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on the path again

It has been a while since I wrote anything in this particular category… In fact, the last time I said anything I had just left my old kung fu school and was looking for somewhere that could at least clean their floors periodically.

Coincidentally, the gym that kung fu school was based out of (the same person owned both) closed about a month after I left; I am not sure if I was one of the last rats diving off a sinking ship, or the iceberg, but I cannot say as though I am terribly surprised.

Anywise, after shopping around for a couple of months, I finally settled on a “chung do kwan” tae kwon do school, which is sufficiently different from what I learned before to not be a complete re-tread, but not so sufficiently different that my old muscle memory would work against me (like it did in kung fu). Hell, my original instructor was a student of Jhoon Rhee, who apparently imported chung do, among other things, from Korea, so this is probably more similar than I think.

Oh, sure, there are oddities (Like not punching people in the head during sparring, which is apparently an outgrowth of Olympic tae kwon do rules. Which is just stupid, and a reason I do not do padded-up sparring at this school; I do not want to get in the habit of not beating the crap out of a viable target area.), but it keeps me in practice and it keeps me moving, which is apparently important as one’s body ages.

And speaking of “in practice”, back before I went to college, I was one test away from a black belt… but being the recalcitrant, procrastination-prone, lazy teenager I was, I wussed out on actually taking that test, and never bothered to achieve that level of recognition. The older me rather regrets that decision, but life is made of choices. In any case, week before last I made the rather substantial progress from a white belt to a purple belt.

Offhand, that may not sound like a lot, except this school’s progression goes white -> yellow -> gold -> orange -> green -> purple -> blue -> red -> brown -> advanced brown -> black, so, in the course of one test, I “skipped” five belts, with all of the judging instructors making muttering noises about how I should go back to being a brown belt.

Them being black belts or not, I vehemently disagree – I do not know their forms (they are nothing like what I was originally taught), and it has literally been over a decade since I did tae kwon do. I would be in a horrible position to set an example for junior students, much less teach them, and that is one of the primary roles of higher-ranking students. So “purple” was the compromise.

The test went fairly well… I only fell down once (my body remembers being able to kick higher, but damned if it can any more), and I only clipped an instructor once during our “realistic” self-defense demonstrations (at that point, oxygen deprivation had started to set in), so I figure I did not screw up too badly. And apparently I have “high reaction times”; I blame video games.

Knowing how to shoot straight and quickly is all well and good, but keeping in fit and knowing how to utilize your body as a weapon are both essential elements for keeping yourself safe and breathing as well. If nothing else, being able to move from point A to point B rapidly and smoothly without running out of breath will do a world of good for you in a life-or-death situation…

7 comments to on the path again

  • Glad to hear that you’ve found a new school that is working for you! One concern that I have is that you will probably be required to start sparing if you hang around and become a senior belt.

    As for the ten year break… yeah… I did that too. Was about at the same spot as well. Going back, starting over, and getting your black belt is a great feeling.

  • Sendarius

    Pet peeve:

    Does “high reaction times” actually mean “LOW reaction times” = “high reaction SPEED”?

    The “I blame video games” bit doesn’t make sense elsewise – but it IS Monday morning here, pre-coffee, so it might be just me.

  • Mind and body strong, Grasshopper.

  • Joshua

    Been trying to get back into the swing of Tae Kwon Do myself, hard to maintain while going to a distant college. The whole “no head punches” thing is where I go as well, but if you can spar somewhere else with friends who train from different schools, or clubs that allow head punches, you can get used to it pretty quickly.

    Video game reaction training is useful, especially Twitch games that require massive amounts of split-second processing and control.

  • @ Oddball: Yeah, they probably will require me to spar to achieve higher rank, and I will do what is necessary, but probably not a lot more. Just seems silly, and while I understand why they do it, there are better ways to accomplish the relative safety they are pursuing.

    @ Sendarius: Probably the latter; I was not the one who wrote it ;).

    @ MSgt B: Wax on. Wax off.

    @ Joshua: Yeah, college was a complete wash for me in terms of martial arts, as was the military, unfortunately; apparently us officers are not supposed to get our hands dirty or something.

  • Oh, forgot to ask. Which set of forms does your new school teach?

  • Seems to be these, based on the diagrams: http://www.natkd.com/taeguek.htm