Posts Tagged ‘taekwondo’

An Extreme Hampoland Day….Taekwondo to Hippsters

Some days swing from one extreme to another it’s almost comical in a bipolar kind of way. These manic days can be exhausting or exhilarating, it all depends on your minds set and attitude.

Yesterday Sandor an I drove four hours to a taekwondo tournament in Fort Smith Arkansas. For five hours we were intense and formal, enthusiastic, militaristic and jacked up on endorphins, adrynalyne and Mtn. Dew. Along with some of our best friends, we competed and cheered, barefooted, in heavily starched uniform. When Sandor punched a boy right  in the face three times, I couldn’t have been more proud or excited. (Yeah, I know how bizarre that sounds.)

We got home around five o’clock and my best buddy Amelia called. She wanted us to got to Low Key Arts and listen to a reggae   band, Tidal Waves, from Africa.

Three hours later the entire family stood in front of a stage, surrounded by old hippies and hippsters, swaying like willow trees. The dark warehouse turned musical venue was full of glow- in-the-dark hula hoops, laughing children and tie dye shirts. The band started late but they were old black reggae guys, what did I expect. I watched other people clap (mainly my daughter Lex) so I could keep the beat. I tried to dance a little but didn’t really move my feet because somebody convinced me 15 years ago that I looked stupid dancing so I haven’t tried since then.

(Side bar: Never ever tell someone they can’t dance. They might listen to you and never dance again. Then they lose one of the great free and natural pleasures of life and it’s your fault.)

It was a beautiful evening. But it was the exact opposite of our morning.   The Taekwondo tournament was all about discipline, training and competition The evening  spun like an abstract painting around spontaneity, creativity and freedom.

That night when I went to bed and dreamed  I was competing again, doing my second degree pattern, in  my  starched uniform, my  belt cinched perfectly, I kicked higher than I can in real life. Things were beautiful but something was different.   Bob Marley, the iconic reggae legand, was singing  No Woman No Cry and everyone was swaying in time.

Awesome and Bizarre Stuff God Blessed Me With

I’ve been blessed with some awesome and bizarre stuff. God loves me, I know because he’s given me a few things most people don’t have..

1. I have really great legs. Yeah, I work out a lot and do hundreds of kicks in Taekwondo ever week but I have my mother’s legs. Mary and Lex got them too. We have great definition and generally don’t get cellulite, fat thighs or big hips, even when we put on ten or twenty pounds. (Sadly though, our butts are kind of flat). Because of my mom, we don’t store fat in our thighs. And we have nicely shaped calves and ankles, no “cankles” for us or chubby knees. Our fat goes to other places and that’s wonderful because It’s really hard to exercise your ankles and hips. Our legs are a genetic gift from God and my mom and I am thankful.

2. God blessed me by making me a McDaniel. And three of my children are absolutely McDaniels too.  We’re still waiting to see if Sandor develops the gift of friendly bull shit.  Being a McDaniel means we can snuggle into any group of  people from senators and presidents to garbage men and rednecks.  We can happily visit with just about anybody, we like almost everybody. It’s very difficult to make us feel out of place, because we know how gifted and wonderful we are. Oh, and we have an absurd amount of confidence so we assume people will love us, because we are McDaniels.  Generally, McDaniel’s are also magnificent story tellers. Some people say we are natural liars, but we like to think of ourselves as gregarious raconteurs. We like to put a positive spin on things.

This is where I should mention my husband, Alex.  I’m blessed with a man who puts up with us even though he often times doesn’t understand. he rolls his eyes a lot and wonders what we will say next.

3. We laugh all the time.  This is also part of the McDaniel blood line. We howl and giggle and hee-haw with laughter even when things are really really bad. We laugh when we are miserable and broken hearted because God blessed us with the ability to see something funny in almost every situation, from cat poop on the new carpet to family funerals. Thank you Jesus. Again I have also been blessed with a husband who doesn’t always understand why the hell we are laughing but he doesn’t tell us to shut up.

4.  God has blessed me with the most wonderful and naturally happy children on the planet. They all like and take care of each other. They are all playful and respectful, smart and really really fun to be around. 

At least ounce a week (I’m not making this part up no matter what I said in the previous paragraph) someone asks me how I raised such wonderful and smart kids. (so far I haven’t had to write a single check for college)  I just say “thank you they actually came delivered that way”. And it’s the truth.

We have plenty of flaws. We tend to be a little vain, with terrible handwriting and none of the kids are over the top athletes. Hard work is required for their  on field successes. But for the most top I am blessed beyond words.

I have a theory why God has given me four such extraordinary children. He has a good plan. But I’ll save that story for another day and just be thankful for what I have right now.

Yoga vs Taekwondo…and new workout attempts

In order to improve my martial arts and postpone middle age/old age I’ve been trying new work outs. Every week I run, lift weights and do taekwondo two or three nights a week. But I  need more just to keep up with all the teenagers in the adult class because they have stupid teenaged boy muscles.

A few weeks ago I tried Zumba because the ads on tv look like so much sweaty fun.  Old ladies tried to help me with my tense/rhythm-free dancing skills. Thirteen years of martial arts have trained me to keep my hands up, fists next to my face, no matter what. So I looked really paranoid and stiff as a celery stalk. But I would not get sucker punched in zumba class.

Today I tried yoga at the YMCA.  It was a lovely class but not at all what I expected.  The one thing I can do better than most of my taekwondo teenagers is stretch. So most of the yoga poses and moves were just fine. 

Unfortunately I’m ridiculously hyper-competitive.  Even though it was my first day, when I spotted a 70 year old woman out stretching  me…it was on. I gritted my teeth and beat her. Stupid right? Because yoga isn’t a competitive sport, it’s supposed to be about peace, enlightenment and finding balance in your body….stuff like that.

During  class the lights were dim and there was pretty music so I tried relax and ground myself.  I worked to feel my own breath, lengthen my limbs and allow my muscles to relax. But I kept thinking, “my downward dog looks pretty awesome and so do my calf muscles,” or “my high cobra is soooo much higher than hers, but I need to work on my tree stance, it sucks, everyone has a better tree.”

Obviously, this was not an advanced yoga class and you have to trust me, I’m laughing at myself, because I know I missed the entire point because I’m an immature doof. Maybe yoga is exactly what I need in my life.

The class ended and I wasn’t sweaty or sore, I was pretty happy though. Then, the instructor, who was wonderful, came to each of our mats. We were stretched out on our backs, breathing and feeling centered. And she rubbed my neck and ears with some great menthol smelly stuff.  She rubbed my ears! Nobody in Taekwondo every rubs my ears!  I really love yoga now!


Comment or write to me please, hampoland@gmail.com

I Love A Good Fight…or At Least A Good Show

This weekend, Lexie and I went to a big ugly Cagemaster’s Cage Fighting event. There were more than a dozen amateur fights on the card and I couldn’t have been happier. I know that’s odd, actually weird. I’m over the age of 40, I have my masters degree, I write thank you notes, was a debutante and have four children. But I love fights, boxing, martial arts, kickboxing and now cage fighting.

The crowd is full of twentyfive year- olds with tattoos. I don’t match them but I know more and appreciate the fighters. I can’t find a single friend my age who wants to go to a cage fight with me .What’s wrong with me?

I can trace my love of boxing back to my childhood. First I met Ali when I was seven or eight. And while I was growing up my dad and I watched the heavy weight bouts on ABC on Friday nights. Howard Cosell was the announcer and the championship fights were something everybody watched and talked about. That was quality time I spent with my dad, so I took boxing very seriously as a little girl.

Thirteen years ago I took up Taekwondo and that involves a lot of sparring or fighting, especially in our school.  I learned things. Then, along came cage fighting and it has become a part of even the most traditional Martial Arts programs. Though most cage fighters have minimal training compared to martial artists.

I love movies about fighters, I generally hate movies with guns. It’s the art, heart and passion of a fight  I love so. Gun fights are soul-less.

A few of the great moments at the cage fights were note worthy.

Pastor Greg, a cool young minister said the prayer before the fights started.  He said, “And remember Jesus never tapped out.”

Second great moment.  There were a half dozen super skinny  hippsters sitting behind us, complete with fat black geek glasses, funny wool hats, button down plaid shirts and I Phones. They looked like perfect high teck dweebs but they were yelling ,”Kill him, smash his face in.”  They should have been hanging out in an expensive coffee shop, not the cage fights.

A friend of ours who is one of the highest ranked female boxers in the country, Kim Conner Hamby was a judge.  Sometimes Kim comes to our TKD schools and works with us in boxing. I swear, this125 pound woman hits like Joe Frazier in 1972, but faster.  Holding the pads for her wrecks my shoulders for a week. Every time I  see Kim she’s sweaty in baggy shorts and a sports bra,  but at the fights she looked beautiful. Lex and I heard guys talking about how hot she was.  Kim “Hot Girl” Hamby.

And finally, a very young fighter walked in as his theme song blasted, “Eye Of  The Tiger” from Rocky III. It was so cliche. The boy was young and soft looking, with a single tattoo of Snoopy on his shoulder. Seriously, Snoopy? The match up was almost sad and we immediately assumed he didn’t have a chance. Then his opponent came out to Eminem’s I’m Not Afraid.  He had a black hoodie covering his face. When he peeled it off we saw he was covered with scary looking tatts. It wasn’t looking good for Snoopy.  But half way through the first round Snoopy hit Eminem with an uppercut, then a big muay thai kick. The punk went down on his knees and Snoopy managed a rear naked choke.  Eye of the Tiger, Baby, Eye of the Tiger.

I love the combat, the passion and the spectacle. It’s good stuff. Just remember, always keep your hands up and sometimes Snoopy wins.

How Fat Does this Make Me Look?

Before you become involved in any sport or activity that involves wearing a specific uniform…think try it one then take a picture.

I’m in pretty good shape. I work out all the time ,still when I see a picture of myself in my taekwondo uniform I look lake a bloated heifer. It’s awful. I look much much better naked, now that’s saying something.

If you have any boobs at all, Martial Arts uniforms are horribly unflattering. It doesn’t matter how high your rank or awesome your sidekick is, if you wear a dobak you’re gonna look like a big fat slob. The only women who avoid looking like the Hindenburg are the super skinny girls.

Men look good in them, children look cute, women look like mushy lesbians. I’d be better off having my picture taken in a AC/DC concert t-shirt and pajama pants.

I swear I should have considered a different sport. Why have I spent 12 years in a pair of pants so big I could hide a cocker spaniel in them.  I’d look better in a black speedo  shiny pink gymnastics leotard. (well maybe not).

I love Taekwondo  too much to quit now, but before you choose a sport or hobby try on the uniform. Next time I’m going to start playing polo. I’d look hot in those tight jodhpurs(yes that is how you spell the word, it’s the super tight pants they wear), black boots and helmet.

Your Sons First CUP CHECK!

Buying that first cup or jock strap is a huge moment in a boys life; it’s pretty big for a mom too. Because it means you son is doing something possible violent and dangerous and you are so very very proud of your little warrior.

We had to buy Sandor his first cup when he was six, he’d been sparring in TKD for a few weeks, got nailed between the legs with a front kick and drove immediately to the sporting good store.

Sandor opened it in the car and spent the next fifteen minutes in the backseat pretending it was a boat and the entire gang from Scooby Do were floating in the ocean.
The next day when he went back to Taekwondo class and I explained what he ad to do with the cup he laughed until he drooled. then he told every kid in the building that he was wearing a cup. “Listen, I’m knocking on it,” he said and drummed his knuckles against his crotch. “You can punch me right there if you want, I’ll be ok.”  Then they all started punching and kicking each other and yelling, “Cup Check!”

A couple of weeks ago we had a big workout on a Saturday with several other Taekwondo schools. At some point I walked to the back dressing room. There was a tiny little boy standing in front of me in his white briefs. “Can you help me with this?” he said earnestly and tried to hand me his miniature cup.
I shook my head, “I’ll find you folks. Wait right here.”

Now Sandor is eight and the novelty has worn off.Thou last week in the car a younger boy asked him what a cup was for and he said, “You know, to protect all your important stuff, dude.” Sandor is so grown up now,he doesn’t really laugh when ask him if he put his cup it on before class or football practice. He just reaches into his pants to check. What a man.

I just realized yesterday I wrote about sports bras. I seem to have a theme going. I wonder what’s next. Leave me a comment.

I’ve Got A Serious Problem….I Refuse To Be A Loser

While reading the church bulletin I realized I have a real problem. I am ridiculously competitive. I knew this about myself before I went to church but the bulletin kind of dotted the i for me.

There was an announcement “Casserole Contest” winner gets a great prize! The word contest slams me in the face, I LOVE CONTESTS, no I LOVE WINNING CONTESTS. Actually I love winning at anything, being the best, better than other people. Wait, I’m not one of those people who brags about being the best but it rolls through my brain like a happy train all the time and it’s silly, especially at my age.

The casserole contest is this Wednesday and I’m going to make something insanely yummy even though, I have never, ever made a casserole. i told my daughter lexie about it and she actually said, ‘what exactly is a casserole”? When I say I’ve never fixed one I’m not exaggerating. But it’s a contest, I have to compete.

I’m stupid competitive. Last week when my taekwondo instructor said, “I did 1500 kicks yesterday,” I started counting, trying to figure out how long it would take me to do 2000 kicks. If I do 500 kicks today, then 600 on Wednesday I should be able to do 2000 kicks without stopping in a couple of weeks. But that’s stupid, he’s a professional, he’s a 6th degree black belt, he’s my instructor and just won in an International TKD competition. Why do I feel the need to kick more times than he does? Because I’m an idiot. But I have to try.

Every summer, when we go to the lake, I challenge everyone to underwater distance swimming. My children, other people’s kids, stray teenagers, construction workers. I’ll take on anyone and I’ll die like a beached whale before I let myself lose.

I used to love our sales meetings on Monday mornings because we found out who sold the most the week before. It motivated me cause I want to win. When the new boss decided not to announce our numbers I actually sold less becasue I didn’t get to beat anyone.

Hate me if you must, but I try really hard to be humble. I don’t cheer for myself or brag. Though, when I do win, at anything, there is an outlandish party in my head with fireworks and noise makers.

So what am I going to do about my problem?  Make the best damn casserole the First Presbyterian Women have ever tasted and walk away knowing Diana McDaniel Hampo is the CASSAROLE CHAMPION!

You Can’t Do That On The Foot Ball Field!

                                                             Sandor is eight and gets to play tackle football this year. He is excited to the extreme. I explained to his taekwondo  instructor that he would not be around much for the next two months. This is the first time in five years he’s taken a break from Martial Arts training.

Yesterday was his first practice in full pads. Sandor looked as though somebody plugged him into a car battery; he was so jacked up. The first thing the tiny players did was the sideways crab run. I watched as my boy fell down, stumbled and came in almost last. I couldn’t help myself. I yelled for him to come to me.

“Sandor, this is just rotary jogging, like we do in class.”

“Oh, I didn’t know that. Ok” He ran back to line up. We rotary jog in taekwondo so we learn to use angles when sparing. Sandor turned into the fastest kid in the crab run.

Next the coach (who is wonderful) lined the little boys up facing each other, to work on blocking drills. I watched as Coach blew the whistle and boys crashed into each other like miniature samurai. Then Sandor instantly leg swept his opponent, slung him over his hip and took the top mount. The kid on the bottom was confused and obviously frustrated. I watched Sandor take down all his opponents with the same smooth jujutsu moves.

When the coach saw what was going on he came to me. “Does he watch a bunch of cage fighting or wrestling?”

I shook my head. “He’s been training in  Martial Arts since he was three. It’s just muscle memory. Tell him there’s no grappling or leg sweeps in foot ball.”

“Wow, I’ve never seen a kid do that so fast.” He laughed.

“You’re lucky he didn’t arm-bar or sidekick.”

Now Sandor understands blocking, and what is and isn’t involved. But
I want to say “good job” to all you Martial Arts Instructors. Your students do, in fact, remember, exactly what you teach them.

Just Don’t Take A Break…You’ll Never Come Back

If there is something good in your life, something that inspires you or makes you  better….but requires work….don’t ever think you can “take a break” and you’ll come back refreshed or renewed. Chances are you won’t come back at all.

I’ve seen this happen dozens of times in taekwondo. Students “take a break” so they won’t get burned out and never come back. When I see them in the video store there are always a multitude of excuses, but the truth is they just quit. Slow down if you need to, but you have to keep your foot in the door.

I took a break from taekwondo, (for medical reasons, I swear) and in just a few weeks I forgot nearly everything I’d learned in 11 years. I was suddenly a moron. My flexibility was gone and so was my confidence. I didn’t want to go back becasue I was afraid I would  suck…and I did.

The same is true of marriage and serious relationships. If you “take a break” all kinds of terrible things can happen. You go out for a drink and the next thing you know your making out with a stranger in the parking lot. And of course your girlfriend, that you actually adore, will hear about it and your done. Breaks are a terrible idea.

If you are a runner you know how dangerous a break can be.  Convincing yourself  you should return to sweating and groaning and being soar is nearly impossible. That first 1/2 mile is gonna be a nightmare so why not stay on the cushy couch? You’ve got a rerun of Friends and a bag of Cheetos…who needs to run? 

 “Take a break” almost always turns into “I quit”  because starting over is a miserable prospect.

So, if you have a hobby or passion or loved one that makes your life better and brighter, stop your whining, tough it out and keep your foot in the door.

Hey, you, leave me a comment. Please

Lexie Didn’t Win…Hummm

Everyone expected Lex to win the Taekwondo tournament last weekend, all categories, hands down. But she didn’t. She was stellar, looked beautiful and inspiring but she didn’t win the tournament. We all thought she would.

I’d spent a lot of money getting her there. I’d gotten up at 4 am, driven with almost no sleep in a car that wanted to give up the ghost. I felt lousy. She was supposed to win and didn’t, so half way thorough an excruciatingly long and loud taekwondo tournament I was exhausted and very very grumpy. I was still smiling because i loved all the competitors, even if I didnt know them, but I wanted desprately to drive three hours, get home, drink a beer, watch bad tv and go to sleep.

But something happened. After Lexie didn’t win, another mom with a young daughter caught up with me. “I don’t relly know anything about this stuff but I hope my daughter will grow up to be just like your daughter. She was amazing to watch.”

A little girl asked Lexie for her autograph. Then it was time for her to judge the lower rank student.

She was so supportive when she talked to the chubby yellow belt, she cheered for the underdog and high-fived the skinny kids who looked like she wanted to cry. Parents asked if she was my kid and I said yes and they said “she’s wonderful,” and “she’s so great”.


Sometimes God sends us out into the world to get a job done. We don’t know what it is. We think it’s about us…and it’s not. It was such a long long day, but now, I realize it was worth it.