Test day is upon us and tomorrow it's put up or shut up, kind of. I'm trying to be philisophical about the whole thing. I've prepared and practiced and even lost weight in the lead up to this. There's not much more I could have done really. If I pass I pass, if I fail so be it. My wife will be watching me at taekwondo for the first time. I don't want to embarrass her so I really want to do well.
To be honest I've not been so nervous in the build up, mainly due to hapkido test experience but I know this will change. Nerves are good, they show you care about something. As long as nerves don't turn into panic I'll be happy. There's nothing wrong with a little bit of adrenalin anyway.
Tomorrow is going to seem like a very long day though. Up before 8am to eat breakfast and watch videos of the poomsaes. Then stretching at home before leaving for my dojang at 10am. There should be an hour or so's practice before eating some kind of lunch and then heading off around about 12-ish to the stadium, yes stadium. The test will be where Daegu Orions basketball team plays, capacity of over 5,000 people. Of course there won't be that many there. The crowd dissipates after the kids have finished and they won't be watching me but I won't deny it's a little intimidating thinking about it.
The first set of tests are for the kids, these may take two hours or so and then onto the adults. I think my actual start time will be around 3pm. Luckily I won't be taking the test alone, I will be taking it with my friend and co-worker, Diana, and the taekwondo masters wife. It will be good to be around the people who I've trained and shared experiences with.
So what happens in the tests? Before any student takes the test, there are the usual rituals, bowing, showing respect to judges and officials etc, etc, and maybe even some kind of display. Then the interesting thing happens, a judge draws two numbers. You see, up till black belt there are eight poomsaes (or patterns) to learn. When you are testing for the black belt you must do the last pattern you learned and then two others are drawn at random. Naturally the lower the number the easier the poomsae going up to eight, judged to be the most difficult up to that level.
Two months ago I watched people take the tests and on that day the numbers drawn were eight, seven and six. In theory the hardest three possible. I am comfortable with number eight as I am with number six but seven and five represent challenges and show up my weakness'. As long as my memory serves me well I will be OK. Technique, well it's not so great but there's nothing I can do about it now. Luck of the draw, or not, we shall see.
How will everything be judged? Will officials show leniency as long as there is effort? How many mistakes are allowed? Are you expected to be perfect doing the easiest poomsaes but given more slack for the difficult ones? Do the foreigners have to work extra hard to impress? Well there's not too much point in worrying about things I don't know the answer to or can't change.
So after the three poomsaes are over you move onto the final part, the fighting. Or sparring, or whatever it's called. I will be up against someone who I have never met before who will be trying to outdo me. No physical contact is allowed but you must be aggressive and show as many kicks as you can. It's not dangerous but is exhausting for me. Will I be up against someone bigger and fitter than me? Regardless, it's not boxing, both people can pass so you can't be eliminated.
And that's it. Sounds simple, and it could be but I bet my heart will be pumping when I start.