Chad came with me again this week, for the last time before school begins on Monday. I got there an hour and a half early and sat and talked with Master Markus for awhile. He is someone I have definitely enjoyed getting to know. He expressed to me how proud he was that I was able to break the board at Gurnee Days and asked for a copy of the picture I had taken. It is so strange to have people other than Chad be proud of me for something I have accomplished, but I suppose it is something I will have to get used to. Chad went and talked to Master Eric about a few things while I handled a phone call, and then Sensei arrived.
Sensei arrived just in time too. The phone call I had to take care of broke my focus and concentration on preparing for class, but he was able to re-center me so to speak. Brandon also arrived then, and I was glad to see him as well. As befits someone of a lower belt, I have a more than healthy respect for Brandon, as he is a red belt and that is quite an accomplishment. I also see Brandon as an inspiration, as he is diagnosed with Aspberger's Syndrome and yet is still able to be so successful at hapkido. While my primary disability is physical, the mental curveballs thrown by my anxiety disorder do sometimes become overwhelming and it is such a helpful thing to me to see how Brandon copes with his curveballs from his stuff when it acts up during class. It reminds me that it is possible to overcome such things, and, as Brandon does it is okay to ask those I trust for assistance when things become too much.
Shortly after greeting and chatting with Brandon and Sensei it was time for class to begin. Master Eric made pre-class announcements as usual, and he focused on Gurnee Days, sharing with the class that myself and Chad had done some "awesome" hard work. Then we did warm ups, led by Sensei. It was, once again, an atypical warm up, although we did have close to our normal class attendance. Just jumping jacks (I went through my routine with my cane), and stretches, no strike reps.
Thankfully we did move on from Brush-Trap-Strike. As everyone else was doing a drill that focused on your ability to circle your opponent and deflect blows, Chad and I were allowed to work with our weapons at an upright punching bag. I was asked to focus on the first two strike points of the four strike sequence Sensei began teaching me at Gurnee Days. I know part of the reason I was asked to slow down was because of Chad being inexperienced, which frustrated me a little, but my own technique needed polishing too. I focused on making sure I was moving in a consistent circular motion, as well as exhaling each time I struck and inhaling each time I pulled back. This breathing pattern not only allows me to put more power behind each strike, but also minimizes my fatigue, allowing me to continue fighting longer if necessary. Eventually I worked my way back up to the four point strike sequence.
Then Master Eric came over and showed us some new stuff. We practiced holding the weapon at one end and jabbing the opponent for a quick strike, as well as using our chairs as leverage when deflecting blows with our weapon. The sound my weapon makes when it is brought sharply against the side of my chair was actually loud enough to startle me into jumping the first time I did it, so I can only imagine what an opponent's reaction would be. I was also taught what is almost a modified version of Brush Trap Strike for use with my weapon. The weapon is used to deflect the blow and then a strike is immediately delivered.
After this it was almost the end of class and I asked Sensei for permission to work without my weapon for awhile. He agreed, and we went over Brush Trap Strike, and deflecting unfriendly blows while unarmed. I am proud to say that Sensei was in fact able to bring me up to a realistic speed necessary in an unfriendly encounter. This was a nice milestone to reach. Then, almost before I knew it, class was over.
Before dismissal, Master Eric and Master Markus acknowledged a few of the Tae Kwon Do students, what with belt testing coming up. Master Eric then once again acknowledged Chad and I for breaking our boards. Sensei made sure I knew how proud of me he was, and then it was time to bow out and go home, but not before confirming lesson arrangements for the school year with Master Eric.
Once again, a longer post than I realized.