If you'll allow me to go on a tangent, I'd like to say for a minute: one of the mes that is laying dormant right now is my music-me. (For that matter, films as well.) By which, I mean...I used to be an avid listener of The End. Right now, my car is tuned to 98.9 the New Rock. And there's multiple reasons for this.
One, contrary to The End's claims of having half the commercials of everyone else...they actually have exactly the same amount overall AS The End, maybe even a minute less: they have a single, 5-minute commercial break, and then 55 straight minutes of music. The End has 2-3 commercial breaks that are two minutes long: never more, sure, but also never less. In short, while they can sometimes have only four minutes of commercials in an hour, their average is six.
So while that used to beat all the others...well, it doesn't beat the new 98.9.
Two, it's consistently the same type of music, and consistently better music overall. The worst songs there are 'meh'. They actually have a lot of songs I haven't heard. But it's all in a good genre: actual ROCK music. Grunge, punk, metal, whatever. 70s, 80s. 90s, newer stuff. Nirvana, Metallica, Alice in Chains, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day, you get the idea. So while it's familiar, it's also different, and also good.
Three, The End...is getting repetitive. You can hear the same song every two hours or so. And if you go longer, it's because they decide to play another overplayed song by that same band, rather than one of the more obscure songs by that band. They've lost their variety. Sure, song-to-song, they've got a variety of styles. Their style is the broad genre of "Alternative": Alternative Rock, Alternative Pop, whatever.
But while each song they play is different from the last, and over the course of an hour you'll hear a ton of different genres and such...there isn't a variety in the number of songs. The order changes! The exact combo differs! But it's basically the same songs, day in, day out. You can listen to them for three to four hours, and then you've heard 95% of the songs they're gonna play for the entire day.
Plus, they aren't playing that many songs that are actually GOOD. You get songs like Fire, and River. You get songs by good bands, like AWOL Nation, Foo Fighters, Green Day, and such. But you don't get to hear more than their most popular hits, except on rare occasions, when they'll have a throwback...to an older popular hit. Less-popular, but arguably superior, songs have dropped off their radar.
And then there's the nature of the songs. I could have this backwards, but I believe most of their songs are major-key, when songs that are major-key and good are far and few between; they only have a few songs that are minor-key, and those that are, usually are their best songs. My sister would explain it better than I would, but when she explained it to me, and we had a night listening to The End as she would point out major/minor, I saw her point and fully agreed with her there.
...Yet believe it or not? I'm not listening to the new 98.9 by choice. (If you're curious, that station got a recent overhaul. It used to be, as my brother described, "a slightly more girly version of The End", and was inferior overall and felt like a second-rate copy to me, which is why I never listened to it. Now, though......not so much. The CURRENT The End is arguably almost like the old 98.9. And that's just......sad.)
I'm listening to it out of apathy. This, because the me that actually bothers to listen to music...is barely active at all. It's all sort-of blending together. I'm finding it nearly impossible to get engaged with songs anymore. Even ones that I've enjoyed, even my favorite songs of all time, even greats, they all are...just music in my ears, but not music to my ears.
But I digress. I promised a blog about Tae Kwon Do, so you're gonna get a blog about Tae Kwon Do. The old goal was to aim for leaving at 4, no later than 4:10.
The new goal is more like 4:20, no later than 4:30. This, because it's a 20-25 minute drive, and it takes me 5-10 minutes to change, and the class theoretically starts at five, so I need to get there early. Anyway, today, we started out with only one kid, so the initial plan was to run that kid through all of his test requirements: as a gold stripe in the kids class, he hasn't had a chance to learn everything he needs to test, because we're always too busy teaching the white belts the basics needed to get a gold stripe.
...And then, ten minutes late, two kids showed up. New plan: run through a mock-gold stripe-test rather than a mock-gold belt-test, because those two kids are nearly at testing level, so they could handle it and use the refinement to get them where they need to be to move up.
...And then, five minutes later, fifteen minutes late, a fourth kid...a NEW kid (well, newish)...showed up. Now, said new kid is a natural. He's got talent, and is probably the most focused of the four kids there, so the one most likely to surpass the others if he sticks with it. It's just that he's, well, new, so he can't from scratch learn everything. He knows a lot, but not enough where he knows nearly everything.
Still, we did get through all our blocks and strikes. It's just that we didn't get to do all three kicks from front stance, and we didn't get to do the four self-defenses, and we didn't get to do forms. Instead, they (as my instructor and I critiqued) got to kick bags...and at that point, with ten minutes left in class, a fifth kid showed up.
Needless to say, not the most productive or useful of days. Especially since...one kid, good focus. Three kids, okay focus. Four kids, problematic focus. (Even though the fourth kid showing up seems to never lose focus, it's just that for some reason the three kids with okay focus upon having a fourth kid join them suddenly got worse.) Five kids, absolutely no focus.
Sparring class was a little small: three students, so that meant four total combatants: my teacher, myself, and two gold belts. Three rounds: one warmup, and two fights. We had a refurbished floor, so it was a bit tricky to figure out. I got a little bit annoyed that my defensive arm, by both gold belts, was getting thrown to the side, leaving me open to the same attack by both (a sliding punch), and they were doing it fast enough that I had to deliberately bait them in order to have them repeat it enough times for me to actually analyze the attack and counter it.
In the case of my warmup partner, I did this well enough: turned out that the sweeping my arm to the side and going in for the sliding punch left their head wide open. I was too close for a kick, but my other arm, with full extension, could nail them in the head. I only got it to work once, and tried to bait them to use that attack again to see if I could repeat it, but I think they knew I had developed an effective counter, so dropped it.
In the case of the other guy, well, he used it only twice: the first time I didn't recognize it as the same tactic, so it worked well enough that he used it a second time. At that point, I was hoping to try and test my counter since I only got to use it once, in the last fight, but our body positions made it awkward, and I hadn't quite confirmed it yet, so it didn't work, and my bait again didn't seem to be working.
So, at that point, I just had a mental, "Ah, screw it" moment: in my fights, I generally like to be defensive: I'll lightly test the enemy's defenses, but I won't actually blitz them. I'll push them back (since I know you're not supposed to give your enemy any ground), and don't often retreat as a result, but when they attack me, I'll usually deflect the blow subtly, or just block it in such a way that I never truly got hit.
In short, I usually just tank blows, and occasionally counter-attack when there's openings, in order to give a non-verbal teaching to my opponent: "Move faster." Yet at that point, because my tactic wasn't working, I just decided to throw a flurry of attacks. The thing about my style of attack is that it is easily combo'd: throw a left backfist, and there are four possible followthroughs: reverse momentum and left hook, continue momentum and right hook, push forward with right sliding punch, or deliver a point-blank side-kick.
And while I usually follow the same attack pattern, as soon as my opponent manages to string together blocks (or even blocks plus a counterattack), I'll switch things up as to render their block useless, or even serving my ends. So I just abandoned defense for a continued series of attacks.
Now, mind you, I do have a third tactic. This one, I reserve for opponents that I don't really feel like fighting, because it's actually the most effective. While I have long arms (thus, why my blitz attacks work so well at slipping through defenses--helps that I'm probably the best at pivoting my feet and getting low in my stance to extend my reach, and my height advantage also adds to it), my true power comes from my long legs.
I never go all-out against a person. I hit them with my hands pretty hard in the head, though hold back on the gut punches a little (mostly because they don't actually do much and I need to pull back to change my combo if they don't decide to block). But this is never more true than with my kicks. Even on targets, I don't hit all-out. Muai Thai bags, number bags, BOBs, paddles, none of them get my full kick power.
I don't know why I hold back to the extent I do. Maybe to protect myself, maybe to protect the equipment, or against an opponent...to protect them. So, while I'll throw kicks even when engaged in a melee, they are nerfed. Still, I do have that third style of combat. I am not easy to get into attack range: I can stay outside of attack range fairly easily, and any attempt to move into attack range is met with a flurry of blows or one well-placed kick.
That third style of combat is using my incredibly long legs and effectively just waiting on them: throwing some empty moves to give the facade of fighting, unless they make a move. And if they make a move, letting loose a kick in wherever their opening is at the precise moment needed to counter their move, such that they never touch me.
It's the most strategic of my fighting styles, but it's also the least-flashy and most-boring. I like being known for my ability to tank blows, and I like being known for my ability to deliver a string of blows. I also can't really use this against my instructor, even though I personally feel it is the fighting style most representative of my rank: when I'm fighting my instructor, I'm supposed to be showing them what I am capable of doing.
...And if I'm seemingly doing nothing, they're going to notice it. (Plus, on a personal note, at least in every-day sparring, the height difference between us means that her casual fighting leaves enough openings for me to not need it. I'm sure that if she were to actually have an all-out fight against me, I wouldn't be able to use my more reckless fighting styles, but for the purposes of training against her, they work just fine.)
Butyeah. That third style, which doesn't get seen often (usually only when I'm either injured, or fighting someone who I'm actually a little intimidated by), is to use my best asset to my advantage: long reach, with precise timing in the exactly right spot. If they go in for a kick, I can get my kick up first, and can also combo kicks, such that I'm still dodging and getting distance.
That's the heart of that third tactic: it's explicitly not retreating. In fact, I can actually still be the one advancing when using it. It's just that I use a well-placed kick to get where I need to go, and if they advance in while I'm kicking (intent on unleashing their own flurry of blows), I use a tight core defense in the form of my arms to block, deflect, and even counterattack, such that they usually retreat back out of my range in spite of me having been the one to have moved in the first place.
To sum up my sparring styles: in one style, I am constantly attacking, even recklessly. This is actually meant as training. One, it's meant to train them in their defenses, since if I'm fully honest, I don't think most of the people who do sparring are good at defending themselves. (Their best defense is usually not being there. Which, to be fair, is the best defense in real life.) They've been getting better, but they've still got room to grow. Still, because they're improving, this does give a challenge to me: find their gaps and exploit them, meaning I'm training my ability to continuously be on the offensive. The idea is that they are unable to strike back, though I'm proud to say they're at the skill level where they manage it anyway and they land a few good hits on me.
In the second style, I am constantly defending myself. I make no effort to plan attacks. I bait attacks, and test the waters, but I'm mostly trying to get them to attack, and from their attacks, effectively defend myself and counter-attack. This is meant to train them in finding weaknesses in my defenses (which are few and far between, unless I'm deliberately leaving some), while also training me in reaction times, in adapting my defenses, in trying to form an impenetrable barrier that keeps them from landing a successful hit, as protecting myself.
In the third style, I am never in a position to either attack or defend, because I'm out of their range altogether. In this style, I am unable to make the first move: I have to wait for them to make one. However, using it, I'm not really training them. I'm more just trying to plan, trying to figure things out, trying to watch closely and make sure that I hit them without getting hit at all.
It doesn't get used often. Instead of using it against my instructor, when I'm fighting her, I usually switch rapidly between the first two. The first two always adjust in level between opponents: against lower-ranked and/or smaller opponents, I'll be sloppy. Against opponents who have good technique, good speed, good power, and/or are at about my height, I'll be sharp. Really, really sharp. Techniques will be fast, precise, and deliberate.
And that's what I do when facing my instructor, including tonight. I always try throwing something new, and always try to not leave gaps, but I'm staying relatively close to her the entire time, so that the only thing limiting my string of attacks is thinking how to actually land a blow. When she counters, I draw back slightly, just enough that where if she wants to go on a full offensive, I'm able to defend myself and maybe counterattack.
In fact, a large part of our fights involve me attacking, maybe landing, maybe not, me stopping once I realize that continuing won't net me any more successful blows, then her going on the offensive, only for me to slip away and land a counterattack, causing a brief pause in the fight to acknowledge the nice blow.
It's certainly a fun half-hour. Then, we get to the adult class, which had two extras join. I spent the first half going through the first four one-steps with students, we spent some time on forms and on pivoting feet, but somewhere in this range, I was hit by two problems.
One, a stomach issue. I suspect the issue was in me eating a little bit later than I should have. I thought eating at 3:45 would be fine, but I probably shoulda eaten half an hour earlier, and then blogged, rather than the other way around as I did.
Two, on both hands, in the exact same spot, the wrist problem popped up. One coming up isn't too terribly surprising. Both coming up, at the same time, isn't something that happens often. It's on the outside of the hand, right where the pivot point is, and it's random motions which trigger the sensation: vaguely like pain, but not quite, it's a twinge of some kind.
My teacher noticed I was having issues. Not wanting a lecture on my food, I decided to talk about the issue which she could maybe actually have advice on. Turns out...maybe! She first asked if I've been to the doctor about this. Answer: several times. All unproductive. The doctor's advice? Stuff like "don't use it as often" (for stuff like writing and drawing, which...I haven't actually been doing, and even if I had been, that'd only affect my RIGHT hand, not BOTH of them), and "wear this brace for a couple of weeks to see if it helps" (it kinda actually felt like it made it worse), and other such things that were...less than helpful.
In short, the doctors guess. And guess. But they don't actually know what the issue is, and seeing them is a continuous waste of money. (As my teacher said, "The reason it's called practicing medicine is because it's still practice; they are still learning.")
Her advice? Physical Therapy. She gave a tip, PNF I believe she said, though I can't remember the full words and even if I did I wouldn't be able to spell them, but she said to give it a look as a potential solution. I really do need to know what the heck this thing is, since it makes no sense. Can't be overuse, since I don't use my left hand, at least I haven't been. Can't be something permanent, since this is something that pops up randomly and then disappears. Isn't something that usually happens on both hands, so it's a rarity for a double-occurrence, but they ARE the same thing, I can definitely feel them.
Soyeah. That was basically Tae Kwon Do for today. I'm probably missing a ton of details, it is two and a half hours after all, but this covers a fair amount of what we did today.