May 23, 2010
I don’t even know how to begin or explain what a great few days this has been. My TKD instructor Mr. LeGrow invited Master Lan (8th degree) to visit from Germany to host a two day seminar. He is their National Coach and has an amazing track record of developing World Champions.
Right after playing in the All-Star basketball game I rushed to Blackburn to meet Master Lan. As soon as I walked into the class I could tell there was something very special about him. He instantly earned your respect but he was so humble, gentle and kind so he wasn’t intimidating. He has a little twinkle in his eye that makes you feel comfortable. You could tell how passionate he was about TKD. After class my instructor asked if I could miss school on Friday to have some extra training with Master Lan. I couldn’t wait! He also invited one other 20 year old guy who takes TKD very seriously.
Mr. LeGrow told me that the training would be at the Scotiabank Place. He teaches fitness classes there a few times a week so I just figured it was going to be in one of those rooms. He surprised us by having our training in the bowl of the stadium. It was so incredible walking into the centre of the rink (no ice) and see just how huge the place is when there isn’t anyone else there. I just keep thinking that all my friends were at the exact same place 12 hours earlier for the Taylor Swift concert. SWEET! The whole experience was so cool. There I was having Master Lan critique my patterns right in the centre of the bowl. When I did my spinning jumps or stomping motions it really hurt my bare feet since it was on the concrete but I wanted to do my best for Master Lan. My coach and Master Lan talked a lot about how it feels to compete in such a big venue with so many people and the extra pressures so it was a good experience to be in that environment. Master Lan spent a lot of time talking about the “Do” in Taekwon-Do which is the mental aspect of the art. He shared all his philosophies of how to prepare mentally for competition. I have to admit I got butterflies in my stomach when I stood there and visualized what it would be like competing in New Zealand in a similar building. It wasn’t scary, just exciting. I was so disappointed that my mom didn’t have her camera with her so I took some pictures with my cell phone. We really weren’t expecting to train right in the stadium.
I was exhausted after the session since I was concentrating so much and I was still tired from the training the night before. After a nap I went to the dojang to watch Mr. LeGrow test for his 6th degree. The test went until 11:00 p.m. I was so proud of him since it was a really hard and long test. He did an amazing job and was promoted to a 6th degree. You become a Master after you pass your 7th degree test but he won’t be able to test again for a few years. Master Laquerre came from Trois Rivieres to test him and the room was full of spectators as out of town people started to arrive for the weekend.
The seminar started Saturday morning at 9:00.am. There were 45 students in total from Ottawa and Quebec. Master Lan focused on sparring drills for most of the day. I really learned a lot and it was also reassuring of things that I have been doing. It’s great to be able to practice some strategies on people that I will actually be competing against without the pressure since it’s just practice. Master Lan completely impressed me with how flexible and strong he is. He is 60 years old and has been studying TKD every single day for 45 years. He has so much energy but he’s so calm.
Saturday night a large group of us went out to a Japanese restaurant downtown to welcome him to Ottawa. I am slowly learning how to eat with chop sticks . It was a beautiful night and Master Lan wanted to go for a walk after dinner so that is what we did. Since we were already in the Market area we walked and bought him a local favorite – a Beaver Tail! He loved it!! Then he wanted to walk more – so of course, we did. We walked all around the Parliament building to look at the beautiful laser light show and all the lights over on the Hull side. I was walking in a dress and high heels so that was also a new experience for me . During the whole walk Master Lan continuously talked about TKD. I just wanted to hear him talk forever. I was learning so much. The whole night was perfect and so special. I’ll never forget it!
Sunday morning started again at 9:00 and I was surprised that I wasn’t tired. I couldn’t wait to start training again. The morning focused primarily on Patterns. Master Lan really emphasized on the way to breathe for each technique. He said that if the pattern was done properly then he should be able to close his eyes and tell you which pattern you were doing just because of the sound. The cool part was that he actually tried it, and it worked. I have always worked on getting a strong breath but I have now learned how to change the breaths for different techniques of the pattern. After a lunch break we did more sparring drills, some normal sparring and then some more patterns to finish off. Master Lan gave us each a signed picture of himself and on the back he wrote a personal evaluation of our patterns and our sparring abilities. It was like a prescription of how to improve. He spent the last hour calling us up to the front one by one and he told us what we were doing right and what we need to work on. It was amazing how accurate he was on everyone just after watching us for a few minutes. It was great to get the feedback.
I learned so much and it was great to get into the right head space of sparring and competing before the CanAm’s in two weeks. He talked alot about the mentality you have to have when you are sparring in a training season vs. the mentality of being in the sparring ring during competition. It was a bit weird realizing that my competitors in the room where getting the exact same advice on everything. Now it just comes down to who can follow through with his advice at the time of competition. He believes that everyone should have the same tools and he has no secrets. It’s all up to the students if they want to incorporate his lessons. I have several hours of video from the weekend so I’ll be able to review it when I need to.
Since it’s the long weekend I am really looking forward to a day of rest and to digest everything that happened. Master Lan leaves on Tuesday night but a few other students and myself are going to train with him in the morning before he has to catch his flight home to Germany.
This is definitely a week that I’ll never forget!!! Thank you Mr. LeGrow for giving us this amazing opportunity.
May 21, 2010
Last night was the All-Star game at Algonquin College. It was so weird because I have competed in that gym several times for Taekwon-Do but it was a new experience for me to be there for a basketball game. The gym actually looked smaller without all the sparring rings. When I walked in, I saw all the cameras and people and all of a sudden, I got really nervous. So did all of my teammates. I think that it wasn’t so much the cameras that made us nervous but the fact that we had no idea what the broadcasters were saying about our every move. I’m used to being filmed for TKD but not for any other sport. I had so much fun being with my teammates even if it was such a short time. I only wish I got to know them better since we only had one practice together as a team. In the game, it was also a bit of a shock because the level of play was more intense than I’m used to and it was harder to score. There were several girls who really stood out since they play competitive basketball all year. It would have been interesting to see how we would have done if we had had more time together as a team. It’s pretty hard when you are still trying to learn everybody’s names
I loved having my parents, brother, his girlfriend, my grandpa and my aunt there cheering me on. It was a blast and I’m so lucky to have had the opportunity to play for the All-Star team. We ended up losing 49-40 but it was still a great experience. I’d like to thank Mr. Wilson who organized the whole event and who also invited me to the try-outs.
May 14, 2010
The last two weeks were all about basketball. My school team won in the Board Semi-Finals and then lost in the Board Finals. It was our first loss of the whole season so we were still pleased with our success. My Grandpa was asked to sit on the players bench for the last game since he was at all the games and even the practices. He’s like our number #1 fan. His blue poster goes everywhere with him.
Last Friday my dad and I went to Oshawa for a soccer tournament and we didn’t get home until Sunday night. It was a lot of fun even if it was freezing cold and really wet.!!! I felt bad about being away since it was Mother’s Day weekend and all my Cousins, Aunts and Uncles were in town so I didn’t get to see them very much.
Tryouts for school soccer team also started last week so I’ve had soccer before school two days a week as well as the club practices two nights a week.
I was invited along with 45 other girls from all the Public Schools in Ottawa to try out for an All Star Basketball Team. We had two nights of tryouts with the assistant coach from Ottawa U. I was very excited to make the team. Basically it means that we only have one practice together next Tuesday and then we have a televised game on Thursday against the All Star Team from the Catholic School Board. It’s only for one game but it’s a great experience. I find it very weird that for once I’m not the tallest girl I’ve never seen so many tall girls my age before!
So after all the basketball practices, school soccer and club soccer practices I head out to Blackburn for TKD and don’t get home until around 10:30 p.m. Mr. LeGrow has been very understanding with my time limits so when I’m there I just work on my patterns and strengthening at the back of the class to get ready for CanAm’s three weeks. He knows I’m getting enough cardio with my other activities. I just found out that they will be selecting the National Sparring Team and the Pattern Team at the CanAm’s so I’m really working hard. The Individual events won’t be selected until November in Vancouver at the National Championships but if I can at least get on the Team Events it will hopefully be easier to get sponsors and funding.
I’ll have a lot of exciting news to report next week after the All Star Game and then a two day Seminar with Master Lan. He is the TKD National Coach from Germany and he is giving a sparring workshop. I can’t wait to get some extra coaching. He has a great track record of producing champions.
May 3, 2010
Saturday, May 1st I was at an amazing seminar. It was awesome. There were over 50 color belts and over 60 black belts men and women up to 5th degree.
It all started Saturday morning at 3:00 am when my alarm clock rudely woke me up from my beauty sleep. Fortunately, all I had to do was hop in the back seat of my car and continue to sleep while my mom drove. We got to in Trois-Rivières early enough for me to grab some breakfast since we had to be at the gym by 8:00 am.
When we arrived at the university of Quebec Trois-Rivières campus, it was cool to be in the gym since I knew just about everyone there (at least most of the black belts). People traveled from all over Quebec and Ontario and some even came from the States.
The seminar was broken up into three training periods. One for patterns, one for Sparring, and one for board breaking. Each training session was approximately 2 and a half hours long. They separated the colored belts from the black belts and then we were sent off to the different sections.
The black belts started with the board breaking session which was given by my own instructor, Mr. Steven LeGrow . Mr. LeGrow was the Bronze medalist for both patterns and sparring at the last World Championships. The main idea and goal was to isolate and work certain muscles to develop strength. We were learning how to use our body`s power to its full potential. Mr. LeGrow said that his goal was to make it so that we couldn`t last for the rest of the day. It worked After the 2 1/2 hours my legs were burning bad!
Then we continued on to the patterns session which was given by Master Laquerre. He is the Technical Director for Canada so I had to make sure I did my best. This was the most intense section for me. We did all our patterns in unison full force and in between each pattern we had to do several series of push-up, and other strengthening drills. Just when I thought we were going to wrap it up he did something that I’ve never seen before…
We were all line up in rows and did patterns together. Master Laquerre walked up and down the rows and if he saw you make any little mistake he tapped you on the shoulder and you had to sit down. I was getting more and more determined as people were being eliminated. Eventually there were only 8 people left standing. I was one of them.
Then there was a tournament format for the last 8 people to have a round robin. I had to go up three times against people I’ve never competed against. Finally it was down to just me and Maxine Noel for 1st and 2nd place. Last year she represented Canada in Argentina at the World Championships. Lately we always seem to end up going against each other. Sometimes she wins and sometimes I win. This time she beat me. I love having someone who really pushes me to train hard. I was just happy to make it that far in a room with so many extremely skilled and experienced people.
Finally we ended off with the sparring session. At this point everyone`s legs were shaking and our feet were in so much pain from stomping on a wooden floor all day in bare feet. You just wanted to sit down, but if you did it was really hard to get back up . We did some combination drills and mostly worked on strategy and movement in certain situations. Mr. Maxime Bujold was the man running this session and he was a World Champion in sparring. This guy was the real deal. He was so smart and impressive to listen to even though the whole thing was completely in french. I was quite proud of myself for actually understanding what he had to say. It’s kinda weird learning all these drills knowing that you will be all using them against each other in the next tournament. I would never share all my soccer or basketball drills with my direct competitor. That is the unique thing about TKD. Everyone is just there for improvement.
To end of the night a large group of us from all different schools went out for a pasta dinner. It was so nice to just kick back and talk about the day. I was exhausted physically and mentally from all the concentration!!!
I couldn’t wait to get back home but we still had another 4 hour car ride. We didn’t leave until 10:00 pm. Once again, I got to sleep while my dad drove us home.
It would have been nice to stay at the hotel with everyone else since they were all heading for the hot tubs but I had to get together with a school friend first thing Sunday morning to work a project together and then I had soccer practice Sunday night.