Feeling more relaxed certainly helped me as I did quite well, the best I have done so far. I have definitely passed this test (though they wont tell me officially until I pick up my new belt in two months time). The reason I know I have passed is because I won an award. I won a trophy and a certificate. At every test at my dojang after everything has been completed there are prizes handed out for best kicks etc etc and a prize called 최우수상, which translates to roughly 'best of the best' and that was the award I was given. Shocked and surprised, I've had a big smile on my face since. I also got a lot of praise from my fellow students, many of whom speak only a few random words in English. This meant a lot to me as many a time I have felt that my technique lacks something when compared to some of the kids who I see. To be honest I don't know if I deserved the award, but it feels good to have won!
The thought of winning an award has been a motivation for me for a long while and there have been one or two times where some eleven year old has beaten me, much to my chagrin! I have to admit that for a long while I thought that I wouldn't get an award because a) I'm not good enough or b) I'm not Korean. I am glad to be proved wrong on both counts. I am still very surprised that I was awarded the best 'performer' on the day. It proves that I am improving and there is a sense of vindication and validation for me taking up hapkido and continuing even though I am the only foreigner at my dojang. I wonder if I am the only foreigner to have won 최우수상 or any trophy at my dojang?
Overall I would rate my test 7/10 for my performance but 10/10 for the experience. I feel that I made a few mistakes but some can be put down to adrenalin but looking back at the video I can see things that I messed up but don't do when I'm not training. I now cannot wait to get back to training for my next test at the end of November. Picking up the new belt is going to be a fantastic feeling. I already feel extremely satisfied. Getting a black belt here in Korea is not so difficult especially if you dedicate some time and make some sacrifices but getting a 2nd degree one is not so common for foreigners here as many stay for only one year. One thing I know is that I can get better as long as I train hard. I know I can train harder. I hope I continue to improve and wonder what great experiences there are for me in the future. Suddenly all the aches and pains feel worth it.
In shock, some how I was awarded the 'best of the best' award
Receiving my award, still in shock
A proud picture with my hapkido Master, a 6th degree black belt
With the Master's assistant who oversees much of my training. He is a 4th degree black belt
Above is the video for the test with some edits (I left a few things out). Looking back at the video I remembered how much fun I had during the test and even watching it again made me smile. Despite my technique flaws its important to remind myself why I go to hapkido, because its fun and that's while I'll keep going.