The Six Month Long (and Counting) Black Belt Test

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Next week two of my classmates will be testing for first and second degree black belt, and several other students will be testing for various color belt levels. In addition to our normal training, much of our practice time has been devoted to preparing these students to test.

It’s nice not to have the heat on me as far as being a testing student, although if time flies as quickly as it has been, it’ll be my turn to test for second dan before I know it. These last few weeks have been a test in a different sense though: do I continue living up to my black belt duties?
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Final Color Belt Test – Savoring the Moment

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“You’re a good student. You have spirit,” Grandmaster said on Thursday, referring to the “taekwondo spirit” of integrity and perseverance. I was perched on a chair in front of the desk in his office discussing Friday’s bo dan test and paying him for the upcoming months’ lessons.
“Do you want to be an instructor?”
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Finals Week – Bo Dan Edition

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The week of a belt test reminds me of finals week in college, specifically the fall semester sophomore year finals week when I was 19, had a bad flu, and still dragged myself (sometimes literally) to class and my little campus job. I’m physically exhausted, mentally drained, and emotionally on edge. My suitcase still isn’t unpacked, the fridge is empty,  laundry (clean at least!) is piled up waiting to be folded, and a jigsaw puzzle I started is woefully incomplete.
Ah, the trials of a lifelong student!
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The End of March Madness

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Shady’s back. Tell a friend….And now that song is stuck in your head. You’re WELCOME.

Last night I went to the dojang for an extra day of practice, and it felt like I was finally turning a corner on what has been a weird, mentally foggy month spent in a dark exile of depression compounded by snacks, Netflix, and wine. I don’t know what the hell was up with March, but by the end of it I felt like wrapping myself in a blanket, shuffling around my home with all the blinds closed, and saying annoyingly morose poetic things like, “Now is the winter of my discontent.”

BLEAHHHH!
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South American Headache Remedy

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Wednesdays are my long days and usually leave me exhausted, drenched in sweat, and mentally a little out of it by the time I get home. Seeing as it was my first week back after way too many schedule interruptions I was determined to go to class whether my body could keep up or not.
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Is This the End or Just Beginning?

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“Any New Year’s resolutions?” my instructor asked, raising his eyebrows expectantly at the end of class.
“To not write 2014 on my papers,” remarked one of the teenage black belts with a  smirk. Even though his smart-assotry gets old pretty quickly I giggled at that one. My instructor rolled his eyes and bounced his question back to the rest of the class.

“To get my black belt,” said a classmate proudly. Damnit, he took my idea! My mind had wandered off to my usual internal hippie daydreams like meditating more, being more mindful and present (ironically I wasn’t), start swimming in the early mornings again like I used to, juicing when I what I really want to do is get curly fries at Arby’s. I had forgotten what was so obvious and looming for a few of us:
Black belt. This is it. This is the year.
Holy crap.

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Black Tip Test – An Exercise in a LOT of Patience

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HOW many yellow belts are testing? NOOOO! Swim away! Swim away!

Thursday night we held a color belt test in the dojang. I was testing for my black tip along with the two little prodigies Violet* and Karim, and Noah, whom I mentioned in a previous post, who was testing for bo dan. My boyfriend and I arrived there early so I could warm up and cram in a little flying kick practice. I had a talk with Noah about exercising some control during takedowns as my boyfriend glowered protectively in the background. We agreed not to kill each other and practiced our one-steps before the room became too choked with students warming up.

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How to Prepare for a Taekwondo Belt Test When You Are as Old as Your Classmates’ Parents

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Belt tests make me more nervous than any of the presentations I do for work or any of the hoops I had to leap through in graduate school. Here are some tricks I’ve gathered along the way that help me relax, do my best, and have fun.

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Will This Be On the Test?

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For the last four months I have been preparing to test for my black tip. As the days draw closer my anxiety creeps upward. When asked what I want to work on in taekwondo class I immediately jump to testing requirements. Is it my responsibility to practice outside of class? Absolutely. Does it happen every day? No. I read my one-step instructions daily and practice all the forms I’ve learned to date on the weekends. It’s a little harder, though, to work on my flying side kick when I have a creaky floor plus downstairs neighbors and would look like a crazy person if I practiced them outside on the parking lot of my condominium complex.

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Red Letter Days

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“I hate red,” I heard myself saying several years ago. It was a phrase I had parrotted from the adults around me. I didn’t know why I hated red; I just thought I should say it. I think I felt threatened by red, plus a little jealous. In high school I weighed 110 pounds (proud to say I’m still not much more than that) but hid my body in baggy T-shirts and unstylish jeans. I scoffed at women who got manicures and massages but never really understood the reason behind my snarkiness. In college I didn’t wear makeup and floated around in sweatshirts that could double as blankets.

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