Thursday, November 27, 2008

NYC In November

Last Saturday we went on a bus trip to NYC. It was cold (24 degrees) and windy(30 mph gusts). Our past trips have included trips to the Natural History Museum, the Statue of Liberty, or a show. This year we decided to go on the NYC Ducks tour. It was a half-boat and half-bus site seeing tour. Despite the cold, the view of Manhattan from the Hudson river was fabulous. The tour guide really knew her NYC history and provided an enjoyable commentary. She took this picture of us on the boat.Do you notice that there are no other passengers on the boat? We are modeling the colorful beak complete with duck sound capabilities given to each person on the tour. Did I mention it was cold?

When we first got off the bus my nine year old daughter was concerned that she looked like a tourist. She wanted to look like a New Yorker. We told her that she looked like more a native than we did as we were unfolding our city and subway maps. Our venture on the subway this year was far better than last year. During our last trip, we got on the wrong subway multiple times. We kept having to get off the train and go across the platform because we were heading in the wrong direction. At one point we really made a mistake and got on an Express train. We ended up miles from where we wanted in Harlem. We got off the train and waited for the next one back into the city. We had just come from a restaurant and my daughter was holding a balloon. All of a sudden the balloon popped. Can you imagine what a popping balloon sounded like in a subway? Let's just say that a few people ducked.

We visited a few shops in Greenwich Village and headed back towards Times Square. We were walking an all of a sudden my daughter starts talking "Oh my! It is even better in person." We start looking around to see what she was talking about. She points to a building marked "Parsons". We were in the Garment District and walked by the building that holds the Fashion department for Parsons The New School for Design. She then informed us that it was the location of Project Runway.

In ten years, I can see my daughter heading off to NYC. She want to be a chef, an actor, designer and own a zoo.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Lot To Unlearn

Tonight was Tai Chi class at the gym. I was looking forward to class because last week I was unable to attend. I had to rush to get to class on time. Luckily I was there before the instructor and had a chance to talk with the other students. There was a new person in class and she was concerned about not having prior martial arts experience. The other student and I told her not to worry because previous experience seems to be a disadvantage. The new student mentioned her concerns to the instructor and he said (as he glanced at me) "Don't worry, we have a lot to unlearn."

I am not sure how to take this. I do not think the instructor said it to be harsh but I felt discouraged by the remark. You see, I do not want to unlearn...I want to learn more. Does unlearn suggest that the movement I study in Okinawa Kenpo is wrong? Different...yes. I knew from the start that Tai Chi would be difficult. I did not realize that it would be so hard on my knees. I am placing too much stress on the knees because I am not moving from the center. During the form, and in drills, we spend a lot of time with the weight distributed on one leg. My instructor said that in time my knees will feel better.

I am not going to let tonight's class get me down. I am going to practice my Tai Chi movement drills this week. I know that I look like a Okinawa Kenpo practitioner trying to do Tai Chi. Right now that is exactly what I am. I have only been taking classes for two months!

Hopefully a better class next week.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Trees And Toys

I work for a company that distributes Halloween and Christmas merchandise. Christmas season is almost over. There are only two more weeks before Thanksgiving and all of our product needs to ship. I have been working crazy hours and spending less time at the dojo. My family knows that I make no plans during the month of November. The company sells tree stands, wreath making supplies, tree drilling machines, bows, ribbon, balers, twine and netting.

I speak with tree growers and lot owners on a daily basis. They place their order and inevitably talk about the economy. They ask about the volume of sales and wonder how their season will be. Last Saturday a tree grower came into the office to pick up her order. She was discussing how the economy has hit her community. She mentioned the high rate of foreclosures in her town. The tree growers are a tight knit group and she shared a recent discussion. She said "trees and toys". She further elaborated that people will buy only what they need to keep their families happy. Toys for the children and trees for family tradition.

I agree with her.

When I was a child we would go to a tree farm to choose our tree on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The farm is beautiful and was established in 1901. We would grab a saw and head off to find a tree. The process was a long one because we would always find the perfect tree at the furthest corner of the farm. After long discussions and a vote, we would cut it down and drag it back. I was married in late November and I always joke that buying a tree from this particular tree farm was included in our marriage vows.

Currently, the tree decorating process in my household happens over a few days. The tree has to settle in the stand for a day. My husbands job is to cut down the tree and set up the tree in the stand. My daughter and I decorate the tree while Christmas music plays in the background. Each ornaments tells a story about places we visited, family members and special occasions. We take our time unpacking the ornaments and place them at just the right spot on the tree. We talk and laugh at the memories each one brings.

It is one of my favorite traditions. It is going to be a year of "Trees and Toys".

Do you have a favorite Holiday Tradition?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Building A Community

Nathan Teodoro of TDA Training has recently launched the new platform for The Convocation of Combat Arts. It is a gathering of martial arts blogs and their readers. Nathan describes his forum as:
"a place where we could discuss amongst ourselves, and with our reader, the issues of the martial day in a civil, mature way, without gratuitous, and anonymous personal attacks or unjustified opinions."

In addition to the main forums, there are groups specializing in Judo, Taekwondo, Karate, Kobudu, Aikido, Kung Fu, Boxing, BJJ, MMA and much more.

Check it out!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Hack Shaft - ACL Times Two

I just read upsetting news on Hack Shafts blog...he tore his other ACL while executing a tornado kick. I can only imagine how he is feeling. Recovery from ACL is hard work. The surgeon spends two hours rebuilding the knee and the patient spends months in physical therapy. The bottom line is that successful recovery it is up to the patient (as long as there are no complications from surgery). It is all about hard work, attitude and determination. Hack Shaft was one of my first martial artist blogging friends and I admired how he approached his ACL rehab.

Now he has to do it again.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Bad Knee Day

I am having a bad knee day. It is so frustrating! I tell myself that I am over my knee injury but what if I am not? Perhaps it is not my knee but the fact that I am missing two hamstring tendons because they were used to rebuild an ACL. I want my knee to do what it is supposed to do!

Tonight was Tai Chi class. There were three students in class and we worked on movement drills. When it comes to karate, I love moving drills. I try to incorporate moving drills in every class because of the huge benefits to the students. Tai Chi movement drills hurt my knee. I keep hoping that it is because the movements are new to me. I am worried that me knee will always hurt during Tai Chi due to the nature of the movement. Maybe it is not my knee but my weak hamstring. Who knows?

The instructor describes the movement in Tai Chi as "emptying". When I empty one leg, all the weight is on the other leg. This is my fundamental problem.

Sorry about the rant.