Hey, I just realized I hadn't said anything about my training adventures in a while, so here's a fun and encouraging update. After four months of training with the tournament team, I am having the very pleasant experience of finding that time is starting to slow down a little bit for me when I spar. That means I can see things coming a little bit better, and that I can sometimes defend more effectively. And yes, it also means sometimes I manage to create - and take advantage of - openings.

Oh, I'm not exactly good yet. But thanks to many long hours of drilling and training and many kind, generous and knowledgeable coaches and teammates pointing out my most egregious flaws and giving me helpful tips on how to fix them, I am slowly starting to get better.

For someone who's really not naturally a team-oriented type (yeah, nice understatement there; I'm actually an incorrigible loner), this kind of experience is both enlightening and heart-warming. So thanks, guys (you know who you are), for welcoming me and helping me get better.