(Almost) Another Week Down the Drain

Thursday, one of my short days, went by pretty quickly. I worked my first class a lot harder than usual. That means we did five whole pages out of the grammar book. Each page generally consists of 5-10 questions. It’s a second grade grammar book. The age range in the class is 3rd through 6th grade. Sometimes I’m not sure how I feel about their material. A good deal of the material seems to be far to easy for the majority of the class. However, some points do give them trouble, and the contrast between Treasures 1 and Treasures 2 (almost all 3rd graders, but most have lived in America or the Phillipines so they’re practically fluent) is dazzling.

My afternoon was Gold class. I’m not sure exactly how the classes were structured. I feel like Gold has to be the highest level for first graders in our program. We currently have Gold, Silver and Purple. I teach Gold and Silver on alternating days. I know that the students in Purple were generally my best students from Purple and Pink. However, I think the students in Gold in general grasp the material surprisingly fast. There are a couple students who seem to be out of their league, but most of the students are incredibly bright. I’m able to do games and activities that I simply wasn’t able to with my Purple and Pink classes.

I ran some errands after work. Got some new sandals. Waiting a little before I eat dinner. Tonight there’s a study group. I think we’ re trying to test out Thursdays again to see if enough people would come to make it worth it to make it a permanent fixture on the schedule. Since I’ll be in Yawoori anyway to play pool, I may as well go. I won’t be drinking though. I have to be at work at 8 AM, and I just think it would probably be best for me to cut back on the beer. I don’t think it’s at all possible for me to swear off alcohol completely, but I can reduce it a bit at least.

The last two nights were the first two nights of my hapkido lessons. From the reading I’ve done, hapkido is kind of a hybrid martial art. It’s a bit more technical, and tends to rely on technical prowess, footwork, leverage, and using an opponents size and strength against them.  However, there are also more traditional martial art techniques that range from long range kicks and short-range pressure point attacks, and even a wide range of weapons, including swords, ropes, nunchuks, and staves. All I’ve learned so far are a variety of kicks, how to fall down without getting hurt, and how to break out of holds.

The class was pretty small the first two days. Just myself, two girls, and the master. One girl is a white belt like me, but the other is a black belt. First day, I got my uniform, we did some stretching, kicks, some tumbling (the only thing I couldn’t do was the backwards somersault) and finished by practicing how to break out of holds and how to fall down without getting hurt. The master decided he was going to demonstrate how to counter holds on me for the class, so afterward I had a bit of a pain behind my shoulder.

Second day started off with the same stretching, but then we did 30 push-ups (it’s been a damn long time since I’ve done that many, and I’m glad I finished no matter how half-assed they were), 20 sit ups, and weird reverse sit ups. We laid on our stomachs, then our partner straddled our legs and we had to arch our torsos up with our arms off the ground and touch our head to the other person’s hand. Not really that hard, but a good stomach muscle work out.

After that, we went to the body bag and practiced kicks on it. Some I had already learned, but I learned a couple new ones, too. The last kick was the most fun. It’s a little hard to explain. Basically, if you start with your  left foot forward, you step forward while turning 180 degrees so your right foot is forward and you’re facing the opposite direction. Then you do 2-3 small hops on your right foot as you continue spinning in the same direction. As you come around, jump up and plant the left foot and bring your right around in a mid-height range roundhouse kick. I feel like I could definitely snap a rib on somebody doing this, however it takes kind of a long time to execute, so it seems like it would be pretty easy to dodge or block unless they’re already hurt or off-balance.

After maybe half an hour of various kicks on the bag (tee-hee) we practiced jump roping. I explained that I didn’t really know how. I mean, the logistics aren’t complicated. It’s just something I’ve never done. I remember picking up a jump rope as a kid, trying a couple times, failing and been like “Fuck this, I’m going to do something else.” I explained that in America jumping rope isn’t that popular. Maybe just some girls and athletes really ever do it a lot. Here everyone can jump rope. They have jump rope tests in gym class. You can see a fair number of kids on the playground every day just jumping rope for fun. Not even Double Dutch either. After just 10-15 minutes I had learned how to jump rope, jump rope on one foot, jump rope while switching feet, and jumping rope backwards. The last was the most challenging, but only because the rope kept catching on my pants. Once I pulled them up it was immediately easier to do.

My first day, the master asked how long I was going to be in Korea. I told him I wasn’t really sure, but maybe a couple years. He said that I could probably get a black belt in a year if I did my best. That really surprised me. I thought it took longer than that. When you get a black belt, you also get a card for your wallet that says you’re a black belt. I think they call it a license to kill. Anyway, the Koreans all seem super impressed with how quickly I can pick it up and execute it at least passably well. I’ve always been a quick learner. Just show me something once or twice, and generally I’ll get it down. This actually was part of my problem in college. I was used to not studying and retaining all the material, but in some of my zoology classes this just wasn’t feasible.

Anyway, this morning I was considerably sore. Arms and shoulders and back from the push-ups, and my left knee and calves from all the kicks. I don’t mind it much though. Lifting my arms over my head to put on/take off a t-shirt was probably the worst all day. I’m not going tonight because of the study group/pool night, but I’m already looking forward to Friday and whatever new I’ll be learning.

Korean Word of the Day:

누룽지: nurungji. The first time I got 볶음밥, boggeumbap or fried rice, with a friend they told me the rice that burns to the bottom of the pan was the most delicious. It pretty much is. It’s a little burnt, a little crispy, and a little chewy. Very satisfying. Anyway, recently I learned that this rice had a specific word for it. Apparently just describing it as burnt rice wasn’t good enough. So we get 누룽지. It amused the hell out of me that there was actually  a word for this. Indeed, you can even go to 누룽지 restaurants.


2 Responses to “(Almost) Another Week Down the Drain”

  1. Very interesting. I too like that toasted rice at the bottom of cooker. In Japan, however, it’s considered unpleasant, and it’s called “okoge.” The same word is also used in common parlance to mean a fag hag.

  2. I can see the obvious connection between overcooked rice and an affection for gay men.

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