Saturday, September 22, 2007

3rd Gup Test Today, Latest Paper

Been laying pretty low lately -- work is keeping me very, very busy, but in a good way. After 14 years of technical writing I'm finally in a new role (Marketing and Communications Manager), and with it come new challenges, duties, and responsibilities to be met. As a result my days are pretty packed, and by the time I get home I'm either packing my bag and heading to the dojang or taking care of business at home, helping get the kids set up for school in the morning while Christine prepares to head out for class. As a result, not a whole lot of time for reflection and writing.

Adding to the pile most significantly, though, has been the training leading up to my 3rd gup (red belt) test, which will be taking place at 2:00 this afternoon. This will be, without question, the most demanding test thus far, as it isn't an incremental test like all of the previous ones. Whereas on previous tests we've only had to demonstrate the new techniques we learned over the past few months, this time out I have to show everything I've learned in the past 21 or so months. This translates to:
  • Approximately 2 dozen hand technique and hand technique combinations (soo gi)
  • Approximately 1 dozen foot technique and foot technique combinations (jok gi)
  • 10 forms (hyungs) -- 3 gichos, 5 pyang ahns, 2 chil sungs
  • 10 basic one step sparring techniques (il soo sik dae ryun)
  • 14 intermediate one step sparring techniques (il soo sik dae ryun)
  • 15 intermediate self-defense techniques (ho sin sul)

PLUS I'll have to spar a couple of rounds, do rapid horse stance punching for 30 seconds as a test of endurance, break boards with hand and foot techniques (how many boards will really depend on the supply of wood at the dojang -- due to my size and strength I typically have to do 3 boards at once for all of my techniques these days, but if we're running low Master Nunan will probably just ask for the minimum to ensure all of the other students have enough wood), and finish up with a fairly lengthy session of Q&A on culture, philosophy, and terminology.

So yeah, this is the big one. Well, the first big one. But I'm ready and think I'll do fine. My main goal is to not have to repeat any of my fomrs, to just blow through them without error one after another. Other than that, I just want to show that I know what I'm doing, and that aside from minor errors and test day jitters that I'm solid and worthy of advancement. I'm confident that will be the case.

And, as usual, test day comes with another essay. I'm not too thrilled with this one -- I think the new job as me spread a bit thin intellectually and as a result I was unable to really muster any inspiration to latch onto the topic. But I think it's adequate. Paper follow. Updates on the test later.


What are the Responsibilities of a Senior Student, and What is the Relevance of the 10 Articles of Faith?

I believe that the chief responsibility of a senior student is to serve as a role model for other students. A senior student should be aware that less advanced students look to those students that have been training longer for cues as to how to act in the dojang, how to approach their training, how to show proper respect to their seniors and instructors, and finally how to act toward students that are their juniors.

The surest way for a senior student to act as a worthy role model is to actively attempt to follow and demonstrate behavior that adheres to the 10 Articles of Faith. The 10 Articles of Faith, derived from the 5 rules of ethics spelled out in the Hwarang O Kae, provide a set of specific rules and ideals that define honorable behavior within the Mi Guk Kwan. Learning to live and behave honorably at all times is a very important part of learning the martial arts, as behaving honorably will help to ensure that a responsible martial artist does not abuse the power and skill that they have developed through studying the arts.

Of course all members of the Mi Guk Kwan, regardless of rank, should try to follow the Articles of Faith. But I think that as senior students it is especially important that we try our best to demonstrate these principals as consistently as possible in order to be sure that we are both improving ourselves as well as being worthy of imitation by the lower ranked students.

The 10 Articles of Faith also function as specific "real world" examples of the 8 Key Concepts in action, and can help us to gain more insight and understanding into how these more or less abstract concepts can be brought into practice in our lives. Each of the 10 Articles of Faith can only be fulfilled by adhering to two or more of the 8 Key Concepts. All of the Articles of Faith require yong gi, which is hardly surprising. Courage is ultimately the cornerstone of any form of ethical behavior, because ethical behavior requires that we have the courage to do what we know is right and just regardless of personal comfort or cost.

But each of the 10 Articles of Faith also touches on one or more of the other Key Concepts as well. Loyalty and sacrifice for one's country requires putting the wellbeing of one's nation ahead of one's self and therefore is a demonstration and kyum son. Obedience and duty to parents, charity to children, respect for the elderly and infirm, maintaining loving relationships with spouses, all require kyum son and chung jik (and, depending on the people involved, Iíd say shin chook can play a big part as well). Discretion in killing is an expression of him cho chung, wan gup, and chung shin tong il. The ability to always finish what we have begun derives from developing chung shin tong il and in neh. And so on.

So, in closing, senior students should attempt to act as worthy role models for the less experienced students. The 10 Articles of Faith provide a fairly simple code of honor by which a student can be sure that they are acting honorably. By following the 10 Articles of Faith, senior students also ensure that they are deepening their understanding of and conducting themselves in accordance with the 8 Key Concepts.


Mood: Some butterflies, but mostly just de-caffeinated and kinda woozy
Now Playing: The sound of my son practicing piano

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