Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Well, you're not as good as I said, but ...

Last evening was another session of Stretch, Sweat and Grunt (a/k/a Tae Kwon Do). The 2nd class has grown lately, adding 2 women and 3 men who are roughly my age, making the number of adults on par with the teenagers. Of course, we ‘seniors’ are often hardly a match for the teens and college kids; a notable exception is Tammy, a mom of a two teenaged sons – one a 2nd degree black belt and the other a red belt – herself a 1st degree black belt (she was one of the gals who decked me a few weeks ago).

Two of the new guys were getting frustrated at their own performance during a drill last night, and the instructor wanted to give them some encouragement.

“Look at Chas over there,” he said, pointing to the panting, sweat-soaked form that I am trying to hold at attention. I am standing in the front row of the 14 students, where we’re lined up in descending order of our belt ranks. The previous drill had us standing in the middle of 4 students, each holding a pad in front of them, waist-high, at about 10º angle off horizontal.

The middle person took turns angle-kicking the pad, pivoting 90º, kicking again, pivoting, etc. First, 20 or so kicks with our left foot, then switching for another 20 kicks. All this without every dropping your knee from a 90º position (and, gasp!, never touching the floor with your kicking foot). Admittedly, I’ve managed to get this drill down pretty well.

“When he first came here, he couldn’t do that drill either. It took him a few months, and look at him now.” It is at this point I glance to my right; a few people over I see a bewildered expression on Tammy’s face out of the corner of my eye.

Sabanim continues: “Why in just one year, he went from where you guys are today to where he is now. And he’s no younger than any of you. So don’t give up, because in about a year, you can be as good as he is now.”

Turning my head meet Tammy’s glance head on, her puzzled look has turned to one of an almost suppressed smile; I can tell she’s figured out the mistake I instantly realized our Master Instructor has made. Meekly, I raise my hand to inform him I’ve been his student for 2 years now.

“Really? Has it been 2? Well, time does fly when you’re having fun, right Chas? Well, he’s not as good as I said, but he’s getting there, and you guys can as well!”

I never professed any intention of earning a black belt (and certainly not any higher), but TKD is an excellent excuse to get off my duff, and so long as my son is interested in it, I’ll put up with the aches I have this morning and give it my best shot. Who knows, maybe I’ll ‘get there’ one day.

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