Assistant Instructor

I just received an e-mail from my instructor Master Rion. He let me know that my 1st degree certificate for TKD is coming next week. It's taken awhile for the ITA to send it - I was certified 10/21/2005 - so it's nice to know it's on the way. Included will be a certificate in Korean, hand-brushed on rice paper. I'm thinking that's a good one to frame.

In addition to this bit of good news, Master Rion has also promoted me to Assistant Instructor in TKD. This is actually a surprise! I've been helping lead class & do some low-level instructing but I never considered this would earn me that position. I'm just glad I can help him out with the day-to-day class functions - Master Rion puts an awful lot of weight on his shoulders & I see it as the black belts' collective responsibility to do anything possible to take some of that load off.

I'm thrilled I have something I enjoy so much that gives me (IMAO) more than I actually put into it. I don't think most people are as fortunate as I have been.


Brilliant Gift (or Waaaaa!!! Part 2)

As previously mentioned, my friend, Amy, is departing for Chicago,IL this week (Thursday, I think). Since she won't be around for Christmas, and I'm pretty sure she doesn't read this blog on a regular basis (love her to death, but she's not exactly computer-savvy), I'm going to reveal the brilliant (IMAO) gift I bought her.

Sure, I should keep it a secret, but this one's just too good...

I purchased a Swarovsky silver-crystal butterfly with a gold inlay for the antennae. Oh, it's a great one for a dual Christmas/going away present! You know, the whole butterfly symbolizing a new stage of life & everything. I'm even more darn intelligent than I thought! MWAHAHAHAHA!!!

I'm sure she'll love it, as she's always liked those little collectibles you get in stores. I'm not going to mention the cost, since she could actually read this thing one of these years.

OK, enough patting myself on the back. Later...


So, let me get this right - PETA attacks a church for using a live Nativity that DOESN'T involve live animals? Typical. They blindly go after whoever fits the bill. They admit they keep tabs on churches. Really nice of them. I think since it's SOOOOO wrong for the government to wire-tap terrorists to get information, it should be wrong for PETA to track churches. Aren't they spying on innocent churches? Is this a rush to churches? ;-)

Even better, they cite various "tragedies" to justify their cause. Let's break this down, shall we?

1) Stolen & Slaughtered: OK, I guess this may occur in 1 out of every 500,000 Nativities out there. Seriously, how are you going to pack up Humpty the Camel & not have anyone notice you're serving dromedary at Christmas dinner?

2) Escaped. Struck by car: OK, so the animals get scared & run off into the woods/streets/etc. In the possibly more frequent occurrence than #1, how can PETA make this argument? Animal rights whackos freed minks (ELF, I think) from a slaughterhouse just to have them run into traffic & get killed. The rest, all too used to being fed on a schedule, probably couldn't make it on their own. Ironic of animal rights activists to trade one quick death for another. Smooth argument...

3) Raped: How often does this happen to Bo-bo the sheep? Australian jokes aside, I don't think the frequency of this is that high. Why? Because you'd see something this bizarre plastered all over the evening news. I'm not claiming it doesn't happen, just that it must be exceedingly rare. The biggest violation in this case is probably against the truth of the matter.

4) Beaten: Yeah, I could see this one happening. However, "beating" is probably taken (surprise!) liberally by activists. I'm sure there are reported cases where the animals are harassed by kids, teens & such. We're talking teasing, egging, pulling tails, etc. Not nice to be sure but it's about like high school for most people. Are we going to cancel schooling, too? I doubt there are many extreme cases of animals beaten to death. Yes, the perpetrators should be punished for such things.

Overall, the argument made by PETA is that some people can be sick, heartless bastards so we shouldn't have live Nativities. Now, just because someone might show up at a public event with a weapon doesn't mean public events should be banned. In other words - just because someone, possibly, may do something against the law is no reason to punish the group organizing an event.


Casino Royale

Where to start? Actually, it doesn't matter. This movie is one of the best Bond films ever produced. This simply isn't an issue to be debated. Not only are the origins for the world's most famous super-spy revealed in stunning, creative fashion, we also see a character who develops into the modern James Bond by the time credits roll.

The basic story is that Bond, newly minted as 007, is trying to defeat Le Chiffre in a high stakes poker game (Baccarat in the novel - if you care to know). The potential prize is $150,000,000 with a $10M buy in. Not only does the director make this an exciting play from start to finish, Daniel Craig takes the Bond role made famous by Sean Connery & runs with it.

There's no doubt in my mind Daniel Craig is the best Bond since Connery. To be honest, none of the others really came all that close. Brosnan wasn't bad, Moore was good though too much on the humor & don't get me started on Dalton. Craig fits the character like he was born to play the spy. He's a myriad of contradictions: Tough, yet human; Well-groomed, yet gets right in the muck; Intelligent, but with an undeniable brutality.

This isn't the humor-filled, one-liner Bond of Brosnan & Moore. If that's what you want, look elsewhere. Craig is unapologetic, unforgiving & undeterred in his methods. The means by which he puts a target down (who stood to get refuge at an embassy) after a long chase demonstrates that this Bond is not a man with whom to trifle.

He is human, let there be no doubt about that. In many ways none of his derring dos are over-the-top & definitely none are physically impossible. Here's a character relying on willpower & skill alone. Actually, this Bond exemplifies my personal credo: "Aut viam inveniam, aut faciam" - If I can't find a way, I will make one.

I wouldn't dare spoil the plot execution of a true classic adaptation. Go see this move. NOW! I guarantee you won't be disappointed in any way. As a matter of fact, I'll bet after the last 3 words in the movie, you're begging for a repeat screening of this excellent movie.


My dear friend, Amy, is wrapping up her time in Iowa. She; her husband, Greg; and daughter Jessica are moving to Chicago next Thursday. Her last day at work (we're at the same company) will be Monday 11/27. :-(

Amy & I have been friends for about 5 years. She's one of the few people I trust & one of the even fewer with whom I don't put up any walls. She's the person who tells you how it is, still knows how to be tactful & is never afraid to ask for help when she needs it (which is incredibly infrequent). Additionally, she's also an incredibly beautiful, socially graceful woman. ;-)

She's done a lot to help me grow in these 5 years we've known each other. It's going to be tough managing with her gone & I'll have to figure out how. Not one person in my adult life has been such a positive example on how to live. She's helped me focus on personal accountability, direction & even loosening up a bit - you know, no point in taking life too seriously.

Still, I'm thrilled for this exciting opportunity that's come her family's way. Greg is a stand-up guy to say the very least. He recently accepted a promotion - hence the move to Chi-town - & I think it's a good move for them. Jessica will have to make new friends, but seeing as she's 10, I can't think this will be a problem for her. Socially, she's a lot like her Mom (Heaven help us all!).

Yeah, Amy can be a pain in my butt...BUT that's only because she's what I'd consider a true friend whose looking out for me. Nothing can beat that.

In closing I'd just like to say "thanks", Amy, for your part in helping me become the wonderful, intelligent, spectacular and, yes, humble person all you know & love. ;-) Congratulations to you & your family. You'll always be my closest of friends & there'll never be a moment where you're not missed by your other family here in Iowa.


I picked up one of those new Nintendo Wii's this week. Talk about an innovative system! The Wii Sports 5-in-1 game alone is worth it. Golf, Tennis, Baseball, Boxing, Bowling. I personally like golf & tennis the best. Very entertaining to see your actions duplicated exactly on the screen.

Then there's Red Steel - a launch title that's been much-hyped since the system release was announced. I can tell you this game walks the walk every step of the way. Not only are the controls intuitive, clean & responsive - the game has...unique features for AI. For example, not all, but most enemies will know when you have to reload. They'll tell their buddies, too. Nothing quite rattles you so much as facing down 3 or 4 guys with uzis & they rush you after firing your last shotgun blast. You can't take too many hits before you go down, either. Fortunately, health recovers automatically after a few seconds (This is great just because health items are an anathema to action in FPS games).

The mood of the game changes rapidly from calm to frantic when enemies appear onscreen. Not every one is an action hero & a small percent are just fodder. Most, however, are extremely coordinated with the others & do their best to flush you out of cover.

Duels are a major event in each level. You'll be confronted - often multiple times in a level - by various mid-level baddies intent on serving you up with tempura for dinner. The sword combat is smooth, allows for blocks, parries, dodges & counters. You can even cause damage to your opponent's weapon if your timing is good. Defeating an opponent gives you the option to kill or show mercy. Showing mercy gains respect...

The respect you have affects how your enemies respond to you. If it's high enough, then many low-level thugs will just cut & run (sort of like liberals, but better armed). This not only saves ammo, it also affords you more time in those timed parts of missions (those are rare).

Also, I have Need For Speed: Carbon. I'll get into that on a later post.

If you've been thinking about a Wii & aren't quite sure if it's worth the $$$, wonder no more - this system is easily worth the $250 price tag. Not only can you play it out of the box, but many companies are stepping up to use this new idea in gaming in just as creative ways.


Key to Success

Success in life is dependent on one's HONOR & SAGACITY. These are easily defined as:

Honor - That when you give your word, you stick to it. No matter what.

Sagacity - Never giving it. ;-)



Wow, it's almost the holiday season?!? The year's really flown by. Of course, when you work in transportation like I do, holidays just aren't as fun. For example - I work Thanksgiving AND Christmas this year. Yeah, I get paid for it & all but all things being equal, I'd rather not work.

Adding to it, we only have class Monday & Tuesday this week. This means I work Thursday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday (pretty much the usual schedule) with only 2 days to vent some steam. Oh well, them's the breaks...


College Degree

This is a subject I've been dodging - at least subconsciously - for a few years. I have 90+ semester hours from University of Iowa, plus 24 or so from my time in the Navy. It's come time that I put the effort in & finish this thing. I'm not one for making excuses, but that's exactly how I sound when I have a reason for "not right now" on finishing a 4-year degree.

My question is whether to go straight into finishing the 4-year degree or get an Associates degree at a local school & finish the 4 from there? Do you lose any credits in that process? What makes more sense? The number of credits I have is well over what's needed for an Associates. The Bachelors will (hopefully) include my 90 credits, plus a few of the 24 from the Navy. Iowa, in their magnanimous, liberal elitism accepted 4 (four) credits from my military service. To call them jerks is an understatement.

Let me know what you think based on your own experiences.


Bond, James Bond (Part 2)

MWAHAHAHAHA!!! I just got the notice in the mail yesterday that they have my 1st 2 collections of James Bond DVDs! hee hee I'm so excited. I can't wait until the 3rd & 4th collections come out. Dr. No isn't in the 1st 2 sets (how lame is that?). I'm no smoker, but that opening scene with Connery smoking a cigarette at the (baccarat?) table probably sold a lot of them when that movie premiered. Still, there are some darn good ones in the 1st collections. My personal favorite, The Man With the Golden Gun, is the 1st DVD of the 1st collection.

I'll be there when the post office opens at 0900 to grab 'em! Woo Hoo!

Mark Twain

No, "but HapKiDo, his name was Samuel Clemens", crap! It's called a pseudonym & I'm using it! This is probably one of my favorite quotes of all time:

"It is by the grace of God in our country that we have those three unspeakably precious things: Freedom of speech; Freedom of conscience; and the Prudence to never practice either of them". - Mark Twain


I'm not sure what happened to me this week. Monday was good & I was at class as planned. For some reason, I just didn't have it in me to make it to either class on Tuesday/Wednesday. I suppose the fact I've cut calories - to about 1500/day - to drop some weight (I'm trying to make Iowa Games next year as a middleweight in TKD) may have something to do with that. I'll just have to pop some B-vitamins & keep the energy going.

Also, I need to get cracking on the cardio & some very minor weights (low weight, high repetition) to get my stamina/strength where it needs to be. The flexibility is coming along. So long as I manage to keep it going, I'll be in prime condition with that by next spring. I'm just going to have to bite the bullet, join a gym with cardio equipment & get on it.

To fight comfortably at middleweight, I figure 165 lbs is where I need to be. Presently, I'm right around 175. Now, 10 lbs may not seem like much, but it does mean probably losing 20 lbs of fatty stuff & adding 10 lbs of rock-solid, studly muscle. The trick, really, is to add strength instead of mass. According to GM Wallace, the best way to do that is low weight/high repetition. Looks like it's push-ups, crunches, etc for me! YAY!

After all that, there's still the issue of footwork. Fortunately (or maybe not...), I have the same limitation as GM Wallace - my right leg isn't exactly 100%. For reasons unknown, that knee can act up at the darndest times. The style he utilizes involves keeping his left leg (strong side) forward for speed to set up combinations. While he's demonstrated this style works for him (23-0, title defenses), I am not imbued with similar properties of dexterity & agility.

As you aren't allowed to backfist to the head in WTF (World Taekwondo Federation, dirty-minded readers!) sparring like is permitted in Kickboxing, there's a major concern on the power front. A front-leg kick simply won't deliver the power of a rear-leg kick. That's physics 101 stuff - the hip doesn't rotate when you kick from the lead foot. That effectively eliminates all your body mass from the energy equation. In exchange for speed, you sacrifice a great deal of power (ah, Eum & Yang rear their conflicting, ugly heads!).

Yeah, there's a bit on my mind about this whole affair. At this point, the focus must be on dropping the body fat. I can work on the rest from there.


Getting Antsy About This Test

I've got everything together for my upcoming test. Really, the things I have to shore up are forms (all 14 of them), one-step sparring (25) & self-defense. Being as strong with forms as I am, I can't imagine there will be trouble there. Ditto with self-defense. One steps will take care of themselves.

The nagging question on my mind is: What's my essay topic? The subject for 1st degree was What Black Belt Means to Me. I think I did a fairly good job. That paper helped me realize more of what my goals were than I had ever truly considered before. I'd say the writing (grammar, spelling, etc) was excellent & I offered not only a well-thought, also an original view on black belt.

Now, that's not to say the "average" black belt - average being a poor word because I don't think an average (read: mediocre) person can earn, really earn, a black belt - thinks it's about being a butt-kicking, one-person, wrecking crew. It's just that my opinion of black belt (cultivated over time & help from excellent friends) is that you've learned the basics & can now get to the process of really learning the art. More importantly, you have a responsibility that eclipses your authority & influence.

Unfortunately, I do think some people can get caught up with the Hollywood image of a black belt & think that strip of cloth grants them some mystical power. Hey, it's a big accomplishment. I'll concede that to anyone. *However*, it is also just a belt. The real meaning to black belt, for me, is earning it every single day you wear it. That has been the biggest challenge to me since making 1st degree. Some days I feel I've failed. Most I think I succeed. As long as I keep that in mind, I don't think I'll ever lose the right to wear one of the Dans.

So, as most of you can tell, I'm a little eager to keep the process rolling on test. I know it's 5 or 6 months away. That may seem like a lot of time, but that's all I have to write a full essay, choreograph a pattern with attackers, make sure my forms are up to par, prepare for sparring (dropping a little weight & improving endurance), get ready for breaking (2 bricks this time) & make sure my terminology is all set.


Christmas Music Already?

104.5, KDAT, here in town started playing Christmas music on November 1st. Hey, I'm all about being in the Christmas spirit...WHEN it's time for Christmas. For me, that's after Thanksgiving.

From November 1st to December 25th we get that self-righteous blowhard Delilah to tell us how flipping wonderful everything is *and* she shoves that down our gullet with a Jingle Bells dessert. Again, life IS good, but experience it, folks. Having some over-the-top radio personality who specializes in getting hyper-sensitive goofs to air their dirty laundry to the world tell you that doesn't do a thing for anyone.

Fortunately, the intelligent (& some holiday-jaded) have prevailed. We've had that silly radio station turned to one with some sense as to what people want to hear. The problem I really have with playing Christmas music so early is that people get sick of it. Christmas is something to be enjoyed in it's season. Starting it up earlier & earlier every year would be like going to the beach in February to kick off summer - you have a snowball's chance in Hades of really enjoying yourself.


Have you ever just slept so well that you woke up at the perfect time & were ready to go? :-) Now, WHY is it that only ever happens when you have to go to work?!?!? :-(


Veterans' Day

Unfortunately, those with courage to guarantee our rights & fight every day so we can enjoy the vast liberty afforded us are taken for granted.

With that in mind, I find this quote particularly appropriate in the face of so many willing to demonize either the military or the chain-of-command. Folks, freedom is not free. It's been fought & paid for more times than any agitator dared picket & protest on a college campus. I truly believe peace can only be obtained through strength & the willingness to demonstrate it. Pacifists want peace at any cost - even liberty.

I'd like to thank every soldier, sailor, Marine & airman who is or has ever served this great nation. Ladies & gentleman, without your daily sacrifice none of us would be able to breathe the freedom we so sweetly are afforded. Thank you all for your noble generosity & know that you are appreciated by this former sailor.

"We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we will always be free".
Ronald Reagan

How To Succeed At A Musical...

Last night, I went to my little sis', Sarah, musical How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying. As usual, the kids at Alburnett High School did an excellent job. Merrick, playing the lead of Mr. Finch just takes any role & runs with it. His facial expressions are priceless. I have to say I've enjoyed all the musicals they put on twice a year.

Sarah plays Miss Jones, the big boss' secretary. For her interpretation of the role, she adopted a heavy German accent, a mean snarling sneer on her face & a loud stomp when she walked. OK, I *realize* that's not the character as it was written. However, we're talking about a 5'2", 100lb high school girl here. The fact she pulled intimidating off was pretty impressive to me. I would have hated it if her character got in my face. Somehow, someone who's small & overly assertive is more intimidating than a bigger person.

The play ran about 3 hours, with a 20-minute intermission. I thought it flew by. Among the highlights were Hedy LaRue (Dana Kuehl). She got the ditzy part of the character & had fun with it. She was so dolled up that I didn't recognize her at all. Sam Baier played the big boss, J.B. Biggley. Nice, understated success for him in that role. Understated may be a bit off considering his booming voice but he did manage to almost steal the show with his less-than-obvious humor (in addition to being a world-class knitter). Smitty (Mackenzie Reed) really showed a lot of energy for the part. Probably pound for pound for pound the best actor on the stage. She doted as an excellent foil between Finch (Merrick Robinson) & Rosemary Pilkington (Cassidy LeClaire). The young lady portraying Rosemary put a ton of emotion into the role & took an initially conniving character into a more innocent person by end of the second act. I actually liked that quite a bit. Honestly, as most characters develop they tend towards disillusionment or corruption.

Great job to the entire cast. Congratulations to all of them for a great show!

Sarah e-mailed me the cast list. Here's the acknowledgements:

J. Pierrepont Finch.......Merrick Robinson
Cassidy LeClaire..........Rosemary Pilkington
Mackenzie Reed...........Smitty
Kyle Loux.......................Bud Frump
Dana Kuehl....................Hedy LaRue

Sam Baier.....................J.B. Biggley

Kyle Francios................Wally Womper/Janitor
Sarah George...............Miss Jones
Billy Meiners..................Mr. Bratt

Dugan Knoll...................Mr. Twimble

Caleb Carver.................Mr. Gatch


Bond, James Bond

Nah, I didn't have some magical super-spy moment. I DID just order the 1st two 007 DVD collections from Amazon! Man, I'm really excited about these. Every time they run the James Bond marathon on Spike, or AMC, or...well, you get the point - I really like the 007 movies.

Now, my personal favorite is Man With The Golden Gun, even though I think Connery is a far better Bond than Moore. I just think it's an excellent plot & the fun keeps rolling the whole movie. Pretty much every Bond with Connery is great (We're *not* going to mention Never Say Never Again, uh, again. Got it?). From Russia, With Love just blows me away. Connery just pulls this one off brilliantly.

As far as the "order" of Bond actors, from best to worst, many people disagree on this one. My personal list is:

  1. Sean Connery
  2. Pierce Brosnan
  3. Roger Moore
  4. Timothy Dalton
  5. George Lazenby

Really, I think it could go either way for the Dalton/Lazenby debate. Dalton was too stiff & "angry" of a Bond for my tastes. Lazenby was just unimpressive to me. The one movie he did hardly gives him a chance to refute this opinion. I don't mind the serious part of the character at all, but Bond shouldn't seem like he can't bend at the waist, either.

The jury's out on Daniel Craig, though based on early information on the movie it does look like his portrayal of Bond could put him ahead of Brosnan. It would take a world class performance to put him even equal Connery. Sean Connery defined the role so well that Ian Fleming even changed Bond's heritage to part Scottish.

I'm really anticipating Casino Royale, out 11/17. Not only do we get to see the pre-007 Bond, we get to see how the character is molded into the Bond we've come to know so well through books & movies.

Winston Churchill

I think this one's particularly excellent for former president Carter, the Dixie Chicks & their ilk...

"When I am abroad, I always make it a rule never to criticize or attack the government of my own country. I make up for lost time when I come home". - Sir Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965)


Election Hangover

Well, not really. I expected that after a lackluster (at best) performance by republicans in both houses of Congress. It's a shame the gubernatorials went so poorly & it does raise concerns on my part about higher taxes for both federal & state. Where did the republicans go wrong?

They didn't run on traditional (not necessarily conservative) values as was the focus in 2004 AND they didn't deliver on the campaign promises of 2004. The voters, as they should, held them to account. Unfortunately, the fact the House & Senate are so close to 1:1 margins means very little will happen in the next 2 years, effectively making the president a lame duck with the exception of veto power. This means, 1) the president will get nothing passed & 2) Congress will get nothing passed if the president doesn't want it. Essentially, my worry is we as Americans will get exactly nothing in the next 2 years.

The biggest loss in all of this (no, not Secretary Rumsfeld's resignation) is that John Bolton will likely not get approval as ambassador to the UN. This is simply the worst part of this election. Sure, democrats may have moved into control both houses of Congress but traditional values did win big in referendum (AZ passed English as the state's official language, 4 states passed gay marriage bans). Losing the one ambassador who stands for America in the UN instead of pandering to the ineffectual world body is plain horrible.

So, for at least the next 2 years, I'll be hoping we don't see an increase in taxes or a faltering in support for the War on Terror. I don't count on the former but I absolutely pray we don't see the latter. Relativists & Progressives (normally the same people) seem to believe we're as much to blame - if not more so - for terrorist attacks as the terrorists. If someone thinks it's wrong to have the strongest & probably most benevolent nation God ever gave man, then it shows how out-of-whack their moral compass truly is.

"It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried." - Sir Winston Churchill

TKD: Ge-Baek

Ge-Baek is my 3rd & final form before I can test for 2nd degree. I finally put this one together yesterday & it's definitely complicated compared to the rest of my forms. I think that's what makes me enjoy it so much. I think (except with Choong-Gun) I've always liked the highest form I've ever learned in a belt level.

This one is sort of the "opposite" of the previous 1st degree form, Po-Eun. Po-Eun runs from East to West & Ge-Baek runs North to South. Also, they oppose each other in that Po-Eun is pretty simple (being that the 1st & 2nd halves are mirrors) while Ge-Baek is very complicated & not symmetrical in any way. I'm sure the fact it's such a challenge is why I worked so hard at learning it.

Ge-Baek needs some work for me to make it flow perfectly, but I'm pretty happy that it's come together so well in a relatively short time. I have about 5 months (maybe 6) to test for 2nd, so there's not as much time as I'd necessarily like. Forms have always been my strong point, so they'll do well enough. I'm more concerned about endurance, flexibility (working on that) & sparring.

Let's face it, sparring is & probably always will be my weak point. I enjoy it, I really do. I just don't see the value in it other than a game. Reaction time aside, it's done little to make me better as a martial artist. I think the forms & philosophy of TKD have done more to teach me patience & instill confidence than any amount of sparring ever will. I'd rather spar than not but it doesn't come across to me as something very vital.

Self-defense is another strong point for me in testing. Up to & including the "circle of death", as we jokingly call it. Hosinsul (self-defense, in Korean) is the place where I find the most creative energy & refine my control. The added benefit is becoming tolerant to common confrontations (like someone trying to intimidate) & more serious things like chokes.

Back the subject, I'd say Ge-Baek is the most fun I've had with a pattern since Koryo - another form that presented it's own challenges. Something about learning something entirely new motivates me more than anything else. It gives me the ability to feel completely alive in those times when I'm going through the "same old, same old".

This one's 44 movements of pure enjoyment for me (Martial arts, folks. Get your minds out of the gutter!). I can't wait to get this one up to par like most of my other ones & see how well-refined I can make it!



It was an incredible seminar! I spent the 1st half of day one with GM Pellegrini & the remainder of the two day event with GM Bill "Superfoot" Wallace. I'm always impressed with GM P & this time was no exception. The experience with GM Wallace was something new to me. I didn't know if his part was going to be more of the same kicking drills or something new. Let's just sum it up this way...

I learned the most with GM Wallace. He worked us through sparring & boxing drills after extended periods of warm-ups & stretches. If nothing else, the stretching exercises were worth the cost of the seminar. Everything is based off simple fundamentals. The man has a Masters in Human Kinesology, so it's hard to question his knowledge of human mechanics. I just can't figure out that diet plan for the life of me.

There are 3 T's involved in stretching. They are...WAIT!!! If you want 'em, try one of his seminars & learn that way! :-) Seriously, I'm no pro at this stuff & I don't want to give anyone bad info. I will say that I've never been able to open stretch as far or as efficiently as I have since this seminar. If you want more info on GM Wallace, you can check out his site. It includes info on DVDs for stretching, kicking & books on the same. Hey, it's a shameless plug, but worth the look!

GM Wallace is 61 years-old & a helluva lot faster than I'll ever be. Most of us are 1/2 his age or less & he just blew us away with a combination of speed & technique. His efficiency of movement & complete mastery of his preferred moves is jaw-dropping. Maybe it's experience, but I'd like to think it's a combination of that with practical knowledge of how the human body works & adapts. More impressive than any kick was his ability to explain the motion of your body in an enthralling way. At no point could you lose interest in his topics.

The most impressive aspect of the man is how cordial he was. There's definitely a dash of humility there, but I think the best part of him is how he relates to the "average" person - he talks to you exactly as an equal - not like he's a record-holding GM in kickboxing. You could ask a question & the reply would be direct, witty & have just a touch of humor. You also can't help being impressed with someone who just loves every part of what he does. OK, back to the seminar.

We worked on front leg roundhouse kick (closed stance), front leg side kick (open stance) & backfist. I'm no slouch at any of these, though after this time well spent in Omaha, I know where I can find better ways to perform. Backfist was probably the easiest of the three since we were instructed to do it just the way I practice - that is, snapping it out to the target & right back in. Sure, I'm no "Superfoot" but I'm not 1/2 bad, either.

Roundhouse kick is where I was most surprised. I really thought I was decent with it & I suppose I am "decent" but not that fast. A lot of work to be done there. Keeping your center of gravity in the same place (not stepping forward), snapping the kick up in the shortest distance possible, not telegraphing the thing like you're delivering for Western Union, etc...

As for accommodations our friend, Trent, whose from our HKD group & recently relocated to North Dakota, invited us to stay at his house. Really nice place. If you're in the market for a house under $180,000 in the Omaha area, let me know. I'll be happy to send him an e-mail. ;-) It's a great place & has 3 bedrooms with a finished basement & a hot tub. Great neighborhood, too. All in all, the sleeping arrangements were great...with the exception of "Darth" Kitson that 1st night. ha ha

We had breakfast the 1st morning at a little "Ma & Pa" diner. Excellent food & the service was great. Overall, I think the food was spectacular in Omaha. This restaurant we went to (Can't recall the name) had a truly succulent prime rib. I never cared for it before that experience. You could eat a steak at this place every day & not get tired of it...fat, but definitely not tired.

After wrapping up the 2nd day (GM Wallace had to leave at 3pm instead of the planned 4pm) we packed up our stuff (man, my car holds a LOT of crap!) & headed out, "deciding" - OK, guided by man instinct - to stop at the new Bass Pro Shops in Council Bluffs. MAN! That place is h-u-g-e! Really loved it through the whole place. They designed it to make outdoors-type folks comfortable, I guess. It just makes you want to grab a tent & hang out for the night.

Unfortunately, the camping trip was precluded by the others needing to be home for work Monday. We reeled it in & made a quick stop in Des Moines for food, fuel & a stretch before getting to "the beach" as Bill Reif would say. Got the guys to Master Rion's about 1130pm & we all made it home safe.

All in all, an excellent "mancation" that needs to be repeated.

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