Sunday, September 2, 2012

Formal Training Week 34 Part 2

The second class I attended at Equa Do during the last week of March was my typical Thursday lesson, however this class was momentous in that it was my last class before I traveled to Joliet to participate in the Tai Chi Seminar. In light of that fact, most of the lesson time was spent reviewing the Tai Chi.

The conversation at one point turned to the accomodations for the trip, and I became very anxious, going as far as running outside of the dojang and taking off my belt. Part of the anxiety was fueled by the fact that Master Eric and Grandmaster Moore were essentially paying my way for the seminar and I was afraid of letting them down. Add to that Chad being wary of me sharing a hotel room with Sensei and you had the perfect storm. I almost decided not to go at all, but in the end, I calmed down and decided to take the opportunity.

We went through the Tai Chi form one more time, then it was time to bow out. Little did Sensei and I know our night was only beginning. On the way home, we were exiting the highway when someone tried to speed past us on the exit ramp. Because it had been raining, we ended up losing control and spinning into a ditch at the side of the road. Neither of us had money for a tow truck and the policeman that stopped to check if we were alright wasn't much help. Sensei's parents came and tried to help but were unsuccessful, and in the end a Good Samaritan had to pull us out.

I was startled, but came away with only a few pulled muscles and some whiplash.


Formal Training Week 34 Part 1

The week following my green belt test was my spring break, so I ended up going to Equa Do both days this week. Part of the reason for that was that the following weekend I would be attending Grandmaster Moore's Tai Chi seminar in Joliet. Given that a wrist injury had recently set me back, I needed all the help I could get.

Tuesday's class focused on Hapkido, though since everyone had just gone through promotion we did not do much in the way of new material. Instead we spent most of the night polishing up things Master Eric felt we needed to improve upon, based on our performance on test day.

I worked with Sensei on white belt basics, as I had struggled, as I mentioned in my previous post, with running basic drills. This is partially Sensei's fault, and he has readily admitted that. He has been so concerned with getting me prepared to face any situation I might come across, that he skipped the conventional running of drills.

People may see this as an asset, since it means I was more quickly acclimated to facing real life situations, but it left me at a disadvantage to some degree as well. Firstly, one of the reasons drills are so important is because they help improve muscle memory. Simply put, the more we practice techniques the less thought we need to put into their execution. Seconds saved could mean the difference between life and death. Secondly, drills are like warmups, simply part of practicing a sport. If a visiting instructor were to lead classes at Equa Do, they would likely expect that I would be familiar with basic drills, and able to both run and lead them.

After class finished for the night, I spent time with Master Eric working on my Tai Chi skills for the following weekend. Thankfully, despite my wrist injury, I found it easy to get back into the flow of working with the Tai Chi.

More soon.


Green Belt Test

On Friday March 16th 2012, I tested for my green belt in Combat Hapkido. When I arrived at the school, the atmosphere was tense and expectant like it always is on testing day. I stayed to watch part of the little dragons Tae Kwon Do testing, as I always love watching the little ones show off what they've learned. But as my testing time approached, I began to struggle with anxiety, and so I went outside with Sensei to talk.

Once other Hapkido students began arriving, I headed back inside to prepare for testing. Thanks to bills being somewhat unpredictable this month, Master Eric agreed to let me test, and pay him the following week when my refund from school came in the mail. Thank goodness.

Test time arrived, and we all bowed in and began to warm up.Contrary to what I'd seen on other test days it looked as though something had gone amiss, though at first I couldn't really figure out why. All I knew was that Sensei, who usually focuses solely on me when I am testing, kept getting called away to help with other students. Later I learned that Anthony had been asked to show up and help, due to the amount of people we had testing, but had been unable to, leaving everyone scrambling.

In any case, here is the list of techniques I was tested on:

Strike Reps
Drills-garment grabs/brush trap strike
Quiz on the basics
Signature moves
Sparring- single/double

The only real hiccup we had was Sensei asking me to do drills, when usually he asks me to improvise. That threw me off, and I nearly had a panic attack. But, things were quickly resolved and I ended up passing my test. This was really the first test I struggled with in any way, and it was definitely a wake up call, which caused me to re-evaluate my work ethic.

More soon,


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Formal Training Week 33

The following Thursday was not only a few short days before testing, but also marked the third week I had been in my cast. By this point I was more than frustrated that I did not have the use of my dominant hand and almost desperate to be cleared to train at the normal level.

This week's lesson started out with limb destruction, which involves striking with force and precision at either pressure points or weak structural areas on a limb to disable it and cause damage to an opponent. Having always been an opportunistic fighter so to speak, this was something I caught onto quickly. It was also probably the one technique I was able to find where the half cast I was in could be used to my advantage.

I found myself quite distracted during this lesson as my injured wrist kept flexing and moving in my cast, and having it bound was extremely uncomfortable for me. Sensei called a friend of his about halfway through the lesson who walked him through how to check if the injury was healed. Thankfully it was, and I took great pleasure in removing my cast.

The rest of the lesson was spent reviewing everything I had learned until that point, as most students do before testing. Not only was I healed, I was ready.

More soon


Formal Training Week 32

Following the success of the St. Baldrick's event, I was eager to continue my training but still had that pesky wrist injury to deal with. As it was still causing some pain this week, warm ups were kept light, and mostly focused on whole arm or torso movements.

Due to the injury it was difficult to learn much in the way of new techniques, so we ended up going back to a lot of white belt level material and working on blocks especially. As frustrating as this was, it definitely gave me an opportunity to strengthen the left side, which is typically weaker.

Part of the reason such precaution was taken was because at this point I was only a few weeks away from green belt testing, and with how hard I had been working, Master Eric didn't want me to delay my test if I did not have to. As such, even practicing Tai Chi was put on hold, and the lesson was cut short.

More soon,


St. Baldrick's 2012

On March 3 2012 I participated in a local St. Baldricks event to raise money for childhood cancer research. Even better I was given the opportunity to do so while representing Equa Do Martial Arts. In response to my request for a donation, Master Eric contributed five lessons and a uniform as a raffle prize, as well as twenty dollars with which to purchase boards. The idea was to show those in attendance how to break one properly and then sell the remainder to those interested in giving it a try for two dollars a board. The proceeds would go to the St. Baldricks Foundation.

The day of the event, even though my arm was in a cast, I was very excited. I was finally going to have a chance to share the martial art I so love with a group of people who were new to it. Plus, it was for a great cause. Because Robbie and Chad were contributing in other ways, we had to get there extra early, so we beat Sensei by about half an hour or so. That was a good thing though, because the bar we were at started to get crowded, and fast.

About two thirty in the afternoon, we got our chance to do our first of two demos. Sensei began by explaining who we represented, and left me to explain the philosophy behind combat hapkido. I then told a little bit about why I chose to begin in the martial arts. and how I felt it had benefited me. Then we showed them some light sparring before moving on to board breaking. Surprisingly, this ended up being a really good sell, and over half the boards we brought with were used up. One was even broken by a 501st Legion member dressed as a stormtrooper!

Between demos, we canvassed the crowd for feedback and kind of started to plan in our heads for the next demo, based on what we heard. Equally important was getting something to eat and drink so as not to exhaust our bodies.

The second demo occurred later in the evening, when the crowd had changed over to include more adults than just families, which was a completely different demographic. For this one, we focused more on the philosophy behind Equa Do itself, and added cane work to the sparring portion. The rest of our boards were quickly bought and we finished to thunderous applause.

Then we just waited for final totals from the evening to be calculated, which were quite high. Equa Do alone contributed just over one hundred dollars to the final total, not bad for a last minute decision to participate.

More soon,