Monday, December 6, 2010

My seventh belt test (blue belt)

My eight-year old daughter and I have been studying taekwondo at World Champion Taekwondo in Scappoose, Oregon for 21 months now. Monday night (12/06/2010), we had our seventh belt test. We leveled up from blue stripes (on green belts) to blue belts. We are looking forward to taking our black belt test in April 2012.

The morning of the test, I woke up really very sore. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to test. I've been battling back pain for about eight weeks, and it was really flared up this Monday morning. Thankfully, I had an appointment scheduled with my physical therapist, and she was able to straighten me out a bit. I was still sore, but a few hours seated in front of my computer at work, a little aspirin and a little ibuprofen had me moving smoothly by late afternoon.

Our test was scheduled for 7:00 pm, but the two previous tests had each gone a bit long, so we got off to a late start. Master Byong-Cheol Kim and Master Je-Kyoung Kim were both in attendance to score our tests. We started with some calisthenics to warm us. He asked us to do ten jumping jacks, but my physical therapist told me not to do any jumping, so I just sort of hopped a little. After 20 pushups and some stretching, Master Jason asked us to sit on the floor with our eyes closed. I don't think he's ever asked us to do that before. One of his substitute teachers (Joon) had us do that in class once, but this was a first for a belt test. While we were sitting quietly, he told us that our test would be short but intense. He encouraged us to do our best and above all, to yell loudly (at the appropriate times).My guess is that even though we were starting late, everyone wanted to get home on time, but he wanted to assure us that our test would be worth taking and we would really be earning our belts.

We started with blocks and punches. I think we did eight of each (four to the left and four to the right), but it was intense. Master Jason kept a quick pace, and we moved from one block to the next in rapid succession. We performed: low block, middle block, high block, and palm block down, palm block side, palm strike, elbow strike, c-strike, chop, reverse chop, single punch, double punch, three punches, four punches, five punches, ten punches and 50 punches. At the end we were getting a little horse, but I think some of us got louder as we noticed others were getting quieter. Good team work.

Then we did stances with our hands behind our backs. We took four steps forward and then four steps backward for each stance: walking stance, front stance, side stance (aka horse stance) and back stance.

Then we did kicks: front kick, axe kick, round house kick, face-high round house kick, circle kick, side kick and back kick. I had a little trouble with back kick. I couldn't quite work out how to get from the finish of the kick back into sparring stance for the next kick, but I was getting pretty tired by then. It was time to kick targets. We kicked the hand-held paddles. Eric held for my group. We did combinations: (1) roundhouse kick + round house kick + face-high round house kick, (2) front-leg roundhouse kick + jumping double roundhouse kick, and (3) ten roundhouse kicks. I probably shouldn't have done the jumping double roundhouse kicks, but I didn't want to be the only one, so I did them, and I was fine.

Next we did self-defense and one-step sparring. The green belts went first. Ms. J.T. took Master Jason down really hard, twice! It was awesome! My group (the blue stripes) went next. I got my self-defense a little mixed up. I yelled before I punched him, but he just smiled at me. Finally, Jared, our only red belt performed his self-defense and one-step sparring with Dominic, our youngest black belt. They did great (as always), but then Master Jason had them do 30 seconds of non-contact sparring. That was new. We don't usually do sparring in our belt tests. Then, Jared had to fight Dominic AND Robert. Then, he had to fight Dominic, Robert and Eric, so he was exhausted when it was time to do his form.

Jared did his form first. He did great. He was breathing heavily the whole time, but he did great. Then we (the blue stripes) did our form. I was so nervous. I hadn't practiced that day, so during the 15 seconds that I'm standing there waiting for him to tell us to begin, I was frantically trying to remember the first step, but I didn't forget anything. I was slow (as usual), but I didn't forget anything. Master Jason called out the stances as we went, which was really nice of him because he knew those had been giving us trouble. Finally, the green belts did their form. There are only five of them: four adults and a preteen. They always do their form so sharp. It's neat to watch.

After forms, we lined up with our boards. We read our philosophies and our bad habits. The green belts broke first with hammer fist. Then we broke with chop. I wish we had practiced more. I knew that I was supposed to hit the board with the edge of my palm and not my fingers, but I failed to execute that move properly and I crushed the tip of my smallest finger. It only turned a little purple - not too bad.

My daughter was the only one to earn ten black stripes this time and receive a trophy and a gold star, and she just barely squeaked by, earning two stripes a week for the past three weeks. There were fewer weeks this quarter than most, and my back pain discouraged me from helping her during most of the quarter.

After the test, Master Byong-Cheol Kim approached me to compliment me on how much my kicks have improved. I felt about eight feet tall . We took a group picture, but we didn't have our new belts. That makes for a rather anti-climatic ending, but they should arrive next week.

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