Jump + Dance Sequence

Learning ice skating is like building LEGO. Each step is a LEGO brick that is designed to let you create a work of art. While practicing yesterday, I combined the jump and dance steps into a long sequence. I am sure the professional skaters already knew, but it was a revelation to me. Here are the steps I did:

  1. Begin with a backward crossover with your left foot over right.
  2. Repeat another crossover with your left foot over right.
  3. Transfer your weight to your right foot and glide with your left foot.
  4. Do a waltz jump with your right foot.
  5. Tap your left toe pick and do a tap-toe jump with your right foot.
  6. Continue with a 3-turn on your left foot.
  7. Tap your right toe pick then finish with a one-half flip jump.
  8. Instead of checking out, continue on with your left glide.
  9. Glide right.
  10. Glide left.
  11. Glide right one more time.
  12. Do a left mohawk then stand on your right foot as you skate backward.
  13. Cross your left behind your right foot and transfer your weight to your left foot.
  14. Place your right foot back to the parallel position and transfer the weight back to your right foot.
  15. Cross your left foot in front of your right foot.
  16. Check out with your right foot.

I like jumping more than spinning. I supposed to learn how to do a one-foot spin, but I kept tripped up the left-edge entrance. As a result, I just focused on the jump and dance sequence.

More Aggressive Skating

The no-name aggressive inline skates I bought for Đạo and Đán on eBay were no good. My wife broke the strap buckle on one pair and I broke the other as we let the kids try them on. Fortunately, we can return them.

I am searching for better quality skates for them since aggressive skating can be dangerous. I want them to be safe. I am not sure if I can find anything under $150 a pair. I spent way too much time online shopping already. I was looking forward to hit the skate parks with them.

At lunchtime yesterday, I drove to Shaw Skate Park in DC. The weather was beautiful and there were a handful of skateboarders. They seemed to be friendly. A black guy encouraged me to drop in. I asked if he’s from around here (DC) and he asked me where I was originated (I think). I forget the term he used. There were two girls whose skills were impressive on roller skates.

The park seemed to be newly renovated. I would come back if it was not too far from my work. It took me 20 minutes each way; therefore, I could only skate for half an hour. I was skating in my khakis pants and buttoned-up shirt. I just strapped on my guards and wore my helmet. I came back to work a bit sweaty. It was my workout for the day.

I had been skating consistently at lunchtime on the days that I worked in my office since Powhatan Springs Skatepark. I can skate there for about 45 minutes since the park was only eight minutes away from my office. It’s a decent park.

Going Aggressive

I found a pair of Flying Eagle Enkidu aggressive skates on Amazon Warehouse that fit me perfectly. It was such a great deal that I couldn’t resist. Except for the damaged box, the skates were brand new. I gave the pair a try at the skate park yesterday and I am loving it.

I went down a few curved ramps and a quarter pipe, but I did not try the higher curved ramps yet. The skates are a bit heavy, almost five pounds on each foot, but they felt so comfortable. I predict that the smaller wheels and the heavy boots were designed to keep me balanced. Aggressive skates don’t come with the heel brake; therefore, I need to learn to do the T-stop or other braking methods without relying on the heel brake. I am taking my time because falling at my age takes too long to recover.

I need more time to adjust to the new Flying Eagle since I had gotten used to the Zetrablade, which I still love. It was the first inline skate that didn’t hurt my feet. I didn’t even realize that the Zetrablade was designed for skating on the road instead of at the skate park. I changed the heel brake and still keep the pair for skating with the family when we go biking on the trails.

Đán also wanted a pair of aggressive skates. I wanted to get him a pair of Rollerblade NJR, but I could not find his size. Fortunately, I found a different pair with his size on eBay. Since it was a great deal, I bought one pair for Đạo as well. They look great, but they have no brand. I called the skate shop and the seller told me that there were no boxes and they could not find the brand on the skates. They just found them in their warehouse and listed them on eBay for sale. They already sold six pairs and haven’t heard any complaints from their customers.

I can’t wait for their skates to arrive. We’re now moving from recreational to aggressive. Đạo, Đán, and Xuân who uses a scooter prefer skate park over ice skating. They had been willing to go to the skate parks with me more than ice skating rinks.

Progress on Freestyle 2

Wednesday night, I didn’t go to sleep until two in the morning. Then I had to wake up at seven to take Đạo to school. I drank massive coffee and felt like shit all day. I went to ice skating class and couldn’t even do a proper Mohawk. I stayed back after class to practice, but the public session was crowded. Katie, my former coach, was there skating with Megan, one of my classmates. Megan and I used to take Katie’s class, but now we have a different instructor. I took three classes taught by Katie and she barely spoke to me beyond simple instructions. Somehow Megan managed to befriend her. I watched Katie perform and show Megan how to spin on one foot. Katie was fantastic.

I tried to do the dance sequence our new coach Kim taught us, but I couldn’t do it. My mind was exhausted and I was intimidated by the good skaters and instructors. I left the rink early and went home. I felt incompetent. I told my wife that I will quit after Freestyle 2. I went to bed and had almost eight hours of sleep. I felt much more refreshed. I worked from home on Friday; therefore, I took a lunch break and headed back to the rink. I had the entire rink to myself for the first half an hour. I focused on the dance sequence and was able to pull it off. I felt great again.

What I liked about Kim, my new coach, was that she focused on forms and she broke down the steps clearly. In a group lesson, I had about three minutes one on one with her. So far, I can do the dance sequence, the jump sequence, the spirals on edges, the ballet jump, and the half lutz. I just need to focus on the one-foot spin and the forward edge entrance. When I told my wife that I might go to Freestyle 3, she was not too happy since I said that I would be done with ice skating lessons after Freestyle 2. She showed no encouragement at all.

I understand her feelings. My life has revolved around ice skating. I want to practice every chance I have; therefore, I am not doing much around the house. I have to cut it back. So maybe this should be the end of ice skating lessons for me. I don’t think I can do much anyway. Too bad, our kids are giving up on ice skating. They have the opportunity to continue, but they don’t want to and I don’t want to force them either. For me, I have obligations to fulfill and ice skating isn’t a priority. I want to do it for fun and to challenge myself. I wanted to see how far I can go, but I think this might be it for me. I’ll keep skating for fun, but no more lessons. Without the coach to push me and the classmates to encourage me, I am not sure how far I can go. For instance, I haven’t made much progress with rollerblading. To be honest, rollerblading is a bit too dangerous. I have been injured quite a bit lately; therefore, I have to take more caution. I am too old to take risks. Ice skating is much safer, but it requires lots of techniques. I can’t spin even if my life depends on it.

Kicking Off Freestyle 2

I started Freestyle 2 ice skating lessons last night. I was the only guy in the class. Our new instructor didn’t show up. We had a sub instead and she turned out to be the Chinese-American instructor I had been observing while she was giving private lessons.

She started us off with the jump sequence: waltz jump, tap-toe jump, 3-turn then one-half flip jump. Lots of jumping. I need to relearn my waltz jump. It’s pretty bad. After class, I stayed for an hour and fifteen minutes to practice. I got the sequence down. I just need to refine my techniques.

One of my classmates asked me how far I would go. It depends on how this one would go, but Freestyle 2 would be my last. I asked her and she said her goal is to do an axel jump. She will go up to Freestyle 5. I don’t think I will go that far. I am just focusing on 2 right now. Like going to school, the stress has started, but it’s a good stress to keep me occupied for a while.

Xuân, Đạo, and I are now taking lessons on the same night, but not at the same time. Xuân has so much potential, but he refuses to learn backwards. He kept saying he wanted to quit and he doesn’t want to practice. I might just take him out after Beta. I wish he would enjoy it.

Đạo is taking Freestyle 1 and he seems to enjoy it. He did wanted to go practice with me at least once a week, which is good. He can keep going as long as he wanted to. I wish he would.

Back to the Skate Parks

The boys have been excited to go back to the skate parks. Now that Đạo can do the coping, he can drop from the half pipe. I knew all along he could do it, but I didn’t want to push him. He takes his time and until he feels confident enough to tackle the higher ramps. He seems to enjoy rollerblading more than ice skating.

Đán is catching up to me as he now can drop beyond the half pipe. He has a bit more confidence than Đạo; therefore, he can be more daring. He rides the half pipe effortlessly. The last time I rode the quarter pipe, I sprained my knee. It has been three weeks now and my knee has not been fully covered. It doesn’t stop me from rollerblading with the kids and starting my Freestyle 2 ice skating lesson tomorrow.

Now that I am back to work, I have been hitting the skate park during lunch to get some exercise and to enjoy the beautiful weather. I take more caution these days because I don’t want to get any more injuries. I am old and my body is taking too damn long to recover.

Xuân enjoys going to the skate parks with us as well. He uses a scooter instead of a rollerblade. He has been dropping from the quarter pipes and straight ramps. I am happy that the three boys joined me at the skate parks after school. It is a fun and thrilling activity to do together.

The other day, Đạo reflects how far we have come with rollerblading. When we first started out, we couldn’t even go down a straight ramp. Now we can ride almost any ramp at skate parks. We still have a lot to learn, but we’re happy with the progress we have made so far. I am proud of my boys.

Freestyle 2

While waiting for my kids to take their ice skating lessons, I asked Eric who is the director at Fairfax Ice Arena who will be teaching Freestyle 2 for adults starting next Thursday. He checked his computer, but he was not sure if he would start the class with only three students. He needed a minimum of five students, but he doubted that there will be any more registrations since not too many adults take this level. He told me if I sign up, he would start the class.

I hesitated at first, but caved in. I handed him my credit card. Why not? I looked at the curriculum and I have been dappled with the ballet jump and the half lutz. I can do the one-foot spin and two arabesques, but need more practice. I don’t know what the jump sequence and dance step sequence are, but I am ready to take on the challenge. I wanted to see how far I can level up with ice skating.

Compared to rollerblading, ice skating is much safer. I injured three times from rollerblading, but none from ice skating. The skate parks with ramps and bowls are a bit dangerous, but thrilling. I don’t focus on techniques with rollerblading. I just wanted to ride the ramps. With ice skating, the techniques are more important. I tried to transfer what I have learned in ice skating to rollerblading, but I didn’t have much success. Transferring the other way was a bit easier. My kids preferred rollerblading more because they liked the excitement of skating down the ramps.

I am looking forward to taking Freestyle 2. Eric told me that the instructor might be Kim Nguyễn. I had seen her teaching private lessons. She is very young and talented. I liked my previous instructor, but I am ready for a change.

Continue Our Skating Journey

While waiting for my kids’ ice skating group lessons, I heard Vietnamese adults gushing over their kids. The father said in English, “You have done so well for the first time.” The mother said in English, “Yes, I am so proud of you.” The grandmother said in Vietnamese, “You were so good.” They took turns and repeated their praise over and over again as they took off the kids’ rental skates.

Is it just me or do Vietnamese parents tend to over compliment their kids? This is not the first time I have heard something like this from Vietnamese parents. Sure, encouragement is good, especially for doing something new for the first time, but do you have to overdo it? It felt like giving kids false hope or toxic positivity. I give my kids compliments too, but I also try not to exaggerate their accomplishments.

I know kids who think they are the best at everything because their parents kept bragging that they are the best. Being competitive is good. It makes the kids work harder to achieve their goal, but when parents make their kids think they are the best, they set them up to fail. They put their kids on the pedestal and their kids can’t reach it. The kids threw tantrums when they lost in a game. When the kids can’t be the best, they just quit.

I rather have my kids keep working to improve their game than just giving up. Then again, what do I know? When I taught my kids how to skate, I just left them on the ice by themselves. I didn’t hold their hands. I didn’t help them get up when they fell. I just showed them how to get on their feet again. Đán didn’t hold on to the wall at all. He just walked like a penguin until he found his balance. Đạo used the wall until he found his groove. Xuân fell a couple of times, but he picked up quickly. I haven’t been able to get Vương into the rink. He isn’t quite ready yet.

After stopping private lessons for Đạo and Xuân, I enrolled them into group lessons again. Private lessons were expensive, but Đạo told me he was not interested in competing. Neither of them wanted to practice. If they don’t practice, they won’t get anywhere. Group lessons are not only cheaper, but they also come with free public sessions for practice. If they don’t use them, I will. Ice skating is still a fun sport for the kids even if they don’t take it seriously. Xuân is taking Beta. Đạo is taking Freestyle 1. I am looking into taking Freestyle 2 at the end of this month. With my knee injury, I haven’t practiced much. I still have a minor pain, but hopefully I will fully recover by then.

As for Đán, he seems to be sticking with ice hockey. He is doing well in class. He has the speed and the skating skills. He needs to work on his hockey skills. He needs to learn to control the puck with his stick. He needs to learn the strategy of the game. Fortunately, hockey is similar to soccer; therefore, I can provide him with some tips such as working with his teammates and passing the puck away from his own goal. We’ll see how he does.

Progress

My sprained knee is killing me. A tiny mistake has such a huge consequence. Now I can’t go rollerblading or ice skating until my knee recovers. Yesterday, my wife said she couldn’t wait to see the day I abandon both ice skating and rollerblading. Her words hit me like a brick. She made me realize the questions I had been asking myself all along.

Why am I doing these sports at forty-something? I am obviously not competing or anything like that; therefore, what am I trying to prove? Why am I putting myself at risk, especially rollerblading at the skate parks? Why don’t I just quit?

I obviously like the health benefits of these two similar sports. These are the only types of exercise I do these days. Walking, running, and even biking bored me. I just can’t see myself doing those activities to keep myself healthy. I needed a bit more fun and challenge, but there’s something deeper than that.

What rollerblading and ice skating give me are progression. I thrive on progression. Progression has become an integral part of my life. When I chose web design as a profession, I had committed to learn and to make progress. I read books and online articles everyday to keep up with the industry. I spent countless hours learning Flash and ended up abandoning it. So much time was wasted. These days, I have not followed the web industry as much as I should and I have been out of the game. I haven’t touched a framework. My interests had changed. I am focusing more on literature than technology. I turned to writing and reading.

With almost 20 years into blogging, I had made progress in both writing in English and Vietnamese. I am not a good writer, but the process of writing has come much easier to me. I used to dread writing. Now I can just write down anything on my mind. Reading has helped me write better. For example, I am reading a Vietnamese novel and the author writes in such a natural prose. She has reaffirmed that I can use plain and simple words to make my writing engaging. That’s what I loved about the simplicity of the Vietnamese language. It doesn’t have to be sophisticated.

When I enrolled into the graphic design graduate program at George Mason University School of Arts, I made progress with my design skills. I started to pick up typography and dived deep into its fascinating history as well as its current progression. After I earned my MA in graphic design, I needed to pick up something so I continued to progress and that was when I started ice skating and rollerblading. I don’t want to be a great skater, I just want to make progress. As someone who could barely stand on his skates, I can now drop into a half pipe at the skate parks or jump in the ice rink.

Taking ice skating lessons stressed me out. I had to put in extra time to practice because I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of my classmates. I had to do well on the tests and that put me under even more pressure, but I felt great after I had made some progress.

To make progress, I can’t seem to let myself relax. I constantly have to do something in order to make me feel like I am making progress. That’s the bad side of it. I fear that I will have a breakdown one day and just do nothing for the rest of my life. If I stop making progress, I’ll become useless and my life won’t have a purpose.

Stopped Private Lessons

After careful consideration, I decided to pull the plug on Đạo’s and Xuân’s ice skating private lessons. It was a hard decision to make because I deeply wanted them to excel in ice skating. Unfortunately, that’s not what they wanted. They don’t want to compete. They just want to skate for fun. They still wanted to take private lessons, but they didn’t want to practice. With just a half-an-hour session each week, they won’t get anywhere if they don’t practice. After six weeks of private lessons, they couldn’t move beyond basic crossovers.

Over the weekend, I asked the kids to go to the rink to practice and all of them said no. Because they had a cousin sleeping over, they rather spent time playing video games than skating. I could have made them go to the rink, but it would be pointless if their hearts weren’t into it. I feel bad if I force them to go and I feel even worse if I go alone. I could spend three or four hours a day on ice practicing because I love ice skating. I offered them the same opportunity, but they didn’t want to take it. If they could just spend three or hours a week practicing, they could have a chance to go further. Unfortunately, they resisted every single time I asked them to go. These practicing sessions aren’t free either. I am not going to waste our money if they don’t put their efforts into it.

With private lessons and ice time fees, I paid almost $100 an hour. That’s not cheap. I can’t afford that type of money to skate for fun. If they just want to have fun, they can take group lessons. Group lessons are much more affordable and they also come with practice sessions. Maybe we can go back to taking group lessons again just for fun like the good old times before I went over my head thinking they could go further. What I wanted isn’t what my kids wanted. I wish I was given the opportunity when I was a kid like they have now, but I probably would have taken it for granted like they do now. Then again, ice skating is more enjoyable if they don’t have to worry about competing or take it too seriously.