Made it!

Yesterday was the magical day.  I got my black belt in Tae Kwon Do.  I’m not sure how I feel about the whole thing.  I know that I have learned a lot, but feel like though there is still so much more that I don’t know and still needs to learn.  But I guess this quote is probably what I feel like right now.  “A black belt is a white belt who never quit.”

I must say that I feel very blessed with the amazing school that I train at.  Our Master was promoted to 9th Dan during our testing, and from everything that I know, it was well deserved.  Okay, technically he should be Grand Master, but he doesn’t like to be called that.  The instructors at our school are top notch people.  It seems like it doesn’t matter where I go, someone knows Master Kim.  They are not just good martial artists, but they are great people of character.

I’m once again reminded of the movie Cars 3 with the passing of the baton to the next generation.  Master Kim’s father (who was a student and good friend of General Choi) was a great martial artist in his time who had great character.  Master Kim was a great martial artist in his prime who competed nationally and took home grand champions and is still very good.  He now trains students who are great martial artists who take home grand champions.  But more importantly, he is more interested in developing his students as people of character.  The trophies are icing on the cake.  Master Kim doesn’t make anyone go to tournaments but those who goes usually are well prepared and do very well.

So yes, I now have a black belt because I had lots of fun and enough encouragement and support to not quit somewhere along the way.  Unfortunately I think some people envision black belts as killing machines.  I can’t deny that I have learned a lot already, but certainly not enough to justify people’s opinions of a black belt.  However, I feel like I’ve just been promoted to a rank to started down this path of helping others and being part of an amazing team that would carry on the tradition of not just cranking out amazing martial artists, but helping students to become people with character.  That makes me happy and so I’m glad that I made it to black belt and hope that I will be able to give back and take part in the amazing tradition of our school.

Stress

Stress is something that all of us experience.  At least for me, sometimes I don’t even realize that I’m under stress while my girls see it as clear as the light of day.  But I guess I’ve also have learned to compartmentalize and manage it pretty well so most people see me as very even keeled, except with those closest to me.

Recently with Vacation Bible School, organizing couple of other events, black belt testing coming up, getting ready for school, and other things in life, I guess I’ve been a bit more stressed.  Last night I was snappy over the stupidest things.  I had to apologize but ended up having a good conversation with Glorianna.  It didn’t resolve any of the issues that still needs to be taken care of, but it did help me take ownership of the stress and I believe it did help strengthen our relationship.

I don’t have the answer to how to deal with stress. and I believe that the answer is different for different situations and personalities and you need to find what works for you.  But one thing I know is that as an adult, I need to take ownership of my stress and my actions and not to succumb to the people or events that are causing the stress and blame my actions and reactions on others.  And especially not to injure innocent bystanders who just happen to come across my path at the wrong time.  And if I do inadvertently say something wrong or do something wrong, I need to repent and apologize to the person.  A little humility from time to time is good for each of us.

UFC Cormier vs Jones

We got together with friends on Saturday to watch the UFC fight between Cormier and Jones.  I don’t care about the nastiness of the build up but often times that’s entertainment and you are not really sure what the person is like in real life.  I am by no means a defender of Jon Jones especially with his messed up life, in fact leading up to the fight we were wondering if he can stay out of trouble.  But several of my friends have met him in person in casual settings and each have said that he seems like a nice guy.  Unfortunately it is often difficult dealing with being in the spotlight and people often do dumb things.  Again, not excusing his actions, but honestly most us would never find out what we would have done if we were in his place.

I wasn’t really rooting for either.  It was a good and clean fight.  It did look like Cormier was rather cocky taunting Jones on several occassions.  It was a sad scene to see Cormier just walking away from the ref just before Jones was declared the winner.  If there was unsportsmanlike conduct that would have been it.  I realize that it’s hard to have such rivalry, prep for so long, feel like you are doing well and perhaps even winning and then being knocked out, but it was also sad to see that kind of attitude.  But I think what got me was what Jones said and did afterwards.  He thanked all his supporters and all his detractors and also complemented Cormier for who he is as a person.  That is class that I did not expect from most UFC fighters especially with the hype leading up to the fight.  I hope this is a new Jon Jones who’s learned his lessons and ready to move on with a better life.

I couldn’t believe that they ended up interviewing Cormier as well after talking with Jones.  Cormier was crying.  I know the fight was very disappointing to him and the loss very hard to accept but I almost sense that the tears were not just for the loss but perhaps for regret of his disdain  for Jones.  Maybe I’m just an optimist that Cormier too learned a life lesson about misjudging others.

I sure hope that Jones has won Cormier’s opinion of him, not just as a fighter, but as a person.  But it really was a reminder of doing good to those who hate you and not hating them back.  Even your arch rival that perhaps you can win their hearts over by your good attitudes towards them.

Postpone the work

Am I a proponent of procrastination?  Nope!  But there comes a time when it’s better to postpone something.  There has been plenty of examples now with people’s quick unthinking Tweets to help us learn this point.  There comes a time when delaying what we need to do is better.

I learned this the hard way through the days when I used to write more computer codes.  There are times when I’m so tired or frazzled that even though the deadline was looming that it was not a good idea to continue without first taking a break.  Otherwise, I’d have to come back and take even more time to fix the mistakes that I would have for sure introduced.  The wisdom is to know how long of a break and not to let “tiredness” become an excuse for procrastination.  Now that I’m home and have no task master (like Bree in Horse and His Boy) I need even more discipline to not let “tiredness” become an excuse but at the same time not to push beyond certain stress level.

As a homeschool mom, sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the idea of finishing the work that we end up stressing out our kids instead of teaching them to learn how to balance life.  And sometimes I can become so stressed that I believe I was doing more damage to my kids by being a bad role model even though I may have finished the task at hand.  Wisdom to balance everything, I think it’s one of the hardest thing to achieve in life.

 

Real Responsibilities

I’m a proponent of giving kids real responsibilities as soon as possible.  And when I’m evaluating what my kids should choose to do, I’m less concerned about what it’ll look line on a resume than what it will do to grow my kids.

One thing that I really appreciate about the Martial Arts school that we train at is that opportunities exists to teach for people (even kids) with higher belts.  In fact when I first started in a class that consisted of all parents, the three main assistants were teenagers.  Their confidence and poise were amazing.  My girls are now both teaching as well.  In fact one of the class is run entirely by teenagers.  There has been several special needs kids in that class.  It was so great that my daughter got a complement for her patience from the mom of one of the girl with special needs.  I’ve seen my girls develop their people skills, leadership skills, patience and many other important life skills through their volunteering time with teaching.

Give the kids real responsibilities and watch them flourish.  If you get a chance to check out Do Hard Things, or This Changes Everything.  Kids need real challenges and real responsibilities.

 

 

One Inch Punch

Bruce Lee was the person who first popularized the one inch punch where he literally knock a person back with a punch starting just one inch away from the person.  There are martial artists who tried to spiritualize the punch, but with analysis of Bruce Lee videos, scientist pretty much concluded that the power comes from every part of his body working together.  The weight, strength, and speed of his legs, hips, torso, shoulder, arms, and everything else worked together to generate the force as it is transferred via the fist.

I absolutely am not dismissing Bruce Lee’s natural abilities, he was an amazing martial artist.  Some times we can be awed by what a person is able to do and assign forces that’s beyond us.  I was not born with that ability or it’s supernatural.  But more often then not, if you look deeper into the person’s life you see much discipline, training, and assorted experiences which enabled them to accomplish what they do.  The reason why martial artists can punch harder than most other types of athletes is not because they are bigger or stronger, but it’s because they have learned the techniques and how to time the use of various muscles so you get the additive effect of all the muscles.

So don’t be discouraged if you are not as good as the other person.  Yes, nature might have something to do with it, but for most things, it is hard work over time that will eventually make you incredible at what you do.

who’s texting?

It’s just amazing to me that we live in an electronic culture where sometimes we don’t even know who we are talking to.  With face to face, there may be mistaken identify but often you can pick up the cue that you are talking to the wrong person by their expressions.  Then with telephone, it became easier to misidentify people’s voices but since it’s near instant feedback usually the mistake is quickly cleared up.  But now, it’s a whole different story.

Last week my daughter used my phone to text someone so now the lady (who’s a pastor’s wife) thinks my phone belongs to my daughter.  Today I got a text from her and because it’s a subject that my daughters and I have been talking about I just mindlessly replied.  Good thing I didn’t sass too much (time to actually put a name to that phone number).  Saturday, a friend of ours had the same issue because two of the names on his phone were very similar so he ended up replying with the wrong person in mind.

It is a really sad statement about how our culture interacts with one another.  Of course I’m glad that we do have phones and texts and emails and various ways of communication.  But how sad it is that sometimes we don’t even realize who we are talking to.

Exercising partners

I’ve really been enjoying our Martial Arts training.  I think a good part of it is that there is so much camaraderie at the school.  Okay some of it is shared pain.  But we have become good friends over the years.  We learn about our friends’ celebrations and frustrations and we encourage each other to keep going.  It really is a wonderful atmosphere.

Anyway, this week I can only be there for a limited amount of time and most of it is teaching time.  I’m really lacking the motivation to do much.  I do have a heavy bag hanging in the garage and couple of grappling buddies but it’s yet to be seen if I would actually use them.

So whether it is exercise or other things in life, do surround yourself with people who will encourage you to keep going.  Who will be there when you don’t feel like it.  And be the one who would encourage those around you to keep going as well.  We all have ups and downs in our lives and it is so wonderful when we have friends who will help us to keep going.  Be an active part of your community.

Ethnocentricity

I’m of Chinese decent.  One thing that drives me crazy about that culture is its extreme ethoncentricty.  There’s a reason why in Chinese China is called the Middle Kingdom.

I was recently reminded of this tendency while interacting with several couples where the wife is Chinese (from China) and the husband is American.  I’m just amazed how the wives living here in the states insists on their own way.  I know this is a problem in many marriages where “my family never did it that way!”  But these were straight us Chinese vs them and our ways are so much better and Americans are so stupid that they don’t see things our way.  Wow!  I guess I just have a simple question, if the Chinese culture is so much better, why did these ladies marry American husbands.

But that being said, I think each of us need to be reminded while interacting with others especially those we are close to, to be more accepting and learn to re-evaluate the values we hold on to and not to always insist that others conforms to our ways.

Taiwanese Shaved Ice

It’s been a long time since I’ve had Taiwanese shaved ice.  I just read that they are beginning to get popular.  I hope they’ll get here soon because I do miss it.  I remember as a kid seeing large ice blocks being pushed along the sidewalk (now how is that sanitary?) and looking forward to enjoying some (which didn’t happen too often).  And of course the toughest part is deciding what topping.  Unfortunately it’s been so long since I’ve had any that I don’t even remember what toppings there are.

I realize that the closest thing that I have for making these is my snow cone machine which fall way short of the true shaved ice but beggars can’t be choosers right?

But I think I will try this at some point and do a poor man’s version of shaved ice bar.  Anyway, just trying so hard to remember what were some of the toppings.

Cut up fresh fruits, grass jelly, AiYu Jelly, adzuki bean soup, mung bean soup, peanut soup, sweetened condensed milk.

Oh sweet childhood memories.

Found these recipes at http://userealbutter.com/2013/09/18/chinese-shaved-ice-bao-bing-recipe/ and I will definitely give some of these a try.  Yum…

shaved ice (or blendered ice)
chilled sweet red bean soup
chilled sweet peanut soup
brown sugar syrup
coffee syrup
green tea mochi (or plain, or whatever flavor you like)
boba (pearl tapioca), follow package instructions
fresh fruit, cut into large dice
ice cream (vanilla, fruit flavors, whatever you prefer)
sweetened condensed milk

Place shaved ice in a bowl. Pile your favorite combination of toppings on the ice. Serve.

sweet red bean soup
1/2 cup adzuki beans, dried
4 cups water (more as needed)
1/4 cup sugar (more or less to your preference)

Soak the beans in water overnight. Drain and rinse the beans. In a 3 quart saucepan, combine the adzuki beans with 4 cups of water and set to boil over high heat. When the water reaches a boil, let it continue for a minute. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pan (take care that it doesn’t boil over – ugh, what a mess). Let the beans simmer for about 90 minutes or until they are soft enough that they are almost falling apart (I simmered mine for 2 hours, but I’m at elevation). When the adzuki beans are done, remove from heat and stir in the sugar. You can either leave the beans as they are, blender all of the soup, or only blender half of the soup/beans. Totally up to you.

sweet peanut soup
6 oz. peanuts, shelled
4 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsps coconut milk

Soak the peanuts in a large bowl of water overnight and make sure none are sticking out of the water. If there are skins on the peanuts, they will come off after soaking them. When done soaking, rinse the peanuts and drain all of the excess water off. Place the peanuts in a pressure cooker and add the 4 cups of water. Pressure cook the peanuts on high heat for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 30-40 additional minutes. Remove from heat and let the pressure cooker cool naturally (natural release). Remove the lid of the pressure cooker and heat the soup over medium heat. Add sugar to taste. The peanuts should be completely soft after all of that time in the pressure cooker. If they aren’t, let them boil until they reach a creamy fall-apart texture. Add coconut milk and let the soup return to a boil for a minute. Remove from heat.

brown sugar syrup
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup water

Place sugar and water in a small saucepan. Stir over high heat until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil and boil for a minute. Turn off the heat and let cool. Chill the syrup in the refrigerator.

coffee syrup
1 cup double strength coffee (brew with twice the grounds)
1/2 cup sugar

Combine the coffee and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Let it barely simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Refrigerate.

green tea mochi
1 cup glutinous rice flour
1/2 tsp matcha green tea powder
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1-2 cups potato starch or cornstarch

In a medium bowl, whisk the rice flour and matcha powder together. Stir in the water until smooth. Stir in the sugar. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and microwave the mochi batter on high power for 2 minutes (give it a stir after 1 minute to prevent burning). Stir the mochi and cook 30 seconds at a time until there is no more liquid in the mochi and it is sticky as all get out. Layer potato starch or cornstarch on a rimmed baking sheet or pan. Scrape the mochi onto the starch. Sprinkle more starch over the mochi and begin to press the mochi out to a square or circle of 1/4-inch thickness. Cut the mochi into 1/2-inch strips. Cut the strips into 1/2-inch square pieces.