Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Re-start squared

My first year in Korea I was very heavily into Hapkido.  I took classes every day and sometimes twice a day.  They were free so why wouldn't I?  I also competed a bit, and succeeded in placing in the national competition, which was very very sweet.  But when I returned for my second year it wasn't in the same city as my first year, and therefore nowhere near my Hapkido gym.  I went from being a black belt to a bum.  No gym, no practice...I felt like I forgot everything I learned.

The great thing about this year is that I AM BACK IN MY ORIGINAL CITY!  By bus, I live about 1hr and 15 minutes away from where my gym is, but that won't stop me from going at least once a week.  My first time seeing my "Hapkido family," as they proudly call themselves (and so do I), was the weekend before last.  My Kwan Jang Nim (Hapkido Master) welcomed me back with a party.  In attendance was everyone I knew and hung out with from my first year.  The only person who speaks English in that group is my co-worker from year 1, who made the original introduction, but my Kwan Jang Nim and have developed an understanding.  Between his really broken English and my really broken Korean we can talk about almost anything, and have a pretty good understanding of each other. The welcome back party was about 10 people, a lot of alcohol and food, and our lovely end of the night tradition, KARAOKE!  It was a great way to ease back into all of it.  It was like I never left.

So this last Friday I finally was able to put on my uniform and tie my black belt up again.  It's a lovely one with my name on it.  But because of my absence I had to look on the internet for the proper way to tie it because I forgot.  I hopped on the bus excitedly and awaiting my arrival in Chil-Gok.  My return was supposed to be a secret but my Kwan Jang Nim couldn't help himself, he told everybody.  I saw all the kids I practiced with, but now they were almost double their height.  It was nice to see them grown up a little...although still absent were their English skills.  There was so much I forgot, and I was expected to teach my old co-workers' new foreign teacher, who attended, some basics.  Things I forgot: Even though I looked up the belt knot, I still put the name on the wrong side.  When I took the belt off to fix it, I forgot to turn away from the flag. I forgot the order of the stretches, the balance warm-up, the breathing warm up, and how to get to the ground properly when kneeling to bow.  I gave my Kwan Jang Nim a heads up I was rusty, so he just laughed at me and kicked me in the butt.  After doing it once I remembered immediately.

After teaching the new guy the basics, which my K.J.N was grateful for (because he admitted to me he couldn't communicate with the guy), I warmed up my kicks and had a sort of kicking test.  I was worried that I would embarrass myself with the rust being chipped off my legs, but guess what...I STILL GOT IT.  I impressed myself and my K.J.N.  Side kicks, hook kicks, back kicks, spinning back kicks, jump kicks, spinning back jump kicks, 360 kicks taking off, kicking, and landing with the same foot (more gymnastics than martial arts, but still pretty cool to see)....All came back out of muscle memory.  I even heard my K.J.N gasp with a mixture of satisfaction AND disbelief.  "Better now, no last time" he said.  That is about as clear as it gets.

I am going back for 2 classes this Friday and then sticking around for the after party so to speak.  I got my Friday night planned out. If you are still with me here, this post is called 're-start squared' for a reason.  Besides Hapkido, I started going back to the gym too.  Joined for the year, gonna get back in shape.  Went today, used a trainer for the first time since it's free....Didn't like it.  Maybe do my own thing next time.  Watch out ABS here I come.

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