So yeah, yesterday was quite a day. All of the members of my family that train in Tang Soo Do tested for rank. My mom, both my kids, my wife and I -- three generations, three separate tests. A very long day, but a wonderful day nonetheless.
First, at 9:30 yesterday morning, Christine and Trevor tested for 8th gup/orange belt. Christine was enormously prepared for this test -- she could have tested three months ago, but she chose to pass on testing until Trevor was ready to advance so that he wouldn't get demotivated. Because of this, though, the last couple of months have been a bit frustrating for her, training-wise, as she is eager to pick up new stuff but couldn't really do much in the way of new curriculum until she moved up. But she hung in there and kept plugging away at her basic stuff, and her preparation really showed on the mat. Her form and technique were solid, and her attitude was assured and confident throughout.
Trevor did very, very well also. At the beginning of the test, during line drills, he seemed distracted and had trouble staying focused -- he kept watching the other testers to see what they did before he would perform a technique. But as the test got rolling his confidence seemed to take hold, he began to trust himself more, and by the end of the test he was rock solid. He made some errors in one of his forms and had to redo it, by himself, in front of the testing board, and he didn't flinch for a second. No stage fright, no frustration or embarrassment.
That was the first time I nearly cried yesterday. It was far from the last. And when he broke his board I had to wipe a few tears away before I could take more pictures.
Miranda and my mom tested in the next session, both of them testing to advance to 6th gup/green belt. Again, a solid test all around. No serious problems to speak of, and Miranda's energy and focus were top notch throughout. Mom managed to not injure herself this time around (she messed up her toes good during the last test), and despite all her jitters and habit of running herself down she showed great technique and discipline throughout the test.
Miranda wasn't able to break her board using a foot technique, but she was in good company -- most of the kids were unable to do it yesterday, and several of the adults had trouble as well. I definitely get the feeling that board breaking problems are contagious. In Miranda's case, she's just scared of the board for some reason. She has a hell of a kick, and when she's working with a practice pad or dummy she can just about kick it across the room. But put her in front of a piece of wood and she begins pulling her kicks at contact, convinced that the wood is going to hurt her foot. She got very upset at not being able to break, but pulled herself back together, sparred, and completed testing without any other problems at all.
Then, finally, at nearly 3:00, my test got rolling. Once again, I was the only adult on the mat -- me, and a dozen pre-teens. There were 5 kids going for their red belts, 5 going for 4th gup (second stripe on their green belt), and three of us going for 5th gup. I had my testing-buddy, Kayleigh, with me though, which was nice. We've tested together every time except once (when I had to do a makeup due to scheduling problems), and she's just a terrific kid. Sweet natured and a bit unsure of herself, I really enjoy testing with her as it gives me someone to focus on and encourage -- she's good, and just needs some encouragement out of the mat so that she remembers it. The other 6th gup who was testing with me was also named Kayleigh: She's a riot, and one hell of a little martial artist in the making. Frankly, I think the three of us showed up the 5th gups a bit with our energy and preparation.
I was so nervous leading up to my test -- more nervous than I've been since I tested for 8th gup way back in the beginning of the year. I'm not sure why, exactly -- I felt a bit shaky on my line drills, but overall I know I was plenty prepared. For some reason this particular test was psyching me out a bit, though. I think it was all the jump kicks. I only started really working on them a couple of weeks back, and I just didn't feel solid on them yet. Regardless, all the nervousness was just wasted energy -- the test went really well, and I only made a couple of minor errors that I'm aware of. In fact I think it was one of my better test performances.
Oddly I'm having trouble remembering details of the test, today. I kind of got tunnel vision once the test began, just listening for the commands and busting out the corresponding techniques, not really stopping to think about much of anything until after we finished our forms and had to sit off the mat for a little while. And by then all the stuff I was stressing over (line drills, forms) was complete and I just had wrist grabs, one steps, sparring, and terminology to deal with, none of which were troubling me much at all. I had to do an improvised one-step, which came out really good -- I think that, judging by a comment of two I heard from the testing board, it actually looked a bit like one of the more advanced one steps I'll be learning soon, so that's pretty cool. It was a bit sloppy, but was certainly effective.
The most significant thing I took away from this test is that I need to be more mindful of controlling my power when I'm nervous. At one point in the test I had to break out of a bear hug and get my opponent to the floor. Luckily, they paired me with Mr. Kannan for that one, because in my nervousness I really put too much power into the break (solid elbow jab to his hip/abdomen) and the subsequent throw (rolled him up and over my shoulder, onto his back on the mat with resounding and solid THUMP). If I'd done that with a less experienced student I could really have hurt them. As it was I apologized to Aravind repeatedly, because in spite of the fact that he is solid and capable of taking those sorts of hits without my really hurting him, it was still a failure of control on my part and it could have resulted in an injury.
Lesson learned. Have to apply it better next time.
Mood: A bit drained
Now Playing: The Shins, "Wincing the Night Away"