Sunday, April 30, 2006

2 Golds and a Silver!

The tournament was awesome! There were 5 rings set up in the gym of the NMSBVI, and something like 150 competitors, from Tiger Cubs (ages 4-5) up to Black Belts.

We got there early to watch the Black Belt competition, which was amazing. Richard has just started this program called the Black Belt Club, even though he doesn't actually test for Black Belt for another month. In this "club," he gets to learn traditional Korean Sword forms and sparring, Extreme forms, HanMuDo, Ground Escape Skills, Tactical Short Stick, and Counter Defense Training. Some of those things are included in Black Belt competition, so it was great for him to get to see the higher ranks exhibiting those things that he has just started to learn.

My niece is a 2nd degree Black Belt, and she got a Bronze medal in her Traditional form competition and a Gold medal for her Free Design form. She did really well in sparring too, but she was up against this amazing young man from Las Cruces whom everyone calls Speedy, and he definitely earns his nickname! Our instructor was impressed that she was even able to score on him. Here is a picture of her with her medals:

Richard had a HUGE ring, with some pretty tough competition from all 3 schools that were included (Alamogordo {us!}, Las Cruces, and El Paso). He and a young lady from Las Cruces tied for the Gold medal in their Traditional forms, so they had to do a tie breaker. Richard earned the Gold, and she the Silver. Richard's good friend Cara got Bronze. In the Free Design forms, Richard earned Gold, which he was really proud of since this is a form that he made up and choreographed all on his own, to music that he picked. In sparring competition, Richard did awesome! He was in the first round, and just blew away most of his competition. When it came to the Gold medal round though, a young man from El Paso got in 3 real quick kicks to the head (worth 2 points each), and that was the end of it! Richard did score on him once, so that was great. The rounds go until one opponent earns 5 points, or until time is up, then the opponent with the most points wins. Punches and kicks to legal zones on the body are worth 1 point, and kicks to the head are worth 2 points. Jump kicks to the head are worth 3 points. In tournament sparring punches to the head are not allowed. If you are starting to panic, don't, they are well padded!

Richard sparring, he is the Red Belt executing a beautiful side kick. The adult Black Belts surrounding the sparring kids are judges. There are 3 on the mat while 2 kids are sparring, making sure that it all stays fair and safe.

Here he is doing part of his Traditional Form, he is chambering, getting ready to do a side kick (his favorite). In the foreground are his fellow competitors, and in the back ground sitting on the chairs are the Black Belt judges. There are usually between 4 and 6 in a ring, from all 3 schools.

This is Richard and his good friend Cara, with their medals. It is hard to see Richard's the way he is holding them, but he has 2 Gold and 1 Silver, and Cara has a Bronze. I don't think Richard could look any happier!

Richard and I have talked a lot about competition. I have told him that I would be proud of him if he came home with no medals, it takes a lot of courage to get out there and compete. And if he decided to back out of competition, I would still be proud of him. I hate to see the way some parents push their kids so much. Richard is in this because he loves it, and that is all that really matters.


Saturday, April 29, 2006

Getting ready for tournament...

Richard has a TaeKwonDo tournament tomorrow. He has competed in quite a few over the last couple of years, and he loves them. The last one was in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, it was an international tournament. Richard got his first gold medal in sparring there. He has worked so hard on sparring, so he was very happy. Forms have always come easy for him, but sparring is more difficult because he is large for his age, so when they sort the kids they put him with kids of the same size but are older than him.

This is a picture of him doing some crazy side kick:

And here he is with his medals, 1 gold for sparring, 1 bronze for traditional forms, and 1 bronze for free design form (which he put together himself, to We Are the Champions by Queen).

International tournaments are HUGE! In the above picture, they have already broken down the rings. But you can see how big the building is, imagine 50 or 60 rings, all with something like 6-10 competitors and 5 judges. After that our little regional tournament is going to seem like just another day in class!

So the tournament tomorrow, today actually, I didn't realize that it is after midnight, is here in Alamogordo at the NMSBVI (New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, long name!). My niece and sister-in-law are competing too. I think this will be Richard's last tournament in his age class. He is 10, and in November he moves up to the "super junior" class that is 11-14 year olds. At the last one I was looking at the size of some of the 14 year olds, yikes! And Richard is big, I can't imagine how the little petite kids feel! Though I guess it may be easier to get in close to your opponent if you are small.

Richard is usually a night owl, but tonight he wanted to go to bed earlier so he wouldn't be tired tomorrow. So he took a shower and got to bed, we had some snuggle time talking about tomorrow. I have friends that have 10yo kids that don't want to snuggle anymore, I am so lucky!

I will have updates and pictures tomorrow!


Thursday, April 27, 2006

Sacred Places

I went to a young man's funeral today. I really didn't know him well, but his closest friends are my closest friends, so it was rough. I am always nervous going to Catholic services because I don't know all of the rituals, I can follow along, but I like to know what they mean. As it turned out, many , many people showed up so I got to stand outside next to the roses and the beautiful carved doors. Some people were not happy to be outside, but I was elated. I could hear the music and the bells, I could feel the early morning sun on my face, I could smell the roses, and I could run my fingers over that beautiful door. I love doors, I am not really sure why. Maybe it has to do with first impressions, or the possibility of entering a new world with each door, I don't know. The door at the church is beautiful, it is an old door, with carvings in the wood and a huge iron handle. The whole church is beautiful.

So I was standing outside with this huge crowd of people, most of whom I didn't know, and Mass was going on inside. We couldn't hear much, so most people were talking amongst themselves. At one point someone started to sing, now we had heard lots of music from inside the church, the organ, the whole church singing together, but this was just one person singing an old song in Spanish. The whole crowd just stopped talking all at once, 500+ people standing in the sun, listening quietly (or quietly crying) to this one captivating song. It was beautiful. I started thinking about churches, and how most people consider churches and temples to be sacred places because "god resides there." Well, I am not a religious person. I don't particularly like organized religion. That does not mean that I am not spiritual, I believe that we are all connected, and probably what most people call god with a capital "G" is the same force that I believe connects us all. It occurred to me that what makes places sacred is that people gather there in times of hardship, celebration, whenever they need comfort. It is the people that give a place, be it a church, temple, a sacred circle, or a home, its power.

Later, I was talking to my friend, the one who was so close to the young man who passed away, and she told me that I was having a "Deep Thoughts with Jack Handey" moment, and we laughed. It was good to laugh on such a sad day.


Thursday, April 20, 2006


Richard is loving taking photos. He has a Star Wars Lego scene set up, and is taking pictures of it. He is turning on different lights, the overhead, the small desk light, the reading lamp behind the loveseat, etc. They each affect his pictures differently. He just decided that it is best to have a strong light behind him, and a smaller light behind the Leggo scene. This picture is one that he took with my camera phone, so the quality isn't the best because of that. He took the rest of the pictures with my digital camera, and those look great! I will add those soon.


Always Learning

This is so cool, I wanted to add a links section to the sidebar, and once I had figured that out (blogger's Help section is really good), I wanted to change the font. It is really pretty easy, and now I am learning html!

The best part is that Richard is seeing my excitement. He is not interested in computers really, except for gaming, but he is excited for me. It is great to be able to share his interests, and to have him share mine!


Monday, April 17, 2006


I wanted a name for my blog that meant something...
I thought of things having to do with being a woman, with female empowerment, but nothing seemed right.
Then I thought about my son, he is the most important thing to me, and since we are unschoolers, something that has to do with learning seemed most appropriate. So...


It is a Swahili (Kiswahili) word meaning "to learn on one's own." How perfect! I mean really, all learning takes place "on one's own." Sure, I can help my son by providing opportunities, taking him cool places, "strewing" things in his path, but ultimately it is HE who does the actual learning! So Jifundisha it is.


The beginning of something...

I have been wanting to start a blog for quite a while, but I have never been too fond of journals and the like.

This will probably be simply a place for photos and short tidbits about our adventures in life.