Saturday, June 12, 2010

My fifth belt test

My seven-year old daughter and I have been studying taekwondo at World Champion Taekwondo in Scappoose, Oregon for fifteen months now. Friday night (06/11/2010), we had our fifth belt test. We leveled up from orange belts to green belts. We have about seven more belt tests before black belt.

The test was at 4:00 pm instead of 6:00 pm. I had to bring my five-year-old son with me. Master Jason was kind enough to provide him with his dry erase board and some marking pens to keep him entertained. My daughter's first grade teacher came to support her. That was very special.

Only Master Byong-Cheol Kim attended to grade our test. Master Je-Kyoung Kim usually attends as well, but he wasn't there. There were eight orange belts in attendance for the test. Jared (brown stripe) and Elsie (blue belt) are two students who usually test with us, but they were not able to test with us tonight. We warmed up with some stretches and calisthenics. Before we began, Master Kim drew attention to our instructor's new rank. Our instructor, Jason Letiski, participated in his fourth dan black belt test last month and now uses the title of master. Most of us had attended this test. Master Kim referred to him as "his favorite student."

We started with blocks and punches. Master Jason called out a lot of interesting combinations again this time. Dominic, a fifteen-year-old black belt candidate, assisted the instructor by demonstrating the combinations. We did our kicks in a slightly new way. We kicked twice towards the flag and then we turned and kicked twice towards the lobby. We didn't have anything new this test to demonstrate. We demonstrated low block, middle block, high block, single knife, double knife, double down, front kick, round house kick and axe kick. I was a little relieved that he didn't call out back kick. My back kick looks weak when I don't have a target to hit.

One of our students had a very bad day at school today, and he was very distracted and disinterested during the test. Master Jason had to pull him aside and speak with him for a moment, and then he was fine and able to finish the test.

The name of our form was tae guk yi jang. It's the second form in the tae guk series. It wasn't really any more complicated than our last form, but it did seem to take us longer to learn. Master Jason had us do it over about six times before he was satisfied.

By the time we were ready to demonstrate our self defense and one step sparring routines, the orange stripes had begun to arrive for their test which would begin at 5:00 pm. Master Jason was able to call on them to enter the mat and work as our partners. Our one step sparring routine included a high block, roundhouse kick, side-kick, hook kick and elbow strike. It was pretty cool, but I forgot the side-kick the first time, so he had me do it again. Our self defense routine started us in a full nelson. We stomped on our attacker's foot, broke his grip, hit him in the teeth with our head, grabbed his foot and kicked him in the face when he fell down. Self defense routines are brutal.

Just before we demonstrated our breaking technique, we read off a bad habit that we wanted to break. My daughter admitted that she bites her nails, and I admitted that I loose my temper. Another student promised to stop interrupting which turned out to be pretty funny a few minutes later when he interrupted Master Jason.

We used a jumping front kick to break the board which is a little tricky because we use the top of our foot in class when we kick targets, but when we break we need to use the ball of our foot. Almost everyone broke their board on their second attempt which was kind of weird. One student broke her board in two places which was very cool because the middle of the board when flying over Master Jason's head.

The final portion of the ceremony was the awarding of trophies and belts. Young students at our school are required to earn at least seven black stripes before they are allowed to take their test. A black stripe is earned by demonstrating a good attitude at home for one week. The stripes are stickers which wrap around the tip of the belt. If a student goes above and beyond the seven stripe requirement and earns ten stripes, then they receive a small trophy and a gold star at the belt test. The gold star is a patch which is worn on the collar of the uniform. At the end of a year, if a student has earned four gold stars, then they receive a large trophy. My daughter was the only student with ten stripes and three gold stars. She felt VERY special as she collected her large trophy. All the other children at the test had also earned their ten stripes, so they also received their stars and trophies.

Finally, we removed our orange belts, and the masters tied on our new green belts. The new belts always look so bright and colorful. After our test, the orange stripes, yellow belts and yellow stripes all tested together. They looked like a big group. Maybe the new orange belts will test with us next time. The next day, we all gathered together for a bar-be-que to celebrate. It was a beautiful day - finally. We've had a lot of rain this spring, but we had lots of sunshine this day.

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