dal niente

Month: November, 2007

Lost in Translation

Oftentimes when I talk to folks back home I hear a lot of “sounds like you’re having a ball over in SK.”

 

And it’s true– for the most part, it is great.  But I think perhaps that this is because I’m being a bit biased about what I present.  I like to tell good stories of things that are going well– I think I spent a lot of my college and university years being very, very cynical.  This is probably the kickback from all that rearing.

But I think now I’m getting that balance between idealism and reality.  Things make sense, and it really is, in a summary word, bittersweet.

 

 

On Wednesday a girl who constantly misbehaves in my class and doesn’t pay attention got a zero on her test.  There is a test every class– I hand out 13 tests per week, multiply that by the 40 or so students that I have and that’s a lot of marks that go on paper.

The fact that she got zero really upset me, because my first reaction was “this is what you got, this is what you deserve because you’re not listening.  You’re wasting my time, and all you do in class is disturb others.”  I was about a moment or two from sending her to the counter.  In our school, sending a kid to the counter is the equivalent of sending someone to the principal’s office– the student then gets hotseated by the academic counsellors who threaten to call their parents if their grades, behavior, or both don’t improove.

I was about to do that right after I finished taking down a few more scores when I found that she had her head burried in her arms on her desk, and kids crowding around her; she was crying.  I asked her to step outside of the class with me to find out what was going on, but she didn’t want to budge.  I had to kneel in front of her desk and whisper at her to ask her what had happened, but being just a 11 year old kid learning a second language, she didn’t have the ability to express what was going on.  She spoke to her neighbor with some hesitation, who summarized, missing many details,  that one of the other boys in class had made fun of her score and called her stupid.  There might have been more to it, but I can’t know.

The thought of sending her to the counter at this point regarding her poor marks seemed like it would be overkill in all the wrong ways.  I felt my heart sink.

Somehow, paying attention in class was one issue– being called stupid struck a nerve though, and I wonder if it’s an independant and deeply rooted thing all on it’s own.

And so this is one of those darker moments. 

There have been times when I’ve really made a terrible student into something great– however, this is one of those cases where a girl just got progressively worse.  Is it my teaching method?  Am I doing something wrong?  What can I do better?  What should I do next?

… I’m still thinking about it now because, Friday afternoon, I will be teaching this same class.  And what will I do different that can take this in the right direction?

Is there even a right direction for all people?

It’s never quite so simple to try and accomplish something, is it?  And sometimes, you kind of see people slipping right between your fingers, no matter how hard you try.  Maybe people always call her stupid?  Maybe that’s why she gets the attention that she, like all 11 year olds, craves: by being the disruptor instead.  Maybe this is her way.

I am not giving up– but I am saying that sometimes, the harder I try the more it hurts.

…. I have a very strange relationship with the education system in that all those years of college and university, I spent resenting a lot of my teachers.  It wasn’t that I didn’t respect their knowledge– but I didn’t respect their methods, or the way they treated students.  There were exceptions of course– a handful of teachers who changed my lives, and really, these are the ones who I aspire to be more like.  But the vast majority of them were content to serve agenda of the institution– teaching you things they either don’t beleive in, or teaching you things that they know you don’t beleive in either.  There was a connection missing between the lives of those involved and the material involved.

I’ve had all ranges– the teachers who, in their pompousness, alienate their students completely.  ANd then there’s the sort that seemed to take some sadistic pleasure out of the authority granted upon them, which they used to isolate and insult students.

It really, REALLY was like that.  Have you ever read Great Teacher Onizudka?  I related to those stories because there were teachers who did call my classmates (and in some cases, me) worthless.  Perhaps they didn’t think about it at the time– but that’s no excuse.  Teachers have such a huge responsability.  They have to watch their every step, because they are the first line.

Now that I am a teacher though, I see the problem:  I sometimes don’t know what to do.

I sometimes get so frustrated.  And who is there to take it out on?

The kids are right there.

There’s a whole class of them.  Just singling out one or two for the greater good might be good for my sanity, right?

I can make an example out of ’em.

……. I think that’s what my previous teachers thought.  To sacrifice the few for the many.  To give up on some students.  To help those who have the best chances of making something for themselves.

… I might have been quick to call such teachers cowards in the past.  The simple reasoning is that ANYONE can help people who want to learn– the challenge lies in educating those who don’t want to or who can’t be helped.  The challenge is to make possible the impossible— or at least to truly examine just what is possible before just writing something off as impossible.

… yet here I am, and I don’t know what to do with some kids who are just falling away, a bit by bit.

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Getting Shit Done

Contrary to most people my age, this is the first time I live on my own.  It’s been an interesting experience so far.  People tell me that depression will hit at month three, but we’ll see about that.  So far, although I do wonder what’s going on back home sometimes because I don’t get all that much news, it feels good to be responsible for everything I do.

There’s a lot of things that we learn along the way from our family about how the world works.  Simple things like how to choose meat at a grocery store, or how to pay bills, or do your laundry.  Things like that.

And while it’s nice that I did learn all those things back in Canada, the nice thing about Korea is that I really had to relearn all those chores. Grocery stores out here work very differently from the way they did back home.  Banks?  Know what I can about Canadian banks and everything from writing a cheque to handling my RRSPs– when it’s in Korean, it’s totally different.

So Canadian ways have been a nice basis for me– but it doesn’t tell me everything.  It’s just nice to know that this is one way of doing things, and that I still have an opportunity to relearn these things on my own.

I’m getting stuff done.

Language really is a barrier around here, but to assume that only spoken language matters would be an underestimation of our ability to communicate.  I didn’t think the barriers would be as short as they are.  Yet, here I am– I am shopping, eating, and learning in a country that is not English.  Things that are especially technical like learning to perform new kicks in TKD or how to explain chord techniques in guitar… they’re not things that are easy to explain, but there are other ways.

I’m feeling good lately.  I think the initial amazement at my job is wearing off, but it’s being replaced by a genuine happiness in what I am doing out here.  This isn’t just the “honeymoon phase” of a new thing in life… this is really, me, being where I want to be and doing what I want to do at the moment.

I wanted to describe something the other day but I haven’t had much time for sleep lately with all the things going on.  One of them is that the difference between all my previous martial arts training and taekwondo has finally surfaced– and that would be in the fancy kicks.  They might have questionable use in the streets, but damn, when you have to jump over a barrier to kick a target in midair, that’s pretty damn fun.  It’s a wonder I never tried it before!

My mind wanders to Lionheart or Bloodsport, where Van Damme does split kicks in the air (yes, we had to try that, even though I cannot do the splits).

Aside from TKD, I went to my second guitar lesson on tuesday.  I was a bit annoyed because I wasn’t able to figure out a lot of the chords that the teacher had given me to learn for the song we were working on.  I scored the internet, but it turns out that a lot of the chord notation for composite chords is teacher-specific– not everyone uses the same kind of notation to write down what they want to do.  But when I got to the lesson, I asked exactly what each mark meant and then just tabbed everything so there would be no ambiguity.  I managed to get most of the song down passably (lets say… a grade of 60%) and then he introduced the second part of the song.  While practicing, I broke the only soft pick that I had, so I’m going to have to find a place to buy a new one.  I didn’t know it would make so much difference, but really, i can’t use medium or hard yet because the rebound is just too strong for my current dexterity or something.

As I took a shower yesterday, I took my time– the side of my left index finger burned, along with my fingertips, from practicing– I never noticed, but hitting the strings with a pick causes a much louder vibration than when you just use your nails or the flesh of your fingers, and those vibrations drill right into your left string-holding fingers.  My muscles were also a bit tired, even though TKD was on monday night– my body just isn’t used to jumping around.

But you know, that’s progress– slow.

My counsellor called in sick yesterday, so I had nobody to ask for help about how to perform a bank transfer.  Turns out it was easier than I thought– I just went to an ATM machine, spent a minute or two trying all the buttons, and voila!  I paid for my trip to Taiwan on a Korean ATM machine with little or no English.  I’m so proud of myself.

Today is wednesday– halfway through my workweek.  It’s strange how when i’m here, I don’t get that sense of dread or duty that I did at the hospital.  And it has nothing to do with the fact that people die in a hospital (which, ideally, they don’t do in a school).  It’s just that work at the hospital felt like something I had to do more than something that I enjoyed doing.  But I suppose that must be obvious: otherwise, I wouldn’t be here in Korea right now, teaching.

When I come to work, it’s not exactly that I jump to the occasion but more like, it’s something I agree to do, and moreover, it’s something that I want to do well, better than any job I’ve ever had.  This doesn’t mean that I’m great at it– it means I don’t go into class necessarily thinking “okay, well, I just have to survive 6 more hours of this.”

It’s a nice feeling to not have any bad feelings.

Checklist

  1. Where is my counsellor?? She doesn’t seem to be at work today, and that poses a bit of a problem for the bank transfer… if she’s not in by midday, I’m going to ask someone else to go to the bank with me.
  2. I finally managed to learn the guitar parts for that song I’m working on in my music school.  My instructor, 한석원 (“Stevie” is his English name) helped me get through all those chords I didn’t know.  I made the mistake the first lesson of not coming with a notebook or pencil… which was actually the first law of practicing back in highschool band!  (Don’t you just hate it when the things adults told you to do when you were younger turn out to be right…) The other dude there, Stevie’s partner “Richard,” gave me persmission to drop by the school whenever I want to practice.  They close at about 2-3am so that’s cool, it’ll give me a good amount of stuff to do.  I don’t feel so good about playing guitar in my apartment at 11pm at night, so having a soundproof room gives me the chance to be as noisy as I want. 
  3. My body is a bit sore today from TKD, because yesterday we attempted flying kicks for the first time.  It was VERY interesting.  VERY fun.  I’ve never done flying kicks before, except this one time in kickboxing where we learned to do 270 degree jumping roundhouse.  Other than that, the only flying I’ve done while sparring is when someone throws me.  So yes, this is cool.  What’s surprising is that I didn’t think that I could jump over a 4 foot tall barrier AND kick a target, but it seems that I’m not half bad at it!

 

 

To Do

  1. Pay for the tickets to Taiwan (I didn’t do it today because the counsellor, who is supposed to help me with the money transfer, was too busy to go with me to the bank today and take care of it.)
  2. Print out that article about recent Nigerian urban warfare for my H kids.
  3. Install the java-based FTP client on my server get the java-based FTP client on my server to work so that I can send and receive files from back home without overloading my email accounts.
  4. Get those !*@$(!@$( bar chords on guitar until I get them right and they make like I just ran my finger through a cheese grater.
  5. Practice those new jump kicks in TKD so I can do them without landing like an idiot.
  6. Buy some groceries (eggs, bread and vegetables).
  7. Do some cooking for the week.
  8. Prepare lesson plans for this week’s open classes
  9. Complile that RsM inventory so that I can finally operate my business with clean transparent accounting with my partners.
  10. Take home that spare router from work and see if I can get it to work at home, splitting internet with a fellow teacher.
  11. Take a break from the ankle weights until at least Thursday.
  12. Learn some the next few classes worth of grammar ahead of time.
  13. Devise a motivational plan to increase the number of essays that I get submitted.
  14. Get some more sleep.

Christ, I’m tired!

Now, THAT’s a commercial.

(When you check out the Youtube vid, you should watch it full screen.  Watch the whole thing!)

 

The difference between Korean companies and North American ones is the way that they go about getting themselves into your head.

It’s interesting because Samsung has recently come into the limelight because it’s CEO is under investigation for corruption, on the issue of trying to get his son into the seat of the company through unfair means.  But anyway.

Samsung and LG are among some of the superpower companies over here.  They really, no joke, practically own South Korea. From what I can see.  There are a few other giants, like SK and Lotte, but really even those massive empires pale in comparison to the likes of Samsung and LG.

And why?  What does Samsung do so well that puts them in everyone’s pocket?  Well, for one thing, they’ve got a bunch of marketers and feedback systems that really stay tuned with the rising generation of youths.  I think the mistake of companies so called-monopoly companies like Microsoft back in North Am is that they tend to target the older generations.  I would say in general, the older folks are looking for what works– but they’re not a very hype-ish bunch.  By the time we get old, we just want to be comfortable.

And thus you have companies like Apple on the rise with wave after wave of iPods, despite the fact that an iPod is a seriously overpriced device when you consider how much technology you actually get for your money.  What’s makes people buy in though?  It’s the fact that Apple managed to make it a consumer product consumed by the youths of the country.  The youths are the ones who build all the hype.  They’re the ones that turn a brand name from just a few letters into a status symbol.  They’re the ones who will feed back energy into a company by attaching emotions, both good and bad, into the experience of being in society with that product.


Around here, check out the latest commercial I saw on television by Samsung for their Anycall phones.  It’s not a typical cell phone commercial in any sense– they bring it all together.  Talk, Play, Love.



Random

Random Possibly Good / Harmless Things:

  • I used to read Dragonlance books religiously.
  • I can play the harmonica.
  • I used to collect stamps when I was a kid.  I had 4-5 albums full of them.
  • I brush my teeth left handed, even though I’m right handed.
  • Fall is my favorite season.
  • I like it when it rains or snows.  I’m actually not a fan of copious sunshine.
  • I drink between 6 and 10 mugs of green tea per day at work.  (It’s free!)

Random Possibly Bad / Harmful Things

  • I am very competitive, and sometimes even if I tell myself I do things for self-improvement, sometimes I go out of my way to get better at things just to crush others.
  • I’m often so lazy to cook that I’ll leftovers cold, even if it probably needs to be reheated so I don’t get food poisoned.
  • I try to go to bed at 12, but usually get so distracted I usually sleep at 4am.
  • The only good joint on my body is my left shoulder and my right hip socket.  All the other ones have been damaged in some way.
    • I cannot sit cross legged.
  • I always take high resolution photographs with my digital cameras, on the offchance that I may want to print them some day (even though it’s never happened to date).
  • I fear sunburn and heat exhaustion, ever since they happened to me when I was a teenager.

I can’t help but smile to myself when I walk to work and see some boys climbing the fence at school to escape.  In Asian countries (at least what I’ve seen of Taiwan, Philippines and Korea) there tend to be gates at the school.  After a certain time, these gates are closed so that you can’t get in or out after the bell.  When I see kids jumping out, it reminds me of the good old days of college where Jimmy and I would actually duck under our desks and sneak out of the backdoor of our physics classes.

And it is true that, as a result of skipping so many classes, our grades suffered and we’ve paid for that in the fact that our university degrees were pushed back.  However we learned a lot of things outside of class that I wouldn’t trade class time for.  It’s not that I’m saying class is useless– it’s just that, as long as you keep your eyes open, there are things to be learned anywhere and anytime.

I think that when it comes to being on the “Right Path” for oneself, it has a lot to do with maintaining a want of learning and humility.  It’s a coincidence between the right perspective and the right circumstances.  You go about your business, life throws you it’s tricks and regardless if you trip up or veer off course, so long as you’re paying attention to the body language of life itself you’ll better understand how to recognize the signs of it in the future.  That’s what experience is, really.  It’s coming to understand the body language of life.  It telegraphs.  It has it’s habits.

That isn’t to say it’s predictable in any total sense.  On the contrary– circumstances aren’t just the result of some machina rolling on cogs in circles.  Circumstances are the result of everyone playing at once– as a result, the body language of life (more specifically, the society and world we live in) changes too.

For that reason, what needs to be cultivated is not an understanding of the situation… rather, we need to cultivate an understanding for the dynamics of the evolution itself.  I stress the word dynamics because everything is in constant flux.  It sounds like a contradiction to pinpoint just what flux is, but think of it not as a scalar quantity but rather vector analysis.  You have to guess how it will happen wherever it happens and which way it happens, just not how much it is.

People get caught up with things like “that’s so bad that people in Nigeria got shot up in their homes because of a local gang fight”.  That’s not the point.  What is the scenario? What are the recurring dynamics of the political situation there that lead to these things, not just in Nigeria, but in other African countries as well?  What is the pattern?

While a lot of pattern recognition is unconscious, I think that examining it with conscious effort yeilds better results, mostly because in doing so we develop the vocabulary to share the ideas with others. 

It’s 6AM

… and I’ve been woken up by a neighbor who somehow thinks that it’s a good time to have a house party.  I’ve been woken up with just a few hours of sleep (I went to bed about 4 hours ago) so needless to say, I’m not in the best mood.

As a result, I’m taking the opportunity to make some noise.

A few days ago I bought some adapters so that I can rig up my laptop to be a guitar recorder… the mp3 herein attached is the result.  It’s my acoustic, hooked via it’s pickups to a distortion pedal (just to amp it a bit) which is hooked to my laptop’s line in. 

It yields a much better sound recording than what I could accomplish with a microphone, because it’s a lot cleaner this way.

The attached file is just a test, but I’m thinking now that I bought all the cables and wires necessary that I’ll use my Xanga to record my progress on guitar.

So anyway, here’s day 1 I suppose!

Compare what I did back in September:

To what I just recorded right now:

Anyway, now that I’ve got that out of my system and feel a bit better,
I think I’ll be able to go back to
sleep.

Incidentally, does anyone
know a good freeware sound recording device that, if possible, knows
how to record in MP3 format?

Yellow

First of all,


I got the yellow belt after all.

Which is nice, because that means that I’ll be allowed to practice more interesting things now.  Out of seven people tested, two of us were leveled up.  I didn’t think it would matter so much to me, but when the Gwangjangnim tied my new belt on me, and then instructed us in Korean to bow (I was surprised that I remembered the word for it) and our peers applauded, it felt really nice.  For all my ‘independence’ from the opinions of others I do like a little recognition every now and then it seems.

When he tied my belt on, he did it on the first try.  I don’t think I should expect less, I mean, he’s been doing this for years.  But me, I’ve done it a dozen times and I still have to fumble my belt when I’m tying it on, like adjusting a tie– I never get it quite perfect on the first tug. 

He looped it around my waist, passed the first cross, then turned it over and did one tug that in one shot, one try, got a perfectly measured knot with the two ends facing the right way.  I don’t know why, but small things like that amaze me.

I was amazed at the irony– I had spent years telling people how belts meant nothing, and here I was, getting one, and it meant a whole lot.

Later on at the end of class, my Gwanjangnim told me that the overseerer of the exams (who was present at my testing) sent his congratulations.  He told me to take my white belt home and put it on display.  He wasn’t joking either.  I was happy.

It still seems rather foreign to me, but from now on, I’ll be refering to my instructor as Gwanjangnim, which means something along the lines of “master”.  I really appreciate that he’s pushing me, because right now, I feel about as fit as I’ve ever been.  More fit, in fact, than when I was training for the Metropolitain Challenge (150km of cycling on a mountain bike) because though when I was doing the MC my cardio was getting better, I didn’t feel like I had the kind of versatility that I used to when I was seriously training in martial arts.  Not that my cardio now is as good as it was when I was doing the MC, but it’s the kind of body configuration that I prefer because it’s not just geared towards cycling– martial arts training tends to make me feel like I’m more suited for the real world, in the sense that I can run after busses, jump over fences, carry groceries, etc, whereas cycling made me feel good at cycling alone.

As it stands, because I am using  a bike for just about everything transportation that’s not coverable by subway, I’m still doing that so it evens out nicely.

The food around here is a lot less fatty than back in North America so I actually find that I’m getting leaner than I was before (if you can believe that).  I don’t have a scale at home so I have no idea how much I weigh, but I think that I’m trimming off a bit of fat and gaining just enough muscle that I probably weigh about the same.

I really apprciate that the Gwanjangnim is pushing us.  My general philosophy about most classes, whether it’s martial arts or anything else, is that the teacher should spend class time reviewing, testing and teaching new things.  It shouldn’t be time spent on practice.  Practice should be done on one’s own time.  I think that that’s mostly what I didn’t like about doing Jeet Kune Do back in the day, because so much of it was drills that I did on my own time.  I can’t really blame the teacher though… even in the classes that I teach, what really are you going to accomplish by introducing new material if the rest of your classmates haven’t done the homework?  People will just keep falling behind as the levels get tougher and tougher, until it’s past a point of no return.

So it depends really on how your classmates do that determines how much time in class is wasted just for the actual practice.  I think the teacher’s job should, really, be to smooth out the rough edges– you’re not paying for time spent just repeating things that you can already do.  But well.

So the nice thing about TKD is that the last class, things have been stepping up a bit.  Actually, things have been getting more complicated in general.  The Gwanjangnim doesn’t seem to be just adapting to the students levels, he’s pushing them.  Last class, by the end of the one hour session, I was on my knees and barely able to breathe because it was so much work– and that says a lot, since I have better endurance than everyone in my class except the teacher and his second.  You can imagine what the others in class felt like.

I like it when it’s like that. 

It’s nice to be back in martial arts because it brings me back to a time when my actions had direct effects on my life.  I don’t mean the lives of others, although that does come with the territory of teaching.  WHat I mean is… well, back in Montreal, what did I do?  I think in large part a lot of my responsabilities had to do with family, education, and my work.  That meant in large part keeping the peace at home when it came to increasingly tense relationships between my grandparents and parents mostly.  In the next sense, it had to do with getting my education done at university even though for a long time, I’d become disinterested in the bureaucracy of it all.  (Also throw in that I took my courses backwards by accident, from hardest to easiest, so by the end of my studies I was bored out of my mind.)  At work, in the hospital, I got to see a lot of firsthand things that really brought me to the brink of tears– I say brink because if, really, I had allowed myself to cry at some of those things, I really wouldn’t have been able to survive.  And I got out of it all stronger.

It’s a matter of perspective though.  I think now that back then I was concerned about making the world around me a better place… and though that is still a priority of mine now, I’ve come to realize one thing, this epiphany.  It is actually a reitteration of a former ideal of mine, so I’m glad that I was right, although when I first came upon the idea, it never would have worked because I’d never seen enough of the world yet.

The ideal was “if you want to help others, you have to help yourself first.”

In the earliest stages, this is a very selfish ideal.  And it was.  I was a very selfish person.  Who knows if I am still selfish now– I just know that back then, I was a lot more selfish than I am now, it’s a relative thing.

Nowadays, it makes a lot more sense.

I don’t think I’ll end up joining bowling with the other teachers after all– frankly, I just don’t have the time.  Between the taekwondo, the guitar lessons and the korean lessons, that barely leaves time to just waste time and hang out.  By the time weekends arrive, usually T and I do a whole lot of nothing, which is just fine by me because my week is already so packed.

Did I mention that I started guitar lessons?  My first one was on tuesday morning.  I thought my instructor (who speaks no English) was going to teach me chords first or something, but instead, I’m learning downright basics– how to hold a pick for example.  And a strumming rhythm. 

It’s funny because I always figured because of my history playing drums that rhythm would be easy for me, but instead, it actually took me a quarter of my lesson before I could learn a simple pattern that I’m now kicking myself in the head for having so much difficulty with just a few days ago.  But it sounds nice.  In an hour long lesson, I’ve become a lot better than what I’d learned in weeks back home.  I leave my guitar at school behind my desk, and my students sometimes ask me about it.  It’s a good conversation piece, and it’s convenient since the music studio that I’m studying at is right next to the school– that way, especially since I don’t have a softshell case, I don’t have to lug that bastard around with me all the time.

Anyway, back to my main idea– making yourself a better person is the best way to change the world.  I think dependence is the real problem. I mean, I could just be biased because I’m a bit of loner (and I usually like it that way) but I think that in most cases, shortcomings are the result of people who lean too much on others.

There are exceptions– some people are so obsessed with being independant that they never let anyone in.

But really, in the grand scheme of things… I guess what I’m getting at is the dependence and independence, they’re just words– when you really get down to it, it’s all the same thing.  It’s like some sort of great tao, an intermingling and simultaneity of it all at once.

It’s about ‘focus, unfocus’…  if I look at any one thing too much, other things go out of perspective.  But when I zoom out and look at it all, it’s really not that bad a picture when I just allow myself to look.  I mean, we work on details– life is really about the details– but every now and then, take a look I suppose.

To be honest– I really find it hard to worry.  I was talking about T with it last night.  It’s really very difficult for me to worry.  It’s not that I know that everything will be all right.  On the contrary, I really beleive that the worst of scenarios is constantly a clear and present danger.  Life isn’t something about just chance– there’s something scientific that needs to be present in our methodology, we have to be disciplined in some measure in order to acheive what we want.

But for those instances where things are out of control, of for those things which I cannot predict… what’s the fuss?  If I can do nothing about it, then and only then do I resign myself to fate.

And knowing this, and not worrying about things which are out of my control (and beleive me, I’ve spent years trying to control things which I cannot control) has been an immense burden off of my shoulders that allows me to live my life the way I want to.   It allows me to breathe, and not only make myself a better person for myself and others, but it allows me enjoy my life.

This is the substance that we ought all seek, I think.  To be concerned with what concerns us– but not to waste time on worry.  That’s time that could be spent living!

Just Right

In case I never mentioned this,

Dr. McNinja is one of the best webcomics ever.

 

 

 

The subject of ninjaz came to mind because this morning, I went to take my yellow belt test.  I knew my routine perfectly, and I knew all the Korean that I had needed to learn for the test.  But when it came to the actual performance, because I was supposed to do it in sync with some students I’d never practiced before, I kinda jumped the gun and went at a pace that I wasn’t used to.  As a result, I slightly botched one transition (though the moves were still correct).  I’m pretty annoyed at that.  You know what that’s like, working hard to do it just right, and getting it, but then when it comes time that you need it, you choke?

I`ve spoken about how the beauty of a lot of martial arts has always been the employment of the body in dynamic situations.  A single round of sparring really puts so much to the test.  Adaptation , concentration, willpower… and of course, physical conditioning.  It`s a lot like jazz, where creativity is about twisting even subtle mistakes in the pattern into something great.  You might say jazz music is like using off-notes and off-beats to feint in order to acheive a greater final effect.

But forms?  Man, I’ll just say it now… I suck at forms.   Improvisation is one thing but what it also means is that one gets used to the crutch of being sloppy.  Forms really reveals what’s always been a recurring theme in all of my activities, whether it was musical, with writing, or with physical activities– it all boils down to a lack of refinement in technique.  I sort of rely on other areas to make up for that weakness, when in reality, my own words are that we should always strive to strengthen our weakest links.

I’d like to think that takign TKD is a way of challenging myself to see if I can actually try to get the discipline to get technically refined at something.  Anything.  So far, it’s going as expected, and by that I mean that I guess in some sense I never expected to do this perfectly the first time anyhow.  It’s been a good learning experience.  If I don’t get that yellow belt, well, it’s not the end of the world.  It may be a bit embarassing because it is the first level that one is supposed to get, but in my deffense– I did only start training about two and three weeks ago, and for half that time I was so sick that I couldn’t even go up a flight of stairs without being out of breath.  (yes, I know, excuses, excuses)

 

Yeah, it happens to everyone I suppose.  If I don’t pass the test, I’d accept that because frankly, everyone gets just one shot right, that’s the way it goes– dealing under pressure is part of it.  But well, I’m frustrated is all, because in totality on paper I did the same performance as people who I know practiced less than me.  That bugs me.  But I guess it’s part of the game.

 

 

In any case, maybe someday I`ll do something just right on the first try and then I can do a high five with a gorilla.

 

Here’s to a future of ninjary!  (yes I know that makes absolutely no sense, but right now, I’m extremely drowsy from my medication)

 

(goodnight!)

NaNoWriMo

I think I always beleived that throughout highschool that I would be the person to write the next great Canadian novel.  I had no idea how I’d pull it off, it’s just that because I spent so much time writing to procrastinate from essays and homework that I beleived that that’s what it took– just time.

But it’s not just time. Since then, I’ve had plenty of time to write.  I know plenty of people who have better vocabulary than me, whose styles are snappier or more fluid.  In this time, what have I done?  I’ve attempted and failed NaNoWriMo at least 2 years in a row.  I’ve had some decent ideas, but the problem has always been the same: follow through.

Well, I guess I’m going to get cracking this time around.  I’ll try to finish in November, but chances are, I won’t because this time around, I’m going to write it by hand.  I think perhaps using a keyboard is an excuse to just write a lot but not really put too much thought into it.  I think the pace of a pen is going to do me some good.  This time, I hope to finish.

And who knows?  Maybe my handwriting will get better.

Actually, one thing that bothered me when I started teaching was that I feared my handwriting would be illegible.  Turns out that after writing on the board for about a month, handwriting does get better.  A pleasant surprise indeed!