Stepdad's Thoughts

My thought and feelings.

Tae Kwon Do as rehabilitation

I’m not one that likes to see re-posts but I found this very inspiring;

I received an email from ‘Everyday Health’ about how Tae Kwon Do helped to save a young teen. Below is the beginning of the article and the link to the entire story;

Breaking Through: How Tae Kwon Do Saved One Teen’s Brain

It was an otherwise normal day when 13-year-old Kassidy Brewer experienced a ruptured brain aneurysm that nearly killed her. This is the story of how her passion for martial arts — and an unrelenting family support system — brought her back to life.

By Sharon Tanenbaum

Click here for the full story;
Watch the videos associated with the story also. This is a very inspiring young lady.

September 15, 2011 Posted by | Concerns, General, Kids, Parenting | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Been a while

It’s been a while since I made an entry. Mostly due to lack of interest and limited time. During the day at work I have managed to stay quite busy then at home I’ve been reading a number of books, all about an apocalyptic world in one form or another. I’ve also been to the doctor a few times trying to figure out why I get winded so easily while doing very low strenuous activities. It has really bothered me, to the point where I have stopped Hapkido and all workout activities. I have been thinking lately of getting back to the workouts but have concerns. The cardiologist ran various tests and found nothing wrong and the testing for asthma was negative. I guess I am confused/concerned as to what is going on.

I wonder if it’s all in my head and I need to quite worrying and get back to the workouts. I have a year, roughly, to reach Black Belt; this is just slowing down my progress. The problem is simple things like walking up the stairs can really wind me, not every time but enough that I am worried and the doctors have found nothing.

I need to make a decision… being out of shape is not a good thing. I have pretty much stopped the cokes and deserts. Now I need to figure out my exercise plan.

August 29, 2011 Posted by | Concerns, General, Hap Ki Do | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tidbits and thoughts

I did a little digging into the Texas State flag yesterday; I was surprised when I found out the flag we know of today was not the original. The first flag was a single star on a blue background. I also found out that that Texas did not have an official state flag from 1871 to 1933; 1933 is when we came to have close to what we have now. I say close because the dimensions and colors were not defined, these small issue were not corrected until 1993… I am writing this from memory so some of my dates may be off, I need to check them. Tidbits of history are really neat to know.

The State Flag of Texas

Here are the flags:

First flag of the Republic of Texas

 

 

 

 

 

Second flag of the Republic of Texas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Third flag of the Republic of Texas

 

January 21, 2011 Posted by | General | , , , | Leave a comment

Hapkido

What is Hapkido?

합 – Hap (Harmony) = Together or the harmony of body and spirit.

기 – Ki (Energy) = Life and body energy.

– Do (Way) = Way of life or way of learning.

 

Hapkido focuses on self-defense from attackers. Considered a “soft” martial art, Hapkido does not focus on simply exerting force against an opponent, resulting on strength and size being most effective in combat. Instead, Hapkido focuses on diverting an attacker’s energy in order to open him up for counter attack and defeat. Placing an emphasis on circular movements, Hapkido practitioners focus on moving close enough to an opponent to execute a joint lock, throw or close-range strike. Techniques in Hapkido focus on pressure points and vulnerable joints, making incapacitating an attacker easy, requiring little strength.

The most difficult part of Hapkido for someone that has been trained in another Martial Art like Tae Kwon Do or Karate is the circular motions. In these arts you are trained to meet an opponent head on while Hap Ki Do teaches to get out of the way and get close. The various techniques used to lock joints are tough to grasp also; once you understand and take in the need to have wider circular movements it will come together. I know from first hand experience on this.

Having been studying Hap Ki Do for just over a year I feel this is something anyone interested in the Martial arts for self defense should consider. It would be great for women since there is limited concern of strength to complete the techniques. One of our Masters is a woman in her early thirties… she is able to manhandle one of our students as if he were a rag doll. He is 6,5″ tall and easily ways 250+. It’s all about the angle as she has told us before. The has been a story told of her controlling a big body builder type; he was told to try to attack her with him not knowing how she would react; as the story goes she had this guy in the ground in no time begging to be let go.

For what it’s worth I highly recommend Hap Ki Do.

December 8, 2010 Posted by | General, Hap Ki Do | , , , , | Leave a comment

Hapkido – Brown Belt

Friday night I test for my Brown Belt in Hapkido. The current techniques I am working on at High Blue are mostly punching defense with some grabbing releases. I have been trying to explain some of what I am learning to my wife and co-workers and seem to be getting quite a few blank stares. It seems most do not really understand what I am learning or I cannot really explain it to them. I really wish I was able to create the interest in Hapkido I have in others. Just about everything I am learning I am able to see real world practical applications.

My goal other than reaching Black Belt, in about 18 months, is to teach Self Defense techniques to people at work. We focus so much on work safety but seem to stop when it pertains to leaving the office. Parking lots can be real dangerous and I want to try to offer people options in being safe. I don’t have the thought that once you spend 4 hours in a class that you are magically able to defend yourself but I do think it’s a good start. In truth the ability to protect yourself from an attacker requires skills that are second nature requiring NO THOUGHT. I also realize that if you are confronted by someone with a gun that you should give them what they want instead of tempting fate.

If all goes as expected Monday I will begin learning new techniques as a Brown Belt working toward Red Belt.

December 7, 2010 Posted by | General, Hap Ki Do | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Widow Jensen- A Christmas Story . . .

This was sent to me via email; the author of the story is unknown but I felt it was something that needed saved and shared. This really does sum up what Christmas should be like instead of all the ruckas  we all go through.

A Christmas Story

This is what Christmas is all about…

Better bundle up – the goose bumps will freeze you!!  I think I need to read this every year at Christmas.

Pa never had much compassion for the lazy or those who squandered their means and then never had enough for the necessities.  But for those who were genuinely in need, his heart was as big as all outdoors.   It was from him that I learned the greatest joy in life comes from giving, not from receiving.

It was Christmas Eve 1881.  I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn’t been enough money to buy me the rifle that I’d wanted for Christmas.  We did the chores early that night for some reason.  I just figured Pa wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible.

After supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Pa to get down the old Bible.  I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn’t in much of a mood to read Scriptures. But Pa didn’t get the Bible, instead he bundled up again and went outside.  I couldn’t figure it out because we had already done all the chores.  I didn’t worry about it long though, I was too busy wallowing in self-pity.  Soon Pa came back in.  It was a cold clear night out and there was ice in his beard. “Come on, Matt,” he said. “Bundle up good, it’s cold out tonight.” I was really upset then.  Not only wasn’t I getting the rifle for Christmas, now Pa was dragging me out in the cold, and for no earthly reason that I could see.  We’d already done all the chores, and I couldn’t think of anything else that needed doing, especially not on a night like this.  But I knew Pa was not very patient at one dragging one’s feet when he’d told them to do something, so I got up and put my boots back on and got my cap, coat, and mittens.  Ma gave me a mysterious smile as I opened the door to leave the house.  Something was up, but I didn’t know what.

Outside, I became even more dismayed.  There in front of the house was the work team, already hitched to the big sled.  Whatever it was we were going to do wasn’t going to be a short, quick, little job.  I could tell.  We never hitched up this sled unless we were going to haul a big load.  Pa was already up on the seat, reins in hand.  I reluctantly climbed up beside him.  The cold was already biting at me.  I wasn’t happy.  When I was on, Pa pulled the sled around the house and stopped in front of the woodshed.

He got off and I followed. “I think we’ll put on the high sideboards,” he said.  “Here, help me.”  The high sideboards!  It had been a bigger job than I wanted to do with just the low sideboards on, but whatever it was we were going to do would be a lot bigger with the high sideboards on.

After we had exchanged the sideboards, Pa went into the woodshed and came out with an armload of wood – the wood I’d spent all summer hauling down from the mountain, and then all fall sawing into blocks and splitting.

What was he doing?  Finally I said something.  “Pa,” I asked, “what are you doing?”  “You been by the Widow Jensen’s lately?” he asked.  The Widow Jensen lived about two miles down the road.  Her husband had died a year or so before and left her with three children, the oldest being eight.  Sure, I’d been by, but so what?

Yeah,” I said, “Why?”

“I rode by just today,” Pa said. “Little Jakey was out digging around in the woodpile trying to find a few chips. They’re out of wood, Matt.”  That was all he said and then he turned and went back into  the woodshed for another armload of wood. I followed him.  We loaded the sled so high that I began to wonder if the horses would be able to pull it.  Finally, Pa called a halt to our loading, then we went to the smoke house and Pa took down a big ham and a side of bacon.  He handed them to me and told me to put them in the sled and wait.  When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his right shoulder and a smaller sack of something in his left hand.

“What’s in the little sack?” I asked.  Shoes, they’re out of shoes.  Little Jakey just had gunny sacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in the woodpile this morning.  I got the children a little candy too.  It just wouldn’t be Christmas without a  little candy.”

We rode the two miles to Widow Jensen’s pretty much in silence.  I tried to think through what Pa was doing.  We didn’t have much by worldly standards.

Of course, we did have a big woodpile, though most of what was left now was still in the form of logs that I would have to saw into blocks and split before we could use it.  We also had meat and flour, so we could spare that, but I knew we didn’t have any money, so why was Pa buying them shoes and candy?  Really,  why was he doing any of this?  Widow Jensen had closer neighbors than us; it shouldn’t have been our concern.

We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and unloaded the wood as quietly as possible, then we took the meat and flour and shoes to the door.

We knocked.  The door opened a crack and a timid voice said, “Who is it?”

“Lucas Miles, Ma’am, and my son, Matt, could we come in for a bit?”

Widow Jensen opened the door and let us in.  She had a blanket wrapped around her shoulders.  The children were wrapped in another and were sitting in front of the fireplace by a very small fire that hardly gave off any heat at all.  Widow Jensen fumbled with a match and finally lit the lamp.

“We brought you a few things, Ma’am,” Pa said and set down the sack of flour.  I put the meat on the table.  Then Pa handed her the sack that had the shoes in it.  She opened it hesitantly and took the shoes out one pair at a time.  There was a pair for her and one for each of the children – sturdy shoes, the best, shoes that would last.  I watched her carefully.

She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling and then tears filled her eyes and started running down her cheeks.  She looked up at Pa like she wanted to say something, but it wouldn’t come out.

“We brought a load of wood too, Ma’am,” Pa said.  He turned to me and said, “Matt, go bring in enough to last awhile.  Let’s get that fire up to size and heat this place up.”  I wasn’t the same person when  I went back out to bring in the wood.  I had a big lump in my throat and as mu ch as I hate to admit it, there were tears in my eyes too.  In my mind I kept seeing those three kids huddled around the fireplace and their mother standing there with tears running down her cheeks with so much gratitude in her heart that she couldn’t speak.

My heart swelled within me and a joy that I’d never known before, filled my soul.  I had given at Christmas many times before, but never when it had made so much difference.  I could see we were literally saving the lives of these people.

I soon had the fire blazing and everyone’s spirits soared.  The kids started giggling when Pa handed them each a piece of candy and Widow Jensen looked on with a smile that probably hadn’t crossed her face for a long time.  She finally turned to us. “God bless you,” she said. “I know the Lord has sent you.  The children and I have been praying that he would send one of his angels to spare us.”

In spite of myself, the lump returned to my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes again.  I’d never thought of Pa in those exact terms before, but after Widow Jensen mentioned it I could see that it was probably true.  I was sure that a better man than Pa had never walked the earth.  I started remembering all the times he had gone out of his way for Ma and me, and many others.  The list seemed endless as I thought on it.

Pa insisted that everyone try on the shoes before we left.  I was amazed when they all fit and I wondered how he had known what sizes to get.  Then I guessed that if he was on an errand for the Lord that the Lord would make sure he got the right sizes.

Tears were running down Widow Jensen’s face again when we stood up to leave.  Pa took each of the kids in his big arms and gave them a hug.  They clung to him and didn’t want us to go.  I could see that they missed their Pa, and I was glad that I still had mine.

At the door Pa turned to Widow Jensen and said, “The Mrs. wanted me to invite you and the children over for Christmas dinner tomorrow.  The turkey will be more than the three of us can eat, and a man can get cantankerous if he has to eat turkey for too many meals.  We’ll be by to get you about eleven.  It’ll be nice to have some little ones around again.  Matt, here, hasn’t been little for quite a spell.”  I was the youngest.  My two brothers and two sisters had all married and had moved away.

Widow Jensen nodded and said, “Thank you, Brother Miles.  I don’t have to say, May the Lord bless you, I know for certain that He will.”

 

Out on the sled I felt a warmth that came from deep within and I didn’t even notice the cold.  When we had gone a ways, Pa turned to me and said, “Matt, I want you to know something.  Your ma and me have been tucking a little money away here and there all year so we could buy that rifle for you, but we didn’t have quite enough. Then yesterday a man who owed me a little money from years back came by to make things square.  Your ma and me were real excited, thinking that now we could get you that rifle, and I started into town this morning to do just that, but on the way I saw little Jakey out scratching in the woodpile with his feet wrapped in those gunny sacks and I knew what I had to do.  Son, I spent the money for shoes and a little candy for those children. I hope you understand.”

I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again.  I understood very well, and I was so glad Pa had done it.  Now the rifle seemed very low on my list of priorities.  Pa had given me a lot more.  He had given me the look on Widow Jensen’s face and the radiant smiles of her three children.

For the rest of my life, whenever I saw any of the Jensens, or split a block of wood, I remembered, and remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding home beside Pa that night.  Pa had given me much more than a rifle that night, he had given me the best Christmas of my life.

 

December 6, 2010 Posted by | Concerns, Kids, Parenting | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

First Deer

On Friday 26-Nov-2010 my stepson got his first deer. We had Thanksgiving lunch with my parents then headed to the family deer lease. We arrived right at dark and my cousin was there waiting for us. Friday morning we got up and headed to a stand near our east line. We first sat in a ladder stand and saw a bunch of nothing. At 930 we moved to a box stand right on the east line; we sat there for about an hour and saw nothing. By 1030 we were back in camp where I fixed us breakfast… My cousin was not there because he had to work a half day; fortunately he works about 45 minutes away from our property. After eating and my stepson taking a short nap… I had gone into another stand for a short time… we headed back to the stands. We chose a stand on what we call our small high line, it is a clear area that has three strands of power lines running through our property.

We arrived in the stand by 2pm and started the hunting/watching for movement. He was getting fidgety and talkative… I tried to keep him focused but also indulged him in his converation, trying to make it fun. At 4pm he asked if I was ready to go back to camp; I told him we needed to stay a little longer… it was tough because we were not seeing anything. Then at 415pm we saw a small doe coming out of the creek into the highline for a snack. He was up and ready to shoot… I told him that was a SMALL deer and that it would be a good idea to wait but that he was the shooter and it was his choice. He decided to hold off and wait for something bigger, a buck.

At 515p he got his wish. A nice 8 point, nice for a first deer, came out of the tree line. We both got hyped up… him getting his gun redirected and me trying make sure it met the 13″ spread requirement by state law. It was a good one so I told him to shoot twice before he finally did… he was VERY slow about his actions, not overly nervous as some get. He lined up the gun and made a clean shot.

We got out of the stand and began to search for the deer. We had some trouble since there was limited sign… it took about 20 minutes to find it, not a real problem since it ran down an old tram road.

My cousins showed up and we all celebrated. I’m not sure who was more proud my stepson or me. I think it’s me.

He was about useless the rest of the weekend… he told me one deer per weekend thus he did not do much hunting on Saturday or Sunday while I did. Fortunately my cousin already had his two deer so they spent time together while I hunted. NO I didn’t get anything but like I said my stepson did and that was the important part for me.

Sunday we spent 6 hours in the truck going home and dropping of the deer for processing and taking the antlers to a taxidermist to have a European mount made. I look forward to our next hunt, maybe he can get a spike and I can get a nice buck.

November 30, 2010 Posted by | General, Kids | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Deer Season 2010 – The Family Lease

I’m back on the family deer lease this year and plan on staying there. I left the lease nearly 10 years ago when my grandfather stopped hunting then when he died I could not see myself ever going back. This year my uncle died and my thoughts changed. I missed my family, my hunting family – the male members I spent so much time with. Mostly my cousin, there are several but one in particular, Kenny, made the biggest impact on me. At his dad’s memorial he told me I needed to come back. We hugged and shared some tears. I later found out my mother was watching and she was crying also.  Any way I’m back!

Opening weekend was a lot of fun. We all shared laughs and even a tear or two. I was able to talk with my uncle, my grandfather’s last sibling, and Kenny. I explained why I had left and what brought me back; I think it made since to them.

Only 4 deer were killed on opening weekend but much fun was had. We ate great, laughed too much, spent a lot of time in the woods. I saw almost 30 deer in 4 days of hunting; I chose not to shoot a doe and the smaller deer I saw.

We all left for home and other places on Tuesday… I got home on Wednesday and began to prepare to take my stepson hunting when he got out of school on Friday.

My stepson was able to see 9 deer in the two days he hunted; even got a shot of at one but missed.  He was able to spend time with my uncle and cousin, seeing them at a time other than a funeral helped him to know them better. Unfortunately he did not grow up as I did with the opportunity to shoot guns much which makes me think he does not fully understand the process of lining up the sights, etc… I am taking him to the gun range this weekend to work on his shooting. He did have fun; he told me so without me asking.

He is now the designated shooter until he is able to get his first deer. He’s 13 and has not hunted much therefore we still sit in the stand together. I want to get him in the Hunter Safety course which he must have before he is able to legally hunt alone. He still hunts with me until I see he truly knows how to be safe with a gun and understands how to determine the right deer to shoot. I can hear the things my grandfather told me many years ago coming out of my mouth.

Of the time I have taken my stepson hunting this past weekend is the absolute best ever. I realized I need to have fun with him; it will make life better at the house. It will bring us closer together.  He’s asked to have his first deer mounted in a shoulder mount, I have agreed if; it’s a nice buck and I have the money to do it.

I am looking forward to more time in the woods, sharing our family traditions, talking of old times and making new memories.

November 17, 2010 Posted by | General, Parenting | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Poetry – What peaked my interest

When I was in Junior High we studied poetry. Imagine a 12-13 year old getting interested in poetry… I did just that after reading Xanadu by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Here it is;

Xanadu
Kubla Khan

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.

So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail:
And ‘mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean:
And ‘mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!

The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!

A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight ‘twould win me
That with music loud and long
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

November 4, 2010 Posted by | General | | Leave a comment

Martial Arts & Football

A couple of days a go my wife had trouble getting my step son to get his shower done. He did what ever he could not to take teh shower… Once he did it was 10pm… He came down to turn the wifi router on which I had turned off because on of the things he was doing was watching videos via his iPod. I took that moment to tell him if he continued to NOT follow his mother directions I would disable wifi access to his iPod and XBox and make sure his Dad and grandparents knew exactly how disrespectful her has been toward his mother.

After he went to his room his mother went upstairs to check on him and tell him goodnight; she found him on his bed quite upset… He didn’t seem to understand why I had become upset with him, she tried to explain that his actions or inaction were the cause. She also found out that he was having trouble with some of the nick-names the kids and coaches at school had tagged him with. Some were OK while others bothered him. he and had a talk about the nick-names some time back and I tried to make him understand for starters they were just word and secondly if he were to joke about them also that they would stop the use of them. But if he continued to let the kids know the names bothered him that they would continue which is what I think happened.

Yesterday my wife told him of our conversation that I thought the martial arts could help him turn the one nick-name about him being slow completely around. During dinner he brought it up and I explained to him that the martial arts, Tae Kwon Do and Hap Ki Do, have explosive techniques. During training you learn to be quicker off the mark and faster. I continued to tell him that at 13 his body would soon start to mature and strengthen and that proper training during that time could help him to improve substantially. I did let him know that it is not a miracle fix, that it would 6 months to a year in order to see real strong results. He said he was interested, so he went with to watch my Hap Ki do work out last night.

Our workout was a moderate to hard workout for the first half, we worked on cardio and strength, the second half was technique, this really got his attention. I was working with a higher belt who was learning knife defense techniques. I was working on punching defense and counter techniques, this also intrigued him. After class we had casual conversation with my instructor who told him about some funny incidents with former students. On our drive home he told me him wanted to join the class. I want him to watch a few more classes and take part in one before he jumps off into it, to be very sure this is what he wants and will stick with it.

On the other side it should help instill a more respectful attitude toward others, especially his mother and father, may be even toward me. The instructors at my school are all Korean and believe very strongly in showing respect toward others and can actually get on the proverbial soapbox at times when talking to the kids about show their parents respect.

We’ll see how the next few days go and hopefully get him in Hap Ki Do.

October 22, 2010 Posted by | Concerns, Hap Ki Do, Kids, Parenting | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment