On July 26, 2015, I made a blog entry about re-starting with Taekwon-Do (on May 30th, to be precise) after several year’s break.
I was filled with excitement, trepidation, and a resolve to regain a little fitness, more flexibility, and lose a bit of weight along the way.
Well, on March 12 this year, the hard work of the preceding 10 months came to fruition – I passed my grading, and was promoted to 2nd Degree (Black Belt).
Over the past year, I have re-connected with many of my old students and club-mates, gained in fitness, have become a bit more flexible, and lost a bit of weight.
More importantly, I set a goal of gaining my 2nd Degree – although in some ways I did not achieve this how I wanted.
After a few month’s training, I decided that I needed to set the goal of obtaining said 2nd Degree, and set the goal of sitting for promotion at the June grading this year. I was going along quite nicely until November last year, when I was attending a weekend training camp. My Instructor, (Sabum David Butchers, IV Degree), told our local senior member (Sabum Neill Livingstone, VI Degree), that I was grading in March 2016!
So, the mark had been made. I then enlisted another of my club mates the he too should grade with me, and plans were made.
To cut a long story short, training was ramped up, intensity and frequency, and my techniques learned, patterns learned and polished (as much as possible), self-defence and step sparring routines planned, refined, and practised – all culminating on grading day, 12 March, 2016.
If you are unfamiliar with this art, as with many martial arts, you start off as a white belt, progress through coloured belts, and achieve a black belt. It is at this stage that you really start learning!
Each step is a challenge, and in reality, your first grading is as difficult as your most recent – your knowledge and technical ability increase along the way. However, as you progress up the ranks, you need to remember more and more.
One of my greatest challenges was coming back into the art at a high level – I certainly noticed my lack of speed, flexibilty, (fitness) and having forgotten so many of the techniques of the lower grades. It was a hard task, and my 55 year old body often felt the effects of trying to keep up with what was required.
But I persisted! And I prevailed! (As did my club mate/training partner/friend)
And, I have to admit a lot of satisfaction! This grading was probably my most satisfying. Black Belt gradings are intense – they are a real test, of your mental attitude as well as your physical abilities. You are pushed to the limits of both.
I remember my first Black Belt grading in 2003. I was promoted to 1st Degree by Master Chong Chul Rhee – one of the 12 “Original Masters of Taekwon-Do”, and it was the most intense grading I had undertaken (naturally). Our club then switched styles, aligning with the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF). And I had to relearn everything – a difficult task. I was also instructing a club, and was not able to progress much further myself. After a few years, I had to stop practising Taekwon-Do.
So now, I have gone from being the most senior 1st Degree (having held the rank the longest), to being one of the most junior 2nd Degrees! (But I have no problem with this!)
But, this time, I will not be relegated here for the next 13 years! I have already set the goal to go for my 3rd Degree in March/April 2018 (the earliest I can sit).
One goal achieved – and a new one to replace it set. With thanks to the many people who helped my along the way.
I would love to hear about you achieving one of your goals, what was satisfying about meeting it, and if you then went on to extend yourself.
Live, laugh, Love!