Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Going to the dojang is like being immersed in a new sub-culture of the good old USA.

To explain: When I get involved in something brand new, it's a little scary. I generally don't know what is accepted behavior vs. what is not accepted behavior. I also see things and I really have no idea what they mean. Case in point: the stripes on a belt. First time at the dojang and we see all these different people with all different belt colors. However, they also have these stickers wrapped around the end of their belts. The stickers have words on them but you really can't make them out as people are walking by. They are also different colors. What's up with that? It's another little minor detail that makes you feel a little bit like a fish out of water.

Well, it turns out "the stripes" are given to you once you've learned that particular skill for your belt. Seems like something obvious once you've learned what they are but I really was clueless when I first saw them. It's an easy way for you to keep track of what you have learned. It's also easy for the instructors to do a quick "belt check" and see what they should be covering with the students they have in class.

The various stripes at my dojang: form, blocking set, kicking set, weapons, board breaking, one step sparring, and recommended. You get a recommended stripe (it's black) once you've gotten all the others. It basically means that you're ready to test for the next belt level.

There is an additional stripe at my dojang: attitude. This one is for the kids and coincides with their homework. But that's for another post.

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