Sunday, October 30, 2005

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

One year down . . .

1st Anniversary. . .

Saturday, October 22, 2005

An amazing day to climb a mountain.

thirsty?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

autumn's keepin' in real

seeing reddish-pink
Ch-ch-ch-changes . . .


more colors @ Flickr set "for a walk".

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

a respite on the pebbled beaches of Ulsan

Moon III
moonrise over the east sea


for more pictures from our trip to Ulsan, Gyeongsangnm-Do click on the above photo or visit a2's Flickr photo page.

Sunday, October 2, 2005

NUMBER ONE! GOLD! CHAMPION!

By the time the award ceremony rolled around at 3:30 in the afternoon, all of us had been up and in uniform for about nine hours. Several kids (7-14 years old) smacked the sleep from their eyes with steaming cups of coffee, and were tearing around the gymnasium floor oblivious to the honors and accolades being carefully bestowed to the days' champions.

From our small area of the floor the scene wasn't any different. Students, too tired to sit at attention, leaned awkwardly on one another half awake, some slumped in disappointment, others nervously anticipating results. During the award ceremony my mind wandered through the day which felt stretched cellophane thin.

The damn alarm clock taunting us at 5:45 AM after a brief five hours of rest, a shower and bowl of ramyon before our half an hour walk to the school, and the beginning of a long wait. Hour upon unexaggerated hour of waiting. Why so much waiting? In a regional tournament there are 20+ schools with many, many competitors. the process of competing becomes a darwinian enterprise. The group starts off large, and is carefully widdled into a bracket of top contenders. Now after a day of waiting intermixed with flurries of activity, the noises around us became a lulling drone. As my mind replayed the competition, I cringed at mistakes made, and Alex and I shruggingly conceded that 'what is done is done'.

"AAAHHHHHHH! VICTORY!!! NUMBER ONE!!!!!"

Holy crap, what just happened? Alex and I looked at one another, and then the smiling faces of our team. Our school's Team Form (alex and i are part of) was just announced the winner. The elation and validation resounded throughout our squat on the gym floor. Smiles, fists ("fighting") and victory salutes continued as our team captain accepted the award raising the trophy over his head. Then we waited. Pictures were taken, and the crowd grew hush. Well, hush except for the spastic, coffee kids.

The next series of events are bizarre and dazed. The announcements began for awards in Kyokkum Form (Sparring Form), it was an event that Alex and I had competed in as a team. Wearing armor and being glaringly foreign drew a lot of attention. My first recollection after getting into the armor was seeing little boys point and scratch their heads. they were confused by me. Women do not typically compete in this event, especially against a male teammate. The judges smiled nervously as we took the floor, kids pressed up against the railings looking on anxiously . . . for our part, Alex and I looked menacing and strong. And then we began . . .

What we lacked in dramatic acrobatics (which the another teams used with gusto) we made up for in realism and intensity utilizing the martial art more than the other teams. As I mentioned, the other teams did a lot of acrobatics, but had very little swordplay. Our entire form was swordplay, two carefully placed cartwheels, and a jump kick. We made, what we considered, some horrible mistakes. Our initial response being that of disappointment, Alex actually saying, "What happened?" We were distraught, and felt that we let everyone down. The crowd, however, cheered loudly.

As we unsuited and prepared for the next event, Alex tapped my shoulder and pointed up. A group of little girls were leaning over the railing with outstretched hands. I reached up and they took my hand, all of them smiling but with little to say. More little girls continued to collect above to wave and smile. It made me feel proud that they were able to see a woman take such a strong role in the martial art they studied. In my heart, I hope that a seed of inspiration was planted that day. The memories made a vibrant collage in my head.

I heard Alex's name, or I thought I heard his name. It's hard to say. I looked at Alex, he didn't seem to have taken notice of anything. I assumed my mind had played tricks on me, so I settled back into my quiet.
"GOLD! GOLD!! NUMBER ONE!!! CHAMPION!!!!! VICTORY!!!!!"
Holy crap, it happened, again! I have to stop checking out. I turned to see Alex being shaken by another student. I looked up to find everyone looking at us. "GOLD! VICTORY! FIGHTING!" We stood up, probably with a look of "What the hell?" on our faces. Then we walked to the podium and took our position as the winning team. Master Lee gave us an enthusiastic smile, and I can't speak for Alex, but I had to fight back an ear to ear grin.

That night we went on to celebrate our win and our hard work with members of our school. You can see pictures from our dinner and visit to a norae bong (karaoke) at The Victory Celebration Page on Flickr.

Alex and I go on to compete in our Kyokkum Form, as well as with our Team Form, at Korea's National HaeDong Kumdo Championship next month in Seoul.