Monday, August 11, 2008


I guess we were taking a bit easier when we were outside in the heat. I've had sore muscles after both of our classes in the new place. This weekend particularly I'm feeling the after effects of 30 straight minutes of spin-kick drills. Today my back and obliques are telling me about every minute. Of course, we don't usually drill spinning kicks like that even indoors unless it's only the intermediate and up students in class. Friday was just me, sensei, and N (formerly I, which was getting too darned confusing), who is likely to be the next one up for a brown belt test - just as soon as he gets reliable with candle-punching and his sais.

I'm not quite sure what's up with I and his candle punching. Those who were reading back when I tested for brown may remember that we're required to punch out a candle flame at our brown belt test. Two flames actually, one for each hand. It's mostly a matter of snap and accuracy. Learning to punch out candles gave me fits at my test, because while I have great accuracy, my punching speed simply isn't terrific. Which in turn made the demands on my accuracy that much greater. At the speed I punch, I have to hit within an inch of the candle or I have no chance of putting out that flame. (Tapping the candle is an automatic failure.) N has the exact opposite problem. He has a terrific snap, and can easily put the candle out at a 2-inch distance, or even more. Unfortunately, he has a tendancy to lean backwards while he's preparing to punch the candle that puts him 4 or more inches back. When he tries to correct for this, he then overcorrects and taps the candle. I hope he sorts it out soon, because I think it's really the only thing that's making him feel unready for the test, and from my POV, his lack of confidence is the only reason I'm leery of testing him right now.

The boys are back at school as of Wednesday. Saturday we got a postcard from Aaron's 2nd grade teacher. He's getting Robbie's old second grade teacher, though under a new name as she's gotten married in the interim. She's a nice lady, and did a good job with Robbie. She wasn't as spectacular a match-up as Robbie's fourth-grade teacher was, but she was good. We still don't know who Robbie's new teacher will be - we may not find out until we show up Wed. morning.

Today we went out and bought all the school supplies, except for the diaper wipes the second grade list calls for. Inexplicably, Office Depot does not carry diaper wipes. I'm not going to know what to do with myself Wednesday. I'll figure it out fast enough though!


Martial Arts Mom said...

My son goes back to school today already! He is in 5th grade and has a brand new just out of student-teaching & college. But he had a "newbie" for 2nd grade and it was one of his best years yet. (The teachers have that raw, new enthusiasm that can't be recaptured later.) And I met her the other night and just loved her. And the great thing - you can buy a brand new teacher all the kitzy teacher gifts and they are not tired of them yet! : )

Perpetual Beginner said...

Robbie is in fifth grade this year, too. His fourth grade teacher was in his fourth year of teaching and still had that enthusiasm going (though it is starting to fray a little around the edges). When Rob and I went to the open house and Mr. Julian was giving his presentation, Rob nudged me about halfway through and said "They're so cute when they're young." Which was true. And he and Robbie got along like gangbusters. He's the one who backed us up to the Special Ed intake group that Robbie needed Gifted & Talented, not Special Ed, telling them that no matter how much he looked like he wasn't paying attention during class, he always knew what was going on, generally better than the students with their eyes front and center. His description was that Robbie would be doodling and looking like he was in his own world, and then out of nowhere stick up his hand, and either answer correctly whatever question had been asked, or ask a question that showed understanding, without ever even looking up from his doodling. Mr. Julian was great. I hope this year's teacher is half as good.

m.a.l.s. (Him) said...

That candle punching thing is kinda fun. I'd never thought of trying that until I read your post. I immediately went and tried it. Not too terribly difficult. I did it first with a tea light and then with a taper that had a thicker wick. I even managed to do it with a spearhand.

I only hit the candle once and will have to explain to my wife why there's candle wax splattered across the kitchen cabinets.

Most of the videos I saw of it online are punching down towards the flame. not horizontal to the flame. How do you do it? Do you use tapers or tea lights? The smaller flame of the tea lights seemed easily to extinguish.

It also seems like it would be harder for women and children since their smaller fists would displace less air. What do you think?

I'm gonna have my wife try this when she gets back from her business trip.

Perpetual Beginner said...

MALS - We use taper candles and a horizontal punch. You're right, smaller hands definitely make life more difficult. Longer wicks also make life tough. With a freshly trimmed candle, I have very little problems, but with a long wick, I have to be perfect. Wearing a gi top also helps, as the flap of the sleeve displaces more air.

For testing purposes, we're allowed to provide our own candles (including trimming our own wicks), but we're only allowed two shots per hand. Basically, sensei uses it the same way he uses board breaking (which we do for green and brown tests), as a check for the basics - speed and accuracy for candles, speed and power for boards.

m.a.l.s. said...

I tried again last night after class and my arms were so sapped I couldn't do it at all. You could really have fun with someone if you had them try to punch out one of those trick birthday candles that re-lights itself.

Perpetual Beginner said...

That would be pretty funny - though once you've seen those candles it's pretty obvious what they are.