The black belt testing is finally over. That’s a lot off the minds for those of us who participated in the testing.
The testing was a grueling experience for me both physically and mentally, as I expected.
Because of my injured foot and my inability to run without pain, Master Lee has assigned me to do squats, initially with weights and later without, while others were to run back and forth across the floor many, many times. I don’t know what was harder. I hear that others had cases of blisters under their feet. As for me, simple tasks like climbing up and down the stairs, and getting in and out of my car became major chores for at least 2-3 days. I was visibly walking around funny, almost as if I had no knee joint.
Master Lee has added some twist to the test by asking questions … like 14th move in poomse, Taegeuk Chil Jang. Normally, answering these questions isn’t extremely difficult. All of us know the poomse well. We just need to walk through it in our heads, if in doubt. However, trying to come up with answers while we are all doing physically demanding activities and having relatively short time-limit turned out to be very challenging for us all.
I think I had a little bit of advantage on that over others. Others had to keep track of number of times they ran across the floor. We all know how hard it is to try and count two unrelated things at the same time. I just had to go up and down doing the squats mindlessly, until others were done running. It made my thought process a little bit simpler.
And also there was self-inflicted pressure.
I felt testing for 3rd Dan black belt is a big deal. That is the highest rank we have at our school as a student so far. Only one person has made it to the rank prior to this test. No matter how much I try to think that I just need to do my best, the feeling of need and desire to live up to expectation … my expectation … is overwhelming.
Then add the usual butterfly in the stomach as other students eagerly watch us, and I am just waiting for something to go wrong.
I don’t remember ever feeling this overwhelmed when I tested for any other ranks, or prior black belt testings. Was I more ready then, or is it a case of selective memory loss?
My mind proceeded to go blank as I stood in the ready stance for one-step sparring, evident by longer-than-usual pauses between techniques. It’s almost a miracle that I managed to only forget 3 techniques I was going to do. I followed that by almost forgetting a whole step in the rope technique demo routine. I owe Ben, my partner, a lot for saving it from looking like a wreck. I hope that wasn’t too obvious to spectators.
Master Lee did promise more focus on mental aspect for this test, and obviously, he delivered. I am simply glad that that’s over with, and it’s good to know that I won’t be participating in another test for at least 4-5 years; I won’t be eligible for the next rank until then. Meanwhile, I have that much time to think of reason why I am not ready for the next rank.
I think all of us are more relieved right now than feeling the sense of accomplishment for reaching our new ranks. I know I am.