Superwife - Camo belt - D

My wife of 8 years and mother of our three kids. She started TKD after the birth of Odie, our third child.

Princess - Camo Belt - D

Our seven-year-old daughter. She was originally supposed to be a spectator to Cowboy, but jumped in and has proven to have an incredible talent for the martial arts.

Cowboy - Camo Belt - D

Our six-year-old son. He is small for his age, so starting him in TKD is what got us into this mess. He is very close to our Chief Instructor, and his spirit is twice as big as he is.


Our youngest son, born in April of 2006. By the time he is old enough to start, we should all be Black Belts.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


What a crazy cycle this has been.

We all went to our graduation in early March, right after Nationals. My attitude (if you haven’t been able to discern so far) had been on a steady decline and it continued as I watched our graduation with more of a “this is a waste of time” attitude than what it should be. I guess I’m just more of a testing type of person—rather than “you do the time you get the belt” type. . We learned all of CJ1 to compete at Nationals, but were only permitted to do half of it since we were only promoting a half belt. At Nationals itself, as at the graduation, Cowboy didn’t even know what form he was doing. In any case, my attitude was, and has been, a violation of the “loyalty for my instructor” tenet of our oath.

As the cycle progressed, it didn’t improve, but rather it continued to crash. Couple that with the fact that I increasingly found my time more and more in demand for other activities than TKD. I missed over half of the classes, and two times I missed entire weeks. The family got to keep going, but they missed a lot as well. We’ve just been busy with traveling and selling our house.

After we got back from one of the week-long hiatus’s, we came back to find that one of our instructors, the female assistant, had left. This ground me into the earth—mainly because of how I felt about her as an instructor. She is younger than any of the other instructors, but while our Chief Instructor is well-versed in many other martial arts (including black belts in Judo and Wu Shu), she is ATA through and through. It has it’s advantages and disadvantages—a lack of breadth traded in for a increased depth. Top ten for the last few years, State Champion more than once, and a kick-ass fighter in the ring. What bothered me was that they (the school owner and Chief Instructor) never let her teach. She was relegated to teaching the Tiny Tigers, and the lower-rank color belts. If I was in her shoes, I would have been miserable. I guess she was. No warning, no goodbyes, just *poof*. Away she went. I was even mad at her for a while, since Princess idolizes her and she didn’t even say goodbye. Princess came back from Disney with a set of Minnie Mouse ears for her that she never got to give her.

Attitude continued to crash after that. I found it hard to get motivated to go to class, and even harder to stay motivated in a class that I felt was not only unchallenging, but not teaching the skills that I wanted for both me and my family. Our Chief Instructor was relegated to the role that the female instructor had as our school owner took over senior instructor duties. We had one great class, taught with the level of intensity I wanted, working us to the point of exhaustion. At the time our Chief Instructor was on vacation back in his home town in California. I wished he could have seen it just to see how motivated and capable we really could be if pushed.

That’s when the last blow came for this cycle.

Our Chief Instructor came back to announce that he, too, was leaving. In May he is going back to California to open his own ATA school with his brother. Standing outside the door was our new Chief Instructor, a 5th degree triple crown winner from Pheonix. I immediately recognized him from our regional tournaments.

My jaw dropped.

That was last week. Since then our new instructor has shown his colors—teaching brutal, but motivating, workouts to the adults, and having a great time with the kids. I am really going to miss our old one, since he is particularly close to Cowboy. We haven’t told him yet—because I don’t think he’s going to take it very well.

I’m pretty excited. Right now I think the new guy is just getting a feel for the class, but I see great things on the horizon. Unfortunately also on the horizon is our departure for another change in the ATA world. At least we’ll have two months to get ready.

Finally, my attitude is changing.

I started the "Soul" challenge--and abruptly had a lot of family activities to get in the way. Fortunately it's still early on, so I should be able to catch up relatively quickly.


PUSHUP: -1006
SITUPS: -1126
LUNGE: -884
MILES: -25.1
OTHER CARDIO: -360 minutes

Monday, April 09, 2007


What a mistake this turned out to be.

To get to the point first, I placed roughly in the middle on forms, and got crushed (again) in sparring. When the finger-pointing began, I had a direct target that I used rather than myself, who should have been the sole receptor of my frustration.

We don't spar in class. For better or worse, that's the hand we've been dealt. Since we started BBC in late December, I've sparred a grand total of around 6 rounds, almost all with the same person (kinda have to--we're the only males in our class). Two of those came after Nationals, so going to "the big show" I had only free-sparred, in a ring, four times (not counting the disaster at Mesa). Even in the days leading up to the tournament, we kept doing drills in class--which are nice, but don't give you any experience in a real match. Even with all of this, I felt pretty confident going to Vegas.

Circus Circus, for those of you that may go to Vegas in the future, is kind of a pit. Yes, it has entertainment for the monkies, but for the price we paid for it I expected a lot more. Especially when we looked at some of the other hotels while we were sight-seeing. We also weren't very well-versed in the ways of Vegas, and didn't know that we could take our car and park at pretty much any hotel. Would have saved a lot of walking and stress, plus we would have seen a lot more.

We were late registering, and I almost choked when they gave me the total for the four of us to enter: $225.

The venue was simply awesome. HUGE area with plenty of walking room, in comparison to the other tournaments we've been to. Tons of room to practice, which SW and I took advantage of since we had just learned CJ1 and hadn't really practiced it much. After going through it around 20 times, we felt ready to go.

I was very impressed with the way that the judges ran the Tiny Tigers rings--quickly enough for us to watch and run back over to watch Princess. As expected, the competition was a lot tougher than it had been at the Regional tournaments. Princess got a little scared at the very-much-increased intensity and excessive force and lost her first match 5-4. She ended up tying for third in forms and won the three-way tiebreaker, so we, as a family, won something.

I went next--late in the afternoon. There were 18 colored belts in our camo-green ring, with one purple belt. I did my form as well as I could, and got scored appropriately. There were a few guys that were simply amazing--like 2nd degree amazing, and they rightfully won. When we sparred, some had clearly had great sparring training, a few had not. The other guy in my class went first and destroyed the guy he went against. We usually go half and half as far as victories against each other, so my confidence went up a bit.

I faced off against a guy that was about 4 inches shorter and 40 pounds lighter than I. Before we started I immediately thought that it would be easy to get a head shot on him. I went defensive, not agressive as I was at Mesa, and eventually shot a kick out.

Before my leg had moved 6 inches, he was gone. This guy was so fast that I couldn't get close to him--and when I did, he easily moved out of the way and punched me in the chest. I lost, again, 5-0. The guy I went against went on to take 3rd. My buddy got crushed in his second match, with the guy that beat him going on to take 2nd.

Two tournaments in competition sparring, and I have yet to score a point.

SW did better--she did about the same as I did on her form, even with missing her kihaps, and won her first sparring match. Her second match she went against a girl twice her size, who would just chamber and hold it. When SW would try to knock her over it was like running into a wall. Time ran out, with her down 4-3.

A few things bothered me about the whole experience.

First, our instructors were all there. The school owner was (presumably) judging somewhere else, Ms. C was competing in her ring, but our Chief Instructor was nowhere to be found. All of his adult students competed at the same time--I would have made it a major priority to be there, if for no other reason than to see how my instruction fared against everyone else.

Second, once again, there was not a "half-belt" in sight, kid or adult, other than those at our school. Out of the 18 in our ring, we were two of four that were not in leadership, and the only two with the ridiculous red vinyl sparring gear. Looks aren't important to me--the added ability in the sleeker black gear is.

Third, a brown belt from another school was asking me about our school while I was watching SW. He saw me fight, and was asking how our sparring classes ran. Not sparring in class, but our sparring classes. He was shocked when I told him that we just don't do that where we're from. He was also shocked when he found out that none of our adult students were in leadership.

All in all, it was an eye-opening and demoralizing experience for me, a lot like Mesa. After I left, I pledged that unless our training drastically changes (it hasn't) to work more on sparring, that I was done woth tournaments. I've kept true to that by skipping the last tournament in Chandler. From what I was told, the judging there was just like Mesa--with a three-way tie in sparring, and all three getting medals.

The region is weird. I'm ready to move on to another school and another region. If we were staying here for longer than we are, I would be having serious doubts of continuing in our current school--the only thing that would keep me around is that fact that all the ATA's in our city are run by the same guy, so presumably it's the same across the board.

Still Alive

I'm still here, still alive, and still taking Tae Kwon Do.

Where should I start? If you read on my other blog, you'll see how crazy my life became in a very short time. One thing that I didn't expound upon, was that the roller-coaster that I rode on for 5 weeks started two weeks before Nationals, right when I said I was going to start my next challenge. As a result, any preparations I made for Nationals, as well as starting the challenge (or working out at all) got put on the back burner. Waaay on the back burner.

So--I'll start there. Nationals.