My Criterion

I had my first grading today. Oh Do Kwan is far more scrupulous than Rhee. I admit, I was fastidious in my presentation at all times, even when I was sitting to the side watching everyone else. The grading itself (my part, anyway) was only 10-15 minutes, which surprised me. In groups of a dozen or less, we got up when our name was called and face the three masters who would be judging us. I was a little bit disappointed to be honest- I had expected it to be so much harder, and had mentally trained myself for a much greater challenge. Three blocks and a punch (demonstrated ten times each) was all we did for hand skills. The kicks were slightly harder, but where was the challenge? From there we weren’t tested on our patterns- a series of moves executed one after the other at our own pace- or one step sparring, where your opponent punches and you counter with a particular fashion. I had been training for these rigorously, and felt a little cheated when they weren’t graded. Instead we had self defence. For whitebelts, this means someone grabbing your wrist and you manipulating your way out of it, putting a hold or lock on your opponent. I didn’t do so well in that, lacking the control I might have previously had. Finally we sparred. I made the mistake of trying too hard too quickly, and burned out of energy towards the end.

As we lined up to receive our results, I forced myself to be calm. Although still recovering from my maladies, I yelled louder, and moved faster, than all those in my group. I was always one step ahead of them, which I admit gave some pride to me. Yet, as more and more names of those who passed were announced, I was getting more and more anxious; I didn’t seem to be on the list. Madam Carmella gave out the last certificate and all the white belts bowed- I had not been summoned. I held my breath- I couldn’t have failed, could I? Master Ross announced the nature of an Honours Pass, where the applicant has done well above the average of 65%. My heart raced- could it be me? Two honours passes were given, and still I had not been called. Finally he explained the notion of a Double Promotion- when the applicant has exceeded expectations for his or her particular belt- and called my name. Carmela smiled at me as I shook Ross’ hand hurriedly, and received my certificate. I later noticed it congratulated me on making it to 9th Gup- it looks like they hadn’t forseen a double promotion. I was both complimented and offended at once.

My grading form is shown below. I really will miss the symbol of a white belt- I no longer bear the marks of amateur. Albeit low-ranked, I am no longer considered a complete tyro. Now I’m competing with 8th Gup’s- “yellow belt two’s”. But no, I tell a lie. I’m not competing with 8th Gup’s, I never have been. I’ve been competing with black belts. I always struggle to meet their standards. I’m glad I did well today. Before I went up, I told myself to pretend I was a black belt. When I went up, I forgot entirely. Anyway, I’ll stop rambling now- you’re probably bored. Master Ross said that if I train regularly, I might be able to get my blue belt (assuming I get a second double promotion) at the grading next month. Lord knows I’ll try.

~XinTaekwondo grading sheet

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