We knew it was coming, though I wasn't sure it would happen this quickly. We have split away from the TKD dojo. There were a lot of issues involved, which I'm not likely to discuss in detail, since it would be very easy to slide into badmouthing, but suffice it to say that practically none of our students were very happy with how things were going, and we were getting more unhappy with time.
Sensei tried to find us a new place to go. In fact we very nearly ended up at a Shrine Club literally around the corner from me (less than 200 yards from my house), but negotiating fell through over whether and when we could use our padded flooring. So far that's the closest he's been able to come to finding us a new place.
So for now, we are practicing in the local park. There are a few disadvantages, the biggest being the unpredictability of class (Sensei checks the weather report each weekend and calls us Sundays to tell us which days we'll have class.). Allergies are also a problem for at least one student. On the other hand, the outdoor practices are quite fun. The uneveness of the ground isn't extreme, but it's enough to provide more challenge than a level indoor surface. Plus we've been generating a lot of interest from new students. Pretty much every class, three or four people will wander by, sit down for a while, and watch us. Others watch more distantly. About once a class somebody will wander up and talk to one of us about what we're doing. We've already had one new student join, and at least two others have expressed interest.
It would be nice to have an indoor place so we could have regular class hours, and access to things like heavy bags and makiwaras - but you know, for a complete improvisation, this isn't doing too bad. I think it might even be worth holding summer classes in the park again next year, even if we are in a more permanent spot. It seems to be really good advertising.
In other news, Lance - Sensei's first black belt, has opened his own class at the YMCA in Frankfort, KY. (That's the capitol of Kentucky.) Four of us went down for his opening day. So far he has two students, but they've been back for repeat classes, so he's off to a good start. He has a pretty good space - a basketball court, complete with some padded walls that would make pretty good punching practice.
More personally, I've finally made it through Kusanku. Just in time, too, since I'm hitting the road for Boston day after tomorrow. I really wanted to have it complete. It's much easier (to me anyway) to practice and retain a kata once I have the whole thing in there, then while I'm still learning it piecemeal. Sensei has loaned me his DVD of tonfa basics to practice with also while I'm gone, so I can keep working on those.
Rob has made me a perfectly beautiful pair of tonfas. He checked the general proportions from the commercial set I had, plus descriptions from other places. Then he made me a pair of pine blanks to check proportions - I actually used these in class for several weeks, because even out of pine and held together with screws, they already fit and moved much better than the commerical set. Once I was sure of exactly what I wanted based on the blanks, he went ahead and made the final set. They're gorgeous. Osage Orange (to match my bo staff), in a block-style tonfa (see here). The handle is exactly my hand-width, which improved my accuracy about 100% almost immediately. This is good, because these things are heavy. If I miss with the commerical tonfas and whack myself in the shoulder or back of the head, I get a bruise. With these suckers I'm likely to do real damage. They spin like a dream though, and the handles are perfect. Sensei has asked Rob to make a custom pair for him.
I may or may not get another post in before Boston. Tomorrow is packing, rental car pick-up, and the arrival of my FIL (aka Nicky's personal door-opener). I found both of the boys' DS's, so the actual traveling should be minimally boring for them. Plus, since I'm getting the car a day early I can stick some holes in an old sheet and make a cover for the back seat of the car - thus permitting minor eating back there, which should also help. This coming week is at L's for writing, baking, trivia contests (last time we won L a pizza parlor gift certificate), and present-hunting (what do you get someone for an ordination?). Then it's A's for our usual whirlwind of running madly- plus a neuroendocrinologist visit for a second opinion as to whether my little tumor is actually doing anything or not. Then we spend the last three days at Beth's for her ordination and general fun and hanging out. I will post as people allow me computer time, but since I don't have a laptop to bring, I'm dependant on charity for computer access.