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.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Final Class

We walked out of our first school for the last time last night.

Princess, SW, and I graduate to Green Belt-D today at a high school that our school owner rents for our joint school graduations. After that, we won't be putting our dobaks on until late July, after we move in and get settled.

I have mixed feelings. I feel like the school is going in a good direction, finally. The new chief instructor is finally figuring out what the students are like, and everyone else in our class that is in leadership is finally figuring out whats expected of them and getting into it. New students are showing up every day.

We were the last ones to leave last night, after Cowboy got his new belt. After the lights were turned off I went onto the floor one last time and bowed. I am truly going to miss this place. Our lives have changed so much in the last year and a half due in large part to the experiences we've had on the first leg of our Journey. A new dawn is rising, and we are eagerly looking to the next step.

I am concerned about the break--whether the kids will be as motivated to take things back up after not having to go for so long. SW and I are committed, so hopefully they will be as excited as we are. I'm at a loss for a way to keep us in the game over the break.

So--so long Tucson ATA. And thank you.

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Best Instructor Ever

Before I even begin, I realize that every student in the world is going to have a different definition of the best instructor ever. Here's mine.

Push me. Push me hard, but not to exhaust me--push me to excel. Make me do things that I didn't realize that I could do. This is the singlemost motivating thing for me in a physical environment, whether it be flying, running, or the martial arts.

I had a student one time when I was in college as an instructor at ROTC Field Training. This girl was skinny, relatively weak, and spending the hottest part of the summer doing PT on the beaches of Florida. Needless to say, she was not happy. Each evening we would have the cadets for around 30 minutes of intense physical training--the hardest part of the day. Whereas most of the other instrcutors would grab a magaphone and just yell for 30 minutes, I found it much more productive to pick one cadet and spend the whole 30 minutes with him/her. In this case, I had the cadet doing flutterkicks. After about 5 minutes, she dropped her feet and told me she couldn't do any more. I sat on the ground next to her and taught her how to "zone." In about 5 minutes, in her head, I had her on a beach in Hawaii--describing the sand, the trees, even the noises the seagulls were making. Every time she would start to come back to the present her feet would start to fall. When I got her to go back to Hawaii, she would continue doing flutterkicks. No--it was not fun for her. But after we were done, this girl that gave up after 5 minutes had been doing flutterkicks constantly for almost a half an hour. She thanked me for it weeks later.

I was in class a few weeks ago with the school owner, pissed off at the direction the school was going. We were doing kicks on the heavy bag, and the rest of the class was exhausted. We had already done about a hundred kicks by this point. As I hit the bag, as hard as I could, he shouted out "You can't break ME!"

It was the most motivated I've been since Nationals, and changed my attitude about training from that point on.

When I was training at Master Candidate Plamer's ATA in Florida last summer, we were doing round kicks across the room. We spent almost the whole class doing round kicks. I was an orange belt at the time. A 1D parked herslef next to me as we were doing the kicks and offered tips every time we went across the room. In between sets we would do side leg lifts and stretches, huge stretches that I hadn't done before or since. By the time we left my legs were like rubber. Before that class the highest I had kicked was about chest height. As we were leaving the 1D pulled me aside.

"Just so you know, that last round of kicks was about 6 inches above your head."

It seems so small now, but at the time I just floated home. It was the most motivating moment of my Songahm journey so far.

So that's what I'm looking for: an instructor to push me, motivate me, past the arbitrary point that I have in my head as a limit. Take me beyond that limit. Show me what I am capable of.

That's the best instructor ever.