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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

& Stress

So yeah, that title pretty much says it all. A short summary of the coming week (and last couple days) for me:
- Turned in a programmingish assignment Tuesday
- Have another programmingish assignment due Thursday (not too bad)
- Have a history report to start and finish by Monday (not too good)
- Have a cumulative biochemistry test on Wednesday (bad)

So, all in all that's not too good. But that list in and of itself isn't sufficient to give me this psychosomatic stomach flu I've got right now. No, that requires the test for third degree black belt I have on Saturday (3 days from now). I only found out I was eligible for it on Monday (2 days ago), and that was around the time this stomach flu started.

This is a pretty big deal, at least for me (given a bit of history). I've been a second degree for 6 years now. Most of this is due to me simply being too lazy to put too much effort into it the last 3 years (most people are eligible to test for third degree after 3 years of being second degree, but this was after I started college, and I didn't really feel like I ought to test).

Last October (black belt tests are every 6 months) was really the first time I actually wanted to test for third (and actually put effort into getting ready for it), but I wasn't allowed to. Basically, the reason for this was that a lot of big names in the school were planning to test in two days from now (the teacher and his wife, as well as two other teachers, were going to test for fifth degree, and another student was going to test for fourth degree), and the teacher wanted me to wait and test with all the others.

The other reason was that I didn't pre-test the test before that. That normally wouldn't have been significant (I had pre-tested way more times than I needed - five - before that). What happened was that the school was sold to a new teacher a bit before that, and he wanted me to pre-test for him before finally testing for third.

So, that was pretty disappointing. Anyway, I'm testing now, and way more freaked out than I should be. The test will consist of six parts: patterns, terminology, sparring, board-breaking, step-sparring, and self-defense.

Patterns (called 'katas' in another martial art - I think karate) are sort of dances of sequences of martial arts moves (I'm being really vague here because lots of different martial arts have them). Besides being neat-looking, these are used to practice the moves in them. To do a pattern well requires that you have both strength and good (elegant) form in all the moves. Some various other things are attached, as well. Each pattern has some historical meaning, and may have some metaphorical parts to it (for example, one common metaphor is to end a pattern with a left-handed attack to symbolize the unfortunate death of the person the pattern is about). For a full test you're supposed to know all patterns up through your belt level (a total of 15, in my case)

Terminology is basic memorize and recite. You need to know the meanings of all the patterns for your belt level (and the meanings for all the lower ones, if your instructor feels like asking you them). In addition, you also have to know a bunch of Korean (in this particular instance) words, such as all the names of the moves and objects and events in the school, counting to 50 (in Korean), etc.

Sparring and board-breaking are pretty obvious, not to mention enjoyable (sarcasm). I'll probably have to break five boards with a side kick, three boards with a punch, three or four (at least I hope not five...) with a back kick, and two boards with a reverse hooking kick. Or, if I'm really lucky, it won't be boards at all; the teacher has been playing around with bricks and ceramic roof tiles (these tiles are curved, making them much stronger than they would be if they were flat, and several times stronger than boards) the last couple weeks...

I should mention that these are stock boards (10" x 12" x 1/2" slices) taken from the nearest Home Depot (or comparable store). They may be picked over so as to not use pieces with knots (unless you're unlucky...), but they're not treated in any way to make them brittle. I had the unpleasant experience once of being one of the holders for the highest ranking student (not grand master) in our school (was sixth degree at the time, now seventh) - 7 boards with his specialty - a jump back kick. Seven boards is a fair bit more than you can get your fingers around, which was actually a good thing, considering basically my entire palms got bruised from that :P (for those wondering what that looked like, there were two of us that actually held the boards, and four people who held our wrists, for reinforcement)

Step-sparring and self-defense are more or less canned counterattack combinations for common scenarios. These are responses either to attacks (step-sparring, where usually the attack is a punch) or someone grabbing/restraining/choking you (self-defense). Unlike much of the stuff in martial arts (at least in modern, sporty martial arts), these are intended to seriously injure or incapacitate somebody, using such things as strikes to the neck, attacks to the groin, or breaking of joints. You don't practice these at full strength :P

So, that's the basic rundown. And now I'd better be getting to bed; I have a lot to do this next week :P


Anonymous said...

It is interesting how academic martial arts can be. On the other hand, martial arts has always been that complex. It's like a functional form of fencing although most Asian royals never really dipped into martial arts.

Have you ever given thought to being an instructor? Good side job. Hope you do good on your assignments and tests, by the way. Biochem must die.

-David "Taospark" L

Anonymous said...

You have to burn in a fire for linking this to me.

A car fire.