As I sat quietly to my lunch over the bustling crowd gathered under the poolside terrace with its gigantic overhanging screen playing the latest football match, I looked at the pool and remembered my time as a kid here in Lake Club. Those were the days that I swam under the noon sun and thought nothing of the blacken skin. There were times the sleeping lifeguard came to my rescue as my brother tried to practice his own informal lifeguarding on me (drowning me in the process), that I was quite thankful for.
I remembered how it was in my first Tae Kwon Do lesson in the club. Halfway through class the master called a break. I immediately went up and bought a mushroom pie. My master found me as I scoffed it down and laughed. It was a water break, and this greenhorn went and bought himself a snack. That's the first anyone did anything like that in class I'm proud to say...
Thinking about TKD... I enjoyed it. I mostly enjoyed the sparring, but the training was good. Even at the club we had some really adventurous training. Flying kicks over punching bags and then crouched students was the most fun for me. Others like forming a boat "stomach isometric exercise", wasn't that fun. But it got fun when the instructors started jumping on our stomachs as we did that. Imagine, I started at 7 and by the time I was around 12ish we had full grown adults jumping on our stomachs and it was fun. Going to boarding school after that exposed me to even more advance training. But its a wonderful feeling to hit a target hanging 8 feet with a jumping spinning kick. Nothing beats seeing your progress as you get to hit targets you couldn't reach before. Sparring with people whom you couldn't beat and beating them, or breaking more and more boards as you get better. This sense of progression... it helps a lot when you're a teenager trying to prove your worth to the world.
It's sad to hear then about the latest victim of school ragging or bullying, this time from RMC or the Royal Military College. A student was ragged by his seniors to do pushups and when he couldn't complete it well, he was kicked by one of them. Which later caused him to bleed internally and die at the hospital. I told my friends that bullying has been going on in boarding schools for goodness how long. Even I had to go through it. But we are all ultimately responsible for our own safety and treatment by others. Sure, playing the role of a junior member to the seniors is important; tradition, discipline, gratification for the ego and all that. But playing that role and being a victim are 2 different things. A line has to be drawn and that line has to be recognised by you. Ultimately, you cannot allow anyone to cross that line. As a human being you have your rights and this include your right to your health and safety and respect. As the seniors or bullies test that line, you have to make known to them that you are willing to fight and defend your rights. In this fashion, they will respect and leave you alone.
But tying this incident to our TKD training. You can see the force of someone jumping on a prepared stomach against a kick to the torso of an unprepared person, can result in very different outcomes. Even in our TKD sparring session, we didn't have body pads. We had gloves and some padding around our feet, but in no way does it save a person from side kicks or back kicks from those pads that are designed for the instep only. I've seen many friends on the floor wheezing. Heck I was one of them. I still remember seeing black as I rolled on the floor trying to catch a breath. My friends looking worried, and trying to help. Its never fun falling down from a flying kick because your partner managed to kick you in the gonads while you're show boating. But none of us died. This boy died because someone kicked him wrong.
I'm not saying that being prepared can save you from debilitating injury. But it does help. So does having the proper spirit. I swam in the hot sun thinking of the fun I'm having. Not of sunburns, or skin cancer, or heat stroke, or fever... thus, we rarely had that problem. The spirit that we had protected us. Instead, try to force a kid to swim in the hot sun, you're likely to have him contract one of those afflictions I mentioned.
Today, we trained from Katadori. Ikkyo, nikkyo from the static position. First using our empty step, then with shifting step. Next we used the outer triangle method, and last we worked on Ashi sabaki. It was smooth sailing until we got to the last part. Too many times along the way though, the students had problems of connecting with their uke's. Pulling in a myriad of fashion and concentrating on the hands are the main mistakes, but wrong facing chushin was notable too. But when it came to ashi sabaki, everyone was looking blank.
I then had us work on yokomen where we demonstrated how ashi sabaki felt like. Moving away engages uke in a fight. Going in blank gives him a perfect target to hit. Doing it right, stops his flow, and cripples his intention to strike. Using this projection of the spirit allows us our many different resolutions using the hands. So once everyone got into that feeling, we tried katadori again. Always the hand is like brushing a mosquito, and aimed at the outside triangle of uke. But the key here is ashi sabaki first. I can say that some have gotten it, a bit at the very least... but more training is required to ensure it becomes second nature for us to project our spirit without the impression of Jaden Smith's scrunched up face in Karate kid showing up.