As Master Shaffer wrote in the previous post, we had gotten through a bunch of activities and work sessions during the eight and a half hour car ride, and we were feeling more than a little tired when we plodded into the Taekwondo school carrying our luggage at 10:18 PM. Also as Master Shaffer wrote, despite our acquired degree of fatigue, we had much to do and many hours to fill, long before we would be able to rest.
After settling in a bit and meeting briefly with one of our generous hosts, Master Begley, Master Pearson guided us through reviewing the Shin Ho Kwan spear form; since the spear seminar was the next day, it was essential that we three, Master Shaffer, Miss Doll, and me, have a final check on our spear form technique so that we would be able to maximally assist participants of the seminar who would be learning the form. We worked for an hour reviewing the techniques. Master Pearson checked each of us individually to be sure that our technique was up to snuff, and we could not end the session until our demonstration proved satisfactory. Even though this hour long session seemed difficult given our tired state, what was to follow would truly be a test of endurance and character.
Once we had all quickly prepared for bed and were settling down to what we thought would be sleep around midnight, we were introduced to our next activity that would take up most of the rest of the evening for two of us. Master Pearson showed us to the area of the training floor that would be sleeping on, and directed us to set up three folded mats on the floor in an equilateral triangle with twenty feet to a side that would serve as our beds; the mats were just large enough for us to fit on. Upon the mat and on both sides our heads were laid two blocks (six blocks between the three of us). It was to be our task for the remainder of the night to acquire as many of these blocks as we could while defending our own blocks. We had to attempt to steal these blocks while the other hagsaeng naebu were sleeping. If a haegsaeng naebu spotted someone trying to steal one of his or her blocks, that steal attempt would be void. A stolen block could only be kept and placed with one’s other blocks if one was able to bring the stolen block all the way back to one’s own bed. Whoever had the least blocks by morning (7 AM) would be “severely punished.” If we all tied, then we would all lose and be punished. It was with this understanding that we set about the rest our night.
Initially we all stayed up for the first half hour talking about the aspects of this new activity. It seemed fun and exciting. There was much night ahead of us and anything could happen.
Not long after that, it seemed that I closed my eyes just for a moment to rest them, but it must have been longer because when I opened my eyes both of my blocks were gone, and Miss Doll had only one left; Master Shaffer had taken our blocks and now had five! I felt a crushing feeling to think that I had already been bested so early in the game and that I may already have lost. It was at this point that I went to work.
Master Shaffer was in the progress of attempting to take Miss Doll’s last block, so I moved to tale one of hers. She then backed off though, and I then took Miss Doll’s. Miss Doll must have been particularly tired because she appeared to be rather deeply sleeping and remained so for the rest of the night.
Master Shaffer and I then went into a long stand off in which she attempted many times to take my one block, but I caught her every time because I was not sleepy and she put little time between her detail attempts. I caught a brief lucky moment where she dozed off and I took one of her blocks. I was finally back to two blocks.
What followed was an even longer standoff between her and I that lasted until 4 AM in which there were many steal attempts but no progress made. Once again I caught a rare moment where she had dozed off and I stole two – bringing my total to 4 and hers down to 2. She awoke seething at me (not really, but she and I had truly been very fierce competitors throughout the night). I felt content and that I had surely won . . . I would just have to hold out until morning.
Alas, I awoke at 6:30 to discover that Master Shaffer had taken all the blocks back, and at that time it was easy for to hold out for the last half hour. And in the end Master Shaffer did win – congratulations Master Shaffer, you are a tough opponent. Even though I lost, I still enjoyed the experience because it was fun despite being really intense.
At the writing of this post, Miss Doll and I are still awaiting our punishment for losing, and since Master Shaffer has input into what it will be, I’m sure it’ll be pretty rough. More on that to come – stay tuned.