Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Test post-mortem

And yes, there was one point over the weekend where I actually thought I was going to die.

First things first, my daughter and I both passed the test and are now officially "conditional black belts". That does NOT mean we are 1st Dan. We are still 1st Gup. Our next test is in November where we test to become "certified black belts" and get the official rank of 1st Dan.

The bulk of the test occurred before and after lunch on Saturday. We only had an hour scheduled for testing before lunch (lots of ceremonial stuff that also occurred in the morning) but we ended up ahead of schedule and got more testing done. Before lunch we had gone over our forms, our weapons, and our one-step sparring. After lunch, we got right back into our curriculum with a little announcement from Kwanjanim (paraphrased).
"We are now going to test you on kicking combinations and your kicking technique. This is a warning. This is the hardest part of the test. Time for you to earn your belt. I told you this wasn't going to be easy."
The actual kicking combinations weren't that difficult. I made 1 small mistake of a hoo-jin (backwards) step instead of a chun-jin (forwards) step but was able to repeat it in front of the class without issues. We then got into our kicking techniques. They first started out by calling out kicks to do and then having us do the kicks 10 times with each leg. I think we went through every kick we had been taught. So far, so good. I was getting a little tired and the room was getting a little warm but it wasn't anything out of the ordinary.

They then had instructors come out and hold kicking paddles for us to kick, continuously, for 1 minute. Break for about 20-30 seconds. Repeat. The first 2 rounds of this were back leg double kicks leading with a different leg each round. The next 3 rounds of this were the sequence "back leg round house, hoo-jin step, back leg round house (this is the other leg) repeat". The next 2 rounds were "fast kick, hoo-jin step, repeat".

I must emphasize that I did not know what we were going to be doing next nor when we were going to stop.

For the very first two rounds, I had a kid holding my paddles. I suspect because I was so much taller than him that they switched out my holder with one of the lead (and one of the best) instructors in the class for the rest of my kicking techniques. It was a dramatic difference between the two. I felt like I was in boot camp with the sergeant yelling at me non stop to just keep going.

By the time we got to the last 2 rounds, I was literally spent and out of gas. Hands on my knees, taking big deep breaths trying to oxygenate myself as much as I could. Then came the "take a knee" as they told us what we were going to do next. My mind was literally going "how are you going to do this?" I told myself that I have to. I also offered up a very quick, brief prayer asking God for help.

I stood up, faced my instructor and then went into this fog. I heard the instructor encouraging me but not really hearing everything he was saying. I caught every other word of "faster, don't slow down, keep it up"). Literally, I could tell he was yelling at me and know that he was doing it positively. I had in my head though this guy carries weight in the voting for who passes or not. I HAVE to be able to do this.

I was in an open stance toward the student to my left (the person I was actually partnered with all weekend) and told myself to use him to pace myself. I just kept kicking. We then switched directions and I was looking at the guy to my right. He was kicking faster. I just kept going. And going.

Somewhere in the middle of the minute drills, I had glanced down to where my daughter was. She had disappeared from the test. I had all kinds of scenarios racing through my head (from her passing out, to throwing up, to crying in a corner somewhere). I had to clear them out and focus on what I was doing. She ended up back in the test as the first round of the fast kicks started. Found out later that she was in the restroom. Yes it really was necessary for her to stop without me going into TMI mode but no, she was NOT throwing up.

When they called time and dismissed us, I walked backwards and ended up against the post holding the ceiling up. I collapsed right there. Grabbed my water bottle and downed the whole thing. I honestly don't recall ever doing anything so strenuous. Yes I've exercised strenuously in the past but never to the point of being in "a fog". Four days after this event and my calves are still screaming at me.

Do I feel my brief prayer was answered? In a single word, yes. God provides answers many ways. Being able to look at my partner and pace myself off of him was not something I had ever done before or even thought of. I don't know why it occurred to me then. Having the much more vocal instructor encouraging me to keep going. I was the only student out of 47 who had their instructor switched. Seeing my daughter come back right at the start of the last 2 rounds helped me clear my mind of any worries.

God doesn't have to slap you in the face to be working in my opinion. Personal experience is that he's a lot more subtle. Guess that's why it's called "faith".

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