Yeah, yeah. Passed my test with flying colors, even with the injured ankle. It's killing me this morning, and I was lucky in that Master Nunan gave me a pass on the sparring portion of the test based on previous performance. But I got through, no serious errors, and only a few minor mistakes to deal with (got confused on my offensive turn from horsestance punch, had to restart two forms when I lost focus and made mistakes).
But that's not why I'm feeling so proud. I mean, sure, I feel good. But that's not why I keep getting all choked up when I think about the test last night.
Let me tell you about my daughter.
Miranda is 7. Well, 7 and a HALF that is. Smart as a whip, pretty and friendly, constantly bursting with energy. Also, as I've mentioned in this blog previously, quite decidedly ADHD. Her mom and I were honestly kind of worried about this, her first Tang Soo Do advancement test, because of the level of focus and discipline that would be demanded of her. On the best of days she can have trouble sticking with one activity for more than half an hour or so, so we knew this was going to be something of a unique challenge, a level of pressure she'd not yet encountered in school or elsewhere.
I was so scared that she'd buckle, that this would be too much for her and that it would result in a negative experience, undermining her commitment to continue training. My 8th gup test lasted almost a solid hour (not including the culture and terminology portion, which is less worrying due to its more interactive nature) and I just had no idea whether she'd be able to manage to stay on task that long.
If only it had been JUST an hour last night! We were taking the makeup exam, so the testing style was markedly different. Usually, the testing periods are divided by belt color. In other words, there's a 90 minute period devoted to just white belt tests, then there's a 90 -120 minute period devoted to just orange belt tests, etc. But for the makeup exam the test is done in the more "traditional" style, with all of the various gup levels testing together. Not simultaneously, mind you, but everyone is in the same test. The folks who aren't currently being judged have to sit, cross-legged (ahn jo) and at attention whenever they are not on the mat, waiting for the current students to complete their portion of the exam.
So, going in we knew this was going to be a longer test. But initially, I thought that the "breaks" in between portions of the test would help her to stay focused, give her a chance to relax before she had to perform again. But I never stopped to think of how demanding the act of sitting still can be, especially for a 7 year old kid, and in particular for a 7 year old with ADHD. There's nothing relaxing about sitting still, legs crossed, on a hard floor, and waiting. Waiting. Waiting.
And wait we did. The orange belts (just two of us) went first, performing our foot and hand techniques. Next it was Miranda's turn, and she did fantastic. And then it was time for the green belts to test. Three of them, with two of them testing for red belt. When you test for red belt, you pretty much have to perform every single technique you have learned since you began your training 18-24 months previous. So, first they had to go through tons of hand and foot techniques.
And then they had to do their forms, and things rapidly went to hell. One of the folks testing for red belt, a kid who is about to move away, was simply not prepared for this test. He hasn't been attending class regularly, and he clearly hadn't spent enough time really pinning things down. And rather than a) crushing this kid's pride by bouncing him off the mat for his lack of preparation and b) keeping everyone else who was testing from advancing last night, Master Nunan allowed him to keep retrying things, with prompting and guidance from the shim sa members, over and over and over again. He had to perform nearly every one of his forms 2, 3, 4 times, each time getting farther in before making more mistakes, every mistake directly attributable to lack of preparation, his frustration and embarrassment making things worse as the evening wore on.
And all the while, we sat. And sat. Legs hurting, asses going numb, knees quivering. After half an hour, Miranda started shooting me looks from where she was seated, about ten feet away from me. After 45 minutes she started flopping onto her back. And after almost an hour of sitting and waiting, and after a total on nearly 2 hours of testing, she started to lose it. Lower lip quivering, tears in her eyes. At that point I finally just said screw it and waved her over so we could at least talk quietly, so I could try to help her buck up her resolve.
Finally, 15 minutes later, the green belts finished their forms (or, I should say, the dans finally decided that the kid had gotten close enough to performing the forms that he should have known cold when he walked in the door to let him move on) and it was Miranda's turn to do her forms. And that's when I nearly lost it. It was like every bit of stress and frustration she felt at having to sit and wait just .... fell away. She bounded onto the mat, energy restored, and blew through her forms like they were nothing. I just about started crying, then and there, watching her come back like that.
Next, after we orange belts did our forms (with a couple of more mistakes on my part -- sitting for that long really blew my concentration. I'm sure being so emotionally stirred up after watching Miranda's performance had something to do with it, too, but this is something I'll need to be aware of as I move on with my training....), it was onto wrist grabs and one steps (and more waiting for the rest of us as the kid had to redo nearly everything multiple times), then sparring (for everyone but me -- due to injury -- and Miranda -- due to rank), then culture and terminology (Miranda got nearly every question she was asked correct), then advancement, and then we were finally done.
Three and a half hours. And she still managed to do it. This kid is amazing, and here it is the following morning and my eyes just keep welling up when I think of her, kneeling before Master Nunan as she received her orange belt, her smile bright and her excitement bubbling over.
Yesterday was a good day.
Mood: Tired, sore, fit to burst with pride
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