So finally, nearly three months after our test, my fellow Cho Dan candidates and I will be getting promoted this coming Saturday. It's been a hell of a long wait, I'll tell you. This first chapter (or volume, perhaps!) in my training in Tang Soo Do -- 3+ years of training to prepare for the Cho Dan test, a grueling testing experience, lots of post-test drama and frustration, and months of waiting to officially receive our midnight blue belts -- will finally come to a close in just a few days.
Typically, promotions are done within a few weeks of the test, sometimes as much as a month or so, to allow for students to retest needed material, and for the official dan buns (dan numbers) and certificates to be issued by the organization for each of the new Cho Dans. But our wait was extra long this time around. In fact, judging by feedback I've received from many other martial artists, this is about the longest that ANYONE has waited for official promotion following a test.
The reasons for waiting were good: the senior student from our dojang who tested with us spends the summer with her extended family in Jordan each year, and she has only returned to the USA this week. She'd tested for Cho Dan two years ago and had to miss the official promotion ceremony for this reason. This time around she had tested for Ee Dan (second degree dan) and Sa Bom Nim felt it was simply unfair for the senior student on this test to miss yet another official ceremony due to family obligations. So, as there were no strong reasons or objections against waiting, we delayed the promotions until now.
It was definitely the right and proper thing to do in my opinion. Our dojang is a family of sorts, and just like any family we need to sometimes put our individual desires aside for our brothers and sisters in the art. She's our senior, she's dedicated years to training and deserves recognition and celebration before our entire dojang. She's a wonderful young lady with a bright future ahead of her, and a couple of months of anticipation is a small price to pay to ensure she gets her moment in the spotlight.
But I'd be lying if I didn't say it's been frustrating at times, waiting to finally don my new blue trimmed dobakh and midnight blue belt. The long wait has been occasionally irritating, and focusing for so long on creating and polishing up a new hyung for demonstration has been a distraction that has made absorbing some of the new Cho Dan level techniques difficult. Jin Do is looking good, and I'm making good progress on our new knife form, but Chi Sung Sa Rho is barely 25% in my head so far, and Naihanchi Ee Dan is an utter mystery. Sleeve grabs and elbow techniques are coming along in fits and starts, too. It's all very three-steps-forward-two-steps back, really.
But those distractions will be gone once we get done on Saturday evening, and then I can just get back to focusing on training, training, training. It's not as though Master Nunan has made us sit and stagnate while time ticked by -- it's been more akin to drinking from the fire hose at times. But there's something about not having the belt and uniform yet that I feel limiting me from moving forward in some ways. Sort of a psychological barrier to really embracing this next chapter in my Tang Soo Do training.
For example, one of the benefits/responsibilities of being a senior student is to take on teaching responsibilities as often as possible, and in keeping with this I want to volunteer to begin teaching some classes a couple of times a week. With my schedule teaching during our "usual" hours is difficult, but I have an idea for early morning forms classes that would meet two times during the week and focus more on the meditative qualities of forms. Basically we'd see who showed up, select a form that everyone in the group knows, and just focus on doing that form together as a group for about an hour. For me there would be some opportunity at teaching, but I like to think of it more as a learning opportunity for all of us, a chance to just focus on a specific hyung and explore it in more depth, with more time for reflection and discussion, than is typically in "normal" classes.
However, although I know that I am qualified to teach this sort of class I find I am hesitant to even bring it up as a suggestion until I have my Cho Dan uniform and belt. It's not that I feel I'll be shut down and told no way -- anything but, in fact. But for me, for some reason, I don't feel comfortable teaching officially (as opposed to guiding or demonstrating or assisting or what have you) without the implied "senior status" that the Cho Dan uniform bestows.
Silly? Sure. One of the chief instructors at our dojang when I first began training was a 1st gup, and didn't receive his Cho Dan rank until almost 6 months after I started training. He was tremendously gifted, and in no way was his ability to demonstrate curriculum even called into question by the lower level gups simply due to his red belt. But for me to teach, I feel I need that blue trim. Why? Insecurity, perhaps. Lack of confidence. Both, probably.
And who knows, maybe once that trim is on I'll still feel that way. But I'll move forward regardless. So Saturday I'll perform my vignette. I'll dmeonstrate some throw and self defense techniques. I'll demonstrate a bunch of jump kicks. I'll do Chil Sung Sahm Rho with my fellow new cho dans. I'll get my belt, watch my daughter and my mother and my friends receive their as well. I have no doubt I will cry more than a few tears of pride and happiness. We'll eat some cake, drink some sake, and celebrate.
And then I'll get back to work. Only got two years until I am eligible to test for Ee Dan, and there's a lot to learn before then.
Now Playing: Annie Lennox, "Songs of Mass Destruction"