. Next, he had to kick with various kicks onto a kick shield which our teacher held from one end of the room to the other and back. Then he sparred with one of the visiting black belts. It was quite vicious, and he had cuts on his face after it. Then more sparring with various people from our school. Next, he broke 4 boards with (I think it was) a side kick. Then broke 2 boards with a flying side kick over a table. Then a test where about 5 pairs of people held boards at various angles, and he had to break them with any kick he liked, all in 15 seconds.

And that incident with the smiling judge? I think I realized what it was. On my sheet with my test comments, 'yellow with green stripe' was crossed out and replaced with '2nd green', which I guess is the term they use in my school for the same thing. So I had gotten flustered over nothing.

Test Heebee Jeebees

My knee has been sore and painful since the last class, and some muscle on the inside thigh or the underneath of my rear of the same leg has been feeling pulled for a week now. I am about 80:20 in favor of the hypothesis that its nervousness about the test.