Thread: I passed my 1st Dan grading
01-23-2007, 07:22 #1
I passed my 1st Dan grading
My apologies for the length.. I got carried away!
Tang Soo! The shout goes up from the 60 or so students lined up at the end of another successful grading. A very small turnout this time round. With so many students having graded November last year it was only about 30 students who stood before the Grand Master, on Saturday 20th January 2007.
I was one of them this time standing on the cold concrete floor of Hinchingbrooke School. Not our usual venue, smaller by half than our usual grading hall in St Ives, and with no heating very cold. The floor was filthy with dust and dirt so no sit-ups, but that didn't stop dirty hands from the pushups we did during the lesson we had before the Grand Master arrived and the grading could begin.
Since I graded to 2nd gup, over 2 years ago, I have been to almost every grading to watch my fellow students perform in front of our peers from the other classes and their instructors, and of course Grand Master Kang Uk Lee. We have a reputation for turning out good students who always stand out at grading. It's always good to watch and compare our lot against the rest of Cambridgeshire, not to be big headed, but it's nice to know that we are doing our bit and doing it right. This time though I didn't have much chance to watch, as I was busy with my own grading test.
Myself and another 1st Gup (who I had graded alongside last time) were to be tested for our 1st Dan, and first thing on the agenda was the written test. Not too bad was my impression, I had been earnestly revising during my lunch breaks at work for over a month, taking the mock language tests that I had been kindly given by one of the girls who got her Dan grade last year.
My weakness was anatomy so for the last two weeks I set myself the task of memorising the dozen or so body parts, two at a time. The Friday night before the grading I set the last word to memory.
That part of the written test was quite easy and as for remembering the 5 principles of Tang Soo Do, well I've known them since yellow tag, I think I even managed to write them in the correct order
The second part worth half the marks was supposed to be a breeze - health and safety in class. Well with all the stuff I need to know for my job plus what I have learnt through helping to teach it seemed too easy. Apparently it was as at the end of the grading I was told the Grand Master didn't like my bullet point style or my generalisation in parts. Well I thought it was clear why warming down helps prevent injury and aches, I didn't expect to have to explain about lactic acid. Itís obvious isn't it? Still it was a pass and that all that counts for me, I guess it all depends if the Grand Master is in a good mood or not
With that out of the way it was time for a quick 5 minute warm up, my ankles had gone to sleep from kneeling on the floor writing for half an hour and I was worried that I would have pins and needles during my forms, that happened when I graded up to 2nd Gup, it wasn't a nice experience. The grading was to be a short one, obviously the Grand Master wasn't
in the mood to be sat around in that cold hall, but I was too busy to worry about that.
The first task was one hundred centre punches, I'd seen so many people get it wrong, 99, 101 and so have to start again, so I focussed on the wall in front and just listened to the count in my head, I was barely aware of the 2nd Dan by my side watching every punch. Phew 100 punches on the dot and the first task is over. Now the fun part begins.
If I do say so myself I know I'm better at my Hyungs than the other red belt grading beside me, even though he's from a different class with a different instructor I've trained with him often enough over the past year to know his standard. So this was my time to shine, just like all the other lower grades from Haverhill and Girton who I have watched at all the gradings, now was my time to remind the rest of Cambridge what Team Suffolk stands for! Was it perfect? No it's never perfect, there is always room for improvement, and for myself nerves can get the better of me sometimes, especially when you feel all those eyes on you watching. But I was aware of every (obvious) mistake that I made. I was focussed and could feel the nuances in my posture: that foot was slightly off in Chil Sung Il Ro, that short punch was too low in Naihanji Cho Dan, that kick was too slow in Bassai; but to me overall it felt that the Hyungs flowed and I felt more confident performing them than at my pre-testing the week before.
So it was with a sense of confidence that faced 1st Dan Senior grade for one-step sparring. Itís to my instructor that I owe the greatest thanks for this for we had worked long and hard some new one step techniques; these were to be the Ďsomething specialí in my grading test. So the first technique I pulled out caught my opponent by surprise, as I took him down to the ground in a reverse choke; to be honest it wasnít as tidy as it could have been as I almost stumbled as he lost his balance. The rest were a mixture of traditional one step technique and variations that I had worked on with my instructor.
The adrenaline was flowing now as bowed to my opponent for now it was time to spar, and I wasnít going to go down without a fight. I think he got the message I was ready for a hard fight when I kicked him in the face (not too hard of course Ė but it still left a mark) followed shortly after by a roundhouse to the side of the neck. We were trading blows and hard blocks, but this was just the warm up as the hard fight was to be next, two versus one. Getting my breath back I prepared myself for the next challenge. The two Dan grades I faced I had fought many times before, I knew how they fought individually but his would be the first time I had taken them both on at the same time; I had one thought in my mind Ďbeat them or be beatení.
Itís funny how you can focus yourself so much that you can forget little distractions and so it was as I focused my attacks first one Dan grade then the other, I ignored their every punch, their every kick that got through my defence. I can only recall being hit once; only once was their kick strong enough to rattle my composure. I moved about using every inch of fighting space, trying to throw in kicks where I could, spinning and turning, and landing punches to body and face when they ventured too close. One of them even tried to take me to the ground but without any luck, himself floundering to the floor moments later. Again my thanks to my instructor for the ground fighting.
Tiredness began to get the better of me, not so much my breathing which I have always had trouble with, but with my other weakness - my knees. My legs were getting heavier by the second and it was only then that I begin to wonder how much longer I had to fight. It was time to change my tack and try to keep close to utilise my punches, while doing my best to dodge their attacks.
Maybe I was lucky, if it can be called luck, that I had easy opponents, but maybe all the hours that my instructors and my peers had spent preparing me for this moment had paid off and so I made it look easierÖ I still drop my guard too much though, hmmm.
With my legs still heavy and by now my head a little light the Grand Master had us perform some double back kicks. To be honest it took me the first five pairs to get into the swing of things. With this over there was just one more task, something that I had been looking forward to, the braking technique.
For my last grading I had to break a standard house brick with a knife hand, but this time I needed to perform a backfist strike. I guess about half the people who try succeed and maybe only half of them on their first attempt. I didnít want to be a Ďsecond attempterí and I definitely didnít want to fail. This was a personal goal alone. I didnít matter if you broke the brick or not you would still pass as long as you had a go. But I love my breaking, always have, and a backfist strike is no small achievement. I had been mentally preparing myself for weeks, more so than my forms that were more important. I had performed my Hyungs many times, but had never performed a backfist strike on a house brick, and I wasnít going to let myself down. I knew what to do, I just hoped I had the ability to do it. But there was to be no room for doubt in my mind this moment it was just me and that brick
Sounds corny I know but that was how it was, almost like a Zen moment, the room disappeared from my view, I lined myself up and tested my accuracy, moved to the left a few centimetres and checked again. One more time to focus on my point of contact and then I was ready. I held my fist up above my head, rose up on my toes to just get those few extra centimetres, poised to strike. And the brick broke. I can remember watching my fist in slow motion as the back of my hand in line with my front two knuckles made contact first, then my fist rolled anticlockwise and the remaining three knuckles made contact and the brick split in half. It was almost a shock to be brought back to the room by the sound of applause and cheers from those watching. With a sigh I picked up my new paperweights and sat by the side.
I think it was two days later when I went to work and told them about my weekend that it sort of started to sink in. Six years of training and it has lead to this moment. I still have to wait until March to be awarded my Dan certificate, suit and belt. So for the moment I am still 1st Gup but I have passed, now I just have to wait. Some people donít consider a black belt around their waist to mean much. Itís true itís how you have achieved it that really counts, but if you know that you have worked hard and have earned it then surely that belt does have some place of pride. More so if you know that those around you who teach you and train with you also have truly earned their belt. Let others take it easy, the boys and girls at the Haverhill & Girton Tang Soo Do clubs earn their spurs. And you know what they say at Haverhill and GirtonÖ Ď Now the real hard work beginsí
Tang Soo!I learn something new everyday.
01-23-2007, 07:31 #2
I haven't read you post in detail yet, but congratulations!
01-23-2007, 07:56 #3
Congrats, Steven!Death is but a door. Time is but a window. I'll be back - Vigo the Carpathian
He is strong! If I die, I have to go before him, and he will ask me, "What is the riddle of steel?" If I don't know it, he will cast me out of Valhalla and laugh at me. That's Crom, strong on his mountain! - Conan
Gustavo Machado Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
01-23-2007, 07:59 #4
That's awesome! Congrats!
01-23-2007, 07:59 #5
- Elizabeth Seuferling
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01-23-2007, 09:11 #6
Congratulations, sir.Christopher Dunn
Happiness is a warm do bohk.
01-23-2007, 09:34 #7
Congratulations Steven, sounds like you had a good time.David Hayes
01-23-2007, 09:39 #8
01-23-2007, 16:19 #9
Many Congratulations to you.Never fight to achieve selfish ends, but to develop Might for Right!
01-23-2007, 18:22 #10
01-23-2007, 18:44 #11
You are correct that when you have worked hard and earned a black belt than it does mean something. It represents the faith your teacher has in you and it represnets the work you've done. Nobody can take that away.Debra A. O'Leary