It’s a bit over due (got my black belt 1st Dan 9 years ago in 2006) but with some not so gentle persuasion (which I am thankful for) from my great Thames Valley Taekwon-Do instructor Master Whitley, I attended the one and a half day National seminar and black belt grading at the Park Club, Milton in Abingdon this weekend and achieved my 2nd Dan black belt.
The seminar started on the Friday with training from 6-9pm and we were back again on Saturday for training from 10am-5pm.
We had three great instructors taking the seminar, Grand Master Williamson, Senior Master Miller and Senior Master Taylor. They split us up into three groups, red belts & black tags, 1st – 3rd degree and 4th degree and above and then rotated around teaching each of the groups. I really enjoyed the jumping kick practise we did on the Saturday morning. We also practised lots of patterns, movements, step sparring and self defence.
There were loads of people attending the seminar including a great group of us from Thames Valley TKD.
Sunday morning I woke up with the expected nerves as there was now no more practise time left, the grading was here. It started at 10am with the red belt black tags on first, testing for their 1st Dan black belt. Then the junior 1st Dan were on testing for their 2nd Dan and then it was the adult 1st Dan’s turn. I was called up to be in position number 2. First we did our patterns, which for 1st Dan black belts there are three – Kwang Gae, Po Eun and Ge Baek. Added together these patterns have 119 movements so it’s definitely a workout trying to do every movement as technically correct as possible and make it powerful.
These went well and then it was straight into free sparring. We did several rotations going with different people and after about three bouts I was well and truly sweating!
After the sparring was done, it was then self defence – so getting out of grabs and holds. This done and the next section was the theory test. I got asked questions about the number of movements and meanings of my patterns as each one symbolises someone famous in Taekwon-Do and Koreas history:
- KWANG-GAE is named after the famous Kwang-Gae-Toh-Wang, the 19th King of the Koguryo Dynasty, who regained all the lost territories including the greater part of Manchuria. The diagram represents the expansion and recovery of lost territory. The 39 movements refer to the first two figures of 391 A. D, the year he came to the throne.
- PO-EUN is the pseudonym of a loyal subject Chong Mong-Chu (1400) who was a famous poet and whose poem “I would not serve a second master though I might be crucified a hundred times” is known to every Korean. He was also a pioneer in the field of physics. The diagram represents his unerring loyalty to the king and country towards the end of the Koryo Dynasty.
- GE-BAEK is named after Ge-Baek, a great general in the Baek Je Dynasty (660 AD). The diagram represents his severe and strict military discipline.
I also got asked what several part of the hand and face were – as we learn these in Korean also. I had been studying hard for the theory and was glad I was just about able to control my nerves to remember what I had learnt.
That done and it was onto the breaking test. The first technique was reverse turning kick. For my right leg I was given three wooden boards to break and once I put more speed into my spin I smashed through them. Left leg I was given a red board (plastic boards that can be put back together again with the colour denoting how tough it is to break) and I smashed through that first time. Then for the jumping turning kick to a wooden board held above my head. Left leg first and broke it first time. Right leg I didn’t jump quite high enough on the first two attempts but smashed it on the 3rd. Then it was outside to break the brick. This we had to stamp with our foot. After being given two bricks ontop of each other to try and stamp and being unsuccessful, it was reduced to one and I stamped this with my left foot, but unfortunately didn’t break with my right (so more practise needed on that side).
That all done and I was dismissed. I made my final bow to all the masters at the top table and went to sit at the back of the hall. I had done all I could and now just had to wait for the result.
After us the 2nd, 3rd and 4th degrees were all called up for their grading’s. With everyone done we were given a 30min break to go and get some food, while the examiners discussed the results. It was now gone two O’clock and once I started eating I realised how hungry I was! As nerves meant I hadn’t managed to eat much for breakfast either!
Then it was back into the hall for the results. They started with the highest degrees and Spencer from Thames Valley TKD was successfully promoted to 3rd Dan, then I was called up for my successful promotion to 2nd Dan, followed by Ruth and Harry. Then Kirpal was called up for his successful promotion to 1st Dan. So we all did an amazing job and passed!
Thank you again to Master Whiteley, Mr Dilley and all the other Thames Valley TKD instructors for your coaching to get me through the grading. Well done also to everyone else that passed and I’m looking forward to working on some new patterns and heading towards the next one now!