In-depth post #3 – Learning the 540

As promised on my previous blog post, this week I was going to attempt the 540 spinning roundhouse kick. I already know how to do a 360 spinning roundhouse kick due to my taekwondo training, but the 540 kick adds an additional 180 degrees to the kick. Before this week, I’ve never attempted this kick before, and it really showed! I usually do all my practicing and filming at my taekwondo school after my class. So I generally have only 2 periods of around 15 minutes to practice my moves (but that is about to change!) Before attempting this trick, I did a bit of research online and with my mentor, Serg. What I gained from my research was to basically start slow and basic with the technique before actually attempting the trick in full speed. So that’s what I did; In the 2 weeks between my previous post and this one, I used the first week just to practice the motion of that extra 180 degree rotation. It was only in the second week where I finally began practicing the 540 kick for real. Currently, my completion rate for this kick is only around 50% due to either me hesitating or losing my balance while kicking. And I can’t even kick that high yet! There is definitely plenty of room for improvement. I can talk about how I did this kick for this entire post, but I’d rather show it! Here is my 540: 

Time to pick it apart! The first piece of advice I received was from my mentor regarding my rotation speed. He said to try and maintain my momentum throughout the trick. It’s kind of hard to see because of the choppiness of the video, but there are two places where I slow my momentum: when I step into the kick, and when I”m about to jump up. They’re very small, but they make a huge difference. Serg told me the way to fix this was just to keep practicing so I become more comfortable with the trick. The second flaw that I noticed was the way I use my arms. In every video of a 540 I saw, the person doing it used their arms way more efficiently for momentum than I did. The last flaw that I noticed is my awkward landing. Not only do I look like I’m about to fall, I also landing extremely hard on my foot. Well that was a lot of mistakes. But, I’m not going to let that discourage me at all. In the next two weeks, I will continue working on the cartwheel, kip-up, and 540 to sharpen them up before continuing onto harder tricks.

Earlier in my post, I mentioned that my practice sessions are about to change. Now it’s time for the huge reveal! My mentor, Serg, has formed a taekwondo demonstration team, and has invited me to be a part of it! I quickly accepted. This is not only a great opportunity for me to  practice my tricking under direct supervision of my mentor, but it’s a great opportunity for me to get to know my mentor better as well! The first practice is in March, and I’m extremely excited.

Now to answer some questions!

  1. What learning challenges emerged?
    Due to my mentors busy schedule (he is currently in university), it is hard to find a time where we can meet up and practice tricking. This limits my direct instruction time with Serg. However, I found that using an instant messenger such as Facebook worked quite well. I could send Serg questions and he could send back his advice and feedback anytime. Now that I’m on his demo team though, I will get a lot more direct instruction from Serg.
  2. What three strategies could improve the quality of your mentoring  interactions?
    Strategy #1: Getting to know each other better so that it will be less awkward
    Strategy #2: Before we meet, decide on what we will work on so we don’t waste precious time.
    Strategy #3: Let my mentor know what my goals are.
  3. What is the action plan for implementing each of the three strategies?
    Strategy #1: Spend some time during each session just talking to my mentor.
    Strategy #2: Message my mentor on Facebook to discuss what to work on before the session.
    strategy #3: Constantly updating my mentor on what I would like to accomplish through this project by talking in person or messaging. 


Well that concludes this weeks post, thanks for reading!

Was it worth it? (DoL #1)

I have to say, I’m way more excited for socials this year than last year. Last year, we learned mainly about the founding of Canada. We covered the development of Canada from 1815 to 1914. My personal narrative for last year was simply to learn more about the founding on Canada. That I did, however, I was not very interested in what I learned. The complete opposite happened this year.

Even though it’s been a week into the new semester, already I’m interested in the topics discussed in class. My new goals for this semester are: Stay focused and interested in class discussions (something I didn’t do very well last year), stay up to date on major events happening in the world, and to learn more about what happened outside of Canada from 1750 to 1919. I’m confident I can accomplish all these goals because the topics taught this year in socials are all things I have an interest in.

The core competency that I would like to develop is the communication competency. The reason I would like to develop this competency is because I want to be able to share my thoughts with others, especially during the class discussions. This was one of the things that I wanted to improve from last year. My goal isn’t to immediately become the person who talks the most in the class, but rather to slowly join in and share my ideas.

The big idea that I’ve chosen to research is: disparities in power alter the balance of relationships between individuals and between societies. I think that this idea can be seen everywhere we look, whether it be Columbus enslaving the natives,  modern day politics or even your parents telling you to do the dishes. Ok, maybe the last one is a bit of a stretch, but the idea is still there: how much power we have affects how we treat others. Some examples of this from Howard Zinn’s: A People’s History of the United States are: “Total control led to total cruelty” (pg. 6) and “Columbus claimed he had seen a light the evening before. He got the reward” (pg. 3), both showing how Columbus abused his power even with his own people. I think that by remembering this big idea while I learn in class, I can further my understanding of why somebody does something.

Some curricular competencies I would like to develop are finding evidence and cause and consequence. Finding evidence is basically just looking for reliable and consistent evidence for any major or minor historical event. There will always be multiple sides to a story, and I would like to be able to paint my own picture using evidence from each side. An example of this would be the Canadian government and residential schools. The Canadian government believed that residential schools were helping the natives become “white”, which in their eyes was a good thing. However, the natives had a different outlook on these schools. If one were to only research evidence from the government’s point of view, they would have a highly incorrect and bias opinion. The second competency is cause and consequence. This is pretty self explanatory: how prevailing conditions, groups, or individuals affect events, decisions, and developments. An example of this would be Christopher Columbus and the natives he encountered. Columbus used the natives as slaves, drastically reducing their numbers until eventually there were none left. I believe these are both very important skills that can be used anywhere in life.

Finishing off with any questions that I have towards socials and what we are learning. My only question so far relates to one of the ethical points in Howard Zinn’s: A People’s History of the United States. The point Zinn made is: was bloodshed and deceit necessary for the human race to progress? Some examples of this are: Columbus and the natives, America and Hiroshima, Stalin and the peasants. I did some thinking and I honestly have no answer. I feel like it would be ironic to condemn these events if without them, we probably wouldn’t be here  learning about these events today. It is extremely hard to have a discussion on whether or not this loss of human lives were worth it in the end because we are part of the privileged few that benefited from these events. I don’t believe I will ever find an answer, but I hope that through socials this year, I can clarify my view on this topic.

Here is to another great year of socials!

In-Depth post #2

Hello again everyone! This is my second post for my In-Depth project this year: Tricking. So far, I’ve mainly been working on my conditioning to get my body used to performing such stunts. This means doing upper body exercises such as push ups and sit ups as well as lower body exercises such as squats and calf raises. I’ve also been practicing the cartwheel, a basic tumbling maneuver that is the foundation to many other moves. It’s hard to believe that a few months ago, I couldn’t even do a cartwheel. At the end of the project, I will compare my cartwheels so that I can see my improvement. Some things that I will work on for this move are: Cleaning up the landing so my feet land in a straight line, keeping my legs straight mid-rotation, overall presentation and flair.

The second move I’ve been practicing is the kip-up. This move is used a lot in martial arts movies, as it quickly changes the bodies position from lying down to standing up. I started practicing the kip-up at the start of this project. The kip-up is a very good beginner technique to learn as it engages the whole body from the arms to the legs. When I first attempted it, I landed flat on my back multiple times purely because my body wasn’t used to moving that fast. Here is my kip-up: Some things I want to improve about my kip-up are: Increase the height of the arc of my body as I do the move, and be able to land with my feet together instead of apart. Throughout my whole project, I will continue practicing both these fundamental moves. Next week, I will try and learn the “540”, a spinning kick that looks like this, which will definitely challenge me as it is a whole half (180) rotation more than a standard “360” kick.

Now to talk a bit more about my mentor, and what I have learned from him so far. As stated in my last post, my mentor is Serg Martires. He currently lives in Surrey, and did most of his tricking training there. Serg is a second-degree black belt in taekwondo, a rank he achieved from over 6 years of hard work and training. He first started tricking after he obtained his black belt, around 2 years ago. At first he learned the basic moves such as: “kip-up” “540” and “auto-bahn”, after he began learning more advanced tricks like the : “back flip” “720” and “slant gainer”. All these tricks can be seen here. Unfortunately, there was a period of time a few years ago where Serg injured himself quite badly whilst  doing tricks. However after a few months rest, he was back to doing everything he did before.

Before attempting these tricks, I messaged Serg to ask for some advice on tricking. The answer I got was to keep attempting the trick even if I couldn’t do it the first few times, as it takes time for the body to get used to the move. I learned the value of these words when I first practiced the kip-up; I probably failed to come even close to completing the trick in my first 30 tries. But now as you can see from the gif above, I can do it! With this knowledge, I know that as long as I keep practicing a certain move, I will eventually be able to do it.

Now what have I learn in terms of facilitation strategies from my mentor? Well the most important thing is encouragement, when I first sent Serg a video of my doing he kip-up, it wasn’t very good, but he still encouraged me to keep trying it, and by the next time, I was getting twice the height in my kip-up! His encouragement helped me persist in my efforts and it payed off for sure.

Thanks for reading, and please come back next week to see my next post!