On the 25th of November 2012 Shaftesbury TKD was lucky to be joined by Master M. Wood VII Dan for, what can only be described as, a top rate seminar and grading. (A very big thank you to Master Wood and his family for travelling all the way up here so early on a Sunday morning.)
This grading was not like any other I had attended before however, as this was my very own private nightmare (half joking) and three other of our member’s black belt grading, and I have to admit that at the beginning of the day I was absolutely terrified! But after a talk to Master Wood about my nerves I calmed down and managed to push aside my anxiety to enjoy the day. We kick started the day with an energy sapping red and black belt class: Some would say that a few press ups and sit ups and star jumps and tuck jumps aren’t all that tiring… But at 10am on a Sunday morning with just a slice of toast in your stomach it is a lot like hard work, but much enjoyed hard work at that! After our warm up we got onto some very handy step sparring moves that are part of the new syllabus and thankfully we all managed to pick up the new combinations without too much trauma, although after we had finished one set and moved onto the next I had already forgotten the previous moves. Master Wood even managed to get in a bit of bag work-kicking combinations-before time was up and we had to end our lesson and get ready for the coloured belts
Once everyone had arrived, Master Wood got started with a very informative lesson on the fundamental movements and how they should be performed which I certainly found useful and I’m sure the junior members of our club learnt a lot from it as well. It seems shameful to say that when asked to demonstrate my patterns my stomach churned as I could see myself going from Do-San into Dan gun and failing my grading before it had even begun. Then there was also the looming terror of being asked that one question you don’t know, you know everything else… just not that. I am very glad to say that I didn’t completely mess up my patterns though and I knew the answers to the questions I was asked, so all in all the lesson went on without too many flops
The younger ones really seemed to enjoy themselves and suffice to say they all paid attention really well and I personally am very proud of them! Master Wood managed to cover something that every person would find useful by telling us the theory of some moves (more helpful to the seniors) and just general teaching of how to complete a movement. Although the class was very good and enjoyable, there was one thing that scared me, a lot: I had to fill out my black belt theory exam. At first I panicked and racked my brain just forcing the information out, but then it occurred to me how fast I had been ticking the boxes; I slowed my pace and calmed down. Then all the memories of reading text’s over and over again and the sticky notes in my room came flooding to me and I could see the answers straight away… I made a few mistakes, but I’m only human! Anyway, I eventually finished (after reading through every answer around fifty times each) and could join in the class again which felt like it ended very quickly
Soon enough that dreaded time came when the actual grading started. Sitting at the back of the room and watching the students, most of whom I’d taught their patterns, was the most nerve racking thing, even more so than my own grading! No… that’s a lie, I was terrified for the entire time. But none the less, it wasn’t a nice thing to see someone I’d taught go wrong or struggle and not be able to tell them and help them, but everyone did really well and there weren’t any huge disasters, of course a lot of the time I was either panicking about breaking or rushing through my patterns to make sure I wouldn’t get up and go completely blank and stand there in the middle of the hall looking a little bit dim and most probably crying my eyes out in the process. The one part I really paid attention to was the breaking because as anyone who knows me is aware of, it used to scare me to death. No matter how hard I kicked that board nothing would happen! So in the end I resorted to picking up tips - Watching my friends smash through the boards with ease made me determined to do it, for the soul reason of not letting myself down. Then there was also the sibling rivalry to do better than my brother for extra motivation.
I’m happy to say that all the kids were very well behaved and attentive, both when they were grading themselves and when they were sitting at the back of the room waiting to do so. Master Wood was very encouraging and somehow managed to keep them all calm! I think now would be a good time to congratulate everyone who attended the grading and to tell them to keep up the good work!
Then came the time for the black tags grading… That was my self, Ady Prins, Michael Prins and Luke Almond, I don’t know how they all felt but I was absolutely horrified. When my name was called I could feel myself shaking and my legs turn to jelly as my body was screaming at me to collapse to the floor and not even attempt to grade. Thankfully, I went against my instincts and quickly made my way over to the centre of the room. Then it began; step sparring, in which the lesson before hand flew out of my head and a lot of the time I found myself stuck for what to do, just picking random moves without much logic going into the moves I chose. Sorry to say, but I have no clue how the others did in their step sparring because I was far too busy focusing on my own actions.
It seems safe to say that patterns were the one thing that worried me the most, not the thing I struggled with, but the thing I was worried about. At least the only thing that can go wrong with breaking is… well, the board not breaking. But when it comes down to patterns there are so many mistakes to be made: you can go into another pattern during a basic one; you can completely forget all of the patterns you have ever learnt or you can not complete the moves fully and end up getting a score not even worth mentioning. To start with I was able to keep my nerves at bay because we were all up together, doing the patterns together, no one person being the centre of attention. But then, Master Wood asked us to perform Choong-Moo on our own. Nerve racking doesn’t even begin to describe it. I’d done patterns on my own plenty of times before in practising and competitions, but this time it meant something more; this was the difference between getting my black belt and remaining a black tag… I thankfully the pattern had stuck in my head and I only made tiny technical errors that were quite easy to work out.
Breaking: this was the point in the day that almost brought me to my knees in tears, although I think I did a pretty good job at hiding my fear. But, what was it that had gotten me so worked up? Well, it seemed to me that I was going to have to attempt to break a brick. My voice of reason was telling me that this was a ludicrous idea and actually against the rules because of my age but I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was going to happen. The panic rushed through me as Ady Prins stepped up and showed us how it’s done. I was glad to be wrong
All in all, a very successful day for the club, congratulations to everyone that graded and another huge thank you to Master Wood and his family.