Sunday, 27 June 2010

Taekwondo black belt test: Review

That was a long, long day. Not getting much sleep the night before was inevitable but I woke feeling OK and ready to go. I mistimed my morning and didn't prepare too well before heading to the dojang at 10am. It didn't mean I was behind though as we spent two hours preparing for the days events before heading off to the basketball stadium.

We sat close to the action, as we first witnessed most of the kids warming up and following instructions from the judge who was conducting some kind of ceremony. We just sat and watched. And then they drew the numbers for the poomsaes we would be performing. Of course we would have to start with number eight but the first drawn number was seven, which I was ready for. And then we waited for the final number to be drawn. But it never came, instead (I could not get a satisfactory answer from anyone) they decided not to choose another one, but to tell you what poomsae you do lastly just two seconds before you start to do it.

All I could think was "What?! Are you kidding me?". As I write this I still do not understand why they did that. I couldn't see the benefit whatsoever. But those were the rules and we had to participate the way we were told to. This meant we had to practice every single poomsae just in case it was chosen. Well this wasn't the end of the world. We had already practiced them all week and one the day, it was just a bit disappointing. I watched a few of the kids take their test before going outside to practice again. It was raining outside and their was precious little shelter but again we just had to deal with it.

About two, two and a half hours after arriving we were called to line up. Minutes later we were about to take our test and it dawned on us that I'd be fighting Diana. That was another blow! The two of us practiced the fighting in the morning and it just didn't feel right. I didn't feel comfortable aiming kicks at a woman. Also I don't think it was fair for her to be 'fighting' a man when she must have thought she'd be taking on someone smaller than her.

So our test started and it went well. Poomsae number eight, or Taegeuk Pal-jang, went smoothly for me. Of course I must have made mistakes but I couldn't complain about it. Next, poomsae number seven, or Taegeuk Chil-jang, went well too. I was feeling pretty confident by now. Onto the third, undecided one and the instructor said Taegeuk Sa-jang and my mind went blank.

For a minute I forgot what number Sa is in Korean (four). I didn't see his hand indicate what it was either as we started. So I screwed up a little here, I made a mistake and was a little slow starting but three seconds in I was doing OK, not good but OK. I just hope I am given a little slack with that one. We moved onto the fighting part and even though I was apprehensive that too went well, for both of us.

Before I knew it we had finished. The whole thing took about four minutes in total. As we finished I think we all thought the same, that we had done well and we had really tried our best but we could not say for sure if we'd passed. We now have to wait three weeks before finding out. If I fail it won't have been for lack of effort. I gave it my all and if it's not good enough then I will just have to pass next time round. The whole day was exhausting and seemed to go on forever though it was enjoyable and I am glad that I did it. If successful I will have gone from white belt to black belt in seven months. That's some leap. We'll just have to wait and see. It was nice to have some beers yesterday and say I really deserved them.


Anonymous said...

That really is a huge progression. I've been reading your progress for months. When I was taking Kung Fu back in the US, I really didn't like how fast you progressed. White to Brown could be done in a month or two. Once at brown, you were there for a year. Then it took the number of years of the belt you were trying to reach to advance (2 years for 2nd black, 3 years for 3rd black, etc.)

Congratulations on the test and I hope to see you in the black belt soon!

Talking to myself said...

Thank you for your very kind comments. I hope I passed but I am relaxed about it having already dot two hapkido black belts here.

I have had numerous conversations with my taekwondo partner about going 'too fast'. Getting a higher belt is good but improving is more important. Fair play to my master, he has trained us well and got us to a decent level so quickly. Back home in the UK it could take 3 years to get a black belt just to contrast things with here.

I wish more Westerners took up something like taekwondo. You get to see a side of Korea and Koreans that you don't usually come across. Apart from being good exercise and stress relieving it's also a great way to make friends and contacts and understand more about Korea.

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