Saturday, April 23, 2016

Christmas Light Walk

January 3, 2016 - This afternoon we met with friends for some post-Christmas cheer by visiting the Anheuser-Busch Christmas Light Walk at the brewery.

That is quite the wreath!

He's bundled up and ready to hit the walk.

Th first beer sampling station is dead ahead!
lagers, ales, hot chocolate, cider, limearitas  and strawberitas

Gotham City in the Christmas time... if you've ever wondered what that'd look like.

"City sidewalks" lit by the glow of these decorated trees.

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Piano Guys at the Fabulous Fox

March 10, 2016 - My Mom's...39th birthday!   Again!

It was also the first birthday of my Mom's niece, Keira, so the birthday girls had to go out to celebrate with some ice cream.

It's hard to believe just how much Keria's grown in the last year.  As the saying grows they grow up so fast.

For my Mom's birthday, we had a date to the Fabulous Fox theatre for a performance of the Piano Guys. A one night performance - on her birthday - how cool is that?

We're the two biggest music lovers in the house - if there's ever music being played around the house, it's either coming from her or from yours truly.

Yes, I'm driving.  No, my eyes are NOT looking at the road.

Coincidentally, we had friends just across the way at Powell Hall.

Well, I didn't know this, but you're not allowed to get photos of the Fox Theatre.  
(From this shot, I could see why, because it appears to be a sacred Buddhist temple or something.)

That said, I hope you appreciate this post all the more when you take into account that I was tracked down by security and could have been escorted out of the theatre for getting these photos!

And, of course, I wasn't able to get photos or video of the Piano Guys' performance, and this is the closest thing I can find: 

It was a lot of fun to spend the evening together.

Little did the two of us know that my Grandpa would pass away just a few days later and we'd have to heavily lean on one another for support in the following week.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Black Belts

April 2, 2016- 
It's been a long journey.
Uncle Jeremy demonstrating a side kick in our living room after a Thanksgiving meal

Even before we started taking classes, we started learning martial arts every time my Uncle Jeremy would come over for a visit.  

From learning how to redirect butter knife thrusts,
to bracing for a one inch punch demonstration (and holding a phone book against your chest),
we always enjoyed learning about self defense.

More than anything else, it's thanks to the hard work and dedication of these two men, 
Sifu Jeremy and Sifu Pat
 who have freely invested their knowledge and countless hours of their time into us.

We've progressed through the ranks...

...continually learned new skills...

...and teaching other students. 

Today's the day that we test for our Black Belts.

Family and other Whole Armour Martial Arts students

Panel of judging black belts

Reciting our Scripture memorization

Chi sau - a sensitivity hand drill - with our eyes closed

Showing our Escrima/Kali drills

Breaking boards (note the pile on the bottom right)


Arm Bar

Demonstrating knife defenses

Working the wooden dummy that Wing Chun uses for training and conditioning

"This next bit's going to be a bit more...'interactive'..."
(BBC Sherlock)

Getting out of a rear grab

I have no idea what they're doing here. 

Hair pull defense

Gearing up to spar

Benjamin in a full mount

Andrew working from a side mount

Sparring with our instructors

It wasn't long before we were both on the ground and tapping out :)

Sparring with the other black belts

We were both exhausted and sore by the end of the sparring

Removing and folding our red belts before we don our black belts.

This moment actually has more significance than may meet your eye.  For years, we've had to turn away from all black belts before we even adjusted our belt - as a sign of respect.  So, trust me when I say it was odd to completely replace our belts while facing six black belts.

Left to right:
Sifu Pat Jorden, Sensei Tina Little, Sensei Roy Pilger, Benjamin Wong
Master John Ingoldsby, Andrew Wong, Sifu Rick Pesek Sr, Sifu Jeremy Tucker

Benjamin and I were tested and sparred by these black belts last Saturday and were presented with our very own black belts. Thank you so much to Sifu Jeremy and Sifu Pat for the years of selfless dedication to our training. 
Our testing was all the more significant because we are Whole Armour’s first black belts and were presented the certificate by Sifu Rick - our teachers’ Sifu.

Top left: Remnants of one of the boards I broke during the test.
Mid left: Previous belts.
Bot left: New Escrima sticks given as a gift from the school.
Mid bot: "Whole Armour Martial Arts School of Wing Chun Kung Fu, Escrima Stick Fighting, Knife Fighting, and Jujitsu Street Grappling has conferred upon Andrew Wong the rank of 1st Degree Black Belt"
Bot right: I carry my black belt with me on my keychain! (Another gift)
Top right: Wong monogram and Whole Armour Martial Arts (WAMA)