Friday, September 4, 2009

All set to go to Portland, Oregon!

I'm off to the Pacific Northwest, specifically Portland, Oregon for DjangoCon. I'll be presenting a tutorial with James Tauber and participating in two panels. This sort of event is always a lot of work, study, and networking. I won't have much time to go sightseeing because this is a working trip, but I'm sure to squeeze in a little bit.

Portland is a very green city, has great food, and is famous for cycling. I'm sure I can find something to do!

Thanks to everyone who had a hand in me getting there or is holding down the fort back home. The quick list would be in alphabetical order:
Thanks everyone!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Clothing triage

Last night I went through my clothes again. I've been getting rid of all the stuff that is worn out or lacks anything resembling fashion sense. Some quick notes:
  • I have enough socks and underwear to last a long time.
  • None of my dress shirts remotely fit me anymore. As I've toned my body more, they just look funny. Same goes for undershirts.
  • Ties go out of fashion really fast.
  • So much of my wardrobe is jeans, darks or whites that my few colored items get washed individually.
  • Do I really need to keep a memento t-shirt for more than 20 years?
  • I should get some of those stylish bike jerseys.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Report on the belt test

I was a bit apprehensive coming up to the test. A minor toe injury followed by a nasty bug heavily curtailed my training. I debated holding off until the winter, but decided to go and do it. I asked that the test not be made easier for my sake.

The day of the test I took off from work. I slept in, went to the ophthalmologist, then took another nap. I ate fish protein, real whole grain bread, simple nuts and cranberries. Ninety minutes before the test I got on my bike and cycled the four miles to the gym, taking my time except for one brief period of sprinting through traffic. I arrived feeling not my perfect best, but the best I had been in a long time.

I spent about an hour warming up. So by the time the test began my body was loose and limber. I was ready to go.

The first 30-40 minutes was rough. A really fast paced mix of strikes, movement, and forms. I kept my composure and focused on quality technique rather than speed or ferocity. I messed up a couple combination techniques, but at least the messed up techniques were done correctly, right?

We went to aerial kicks. These are a massive endurance drain. Yet all those endless repetitions paid off, and I fell into an easy rhythm. I felt strong and powerful, and I could have done this forever.

Falling drills make me dizzy to begin with because spinning affects me, add in new contact lenses and recovery from illness and I wondered if I was going to pass out. If you saw me jumping up or down at that part of the test that was me trying to clear my brain.

Forms came next. When I did the 3rd dan form by myself I made a couple minor mistakes but the techniques I executed felt crisp, fast, and strong. My 3rd dan co-tester Dave S did one of the better displays of the 2nd dan form I've ever seen - it exuded raw power. Since the English name of the form is 'Diamond Mountain' that he put so much power into it was awesome.

Self-defense followed, and here I was at a disadvantage. For self-defense I rely on a mix of Eskrima and Muay Thai, and the self-defense here was supposed to be different. You couldn't mix in strikes, just use turns, twists, and locks like in Hapkido (or Aikido). I tossed Dave a bit, and got tossed some as well.

In sparring I couldn't get warmed up. I haven't practiced it enough recently, so it took me a bit to get warmed up. Until the end I fought in pure linear fashion. I got scored against more than I like, but near the end I was starting to mix in much better footwork. I used punches as pushes which is a big no-no, but I did manage to land some nice kicks.

For breaking none of the strikes was a challenge except the first one, a round kick ball of foot strike. And turns out that was pretty easy too. I should have insisted on much more impressive breaks, but didn't handle that part of things so well.

And that was the test. I wish I hadn't been sick right before the test but I think I did fine. As for the others, Dave S did smashingly well, Lila was predictably awesome, and everyone else's effort was strong. I am most proud of my student Henry, because even though he was nervous he kept his composure and looked strong.

Did I pass? I don't know yet, and I am patient about finding out. That I could go and do this and do it well is what was important to me. I will be honored if I succeeded and I will work to improve myself regardless of how my performance was judged. That said, receiving the approval of my teachers, who were the ones who graded me, is no small thing.

Thanks to these people for their support on this whole thing: Mom, Dad, Seth, Joseph, Katie, Dave S, Chris, all my other friends, all my students and their families, my trainers Andrew and Samantha, and my teachers, Dave L, Mohammed, and Master Ron.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Taking the test tomorrow!

"Do it" said Andrew Goldfarb. So I am. So there.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Belt test update

First off, I'm getting off being rather sick for nearly a week. My endurance is shot, I've lost some strength, and I didn't get the chance to fine tune some of the techniques. Unlike some places, our high level tests are grueling and hard. So I have serious concerns about testing at this time. Therefore, I reserve the right to not test, and will probably make the call Thursday night.

Second, the time for the start of the test (if I go forward with it) is 6pm. Again, seating is limited so either come a little early or bring your own chair. Senior citizens do get preference, but if there are a lot of senior citizens...

Time: 6:00 pm
Location: 6408 Williamsburg, Blvd, Arlington, VA 22207
Phone: 703-536-9495

update: Oops, corrected title error from 'best' to 'belt'. Ha ha.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Belt test this Friday!

This Friday I'll be testing for my third degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. The details if you want to come and watch me kick, punch, stomp, and scream in a set of angry white pajamas:

Time: tentatively 4:45pm
Location: 6408 Williamsburg, Blvd, Arlington, VA 22207
Phone: 703-536-9495

Just so you know, there will be a lot of people coming to watch. A number of my students and fellow martial artists will be there to watch and provide support. Others will be testing so their families and friends will be there. So if you want a chair to sit in, I suggest you come early or bring your own.

Also, the test can go on for a long, long time. This test will go on for hours. Feel free to bring a snack and drink. If you need to leave early, that is perfectivly acceptable.

Cameras are allowed and encouraged!

Still sick

I felt bad on July 1, maybe even last day of June. Sore throat, fatigued, a bit of headiness. Nearly a week later and I feel the same. Not good.

Not good especially because of my test on Friday. You know, the one where I try to become a third degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. The test is hard enough, but since I'm a teacher there I will have students coming to watch, so I don't have to just pass, I have to look good doing it. And I've had to scale back my training significantly because of this bug.

Very frustrating to be sick right now. Beautiful summer days, lovely weather, and I'm trying get by with a raspy voice and a quarter of my normal stamina. I did rest saturday and sunday, and yet I'm still feeling this way.

Oh well, today going to Doctor to see about antibiotics or something.