Monday, August 24, 2009

42 + 1769

Wow. Turned 42 today. I'm utterly nonplussed by this event, as it really pales in comparison with getting promoted this past weekend. So, no big ruminations on age or experience this year -- I'm comfortably living in "oh it's just a number"-land.


Big day Saturday. As I mentioned, we finally had our Dan Promotion Ceremony, and after three years and eight months of training, testing, and waiting, I am officially a Cho Dan in the Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan. My Dan Bun is 1769.
The ceremony was wonderful. Not without flaws -- overall, precision seemed to be on a vacation this weekend. Many folks flubbed here and there during their vignettes (I made my share of mistakes, although all in all I think it wasn't too shabby -- here's a link to the video), group performance of hyungs were less than stellar. I think nerves and excitement were going hand in hand through the afternoon and evening. They certainly were for me.

It was odd: I almost felt more nervous going into the promotion ceremony than I had when I took the test months ago. Since I wasn't able to attend Nationals this year I haven't performed in front of an audience solo for a while, so the butterflies were making themselves known. We dropped straight into the vignettes at the beginning of the program, and I was actually shaking a bit when I got up.

I took my place on the mat, folks applauded, and when the applause died down I began my form while Christine (my wife, who MC'd the event for Sa Bom Nim) read a brief bio I'd written (everyone had to write one). I started in a modified choon beh (similar to the Naihanchi Cho Dan Choon Beh), stepped backward into a soft x block in a backstance, and promptly turned to the right when I needed to turn to the left. Didn't realize I was going in the wrong direction for about 5 or 6 movements, whereupon I started to freak for a second (if you watch the video you'll see me sort of go wobbly when I turn toward my left in the crane stance -- that was me going "Ohhh ... fudge ..." or words to that effect).

I managed to regain my composure and continued, then realized I was going to need to improvise a couple of movements once I got back to the center in order to get my footing correct. Again, if you watch the video you'll see me trying to figure it out on the fly -- I try one thing, it doesn't really get me where I want to go, then try another, I realize "Oh, OK, that'll work!" and then I proceed. It made me chuckle, watching it -- my body language is so obvious sometimes.

Once I got back on track I went too fast (nerves again), causing me to finish the form about 20 seconds earlier than I usually did when practicing, but in a way it was nice because I was able to just stand like a statue while my thanks to Sa Bom Nim and to my family were read aloud. Apparently I nearly made Sa Bom Nim and quite a few audience members cry. That wasn't my intention, but it makes me happy all the same. I speak from my heart, and it makes me feel good to hear that the things that move me, that have meant so much to me, move others as well.

So, lots of demos later, we finally received our belts. Again, much applause all around. I nearly lost my composure altogether as I watched my daughter bound across the mat to receive her belt from Sa Bom Nim. And of course, when I ran across the mat and then took a knee to receive my own belt, my eyes were welling up too. Finally, Mom received her belt as well, marking the first time Sa Bom Nim is aware of that three generations of a single family were promoted to Cho Dan in a single day. At that point, a few tears burst finally managed to escape. This was a truly magnificent moment.

It was a great day. As has been my habit with this blog, when I write something meaningful for a test or ceremony I like to preserve it. So now, here's the bio/dedication that was read during my vignette.
Gregg Primm is a dad and husband, toiling away as a marketing manager of a technology startup in Austin, TX. In December 2005, he started training in Tang Soo Do as a way to spend more time with his kids. The art has since had a huge impact his life. The Tang Soo Do Academy has brought him many new friends, enhanced his family life, given him a community with which to celebrate when things are good, and a refuge during times of trouble. For these things, he is extremely grateful.

Gregg would like to thank his fellow students for their camaraderie and his seniors for their support. In particular, Gregg would like to thank Kyo Sa Nims Vasquez and Rockhold for their guidance and for providing the wonderful Saturday family classes we’ve enjoyed so much. Thanks also to Mr. David Robinson, who helped Gregg to realize that not being 20-something is no excuse to stop challenging yourself. A special thanks goes to Mr. Ed Perry, whose dedication, generosity of spirit and open-heartedness are a constant inspiration.

Gregg is especially grateful to Sa Bom Nim Nunan for founding this incredible dojang and for bringing so much good into our lives. Thank you for your patience, your encouragement, and your steadfast determination to place the best interests of your students first, even at significant personal cost. Above all, thank you for your friendship.

Finally, Gregg would like to thank his family. His children, Miranda and Trevor, for putting up with Dad when he dragged them out to family class when they didn’t feel like going, and for not rolling their eyes too much when he went on and on about training. His Mom, Isabelle, for taking this journey with him and being part of three generations of his family testing together in June and being promoted to Cho Dan today. And above all, his wife Christine, whose love, strength, and support have formed the bedrock of Gregg’s life for over 27 years. Thank you and TANG SOO.


So, in typical fashion, no moment in my Tang Soo Do training seems to pass without a corresponding punchline. After testing in June and waiting three months to receive my midnight blue belt (which is embroidered with my the name of our organization, my dan bun, and my name) I finally am awarded the belt on Saturday ... and it has a typo on it! Nothing terrible -- they just forgot the second (well, third I guess...) "g" on my first name. But it has to be fixed, so a few hours after I finally received my belt, I had to give it back to Sa Bom Nim so that he can mail it out and get the error corrected. So I'm without a belt for the next week or two, and will need to train in a t-shirt until I get it back.

I really should get one made that reads "I was promoted to Cho Dan in Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan and all I got was this lousy t-shirt!"

Mood: Mellow
Now Playing: Raul Malo, "Lucky One"

1 comment:

Walt said...

Happy belated birthday. I'm sorry I missed it, but the last week and a half has all been a great big blur. And I'm so happy to finally see you again!