Sunday, 25 April 2010

Watching taekwondo black belt tests

Yesterday was a really busy day. With only four hours sleep I just about managed to get up and head to my dojang to meet my taekwondo Master. Some of his students were taking first and second black belt tests and Diana (co-worker and taekwondo comrade) and myself were invited to go and watch those taking part (people from the Bukgu area of Daegu). We drove downtown and none of the kids in showed any sign of nerves. Perhaps too young to think about it or perhaps it's not really a big deal for any of them.

The tests were around the Samsung Lions baseball stadium and the first thing that hit me was how many people were actually having their test at once. I think my master said around four/five hundred people although it is sometimes double that. When I took hapkido tests at my dojang there were sometimes around fifty people watching and I always was very conscious of being very conspicuous but this was on a much larger scale though to be honest nobody will be watching me when I get to take my test.

Watching all the action I was very impressed with most of the participants. First we saw a demostration which was a lot of fun to watch up close. I made a video and hope to post that soon. Then it was the turn of the kids who start off with those taking their 1st 'poom' test all the way up to those taking third or fourth ones. This being a small world and all, I naturally I bumped into one current and one ex-student of mine taking part. I watched them and they did well. When the kids finish it's the turn of the adults who take their 'dan' tests and here is when the arena emptied significantly.

About the tests themselves first the participants do the Taegeuk Pal Jang (eighth and final poomsae before being award a black belt) then two other poomsae's afterwards - these are drawn at random and could be the first two you learn or numbers six and seven which was what yesterdays students had to do, so in all three poomsae's. Finally there is a fighting element where you attack and defend yourself against an opponent supposedly not making contact but you do wear a helmet. This is similar to something I did in hapkido and is the easiest section. When doing these four sections you start off at one end of the arena and end up at the other and you take your test with five or six other people. The whole thing took about three hours though if there are more people then of course it takes longer.

As it took three hours there was plenty of time for consideration and reflection. I still feel inferior to many of those who I saw taking part yesterday. I am not fit enough yet, I need to lose weight, I am not flexible enough, my technique is inadequate right now. Will I really be ready to take part in two months time or will I have to wait an additional two more months? Right now that looks very close and although I would be confident of passing I am not so confident about actually being any good. I don't want to embarrass myself, my Master of his dojang. I cannot help thinking ahead of myself but need to stop and concentrate on what I am doing now. So overall it was good to see what's in store for me but there's a hell of a lot of work to be done between now and then whenever test time is.

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