#2: Earn My Black Belt in TKDJanuary 13, 2011
Date of Completion: December 2010
Somewhere between last year and this year (well, it’s 2011 as I write this, so, somewhere between 2009 and 2010, I guess), I started spending longer hours at work and fewer hours in extracurriculars. Which is an odd shift for someone like me, who as always spent so much time on the extras, both in high school and in college.
My progress in taekwondo slowed down, as I wasn’t able to attend class as much, and when I could, I was usually exhausted and unmotivated. I took a month off in the fall of 2010 just to get my bearings again.
But I didn’t give up. I had an end goal in mind and no matter how long it took me to crawl to it, I was going to get there.
So, six months after I tested for/received my first degree recommended rank (the red/black belt – I considered this to be “half a black belt” so while it technically counts as being a black belt, in my mind, it didn’t – not until I got to the rank of first degree black belt decided.)
A testing session came ’round in December and I pulled it together and decided to go for it. My board breaks were only successful about half the time… I wasn’t terribly worried about my sparring, or my form (I’d been working on it for over six months, after all), but my confidence was shaky. I hadn’t been the best student lately, but I needed to kick my butt into gear. I didn’t have the best faith that I would pass, but even if I didn’t, it would get that first attempt out of the way, so hopefully the second time would be much less nerve-wracking.
Waiting for testing to start was, in fact, the most nervous I have ever been. I’m always nervous before a belt testing, but doubly so, this time. It didn’t help that I’d invited my dad to come watch (him being a black belt, back in his day), who brought down his girlfriend and my uncle. I had spectators.
My legs felt like jello all during warmups and even past when I got through my form – which is usually what I am most nervous about, but fortunately the portion you do first. (A form is basically a set sequence of various moves, almost akin to a choreographed routine, of sorts.) When testing for your black belt, you get one chance to do your form, unlike when you are testing as a colored belt, when you get three. So if you mess up, you’re pretty much SOL.
Form went well, from what I can remember in my heightened adrenaline state. Sparring was okay. Boards… boards were what I was most nervous about (besides remembering I had to do a secondary form and having to re-teach it to myself in the five minutes before we started – oops.) I actually broke them both on my first attempt… except I’d made the mistake of adjusting my first board after I was bowed in, which negated the break. Flustered, I couldn’t break it a second time, and I was so beyond pissed at myself. (I didn’t learn until after testing was over why I had to repeat my break – I wasn’t aware that I couldn’t touch the board after the initial setup… I’ll know for next time!). So I was confused and flustered and mad at myself for not being able to do it again.
Fortunately, I had enough points from the other sections that I was still able to pass… so right before Christmas I found out that I was now officially a black belt! I didn’t get the belt itself until January, hence the belatedness of this post, and learning to tie that thing was a challenge in and of itself. One of the ladies in my class was really good at explaining it, so I think I’ve got the hang of it now…
So, from here, I won’t be testing as regularly, the next “step” would be to test for a second degree, but I’m content to hang where I am right now and get caught up to where I feel my skill level should be, and then my new goal is just to keep up.
But, this is obviously one of my bigger goals (clocking in at #2!) so I’m incredibly excited to have been able to achieve it and cross it off the list.