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More serious Burns

Since 2010 I’ve been getting more involved in the Burns’ scene – performing the Address to the Haggis at various Burns’ Suppers. In early 2013 I attended one in London organised by Cousin Iain, where once again I did the Address to the Haggis. I pretty much nailed that one and was pleased with my performance – the same was true when I did it again at the Colgrain Bowling Club.

When I was done with the latter one I spoke with the lady who organises it and we both agreed that, after doing three in a row there, I’d done my bit and if I came back in 2014 I’d do something different. This was fine by me, as I’d done the Address to a Toothache at both the Helensburgh Bowling Club and the Clyde Bar Burns’ Suppers and quite enjoyed the new material.

However, in 2013, I did so many Burns events that I was struggling to maintain my enthusiasm as the season wore on. So I decided that, in 2014, I was going to attend and perform at far fewer events than had come to be the case.  I would attend the local Masonic lodge Burns Supper because I’ve done that every year since I’ve been back in Scotland, but my aim was quality over quantity.

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The lost year

Since I started “blogging” (it wasn’t called that yet when I first kept an online journal in the late 90′s), the frequency of my writing has ebbed and flowed. Some years I’ve written dozens of things and for some I’ve barely managed one each month. However, as 2013 rolled on I found I’d “lost my voice”. It wasn’t that I had nothing to share, it was that I just couldn’t seem to put the events into words and, as time went on, I thought I’d “challenge” myself to not write anything for a calender year to give myself time to find the motivation again.

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One year later

12 months down the line and Elisha and I were attending a Taekwon-do grading once again. We had both graded in the summer, with Elisha getting her yellow belt and me adding some green tags to the yellow belt I earned at the end of 2012, so this time I was gong for my green belt and Elisha for her green tags.

Me & Elisha after grading

Green belt and green tags earned.

I had wanted to maintain a pace where I’m half a grade ahead of her, because that way I can help her practice and point out the fine adjustments that she needs to make. For this grading I’d been getting her to concentrate on ensuring her arms were in the right position for her blocks and, in the week before we graded, she had it nailed.

Back in September I felt just about ready to go for my green belt, but missed the grading because I had to look after Jason. Elisha definitely wasn’t ready to go for her green tags back then, and in the mean time there was a patterns seminar we attended to really get our standards up to scratch. Since we did that a month ago I’ve been raring to do the grading and Elisha came on a lot after the seminar, too.

I’ve felt since I started Taekwon-do that I wasn’t in any rush to go for my next belt, but a year between colour belts is maybe stringing it out a bit, so a few months back I increased my direct debit so I could attend as many classes as I liked. Elisha could have that luxury, too, but she does dancing on the same days as the mid-week Taekwon-do classes and I think for it’s probably better for her to do a range of activities anyway.

I’ve really enjoyed stepping up the training level and on a Monday evening I now do an extra Taekwon-do class, followed by a kick-boxing class. The latter has really helped my sparring technique, although taking a bit more of a beating has taken some getting used to! I bought a punch bag to hang up in the garage so that I can practise my technique when I’m working out, but with the weather deteriorating I’m not out there very often at the moment.

Taking up Taekwon-do has been one of the best fitness decisions I’ve ever made, I think – I only wish I’d done it sooner. The other adults in the class who are at a similar level make it a really enjoyable social activity, too, and last night we had a great xmas night out. Classes are all but done for this year, but I’m looking forward to working towards my blue belt in 2014.