Friday, October 5, 2007

the devil is in the details

There is an upcoming dojang only poomsae competition. Subsequently, we've been practicing our "form" for the competition. I thought it was going to be Tae Guk Il Jang because the DVD we got for our belt rank has that form on it. However, the DVD is a bit dated and my dojang has moved the teaching of all the Tae Guk forms to the brown belt and above class level. The reasons for this is twofold: One, they want to us to focus on getting the basics down correctly from the very first. Two, they replaced the time spent on the Tae Guk forms at this belt level with kicking combinations. Subsequently, our "form" for the competition is the blocking set for our belt level.

The steps of the blocking set are:

1) Front Stance, Low Block, Reverse Punch
2) (other side) Low Block, Reverse Punch
3) (other side Middle Block, Reverse Punch
4) (other side) Middle Block, Reverse Punch
5) (other side High Block, Reverse Punch
6) (other side) High Block, Reverse Punch
7) Back Stance, Low Double Knife Hand Block
(other side), Low Double Knife Hand Block
(other side), Middle Double Knife Hand Block
(other side), Middle Double Knife Hand Block

A reverse punch means that the hand that is throwing the punch is the same as the leg that is back in the stance. For each block, starting positions of the hands and arms are important because we need to get maximum effectiveness with our block (a low block starts high, middle and high blocks start low). The ending positions of the block are important because we are trying to protect our body parts (mostly the rib cage area) and don't want to overshoot the block or not be effective in the block. The punch is a punch to the sternum because it sits above the heart and is very effective in real combat.

What I'm trying to convey is that this is a lot of information for my brain to process. I really have to think about every step of what I'm doing. Specifically: hand in a fist or knife hand? fingers together for the knife hand? Thumb not sticking out? Arm straight, 90 degree angle, or a roof over my head? In front stance, is my knee over my foot? Is my back leg straight? Are my feet parallel? In back stance: Are both knees bent? Are my feet perpendicular to each other? 70% of my weight on my back foot? Have I over-rotated my torso? Am I straight up and down with my torso vs. leaning forward or back? When throwing the knife hand blocks, am I starting out with the knife hand no higher than my head? Are my hands up or down? Have I rotated them as I throw the block?

Uggh. I was describing all this to my office mate and he told me it was like I was learning to dance. I see the comparison. I threw back at him that it was like learning to type all over again. Way back in the day, I had to think about every finger movement for every single letter. Now, I don't even think about it anymore. It's as natural as talking. I know that is what I'm going through now. I will eventually not have to think about all these issues. I just need to make sure I get them correct now.

We evaluated each other's form in practice the other day. The guy evaluating me described me as tense and I need to relax. I couldn't agree more. Yet another thing to "think about".

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