For the first time in like….ever, our summer around here is so busy with activity that I haven’t really felt as though I’ve had a lot of free time. When the kids got out of school in early June I had visions of getting through some books that I’ve wanted to read, tinkering in the garden, spinning or knitting, and barbecuing almost every night. Instead life has been full of swim practice, TKD classes, ice skating lessons, and doctor & vet appointments (my bird nearly died from a bacterial infection – all good now), not to mention trying (in vain) to keep the house somewhat in order when the kids are in it and so bored that they feel the need to change clothes 3 times a day and dump the rejects on the floor. I had WAY more free time when the kids were in school.
Two weeks ago I had my last colored belt test before my black belt test in October. I can’t believe that in 4 months I’ll have completed and demonstrated everything I learned in the past two years. Funny two how the higher up I get in rank, the more I feel like I need to work. It’s that interesting phenomenon of having the knowledge of what I don’t know. As a lower belt I had an idea, but not enough to realize that there is a lot more to what I’m doing than going through the motions when I’m supposed to. Sure I have better technique and control, but I look at the students who earned their black belts last year, and I realize that I still have a long way to go. Grandmaster is getting increasingly nit-picky (in a good way) in my lessons, tweaking my arm positions or foot positions so they are closer to the ideal I am striving for.
I’ve discovered that I’m starting to enjoy sparring, but it depends on the partner. The school recently started requiring that we have face masks along with helmets so we can take, and give, face punches. It has made things much more interesting. I still have a tendency to concentrate so much on the kicks coming at me that I totally forget to guard my face. Normally this isn’t a huge deal in class, but when I’m paired up with our 4th degree black belt (who is a former boxer), I have a tendency to get my bell rung a bit. It’s an excellent lesson in defending myself. He’s quite agressive as a sparring partner, but will back off if he feels I’m struggling more than normal. Somehow I’ve managed to get a reputation that I can take a hit. Maybe because when Grandmaster specifies full contact, I don’t pull punches myself.
I have a LOT of paperwork to complete by the end of September for my Black Belt application that is to be sent to Korea, and I think I’m going to be living and breathing TKD for the next four months. I’m determined to go into my requirement check, pre-test and test (need to pass each one to move on), with as much confidence as I can muster. My goal is to go in with an attitude of knowing everything backwards and forwards, to reduce the amount of performance anxiety down as much as possible. Thankfully I completed all my board breaking requirements a few months ago.
I’m actually looking forward to a new goal I’m taking on. Apparently the Hanmadang (that link takes you to info about this years competition in Korea) international competition is coming to Chicago next summer and a handful of us are planning on competing in Poomsae. It’s an opportunity that both thrills me and scares me, but if we go as a group, we are sure to have a blast. I’m off to my lesson.