Saturday was my requirement check for my black belt test. Our academy decided to have those testing for full rank come to a pre-test to perform all the requirements for our test (which is a lot more for full rank than for a standard color belt test). I was stressing about it so much the few days prior. It also didn’t help that I was pre-menstrual (sorry guys!). I always feel stressed that time of my cycle and the test anxiety added to it made me a little jumpy. I had become seriously OCD about the paperwork I needed to turn in that day, especially the Kukkiwon full rank application. Every hour or so the day or two before, I would go through all my paperwork to make sure nothing had mysteriously vanished.
My youngest daughter tested on Saturday, and passed, but not without a little struggle on her poomsae. She kept turning the wrong way and finally fixed it after a brief review with one of the supervising black belts. It was a good experience for her having to struggle a little. All her other tests came fairly easy and I think that it was important that she had one that didn’t go all that smoothly. She got a little frustrated and teary, but in the end found the strength to perform well. I was paired up with her for sparring, since there was not another higher belt available. That was a little weird, but she did really well and it was acknowledged that she improved since her last test. Because I was present for her test, and the requirement check was afterward, I didn’t have the time I hoped I would to review my requirements.
So I went in relatively cold, which in retrospect was probably good, considering that I was drenched in sweat by the time I was done. We are only allowed three mistakes in order to pass. I made two very minor ones but corrected them immediately. I knew as soon as I did them that I made a mistake, and both were at the beginning of a sequence of requirements. There were three others testing with me and they had us start at different points in the requirement sequence. This made it a challenge to focus and not get distracted by the fact that my neighbor was doing something different. At one point, the others were instructed to review specific requirements because mistakes were made, so I was on the floor by myself performing the rest of my requirements. It could have been stressful, but I think the time I’ve had in front of class leading warmups and review made it easier for me to be on the spot without completely loosing my composure.
When I came out, the higher level black belts (who will be testing for their next full rank next month) congratulated me, and that felt great! It’s been acknowledged that due to the amount of material we need to perform at the requirement check, that it is, in effect, our black belt test. The test I will perform next month will be much shorter in duration and have far fewer requirements (actually the same as verification, which was part 1, and is a sort of requirement check, to make sure that you are learning all the requirements necessary). I’m actually looking forward to it and not dreading it (although ask me 2 days before the test, my feelings on that may change).
Looking back, it’s hard to believe I’ve come as far as I have. I can still remember what it felt like to be a white belt surrounded by all these colored belts and not knowing what I had gotten myself into. I can also look back and not recognize the person I was at the beginning of my training. I had no idea at that time that Tae Kwon Do would transform me, mind body and soul. My journey has taught me the truth of Pil Seung. That winning IS inevitable.