This past Tuesday was my final taekwondo class before a nearly two week break for the holidays. It was a wonderful way to end the year—a bunch of black belts beating the crap out of each other…in a loving way, of course.

Now it’s time to do an annual review of my taekwondo practice.

At the beginning of this year I set some New Year’s resolutions even though resolutions are normally not my thing. Let’s call them “goals” instead. As much as I resist it, I’m a long-time corporate person, and we love the G word.

Have I accomplished my goals? The short answer—yeah, kinda. Here’s a run down of the goals I set at the beginning of 2015 and my take on how I performed.

1. To stop hopping during 360 roundhouse.
It’s gotten better. I still sort of scoot while I’m pivoting, especially on the left side, but it’s better than a hop.

2. To cleanly and precisely execute a turning back side kick.
What I meant by that was that I should be kicking straight back towards my target. Students often end up doing an ineffective combination of a turning back side kick and spin kick because they let the knee of the kicking leg fall out rather than pulling it in tightly. My kick isn’t perfect, but it’s a lot straighter. I try to use it as much as I can during sparring, and I’ve kicked people in the stomach with it, so yay for me!

3. To be able to run through all color belt forms by memory.  Yup, I can do that.

4. To be able to accurately teach and correct other students (emphasis on accurately because I have sometimes taught them my bad habits!)
Overall I’m comfortable sharing what I know with other students. I’ve made some mistakes, but so far none of my charges have had to put their white belts back on.

5. To improve my left side spin kick to match my right side.
Still really crappy for where it should be. It’s not as strong as my right side, which still isn’t where I want it to be (I am TOTALLY blaming my messed up right hamstring for that; BAD standing leg, BAD!), but I’m finally getting that nice hook at the end. At this point I think my troubles with spin kick are in my head.

6. To really execute a flying side kick the way God and nature and all the taekwondo masters intended.
My right side kick is respectable. My left side will get there once my lazy right leg builds up more strength to push me off the ground.

7. To finally nail a flying turning back side kick instead of getting confused and just doing a half-assed ballet tour jete.
Got it! I managed to keep myself from confusing my left and right feet during my black belt test, which was my biggest fear with this kick. Whew!

8. To pull my partners in closer during takedowns.
Yes (well, most of the time), and my partners’ shoulders thank me for it. I also scared the heck out of a teenage black belt when I threw him down faster than expected, thanks to my newly developed technique of stepping in close and hooking the leg.

9. To memorize all the (red belt) hand-to-hand techniques on both sides. Done.

10. To accurately execute my one-steps during my tests…and bonus if I can re-memorize all the past one-steps.
I did just fine on my bo dan and black belt tests. The earlier ones are a little fuzzy, but I’ve been studying them quite a bit. Monday night I worked with a red belt on the ones at his level, and I did show him the correct series. They’re coming back.

11. To improve my speed, stamina, and strategy during sparring.
Done. Always room for improvement, but I’m happy with the progress I’ve made so far on what has been one of my weakest skills.

12. To break a board with a ridge-hand strike and with my nemesis, the spin kick.
Yes to the spin kick, which I did at my bo dan test. I was discouraged from doing a ridge hand strike due to fears that I could damage my hand, so I settled for breaking two boards with a spinning back fist during my black belt test. That was pretty sweet.

13. Oh yeah, to get my black belt. DONE!!

There’s still so much for me to learn and still so much room for improvement, so I don’t think I’ll have any problems setting some New Year’s Taekwondo Resolutions, or “Goals,” whatever, for 2016. Stay tuned!

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