The Devil is in the Details

The_Robot_Devil
I couldn’t find an image that accurately reflected my thoughts. Here’s a picture of my favorite Futurama character, the foppish Robot Devil.

“I’m not good with this technical mechanical stuff!” I shrieked in mock-desperation after a number of flubbed attempts at hand-to-hand techniques (painful twists and joint locks) with my partner. Including my instructor there were only four of us in advanced red and black belt class. It was getting late, and three of us were already worn out from an intense sparring class beforehand, so we were all getting a little loopy and giggly. Throwing in complicated and intricate self-defense work after a long day only fried my brain even more.

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How I Get My Sweat On When It’s Below Freezing Outside

funny-Texas-cold-Solo-cup-iceLast night for the first time in over a year, a winter storm rolled into much of Texas. Now, before you start scoffing at us for running inside with our cowboy hats tucked between our legs at the sight of a few snowflakes, let me tell you about winter in Texas. Other than the far northern panhandle areas we don’t get much snow, but we get ICE. Ice, nasty sleet, and freezing rain that happens so fast that the Texas Department of Transportation can barely keep up with sanding the roads behind it. Even if there’s barely a dusting of snow outside the road could be covered in several inches of slick deadly black ice. A week ago it was 70 degrees. As a native Texan and lifetime resident our wacky weather still never ceases to amaze me.
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How I Stay In Shape for Something as Demanding as Taekwondo When Netflix Beckons and Forty is on the Horizon

couch-potato-cat fat
Mr. Fluffy is having an “Intervention” marathon. The irony is not lost on him.

My grandfather is eighty-seven years old and swims a mile every morning. He and my grandmother have a much better quality of life than anyone else their age, and as a matter of fact, better than many people I’ve met who are half their age. I’ve been a gym rat since I was a teenager, so getting back into taekwondo wasn’t as much a shock to my system as it might be for someone else, but it still required me to re-evaluate how I care for myself so I can participate in the sport safely and at the best of my body’s capability.
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Back to Basics

building blocks

“Can we do other asana [yoga poses] besides just upward dog, downward dog all the time?” chirped an older woman right as our instructor had settled us into our first child’s pose in this morning’s yoga class. I’m not very fond of this woman. She is sour and cranky and doesn’t have much respect for other people’s personal space. (She once sandwiched her mat between me and the woman next to me when there was plenty of room around us. I practically had my foot in her face until I moved.) On the surface she seemed to be complaining about the sequence my teacher used every class. It’s a vinyasa style built on the sun salutations A and B sequences, which include a lot of upward and downward dogs. Unlike other teachers I’ve had he rarely varies from his routine and instead challenges us to be present and heighten our awareness of how our bodies feel in the poses.
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Adult Swim

old taekwondo
Elvis’s back stance is way too wide and he needs to keep his knife hand fingers together, but we’ll give him an A for effort.

I haven’t written a plain old “class diary” in a few weeks, and I can’t think of a better night than tonight’s debut of the adults only class. This may not sound like a big deal to those who belong to a mega-dojang, but we are a very small school. A new student (especially and adult) is an addition to be celebrated, and we ache from absences and drop-outs.

NOTE: This is intentionally a longer post than usual. I’m including details from tonight’s class in case any of my fabulous readers are martial artists and wish to use these techniques in their home dojang.
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A Visit From an Old Frenemy

find-the-frenemy-devil-in-a-friends-disguise-1 The dojang is usually my happy place.

For a few minutes last night, though, it was the last place I wanted to be. As soon as the first round of sparring began my mood crashed and burned. Suddenly my instructor’s guidance sounded like taunts and my partner’s attacks felt like physical manifestations of all my shortcomings. This of course was all in my head. Neither one did anything wrong. They just happened to be in my line of sight when my old friend Low Self-Esteem decided to play. All my flaws were exposed, and there was nothing I could do about it. I was pissed.
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Why I Ate Meat on Ash Wednesday

lent chocolate
I was raised Catholic and still consider Catholicism to be my faith of choice even though I don’t regularly attend church and disagree with the Holy See on just about every political and social issue. (But Pope Francis seems like he’d be really fun to hang out with on a road trip, doesn’t he?) Every year around this time someone will ask me what I’m giving up for Lent.

My reply: “Nothing. If I did I’d be a hypocrite.”
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How an Introvert Ended Up Talking by Day and Yelling by Night

introvert
Oh if only I had this! Add a doormat that says “GO AWAY” and I’m all set.

Yesterday I conducted a workshop for a tough crowd of nurses despite having a voice weakened by allergies and an absent second speaker, and then I went to taekwondo class where I jumped around and yelled with my classmates and worked on my sad-looking flying side and turning back side kicks. I didn’t get nervous at all. If you had told me twenty or even ten years ago that that’s how I would be spending my Monday I would have run away screaming.
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Why I Chose to Pursue a Black Belt Instead of a PhD

stooges graduate

[Disclaimer: There’s nothing I can do in the post to NOT sound like a humblebragging privileged tool, so if that really bothers you I suggest you cut bait now.]

“When are you going for a PhD?” my dad asked jokingly during a recent visit.
“I’d rather just advance in black belt ranks,” I replied.
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It’s Hit the Fan

“When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams , he found himself changed in his bed into a gigantic insect.” – Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis

I woke up this morning from unsettling dreams, probably thanks to going to bed with a heavy heart and troubled mind. Although I had not been transformed into a giant insect I felt like I had gone through five brutal sparring matches in a row. My face was puffy and nearly unrecognizable from poor sleep and two solid hours of heavy crying the night before. My head ached dully and my mind felt like it was in a fog.
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