Saturday, December 09, 2006

Graduation Day!

So, today was Graduation Day. Both Drew and I had to do it at the same testing time, as I had to miss my testing time earlier in the week to sign a contract to sell my house. (Hey, I'm fortunate that my instructor/boss understands the real priorities of life!) So, this testing time was really for the little kids' who were white/orange/yellow, but there were a few of us higher ranks that had to go as well. Just a handful of us. There was only one other adult testing, and she was a 2nd degree black belt, so you know with whom I had to do my graduation sparring! (Actually, it wasn't too bad. We didn't make contact, kept it kinda light as to not scare off many parents who are "beginner" karate moms and dads.) But as there were some kids who were not white belts, like Drew, this was old hat, so it was a breeze.

Just to get things things started, SW had a few of us color belts (so that included me) to be the first ones up. Due to my laryngitis (which is still REALLY bad, and other than the headache, coughing, sore throat and loss of voice, I feel fine), she instructed me not to make a peep, although I had joked in an email the night before that I knew how to sign in ASL, "My goal is Black Belt, Ma'am", although really it would've been "I want my black belt, please!" Em was one of the people helping run the graduation, and I told her (in whispers, naturally) that I was going to do that but chickened out, and she laughed and said that had I done that, she would've burst out laughing, as she is slightly hearing impaired, so she is fluent in ASL, and she thought my rough translation was pretty good, and was surprised that I knew a pinch. I explained that with Drew's speech delays, we employed some to help him bridge until he did start to speak, but he doesn't remember much.

Anyhow, I digress. I didn't have to my form at my pace, as she counted out the steps for the younger ones, so I could really take my time and do it right. I did my weapons, and it came off pretty well, from what I could tell. I was told later by another parent that she was impressed by my kama routine, which was nice of her to say. Drew went up while I got my sparring gear on (upper level color belts and black belts must spar at testing; white/orange/yellow do not, as they do their one-steps). I watched him do his form, and even with direction, he made mistakes, but so did a lot of other kids. He just made less of them, and did the steps well, even if it was in the wrong direction, or something like that. He then, he for the first time, got up with his weapon, a bahng-mah-ee. For color belts, doing a weapons form means you can do a freestyle, as that way, as SW teaches, "you can't mess up!". Well, I think if you say to Drew, "do anything", he just gets a mental block, and I don't know if he just choked or what. I was a bit of distance from him, and was hoping he could see me, and as trying to show him to do some fan moves and strikes, but I guess he didn't know what to do. He only had 20 seconds, but he got something in during the last 5 seconds. Fortunately, weapons is optional at color belt level. I was able to sit with him after he went up, and I told him how proud I was that he went up and tried, and he said it was hard, which I agreed, but assured him that next time, it'll be a different weapon, and we'll work on it, and every time he gets up with his weapon, it'll get a little easier. I was glad he didn't get much more discouraged than that.

When all was said and done, (including my sparring), we all received our promotions and new belts or stripes (the latter in my case). Drew was not only very happy to finally be getting his yellow belt (he even took it out of its packaging early), but he also received a silver star patch for his uniform for the extra effort he made for trying to do a weapons form. It takes a lot for a 5 year old to get up for the first time, even if you are up with other kids, in front of a lot of people and do something you haven't done before, so I was glad that he and the other weapons kids got rewarded for their efforts. I'm not rewarded for that as a color belt! So all in all, it turned out to be a good graduation for Drew, and I think he was definitely encouraged by the silver star that even trying can have its benefits, as long as you keep working at it.

Here's the latest recipient of a Yellow Belt in Songahm Taekwondo, in a spar ready stance:
Drew gets his Yellow Belt_12-09-06

His uniform is a little big, that's why you don't see his hands, but he'll grow into it. ;-)

I thought that was the end of it until tonight. The school had a "Drop N Shop" night, where they feed, entertain and babysit the kids for a few hours while parents can go out holiday shopping, which we did our best to take advantage of that time. When I came to get Drew, several of the teen instructors who were helping at the event, who are higher ranked both as all are either 2nd or 3rd degree black belts and have higher instructor ranks as well, stopped me and told me that they really liked my kama routine. Would I show it to them sometime, as they wanted to incorporate it into their routines? I don't think they were joking or would have stopped me if they didn't mean it intentionally. I was surprised, because I really didn't think I did anything all that special, other than incorporate a few things that a couple of them had shown me, so naturally I agreed to that. But, for me, that carried more weight than the parent who complimented me earlier. I mean, here are kids that are much higher ranked and experienced in TKD than I am, and they liked my routine and wanted to learn it? I couldn't ask for more in that, especially after a period when my asthma has been acting up, my knee has been giving me problems, and I've been sick the last few days, to know that I gave such a strong performance. (I have to admit, the other 2nd degree woman who was testing just had to do some sort of drill thing, but she looked rather lackluster doing them, and again, she's been doing kamas longer than me!).

Good ending. Now, off to the next form, Songahm #5, the only color belt one I haven't done yet! And I think I'll be working on ssang-jeh-bahngs (SJBs), aka numchakas next. I know Drew is looking forward to that! And after next this next cycle, I will finally take another step closer and will be a Red Belt Recommended!

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