|At our first Black belt grading: Zoe and Boy literally strike a pose...|
Once upon a time I was never going to start training in Tae Kwon-Do. I tried it, because I am always curious about things and it seemed polite to pay some attention to the profession of the man I was dating. All I ever seemed to hear was 'Are you going to do Tae Kwon-Do then?' (In an annoying singsong fashion: not how it was said, that's how I heard it…) Being a strong, independent, working mother I did what I did, not what my boyfriend did: but I liked him enough to try a lesson. Both things worked out rather well.
I never liked gradings, though, they made me horribly nervous and full of distracted mistakes, until I reached red belt, when, in spite of nerves and still with odd errors, there was a confidence growing. It was the confidence of having made it through all the previous gradings, the confidence of knowing my training was ample. Also, before we grade, we have the ritual of the pre-grading, where the Instructor tests the students to see if they are ready. At the Black Belt pre-grading, a panel of Senior Instructors views the contenders. At the time, they seem to be made of granite, with cold lasers for eyes. The first one I did, I did shaking, with sick in my throat, almost hoping that one of my bones would snap so I may be excused. Afterwards, the elation of survival flooded through so powerfully it is a miracle I did not burst. The actual grading went okay- that is how I remember it- nothing too weird or off balancing because I already knew I could do it. I thought about how much I wanted that Black Belt.
Black Belt is often thought of, in Western circles, as the culmination of the martial arts process, but in our Art it is a beginning. Going through the colour belt syllabus is like an apprenticeship, or like learning to drive. Who earns a driving licence and never gets in a car again? So for two years I have been training and learning as a novice Black Belt, and last week I earned my Second Dan. The nerves are not eradicated, far from it: just a bit easier to override. At the pre-grading I said to myself, if you dislike this process so much, go for 2nd Dan, since you've got this far, and then never grade again, it's enough, it's fine. But in the course of the extra training, I have learnt so much, about my Art and about myself: by the day of the grading, regardless of those irritating doubting fears, I was already looking forward to gaining a 3rd Dan.
Usually, I write about my world rather than myself but I want to have this record of how I waded through a fearful place and got to somewhere exultant. I will need to read it, three years from now.
All life journeys have points where you can freeze or you can progress: it's easy to know that, a little trickier to practice!
|A picture of our wedding cake: in case anyone hasn't guessed or didn't know: I wed that man!|